Imagine transporting your family to the bow of a pirate ship for a swashbuckling adventure, or zipping through the outer fringes of the galaxy. Or maybe you'd rather pull up a seat at the Mad Hatter's spinning mad tea party. Disney is the ultimate family holiday, offering the young and young-at-heart a magical time amid vibrant lands worthy of the most vivid imaginations. And though getting to the 'Happiest Place on Earth' is well worth it for the whole family, there are a few ways you can save a few bucks when you go ...
Plan to Plan
If there's one piece of advice to help you with your trip to Disneyland, it's that planning is essential. Where should you stay; which parks should you go to? What's FastPass; what are the best restaurants for families? Which rides are appropriate? Where's the best place to start? From planning your travel to setting out your strategy for the parks, it's best to do a little research before you hit the road to maximise your time both in and out of the park. Some key things to consider are:
- Weather and appropriate dress
- Meal plans
- Park Hopper tickets
- FastPass strategy
- Parade times and nightly shows
- Ride height requirements
- Disney Resorts or Good Neighbour hotels
Pick The Right Hotel
There are definitely bonuses to staying at one of Disney's Resorts. Not only are they located next to the park for easy access, but guests are also treated to the Magic Hour (an hour in the park before the gates open), Disney character wake-up calls, character dining and plenty of other added bonuses that can make your holiday just a little bit more magical.
Though, staying at one of the nearby Good Neighbour hotels can be a great way to save a few bucks for the ol' souvenir budget (more on that next). Located close to parks, there is a range of hotels to suit all pocket sizes and each one maintains Disney-specified quality and service standards. With options close to Disneyland and California Adventures in California and Walt Disney World in Florida, you can rest assured you'll find a spot to stay that meets both your budget and your style. Even better, our Travel Experts can help you pick just the right one.
Set a Souvenir Budget
One of the coolest features of the Disney parks are the many shops brimming with souvenirs. From the classic mouse ears to t-shirts, magnets, treats, mugs and more donning your favourite Disney and Pixar characters, it can be hard for you and your kids to resist picking up one of everything. Make it a little easier on yourself by setting a budget and discussing it with your kids before you go to the parks. With clear expectations and rules surrounding how much to spend, you may find your children are a little more discerning when it comes to which souvenirs they pick. Another top tip, price check the shops in Downtown Disney as they may have slightly lower prices.
Bring Snacks and Water
Dining at Disney can be a real highlight for the little ones. This is especially true if you decide to spring for the Character Dining experience in which their favourite characters will join them while they eat. Though, doing this every day can start to add up.
Instead of eating at the restaurants or in the park every day and night, limit in-park dining and restaurants to one or two nights as a special treat. Pack a lunch, snacks and water the rest of the time to get your family through the day as an easy way to save. If you're not able to pack a lunch, check out the buffet-style dining venues instead of table service as you will get more bang for your buck.
Look into In-Park Freebies
Disney is all about the little details, and there are plenty that you can surprise and delight your kids with for free. Here are a few of our favourites:
- All counter service locations in Disneyland and Walt Disney World will provide a cup or water free of charge.
- Many rides in the park will take your photo to show you at the end, but the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters photo in Disneyland is free of charge if you provide your email address.
- Pick up a free map as a cool souvenir at the end of the Jungle Cruise Ride. All you have to do is nicely ask a cast member.
- If it's your first time visiting the park or a special occasion, you can pick up a free souvenir pin to commemorate your visit at City Hall on Main Street.
- Get to Autotopia to drive the cars and pick up your free driver's license.
- Pay a visit to the Animation Academy for a free drawing class.
- If you purchase your children a Disney balloon and it pops, take the remnants to a cast member for a free replacement.
Book Your Bundles
One of the best ways to do Disney for less is to book your bundle with one of our knowledgeable Travel Experts. Along with the right flights and hotels, you can also get park tickets to Disneyland, California Adventures and Walt Disney World along with a few other extras to ensure your family time is the best it can be!
Images: Ashton Rigg