Tips on how to stretch your Disneyland budget. When to go, transportation, hotels near Disneyland, how to save money on food, souvenirs and more.
This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, I get a small percentage back at no cost to you! For more information see my disclosure policy.
Guess what? I LOVE Disney! Although I love it, I do realize that Disney is expensive. Really expensive.
Growing up, my family would visit Disneyland at least once a year and I have continued that tradition with my kids.
Sometimes we even go more than once a year!
Having a budget conscious husband and having an extreme love for all things Disney can be kind of tricky.
But I assure you, it is possible. Below you’ll find some tips on how to go to Disneyland and stay on your budget.
How to go to Disneyland on a Budget
1. Decide When to Go
The first thing you’ll want to decide is when you want to go to Disneyland. Certain times of the year are more expensive than others. For a more in depth look at each month of the year, check out my Disneyland monthly guides here.
Disneyland ticket prices change depending on when you decide to go. Generally, ticket prices will be cheaper if you travel during the off-season:
- Beginning of March
- End of April
- Beginning of May
- End of August
- Beginning of November
- Beginning of December.
Another thing to think about is that hotel, airline ticket, and gas prices will generally be lower during these times as well.
2. Transportation Options
The next thing you will want to consider is how you will get to Disneyland. Drive or fly?
The cost effectiveness of each will depend on how far you will be traveling, how many people are in your party, and the price of gas.
Driving to Disneyland
For me, living in Utah with a family of five, it is generally cheaper to drive.
But, just because driving might seem cheaper there are other factors you need to consider.
If you plan to split up your drive, you will have to pay for things like extra meals, hotel stays, gas prices, and hotel parking prices.
A lot of hotels close to Disneyland charge for parking.
Flying to Disneyland
If you choose to fly, there are also many things to think about if you are trying to stay on a budget.
You might be able to find a super cheap flight, but most airlines will charge a fee for a checking bag, and some even charge you for your carry-on. Ridiculous, I know.
You’ll also need to arrange transportation once you arrive in California.
Will you rent a car, use Uber or take a shuttle to your hotel? How will you get to and from Disneyland once at your hotel?
An advantage of flying is time. Generally you will save time when flying so that is something to consider as well.
If done right, one way to save money on flights is to apply for a credit card offered by an airline.
With a lot of these credit cards you will earn points or miles that can apply toward the cost of your flight and might be able to save you some money.
I’ve had a Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Credit Card for a few years now and have been able to fly my family to Disneyland in California, Disney World in Florida, and many other destinations using just points!
If you do choose to fly, check out the transportation options available from Get Away Today, my favorite company to book Disneyland vacations through.
They have discounted rates on shuttles, to and from many Southern California airports, as well as shuttles to Universal Studios and more.
3. Disneyland Budget: Where to Stay
Deciding where to stay on your Disneyland vacation will also impact your budget.
The Disneyland Resort Hotels are always an option, but to me are more of a splurge.
There are many Disneyland Good Neighbor hotels located close to the parks that have high ratings and are very affordable.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Hotel:
- Group Size and Room Size. If you have more than 4 people in your group, you’ll want to check and see which hotels have rooms that will accommodate larger families.
- Proximity to Disneyland. If the hotel you choose is close enough, you might be able to walk to Disneyland and save money on parking. The Anaheim Resort Transit (ART) is another way to potentially save money. It is a shuttle service that offers transportation to Disneyland for many hotels in the area for a small fee. Many hotels may offer their own shuttles as well.
- Free Meals. There are a lot of hotels that provide a free breakfast, kids eat free deals and even free dinner! This can definitely help you stay on budget when traveling to Disneyland.
I also recommend checking out hotel packages available through Get Away Today.
You can book Disneyland Resort Hotels as well as Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels through them, some with a 3rd or 4th night free and reduced parking fees.
Get Away Today has provided an awesome coupon for my readers.
Visit their website, book a 2-night or longer Southern California Vacation Package, use the code MommyMouse at checkout, and save $10!
That should hopefully help you with your Disneyland budget.
Check out these Disneyland Area Hotel Reviews:
- Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel & Water Playground
- Embassy Suites Anaheim South
- Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance
- Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim
- Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel
4. Save on Food
The cost of food and dining can be a big part of your Disneyland budget. But there are some ways to save money.
- Choose a hotel that offers free breakfast.
