2020 Disneyland Survival Guide on a Budget
So you want to go to Disneyland, but are worried about affordability. When most people think of a visit to the Disneyland Resort, they think of ‘the Disney premium’ on everything; thankfully, we’ve put together some tips to save money and maximize your value without compromising the fun.
Park Tickets: for most visitors, this is the largest expense. 1 day tickets are subject to peak pricing, thus it is in your best interest to schedule your trip on a Value or Regular priced day. For those with more time, multi-day tickets can often be found with deals both through Disney and through partners like Theme Park Center. Locals will often find value in lower-tiered Annual Passports, which offer generous weekday visits for an entire year at under $400. In Winter, there are often SoCal Resident deals, such as this year’s 3-Day Non-Consecutive Park Ticket for $179, good most days before May 27th.
If You Are Staying Overnight: an overnight stay in Anaheim doesn’t have to mean an arm and a leg, as long as you don’t mind walking a bit. While official Disneyland Resort hotels start in the mid-$200’s and can easily be several times that depending on the season, many local motels and hotels offer fantastic year-round deals. Good Neighbor Hotels have official partnerships with the Resort and often have extra perks to make your trip effortless but affordable. Most of these are just as close, if not often as walkable, as the official Resort hotels.
Attractions: unlike Universal Studios or Six Flags, bypassing the Standby line via Disneyland’s Fastpass system doesn’t inherently cost anything. Any guest can arrive morning-of and begin loading Fastpasses for attractions onto their park ticket, allowing them to come back during a designated one-hour window later. This frees time and resources that otherwise would be wasted standing in hours-long lines to enjoy other attractions, get snacks, take a rest, or enjoy a show. If you do have a bit to spend,
Photos: so you love a ride photo, or want the perfect shot the PhotoPass photographer got of you in front of the castle. Many guests don’t own or don’t want to lug around a heavy camera, but have been spurned by previous theme park experiences where the “one shot” you wanted ends up costing $20 or more. Thankfully Disneyland now offers MaxPass, a service that allows mobile Fastpass booking as well as unlimited PhotoPass downloads for about $15/ticket/day. If you’re on a budget and don’t mind strolling for Fastpasses, purchasing this for one member of your party gives you huge savings as you can still link all of your day’s photos to the one ticket you got MaxPass for.
Merchandise: if you have small children, taking them to the Disney store ahead of time to pick out a shirt or toy can save you quite a bit versus a same-day splurge in the parks.
Dining: saving money on food doesn’t have to mean living off of PB+J and yearning for the aromas the park will bombard you with—there are plenty of ways to save on a budget! While packing snacks in ziplocks will save you at least a couple pricey churro or ice cream purchases, you can also dine wisely to get the most bang for your buck. Pizza Port’s Chicken Fusilli Pasta easily feeds the average party of two, especially if a parent shares with a child. New Orleans Square’s gumbo bread bowls (available in both Steak and Vegetarian) achieve this as well, and the bread ‘cap’ can make a tasty snack for later. Many nicer restaurants have similarly-themed quick-service counterparts (Café Orleans vs. French Market, for example). Avoid fine dining such as Blue Bayou and Carthay Circle. If you want a little bit of that luxury feel without the luxury price, many nicer dining options offer a partial or full menu in their lounge, where you could enjoy a nice cocktail or appetizer for a fraction of the sit-down experience.
A Disneyland trip is an investment, but it doesn’t have to be an exorbitant one. Used together these tips will hopefully save you tens or even hundreds of dollars on your next visit!