AS WITH ALL THINGS DISNEY, THERE ARE COUNTLESS WAYS TO SPEND YOUR DOLLARS IN THE PARKS AT THE DISNEYLAND RESORT! KNOWING AHEAD OF TIME HOW YOU’D LIKE TO SPLURGE AND SAVE IN DISNEYLAND WILL HELP YOU SET A BUDGET AND MAXIMIZE YOUR VACATION FUND!
Ahhhh, Disneyland – the vacation of all vacations – can be done reasonably and on a budget. My daughter and I have a small addiction to Disneyland. Between the two of us, we’ve visited the Disneyland Resort in California over 40 times, I think. I say I think because it gets a little fuzzy when trying to separate the trips. So, needless to say, we have learned a few tips and tricks along the way. There are certain experiences that you want to have while you are there, so you want to be sure you are spending your hard-earned travel dollars wisely. Here are our best suggestions on where to splurge and save in Disneyland!
Where to Splurge
Mickey Mouse Ears
They’re iconic, they’re fun and they’re a little pricey. But so worth it! If you are going to bring home a souvenir, these will do nicely.
Plus, if when you go back again, guess what? They’re re-usable! We often pack our favourite pair of ears with us, just in case we don’t find another pair that we love even more!
AND for even more fun – you can order your Mickey Mouse ears online!
Dole Pineapple Whips
Buy yourself a Dole Pineapple Whip whenever you feel your energy waning a little, or you just need some extra happiness in your day. You will wonder how Disney managed to create a dish that tastes like magic and clouds wrapped into one, but then you remember – oh yeah, it’s Disney.
Not expensive, but on the Must-Have list. Of course, you’ll want to skip this one if you don’t like pineapple or joy in your life.
Blue Bayou Restaurant
If you are looking for a lovely dining experience, look no further than the Blue Bayou, located inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The food, the atmosphere and the service are all wonderful. Be sure to book early, as the restaurant typically sells out every day.
If you don’t have reservations, however, it never hurts to go to the restaurant and ask if they have anything available. We’ve gotten lucky a few times and managed to get without much of a wait.
NOTE: While Pirates of the Caribbean is undergoing a lengthy refurbishment, the Blue Bayou seating area is surrounded by work walls. The food and service are still great, but you do lose some of the ambiance. Be sure to check the refurbishment schedule on www.disneyland.com to find out more! Just scroll to the bottom of the page to see what’s currently closed for refurbishment.
As a fan of Disney, I enjoy all aspects. This includes classic characters. You MUST, at least once, attend Minnie’s Breakfast, which takes place at the Plaza Inn on Main Street. You’ll get a visit at your table from Chip and Dale, Eeyore, Tigger, Winnie the Pooh and, of course, the star of the morning – Minnie Mouse.
There are normally several other characters that will visit as well, but they seem to change from time to time. The food is delicious and plentiful and the photo opportunities are priceless. Be sure to bring your autograph book!
*IMPORTANT NOTE about Character Dining – at the time of writing, many character dining experiences are either cancelled or modified in some way, due to safety measures. Always be sure to do your research and visit www.disneyland.com for the latest information.
Where to Save
Yes, everyone wants to stay at the Disneyland Hotel. Or the Grand Californian. However, for some, that can mean the difference between being able to afford the trip or not. During our many trips, we have stayed at the Grand Californian, the Paradise Pier and countless hotels in the surrounding area. Hotels range from luxury to bare-bones and the prices reflect that. Determine what you need and book accordingly!
The Good Neighbour Hotels surrounding the resort itself are a good value, and many are a fraction of the price of the Disney hotels. Do your research and find one that works for you. Most hotels that are out of walking distance offer free shuttles, and if not, the local transit system is very good.
Meals in many of the restaurants in the Disneyland Resort are a fairly good size. My daughter and I often split meals, or at the very least, share one meal and one appetizer. The portions are big, and with all the walking and heat (and of course – the SNACKS), we often don’t feel all that hungry. Rather than letting it go to waste, we eat smaller portions and fill in with snacks if we feel the need.
PRO TIP: The Monte Cristo sandwich that is served at several locations throughout the resort is big enough for two, but leaves room to share a dessert as well!
We also bring small snacks in our bags – a granola bar, cookie or some other small treat that isn’t going to melt! Unless we’re headed to the Plaza Inn to meet up with Minnie and her friends, we try to eat breakfast before we get into the park – many hotels offer complimentary continental breakfasts or have small restaurants on-site with reasonably priced meals. Again, larger portions could allow you to share.
Bring What You’ll Need from Home!
This one sounds like a no-brainer, but trust me – even we have been caught unaware! We’ve learned from experience to pack the following items:
- Pain relievers
- Water bottles
They don’t take up much room in your suitcase, but when you need them, they can be hard to find AND expensive. You can easily throw a poncho, bandaids and pain relievers in your day pack without adding any extra weight or bulk. You’ll be glad you did!
So those are our best suggestions on how to Splurge AND Save in Disneyland. There really is nowhere more magical than Disneyland, and nothing beats coming home with money in your pocket. With proper planning, you can easily stick to a budget and bring home only memories, not debt! And be sure to pack your day bag with the 9 Must-Pack Items for Disneyland before your next trip!
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