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Disneyland Article
17 Ways To Save Money On A Trip To Disneyland

Cafe Orleans
Orange County Register
Marla Jo Fisher
October 15, 2018
October 24, 2018
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It probably hasn't escaped your attention that going to Disneyland costs a small fortune these days, and we're not just talking about the ticket prices. Food, parking and souvenirs will also eat up your children's inheritance. Here are some tips to help manage the cost:

1. Go on a weekday. Disneyland has moved to a three-tier pricing system, with weekends as the most expensive. Try to avoid the most crowded days, as they'll probably also be the priciest. You can look at the price calendar and select the least expensive. Currently, Disneyland has three ticket prices, depending on expected demand: $95 for a one day, one park ticket on the cheapest days - generally weekdays that don't fall on holidays, spring break or summer, $105 for what they consider regular days and $119 for peak days when the park will be busiest, e.g. in the summer, over spring break and holiday weekends. You'll pay more if you want a "parkhopper" ticket that lets you bounce between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. You can sometimes find slight off-season discounts for multi-day tickets from the Auto Club or Costco.

2. Bring frozen water bottles. As they thaw, you can drink them, and meanwhile they'll keep your other food cold. Refill them for free at fast service restaurants, too.

3. Buy your souvenirs at Disney Outlet stores before you go. You can save half or sometimes even more. Buy for kids, stash away and give the items to them as you're driving to the park. I like to get the kids matching T-shirts and then have them put them on before we arrive. Look for these at outlet malls such as the Citadel Outlets in Commerce, Ontario Mills and Carlsbad Outlets, but check carefully because not everything is marked down. Some things are ridiculously cheap, others are full price. All are cheaper than actually buying at Disneyland.

4. Carpool. That way, you only have to pay $20 for parking once. Really, if you're driving to the park, there are few ways to get around the parking fee. But don't meet people there - arrange to go together.

5. Take the bus. Special shuttles run from Riverside and San Bernardino and the Anaheim Transit Center around the resort district that will help you avoid the fee to park in the Mickey & Friends parking garage. You can buy day passes to ride the ART around the resort, or a single fare ticket. Note that you can also take the train to Anaheim and it's fun. Kids love it. Rideart.org/how-to-ride/

6. Be there at "rope drop." It's not cheaper, but you'll get more bang for your buck. This means planning to be at the parking garage 90 minutes before the park opens. Yes, I said 90 minutes. That means you get into Disneyland before it even opens, allowing you to walk all the way up to Walt's statue and putting you in the perfect position to dash to your favorite ride earlier than anyone else when they finally do drop the ropes at park opening. Don't worry, you can bring in your coffee or buy one at Starbucks on Main Street USA.

7. Order the kids' meal. Even if it's supposed to be for youngsters, if you're not ravenous order it anyway from the stand-up-and-order places and save. At sit-down restaurants they may give you the stink-eye, but at fast casual places they'll never even notice.

8. Split a meal. Sometimes you just need to spend time at a sit-down restaurant to rest and regroup. But certain spots are known for having huge portions. Two people can easily share a Monte Cristo sandwich at Cafe Orleans, for example. A reader recommended ordering the chicken dinner at Plaza Inn and splitting it, saying that two of them filled their entire family of four. Note that you should make your reservations well in advance if you want to sit down and dine in the parks.

9. Bring a phone battery charger. You will have difficulty plugging your phone in to recharge at the Disneyland Resort and - even if you find an outlet - you're likely to have a cast member tell you to get off. Bring a phone charger battery with you. You can buy a mobile phone power bank that will fit in your pocket for as little as $12 on Amazon.com, and then you won't run out of juice during your day. If you don't have a mobile bank, note that you can buy a Fuel Rod phone charger at various places around both parks for $30, and when they run out you just return to one of the kiosks and get another one for free. These aren't just at Disneyland but other places as well. Find locations inside the parks to buy the chargers here.

