MUST READ – Budget Travel Series: How to Save Money at Disneyland

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How to Save Money at Disneyland

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So saving money can be hard sometimes especially when traveling – all those costs add up like gas, food, and of course souvenirs. Well Budget Savvy Diva is here to help you out – I will be dishing all my best budget travels tips as I write a play – by -play on planning and enjoying my upcoming trip to Sea World in San Diego. To get caught up on what has already happened – To find out more about the budget travel series .


So you want to go to Disneyland – the happiest place on earth but you do not want to pay a FORTUNE. Well Budget Savvy Diva – who worked 3 years at the resort and attended the parks over 100 times – has the low down on HOW you can save money.

Deciding When To Go:

Though the price of ticket does not change – except for the slight yearly increase – which affects both Disneyworld and Disneyland at the same time, the amount of enjoyment will vary on how many people are attending the parks the time you are going. When I taught new hires at Disneyland I told them of a study where it was determined that the average number of attractions that a guest will enjoy in a day is 10. This means that it is slightly less then $10.00 per attraction if you divide by the ticket price.

The best days to go is Tuesday or Wednesday by far. The worst is Sunday – try and avoid Sunday – due to the amount of annual passholders who live around Disneyland – Sundays even on off-season is VERY heavy.

Best time of the year is Sept – Nov and Feb – May. Please note that Spring Break is SUPER BUSY – I remember many times that both California Adventure and Disneyland being sold out during those few weeks.

Because Disneyland sits on a mere 40 acres when it is busy you really feel it. There are some sections such as Adventureland that seem to always feel packed even on a light day. When the amount of people reach a certain level Disneyland enforces traffic flows using guest control which means a lot more walking for you to get where you need to go.
Resort Tickets
This is one of the more important tips to help you save money. It is much better to buy your tickets separately, outside of a package. The Disney packages do make things much more convenient, but the cost is a great deal higher. Make sure you have everything you need – having the right stroller like the Demi (, if you are going with a baby, is especially important.
Try and carpool because parking is at a new high of 15.00 per car – there is not many other options BUT if you want to know Budget Savvy Diva’s trick is parking at Downtown Disney which gives you three hours for free – and moving the car and re-parking. It takes about 20 minutes to do – I know this might not be a possibility for you. Again I am extremely frugal and try and cut as many costs as I can.

First off – Have a Large Breakfast – common sense I know. But there have been times I have been SO excited to go to Disneyland that I plum forgot breakfast. Food like the prices seem to rise in cost every year. To give you a reference whole fruit ( banana, apple or orange is 1.79) .
Bring your own food: Disney has no problem you bring food into the park – just nothing in glass. Try and bring at least two snacks for every person in your party. Trail mix is great to munch on. Do not bring anything that can cause havoc in your bag such as a juice box – it might become an empty juice box when you get off of space mountain 🙂

Knowing where to eat in the park is important to. There was a general consensus between us castmembers about where to eat in the park and where not to eat.
Let’s get where NOT to eat:
– Tomorrowland Terrace – The food at best is average.It is your normal burgers and sandwiches. But the prices are pretty high – no entree under 8.00. I do not want to be mean or anything but I would rather walk across the park then eat anything from there.

– Village Haus Restaurant – Again greyish burgers and greasy fries. It is located in Fantasyland and gets full pretty quickly.
Where to Eat:
– Redd Rocket’s Pizza Port – Located in Tomorrowland is AWESOME with a capital A. The pizza is not that out of price and the slices are HUGE – this restaurant always has a lot of traffic but also has a lot of space and indoor and outdoor seating – because of the heavy business there is always fresh pizza being served. PLUS you can buy a whole pizza pie perfect for a larger number parties. The pasta I hear is amazing – the Chicken with Alfredo Pasta is always a hit. There was a time when the cafes for cast members would periodically serve the Chicken Alfredo and you thought it was pizza day at school by how excited cast members were about it. Also the salads are made fresh right in front of you – always a plus. There is a soda fountain where you serve yourself so you can control the amount of ice you get. The soda is already chilled so you really do not need that much ice.
– Rancho Del Zocalo – Located near Thunder Mountain – you can actually see the attraction as you eat. Hand-downs this is where I eat every time. I L.O.V.E this restaurant – I find the food to be quiet good and the prices to be fair. Most plates are around 12.00 ish dollars – my husband and I always share a plate. . Entrees include citrus fire-grilled chicken, 4 cheese enchiladas, soft tacos, burritos and even a tostada salad. The salads are made to your liking right before your eyes – again a plus. I have a gluten allergy and they were very quick to get a chef who personalized the meal to fit our needs free of charge. The outdoor eating is beautiful – we sometimes go there just to take a break and watch people ride thunder mountain.

Dole Whips – If you have not had a dole whip then you NEED to get one – you will thank me. Words cannot describe how awesome it is. The dole whip cart is located next to the original Tiki Room in Adventureland. Dole whips are pineapple flavored – but it is not exactly ice cream nor yogurt – it is very airy soft serve. Unlike other food products that have rose in price at Disneyland during the years – dole whips have not. Dole whip cost 2.79 and boy to the pile it high. My husband and I love to get a dole whip and watch the Enchanted Tiki Room.
Though there are other amazing restaurants at Disneyland – these are the one’s I feel you get the most bang for your buck.

Other tips:
– Bring in your own water bottles – you can always fill them up at the many water fountains.
– Also did you know that you can get free water from any service counter – that is right – save over 2.70 every time you ask for a cup of water.

Bring extras: Suntan lotion, digital cards or film for your camera, baby wipes, ponchos, anything and everything you can think of that you might need at the park. They are all available inside for purchase but you will again pay a premium. Instead, once inside the park, rent a locker for just a few bucks and place those items inside. Then when you need them they’ll be waiting for you. Another biggie is a stroller. If your child is still in a stroller, bring yours. The strollers for rent start at $10 per day

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  • SassyScorp

    You just made me crave a Dole Whip. Growing up here… oldest of 3 kids to a single mom, I can vouch for practically all your tips…and we ALWAYS got a Dole Whip, it was the Disney Treat. Half the time we would leave Disney and go eat at Dennys or something outside the park, then come back. Have fun!

  • Beth Anne

    Great tips we may be doing a disneyworld trip soon. I remember when we went to Disneyland in 2006 we saw a bunch of guys carrying pizzas into the park! We thought they were very smart!

  • Gloria

    I’m your newest Follower! I saw this on Pinterest and it took me SO long to find this blog! I kept clicking on ‘originally pinned from’ to find you and it kept sending me over to different people’s pin-boards each time! Well, I’m glad I found you. Thanks for these tips, they are great!

  • Melissa

    Just found this on Pintrest, and I am a huge Disneyland fan. I completely agree with your suggestion to bring snacks into the park. However, with the renovations going on in Disney’s California Adventures, the Mission Tortilla Factory is no longer there. 🙁

  • cpriddle

    great tips! another thing we do to save is make a trip to walmart and buy bread and peanutbutter and jelly, fruit and other snacks. we usually make our own sandwiches in the park, and stock our fridge with yogurts and bagels and muffins for breakfast. we have even been known to buy potatoes and cook them in our microwave for a late dinner. just remember to buy the condiments f for them. also, you can buy frozen veggies that come in there own steam fresh bags.

  • Carole

    You’re dead-on about the water bottles. For the price of one water bottle @ Disney, you can literally buy a case of water bottles. We freeze about a dozen and put it in an insulated backpack cooler.

  • Melissa

    Awesome tips! We had Disneyworld passes (we live in Florida) and saved a ton of money taking our own lunch in. We packed PB&J’s and chips for lunch and would buy sodas in the park (a small treat for the kids). Doing this would save us money so that we can leave the park in the evening and eat somewhere fun for dinner. Snacks that are good – those tuna/cracker lunch thingys, Slim Jims, and any type of snack packed up in an old Lays chip container (they are like the Pringle chip containers, but hard plastic) – They hold crackers and chips great without getting broken in a backpack. Bottle water is a must too. Great post!

  • Amy

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve got a trip to Disney World this summer and I’m sure those will come in handy.
    I also thought I’d share a tip of my own. I noticed you mentioned you were going to Seaworld soon. I went to Seaworld San Diego thus past summer and found out about these great food passes. You can pay a flat rate for food all day. It was amazing! I dont remember the exact price per person, but it was a good deal and kids were cheaper. There were some restrictions; it can only be used at the cafes, it’s not good at any of the street carts. And there is also a restriction on how much food you can get each visit into a cafe, but no limit on how many times you may use it. We loved it! Many times we ran in and got a bottle of water and fruit on our way to the next attraction. Plus lunch and dinner. Now, we didn’t know about this until we got there, so we ate a huge breakfast, but had we known, we would have waited and ate at the park. We definitely took advantage if the passes! We paid for it after all! And we all left feeling like we gained 5 pounds. It was so perfect! We wish more parks did the same thing!
    You may have already heard of this deal, but we loved it so much I wanted to share! Hope you find it helpful. Enjoy your trip!

    • Ana

      Amy, my best advice: go to ebay and buy a couple of dozen of disney trading pins. At the parks, all employees wear lanyards with lots of pins that you can trade with them. My girls LOVED these and every time they run across them they go on and on about who they got them from, what pin they traded in for it, etc. I bought them for about $20 on ebay and at the park EACH pin is $6, it will save you a bunch!

    • Angie

      We were able to use our food pass to get a 50% discount at the street carts and other non-cafe vendors. Also, most cafes do not open until 10:45 or 11AM so you might want to eat a light snack in the morning if you plan on eating breakfast in the park. The kids pass limits kids to only kids meals at some cafes. I rarely eat $35 worth of food in the park anyway, so the value was not there for me. I found the value was there at the non-cafe vendors in the grab-n-go situations and for those who love to eat! If you want to skip the horrible lines at lunch, plan on going to your favorite cafe early. And I recommend a weekday visit. Saturdays are always crowded with very long lines everywhere.

  • Emily

    We used Amy’s SeaWorld tip on Thanksgiving a couple of years ago and it was AWESOME. Especially if you don’t eat breakfast before. It wouldn’t be as great on a crowded day at the park, though.

    For Disney, I am sure to buy Disney t-shirts and such beforehand (Target has had them, but the Disney store runs decent sales) and bring them along. I also will bring glow sticks and light-up toys if we are staying after dark. That way my kids don’t feel deprived and also don’t bother asking for all the overpriced souvenirs. I always bring ponchos from home, just in case. It never fails to rain at least once when we are there. We also inform the kids long in advance that anything they want to buy will have to be from their money. They start saving early and it significantly decreases the whining once we are there. (We do allot one treat per day and one souvenir which we will purchase during the trip.)

  • Brendi Blackwell

    I saw that you were heading to San Diego. At Seaworld and the San Diego Zoo do refills for the water bottles. So its worth it to buy the fancy water bottle and then you can refill it all day with soda or frozen lemonade for less than a couple dollers and everyone can share. Best thing we did when we went but we headed to Seaworld twice.

    • Misty

      I’m aware I’m very late to this conversation but I wanted to add a tip. Of you have time before your trip to the zoo or SeaWorld go into a local thrift store and get a SeaWorld/zoo cup for $1 or so. If it by chance doesn’t come with a straw and the bottle is obviously not brand new you can tell the employee that the straw was lost and they normally give you another no questions asked. I see theme park cups all the time while I’m thrifting here in SD (normally for $.99!) and I’ve lost my straw twice and the employees always have given me a replacement .

  • Amber

    Love the advice, I am a HUGE Disneyland fan and I’m always looking to save some $$. We try to stay in a hotel that has free parking and is within walking distance to the park (IF we can get a good deal). We also try to get a hotel with free breakfast or a room that has a microwave/fridge and go to a local grocery store and buy bagels, milk, cereal… (try to eat healthy). As much as I love it, there are certain times of the year I will not go due to crowds (I completely agree with you there). My husband and I are planning a trip for our anniversary next month (March 12-17). My question: when is spring break? I’ve googled and researched online and even asked my family that lives in So. Cali but no one seems to know. If we go that week are we going to be bombarded with crowds? I would rather wait and go a different time of the year

    • katie

      Amber, from what i know, spring break hours start on the 12th. If you look at the disneyland website the hours go from 10-8pm he week before to 9-12am starting on the 12th. The hours remain that way for the rest of march into april. We are going on the 9th and i will expect a big crowd. Hope that helps!

      • Christina

        So Cal always has Spring Break the week before and week following Easter. Anytime before or after that the crowds are substantially lower.

        • Kathy

          We went last year in March at some point and hit tons of crowds from Arizona all there on their spring break since it’s just a short drive away. So, check out Phoenix spring break dates too.

    • Jamie

      YES, unfortunately that is spring break for many schools, colleges and universities… Thats my kids schools break, and my Universities break as well (I take online courses). We’ve been a couple times when it was not Easter week, but spring break and it was still very very busy – not capacity, but very busy. I’d go the week before if you can.

    • Roxanne

      We asked at the park and were told that there is a 6 week span of time that is considered Spring Break. We avoid the park March through April as we live in Utah and don’t want to spend our time waiting in lines when we come.

