The Happiest Place on Earth Just Got a Little More Affordable
As you already know, Disneyland Anaheim is a wonderful place to visit with your family, but it is expensive. With a little planning you can save more money than you might expect. Having just got back from a visit, I've got 7 secret tips to save money at Disneyland Anaheim. These techniques will only help you and your family have a better time and don't involve selling yourself short.
Bring a water bottle.
Disneyland sells a 20 ounce bottle of water for $3.25. This is a ridiculous high price. But at the same time, there are plenty of drinking fountains scattered throughout Disneyland, most often by the rest rooms. So simply bring your own water bottle and fill it up whenever needed. In all honestly, the water won't be cold and I found the taste slightly unpleasant, but neither are deal breakers when you consider the amount of money you can save just from this one tip.
Eat dinner at IHOP.
The prices for food inside the Disneyland Anaheim park are insanely high. There is an IHOP right across the street from the east exit of Disneyland, Anaheim. Specifically, right on South Harbor Blvd. My wife and I measured the distance and it's less than a quarter of a mile from the entrance away.
At this IHOP, kids eat for free after 4:00pm. That's right, for every adult entree, you can get a kids meal free for your children. The adult entrees are typically between $11 and $15, but when you add in the free kids meals, which include milk, juice, or soda, the savings are even better. Compare this with the $8 hot dogs Disneyland sells.
You are totally allowed to bring food into the park, regardless of what you may have heard or read. Before you even get into the park, there is an area where they will look through your backpack and they don't care in the slightest about food. My family brings in Teddy Grahams, granola bars, Ritz Bits, trail mix, and Pop Tarts. We've been doing this for over 10 years and never have had any kind of problem with it. For this reason we don't have to worry about eating lunch at the obscene prices that Disneyland charges.
Ok, I know I just advised against buying food (and water) inside the Disneyland Anaheim park. But if you need to, the ice cream at the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor has the smallest markup of any food inside Disneyland. You can get two large scoops of Dryer's ice cream inside of a waffle cone, or waffle bowl, for $4.89. Still a little high, but not too bad for how much you are getting. On a hot, thirsty day, having ice cream for lunch can do a lot of make your vacation even better.
Tuesday and Wednesday are the least crowded days
You can to Disneyland to enjoy the atmosphere and rides, not to wait in line and fight crowds. I have found, and confirmed it with park employees, that Tuesday and Wednesday are the least busiest days, which means less time in line and more time on the rides. The worst days are, naturally, Saturday and Sunday, however Friday and Monday are also quite busy as people take 3 day weekends.
If you are visiting other parks or places in the area, enjoy Disneyland Anaheim on Tuesday and Wednesday and hit the beach, Knott's Berry Farm, and Lego Land on the other days.
September to November and February to March are the least crowded times of the year
The reason for this is pretty obvious: school is in session. If you don't mind taking your kids out of school for a bit, this is really the best time to go to Disneyland. The weather isn't generally too hot or cold, as southern California is very mild to start with. My family has found extremely small lines when we go this time of year. And combined with Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we walked on all kinds of popular rides like Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, even the Indiana Jones ride. We went on the rides over and over again without any line.
Magic Mornings are Tuesday and Thursday
Many Disneyland Tickets come with something called a 'Magic Morning'. This simply lets you get into the park an hour early, at 9:00am instead of 10:00am on a Tuesday or Thursday. At other times you can get into the shopping area of the park at 9:00, but not to where the rides are until 10:00am. Make sure your tickets explicitly mention that you have a Magic Morning or else you will be turned away as you try to get in early. We saw a very frustrated and profane patron cuss out the ticket checkers because he wasn't allowed to get in early.
A Disneyland Anaheim trip does not need to break the bank. By planning ahead and being careful what food and drink you buy, you can save hundreds of dollars a day. Enjoy, and I'll see you there!