If you’re looking to save money at Disneyland, these 15 tips, tricks, and hacks will set you up for success during your next trip. These helpful tips will leave you with more time and money to enjoy those magical moments.
How to Save Money at Disneyland
1. Don’t Buy Water Bottles
The first tip to start off our list of ways to save money at Disneyland is to take advantage of the free water. There’s no reason to buy water bottles at Disneyland. Even if there’s a big line at a restaurant, you can go right up to the counter and ask for water.
In some places you will even be handed filled water cups. But at the Pym Test Kitchen you have to fill them yourself, which is super easy at their freestyle machine. Then you can refill your drink as much as you need to.
My family and I actually bring our own insulated water bottles and then fill them up with the free water from the park. This means your water will stay colder for much longer and will save you lots of money.
Potential Savings: $5/bottle
2. Bring Your Own Snacks
Our next tip is to bring your own snacks. We pack our snacks in an insulated cooler bag and bring loads. Seriously, bring more snacks than you think you’re going to need and you won’t regret it.
Not only will this save you money at Disneyland, but bringing your own snacks guarantees you’re going to enjoy what you like when you start getting hungry. You can tailor this to whatever you like best and pack loads of different options.
My family and I like to pack apple chips, granola bars, Goldfish crackers, fig bars, and fruit or yogurt pouches. Quick snacks that are easy to eat on-the-go are your best bet.
Potential Savings: $5/snack
3. Pack Your Own Lunch
Right alongside bringing your own snacks from home, you can pack your own lunch as well. This is especially helpful if you’re traveling to Disneyland with kids, because the meals for kids at Disneyland are absolutely terrible.
Not only is the food for kids expensive, but it’s also not great food. The serving sizes are really small too. Our kids love a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, so we pack bread with the peanut butter and jelly on the side.
That way, when they get hungry it’s quick to put together and we don’t end up with the dreaded soggy sandwich. Again, you’ll save money at Disneyland, and you know your kids (or you!) will enjoy the meal.
Potential Savings: $12/meal
4. Split Larger Meals
Carrying on with the food theme is to split larger meals to save money at Disneyland. This is especially helpful when you know beforehand which restaurants serve up a big portion. My family and I love the pasta dishes from places like Alien Pizza Planet and Boardwalk Pizza Pasta.
At those two restaurants my wife and I can easily split a meal and our two kids can do the same. So even though we only pay for two adult meals, the four of us will eat and be left feeling full while also saving some money.
It took us maybe five years to discover how great the pasta is at Alien Pizza Planet, so don’t sleep on this hidden gem. While the pizza isn’t that great, the pasta more than makes up for it. It’s one of the best value items you can get in the park.
A bonus tip for Alien Pizza Planet is that it also has refillable drink machines just like Pym’s. A lot of other restaurants don’t give free refills, so that makes Alien Pizza Planet a great place to stop.
Potential Savings: $12/meal
5. Cut a Day From Your Trip
This next tip may be a bit controversial…but it’s to consider cutting a day off your trip. How long do you really need to visit the park?
Disneyland is not like Walt Disney World, which warrants a longer stay. At Walt Disney World you really do need at least four days to see one park per day, and you can obviously stay even longer. My family likes to spend seven days at Disney World.
But at Disneyland, you can easily see everything in three days. If you’re not planning on coming back for a decade you might be able to justify a longer trip, but if you’re debating between four or five days, I would recommend dropping a day from your itinerary.
I would even go so far as to recommend considering dropping down to just two days. That would still give you one day in Disneyland and one day in Disney California Adventure, which is more than doable.
You can get everything done in two days and save yourself a ton of extra money. You’ll save on hotel costs, food costs, and the extra park tickets.
Potential Savings: Varies
Bonus Tip: Genie+
But if you’re worried about seeing everything in a single day at each park, you should consider adding on Genie+.
Instead of paying the full amount for an extra day at the park, which would be around $100 per person, Genie+ is only around $25 per person. The price for Genie+ fluctuates depending on the day, but it’s around that $25 mark.
So, for a relatively nominal amount of money, you’ll be able to save on time and skip the longer lines. Disneyland prioritizes Genie+ over the general standby line and it’s much better than the old FastPass system. With FastPass the priority was split about 50-50 with standby, whereas with Genie+ the ratio is more like 90-10.
If you want to find out more, make sure you watch my YouTube video all about my family’s Genie+ experience. Spoiler alert: We rode nearly every single ride in both parks in a single day.
6. Book With Get Away Today
If you book through GetAwayToday.com, you can save on your total package price compared to buying park tickets and a hotel package on your own.
As an added bonus, if you use the promo code “SCDD10” you can save an additional $10 on select Disneyland packages.
I recently priced out a 5-day vacation utilizing Get Away Today’s hotel discounts and 5th night free offer and saw savings of $300 for a family of 4 over booking direct through the hotel and Disney.
Potential Savings: Varies
7. To Park Hop or Not?
My next tip highlights another important difference between Disneyland and Walt Disney World. At WDW park hopping is an absolute hassle and takes a lot of time, but at Disneyland the parks are right next to each other. It’s only a two or three minute walk from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure, even with kids.