  • Mishelle

    I’m a huge Disneyland fanatic, and I love finding ways to save money! We always fly, so we don’t have a car to take to the grocery store once we get there. We always stock up on snacks bars, crackers, and portable prepackaged stuff and pack it in our suitcases (it helps us save room for souvenirs on the way back after the food gets eaten!). My favorite tip: there’s a great gift shop attached to the Tropicana, just north of the crosswalk into the main Disney entrance. They sell a lot of grocery items including bread!!! We’ll pack peanut butter, jelly and sandwich bags (from the Dollar Tree!), and pick up a loaf of bread when we get there. They’ve also got other basics – milk, soda, boxed treats, donuts, etc. It saved us so much money every day, and we didn’t have to worry about traveling far once we arrived at Disney!

    If you do eat food in the park, the kids meals are decent sized and far less expensive than adult meals. I can do just fine with one, and eat my own snacks throughout the day. The menu states they’re for guests under 12, but I’ve never been questioned (I also sometimes use my nephew’s names and say “Caden will have the hamburger meal, Trenton will have the french toast meal” – they don’t have to know they’re not actually with us. LOL).

    Also, sign up for all the e-clubs offered by the restaurants outside the park, and do it several weeks before you go. There’s a Mimi’s Cafe on Harbor, plus Denny’s, IHOP, Quiznos – they’ll usually send BOGO entree deals, or special coupons via email that you can use! If they e-club asks you for your favorite location, just select an Anaheim location to ensure your coupon will be valid there. There’s also a La Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney, and don’t forget McDonalds on Harbor too.

    There’s no reason to spend a killing on food while at Disneyland!

  • merrilyn

    I live about 3 hours north of Disney and our spring break is the first week in April (and I know that is when my neices in Utah have it too). A lot of people from here do go to Disney over spring break because it is very difficult to pull kids out of school in California so they go over the breaks. And yes, the friends I have who have season passes all go on Sunday so I never want to go on a Sunday!

    Just another tip for Sea World. We always get the refill bucket for popcorn. You can refill it as many times as you like for under $2.

  • shelby

    we like to purchase the food plan when we book our trip to disneyland.(you can pick how many days). it does all meals and a character meal, and snacks too.and i have not found a place that does not take them. and i have to tell you, when all you have to give them is a little piece of paper instead of watching all your money fly out of your wallet. it is nice. =D
    last time we went we could not get the plan due to the fact the we did not book our trip through disney. we are planning another trip back in Nov. and are making sure we can include the food plan when we book our trip. so all you have to bring is spending $$ in the park.

  • Emily

    Awesome tips! Thanks:) How long is the “spring break rush”? We were planning to go the 1st week of April, but maybe we’ll need to rethink it.

  • Mary Jones

    You sound like someone who might know what to do in my situation. We have six children and are going to a family reunion in Houston, TX in June. We would like to fly, but can’t find a flight as cheap as we need. We are doing the bid thing with no luck. Do you have any tips. We live in Idaho Falls, and are willing to fly from Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • s'mee

    Hubby and I like to eat at the Plaza Inn. They have a large 3 piece fried chicken dinner for about $14 that is easily shared by two adults. Really hungry? Add on a fresh salad. Skip the desserts, most of them are “o.k.” but they add up! Also, you are eating indoors, at nice tables with real plates and flatware. When you leave you can ask for a “to go” cup and grab a soda to go no charge.
    Same is true with the New Orleans Cafe, servings large enough to split, and they don’t look at you weird when you do. Heads up: On a busy day you will need to make reservations.
    If you’re out at Down Town Disney, you can get much, not all, of the same lunch menu items that are on Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen at the little walk up cafe just next to it. Cheaper and they validate.

    • Nicole

      We love the Plaza Inn as well, becuase of the portions, as well as the kids meals are enough to feed an adult as well.

  • Sheri

    I plan to visit Disneyland this summer sometime during the week of the 4th of July, what would the best day be for the lowest crowd? I believe the 4th is on Wednesday, I can go any day Tuesday-Saturday.

  • Melinda

    I live in Corona which is about 20 miles from Disneyland and our spring break is two weeks, the last week of March and the first week of April. A good way to tell when it is expected to be crowded is to go on to Disneyland website and see when the season passes have blocked days and also see the park hours. If the park is open later at night it means they are expecting a busier day.

  • Lisa

    Wow! Perfect timing! We are planning our first trip to Disneyland this spring in May.I have to admit I have been a little lost in trying to figure out what I can bring and can not bring into the park, and since we are already traveling all the way from Illinois, obviously looking to save some $. Our boys are 8,6, and we need a second day or can we get it done in one?

    • Sue

      That time of year I would take 2 or 3 days. The lines will be long and your kids will be tired; it’s nice to take your time and really enjoy both parks. Tues and Wed are least busy, Thurs usually crowded with school kids there for competitions and convention attendees. Definitely do Fantasyland first thing in the morning it gets very crowded in there, take advantage of a Morning Madness where you’re allowed into the park extra early on certain days. Plan on having things to do to entertain kids in line- cellphone games are great, guessing games and things like that to help pass the time. Your kids will love it and it will be one of your families best memories by far. Have fun!

    • Kristin

      We are going president’s day week as well. We are planning on going Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Monday will be crowded and not worth it. This week will be better than the last week of Feb because Disney is doing their 24 hour day on Friday. That is going to bring in a big crowd. We have been multiple times and February seems to be the best time to go.

  • Regina

    We’re hoping to head to Disneyland some time in late August. Will Labor Day weekend be crazy???? Also, do you know, generally speaking, if an on premises hotel will be cheaper than off??

    • Sue

      Hot and crazy busy. In the park hotels are insanely expensive! If the weekend is your only option try and find a hotel walking distance from the park, hit the parks in the morning, nap and cool of in the afternoon then hit the park until midnight in the evening.

  • Karen Addicks

    Good tips! We always bring a stroller and skip the locker. People tend to be honest and we’ve never had a problem leaving stuff in the stroller while on rides (I wouldn’t leave my purse, though). It holds plenty of water and food plus jackets for our family – sometimes even a child, LOL!

    • Kristin

      We bring a stroller too and put tons of things in there! We leave are food and jackerts in the bottom. We also carry a small backpack with our wallets, few treats, and camera. When we are ready to park the stroller, we throw that on and go to the line. It is very light and easy to carry. We love having a place to put everything…even if our kids are old enough to walk all over Disneyland.

  • Sara

    Just a side note. I checked Disneyland park website today. Stroller rental prices are now $15.00 a day. So definetlty bring your own if you can.

  • Ashley

    We get annual passes, as we live 45 min away…and going for an afternoon is a special reward for the girls! We save a year’s worth of loose change, which is often enough to but at least one of our four passes.

