How to Save Money at Disneyland [without sacrificing fun]

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I was going to call this article “how to have a cheap trip to Disneyland” but I don’t think you can really have ‘cheap’ trip to Disneyland. But there are ways to save money at Disneyland.

Inexpensive is a relative term and at Disneyland is not a bargain place. It is a world-renowned theme park. That is why you’ll see some people (usually dads) wearing a t-shirt that says “Most Expensive Day Ever.”

Disney definitely does its best to try and separate you from your money.

But I found a few ways to save money at Disneyland.

How to save money at Disneyland parks
How to save money at Disneyland

Once you are at a Disney park do not lament about how much money it cost. Because then you won’t enjoy yourself and you’ll make poor company!

Am I a Disneyland Expert?

No. I’ve only been to Disneyland once. And that was just a couple days ago. So while all these tips are fresh in mind I’m writing them down to pass along to you.

But one thing you and I may have in common, is that I don’t have an unlimited budget.

I tried to save money at Disneyland where I could, but I don’t think it negatively effected my visit to the “Happiest Place on Earth.” In fact, it may have made me happier because I wasn’t lamenting any expensive souvenirs I bought.

I’ll provide a quick summary of how to save money at Disneyland, and then I’ll elaborate on each tip further below.

Summary of Money-Saving Tips for Disneyland

  • Buying Multiple day passes are cheaper than one day tickets
  • There are cheap hotels and motels within walking distance of Disneyland (then no need to rent a car)
  • Walk to Disneyland (parking costs money)
  • Save money on food at Disneyland by packing your own lunch
  • Save money on drinks at Disneyland by bringing your own water bottle to refill
  • Save money on souvenirs by resisting immediate buying impulses
  • Avoid having to buy a portable battery for phone because there are no outlets in Disneyland and the battery packs cost $30

1. Saving money on Disneyland Tickets

The tickets to Disneyland are exactly cheap. But after two days there I asked myself, “What are the memories worth?” I experienced something that I will remember for a long, long time.

It cost me $280 for a 2-day Park Hopper ticket. 

And that is obviously in American money so with my Canadian exchange rate, that is close to $370 Canadian. 

I could have saved $60 US by buying the 2 Day “1 Park per Day” pass, but I decided against it. And I’m glad I did. 

I enjoyed the freedom of traveling back and forth between the two Disney parks in Anaheim (Disneyland and California Adventure).

(If you’re unsure of the difference between Disneyland and California Adventure…don’t worry I was too before I went so I wrote an article about it.)

I looked in a few places online but I didn’t find many sales or specials on Disneyland tickets that I qualified for.

You can find some special deals though.

This article here (from MouseSavers) lists some deals that they’ve rounded up.

There is a sale right now for Canadian residents where you can save 20% on Disneyland tickets if you buy 3 or more days.

Unfortunately I only had 2 days to spend in Disneyland so I couldn’t take advantage of this special.

2. How to save some money on Hotels near Disneyland

I walked to the park from my motel.

I stayed at the Motel 6 on Disney Way. It was about a 15-20 minute walk. Which wasn’t terrible.

It “warmed” up my feet and legs for the ridiculous amount of walking I did in the parks. 🙂

I found my room at Motel 6 on the Expedia website.

It cost about $100 per night Canadian, which is cheaper than rooms in my hometown in Canada.

This was the first time I used Expedia and I was pleased with it. One thing I don’t really like though is the amount of emails they send me now.

You’ll want to balance out a cheap hotel room with money spent on food though.

For example, if you’ve got a family of four and one hotel offers a free breakfast but costs $20 more than a hotel that doesn’t have food, will you really be saving money on the cheaper hotel?

Probably not if each meal is about $10 per person.

You may save more on accommodations but spend more on food.

My motel did not have a free breakfast. So I planned ahead and brought some instant oatmeal packets and a spoon from home.

Then I used the room’s coffee maker to add hot water to my oatmeal and ate it from a paper cup. (This makes me sound pretty cheap, but its food I would have ate at home anyway. It worked for me.)

Oatmeal made using room’s coffee make in a paper cup

3. Save money at Disneyland by walking to the park

Because I chose a hotel that was within walking distance, I didn’t have to pay for parking.

At this time, parking is $25 per car or motorcycle when you park at Disneyland parking lots. Here is a link to the parking rates.

This allowed me to save money in two ways: I didn’t have to pay for rental car, and I didn’t have to pay for parking.

