Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How to Save at Disneyland!

I've gotten better at saving money at Disney... Be sure to also check out this NEW post with four new and totally UNIQUE ways of saving big bucks at Disneyland!


Me (preggo with Aaron), Zoe, Ellie & my Grandpa at Downtown Disney-2010
I think that every person NEEDS to experience Disneyland at least once in their lifetime.  Each year, we try to hit up Disneyland in December for a family vacation.  It is always totally decked out in Christmas decor, and the weather is perfect (not too hot, though it sometimes rains).  With a little bit of planning, you can really keep the costs down on a big trip like this.

Since we have our 2012 dates picked, I'm starting to plan out the finances and figure out how to save money on this trip.  In brainstorming through some of the things that have worked for us, I thought that I'd share my tips here with all of you!  And so, here are some tips that I've learned over the years:

  1. Drive instead of fly (within reasonable distances).  We drive because 1) airfare is crazy expensive and 2) can you imagine Ben and I toting 3 kids, strollers, and all our "stuff" through an airport.  I can't.  I've done it several times with two kids and it was overwhelming.  Pass.  Plus, it is SO nice to have your own car and to come and go as you please from the park or around town
  2.  Book a hotel that offers a mini kitchen and free breakfast (such as the Embassy Suites).  It may be a little more costly per night, but look at all the ways it will save you money (while offering a nice, two room hotel space):
    • They offer a free cooked to order breakfast.  My estimate is that this saves our family an average of $20-$25 per day (depending on where you would go to eat).  
    • You can take fruit, yogurt, fruit bars, and trail mix snacks with you after the breakfast to use for your snacks throughout the day.  You can also fill up any water bottles or sippy cups with water, sodas, or juice.  Estimated savings: $15-$20 per day (maybe more; park snacks/drinks are pricey!)
    • You can bring a stash of food/juice, etc. with you from home and store it in your room fridge.  We usually bring makings for pb&j's, some fruit, granola bars, and juice.
    • You can save any restaurant leftovers in your fridge and eat them for leftovers or a late night snack.
    • They offer afternoon snacks and drinks, as well. 
  3.  Use air miles to book your hotel.  While we LOVED staying at the Embassy Suites for all of the above mentioned benefits, this year we are looking to book a "kids suite" (i.e. two rooms, bunk beds, etc.) at another hotel that will accept our air miles for payment.  This will save us a significant amount of money this year.  Plus. this hotel is closer to the park so we will be able to save on gas money.  I'm thinking that this will prove another valuable money-saving hotel option!
  4. Purchase Disney "souvenirs" before hand at cheaper stores.  I have not done this before, but I think I might try it this year.  I've heard of many people who do this.   Souvenirs at the park are so expensive.  And, you can find Disney products at all sorts of stores.  A cheaper option might be to even take a trip to the local Disney store and buy a couple items for each child (keep your eyes open for sales or coupons).  At the end of the day (or middle, or whenever), you can give your child a Disney souvenir that is still special but cost much less than a park-bought item.
  5. Search Restaurants.com for certificates to local restaurants.  And, with that, please don't ever pay the full listed price (usually $25 for a $50 certificate), as there are almost ALWAYS coupon codes to pay $4 for a $25-$50 gift certificate.  Search the local area and see if there is a restaurant you'd like to visit.  Saving $40 on dinner is fantastic!  We did this two years ago to the Jazz Kitchen (Downtown Disney).  Although, we didn't think the food was that spectacular, especially for the price.
 What about you?  Do you have any Disneyland/traveling money saving tips?  I'd love to hear them!  Leave a comment below!

Now go check out this NEW post with four new and totally UNIQUE ways of saving big bucks at Disneyland!


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