    The passport also enables savings on all restaurants at the park, (not carts, however) as well as at the stores, and the Disney store at your local mall!

    One trick I like is downloading an app, such as MOUSEWAIT while you are at the park. It tells you how long wait times are, around both parks, and at least helps you plan where to, and not to go!

    Go on a magic morning, when the park opens an hour early!!! And take advantage of the train, and the rides down main street.

    A final lesson we’ve learned after 100+ times going, is to travel the park counter clockwise. Try it. And get that dole whip early!! The line’s a killer late in the day!

  • Jamie Dyck

    Wow!!! Thanks for all the great tips!! We are planning a big family vacation to Disneyland in MAy (8 adults and 2 kids). Found your website after we made our reservations so we paid for the meal plan. I saw above your comment about being gluten intolerant. My children (ages 2 & 3) and also gluten intolerant. Do you have any recommendations for places to eat? Also are there any local GF friendly stores within walking distance of the park? Thanks in advance for any tips and thanks again for the great site!

    • Tricia Maze

      Jamie, there is a health food market a few miles north of Disneyland called Sprout’s. It’s on the SW corner of Harbor and Orangethorpe, just past the 91 freeway. I eat a vegan diet and go there all the time. Lots of gluten-free options. Nothing within walking distance of Disneyland, though. Sorry. =(

      Any restaurants should be willing to let you know what options they have at their location. I would suggest calling Guest Services before you go to the park. They might be able to tell you what is available at what restaurants. I use to work at restaurants there and we would bring out the packages with ingredient lists so the guest could check them over themselves if they wanted. Just to be safe.

      Hope you enjoy your trip!

    • Karyn McCracken

      A couple of my kids are GF also. Every time we head to the park I go to Guest Services and pick up a GF Restrauant list. It lists all the places in the park to get GF. My son likes Pizza Ports pasta and the GF buns at Test Pilots Grill. There are a lot of choices, those are just his favorite. It usually takes a few extra minutes for the pasta, because they cook it to order, none sitting back there on hand. Napolis at Downtown Disney also has GF options. I probably didn’t catch you in time for your trip, but maybe this will help someone else. Have fun!!

    • Debbie

      All you have to do is tell the Cast Members at any restaurant what you are allergic to & they will take care of you. They have gluten free buns for your hamburgers & gluten free pizza crust at the places that have pizza…The chefs are alway more than happy to help & willing to serve your dietary needs & most of the time can help you without prior reservations…

    • Roxanne

      I too am gluten intolerant and have found great food at the park. They offer a fabulous Pizza (which my husband, who is not g-free, loves more then the regular pizza). There is also pasta and salads with g-free dressing at most places. The chef is called and comes out to talk with you about your options and is VERY accommodating. Carnation cafe also has a lot of great tasting g-free options.

  • Carrie Williams

    Great tips! Thanks! What a great idea to go to Target beforehand and loadup on all the lightup toys! I did not think of that!

  • JoAnn

    For anyone that needs (or has a family member that needs) a wheelchair, here are a few tips as well:

    1 – Get your wheelchair OUTSIDE of the park. There are two upsides – one, it’s quite a bit cheaper and two, they can (and do) run out in the park if you’re not there super early. While cast members can get you a new cart if the battery dies if you get one from in the park, most of the renters outside the park will guarantee their chairs for the day. Even if they don’t, Ive never had a problem. Downtown Disney has lots of places that rent them out, there are plenty of choices, and it’s right next to the park!

    2 – Get some of those flexible, crackle-y light-up things kids love BEFORE you go to the park (where the prices are all jacked up) and when it starts getting darker, activate them and secure them onto the chair – this will help a lot to get people to pay attention and not walk right into you.

    3 – Yes, get the electric wheelchair instead of the push kind, even at Disneyland. It’s a whole lot easier for everyone and well worth the money.

    4 – Take an extra cheap-y poncho (again, not one you buy there) and use it for your chair. Every time you get out of the chair, put the back down and then cover it with the poncho. You’ll still have a dry seat even if it rains.

    5 – Plan ahead and pay attention to limits – in a wheelchair you do get to enter rides and attractions through a different route, usually shortening your wait time, but not always. Sometimes it may even take you longer. You may have guests who stay with you (even though they’re not in a chair), but there are limits. If you’re going with a large group, be aware that even if you go to an attraction all together, you’ll end up separated and maybe leave the attraction at very different times.

    Lastly if you don’t need a wheelchair but you (or your kid) has some other kind of disability, talk to the customer service desk at the Disneyland entrance – they are *really* accommodating! =)

    • Hope

      Can I add a tip for those with special needs?
      My 12 year old is developmentally disabled and First Aid has large bed like tables inside their bathrooms so you can change diapers easily. DisneyWorld has this inside all of their parks as well! I found this out after struggling to balance her on a changing table in the regular bathrooms!
      Just one of the amazing ways Disney takes care of their guests!

  • MJ

    I must add that there are some motels on the perimeter of the park that offer free shuttles to the park that arrive twice an hour all day. These motels may be a bit older, but they are clean…and who spends time in the room anyway?
    Do a search online for Disneyland motels.
    Another tip would be to stay away in August. VERY hot and muggy….miserable standing in lines…

  • Elisha

    We go to Disneyland all the time, too, and I agree with all of your tips. That is what we do, too. I don’t know if anyone has added this, but we get the Disney VISA, (look on and they offer different deals at different times. When we signed up it was a $200 gift card. Right now I think they send you a $100 Disney gift card after you make your first purchase. There are no fees. Just make sure you pay it off. You also get half off stroller rentals (used to be 2 free/day), and you get personal picture with 2 characters. Some places also will give you 10% off.

  • Jaime

    Thank you so much for these tips! Couldn’t have come at a better time for me as my sister and I are taking our 5 girls to Disneyland this summer. I have been to Disneyworld many times but never Disneyland. Can anyone suggest some clean hotels close to the parks that are good priced? Also, my youngest will be 15 months old. Will she be able to do anything or will she be bored out of her mind? Thanks for any additional info!! Happy money saving to all!!

    • Sue

      We’ve stayed at Candy Cane Inn, Del Sol and Desert Palm; barely making a 3 star hotel but safe, clean and a very reasonable walking distance to the park. Desert Palm has a nice free breakfast; Candy Cane Inn has cereal, breads and fruit breakfast, both offer free parking and Candy Cane Inn has their own free shuttle though it’s fast to walk if you ask me. Del Sol is right behind the Denney’s across from the maingate. 15 month old will be able to ride several rides, just make sure you have a good comfortable stroller and take advantage of the Parent Swap program. When entering the line ask the staff member for a Parent Swap card, your group will then go on the ride and come back with a card to give the person who stayed with the baby and that person can grab another person and enter throught the fast track line, pretty cool if you ask me.

