This year, we saved up and took our kids to Disneyland for Christmas.
Well... technically they had to wait till January 6, but still.
We were at Disneyland for one glorious day out of our 5-day trip. It was completely magical, and my children's first time going there. (Mine too, for that matter.)
One day at Disney was PERFECT for my young ones. We went long and hard into the late night. I seriously doubt we could have turned around and done it all again the next day and come out of it in one piece.
|Trying on mouse ears for fun.|
|As soon as the ride started, this boy was all smiles and giggles.|
We didn't make it to ALL of the rides... not by a long shot... not enough time, and too many members of my family didn't meet the height requirements.
My hubby loved the merry-go-round most, because we were all able to be on it right next to each other... But, to maintain his manliness, he claims that shooting the aliens and getting a high score in the Buzz Lightyear ride was just as fun. Our baby boy also thought the merry-go-round was the greatest thing ever.
|Daughter #3 on the merry-go-round with her daddy... again|
My oldest daughter thought Splash Mountain was the coolest.
My littlest daughter loved the flying Dumbo ride.
We met princesses, saw Captain Hook giving chase to Peter Pan, rode the rides, window-shopped, each chose a yummy treat, and took a billion photos to document our magical day.
And here, I have to add a disclaimer: Disneyland is NOT cheap. In fact, it is the opposite of cheap. What I'm trying to show you is a way to visit Disneyland as realistically cheaply as possible... without being miserly. You won't enjoy it, if you are counting pennies to closely. But really, it only takes a very little extra spending to feel like you're splurging. (i.e. going to dinner one night, eating fast food for a meal here and there while traveling, letting the kids choose an inexpensive souvenir.)
|Baby boy's souvenir was a Mickey Mouse hat. He was so happy... Look at that face!|
Here's a timeline:
DAY 1: Leave early, and drive from Utah to Anaheim, California. (10 hours of talking, swapping stories, telling knock-knock jokes, reading, coloring, and playing with toys.) Check into hotel. Relax.
DAY 2: Free continental breakfast. DISNEYLAND!!! Pack in food and water in the undercarriage of our stroller. 2 Adults, 2 kids ages 3+, 2 kids age 2 and under. All. Day. Long. Everyone gets one purchased food-treat. It was awesome! Back to hotel very, VERY, late.
DAY 3: Sleep in. Everyone is going to be EXHAUSTED. Let the kids watch Disney channel. Free continental breakfast. Go to a local park (Yorba) and take a picnic lunch. Let the kids play. Back to hotel for naps. Visit Downtown Disney (free parking for 3 hours at a time.) More window shopping, live entertainment, free Ghirardelli chocolate samples. Optional: budget for your kids to choose one special memento to purchase to remind them of this special trip. The Lego store in Downtown Disney has an area of bricks for kids to play with for free. Hot 'N Ready Pizza for dinner.
DAY 4: Free continental breakfast. Beach day! Pack lunch. Huntington Beach Pier and Main Street. Visit Surf City and Hall of Fame. Play in the sand and surf. Splurge and eat dinner out!
Day 5: Free continental breakfast. Drive home.
And here's the cost breakdown:
Hotel (4 nights) = $608.32
Groceries for meals/snacks = $83.89
Gas = $145.60 (we lucked out... this is when gas was about $2.30/gal on average)
Disney Tickets = $372.00 (2 adults, 2 kids, 2 free babies... daughter #3 turns 3 this week. Good timing.)
Disneyland Parking = $17.00
Disenyland Treats = $22.50
Eating out one night/Some fast food while traveling/Pizza night = $95.61
Disney Souvenirs = $42.16
TOTAL COST = $1387.08
That's a 5-day trip at $231.18 per person all expenses included.
Still seem steep? That's just Disneyland for you... and traveling with a family of 6 for 5 days. Plus, it only looks like a lot until you do some comparing:
Let's look at what a typical trip to Disneyland would cost for a family of 6 like mine:
Flights for 6 from Utah to LAX (2 kids free - ages 2 and younger) = $650
Rental minivan and gas = $250
Disneyland Partner Hotel 4 nights= $1204
Dining (no packed lunches/snacks/dinners) = $450 ($75 per person over 5 days... not much)
Disneyland shirts/mouse ears/or other memorabilia = $150 ($25 each)
Disneyland treats = $22.50 ($4.50 each)
Disneyland Parking = $17.00
All other free activities as outlined above.
(The prices above don't include baggage fees, and lean towards the lower end of dining fees.)
TOTAL COST = $2743.50
With careful planning, my family saved about $1356.42... or 50%.
In short, we did our Disneyland trip for 50% off! Pretty awesome.
Have you been to Disneyland? What are your best tricks and tips for keeping it budget-friendly and magical at the same time?
|Sunset on the beach|