If you’ve been following Misguided Mama on Instagram then you know we are planning a family trip to Disneyland next week! We try to take a yearly trip to see Mickey with Grey, to celebrate his birthday (cause remember we don’t do birthday parties). We are a little late this year, so we are squeezing all of our celebrations into one trip: birthdays, graduations, babymoon…
I am very aware that for some people a yearly trip to a Disney park may not be financially plausible (especially with those ticket price hikes every year). I totally get it, we only manage to take the trip each year thanks to a lot of careful planning, and a few side jobs throughout the year.
Back to Instagram. A few of you said you wanted me to write a post about how we make our Disney Trip as budget-friendly as possible–so here it is! Oh and just an FYI this post is in no way sponsored. Just sharing tips from one Mama to another.
- Driving vs. Flying. Fortunately, we live a state over and thus always choose to drive. This saves a lot of money on plane tickets (obviously), but we also don’t have to worry about renting a car when get there. However, if you have to fly, I suggest arranging your trip so you can fly in and out on the least expensive days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. If renting a car is a must, we always use Dollar Rent A Car or Budget, and have never had any issues (be sure to Google some coupon/promo codes… they will save you a lot!).
- Hotel vs. Air BnB. This really depends on your family’s needs. When we travel to Disney, we prefer to stay in a hotel close by the park in case the kiddo needs a midday nap. On that note, we ALWAYS choose a hotel with free breakfast, free parking, and free wifi. Breakfast can be extra pricey in the parks, and I take vacation pretty seriously–no cooking for mommy! Also be aware that most hotels in the Anaheim area can charge up to $25 a night for parking, that’s money you could be spending on churros! Our go-to hotel sites are Hotwire and Priceline. They each have their strengths: Hotwire now shows you the hotel you are likely to get (which BTW has always been the hotel we actually get), and it’s just easy to pick all the amenities you want and book it (i.e. free breakfast, parking, bed choice etc.). However, if you are up for a gamble and have a little extra cash, we have gotten some really great deals on 4-star hotels using Priceline’s Name Your Own Price option (keep in mind you’ll need to call ahead to ensure bed choice and you’ll likely have a resort fee and nightly parking fee). Air BnB is a great choice for larger families, or if you have an infant that require some extra care (ability to cook, room to play etc.). Air BnBs usually have free parking, and if you book far enough in advance you can get some great deals.
- Disneyland Tickets. There are very few discounts when it comes to Disney tickets. Occasionally, you’ll find a website that offers a few dollars off each ticket, but usually the membership for the site costs more than the discount. I have no expert advice here except to buy multi-day tickets. *Unless you have a friend or family member in the military who wouldn’t mind going to the parks with you for at least one day* If you are going midweek, you’ll probably find it better to do single park tickets for 2+ days. If you end up having to go during a weekend, I suggest getting the park hopper option to get the most out of your Disney vacation. A little trick I learned while on a Disney tour is to always start at Adventure Land and go clockwise through each land in the park. Why? Because, everyone and their mom, grandpa, aunt, and bff want to hit up Fantasyland or Tomorrowland first, if you start at Adventure Land and make your way from there, you’ll cross paths with everyone around lunch time and enjoy a significantly lighter crowd in the more popular lands toward mid-afternoon.
- Toys and Merchandise. Buy novelties and toys before you go to the parks. There is a Target very close to the park which carries a ton of Disney merchandise. If you have the time, stop by and pick up some novelty items you can hand out to the kiddos throughout the day to avoid overspending at Disney stores. I highly suggest buying a bubble machine/wand if they have them in stock to save you from nighttime meltdowns. Another idea is to give kids a Disney gift card with a set amount of money on it and explain that it is their very own Disney money to spend on whatever they wish at the park (once it’s gone…it’s gone!).
- Snacks. I’ll admit, part of the magic of Disney is the food. But let’s be honest, my toddler wouldn’t know the difference between a Mickey shaped cookie, and any other cookie. Bring your snacks with you! We’ll include water here too. There are several filtered water stations throughout the park… free water is the best kind. So make sure to pack those water bottles.
Hope that some of these tips will help make your Disney vacation a bit more magical! What are some of your best budget-friendly tips?