    • Brendi Blackwell

      We just stayed at Castle Inn and Suites. It was clean and a short walking distance to the park. This hotel even included a fridge which was nice to put water in the night before you go. Your 15 month old will love Fantasyland and if you plan on going to Disney California defitnely go to A bug’s land. Toontown is also a fun one with the little kids. Also they have things called stroller passes. Just wheel the stroller right up to the front of the lines and ask for a stroller pass. This gets you on the ride faster and off since some of your group is staying off to wait with the kids who can’t ride the attraction. Have fun!!

      • Peg Arrington

        I’ve stayed at the Ramada Main Gate and it’s older, but clean and safe. They’ve recently renovated, and they have a little food court with pizza and a convenience store right there. It’s very walkable even with small kids.

  • Meg

    We go to Disney World in Florida annually. If you are looking to squeeze every penny out, these tips are good. However, sometimes, you get what you pay for:

    -staying onsite entitles you to either use of resort busing and free parking at the parks; when it is crowded (both season and just time of day) you can save up to 2 hours of time getting to/from the parks. You also get up to 4 extra park hours daily.
    -onsite allows you to participate in the meal plan (plan it right and you can saved an average of $30/day)
    -renting a stroller means you do not have to drag yours on the bus. There is no place to store it (the resort transportation is a basic city bus). All children must be removed and strollers folded down; if it is crowded then you will basically be riding with your stroller (and child, and any bags) in your lap. (It must also be folded down on parking lot trams). They are pricey but if you pay upfront for a multi-day plan there is a 10% discount.

    We have done it both ways, and while the offsite, DIY trip definitely was cheaper, it was much more stressful with extra time wasted traveling, having to go get more groceries, every morning packing food. Spending a little more for the conveniences made for a much more relaxing vacation.

    • Kelly

      I want to second that notion. When our kids were very little, staying on site meant easy access to naptime, and flexibility with crowds. We even found that staying on a concierge level was worth the cost because we almost never had to buy any food for the kids at all. It also eased things like early entry and reservations for anything that required them.

      Staying on premise with little ones allows the “magic” to sort of follow the kids back to the room. Storytime at the hotel, for example, was part of the Disneyland experience for them. Watching fireworks from the hotel with the music piped in from the park was a real boon for small ones too. All the excitement, none of the sitting around or fighting the crowds to get out of the park with tired overstimulated toddlers in tow.

      Now that the kids are older and more self sufficient, it’s not worth it anymore. Now we’re all about taking shuttles and carrying in. But I wouldn’t do it any differently looking back. Paying for the convenience made the trip exponentially more enjoyable for little ones and parents alike.

      • Michelle

        Hi. I am in the early planning stages of planning a trip to Disneyland. Could you elaborate on the “concierge level” benefits. Did you book through Disneyland. I was trying to decide whether I should book through Disney or through the airline. Thank you!

  • Kerena

    Great tips! If you take your own stroller, take a bicycle lock for it. I have heard lots of stories about strollers being stolen at Disneyland. I’m paranoid about losing my BOB, so I always lock it up when I park it before going on a ride.

    Oh, and here’s a tip I figured out about the Dole Whip counter last week. The line can get pretty long, but if you go inside the Tiki Room waiting area, there’s another Dole Whip service counter and the line is usually shorter. Sometimes not much shorter, but it may be worth checking out to save some time. And, yes, you NEED to get a Dole Whip.

    • Mel

      No, DisneyLAND is much different for accommodations than World. You are much better staying off site, don’t get the dining plan, and utilize the restaurants you can walk to. Many have coupons available online at their websites. Find a hotel you can walk to DL, and that has a breakfast and possibly manager’s reception and you’ll save tons of money. A kitchen in your room is great too, bake off a pizza or a box of mac and cheese for the kids in the afternoon. I recommend Residence Inn Maingate Anaheim.

  • Taren

    A Little known secret is that the coffee shop on main street will refill your coffee all day long for free. My boyfriend and I grab a coffee when we first get into the park and as long as you keep the receipt, you can get a refill at that cafe all day!

  • RafasGirl

    So we are leaving on saturday march 17th, 2012 and will be in disneyland the 18th through 20th. So this whole being able to bring food into the park is a need to know thing as we have 8 in our party. I want to bring in some jerky, crackers, trail mix. So we can bring that stuff in? What about sandwhiches? We want to eat dinner in the park but doing both lunch and dinner is going to be pricey.

    • Renae

      You can take ANY food into the park as long as you do not have glass. We’ve taken in McDonalds, pizza, drinks, snacks, WHATEVER you like.

  • Maura

    Thank you for the tips! My parents always brought a cooler with sandwiches for lunchtime. They either left it in the car, or put it in a locker, depending on the size of the cooler that year 🙂

  • Hope

    We just got back from our amazing Leap Day experience. We go to DLand from Oregon every couple of years or so. We have a child with special needs so I help plan trips for other families with a little more to think about.
    We LOVE Cafe’ Orleans. We always share a plate (they don’t charge extra to split) and the whole table shares a basket of Pomme Fritte. If you want a burger, Taste Pilot’s grill in DCA is fabulous! I agree with Redd Rockets but we share a plate of Chicken Fusilli. The plates are pretty generous at all of the restaurants. Remember you can get your hand stamp and eat in Downtown Disney as well. Honestly, the food is comparable to many other restaurants in Southern California.
    For water bottles, we use a filtered bottle such as Bobble, Rubbermaid or Brita. It works well and if you fill up at First Aid the water is cold. The fountain water in Southern California has a bad flavor.
    As far as wheelchairs go, we don’t have a choice. You can only get 6 people in at a time. Some lines are longer and in most you miss the queue which takes away some of the charm and story. When we went at the beginning of the month, my little one stayed at home with her Dad and my older daughter had the best attitude about standing in line. She said, “Who cares, even in line you are AT Disneyland!”
    I hope your readers have a great time! Thanks for posting your tips!

    • Robin

      We went last June and went to city hall and got the disability pass. In the past the rule was only 6 people, but this time they stamped our pass with the exact number of people (8). We were all allowed on with my son! It was nice to be together and not worry at each ride.

  • Hope and Costco both offer great packages with extra perks on Good Neighbor hotels as well as resort hotels. Just beware, most hotels charge a daily resort fee but some of the travel sites make free parking a perk with using them to book.
    Always remember that going off season may result in shorter opening hours, attractions closed for refurbishment and certain shows (fireworks, Fantasmic, etc.) being off midweek. You can check on the DLR website ahead of time by using the calendar to plan around those things. It is not only cheaper, it is typically less crowded.
    We make the planning part of our fun!

