Friday, March 9, 2012

Disneyland on the Cheap

I went to Disneyland this past weekend and had so much fun! Usually I pay an arm and leg for the whole day, but I decided to try and do it on the cheap this time and see what happens. I know DIsneyland and cheap seem like oxymorons but here are my tips and tricks for cutting corners and still having fun.


Parking costs you $15 and there really is no way around it. However, I do know that if you have any friends with Annual Passes, you can use their pass FOR PARKING ONLY, no questions asked! Do not try to get into the park with your friends Annual Pass or you will no longer be friends. The park will confiscate the pass, and you will have to buy a normal entry ticket as well. In short, you will look and feel like a total loser.


Disneyland is always such an expensive trip. For God's sake, one day park hopper tickets are $99 for ages 3-9 and $105 for ages 10 and up. Instead of purchasing directly from Disneyland, there is a company called Sweet Vacations that "rents out" tickets. How does this work, and is it legit? You can find the company's FAQ here, but in short, the company buys multi-day park hopper tickets and rents them out day by day at a lower rate. You need to pick them up before 11 am and return them after the park closes in a drop box. Multi-day passes are not supposed to be shared, however, at this point, it is a matter of saving, and of conscience. Their 1 day park hopper tickets are $75, that's a savings of $30 per ticket! I have personally used this company multiple times and have had no problems with them or their tickets. This method is not for everyone, and I completely understand that.

If you are a Moral Orel like my husband, then this method of savings may not be for you, but don't despair. Right now, Disneyland is offering Southern California residents a 2 Day One Park Per Day ticket at the low price of $99 per ticket or a 2 Day Park Hopper at $114 per ticket. Non Southern Californians are outta luck on this one...

Brown Bag it, Baby. Disneyland's official policy on outside food reads: "With the exception of food items for Guests with specific dietary restrictions, food or beverage items are not permitted into either of the Disneyland Resort theme parks." However, I have never been stopped or asked to get rid of my food. Just don't be super obvious about it, and don't be a jerk to the workers. We packed four lunches, four bags of snacks, and a bag full of water and sodas and we were let in. We didn't have to buy any food once inside. Remember to eat discreetly or at least quietly in the park and no one will say anything to you.

Remember, a cup of ice water at any of their restaurants is free anywhere you go by California law. If you purchase a cup of coffee (regular, decaf, vanilla or hazelnut) at Market House on Main Street in Disneyland and save your receipt, you can get free coffee refills . You don't even need to save your cup, just your receipt.

Balloons & Souvenirs:

Balloons are pricey and stupid but hold a certain awe for kids. I knew I wasn't going to be able to get away with not buying Penny a balloon so we bought one as soon as we walked into the park. The typical balloon costs $7 and it does nothing but float. If anything happens to your balloon, it wilts, it shrinks, it pops, they will replace your balloon at no extra charge. The last two trips to Disneyland, we have even managed to "upgrade" our balloons at night paying the difference in cost only. I believe this is not a common practice, but totally worth a try!

The same goes for other souvenirs or toys you buy in the park. If they break or are defective and you are still in the park. Simply show your receipt, and they will replace the damaged item and no extra charge.

Although most souvenirs in the park are rather costly, don't forget the good 'ol pressed Penny. It costs .51 cents and is totally worth it. We started collecting pressed pennies as a family when my daughter was born and it is an awesome and cheap souvenir/family tradition.

Another cheap idea is postcards! Bring in your own pre- stamped postcards, and send them from inside the park! They have Disneyland mailboxes on main street where you can drop them off. You will get a Disneyland postmark, and you could even have a Character autograph them for you!

Speaking of Characters and autographs, don't forget your autograph book. Purchase an inexpensive one before you come into the park, and make sure to bring your own writing utensil (and make it a big one, have you seen their hands?) Take pictures with the characters as well and these are cheap and sweet memories you can have forever.

Miscellaneous Tips & Tricks:

Depending on the weather, be prepared. For a possibility of rain, bring your own poncho, jacket, and umbrella. For the hot days, remember to bring your own sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats.

If you love the water rides, remember to bring a change of clothes, or at the very least, a change of shoes and socks. Also remember to put any electronics such as your phone and/or cameras in a Ziploc or other waterproof bag.

And as for headaches, yes, there will be headaches, bring Advil of your own. A pack of two in the park costs $5, and a small bottle costs $10, eek!

Also remember to take advantage of all shows, concerts, parades, nightly fireworks, and especially Fantasmic! You are paying for these with your ticket price, so you might as well take advantage of some or all of them!

Annual Passport

A pricier option, but if you plan on going to the park multiple times a year, it can be a good idea. Disney now offers monthly payment options, so you don't have to fork over the full amount of the passport upfront. There are four passports to choose from, and you can read about them here, they range in price from $199 to $499 (or $10 to $35 per month). The difference is the number of "blackout dates", which are days your passport is not valid. The lower priced passports have more blackout dates, and the top of the line $499 Premium Pass has zero. All passports come with special discounts you can use inside the park of food and merchandise (20% off for the Premium , 10% for the others), discount hotel rates and guided tours. Only the Premium passport comes with free parking, which is $15 per car.

If you do get an annual passport, you'll have to pay for parking on your first visit. But save your receipt and you can get a refund at the window when you pick up your pass! Vanessa recently got the Premium passport at the end of December, and has already been to the park twice in just over two months. (I quit the gym, and joined Disneyland, I regret nothing! - Vanessa)

Brown Bag pic thanks to Northwest Military

Balloon & Disneyland Castle pics thanks to Angry Julie Monday


  1. Last time I went to the park, they scanned my pass and made sure it was me in the car - not sure if this is regular policy, or if we just looked like scallywags.

  2. It's probably because you are a hobo. They do scan your card even for parking, but the pictures don't come up in the toll booths...

  3. Привет! Мне бы хотелось открыть салон парикмахерскую. У кого-то из читательниц есть опыт в этом? Очень большой выбор оборудования для салонов красоты. Кто может помочь советом? Какой магазин лучше выбрать для то чтобы купить Ультрафиолетовая камера и это Лампы для уф стерилизатора. Я выбираю среди этих магазинов,,,