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They say that Disneyland is the “Happiest Place on Earth.” For many of us, that is absolutely true. My family loves Disneyland. The characters, the rides, the magic . . . we love it all! But on top of being the happiest place, it’s no secret that it can be one of the most expensive. That’s why we follow a few easy and simple tips to help save our wallets while enjoying all the magic Disney has to offer.
1. Pre-purchase souvenirs –Shopping for souvenirs, like toys and clothing, at the parks can cost a pretty penny. That’s why we try to buy what we can before the trip, and bring it with us. Want cute Disney shirts? Amazon, Target, even Walmart have tons of cute options at very wallet-friendly prices. As a special treat for the girls (and to curb the begging for toys at the park), I bought each girl a Disney princess doll at Target and then secretly packed it in their suitcases for them to “find” once we got to the hotel. I also wanted the girls to have the option of participating in pin-trading if they wanted. But YIKES! Pins at the park can definitely be pricey! So I ordered us lanyards and random Disney pin grab bags off of sites like Etsy and eBay and saved myself some cash.
2. Bring your own food – Even with all the fun and excitement happening around you, people still have to eat. Thankfully, Disneyland allows guests to bring in their own food from outside the parks. While we chose to eat dinner (and an occasional lunch) at the parks, we brought in plenty of snacks for the girls. And as any parent of small children know, kids love their snacks. All day, every day. I can’t imagine how much money we saved just by bringing in our own crackers!
3. Share meals –The Disney parks have some great spots for amazing food. So we always plan to at least have dinner at the parks each day to be able to try the delicious fare. But feeding a family of 4 can add up quick! That’s why we usually end up sharing meals. As with most American restaurants, portion sizes can be generous. I usually can’t finish my meal and vacation isn’t usually a place where you take home leftovers. Add to that two tiny humans who rarely (if ever) clean their plates and there’s always plenty of food to go around. So we share food! Either the girls can share a plate or Hubby and I each share with a girl. It’s a small change that can add up to a good chunk of money saved.
4. Use your own stroller – I know this tip is easier said than done for people who need to fly to Disneyland, but if you can, bringing your own stroller to the parks is a simple way to save yourself a chunk of change. Stroller rentals at the park start at $15/day for single strollers and $35/day for doubles. Just renting a single for 3 days means you’ve spent almost $50! Also, the park strollers aren’t going to be as nice and comfortable as the one you probably have at home. They don’t recline, which can be a problem if you have a younger baby or are hoping your child can nap in the stroller. Park strollers can travel between parks, and through Downtown Disney, but you can’t take them back to your hotel. Trust me, after a long day at the park, you want to be able to just push your sleeping child back to the hotel and up to your room.
5. Bring a water bottle – Skip the pricey sodas, coffees, or even bottled water. It’s important to stay hydrated during a long day at the park, and buying park beverages to do so will cost you an arm and a leg. Bringing your own water bottle allows you to refill at one of the many water fountains for free. Or, you can ask at any quick-service restaurant for a cup of water and they’ll give it to you, at no charge.
6. Bring your own costume – Dressing up as your favorite princess or other Disney character can be super fun, but buying a costume at the parks can cost you an arm and a leg! When we took Emma for her visit to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, I knew it’d be that much more magical if she got to dress the part of a princess, but I just couldn’t justify paying the extra money (lots of extra money) for the package that came with a dress. So we just brought one of her princess dresses from home. She was none-the-wiser and her visit was just as magical. My favorite way to add to the girls’ dress collections is the day after Halloween. I make a run to places like Target and Walmart and scoop up them up for half off!
7. Skip the Park Hopper – Some people love and swear by Park Hopper tickets, but for us, the extra money just wasn’t worth it. Our first trip we purchased the multi-park tickets and never once bounced between parks. Not one single time. So when we went again, we saved some money and purchased the single park tickets. We never missed the park-hopping option. The only difference it made to our trip was in our pocketbook.
Saving money at Disneyland doesn’t have to be hard! It just takes a little bit of planning to keep your wallet happy while also having a magical time!
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What’s your favorite Disney money-saving tip?
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