  • Kristen

    This is great, thanks!

    I was wondering if anyone has any tips for peanut-allergic kids. Places to avoid, places to go for sure, ways to avoid accidental exposure. It’s not a life threatening allergy, which I’m thankful for every day, but still you don’t want an allergic reaction.

  • Amanda

    I LOVE Disney. I’ve been to Disneyland 2 times and Disneyworld once with plans to go again in a few years. Dole whip was my absolute favorite. When I went to DL last time, we stayed at an off-site hotel which was just a five minute walk. We would usually go outside the park to eat at Denny’s or whatever, but we did eat in the park several times.

    When I went to Disneyworld last year, it was an alllll expense paid trip, flight, resort, food, drinks, with a special behind the scenes tour and VIP spot during the Water show, and after-hours unlimited Toy Story ride. It was AWESOME. I’m usually the cheapest and most frugal person I know so it was nice to not have to worry about that. The best restaurant I thought was at Epcot, the Japanese place, not the one where they cook at your table. DELICIOUS. Entree’s were about 15-25$ each but the food was absolutely worth it!! Also the Yehti restaurant at Animal Kingdom was delicious. CAN’T wait to go back, get one more all expense paid trip in a few years!!

  • Aline Grigorian

    Right now through June, I think, Disneyland is doing their $99 for two days for So Cal residents. You can buy the passes locally at the Disney store or Vons. We are So Cal residents and just used this great admission deal. They didn’t ask for any type of ID or residency. Check the blackout dates before you buy, make sure it fits your schedule.
    Also, if you decide to try the Dole Whip, get in line on the Tiki attraction waiting area side. Line is always much shorter than on the outer side.

  • Emily

    Another budget friendly tip that I would add would be to shop for souvenirs along harbor blvd (the street outside of Disneyland where most of the budget hotels are located) We ate at a restaurant that had a great souvenir section for kids that was really budget friendly.

  • Emily

    I’ve always wanted to do a post on how to do Disneyland when it’s busy (like over Spring Break). Some of my suggestions would be to wake up early (yes the early bird gets the worm)eat a good breakfast. Get to the park before it opens. Yes, you will have to wait in a line but it’s worth it. For a few hours you will have pretty easy access to your favorite rides. Then about noon, the park will be pretty full, maybe even sold out. I suggest you leave and go back to your hotel. Get some lunch and take a good nap for about three hours. Get up and eat some dinner. Go back to the park at around five or six. A lot of people will be sitting down to dinner at the park. Start going on a few rides. Catch the fireworks show at around 9:00 pm. After the fireworks show most people leave but the park usually stays open until midnight. Between 9pm and 12pm is your best time to catch the rides you didn’t want to wait an hour and a half for.

    Other tips include giving your passes to someone who can get fast passes for everyone in the group while you’re on another ride. Plan out your fast pass rides by checking wait times with smart phone apps. Riding the Buzz Lightyear ride in Tomorrow land because that line moves fairly quickly and is a fun ride for the whole family (same with Pirates of the Carribean). Getting stroller fast passes and a fast pass at the same time. This way three people can return to go on a ride again.

  • Keri

    We love the Plaza Inn too! We order 2 chicken dinners and it feeds my family of 4 easily! They also offer free soda refills all day. Keep your receipt for you soda and show them and they will hand you a togo cup. We were just there for 4 days. Every day I bought my soda and throughout the day as we passed by the restaurant again, I went in with my receipt and was given another cup to go fill up! I believe the mexican restaurant does this as well.

    Also, if you are a fan of the Monte Cristo sandwich at the Blue Bayou, Cafe Orleans has the exact same sandwich for 1/2 the cost and it is served all day long. My husband and I got an appetizer and split the sandwich and were more than full.

    Disneyland is also trying something new with double strollers. You don’t go to the regular gates anymore and enter between the turn stiles. They ask you to go to the far right side, by where they rent strollers and the electric wheelchairs enter. There is never a line and you walk right in. Even in the morning when the regular line is huge waiting for the park to open! That saved us so much time.

    • Hope

      Can I make a little adjustment? The Monte Cristo is only served at Blue Bayou for lunch but it is $24.99. It does come as a whole meal. The Monte Cristo at Cafe Orleans comes with a small dish of fruit but not as a whole meal for $17.49 (a lot less but not really half). Plus, you are paying for ambiance at Blue Bayou and to split a plate it is $12. No split charge at Orleans.
      I agree with ordering one to split at Cafe’ Orleans. My daughter or husband like to get the Gumbo and share. I think the Pomme Fritte are to die for! Don’t forget the Mickey Beignet!
      Here is the updated menu list:
      I like to plan ahead…

  • Karyn McCracken

    If you have a car, a great place to go to is the Character Warehouse in Fullerton. It’s fairly close, don’t remember exactly, probably depends on traffic–20 minutes-ish. It’s hit and miss on what you’ll find there, but since my kids have to buy their own stuff, their money goes further if they find something there they like. We also hit the Dollar Store before we leave home for glow sticks, it’s nice to pass them out like candy without having to stress over the money I spent on them!! I think all my other secrets were covered in here, great site!!

  • shawna

    If you are flying in and staying at a local hotel you can purchase food and baby items online and have them delivered to your hotel. Von’s has a delivery service (local grocery store) and also amazon. Much cheaper than packing all that stuff and paying for your suitcase.

  • Jessica

    We always stay at one of the Cheaper hotels that are still in walking distance to the parks (saves money on hotel and free parking) and often stop by the Subway for a $5 Footlong on our way to change from day clothes to night clothes since SoCal tends to get colder when the sun goes down!

    • Donna

      That’s great advice! You spend very little time in the room. Why pay a ton. Just look for a AAA rating and the place will be clean and safe…..and Subway is a lot of food for 5 bucks, much cheaper then the park!

  • Donna

    Always bring your own stroller, people steal rentals. I’ve never had any trouble with anyone touching my own stroller. A good stroller tip ,if you’re renting, is to leave something gross tied tightly to the handle. I used a clear plastic bag, poured Pepsi on a clean diaper and stuffed the diaper in the clear bag….it looks like poop, eww!! People will grab another “free” stroller and stay far away from yours. I also brought a small bike lock and chain and locked my personal stroller to the iron fence in the “It’s a small world” stroller parking. That way you can park it for a few hours and not have to push it around. We always drove to Anaheim, so we packed a cooler chest with food and bowls and spoons for morning cereal. It’s better to feed everyone in the motel room before baths. Then you just clean up the kids and off you go. Cereal and cartoons let mommy shower and dress in peace. The Golden Horseshoe sells a HUGE plate of cheese fries cheap and always bring at least one water bottle for drinking fountain refills. Make up a backpack full of easy food like PBJs and rent a locker. The locker price is much cheaper than lunch for 4. Don’t forget bandaids, Tums, Tylenol, and sun screen. You can’t do the park in 1 day, even with Fastpasses. Take at least 2 days and have fun…’s vacation time, relax and laugh with your kids :). I always found that going to the park on the days when the operating hours were the shortest, was the best time. Everyone wants to go when the hours are the longest, more time for your money….wrong! Short days have much less people and much shorter lines. Rainy days are good too. Everyone leaves when it rains and then you have the park, even a little soggy, to yourselves…good luck, Mommys! Have a great time!

