Monday, October 21, 2013

5 Ways to Save on a Disney Vacation

We just returned from a week long trip to Disneyland and I thought I would type up a quick post of money saving tips.  This way I will be able to find it the next time we go to Disney:)

Here are 5 ways to save on a Disney vacation:

1. Plan Ahead.  One great way to save money is to plan ahead for hotel reservations.  I made our reservations about 8 months before the trip and was able to score an amazing rate on a suite that had two rooms and a total of four queen size beds.  I found a hotel close enough to walk to Disney that offered free parking.  I was actually amazed that not all the hotels have free parking so check this out ahead of time.  Most hotels will let you cancel with no obligation within a few days of the trip if things don't work out.  I actually called and shortened our reservation a few weeks before the trip:) 

 (We were able to walk to Disney from our hotel.)

2. Pack a lunch.  Food on the road and in a theme park can be so very expensive...especially for a large family such as ours.  To save money on food, we ate the free hotel breakfast (basically pastries and coffee), packed our lunch and snacks, and then only purchased dinner in the park.  We bought all kinds of fruit and snacks along with gallon ziploc bags and sharpie markers.  We labeled a bag for each person.  Every morning they could choose several snacks to go in their bag along with the sandwich and fruit that I added.  You would have thought it was Christmas as they picked out their own food for the day.  Then, they were allowed get their snack whenever they were hungry during the day and when it was gone, it was gone:)  So, there was no whining about being hungry...ahhhh.  We also took water bottles and a gallon refill bottle into the park.  Drinks can add up fast if you are buying.

3. Pre-purchase preschool souvenirs and glow sticks.  We made a trip to the dollar store a few days before the trip and bought several Mickey Mouse themed toys for our little three boys and packed them in the stroller.  Then when the older kids were buying a souvenir we would hand the littles a new toy and they were thrilled.  We also bought all kinds of glow sticks/swords/twirly things at the dollar store and packed them in the stroller as well.  When darkness fell, our kids were transformed into a traveling firework show...haha.  People kept commenting on how cool their glow items were and I just kept smiling to myself as I saw the crazy prices of the glow items in the park.  Big win!  And, it helped us keep track of one another in the darkness.

(See how happy they are with their Dollar Store Disney toys...haha.)

4. Budget for food and put the kids in charge.  We are big Dave Ramsey people so we used the envelope system on this trip.  We budgeted what we would spend on meals each day (travel and park days) and labeled envelopes with the day and put the money inside.  When the money was gone, we were done eating...haha.  Because we were packing lunch and snacks, we found that we didn't really want to buy snacks inside the park and actually had money left over most days. Okay so we didn't put the kids in charge of the whole trip...just their own spending money.  We did the same envelope system for the older kids' souvenir money.  We told them what they had to spend and put it in an envelope with their names.  Then when a kid would ask for a $5 Mickey Mouse shaped ice cream bar, we would remind them that they were free to spend their money any way that they wanted.  Do you know that two of my kids came home with ALL of their money!  There was no way they were going to "waste" their money on such things as ice cream or toys:)  Dave Ramsey would be so proud...and so am I.

 (Dinner at Flo's V8 Cafe in Radiator Springs)

5. Take a day off.  We did one day at Legoland, one at California Adventure, and one at Disneyland.  We planned to take a day to go to the beach and explore tidepools right in the middle and it was perfect.  After two fast paced days everyone was ready to have a more restful day off and it was really cost effective.  Putting a "free day" in the trip can save a great deal.

Having a day to just run and explore really recharged all of our batteries and we were ready for another park day.

How do you save money on vacations with kids?


  1. what beach is this? we are planning a family vacation here as well, really appreciated the information!

  2. This is the northern beach at Crystal Cove State Park just north of Laguna Beach. It had some pretty amazing ocean life. Enjoy your trip!