Disneyland is a place of magic, excitement and fun. For many children and adults, going to Disneyland creates lifelong memories to cherish and hold dear. From meeting your favorite characters, to sharing delicious treats, to going on spectacular rides, people love Disneyland.
But it is so freaking expensive!
Going to Disneyland with a family can cost thousands of dollars. Between the tickets, food in the park, hotel stay, and buying all the fun merch, it can get expensive very fast. Just looking at the average cost can make your dreams of a family vacation to Disneyland seem impossible. But don’t give up hope! With a strong budget, lots of planning, and some creativity you can get to Disneyland for the vacation of your dreams.
Know the Costs for Everything
A Disney vacation costs more than just paying for the tickets to the park. Like mentioned above, you need to pay for food, a hotel, transportation, flights, or gas to get to California, and a hundred other little things. The first step is to know the cost of everything you’ll pay for on your vacation.
Start with tickets to the park. Disney packages their tickets per day, where if you buy a 5-day ticket it’s the cheapest per day. If you want the most value for your dollar, the 5-day package costs $83 a day, while the 3-day package is $120 a day as of 2023. A single day at the parks is $104. And all of that is just to enjoy a single park! It costs around an extra $60 a day to go between the different parks at Disneyland.
Then there is food. On the low end, average meals cost around $15 per person but can get up to $60 at the higher end restaurants like the Blue Bayou that is inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
Hotels are expensive too, even during the slower seasons, and can range anywhere from $100 a night to $500 depending on where you stay, when, and how close it is to the park.
The more you know about the costs, the better you can plan your trip to save money and find ways to cut costs.
Save Money at the Parks
There are tons of ways to save money when it comes to Disneyland. Everyone has their own tips and tricks to save a buck there.
For example, you don’t need to buy tickets straight from Disney. In fact, we recommend you don't. There are tons and tons of websites and services that can get you discounted tickets to help you save a little bit. The savings might only be a hundred bucks compared to gate tickets, but at least it is something.
Another way to save money is to bring your own food. Disneyland allows you to bring in outside food, snacks, and drinks inside a soft shell cooler or backpack. So rather than dropping $60 a meal for your family, pack some sandwiches, apples, and chips for lunch and dinner.
There is also the cost of buying merchandise, toys, clothing, and more at the parks. Buying a pair of mickey ears is somewhat of a tradition for everyone, but there is nothing saying you have to buy it in the park. You can save a lot of money getting your Disneyland merch outside of the parks and online to save a lot of money and time. Rather than having a kid debate about which ears to get, you can spend more time on the rides with your kid wearing the Star Wars ears they already picked out online.
Start Saving Now and Adjust Your Budget
Between knowing the costs and coming up with ways to save money, you likely have a good idea how much it will cost for your Disneyland vacation. Now comes the hard part; saving up for it.
You need to examine your budget and find ways to save money. You need to raise quite a bit in order to make the vacation happen, which will mean cutting out non-essential expenses and saving that money for the vacation.
If you have kids, you can also encourage them to start saving for the trip too. You can tell them if they want to buy stuff at the park, they can earn and save money for it, which takes some costs off your wallet and teaches them important money saving values.
If your trip is further out, you could also put that saved money to work earning you extra money in a Pioneer Term Certificate. It has a higher interest rate than a traditional savings account so you get more cash back.
Set a Budget for the Trip
It’s very easy to get caught up in the magic of Disneyland and being on vacation. Many people adopt a “have fun now, pay for it later” mentality at Disney. This can get you in a heap of trouble if you aren’t careful. What seems like a small expense at the park (a toy here, a shirt there, a couple churros and Dole whips) can end up being too much to handle when you get home and find you spent too much.
Set a soft and hard budget for your trip as a whole and for each day. This can help reign in reckless spending and encourage your family to be careful when spending money.
A soft budget is around how much you expect to spend in the day. This can include a little bit of wiggle room for treats, souvenirs, and meals, but should be followed for the most part. A hard budget is the limit you will spend at the park. You should refuse to spend over this amount. The difference between the soft and hard budgets is for unexpected expenses, like a medical issue, buying a change of clothes for a kid who waited too long to use the restroom, or just something to prevent your child from having a meltdown.
To help you stay on budget, save money on tickets, and have a magical time, Pioneer has partnered with Get Away Today. They can help you find great package deals on hotels and Disneyland tickets. They can also help with other vacations like going to Disney World, going on a cruise and more!
Learn more about Get Away Today