10. Buy your souvenirs at the Target store on Harbor Boulevard. It's across from the Sheraton in Garden Grove. You might be amazed at the huge selection of Disney products they sell, right at the front of the store. Everything from cute matching family T-shirts to lanyards to stuffed animals to mugs to refrigerator magnets to key chains to backpacks to - well, you name it. All at a fraction of what similar items cost inside the parks. Note that these aren't pirated - they are licensed Disney product, but just considerably cheaper than you'd pay for a similar item at the Disneyland Resort. The store is open every day from 8 a.m. to midnight. Address: Corner of Harbor and Chapman. 12100 Harbor Blvd, Garden Grove. Phone 714-971-4826

11. Get a Target REDcard and use it to save 5 percent when buying anything, in store or online, including Disney products -except not Target store gift cards. However, the discount does include buying Disney gift cards. For example, you could buy $500 in Disney gift cards for $475. Disney gift cards can be used at any Disney-owned property. Red cards can be either credit or debit cards tied to your bank. At this writing, Target online was also selling Disneyland tickets for $210 for a two-day adult, one-park-per-day ticket or $260 for a two-day parkhopper - both of which would be eligible for the 5 percent discount. Kids tickets were also available and slightly cheaper.

12. Bring your own picnic. There's a picnic area and lockers adjacent to where the tram drops people off in Downtown Disney, so you can leave your cooler and picnic there, go to the parks and then return to eat for a fraction of what you'd pay for a restaurant meal. Locker prices range from $7 to $15 a day depending on size, which is ridiculous but still cheaper than eating at a restaurant. Note that in addition to the lockers at the picnic area, there are more lockers next to the Disneyland entrance.

13. Eat at the Earl of Sandwich. This fast casual restaurant recently reopened at least temporarily in Downtown Disney, and it's open from 7 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. daily. The most expensive thing on the menu is $8.99, and breakfast is only $5.99, so head on over and save some loot.

14. Get an annual pass. If you live in zip code 90000 to 93599, you are probably eligible for a Southern California Select annual passport, which lets you into the park many days each year, except the highest volume times. While it costs more, it might pay for itself in only three visits and Disney makes it very desirable by giving you the option of monthly payments. This pass program is subject to change in the near future, so check the current status before you make your plans, by the way. At this writing, the pass was $369 per year, and you have the option of putting $174 down and paying $18.50 per month. (This price is likely to increase soon.) Note that this pass is blacked out basically all weekends, Thanksgiving and spring break, most of December and all summer long, so they are funneling you to the least crowded times in the park. Still, it means you don't have to cram everything into one visit and that can be nice. Also, you get discounts at many Disneyland stores, restaurants and occasional specials on hotel stays.

15. Sign up for the loyalty club at Mimi's Cafe. There's a Mimi's Cafe located across the street from the Disneyland Resort, on the other side of Harbor Boulevard near the Howard Johnson's. It's a little pricey, but if you sign up for their loyalty club, they'll send you regular emails for 2-for-1 entrees and other deals, too! I'm looking at a coupon that arrived in my inbox right now good for a free entree value up to $17, with the purchase of another entree and two beverages. Sign up for their club here. Incidentally, you'll also get a coupon for a free 2-pack of muffins or croissants, just for signing up.

16. Get free water. Every restaurant in the parks will give you a free cup of water. All you have to do is ask. Seriously.

17. Bring in your own food. Unlike some other theme parks we could mention, Disneyland really doesn't care if you bring in your own food and snacks as long as they're in plastic and don't explode. You can't bring in a cooler (see lockers above) but you can cram your strollers and backpacks full of sandwiches and snacks. And, while we're on the subject of strollers, don't leave your valuables in them. Strollers get stolen. Seriously. All the time. Just don't. A lock isn't a bad idea, either.
Restaurants Referenced

Cafe Orleans

Plaza Inn

Lands Referenced

Main Street U.S.A.

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