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The Disneyland Price Hike: Strategies for Enjoying the Park Without Emptying Your Wallet

The Disneyland Price Hike: Strategies for Enjoying the Park Without Emptying Your Wallet

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Are you planning a Disneyland vacation but are worried about the cost? You won’t want to miss these tips to make save money at Disneyland this year!
This list of Disneyland budget tips was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Oh boy, Disneyland! The happiest place on earth, right?

Well, as a mom of two adventure-loving boys who thinks of Disneyland almost like a second home, I’ve got to say, it’s also becoming one of the priciest places on earth!

Every time we go, it seems like the prices have nudged up even more, and my wallet definitely feels the pinch.

But don’t worry, fellow Disneyland-loving families, I’ve got some strategies up my sleeve to help you enjoy the magic of Disney without feeling like you’re breaking the bank every visit.

Image of a family taking a selfie in front of the Mickey's Toontown sign
We’re HUGE Disneyland fans! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

How to Save Money at Disneyland Like a Pro

Plan and Purchase Ahead

One of the first things I learned about tackling Disneyland on a budget is the power of planning. Tickets, meals, souvenirs – they can all add up quicker than you can say “Mickey Mouse.”

But buying your park tickets in advance can sometimes save you a bundle, especially if you look for promotions. We always book our Disneyland packages through Get Away Today because they have the best promotions.

Also, consider the times of year you visit. Off-peak times not only often have cheaper ticket prices but the crowds are smaller, meaning you get more bang for your buck with shorter lines!

Bring Your Own Snacks and Water

This one’s a game-changer. While Disneyland has no shortage of delicious treats (I’m looking at you, churros!), buying snacks and drinks for the whole family throughout the day can seriously add up.

I’ve started packing our own reusable water bottles and a backpack full of snacks, and it’s saved us a small fortune. You can often find Disney-themed snacks (like Goldfish crackers) at Target or your local grocery store.

Plus, Disneyland is totally cool with you bringing your own food and drinks (just no glass bottles or alcohol), so pack up and save up!

Set a Souvenir Budget

Ah, souvenirs. It’s hard to resist those adorable Mickey ears, especially when your kids give you the big, pleading eyes. But I’ve found that setting a souvenir budget before we go—and sticking to it—helps keep things in check.

Image of Lunar New Year merchandise at Disneyland in 2024
We ALL had a hard time not buying all the Lunar New Year merchandise! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

I talk with my boys about it and we decide together how much they can spend. It turns into a fun challenge for them to pick out something special within their budget, and it helps avoid any meltdowns in the gift shops.

We also tend to take photos of all the items they want so we can look at them later in our hotel room to see how much they actually want them.

Take Advantage of Freebies

Believe it or not, Disneyland is full of freebies if you know where to look.

From celebration buttons that you can get at City Hall (think birthday badges, first visit buttons, etc.) to free water from any counter service restaurant, there are lots of little perks that can make your day extra special without costing extra.

My boys love collecting the free stickers from cast members, and it’s a fun, free souvenir of their day at the park.

Use the Disneyland App and Genie+ Wisely

The Disneyland app has become my best friend when it comes to navigating the park efficiently. It’s great for checking ride wait times, which helps us avoid wasting time in line for popular rides.

We’ve also used Genie+ on occasions when we know the park will be super busy. It does cost extra, but reserving the rides on your phone and getting those precious PhotoPass downloads can sometimes be worth the splurge, especially if it means fitting more fun into the day.

And sometimes it does make sense to spend a little more to avoid a 90-120 minute wait. I mean, time IS money, right?

Have Meals Outside the Park

While dining in Disneyland is part of the experience, eating every meal in the park can quickly eat into your budget.

We’ve started having a big breakfast before we head to the park, packing our snacks (as I mentioned before), and then having dinner outside the park.

Image of a boy eating a burger at In N Out Burger near Disneyland
We always hit up In-N-Out at some point during our Disneyland vacation. Photo credit: Darren Cheung

There are plenty of budget-friendly restaurants within walking distance or a short drive. It’s amazing how much you can save with this strategy, and it’s a nice way to wind down after a day of Disney magic.

We’ve also found that Uber Eats (even with a delivery fee) is usually cheaper and tastier than our hotel restaurant.

Consider Special Events

Disneyland has a LOT of special events throughout the year. Some of the most popular are the Oogie Boogie Bash, Sweethearts Nite, and Star Wars Nite.

Image of Sweethearts Nite at Disneyland in 2024
Sweethearts Nite was cheaper than a normal park ticket. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

What’s cool about these tickets is that you actually can enter the park 2-3 hours before the event. So oftentimes, you get 6-8 hours of park access for less than a normal park ticket.

And since there are usually fewer people at the events than during the day, the ride lines are shorter and you can usually do more things.

Skip the Park Hopper Option

The Park Hopper option can be great, but if you’re looking to save money, consider skipping it.

Sticking to one park per day can significantly reduce the cost of tickets, and honestly, there’s so much to do in each park that you’ll hardly be missing out.

We’ve found that focusing on one park at a time allows us to really enjoy everything without feeling rushed to hop back and forth.

Look for Accommodations with Perks

Staying at a Disney hotel can be super convenient, but it can also be super pricey.

Check out this list of the best Disneyland hotels within walking distance of the parks recommended by top family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. Image of Marcie Cheung, owner of Marcie in Mommyland in front of the Disneyland entrance
We like being able to walk to the Disneyland entrance. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We’ve found great deals on hotels near the park that offer perks like free breakfast (which saves money) and shuttle service to Disneyland (which saves time and parking fees).

Some research ahead of time can lead you to some great accommodations that won’t break the bank.

How to Save Money at Disneyland Wrap-Up

Visiting Disneyland is truly a magical experience, but it doesn’t have to be one that drains your wallet dry.

With a bit of planning, some savvy saving strategies, and a sprinkle of that Disney pixie dust, you can create unforgettable memories with your family without the constant worry of costs.

From my family to yours, I hope these tips help make your next Disneyland adventure as magical and budget-friendly as possible. Happy travels, and give Mickey a high-five for me!

Looking for more Disneyland travel content? Check out Honest Disneyland Pixar Place Hotel Review: Is It Worth It?, 10 Good-Value Hotels Near Disneyland with Free Breakfast, Is the Oogie Boogie Bash at Disneyland Worth It?, and Discover the 9 Best Disneyland Hotels Within Walking Distance!

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