Once inside the park your two main expenses are food and souvenirs.

The biggest suggestion I have is to resist.

I know this isn’t easy because the park has over 60 years of retail experience and expertise to separate you from your money.

But if you’re on a budget you’ll have to try your best to resist the urge to splurge.

In the park you’ll see grown men decked out in Disney gear from their Goofy-hatted head to their Mickey Mouse-shoed feet. 

Even if I could afford to do this, I wouldn’t.  🙂 (But I realize everyone is different and everyone enjoys themselves differently).

4. How to save money on food in Disneyland

The best way to save money on food in Disneyland is don’t buy food in Disneyland.

The park does allow you to bring in outside food. (With some restrictions. Click here to read their policy.)

So you could prepare some sandwiches and snacks at your hotel and then pack them into the park.

If you have a lot of food or a soft-sided cooler that you don’t want to pack around all day then you better get to the park early to try and get a locker. Keep in mind this isn’t free.

Quick Note on Lockers

If you’re wondering ‘how much is a locker at Disneyland’, here is an article that shows pricing.

At this time – September 2019 – the price of lockers ranges from $7 per day to $15 per day.

There are some lockers outside the park in the Esplanade just to the west of the Disneyland Main Entrance.

There are also some lockers inside Disneyland Park in Main Street U.S.A.

There are 3 locker rental locations in Disney California Adventure park: one by Grizzly River Run, one by Buena Vista Street and another by the Main Entrance.

Back to Saving Money on Food at Disneyland

So you may want to bring in some sandwiches in hard container, put them into your small backpack and take them on rides with you.

Most of the rides have small fabric pouches on the back of the seat that is in front of you.

You tuck your small bag into these pouches for the duration of the ride.

If you are going to buy food in Disneyland here are some reasonably priced options.

Actually, when I started eating out at more restaurants around Anaheim and LA I realized that Disneyland food prices really aren’t that inflated.

They seem pretty consistent with other restaurants’ pricing, and you don’t feel the need to tip.

That being said, there are a few places in Disneyland that were a bit cheaper.

For lunch on my first day I ate a personal Pepperoni pizza from “Daisy’s Diner” in Toontown in Disneyland Park. 

It was tasty, fairly filling and cost about $8 plus tax.

How to save money at Disneyland - pizza from daisy's diner
Personal Pizza from Daisy’s Diner in ToonTown

The pizza was probably big enough for two young children to split it.

Daisy's Diner in Toontown in Disneyland
Black arrow pointing to Daisy’s Diner…looks like Pluto is heading there too!

On the second day I ate at The Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland in Disneyland Park.

I had chicken tenders and fries.

There were 3 chicken tender strips and a small handful of French fries. The portion size wasn’t big, but it was pretty tasty.. And I liked the old-fashioned décor of this restaurant.

How to save money at Disneyland - Golden Horseshoe has reasonable prices
Chicken Tenders & Fries from the Golden Horseshoe (I was hungry and already took one bite from the Chicken tender)

Inside the Golden Horseshoe
Inside the Golden Horseshoe in Disneyland Park

It felt so good to just get off my feet for half an hour and enjoy my meal.

5. How to save money on drinks in Disneyland

You can buy a drink (a Coke product) on almost every corner in Disneyland. But the cost was typically around $4-5 for a fountain pop.

How I saved some money at Disneyland is I brought a water bottle in with me.

It was just a small plastic water bottle that I’d been given at a conference the day before. It worked really well.

I tucked the water bottle into my small backpack and would refill when needed.

There are quite a few water fountains in Disneyland.

They’re usually situated in front of the washrooms. (Probably share the same plumbing.)

How to Save money at Disneyland - bring your own water bottle to refill
Fun water fountain in ToonTown section of Disneyland Park

The coolest water fountain I found was this “Goofy Water!” water fountain in ToonTown (shown above).

When you press the button to get water the fountain makes some interesting, goofy sounds.

I found some slight discrepancies on the price of coffee, but only about $0.30 difference. I saw some restaurants and drink huts sell coffee for $3.50, and a couple others for $3.19.

I bought a coffee from a little stand near the edge of Fantasyland across from “Red Rose Tavern.” It was $3.19.

It was a large size and tasty. It is located where the black arrow is pointing in the photo below. (It is a screenshot of the Disneyland app.)

I sat on a bench nearby and rested my feet. The bench location is the blue circle in the picture above. I took a screenshot on my Disneyland app and it shows where you are in the the park with the blue circle.

