There aren’t many vacation spots out there that are more popular than Disneyland. This is mostly due to the large influence Disney has had with its characters. Both Disneyland and Disney World are the most popular theme parks in the world, second to none. Apart from all the amazing rides, you get incredible food, great souvenirs, jaw-dropping live shows, and much more.
However, as you can probably guess, all of that excitement can easily add up in terms of money. Disneyland isn’t the cheapest place in the world, and people are always asking how to save money at Disney World too. So we’ll try to answer those questions and see if you can go to Disneyland on a budget.
Saving money at Disneyland isn’t easy, but if you try some of our ways to save some money at Disney World/Disneyland, you’ll be thanking us soon. With all that said, let’s finally show you how to travel to Disneyland on a budget.
How To Save On Disneyland Tickets
The most expensive part of going to Disneyland is buying the tickets. That’s why people are always looking for the cheapest way to go to Disneyland and save money on tickets. There are several ways to go about this, and depending on when you visit, one method might work better than the other.
With that said, let’s see what’s the cheapest way to go to Disneyland.
Decide when you want to visit
This is one of the most important Disneyland money-saving tips we can give. If you want to considerably save money at Disneyland/Walt Disney World, then deciding what time of the year you want to visit is crucial.
As with most tourist spots, you’ll typically save the most money during off-seasons. We’d recommend doing the same for saving money at Disney World. When the crowds are low, the prices will be lower as well. There is also better weather during the less busy times. So your trip will be more relaxing overall.
Not just that, but you’d also save money on flights, hotel rooms, and even for food and transport. Sure, it might not be so flexible if you can only go during your kids’ vacations, but you can find off days during that busy time as well. Tuesdays to Thursdays tend to be the best days to visit.
Always keep in mind if a national holiday is going on, or if most kids are out of school. This will contribute to a larger crowd and higher prices.
Buy tickets from the right place
This is another one of those well-known ways to save money on tickets. If you buy tickets directly from Disney, they will obviously cost much more than usual at both Disneyland and Disney World.
However, you can usually find lower prices through Disney gift cards. You can even save money by using your credit card at certain online retailers for further discounts. One awesome way to save money is to buy Disney Gift cards at Target, if you have a Target Red Card.
You get 5% off your purchase, and you can buy tickets with the Disney Gift Cards and save some valuable money. These days there are entire sites that are purpose made to find cheap Disney tickets.
Also, if you served in the military, Disney offers a military discount to all veterans. Certain credit card companies also offer great deals throughout the year.
Black Friday deals
Black Friday is the best time of the year to buy expensive things you’d normally think twice before even glancing at. This even includes Disneyland tickets a lot of the time. A lot of third parties slash prices on Disneyland tickets, and they are more than legit.
If you are looking for ticket deals, try to look for those that have MaxPass included with them. This way you can save even more money on Photographs and get easier access to a lot of rides, and even get to them quicker.
Don’t get single-day tickets
The pricing for Disneyland tickets can be quite confusing at times. Disney now uses a widely dynamic pricing system, so ticket costs can vary depending on the day and how large the crowd is. If you don’t know how much you’re spending on tickets every day, you’re losing a lot of money.
Getting multi-day tickets is a much better idea. This also helps if you want to add the park hopper option on all of your tickets. The park hopper upgrade allows you to go to as many parks as you like in Disneyland instead of just one park in one day. This way, you don’t have to be a park hopper each day, and that saves a lot of money.
Multi-day tickets are also much more flexible, so you can visit with ease. If you download the Disney App and get MaxPass, you can visit more places throughout one day, plus even more bonus perks.
Decide On The Hotel
Disneyland Resort Hotels are excellent, and they really are the experience of a lifetime. Familiar Disney characters are going around, and there is a lot of great stuff to do. However, the cost can definitely add up per day. It’s almost twice or triple what you’d be paying in an offsite hotel room per day.
There are many hotels within walking distance of Disneyland, and a lot of them even offer a free shuttle ride. Plus, you can save a lot of money when it comes to food.