- Check out my post on where you can get breakfast at Disneyland. There are so many affordable options, as well as items that can be shared!
- Pack a lunch! There are plenty of grocery stores close to Disneyland that you can stop and pick up some food. Disneyland does allow you to bring your won food into the parks, within reason. Just be aware that hard-sided coolers are not permitted inside Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park.
- Decide on a few fun Disneyland #snackgoals and treats that can be shared by the whole family! Check out some of my favorites!
- Share meals or order off the kids menu. Most portion sizes at Disneyland are really big and can easily be shared.
- Have snacks delivered to your hotel. I have used Amazon, Walmart, and Instacart for grocery delivery to my hotels. Read more about my grocery delivery tips.
- Go outside the parks. There are quite a few restaurants located in Downtown Disney District and across the street that are less expensive than trying to eat inside the parks. My family ate dinner at IHOP a couple of times on our last trip because kids eat free after 4:00 PM! Check out some of my favorite places to eat in Southern California here.
5. Disneyland Ticket Savings
There aren’t a lot of Disneyland ticket savings available out there, but they can be found if you know where to look.
With tickets to Disneyland, the more days you go, the cheaper the tickets become, per day. That is something to consider when you’re planning your vacation.
Park Hopper Ticket vs. 1-Park per Day Ticket
One way to save money is to decide whether or not you want to purchase a Park Hopper Ticket or a 1-Park Per Day Ticket. I have a complete post with tips for Park Hopping, but here is a quick run down of how they work.
With a Park Hopper Ticket, you can go between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure as many times as you want throughout the day.
You can save a little bit of money by choosing the 1-Park Per Day Ticket, but it depends on what your priorities are.
For me, if I’m at Disneyland for 3 days or less, I will usually get the Park Hopper.
It’s also nice because Disney California Adventure usually closes first, so you can head over to Disneyland for an hour or two to end your day.
Regardless of which ticket you and your family decide on, I have found that Get Away Today can always save you money and help you stay on your Disneyland budget.
They always have special deals and sales available to their customers!
Booking your vacation in a package through them has always saved me money over trying to book everything separately myself.
If you do choose to plan your vacation with Get Away Today, you can use the coupon code: MommyMouse to save even more!
Follow me on Instagram so you’ll always be informed then they are having a sale!
While we’re talking about Disneyland tickets, let’s chat about Disney Genie+.
What is Disney Genie+?
Disney Genie is something that can be added to your Disneyland park ticket to enhance your experience.
With Genie+, you are able to reserve Lightning Lane passes for select attractions at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, right on your mobile phone through the Disneyland app.
You will also have unlimited downloads of Photopass photos taken of you at Disneyland, including ride attraction photos.
How much does Disney Genie+ cost?
Disney Genie+ will cost you $20 per day, per person. This extra cost can really add up if you are trying to stay within a budget.
You will have to determine if the benefits of Genie+ outweigh this cost to see if it is right for your family.
This is how I usually decide. If the parks are expected to be busy, I will usually purchase Genie+ at Disneyland.
If I plan to be there for 3 or more days, I will usually buy it for one day to make sure we get to go on all of the rides we want to.
For all more information on Disney Genie, Genie+ and lightning lane, make sure to read this article, Disney Genie: Your Own Personal Assistant at the Parks!
6. Save on Souvenirs
Part of the fun of visiting Disneyland is being able to bring a little piece of the parks home with you. Just ask my kids! Souvenir shopping can be fun, but the cost can get out of hand quickly.
I always give my kids a small budget that they can use to spend on a toy or souvenir. This method has another advantages as well. It teaches them money management skills! Win, win.
There are also many stores around Disneyland, like Target and Walmart, where you can buy discounted souvenirs.
Before any Disney vacation, I like to check out Jane.com for adorable and affordable Disney vacation t-shirts!
The Jane deals change daily though, so make sure to check back often or follow me on Instagram to keep up on all of the amazing Disney-themed merchandise!
7. Other Disneyland Savings
If I’m traveling all the way to Southern California, I usually like to combine the trip with a visit to San Diego.
One of the cool things about traveling south to San Diego in October, is that kids are able to get into many attractions for free!
Just something to keep in mind if you want to add some more fun to your Disneyland vacation while sticking to your budget.
I hope that you can use some of these tips to help you stick to your Disneyland budget. You can find more Disneyland tips here. Make sure you pin this post so you will have it when you’re ready to plan your vacation!