Disneyland on a Budget
I’ve been trying to find a way to Disneyland since 2014. I go to Disney World about four times a year (it’s easier for me to get there), but I knew I just had to get back to California soon. But Disneyland on a budget is a complex topic. So of course I set out to master it.
I live in the Northeast and a trip to California and Disneyland is a very expensive trip for me. The only way to get there is by flying, and flights there are rarely under $300 round-trip, per person.
It’s the type of trip that really benefits from planning way in advance, and always watching for the best prices and ways to save on everything.
I just recently got back from the Disneyland trip that I’ve been planning for years, and it was honestly perfect. I can confidently say that I’ve gotten my Disneyland fix for the next few years. But this was due to a whole lot of work that I put into planning the perfect trip.
For example, I did a lot of research before I decided that my trip would be happening in mid-September. In fact, I waited a whole extra year to make sure I got the date just right.
Mid-September is the perfect time in terms of crowds, weather, and travel prices. I found all of this out by researching travel trends, crowd calendars, and reading what other people said about their own vacations.
I also spent hours doing research and read one very important book.
Ok, enough about my planning journey. Let’s start saving you money on your Disneyland trip!
Cheap Disneyland Hotels
I’m just going to say it. It was nearly impossible to find anything under $100/night. I spent months looking, reading articles, making lists, checking prices, etc.
In fact, while doing research, I came across an article by Hotel.com giving a list of budget hotels near Disneyland. Here are the prices that came up when I looked into them.
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Anaheim – $211/night
- SpringHill Suites by Marriott Anaheim – $149/night
- Alamo Inn – $95/night
- Quality Inn – $99/night
According to Hotel.com, a budget hotel at Disneyland costs about $126/night.
I was able to stay at one of the nicest hotels near Disneyland for under that price.
Let’s see how we can make that possible for you too.
What you should look for when booking a hotel for your Disneyland trip:
- Quality (Obviously)
- Within Walking Distance from Disneyland
- Free Parking
- Free Breakfast
In reality, if you want to get a room around $100/night, you’re probably going to have to stay off-site.
Disneyland actually has only three hotels on-site, and they are all high priced. But if you really want to stay on property, there are a few ways to get a good price for a Disneyland hotel.
My experience: I’m a DVC member, which means I get to use my points to book rooms. The only DVC hotel at Disneyland is the Grand Californian, and it’s very popular. Because of this, it can be very hard to book a room at the Grand Californian.
You usually have to watch the availability and book long in advance, so it can be difficult to stay there, much less do it for a low price. But it can be managed.
Long story short, I was able to book 2 of my 4 nights at the Grand Californian, though I hunted for them months and months before my trip. The other two nights were spent off-site.
If you aren’t a member of the Disney Vacation Club, that doesn’t mean that you can’t stay at one of their hotels. The Disney Vacation Club’s one hotel at Disneyland Park is the Villas at the Grand Californian.
When booking a room through DVC, it’s at a cost of points per night. The average “cost” for a night in one of the Grand Californian’s studios is 20 points. If you are not a member of the Disney Vacation Club but want to stay in one of the villas, you can rent points to use for your stay.
Through renting points, you can get a studio room at GC for $320/night, or $17/point. Depending on the time of year, renting DVC points can save you over 50% of the price! Click here to learn more (opens new window so you can keep going on this post).
Other inexpensive hotels near Disneyland
- Anaheim Carriage Inn
- America’s Best Value Astoria Inn & Suites
- Motel 6 Anaheim Maingate
- Days Inn Anaheim Maingate
- Anaheim Maingate Inn
For my stay off-site, I got a great deal at the Hilton Anaheim by using a deal I’ll link to below. My rate was at about $107/night, with parking being $16/day. The hotel was AWESOME. It was so big it gave this perfect impression of grandeur.
Disneyland Vacation + Layaway/Monthly Payments
With the right knowledge, all things can be done. By using a Disney travel agent, like myself, we can show you the best tricks about booking a Disneyland vacation like partial payments whether you’re staying offsite or onsite. Fill out a quote request form or just contact me for more information.
Cheap Disneyland Tickets
Disney keeps such a tight grip on their ticket sales that it can drive anyone crazy.
I remember my time at Disneyland when they asked to take a photo of me for my ticket, and they really do check it every time you scan in. Disney makes sure that every person in their parks has paid their fair share.