  • Heather Johnson

    When we went last year I searched the Disneyland website and they offered 20% off at certain restaurants and cafes with the printed coupon. I printed like 10 of them Hehe!!! We are going in Sept again and I will definitely be doing the same!

  • Deliska C.

    Hey, we are planning to visit LA July 21-Aug. 3, 2012. What would be the best day to go to DisneyLand? I have 11 and 12 year old girls an what should we do and how to save while we are there, please advise me. They love music!! Never have been to DisneyLand. Thanks!!!

  • Lexie

    We used to live near Disneyland so we went all the time, My Mom was a single widow with 3 kids, but she made sure we always went but we did it on a smart budget. We followed your tips in the 50’s-60-‘s-70’s-now, carry our own food and snacks, bring our own water bottle, and use a locker. We ate only one meal in the park each day to save and that was lunch. The rancho restaurant we all ate at one day and all got food poisening. It ruined our trip so Disneyland gave us another trip for free when we were better. Much appreicated. Nothing about that restaurant was good to us and we were a party of 5 that ate there and all got sick as dogs.
    Do not eat salad at Disneyland, remember the food is handled and moved in heat, not a good idea. We steer clear of meat products and ate the fruit in Adventureland and at New Orleans Square restuarants , we had good food for years except for the Blue Bayou which was horrible of late and very over priced.
    The best lunch we found for the most reasonable is at Aierl’s Grotto in California Adventure, endless ice tea and really fresh food. With a lovely view of Califronia Adventure and a water area where its cooler. Its worth the walk, most of the junk food in Disneyland proper is really bad and cooked on grills that are not clean. Beware what you eat. We shop locally when we arrive, storing food in our room fridge and eating breakfast-dinner-snacks in our room. That is a great way to save. Dinner is outside the park so you can eat reasonably.
    The less food you eat inside the park the better. You will feel better and be healthier for your trip. You will also save a lot of money eating mainly outside the park. Use the lockers to store your non perishables and your coats during the day, making your ability to get around much easier then carrying items.

    the Bakery on Main is good, healthy choices and they have good coffee and tea. Its also fun to look at all the choices shaped like the Disney Charachters for your kids, cookies and such.
    We last went with a group of 4 people for 7 days 6 nights on less then 600 for the week after hotel,tickets and air. We just had no more so we made it work. You can do Disneyland very cheap for your family if your careful. We had 600 for 4 people and we all had a blast. We did not feel deprived at all, we felt that we were very budget smart and savy about our trip.

  • Alyssa

    Great tips! Here’s another one… In California Adventure, if you’re facing towards grizzly river run, you go the left of the giant grizzly bear and behind the sign there is lockers that are free for the first two hours! A great place to store your things if you don’t want them to get wet on a ride and don’t want to spend money on a locker. After that they’re a dollar per half hour, but if it’s not a crowded day I usually just go back, end the free rental for the locker, and open a new one. I know not many people know about them, and I learned about them literally 2 days ago 🙂

  • Lori

    We are passholders and I was quite pleased to find our favorite tips in the article above. Some additions: On busy days, choose some favorite attractions to get fastpasses from and then focus on less popular ones, they are fun too! Download an app to your smart phone which will tell you what current wait times are (not perfect but reasonably reliable), there are several available. Disney has their own but on my last visit I actually found it less accurate than the independent guest-updated one I have (currently I use MouseWait). Hot days, take an air conditioned break mid day in Innoventions- it is not usually very crowded and can keep the kids busy with relatively little effort from you, makes for a nice break. In Ca Adventure, try the Animation Station for the same reason. CA Adventure also has a couple of ‘splash pads’ that are invaluable on a really hot day. If its that hot, just get wet in your clothes-believe me they will dry.

  • Lori

    Oops- forgot to add- if it is a cool day, bring layers of light jackets. I have a bad back and cannot carry much, but with this trick I have never needed to spend $$ on a locker. If you like to ride the wet rides but it is not summer, bring cheap rain ponchos from a drugstore or dollar store. The ones for sale at the park cost too much and are bulky.

  • Sherry T

    We have booked a family trip to Disneyland, October 28th to November 3rd. I have been several times before however this is the first time at Halloween. I was wondering if anyone knows if it is worth buying passes for Mickey’s Halloween party? We are on a budget, but I’d hate to miss out on something spectacular. So if anyone has some insight and could let me know if it’s worth $280 for a family of 4; that would be great! Thanks 🙂

    • Kristy

      We just got home from Disneyland yesterday. We had thought about doing the trick or treat party but opted out. We decided spending $300+ for our kids to get candy that I wouldn’t let them eat was a waste of money. Instead we upgraded our passes from three days to four days for about $15 per ticket. It was really fun seeing a lot of people there dressed up in their costumes though. I didn’t feel like we were missing out at all on the trick or treat bash. Just being at Disneyland was enough for my kids!

  • Summer M

    I was just in Disneyland mid September, and the pizza port was closed! Has been for awhile I guess. Maybe next time! 🙂 snacks are great to bring, but make sure to bring enough. We ran out a lot!

  • Manda P

    tip: If you lose or forget your pacifier for your baby/toddler, they sell them for only $2 at the baby care center. Not really a deal, but if you’ve ever been to the parks, you know that Disney could sell these for $5, and people would pay! This has been a lifesaver when my nephew would toss his pacifier out of the stroller when no one was looking, and we didn’t have a backup. Until he was almost 2 he wouldn’t take a nap without one (even if he was just holding it in his hand…silly i know). As a parent you can also go to the Baby Care Center on Warm days to relax with your kids for a bit and get out of the heat.

    The Mickey’s Halloween Party is WELL WORTH it if you like candy, costumes, fireworks, Villains, and a general feeling of AWESOME. The lines for rides are usually shorter than during the day (last week space mtn was 15 min during the party..normal day avgs 45 min+). The Party lasts usually 5 hours, with you being able to get in 3 hours before the start. That’s an 8 hour day in Disneyland, and usually a LOT for most people. The tickets are SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than going to the park during the day ($54 in advance for most dates vs. $87 for a single park ticket), so this alone might be worth it for most families.

