With over 15 million visitors per year, Disneyland is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States. However, it is also an expensive trip (a single-day ticket during value season is $97 alone) and budget travelers may feel the iconic theme park is out of their price range.
Luckily there are plenty of people out there who feel the same way, and hundreds of websites and blogs have been built around saving money at Disney. Here are some of the best money saving tips and tricks.
1. Only buy tickets for what you need.
Don Munsil, who helps runs MouseSavers.com, said ticket prices don’t fluctuate too much, so it’s important to only buy what you need. A single-park ticket, for example, is over $50 cheaper per person than a Park Hopper ticket. Don suggests sticking with single park tickets if you are on a budget.
He also said trying to save money by spending less days in the park isn’t worth it. More days means a better vacation, and once a person buys more than four days the tickets only increase by $10-$20 a day.
2. Stay in an independent hotel.
Don said independent hotel prices tend to be significantly lower than Disney property hotels and many offer excellent service and quality. Staying off-site does mean having to budget for a rental car (or other transportation services) and parking, so it all really depends on what deals you can find.
“However, all that said, do at least look at the Disney Value resorts,” Don said. “The rooms at Disney values are pretty small and kind of motel-like, but occasionally Disney offers a fantastic special that makes them competitive, especially considering you don't need to rent a car or pay for transportation from the airport.”
3. Plan where to spend money of food and beverages ahead of time.
Eating out for three meals a day can add up quickly. Don said adults can easily eat well for under $25 a day if they plan and discipline how much money they spend on meals and snacks. Don suggests doing things like eating breakfast at your hotel, buying groceries and making as many meals as possible, bringing snacks into the park, eating outside of the park when possible, bring reusable water bottles into the park, and, if it fits someone’s vacation style, renting an off-site villa with a kitchen to cook meals in.
Don said if buying food and snacks in the parks will make someone’s experience significantly better, they need to make sure they are getting the most value from their purchase. An ice cream bar, for example, costs about the same as a churro but is larger and more filling.