Get MaxPass To Save Money On Photos
If you download the Disney app and scan your tickets, you can register them to work with MaxPass. MaxPass costs $15/person per day, and it allows you to take photos anywhere you want. The Disneyland photographers will take your photo, and then scan your phone. At the end of the day, all the photos will be sent to your phone.
It also allows you to make “FastPass” reservations. This allows you to see at what time rides are available, and when you can go visit them. This will allow you to strategically plan ahead, and get to rides faster. This way you don’t waste time walking around, and you save money on taking photos with the Disney characters.
Set A Budget
Once you’ve got the hotel and tickets sorted out it’s time to sit down and make a budget. Remember that this might not be incredibly accurate, as you might want to spend more once you get there. Still, it’s a good idea to have a rough estimate and remain in that ballpark, so to speak.
Remember to include everything in this budget. The hotel cost, the flight/travel costs, food and drinks, clothes, Disney souvenirs, costumes, and whatever else you can think of. Once you have a budget in mind, write that down and stick to it.
Take that amount with you, along with a bit of extra just in case of an emergency. This way you won’t worry about overspending.
Manage Your Food
Small snacks and sweet treats can be found all across Disneyland. The caramel apples, churros, and ice creams are all fun Disney themed stuff. However, you’ll be walking around a lot and Disneyland sucks up a lot of your energy and time.
If you get hungry during lunchtime, think of where to eat first. You can either go back to the hotel and eat there, which would be cheaper or get a better full course meal at a restaurant inside Disneyland. We recommend eating inside Disneyland for lunch so that you can see the hype for all the restaurants.
But for dinner, we recommend eating outside the resort. This is because you’ll be so tired at that point, that a light dinner should be enough to get you to your bed. Packing food is another great idea, so you never have to stop while walking around. Things like trail mix are great foods to munch on.
Pack The Essentials
If you’re going to Disneyland, it’s important to fully prepare for everything. This is especially true if you’re flying in from a distant location. Visits during the summer can get quite hot, as people are packed together closely during this time. Keep a towel with you at all times. It’s also a good idea to buy some sunscreen before entering the park.
Taking smaller kids inside Disneyland is already a hassle, but you don’t want to be running around for tissues and other essential stuff. Rent a locker, and put all of these items inside there for safekeeping. Also, consider storing baby wipes and a few extra towels.
Bringing your own stroller inside for small kids is also a great idea. The rent for a stroller is quite expensive inside the park, so it’s a better idea to take your own. You don’t want to come out of California Adventure Park and carry kids in your arms.
Don’t Go For Rental Cars
Unless you plan to explore the city, getting a rental car these days is not the smartest purchase for Disneyland. Sure it would be easier to get around, but you’d still have to pay for parking, and the rent cost can add up along with that. That money can be spent elsewhere in the park while having fun.
Besides, even if you are staying offsite, most hotels are at a maximum of 5-10 minutes from the resort. Most offer free shuttle rides to the resort, or you can catch an uber for a cheap price. Transport isn’t really the huge issue it used to be for Disneyland.
Renting a car is a waste of money if you only want to explore Disneyland. However, if you do want to get a feel for California and Anaheim, you’ll want to rent a car if you are planning to hit the beach anytime soon.
Always Carry A Water Bottle
This one ties in with the tip about managing your food at all times. Carrying a water bottle is incredibly important both inside, and outside of Disneyland. You’d be surprised by how expensive everything is inside, even water. Carry a large, sturdy, and refillable water bottle along with you.
Most restaurants will fill the bottle for you without any questions asked. If not, there are plenty of clean drinking fountains around, so you can always stay hydrated through that.
The heat can get quite menacing during the afternoon hours, and carrying a water bottle with you is nothing short of a great idea. Just try to be polite whenever you need a refill. Try to avoid sodas, as you’ll end spending a lot on drinks without even knowing.
Get coffee from your hotel early in the morning, so you can have that caffeine kick for the rest of the day. If you can skip alcohol entirely, then you’ll save even more money.
This might actually sound a bit controversial to some people. That’s because a lot of people like to go and buy Disney themed clothes and other items featuring their favorite characters. The cost of these souvenirs can quickly get ridiculous.
Here’s an example, a normal Disney themed T-shirt outside of Disneyland would cost you about $5 at the most. Inside Disneyland, it costs about $20, and even some hats start at that price. It’s also not practical to buy clothing items. Since you’re probably not going to wear that Mickey Mouse shirt outside of Disneyland.
You go to Disneyland because it’s magical, and you want to leave with good memories. Sure, souvenirs are a good way to remember an amazing trip. But when the souvenirs start getting in the way of having fun, that’s where we draw the line.
If you absolutely must, at least get things that would fit into your home and things you wouldn’t find outside elsewhere.
This tip is directly connected with the one above it. Let’s say you have younger kids who will be unwilling to leave without souvenirs. Well, you don’t want to spoil the trip by scolding them or telling them you can’t buy them something they want. This workaround is just for you then.
Like I mentioned before, souvenirs like shirts and Disney themed toys are considerably more affordable outside of Disney World. If you go to Target or Walmart, you can find an incredible amount of things that wouldn’t look out of place in Disneyland. They always have stuff on clearance as well.
Buy anything you think your kids might like and they should be happy. However, Disney Fairies is something that makes this even more magical. If you’re staying in one of the hotels in the resort, you can talk to the staff and tell them to put these gifts on your bed when you come back, they’ll even leave some extra goodies.
This is what’s called the Disney Fairies program, and adds a bit of magical touch to otherwise cheap stuff from Walmart or Target.
Costumes And Clothes
As we touched upon it previously, it is clear that clothes are quite expensive inside Disneyland. But if you have a younger daughter who wants to dress up as a princess, or maybe a son who wants to dress up as a superhero, plan this ahead of time.
You don’t want them to get hung up on costumes than have to buy them from inside the resort for a higher price. Most of the time, you can find the same stuff that is inside for much cheaper elsewhere.
If they’re wearing a costume, it’s also a good idea to carry a few sets of regular clothing. Kids get bored really quickly, so if they get uncomfortable, you can handle it with ease.
Speaking of which, make sure they wear comfortable shoes underneath their costumes. You’ll be walking around a lot, so you don’t want them to get tired.
You’d be surprised by how many free activities there are to do in Disneyland. While you can’t exactly take any rides for free, there is other stuff to do. For example, you can take part in drawing classes and take the drawings home with you.
As for kids, there are always some pages to color, make necklaces with beads, and more crafting events. Inside California Adventure are always some free snacks that many tourists take advantage of.
Apart from that, the best thing you can do in Disneyland is to take lots of photos with your own phone or camera. The resort is absolutely incredible, so you’ll cherish all the great pictures you take. Try to bring a decent DSLR with you if you can.
Other Quick Tips
If you absolutely must buy souvenirs directly from Disney, take a look at their app instead of the actual shop. We don’t know why this is, but a lot of items are usually much cheaper inside the app.
Here’s a quick food tip. If you’re ordering a full set meal, you can actually opt to order it a la carte for some quick savings. Don’t plan on eating the sides anyway? Just ask for the main course and you can easily save money.
The Anaheim packing district and 4th street marketplace are two great areas to quickly grab lunch. They cost considerably less when compared to Disneyland.
Explore The Coastal Cities
You don’t have to spend the entirety of your time at the Disneyland Resort. If you can only budget out the money for 3 days, that’s okay. Three days at Disneyland is still a dream for a lot of people. If you want to spend a longer time on vacation, then think of spending some time in the coastal cities as well.
We’re obviously talking about Los Angeles and Laguna Beach. If you can rent a car early in the morning, you can easily avoid traffic and reach either city in a matter of hours. It doesn’t matter which city you pick, as both have great beaches and lots to do.
It’s a great way to wind down after a long day trip to Disneyland. There’s nothing more satisfying than spending your vacation relaxing at the beach.
That’s all there is to it. We tried to keep things very diverse and think outside of the box. Hopefully, you’ll save a lot of money on your next trip to Disneyland. Maybe this advice could be of some use to your family and friends as well. Have a good journey!