Disneyland for Cheap: Top 12 Tips & Tricks [2019 Edition]

Having been to Disneyland with three young kids, there are a lot of tips and tricks I wish I would have known about beforehand. Well lucky for you, I am giving this advice to you ahead of your trip. Let’s get started.

Disneyland for Cheap [Family Vacation Tips]

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1. Cheap Disneyland Tickets.

Disneyland tickets can be extremely pricey. I am not talking bad about the cost because let’s be honest, you are purchasing an invaluable experience. However, there are secrets to saving the most money on your Disney tickets.

WORD OF CAUTION: ALWAYS be wary of third-party sellers of “cheap” Disneyland Tickets. Every year thousands of people get scammed. Be sure to always do research and double check with Disney that it is a reputable place to buy Disneyland tickets.

*Kids 3 years old and under are FREE. Most people hate taking younger kids but our two-year-old was able to ride a TON of rides and had a blast. Plus, the best part is, she was FREE.

*If you are a military member make sure you take advantage of Disney’s military discounts.

*Use discount sites like GetAwayToday (cheap Disneyland vacation packages) or HotelsETC (what we used to save $400).

*Check Cosco or Sam’s Club. They occasionally have cheaper than the gate ticket prices.

*If you are a SoCal resident, make sure to take advantage of SoCal ticket price reductions.

*If you are a Target Red Card holder, you can take advantage of 5% the purchase of Disney gift cards. I know several people who have saved $50+ utilizing their Target Red Card.

2. Save Money on Hotel Stays.

Let talk facts. Disneyland Hotels are outrageous. Awesome amenities and totally worth it if you can wing it, but if you are wanting the best vacation at the cheapest prices here are some options.

Good Neighbor Hotels.

Some of the good neighboring hotels can cut your vacation costs by upwards of $2000. Most of them are within walking distance and the ones that are not in walking distance, usually provide a shuttle system to and from the parks. Some nice hotels near Disneyland include the Howard Johnson of Anaheim which has a water park and is approx 10 min walk from the Disneyland entrance. Other possible choices include the Castle Inn and Suites and

Davids Vacation Club.

If you feel the need to stay on Disney property make sure to check out Davids Vacation Club. This website provides you with vacation timeshare rentals. What that means is you can get an onsite hotel for half the price of going through the Disneyland website.

3. Go for more than one day!

I know what you’re thinking. Disney is expensive and now all of a sudden im telling you to go more than one day. However, im telling you this because the price of the ticket per day goes down drastically the more days you add on. For example, a 1 day 1 park pass is approximately $150 per person. A 5 day 1 park per day is $340 ($68 per day) per person. That is a saving of $80 per day. It makes sense to save up a little more money to take advantage of the multiple day discounts.

4. Buy a park hopper pass.

Again this seems counterproductive, but it is amazingly helpful. On five day tickets, it’s about $11 extra a day, but you get access to both Disneyland and California Adventure. This meant that when Disneyland was so overcrowded (about 3pm) we could skip over to California Adventure and ride rides instead of waiting 30+ minutes for rides in Disneyland. It saved us so much time and we definitely got our money worth.

5. Pack a lunch!

Did you know Disneyland allows outside food and drink into the park? Most people don’t. Just remember no glass containers. There are several stores close to Disneyland including a Walmart. We were able to stop in and grab a few food items we could put in our hotel’s mini fridge. Things like uncrustable peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and granola bars worked really well. In the morning before we left for the park, I would grab a few frozen sandwiches and granola bars and by the time the kids were hungry the PB&J was ready to eat. Its no secret meals in the park can add up fast.

6. Order a kids meal.

If you are not feeling packing anything or you forget don’t worry. You can order a kids meal. They are still pretty decent sized portions and half the cost of an “adult” meal. I did this several times and I didn’t feel deprived.

7. Order souvenirs before vacation.

You can order souvenirs online or at your local stores before you leave. Things like t-shirts, princess dresses, light sabers, and pins for pin trading. Also, check out this blog post that talks about free stuff you can get from Disneyland like a map from the Jungle Cruise Ride.

8. Don’t buy a photo package.

Disney memories are priceless and need to be great. However, this doesn’t mean you have to buy a photo package from Disneyland. You can take a fun course in photography so you can get the most candid shots. Many people don’t know that if you ask a cast member they will take your picture using your device. And they are damn good at it! You can also use your phone camera. I have an i-phone 8 Plus and it took some amazing shots (like the ones above).

9. Travel when you have a child under 3.

If you plan on going to Disney more than once, I recommend going before a child is 3. Kids under 3 get into Disneyland free and they still have a blast. There are plenty of rides and excitement for kids under 3.

10. Book your vacation EARLY.

If you are looking to visit Disneyland on the cheap, I recommend you book your vacation early. Six to twelve months in advance will give you some of the best special and promotional deals you can find. Another tip is to visit out of peak season. Peak season is way more crowded, hotter, and more expensive. Check out this calendar that highlights the best days of 2019 to visit Disneyland.

11. Don’t pay for beverages in the park.

Inside of Disneyland, it can be easy to grab a refreshing ice-cold bottle of water for $3 each. But, stay away. The reason being, if you ask any counter service food location in the park for a cup of ice water, they give it to you for free. We stopped several times per day for a cup of free ice water and it was incredibly nice not only to get a refreshing drink but also to not have to lug around another thing like half drank bottles of H2O. Side note: none of the rides at Disney allow you to take open container drinks or food items on a ride with you. So make sure you drink it all before going on a ride, throw it away, or keep it in a safe place (like a locker) while you’re on the ride.

12. Pack the essentials.

Like mentioned before, Disney allows you to bring in bags and backpacks (they are checked thoroughly before admittance). Make sure you bring things you will need like sunscreen, a poncho, chapstick, and, diapers (if you have little ones). These things can be purchased in the park but for an outrageous amount of money. It is nice to know, however, that if you forget something, Disney has you covered.

Our final thoughts.

Disneyland is such a fun place to be, especially for families. This list will help ensure you have the best Disneyland vacation at the cheapest prices. Now go enjoy the happiest place on earth.

If you have asked yourself how to go to Disneyland for cheap, I hope these suggestions will help you make your family vacation dreams come true.

Did I miss anything? Please let me know your budget Disneyland tips below.

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