Because of that, it’s very hard to find inexpensive Disneyland tickets. Cheap Disneyland tickets do exist, but the discount isn’t huge. I spend most of my time trying to find ways to save more than 10% on Disney tickets.
Let’s talk about how you get those discounts.
The cheapest and easiest way to get Disneyland tickets is through an authorized reseller. I purchased mine through Get Away Today. They send me a voucher that I just exchange for tickets at Disneyland. It’s a quick and easy way to save.
Another way to save on Disneyland tickets is by procuring Disney gift cards at a discounted rate. You can sometimes get these at places where you already have a card or membership with them (like Costco or Target), where you might be able to save something like 5% by paying through your membership. This might not seem like a lot now, but it can really add up. This is great for all things at Disney, including tickets, food, souvenirs, and more.
Get Away Today has the best Disneyland ticket deals. They sell at the cheapest, are the most efficient, and are the safest. I don’t recommend any other company. I used them and picked up my tickets when I checked into the Grand Californian.
You can save even more money on your Disneyland trip by booking a ticket + hotel package with them. Use promo code PLANNING10 for an even better deal.
Read more here
Cheap Disneyland Food
On my most recent trip to Disney, I spent only $300 on food for two, and the trip was for 4 nights and 5 days. That’s only $60/day, and we ate really well! We went to at least three restaurants and went on a food tasting tour within the entire Disneyland Resort, which I highly recommend looking into. It was a great experience and helped us learn a lot about all the great food offered throughout the resort.
Here are a few tips, based on my experiences, for how to keep your costs low when visiting Disneyland.
One of the first things I did when I got to Anaheim was head to the Walmart that’s one mile away from the resort. While there I purchased water, crystal light packages, snacks, and breakfast on the go. This is the strategic list that I use for every Disney vacation Actually every vacation, period.
Buying groceries made my snack spending disappear. So did the money I would have spent on non-alcoholic drinks. Even when we sat down to eat, all we asked for was a cup of ice (or ice water), and we used our water and crystal light juice powder. It’s an easy way to make all your drinks taste good without spending extra cash. If you plan ahead, thinking about what you might need for breakfast, snacks, or sandwiches, you can save so much money by buying groceries while you are there.
As for the food at the resort, Carnation Cafe within the Disneyland park is a signature location to eat at during your trip. Not only is the food great and the atmosphere fantastic, but it’s also inexpensive. We had a great meal for cheap here.
They have an array of great options for breakfast (including a Mickey Waffles!), but also have a great menu of sandwiches, burgers, and salads for lunch and dinner.
Cafe Orleans, also within Disneyland Park, was another perfect place to eat. It was actually on our food tour to try the Monte Cristo sandwich there. The sandwich cost us $21 and the fries $8, both of which we shared. This sandwich is huge. I’m seriously not kidding. I have a very healthy appetite, and a half was enough.
While at Disney California Adventure, make sure to head over to the Cozy Cone Motel in Cars Land and try both the Bacon Mac n’ Cheese cone and the Chili Con Queso cone. Both are served at Cozy Cone 3. They are $8.99, and two of them will not only be the most delicious thing you’ve had, but it will successfully fill you up.
This is also a great place to stop for an inexpensive sweet treat, as they serve different flavors of soft serve for $4.49 at Cozy Cone 2.
Payment Plans for your Disneyland Vacation
The best way to get a solid payment/layaway plan for your Disneyland vacation is to use a free travel agent like myself who offers that.
To book your package for a stay at a Disney resort, you can take advantage of our layaway program. It’s very simple and with only a small deposit of $200 per room, you can reserve your reservation and then make periodic payments towards your vacation package. The entire balance must be paid at least 30 days prior to your arrival and there are some major advantages to using the program:
There’s never a fee so you can make as many payments as you wish.
There’s never any interest charged to your reservation price.
Your reservation is fully refundable so should you need to cancel, for whatever reason before 30 days before arrival, your entire layaway amount will be returned to you in full with no questions asked.
The first step is to either fill out this form to request a quote.
I could go on and on about saving money for your Disneyland trip, but with these tips alone you can save a ton of money!
Make sure to do your research and buy the best guidebook on Disneyland that’s out there. With this book, you won’t wait in line for over 20 minutes (I used it and didn’t), you’ll have summaries on all the best places to eat, the rides, and so much more.