How To Plan a Trip to Disneyland On A Budget: 15 Best Tips

Walt Disney and Mickey mouse statue at Disneyland in front of the Castle

Going to Disneyland is a blast! Here are some ways to do go to Disney and SAVE!

Here are 15 tips to enjoy a Disneyland vacation and not have to spend more than you can afford! As a family of 4 on a budget, here are some things we do to keep costs down but still have a great trip to Disneyland.

1. Buy a ticket that is a One Park Per Day Ticket

Plan your trip around doing one park per day if you want to go to Disneyland and California Adventure. Park Hopper passes allow you to go to both parks on the same day. However, park hopper’s cost an additional $60 per ticket, per day! That adds up really fast especially for a family of 4 like us.

2. If you plan to go to Disneyland a few times a year, get a Magic Key Pass

We have Magic Key passes (annual passes) and we decided on the the Enchant Key as it was the cheapest option. When we did the math, it was equivalent to going to the Disneyland parks for 6 days with a Park Hopper. The Magic Key Pass automatically comes with a park hopper. So this is definitely something to consider if you want to go a couple times a year.

Photo of mom and two boys out front of a hotel in Disneyland

3. Stay at a local hotel, not a Disneyland Resort Hotel

There are a ton of local hotels that are really affordable. I like to use Priceline because the hotel prices seem to be the best deal! Staying at the any of the Disneyland Resort Hotels is amazing, and of course being closer to the parks is great. But, you can save HUNDREDS (like $300-$500) of dollars staying off site that may even be within walking distance. Many hotels offer shuttles for a small fee (around $5 per day, and sometimes free!). There are also several options that are walking distance to the park entrance and are available at a really affordable rate. I like to make sure to read the reviews on the hotel before booking. It helps to give you a better idea before you book and really know what you’re getting yourself into as far as how far the walk is and how decent the hotel is.

Mickeys fun wheel drink in Disneyland California Adventure

4. Buy Merchandise on Amazon or other retailers before you go

Buying Disneyland Merchandise can be really fun, but it is expensive! So if you want to have some fun Disney T-shirt’s before you go, check Amazon! Another option is websites like, Poshmark, that can sell new or used Disneyland Merch that is affordable and cute! Other places to find cute Disney type clothes are Target, Kohls, Gap and Walmart.

5. Pack snacks

We pack snacks like beef sticks, protein bars, crackers, applesauce, and fruit. I still like to enjoy some Disneyland treats, but bringing some of your own snacks cuts back on cost! If you consider finding ways to not purchase all 3 meals and snacks for an entire day in the park, you can really save and stick to a budget! Listen, I’m all for Disney food. But consider having one meal in the park and one treat per day, then subbing the rest for your own food! It will save you money and it can be quite a bit healthier!

6. Bring your own water bottle

You can use a refillable water bottle at many different fill stations around the park. You can type into the Disneyland app “refillable water station” and it will tell you where they are! Otherwise, water in Disneyland is almost $5 per bottle. That’s almost two cases of water at the grocery store!

7. Get snacks and waters delivered to your hotel

Another service I like to use if we are flying into Disneyland is using an app like DoorDash to have snacks and water bottles delivered to our hotel room. While grocery delivery can be expensive, it is still cheaper than buying all 3 meals, snacks, treats, and drinks in the parks.

8. Get the CheapER Treats!

DOLE Whip, $6.49, Churro, $5.75, Mickey Beignets, $4.99, Mickey Shaped Pretzel, (Main Street Refreshment Corner) $5.49, Cozy Cone Ice Cream, $5.29, Kids POWERPACK meals are offered at several locations around the parks for $5.99, Tatooine Sunset Beverage, $5.99, Minnie Chocolate Cake Pop, $6.49, Clarabelle’s Hand Scooped Ice Cream, single scoop, $5.29, Coffee, $3.79, Chocolate Chip Cookie from Trolley Treats, $3.99 or Mickey Shaped Chocolate Chip Cookie for $5.49

9. Use the Single Rider Lines

Genie Plus is a new feature that has replaced fast passes. But it costs extra! A lot extra! Instead, go on rides that allow for single riders. You do seperate briefly from your group, but many times you go straight to the front of the line. Rides that offer Single Rider include Splash Mountain, Radiator Spring Racers, Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Incredicoaster, Goofy’s Sky School, Grizzly River Run, and Webslingers: A Spiderman Adventure.

10. Park offsite

If you have hotel parking available, leave your car there and shuttle in. Parking at Disneyland is a whopping $30 per day, so there is a good chance your hotel is more affordable. Use whatever shuttle features your hotel has to offer. But make sure your hotel offers a shuttle to the entrance before you book! If your hotel is a bit too far from the parks, you may not have that option.

11. Take advantage of free stuff!

No there isn’t a whole lot that comes, free. But, you can get a free celebration button in Disneyland at the City Hall or the Emporium shop which is the first shop once you enter Main Street on the left. There are all kinds of buttons: birthday, anniversary, first visit, and others! My kids LOVE to get these, and wear them all day. Second, If you are spending the day at California Adventure, Ghiradelli offers free chocolate samples!

12. Fly Southwest Airlines

We live in Northern California, so for us, we have found that Southwest Airlines is the cheapest airline to fly into Orange County. The Best Airports to fly into are Long Beach (LGB) or John Wayne (SNA). Both are about 20 minutes from Disneyland. Southwest is always running sales, so I recommend that you book your flight in the middle of the week. It really is cheaper. Also, sign up for Southwest emails so you can be informed when they are running sales. Another tip for Southwest is to look at their low fare Calendar. You can see what the cheapest flights are on a monthly calendar, and book your flights according to the cheapest times!

13. Bring your own stroller

You can rent a single or a double stroller daily at Disneyland. But of course, it is expensive! A single stroller costs $18 and a double stroller costs $36 per day. So, if you have a stroller and you can find a way to bring your own, then bring your own!

14. Research a Souvenir that you want and work it into your budget

Souvenirs just like clothing merchandise at Disneyland can be pricey. But if you do your research and have a plan, you can make it happen! Souvenirs we have planned for are things like Big Lollipops, silhouette pictures from the Silhouette Studio, Mickey Ears/Baby Yoda Ears, or spinning light up toys. Have a plan for something special you want to bring back home so you won’t go over budget.

15. Stretch out your trip without being IN Disneyland or California Adventure

One thing our family likes to do is get into Anaheim a day or so before we go into one of the parks. We fill that day with dinner in Downtown Disney (or TONS of great options around Anaheim), window shopping in Downtown Disney, swimming in the pool at the hotel, and enjoying the amazing Southern California weather. Let’s be honest, just being on vacation is lovely. So taking an extra day to enjoy and relax before you hit the parks is a really great way to extend the vacation but not spend extra money on park tickets.

I hope this list helps you in your planning for your next Disney trip! Drop a comment below if you used any of these tips or found them helpful


You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *