Blissful and Domestic - Creating a Beautiful Life on Less: Vacations on a Budget: Disneyland

Monday, October 7, 2013

Vacations on a Budget: Disneyland

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Good morning lovelies! It feels like forever since I have been on the ole blog. This blog is like an old friend, no matter how long I am away I can always sit down and feel at home while typing to you lovelies. It is one of my favorite things about blogging. I have been blessed to get to know so many wonderful people all over the world, through this blog, and I thank you always.

This past week we took a quick trip to Disneyland. Our friends told us about Mickey's Halloween Party and how all the cool people were going, so we should too. Well after talking to my friend B about her Disneyland plans, I knew I wanted in on the fun. You see, my littles have never been. Disneyland just has never fit into our little budget. To be honest I really didn't think it ever would, not to mention Hubby has no desire to go to a place where it's full of kids and long lines. Those two things don't always go together.

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So hubby and I talked about Disneyland and how, if done on the cheap, it would be  THE FAMILY NIGHT of the year. I bought our tickets in advance, so they were $59 each. I paid $177 for three tickets (if we had been going during regular hours we would have paid at least $285 for three tickets, so already we were saving).  With Mickey's Halloween party you can get in at 3pm and stay until 11 pm. You get a full 8 hours in the park. Can you say SWEET!? Oh and after 6pm everyone else is kicked out. After 6pm was for Mickey Halloween Party guests only. It was amazing folks!

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The last time I went to Disneyland was when I was a teenager. One thing I remember is standing in line after line, waiting in anticipation for when I would be able to go on Splash mountain or The Haunted Mansion. Well after 6, there were seriously no lines. We went during the week, which I think also helped us out a bit. Disneyland does offer fast passes on rides, but since the lines were so short, we didn't even need a fast pass. It was seriously so cool!

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Another great thing Disneyland allows you to do is bring in your own food. A lot of amusement parks don't allow you to do this, but Disneyland didn't care. They do ask that you eat in designated areas, which we were ok with, since we were going to be saving so much on food.

To save on hotel and gas, we went with friends. This saved us a ton! It also makes it so much more fun when you go with friends. Bubba and his bestie had such a blast going on rides together. It was so fun to see the excitement on their faces as they discovered new rides and fun!

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I also talked to the littles about the gift shops before we went. They understood that us going to Disneyland was a real treat. Not something we could do every year. I told them I would take pictures and stuff so we could remember our trip, but we would not be getting treats from the gift shop. Since I had set this rule beforehand, they didn't even ask to go into a gift shop. I was so thankful for that. I did reward them with a $4 cream cheese pretzel and churro. Those treats were amazing and were a great treat to my littles who were so good throughout our fun at Disnelyland. They didn't much....I mean they are kids...isn't complaining in their code :)

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I am so thankful I was able to experience Disneyland with my littles. It is not something we can do every year, so I am thankful we were this time.

When it comes down to doing Disneyland on a budget, a few things stick out to me, which helped us not go into debt to go on vacation. We paid cash for everything. No credit cards. I would never have gone if I didn't have money saved. I think this is so important. If you have to charge a vacation, then maybe you don't really need to go. We tried to be as frugal as possible. While traveling in the car, we stopped for lunch at Burger King. We only ordered off the dollar menu. We brought a bunch of snacks and drinks, so on the drive home from Disneyland, we didn't even stop for lunch.  We drove down the same day we went to Disneyland. This made it possible to only stay in the hotel one night. Yes it was crazy and hectic, but so worth it.

Remember that special vacations like these are not everyday occurrences, so be in the moment. I don't have a lot of pictures, mainly because I was in the moment with my kids. I am so thankful for that. It is something they will remember. We giggled, screamed, and just had a blast as a family.

So when planning your next trip, make sure you save $$ for it and plan, plan, plan. I went to Disneyland with a plan and it saved me some gray hairs and dollars. I talked to my kids beforehand, so they knew that we were going to be as frugal as possible.

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The hugs and kisses my littles gave me after our trip were the best gift ever! They were so thankful and were aware of the sacrifice made, so we could go out of town on vacation. I love those nuggets of mine and am so very thankful for them.

I only did Disneyland for one day, but I know most families go for multiple days and to the various parks, so I want to know how you all save $$ when doing Disneyland. Leave your comments below.

XO Danielle

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  1. Danielle this is so cool! great job showing us how to be frugal :) I want to wait to do something like this when the kids are your age so they actually remember !!

  2. totally agree with the gift shop 'pep talk' as I like to call it - we just got back from 'doing' San Diego as well and we did that as well - I reminded them that coming to Seaworld WAS our treat and that we weren't buying gift shop items - they did look a little bit but never asked me to buy anything. For snacks, I packed several bags of snacks and dixie cups in my backpack along with apples so that I could dole everyone out a cup of trail mix or dried fruit while walking or waiting in line. It worked great - ALSO I have found that nearly every zoo or attraction we go to with give you free ice water if the snack bar has fountain drinks - so that's a great way to have a cool drink AND not have to lug around lots of heavy water bottles.

  3. Danielle, I think your ability to plan ahead and communicate with your family and all be on the same page are what really works for you. You guys are all in it together and the kids get that and I think it's great.

    I'm in Florida and my mother is visiting from Connecticut this December - she wants to go to Disney here very badly. So I told her I would work on planning ahead for the trip. I hope some other people have great ideas for going!

    Thank you for sharing!

  4. I agree about the gift shop. It will suck all of your funds. :) One thing I will do is buy something special at a thrift store or ebay before heading out on a trip. That way Megan feels special wearing her XXXXX Beach shirt or something Disney if that is the destination. We are renting a house with two other families at Nags Head in June and I am already on the lookout for shirts from that area.

  5. We live in the UK so our nearest Disneyland is in Paris. We've visited a couple of times. The first time we stayed at a campsite close by, but not part of the Disney chain, so well priced. We found, like you, a day ticket was sufficient. We went again a few years later and took advantage of the deal for under 7s staying for free (there are always offers for EuroDisney). Because of the difference in currency the best thing we did was buy meal tickets in pound sterling beforehand. This was far better value than paying for meals in Euros as the exchange rate isn't great. We were limited as to where we could eat but still had a decent choice (although husband did get food poisoning!). So glad you had a great visit, and something the kids will really remember.

  6. Thanks for the GREAT TIPS! My little girl loves Mickey Mouse! So I know we are going have to go to Disney soon and its nice to know I can do it without going broke!

  7. Thank you for the tips! I didn't know about the special Halloween hours, but that is great to know! My husband and I want to go to Disney in the next year and I'll have to keep these tips in mind! :)

  8. Fortunately, my family lives in Florida and a few years ago we were able to get three-day park passes for $99 per person. That saved us so much considering a one-day pass is $85 per person. We camped at a KOA which cost about $40 a night, and it had a pool which my girls loved. We had breakfast at our camp site, grilled out at dinner, and took sandwiches and extras for lunch inside the park. We also brought in numerous water bottles and sodas and rented a locker to keep most of our food, snacks and drinks in until we had lunch. We've been to Disney World three times in 14 years, and this last trip was by far the most frugal and fun.

  9. Stay in a hotel that offers free shuttle, free breakfast and rooms that will sleep extra people (fold out couch). Remember to ask the hotel if there are any parking charges. Some are sneaky that way. Bring in water bottles and fill at the water fountains. Eat the free breakfast at your hotel. We brought fruit snacks, cliff bars, Uncrustables and other snacks and got away with not buying much food in the park. If you have free shuttle, you can leave the park, have a dinner at any restaurant that you wish and then go back to the park. There is fast food, Dennys, Subway, pizza, etc. We had a pizza delivered to our room. Hubby and I even had beer and wine from our cooler! You can even stay in a hotel with a kitchen and make your own food. It can be done without spending a ton of money on food and soda!
    Walmart also carries tons of Disney so I watch for clearance and give them their souvenir to wear to the park!

  10. Sounds like so much fun! Glad you and your kids got to enjoy a fun, special day together! :)

  11. I LOVED your tips and it looks like you guys had a blast!! I have to say planning is key to saving money while at Disney (or on any vacation). We are a military family and being able to buy our tickets out on base which has saved us a ton...over time prices have gone up but saving $30/40 dollars a ticket adds up. We also ALWAYS bring our own snacks and drinks(i.e. water & capri-suns) into the park...typically we have one big meal (either lunch or dinner) in the park and then just snack on our snacks throughout the day. We also try to stay at hotels that offer free breakfast to help with the food expense..I am also a big advocate at taking the parks at your families pace. If we stay for 3 or 4 days we take breaks and enjoy the pool and have some fun outside the parks.

  12. This summer Disneyland offered a 3 day park hopper pass for military that cost I believe $120 a person for up to 6 people per military ID. I was told over the phone (to post and to Disneyland) that these were only good for 14 days once you bought and used the first pass, but then at the gate by the man working assured me they could be used anytime between when bought in July and the end of their pass year which I believe was Sept. Something we will look into again next year as $40 for a day at Disneyland can't really be beat.

  13. I believe they also have similar special evening hours for Mickey's Christmas Party at Disney World.

    Dollar Tree frequently has Mickey/Princess related toys you can pick up ahead of time to give the kids instead of the gift shop.

    We also stayed in a hotel offsite that had a package with free shuttle to the parks, free breakfast, and snack credit at the hotel. Found that deal by subscribing to MouseSavers.

  14. there is a christmas party at disneyworld but not at disneyland. I am curious though that you went to the halloween party and didn't dress up? That is a huge part of the fun for the halloween party. Also did you do any trick or treating? At this party you can pretty much get your money back in trick or treating loot and many people I know pass this out on halloween or trunk or treat. (and its REALLY good candy too!) Plus apples, carrots, crasins, etc. People think free cups of ice water is a secret. Its not. Its the law at any restaurant (at least in california). Oh did you watch the halloween firework show as well? It is the best one Disney does!

  15. Military ticket offices offer great deals on Disney Parks and nearby hotels. SeaWorld has had awesome deals in the past for military members as well. I highly recommend taking advantage of these discounted offers if they are available to you. It is one of the things I have missed since the hubbs finished his military career.

  16. When we go we try to be as frugal as possible and eat as cheap as possible and no gifts from the gift shop....I usually make sure we eat a good breakfast bring snacks and waters and eat at the red wagon corndog for lunch


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