You’ll probably notice I say “resting my feet” a lot.

You do a lot of walking there. Make sure you have good walking shoes. No correct that, make sure you have outstanding walking shoes!)

Something to Think about:

This may not pertain to you, but I didn’t want to chug a bunch of water and then stand in a ride line-up that I couldn’t get out of. What if I needed to pee?

So if I was going to be in a line-up with a long wait I’d try and use the restroom first.

6. How to save money on Souvenirs in Disneyland

You could save some money by buying California and Disney souvenirs outside the park, such as at local gift shops.

But they do not have the same current merchandise as in the park. (Perhaps they have the old misfits?)

There is a Disney gift store on every corner in both the parks and also small shopping kiosks throughout the major walkways.

Some of the stuff they sell is so darn cute.

A gift store in Frontierland in Disneyland Park

I can see how it would be easy to get caught up in the momentum of Disney especially if you have your young kids with you.

But I’m someone who likes to examine things and then think about them for a bit before I buy.

It helps me avoid expensive spontaneous purchases.

So if you’re walking around and you see something you like, you can take a picture of it to remind yourself.

But here is the clincher, the next picture you take should be of the building and the store name where you saw it.

The stores will blend together in your mind and after a couple days it can be difficult to remember exactly which store you saw those cute Little Mermaid socks.

Most of the stores have plenty of overlap in their products offered, but not every item is available in every store – so document which store you saw it at.

For my daughter’s birthday I narrowed it down to 1 of 3 different sweatshirts.

I took pictures of the sweatshirts, but I didn’t take a picture of the store.

So on my last afternoon there I was scrambling a bit trying to find the one that ultimately became her birthday gift.

Cool Sweatshirt available in Disneyland

And it seems like the stores are the busiest in the late afternoon and evening. So prepare to wait in a line there too.

Actually buying gifts was the only time I was annoyed by the line-ups in Disneyland.

I don’t mind clearly defined line-ups. I can see where they start and where I need to be standing to be served.

But the gift stores don’t seem to have that. You’ll be standing there waiting to be served and then someone will walk past you right up to the till…”Hello, I was standing here!” I felt like yelling.

But hey, “Happiest Place on Earth” right. So just take a deep breath. 🙂

Cheapest Souvenir in Disneyland

I bet memories and your own photos are the least expensive souvenirs you’ll bring home from Disneyland. But these pinched penny souvenirs are likely the cheapest physical souvenir you can bring home from Disneyland.

It costs $0.51

2 quarters and one penny to get pinched.

How to save money in disneyland - Penny Pincher Souvenirs
Pinched Penny Souvenirs from Disneyland

Above are the penny pinched souvenirs I got at Disneyland. One is Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy ride, one is Splash Mountain, and one is Mickey and Minnie in a car from Buena Vista Street part of Disney’s California Adventure park.

Next time I’ll choose cleaner pennies though. 🙂

7. How to save money on phone charging in Disneyland

This is something that I never would have thought of before I went to Disneyland.

But there are no electrical outlets in Disneyland. At least none that I could see.

This means if your phone battery dies you are looking at $30 to buy a little phone charging battery from a vending machine.

Portable Battery Vending Machine in Disneyland

As you can see in the picture above it costs $30 to buy a new portable battery. And I never did buy one, but it appears like swapping for a new one is free. (If I’m wrong about this please comment below.)

I know there is a Starbucks in the Downtown Disney district – which you don’t have to pay admission to get into – but I don’t know if this Starbucks has any outlets to charge up.

If you know, please comment below.

If you are going to be in the parks all day – which you probably are – then you must choose, but choose wisely on when and how you use your phone to conserve battery life. (A little hat tip to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade there.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips on how to save money at Disneyland.

There are ways to save some money on your Disneyland visit without feeling like you’re some kind of stingy miser like Scrooge McDuck.

If you have any additional tips to save money at Disneyland, please let me know.

I want to learn some more because I’d love to go back to Disneyland!

And if I can continue to do it inexpensively, then I can go more often!

Other Disneyland Related Articles

Thank you.

2 thoughts on “How to Save Money at Disneyland [without sacrificing fun]”

  1. The rechargeable battery has been o e of my best disney investments! Right now they do not charge to swap out. Although they did try to and it failed!! I am an AP holder so I go often. They can also be recharged and used outside of the park. Hope this helps!

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