So, you can save yourself a lot of money by walking from one park to the other.
Potential Savings: $60-$75/per person
8. Visit Off-Season
This next tip on how to save money at Disneyland is one that many people already take advantage of, but it’s absolutely worth mentioning for the potential savings. With Disney’s tiered pricing system now, it makes much more sense to visit in the off-season.
The cheapest tier is tier one, which is only available in the off-season and during the middle of the week. While it may not be less crowded during these days, although sometimes it can be, your tickets will be cheaper.
Potential Savings: $70/ticket
9. Don’t Stay at a Disney Hotel
Our next tip is to not stay at a Disney Hotel. The Grand Californian Hotel is the most expensive hotel at Disneyland and will cost you more than $600 a night even on a weekday and in the cheapest type of room.
The price for a hotel room drops dramatically when you step off Disney property. The average hotel price outside the park is around $300. We recently stayed at the Candy Cane Inn and have a full review up on our channel about our experience.
Potential Savings: $300/night
10. Book a Good Neighbor Hotel
In a similar vein, booking at a good neighbor hotel can be a great way to save money at Disneyland. We love the Best Western Park Place Inn because it is just steps away from the Disneyland entrance. When you’re exhausted after a day walking around the park, ears perhaps still ringing from the fireworks, and desperate to drop into bed, having your room mere steps away for a great price is amazing.
Potential Savings: $300/night
11. Bring Your Own Stroller
If you’re coming to Disneyland with children, heed my words and bring your own stroller. A stroller is amazing for letting your kid crash at midday when everything becomes a bit much, but the strollers that you can rent from Disneyland are expensive and super uncomfortable.
The strollers available to rent are hard plastic that can’t recline, so if your child does need a nap, it will be a super uncomfortable experience for them, and subsequently you. Even if your child is older, having that option for them to crash for a cat nap will enhance the whole day and avoid unnecessary exhaustion.
If you’re flying into Anaheim, airlines will let you check in a stroller for each child accompanying you for free. So, just trust me, bring your own stroller.
Potential Savings: $18/per day for one stroller or $36/per day for a double stroller
12. Have Cast Members Take Photos on Your Own Phone
There are Disneyland PhotoPass cast members all over the park, and you can ask any of them to snap a picture on your phone. You won’t get the special effects that are added into photos through the PhotoPass system, but it’s completely free and they’re happy to help.
Potential Savings: $25/per day
13. Buy Souvenirs Before You Come
This next tip on how to save money at Disneyland is shopping-related. While it might feel wrong to buy “souvenirs” before you’re even through the gates, you can save so much money this way.
A simple t-shirt at Disneyland will run you between $30 to $40. But if you buy a Disney t-shirt from Kohl’s beforehand it might only cost you $20 to $25 depending on sales.
As well, the quintessential mouse ears have gone up dramatically in price. It will now cost you around $35 for a pair of Mickey or Minnie ears at Disneyland, but you can find loads of great options online at places like Etsy for much cheaper.
You won’t be able to buy any exclusive Disneyland merch this way, so it will be up to you to decide what you would like to splurge on.
Potential Savings: $10+/per item
14. Stay Rope Drop to Park Close
Our penultimate tip on how to save money at Disneyland is to stay rope drop to park close. All this means is make sure you get to park first thing. This is when they take down the literal rope barring the entrance to let park goers through, and then you can stay all day.
By maximizing your day at Disneyland, you’re essentially reducing the amount you’re paying per ride. You’ll be able to fit more rides into your day if you’re there from open to close.
You can also take advantage of rider swap if you have small kids or single rider lines. Our Ride Guide video on our YouTube channel has everything you need to know about that.
Another bonus tip which will save you time is to take advantage of mobile ordering and skip the long lines. You’ll get an alert when your order is ready for pick up, so you can continue to maximize the amount of free time you have in the park and reduce the amount of time you spend in line.
As well, just like you can go into any restaurant and ask for a cup of water, you can even ask for a cup of hot water too. So, pack a teabag or hot chocolate sachet in with your snack or lunch bag. Then you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite hot beverage without the high Disneyland price tag.
Potential Savings: $3-$4/drink
15. Avoid Dining Packages & Expensive Restaurants
Finally, our last tip is to avoid dining packages or expensive restaurants. It can be incredibly tempting to splurge on a character meal like at Goofy’s Kitchen, but your beloved Disney characters are already walking around the park. You can experience those cherished interactions and photo opportunities while you’re going about your day for free!
A dining package like the World of Color Dessert Party will cost you around $200 for a family of four and you’ll only end up with around $20 worth of desserts. It’s a steep price tag when you can have those interactions for free, and pack your own sweet treats.
You can also experience World of Color for free too. The only thing that the paid dining experience will get you is seats to the show, whereas when you standby the show it’s standing room only.
Potential Savings: $40-$50/person
There you have 15 tips for how to save money at Disneyland in 2024. If you have any questions make sure to leave them in the comments below. I’m happy to cover anything I might have missed and help make your next Disney experience the best yet for less money.