Cut Your Costs on a Disneyland Vacation

Now that summer is in full swing, you may be contemplating a vacation. For families, couples and adult individuals alike, that may equate to a trip to Disneyland! But there’s certainly no magic to the way such a vacation can suck the cash right out of your wallet. From the travel costs to hotel accommodations to dining while away from home, it can all cost a pretty—and most definitely not a pixie-size—penny! For the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the ways our family of four trims the expense of going to the park and exactly how we keep costs down while away.

Getting there can be half the fun, but a huge expense! We live in Washington state, certainly not the farthest away from sunny Anaheim, California, but by no means close. Despite the cost, we do try to make a family trip to Disneyland annually. But we plan well—and I do mean well—in advance. Cyber Monday is a great day to snag phenomenally cheap airfare. For example, my husband was tracking the costs of airline tickets for weeks and they continually hovered around $130 one-way per person. However, on Cyber Monday he was able to snag these same tickets for only $40 each. Do keep your eyes open throughout the year, too, for pricing wars between competing airlines. My hubby was tipped off to this great rate by another airline company. He received an email from one carrier and knew that yet another usually followed the prior’s pricing lead. A quick hop, skip and a click to a competitor’s site revealed the phenomenal rate.


Unless you’re looking for bragging rates, consider skipping a stay at a Disney hotel and opt for a “Good Neighbor” hotel instead. While the Disney hotels are indeed beautiful and offer great amenities, they come a hugely hefty price. Besides, consider how much time you’ll actually be spending inside your hotel room anyway. Are you there to look at your room or play in the park? Opting for a clean, conveniently located but far less expensive hotel may be just the ticket to a cheaper vacation. Know, too, that there are quick and easy ways to snag an even better nightly rate at these less expensive hotels too. Consider purchasing the Entertainment book in order to be able to use the discount card that comes along with it. There’s no extra charge for this card and it comes with every book regardless of the geographic location for the specific book. This little card can get you up to a 50% savings! (Psst! Consider purchasing your Disneyland tickets right at your hotel, too. It’s not only super convenient enabling you to completely avoid possibly long lines at the gate, but you’ll be eligible to take advantage of “Magic Morning” opportunities that give you early admission to the park before it opens to the general public.)

Lastly, location counts! While a select few of the Good Neighbor hotels do offer a free tram or bus service to and from the park, most provide only access to this service for a per person charge. While walking to the park in the morning may prove exciting, the trip back with aching feet and potentially tired, whiny children isn’t too much fun. Take this into consideration when selecting your hotel in the first place. Our family’s favorite hotel by far is the Howard Johnson located just a few blocks from the park. Great rates, clean rooms, a phenomenal (and free!) water attraction for kids supervised by a lifeguard all make this hotel an easy choice for our family. But the walk to and from the park isn’t bad either. Saving us the cash we would ordinarily have to spend to get back to our hotel in the evening. Also worth noting, most the crowds leaving Disneyland in the evening travel in the opposite direction, making the walk back to the Howard Johnson much more relaxed. (Psst! Want to feel like you’re at a Disney hotel? Specifically ask for a Disneyland facing room and enjoy a great view of the Matterhorn and watch the Monorail zoom by from your hotel room! And, yes, the Entertainment book discount can even be applied on these special rooms, too, but only for specified dates. Certainly worth a bit of planning ahead!)

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

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