  • Audi L

    Also In Disneyland there is a Coffee Shop where you get free refills the entire day if you have your recipt! and the cup is onlt about 2 dollars! and it is amazing!

  • Kristy

    I have an even better suggestion for parking! We stayed at the Clarion which is right across the street from the Toy Story parking lot so we went over there and asked if we had to park there to ride the shuttle and they said no. So every morning we just walked across the street and got on the shuttle and rode to Disneyland for FREE! Since we went for 4 days that saved us $60 in parking fees. We were so excited! So if your hotel is around a parking lot just walk to the parking lot and ride the shuttle to Disneyland.

  • Julie F.

    We have been pass holder for years. We always pack food and snacks for our trip and plan on one meal in the park. We usually eat at pizza port or plaza inn in Disneyland. They have good food and the portions are large enough to share. We also frequent the market house on main street for all our coffee. When you get your coffee there and keep the reciept you get FREE REFILLS ALL DAY AND NIGHT!!

  • Jamie

    Another GREAT place to eat (recent discovery for me) is the troubadour tavern located in fantasy land across from its a small world (by the stage area entrance. They serve loaded baked potatoes for about $6.00 a piece. They have a standard sour cream, cheese, bacon, and chives potato. They have a cheddar and broccoli potato. And my personal favorite, they have a BBQ chicken potato. The potatoes are HUGE and stuffed very nicely. I like that it isn’t the processed burgers and such it’s so hard to get away from at the parks. I normally can’t finish one all by myself, but my friends and I have been known to get two different potatoes and swap halves so we get to eat them all.

  • Sandi T

    As a mother of 4, and a season pass holder for Disneyland I highly recommend bringing a simple spray bottle for during the hot summer months. We refill it from drinking fountains and a spray of water is really refreshing. I have been asked by DOZENS of other people for a quick spray! Plus, bring your own disposable sippy cups. Most drinks you buy can be shared by your kids. Also, don’t forget the quiet escape Gerber Baby Center offers. They provide a calming place to nurse your baby or place for some relaxing moments with baby. When my kids were young they even offered inexpensive baby juices.

  • Melissa

    I live in FL and have been an annual passholder almost my entire life. I agree it is expensive – but there are some things that are worth splurging for. There are a couple of great buffets at the Disney parks that have amazing food and can really fill you up. Also we used to stay at off site hotels, but have found that the Value and Moderate resorts at Disney are great and you have early and late hours at the parks. We do always bring in our own bottled water and snacks.

  • Cindy O

    I am a passholder and a resident of Orange (next door to Anahiem) This year spring break is the last week of March and the first two weeks in April.
    I always take a backpack full of bottled water and snacks too. And for those that want to eat outside of the park, Harbor Blvd. has many places to eat and all in walking distance. A great trick to familiarize yourself s to look at the area you are travling to on google map satellite view. Stores and restaurants are labeled on the map in a close up.

  • Madeline

    We’re (family of 7) are planning our 3 day trip to DLand end of May, first week of June- so Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon & Tue. When I called Disney customer service, I found out that grad night is on the Wed, Thu & Fri. nights and that they don’t close the park early anymore, but that the graduates just join in. I’m not sure if I want my kids there when all these super happy graduates are running around. It must be a mad land? Reading the blogs, it seems Fri., Sat, Sun & Mon are the busiest days. Not sure what to do.. crazy graduates vs busy days and long days vs short days??? We also have one early morning, should we use it on Sat or Sun?. I really don’t want to be there on a grad night. What 3 day combination would you suggest? Sat, Sun & Tue or Sat, Mon & Tue. Help??
    Also, I haven’t read anything about packing extra clothes just in case the kids get wet from some of the rides. Heard we should put our wallets, cameras in ziplock bags also for those rides.. Suggestions?

    • Dawn McKinley

      Madeline, I’m going the same time you are and I’m not too worried about Grad Nights. The kids all have to show up as a group with their schools, so they probably won’t get there until afternoon-ish. The majority of the graduates are relatively well-behaved, but if you want to avoid them, make sure you make Rope Drop, and then you can get out of the parks by late afternoon. I think I’d take the weekdays with lower wait times over weekends with higher wait times any day.

      What kind of early morning do you get? If it’s the Magic Morning, then you can only use it Tues, Thurs, or Sat at DL, I believe, so that limits your options on that. As for the water rides, you can get ponchos at Walmart for cheap if you want, but extra clothes or timing so you can get back to the hotel are probably your best options 🙂

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  • Kathy

    Great tips here! A couple more tips for beating the lines (which means more bang for your buck):
    – When entering the Main Gate, get in lines 13, 20, or 21. They move fastest for some reason.
    – When the park opens, pick a popular ride that does NOT offer a FastPass. This is your only chance to get in line while it’s still relatively short.

  • angela b

    My hubby and I were planning a trip to Disney in early March, we have 4 kids so I was wondering if there are any cheap tricks or deals you can point me too 🙂

  • jessica

    Does DL still do the dining plan?I have heard rave reviews about it but have been told its not available anymore? Any info would help I am planning a trip for my family and might be including my step daughter as a last minute addition so any help saving money would help greatly Thank you!

  • Monique Smith

    I am Disney obsessed, I go to the park at minimum, twice a month. I just wanted to say that some things on this post should be updated. For example the price of the Dole Whip, I love those things and get one every time so I should know that they cost $4 not $2. Just little things but it should be updated 🙂

  • Heather D

    We went to Disneyland last year. We bought the Donald 2 Day Dining plan. That is so worth the money. The dining plan covers the Character Breakfasts. We went to Disneyland and California Adventures for 4 days. We were in California for a week. We went to the parks for 2 days then took a couple days off and then went back for 2 days. It worked out well for us. We also brought along a tote bag cooler. We went to the grocery store and bought drinks, lunch stuff, and tons of snacks. We rented a locker to keep the cooler in because we didn’t want to pack it around all day. I just filled up my purse with some snacks and drinks and enjoyed the parks. We went back to the locker to eat when we got hungry. We froze water bottles and juice pouches to use as ice for the cooler. It worked out great!! Everything stayed nice and cold!! Also when we fly out to California we only bring carry on suitcases. When we go to the grocery store to get food we also grab shampoo and conditioner so we don’t have to mess with those 3 oz containers!! Sunblock is also something we get when we get there too.

  • Tracey

    Thank you for the great tips, especially about where to eat! I love it.
    I am hoping that this is a very old post ( over a year ) and that after everything that has come to light about SeaWorld that you did not go! We went last year, then saw Black Fish and will never visit anything that has captive animals.. even zoos!