Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Disneyland before you go

When travelling a trip to Disneyland, first rule, never pay full price.  You can find packages that give you deals on  hotels and tickets through places like Get Away Today Vacations.  You can go to Hotels directly, some have advanced purchase prices if you are planning you trip several months in advance.   You can find a convention to join and get discount tickets and hotel rooms through the convention.  You can even buy a citypass ( through Costco.  Or you can use a combination of the above sites to find the best deals on different aspects of your trip.  There are several ways to save.

Be aware that hotels right next to the park are usually more expensive and most do not have a complimentary breakfast, even chains that usually offer this elsewhere.   They will often charge a daily charge for parking and charge for things like access to the internet.  I often find a hotel that is farther away, in Fullerton, Garden Grove, Buena Park, or another surrounding city will be cheaper and include free parking and breakfast.  I like to find a hotel that either has a kitchen or breakfast.

The first time we took our children to Disneyland we found a great deal at a hotel across the street from Disneyland.  It did not offer breakfast and we had to pay for parking, but we figured it would save us from paying for parking at the park and how expensive could breakfast be?  Apparently very expensive.  For an adult breakfast in our hotel was $20, for a child it was $15, so for our family of 4 we would have spent $70 just for breakfast.  We went to Ihop, and found that Ihop in Anaheim was a lot more expensive than the Ihop 5 minutes from our house.  We looked at each other and our mouths fell open.  We bought the biggest breakfast on the menu and split it between our family.  After that we went to a store bought some cereal, granola bars, and fruit.  We bought milk every morning from the little store in the hotel and ate breakfast in our room.  From that point on we have looked farther away from the park, we figure we save by paying for parking at Disneyland if we are at a hotel that serves breakfast and gives us free parking.

Travelling to Disneyland it is essential to figure out how expensive airfare will be and compare that to the cost of gas and expense of driving.  We have found that the more children you have, even if we add hotel accommodations to and from Disneyland, gas prices, and food, it is still usually cheaper to drive to Disneyland.  We often can tack on other day trips, which provide entertainment for the family, to break up the monotony of a road trip and still save money on travel.

If driving just seems too much, then try to find cheaper ways to fly.  Look for specials, and book when you find a special in airfare, because that is a rare opportunity these days.  One way to save on airfare is to look at frequent flyer miles.  My husband has to travel a lot with his job and we use the miles he travels with work to buy plane tickets for the family.  If there is a grandparent or close friend that travels a lot, they might be willing to donate their miles to your travel as well.  Check out, and, or other airfare websites.

If travelling with children I like to buy a small item/gift for each day of travel.  I put these at the foot of their bed for when they wake up in the morning.  I like to get things like flip flops, sunglasses, goggles, and small toys.  I looked at what we were doing for the day, for example if we went swimming, I would put goggles at the foot of their beds.  I tried to anticipate what they would want and buying it helped me spend about 10% of what I would at Disneyland or some other vacation destination for a similar item.  Finding Disney items is fairly easy too.  I found that if I did this, my kids were not constantly saying, "I want," "Can I have that," or something along those lines.

If you want to eat at a nice restaurant in Disneyland or California Adventure it is a good idea is to make reservations at restaurants before you go.  Waiting until you are at the park to make a reservation will leave you with odd hours of eating.  If you want to make multiple reservations at multiple locations, the Winery, Ariel's Grotto, Goofy's Kitchen, or Blue Bayou, you can make them all at the same time through the same number.  Ariel's Grotto and Goofy's Kitchen have a lot of characters that come by and visit while you eat.  If you want to have a special dinner, then call ahead and make those reservations.

 We find an excellent way to plan our trip before we go is to use Ride Max (  This is even more essential if you are going at a high volume time.  We took our daughter to Disneyland for her 3rd birthday in the middle of July, we used Ride Max and were able to go to EVERY ride we wanted to, have less than a 15 minute wait for each ride, and take naps in the middle of the afternoon.  If you don't know what you are doing, or it is your first time going to Disneyland, make a schedule with Ride Max.  It is worth the money.  If you are a more seasoned Disney park visitor then make sure you have the app, MouseWait downloaded to your smart phone!

These are my essential tips for planning a successful trip before I ever leave my house, and it helps my Disney experience be as fun for me as for my kids.

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