Disneyland Money Saving Tips

Up until a few months ago

we had annual passes to Disneyland
(we decided to give it a break with the new baby)
Considering we do NOT live in California
(or Arizona, Nevada)
It took a bit of travel for us to get down there often
So we know the ins and outs
of getting things at an affordable price!

So to start my series of Disneyland posts
I will give my best tips for savings a few bucks on your trip!

Always check out
Mousesavers.com for the most up to date deals, coupons, and offers

Food & Drink (I will do a separate post with Character Meals!)

  • Take your own water into the park – this costs a fortune per bottle in the park. You’ll need alot of water and to re-hydrate often, so make sure you have plenty of water.
  • Can get free ice water at all counter service restaurants – good for refilling your water bottle with COLD water!
  • Take your own lunch and snacks. You can take a soft sided cooler into the park. We just put it in the bottom of the stroller. We pack Sandwiches, carrots, string cheese, chips, etc. We keep a large bag of carrots out on the stroller all day and the kids munch on them – they are often gone by the early afternoon! Just bringing in your own snacks (since my kids are ALWAYS hungry) will save you TONS of money! 
  • You MUST and I mean MUST have a Dole Whip outside the Tiki Room. If you have never had one before, ask for a FREE button to commemorate the event! For a shorter line, go inside the Tiki Room outside waiting area – it is often a MUCH shorter line!
  • One of the best places to eat is Rancho Del Zocalo near Big Thunder Mountain RailRoad – the plates are HUGE and I highly suggest sharing!
  • The Blue Bayou, in MY opinion, is WAY overpriced and only mediocre food. but it is fun to eat inside the Pirate of the Caribbean ride. However, now that I have done it, I don’t plan on wasting my money on it again
  • Jazz Kitchen Express in Downtown Disney has decent prices, good food, and the Beniets there are DELICIOUS!
  • Have a Birthday within a month or so of your trip? Head over here to Patina Groups website and sign up for their mailing list. You will get $30 to spend for dinner!! There are 3 different restaurants to choose from in Downtown Disney. We like Tortilla Jos’ because they have a Balloon Animal Artist for the kids while you wait!
  • Rainforest Cafe has Club you can join – it costs money, but you will make it back in Welcome Rewards, you will get a birthday reward, and you get a discount in the store! I happened to get mine when they were running a sale for $10!
  • Speaking of RainForest Cafe, Join MyPoints and earn points to get Rainforest Cafe Gift Cards for FREE! I do this with my points, and in all our Disney trips, we always eat at RainForest Cafe for FREE with my gift cards I’ve earned (not to mention the bonus I get from having the Raninforest Cafe club card!)
  • Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney is always a delicious and inexpensive (for theme parks!) place to get a sandwich
  • If you have a Disney Visa card, you can get 10% off at many restaurants (check your card website for the restaurants currently being offered)
  • Head over here to MouseSavers for up to date coupons for restaurants in the area
Tickets:
  • My husband gets Disney Ticket discount through work – you might check your place of employment and see if they have a discount program
  • Getawaytoday.com offers discount on Theme Park Tickets – you can even get discounts on Character Meals from them. They also offer a  Best Price/Best Service Guarantee, so if anything, including tickets have a price reduction, they will honor it – how cool is that?!?! So you can buy worry free! 
  • Check your local Costco – ours often has tickets available at a lower price
  • Watch for Gift Card deals at your local Grocery store. Around here, they often have the Park Hopper tickets at the store, and they are often included in the gift card deals (like save $10 on your next grocery shopping trip when you spend $100 or 10x gas rewards, etc.) This would also work to buy Disney Gift Cards, to pre-buy some of the food, souvenirs, etc you are planning on spending at Disney anyway -so you might as well save some money by getting the gift cards!
  • If you plan on doing other things, like Universal Studios,  Sea World, or San Diego Zoo – you might check out the CityPass tickets – they are a GREAT deal!!
Souvenirs
  • Your Disney Visa card will get you 10% off $50 purchase, so we try and get all of our souvenirs at once and get the discount
  • Hit up your local DisneyStore or Disneystore online and get souvenirs cheaper or on sale!
  • Make a budget for your kids, so they have to stick to it
  • We tell our kids they get mickey ears and a stuffed animal – anything over that, they have to pay for. Make up your own rules, and maybe have them save up for it before the trip. Makes them appreciate what they get more and stops many of the “I wants” if you have it set up beforehand!
  • Buy Disney Gift cards when your local grocery store is having a Gift card deal or Target for 5% off if you have a red card
  • Go to the Disney Character Warehouse Outlet that is not too far from Disneyland and get park merchandise at a reduced cost. Google it and you can often find coupons as well!
  • Get a Free Birthday, Anniversary, Just married, or I’m Celebrating buttons from City Hall or Guest Services
  • Free License at Autotopia
  • Autographs from the Characters are always Free
  • We made binders with printer paper in them – we got the autographs on one side, and then we printed the picture of the kids with that character on the other side of the paper. They turned out AWESOME!
  • When we were there, in CarsLand, they had Free CarsLand buttons at the stores (not sure if they still do?) Each of my kids, got each of the colors (6 total colors x3 kids – yeah we had 18 buttons!)
  • Cast Members will give out Free Mickey Stickers!
  • Jedi Academy Participants get a certificate to take home
Other:
  • Try and bring in things you need like sunscreen, to batteries, to avoid the high cost in the park
  • bring ponchos, if rain is in the forecast – get them at the dollar store and throw them away when done!
Hotel:
We have stayed at many hotels near Disneyland. We have some criteria for what hotel we want to stay at:
  • Must be within walking distance – thus saving on driving time and parking/shuttle FEES!
  • Must have a refrigerator and microwave, so we can prepare and have meals in our hotel room, thus saving more money
  • It MUST be CLEAN and NICE
Now if you have been to Disneyland, you know this may not be an easy task. Many of the hotels across the street are old, and frankly, not very nice. They are nice enough to sleep in, and that is about as far as I would go. You also have to be careful when looking for a hotel. MANY say they are across the street, which may be true, but they need to be across the street from the ENTRANCE – there is a BIG difference in that distinction! It could be across the street, but way too far to walk to the actual entrance. So be VERY careful!
We do have a favorite – and we have stayed in several. The Carousel Inn is probably our #2, but our #1 favorite – by a MILE – is the Howard Johnson Anaheim and the only one we stay in on all our trips now!!
They have great rooms, the BEST kids play swim area outside of Disney (our kids LOVE the play area and playing in all the water features!!), complete with pirate ship and waterslides! They have a fantastic staff, are an EASY walk to the entrance, good prices, and just a great resort! Make sure to book EARLY if you want one of their great family suites! It is the only place we’ll stay when we go now. Sign up for their emails and you can get emails with their exclusive 50% off rates!! GREAT deal!! (They often have other discounts as well, just call them and ask!)
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