Monday, January 12, 2015

Our Family Trip to Disneyland on the Cheap {50% Off Regular Trip Pricing}

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.

It was such a happy day from 9 AM until the place closed down at 10 PM with a show-stopping fireworks display, a gigantic lit Christmas tree, and "snow" gently falling all over main street. My kids were in awe.

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

I could ride the teacups with my kids for hours. Their giggles and squeals were music to my ears. Daughter #2 agreed with me that the teacups were super fun.

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.

We had the best time! We were also able to go to Legoland for free (courtesy of my hubby's Uncle who gets free tickets to the place.) But, I won't include that in the configurations, since free tickets are not in the cards for 99% of people.

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


  1. I don't think I have ever commented on your site before, but I have to say I love it.. I used to like a bunch of other sites about saving money, but they seem to have lost site of the origional purpose of their sites once they have seem to get bigger and are making money from it.. Looks like even though hubby is doing better with work wise youi are still staying the course. Thank you !
    Oh I wish I knew you were Disney I have become an expert of going to Disney ( World live on the east coast) and saving money.. I could have saved you a bunch more ! there are sooo many sites on line that you can learn stuff from about disney.. some very frugal momma's out there..

    Sue in NJ !

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Sue! I appreciate your kind words. :) Also, PLEASE feel free to share some of you best tips and tricks to saving money at Disney. (World or Land.) I'm sure everyone would be super grateful.

  2. We just got back from Disneyland and we paid about half price. We got Military 3 day park hopper tickets (not an option for most people). We shared a 2 room suite with family and we brought in our own lunches and treats. Disney is NOT cheap, but we sure had a great time and saved money where we could.

  3. The last time our family of 6 went (only one free child) we actually stayed at the Disneyland hotel- not the cheap way to do it. But we were going with my in-laws and this was the last time we could go and only have to get one room, so we did it now to please my in-laws. We did cold cereal for breakfast every morning and brought our lunch/dinner into the park for all of our 3 days. We had watched over time and had a "newish" Disney shirt for each child to wear into the park each of our days. We collect photos and autographs but we have an autograph book that is just a notebook and a large pen I bought at the $1 (we have used it for years now). Friends as me all the time "how do you do Disneyland on the cheap". It is hard, but you have to go in with a plan and decide where you are willing to splurge a little and where you are going to save. When it come to food, I always tell people none of the lunch food is special- save your money bring your lunch in. That is probably the best way to save. Also allow yourself a budget for splurging in the park- do some research on what survivors are out there and have an idea of what you're looking for. It is nice to hear another realistic persons views on Disneyland. People always seem to think there is a cheap (=freeish) way to do it and there isn't. You have to come to terms with that before you commit to going.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...