Thursday, November 6, 2014

Four New and Unique Ways to Save Money at Disneyland

We went to Disneyland last week for a family vacation.  It was hands-down our best family vacation ever!  Besides being our first family trip with all four children, our baby is the easiest going baby we've ever had, which significantly eased our stress.  It's our every other year trip, but this year we planned it for over Ellie's 7th birthday.

Any time we take a Disneyland trip, I'm always sure to share with you all the planning details for our trip, and how we saved money.  Disneyland is NOT an inexpensive vacation, that's for sure, but you can definitely save a few bucks here or there.  And this time, I've got some new creative money saving tips for your to try!

Condo vs. Hotel

The first different thing about this trip was that we stayed in a condo (< < that link will take you to the one we stayed in!). Considering that we usually rent two rooms at our normal hotel (we rent one and Ben's parents rent one), this was actually a cheaper option, with more space and benefits.  It was BEAUTIFUL.  We rented a 3 bed, 2 1/2 bath, totally remodeled condo from a wonderful family.  It came with a fully functional kitchen with everything we needed to cook/eat, a washer and dryer, baby gates, high chairs, kids toys, kids dress up clothing, a garage, patio with BBQ, and more.

Our experience with a condo compared to a hotel?  Condo won hands down!  The major winning points were:

*more space
*we could put the kids to bed at night upstairs and stay up later ourselves
*we could cook our own meals, saving us money and tons of calories over restaurant food
*cheaper for us (when compared to our usual two rooms booked)
*we were supporting a local young family instead of a big hotel chain
*it felt like "home"
*we could pack less clothing because we could do laundry (and packing less when traveling with four kids is a GOOD thing!)

Overall, I would choose a condo again in a heartbeat.  More specifically, I'd choose to rent from this family again as they were amazing!  When the hot water heater broker late our first night, he even drove out and got someone to come fix it right away (at 10pm!).

(My husband, cooking away in the kitchen, and refusing to give me a "normal" smile)

There are so many rental options on sites like, that you can easily find something in your budget and location.

Total condo rental (including all cleaning fees) for Monday-Friday=$1100 (remember, we usually need two hotel rooms).

Car Rental-Individual vs. Big Company

We wanted to rent a car for this trip, but renting a car that seats 8 people AND has enough space for our luggage AND wasn't an absurd amount of money was really hard.  Most places were in the $500-$600 for a Monday-Friday rental (even Costco was $550!).  Somewhere along the line, I stumbled across a site called "RelayRides".  Relay Rides is a car rental company that is nationwide, except all the cars listed for rent are from individual people who live in the city.

*We could ask questions about the specific car we were renting instead of just hoping the car we get is decent.
*It was almost half the cost of a regular car rental place.
*We were, again, supporting an individual person.
*All your payment stuff goes through the website and is secure.

The only thing that I would change about this was that our drop off arrangement was not very organized.  The car owner wanted to meet at a Starbucks near the airport, instead of just at the airport.  It wasn't a huge deal (he was going to then drop my husband back off at the airport), but he didn't specify which Starbucks to meet at, so my husband went to the wrong one and then had to go find him at another.  Annoying, but not a huge deal.

For a Monday-Friday rental of a car that seated 8 (GMC Acadia), we paid $308, plus $20 in gas.  Total car rental expense= $328.

Grocery Delivery

Staying at a condo meant we could cook our own food.  Instead of heading to the grocery store after getting off the airplane, we did our grocery shopping online a couple days before we left our house.  We shopped at Safeway/Vons online and chose a delivery time for our groceries to be delivered right to the door of our condo!  I seriously need this feature where I live!  It was so easy, and price-wise, it was the same as shopping in store.  Be sure to search for coupon codes on their website, and you can enter more than one at checkout.

What we bought:

For breakfasts, we bought: eggs, bacon, oatmeal, cereal, orange juice, pancake mix and syrup, milk, butter, toast.
For lunches, we bought: loaves of bread, peanut butter, jelly, cheese, turkey, salami, lettuce, tomatoes.
For dinners, we bought: spaghetti and burgers for our main meals, with mac and cheese and salad makings for sides.
For snacks, we bought: apples, bananas, carrots, cheese sticks, granola bars, pretzels.
We also, of course, bought some already-ground Peet's coffee!

We made sandwiches for our lunches in the park, and for our lunch on the airplane ride home.  This saved a ton of money; lunch in the park is super expensive (though we did eat in the park one day).  We would bring in our own snacks and water bottles, too.  We ate out for dinner twice, and made our dinners at home twice.  We ate all our breakfasts at home.

We also had many of the granola bars/oatmeal/etc. leftover, and we were able to take some of it back home in our suitcases ;)

Our grocery store cost was $173.  We ate 9 meals, so that totals $19.20 per meal for 8 people, which means we ate at a cost of $2.40 per meal per person.  This is WAY cheaper than eating out all the time.  Plus, all that eating out on vacation can add a ton of calories and leave you feeling not so great.

Do Your Own Hair

Since we were at Disneyland for Ellie's birthday, I really wanted to do something special.  I looked into the little places where they can get their hair done like princesses, but the started cost for those was $50!!!  Absurd!  So, I brought along bobby pins, glitter, hair ties, flowers, combs, etc. and did her hair myself on her birthday (and Zoe's hair, too, of course!).  I payed attention on our first day in the park to the girls who clearly had their hair done...then, I gave her an option.  1. Elsa hair, or 2. Up high princess hair.  They both chose Elsa hair.

I realize that this may be a difficult option if you have zero hair-doing skills, but if you have some, it's a great way to make your little girl feel special, without paying an exorbitant amount of money.

This saved us a MINIMUM of $100 between the two girls!

Here are some of my older posts on saving money on Disneyland:

Post 1
Post 2

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