Disney Like a Schwartz PT. 2

How we save money at Disneyland

Disneyland's Thunder Mountain, shot from Tarzan's treehouse.

One of the biggest hurdles we’ve heard from people who want to take their family to Disneyland is the high prices.

  • Flights
  • Accommodations
  • Transportation
  • Meals
  • $4 Water
  • CAD – USD Conversation

These things will add up quickly. The reality is, it’s not cheap, but like a lot of things, knowledge is power, and failing to plan, is planning to fail. The better the plan you have paired with the right information can make your Disneyland trip a lot more attainable than you may think (or at the very least, a lot more comparable to other vacations that you’ve been on).

We have found that on some trips, we spend $80 going to the movies, then $100 going to a zoo, then spend way more money shopping because we are out and about and find things we want. So occupying ourselves for a day at a park is expensive, but can at times end up helping us spend less total.

Or if you consider even just the “Frozen Musical” at the Hyperion Theatre. If you were to pay for a production of that quality off-broadway it would cost you $80-$100 individually. If you are at the park, it is included PLUS all the other shows and attractions.

Ok, enough of me trying to justify the exorbitant cost, on to the good stuff.

Here is a list of some of the money saving tips that we’ve found.

Pack a Cooler

This is going to come up a couple times, so pay attention. After you get off the plane your first stop must be: Target. I repeat, Target. Yes, I know you want to get to your hotel or the park, or somewhere less…. box-store-ish, but trust me.

You can pack a cooler if luggage space isn’t at a premium, however for us we find it just as worth while to pick up a $12 clearance cooler from Target before we head to the park.

While we are at Target, we get groceries. Most Disneyland area hotels have a fridge of some sort, usually a mini-fridge with a small freezer section. So we load up on good, high-protein, park appropriate snacks. Things like:

  • Cheese Sticks
  • Beef Jerky
  • There are pre-made peanut butter & Jelly sandwiches (That I am sure have a zillion preservatives) called “Uncrustables”
  • Pretzels
  • Cliff Bars or Lara Bars
  • And… I cannot emphasize this enough. All. The. La. Croix.

These are not meal replacements, but they will get you a lot further, and they do keep the grumblies at bay while in line, or while walking from place to place.

We would fill the cooler with Ice from the hotel ice machine, throw our cold items and sparkling waters in, and away we went. Imagine with me, walking Paradise Pier boardwalk in +30 degrees and cracking a coconut La Croix that cost you all of $0.80.

On that note, a good water bottle is also a life saver. The park is full of water fountains. Fill up a bottle instead of paying $4 a pop (water).

Royal Mae in front of a fountain on Royal Street.

Secret Menu Items

There is no shortage on Disney info if you look in the right places. One of the more surprising things we found out from another blog, was that some of the restaurants in the park actually have “Secret Menu Items” that are not listed for the general public.

Some of the items are just a different combination of foods, like instead of a chilli-bread bowl, it is a chilli-mac-and-cheese bread bowl, and it basically costs the same.

However, the Zocalo Burrito from Rancho Del Zocalo is far and away the best bang for your buck at Disneyland.

It is a 16 inch Burrito smothered in Salsa Verde and Chilli sauce for $14. It can literally feed our entire family of 4. *Compare full size fork and knife to the burrito.

Zocalo Burrito from Rancho Del Zocalo in Disneyland.

Don’t buy the Max-pass

Max-pass is basically an upgrade on your ticket that gets you access to fast-passes via the Disneyland app as well as access to the photos Disneyland Photographers take of you and your family. It costs $15/ticket/day.

We found that if we planned our days out wisely, we didn’t need to book fast-pass tickets on mobile. We would usually just send someone to go scan our passes during a bathroom break or a meal break.

For us, not just because we are photographers but because we have this thing where we want to look half-decent in our photos, we found that the Disneyland photographers, well, left much to be desired. Here is an actual photo that was delivered to us, please note the pose and the…. lack of focus.

Photographer: Ok everyone…. put your hands up.

Schwartz family portrait in front of the Disneyland Train Station

The Disney Store

Our last trip to Disneyland we hung out at the park until about 2PM and then actually had to drive to Phoenix that evening. On the way we made a stop at the Cabazon Premium Outlets just outside of Palm Springs. We stopped in at the Disney Store Outlet and were laughing at how much more affordable the same merchandise was outside the park. For example, Minnie ears in the park will run you $27-$40 in the park, at the outlet they had some on sale for $8.

The ears in this photo were actually bought at Winners in Crossiron Mills for $6.99CAD. They do the same thing. They make you look like a human still, but with mouse ears.

Royal Mae with minnie ears at Disneyland

A few more ways you can save would be to do things like: Share an AirBnb with family or friends, find a hotel with a suite option with a kitchenette or continental breakfast, or even just ordering pizza to your room instead of eating in the parks can save you money.

There are a lot more ideas on saving money, and if you have some we would LOVE to hear them. Leave us a comment and let’s keep the conversation going!

Anthym and Royal in front of the Disneyland Hotel

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