The Broke Girl’s Guide to Disneyland
I spent the last week on a surprise trip to Disneyland with my mama! It’s one of our favorite places and it was the first time either of us went as adults without any kiddos. The biggest downside to Disneyland is the cost. Everything is expensive at Disneyland… Food, water, souvenirs, oxygen. Spending at Disneyland can get out of hand in the blink of an eye. To hopefully prevent spending way more than you should, here are my best tips for saving money at Disneyland!
1. Bring a Water Bottle
We’ve been to Disneyland during every season and it’s never been cold. Last week (in mid-December) the temps were in the 80s and we were in tshirts. Not only should you be drinking the standard 64 oz. of water a day, but you’ll get extra thirsty after standing in line for rides in the warm weather. Instead of buying bottled water at the park all day (around $4 a bottle!) bring a water bottle into the park with you and refill it all day. You can bring full water bottles in with you, and there are water fountains throughout the entire park where you can refill.
Filter Water Bottle
If you’re like me and want to ensure that your water is filtered, invest in this brita water bottle on Amazon (free shipping with Prime). It filters the water while you drink it, so you don’t have to worry about drinking from a tap. It literally costs less than two bottles of water in Disneyland, so it’s totally worth it, even if you’re not spending more than one day in the park. This is my favorite water bottle with a filter because it’s so affordable that I can justify only using it when I’m at Disneyland.
2. Bring Snacks
Similarly to bottled water, food is outrageously pricey inside the park. We spent $30 on two basic corn dogs and two small fountain sodas! It still makes me gasp when I think about it. With the amount of exercise you’re getting walking through the park, you’ll work up an appetite and it’s not cost efficient to buy all of your food from Disneyland. To save money, bring snacks (or even full meals) into the park with you. This is also a great option if you have dietary restrictions. During our trip a couple of years ago, our cousins met us at the park for one of the days we were there. They packed sandwiches and chips and juice and we all ate a full homemade lunch in the park.
If you’re staying in a hotel at or near the park and don’t want to deal with finding a grocery store but still want to save money by bringing snacks or meals into the park, Vons will deliver groceries to your hotel room. Plus, they offer free delivery on your first order, so there’s no added cost compared to going to the store yourself. Click here to check out the Vons Anaheim delivery page for all of the details.
If you don’t want to carry around snacks and meals with you, you can rent a locker inside of the park for $7 or $10 a day. You have unlimited access to the locker, and that price is still cheaper than one corndog!
*Worth the splurge: Get a Dole Whip from just outside of the Tiki Room!
3. Buy Souvenirs Outside the Park
This may sound silly but you can save some serious money buying souvenirs outside of the park. Almost any store in the nearby area will have Disney merchandise for sale. Since you can leave and re-enter the park throughout the day, head a quarter of a mile outside of the park to Walgreens or CVS. You can get Disney clothing, lanyards, mugs/cups, stuffed animals, and more for a fraction of the cost of what you’ll pay inside the park!
Another option is to purchase Disney merchandise before you go. Head to Amazon and not only will you save money, but you’ll also have five times the options.
Doing a quick search, I found this adorable Once Upon A Time tank top on Amazon. I actually wish I had gotten this before I left, and I’m adding it to my list for next time!
4. Buy Trading Pins Before You Go
If you’re into pin trading, you know how expensive it can get. If you want to get started with pin trading during your next trip to Disneyland, LISTEN TO MY ADVICE! Go to eBay and buy a “lot” of Disney trading pins. You can buy 50 pins for under $25. Ugh, it still makes me mad every time I think about the fact that I started pin trading BEFORE I knew this.
Keep in mind, one pin at the park can be upwards of $15 and sets of four or five pins are at least $20. If you’re spending that much on pins, you’re hopefully picking out ones that you really like and want to keep. It will be hard to give up one of those pins to trade with a cast member. The cheapest pin at the park is a small purple bag that contains one of eight mystery pins, and it’s still more than $5. I originally bought these to trade, but it still gets super pricey really quickly!
Buying 50 pins for $25 on eBay means that you’re paying $0.50 per pin!! That’s such a steal. Chances are there are probably some in there that you’ll like, but remember that it’s okay if you don’t like any of them at all… the whole purpose is to trade them for special ones that you DO like!
5. Don’t Buy the PhotoPass+ Package
During our big trip to Disneyland a couple of years ago, we spent roughly $80 on the PhotoPass+ package. PhotoPass is actually super cool because you can have cast members take pictures of you in iconic spots and with all of the characters. Those photos then get downloaded to a card that you keep with you, and you get digital access to all of them. This includes ride photos (like on Splash Mountain) and dining photos (like at the Plaza Inn). This package gives you PhotoPass for a week inside the park.
Opt for the MaxPass Instead
Now Disneyland has an app where you can spend $10 per day (per ticket) for a MaxPass, which includes digital FastPasses AND PhotoPass access. If you want your whole group to have digital FastPasses, this can add up. For the purpose of the PhotoPass though, it’s much more affordable than the standard one week package. The trick is to have ONE PERSON pay for the PhotoPass access in the app each day when you’re there. At the end of the trip, that person can save all of the digital photos and send them to everyone else. Instead of spending $80 for PhotoPass+ for a three day trip, you’ll spend $30!
If you want to cut out the cost of PhotoPass all together, have the cast members take photos with your phone or camera. They’re always happy to do so and then your pictures are completely free! The only downside is that you won’t get the hilarious pictures from Splash Mountain or Space Mountain.
If you combine all these tips, you can save some serious money at Disneyland and really cut down on the total cost of a trip!
Do you have any other money saving tips for Disneyland? I’d love for you to share them in the comments!
Want to know how I knew what I was able to spend while I was in the park? Read my post about tracking my monthly expenses!
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