If the idea of planning a family pilgrimage to Disneyland leaves you quivering with dread, you’re doing yourself an injustice. Walt Disney believed in the fun of doing the impossible, so coordinating an adventure into his imagination should be nothing less than delightful. Fortunately, with the right mindset and some clever preparation, you don’t have to sacrifice precious moments of sanity.
Saving on Accommodations
Before you delve into the assorted Disney cost-cutting schemes, choose a budget-friendly hotel. In most cases, this means avoiding the resorts on the property. You can instead find cheaper off-site hotels offering shuttle services. If a shuttle isn’t available, the ART provides $5 day passes for anyone staying in Anaheim. To really maximize your time at the park, consider booking a room at Anaheim Express Inn Maingate, which is within walking distance.
Saving on Tickets
It’s best to avoid Disneyland during peak seasons, but what if you dream of seeing Main Street glowing with Christmas cheer? You can still protect your wallet by purchasing tickets on discount websites such as Orbitz or Expedia. Costco and AAA members can also save on advanced purchases. Disney offers discounts to military members, teachers and college students as well. To save money in the park, bring your own autograph book, umbrella stroller, sunscreen and ponchos.
Saving on Nourishment
You can avoid Disneyland’s money-munching meals by eating a large breakfast at your hotel or an inexpensive diner nearby. Pack snacks such as fruits, nuts and granola for the day. Rather than paying several dollars for bottled water, request free water at any restaurant offering fountain drinks. You could also fill a cooler with drinks and lunch items and store it in a locker. If you must eat in Disney, opt for counter service.
Saving on Time
Nothing spoils the Disney fairy tale more than distraught little ones who cannot meet their favorite characters because of time constraints. To avoid seeing your child crumple into a crying, incoherent heap, choose the character dining options over waiting in lines for individual meet-and-greets. If you’re more concerned about saving time on rides, use the FASTPASS system, or head to popular attractions during the parade, fireworks or other shows.
Saving on Mental Wellness
No matter how happy this storybook world is, exploring it with children can unravel even the tightest threads of self-control. Little legs become fatigued; little minds become restless. In order to avoid Tantrum Land, give your kids plenty of breaks. Quick naps at the hotel, unstructured downtime in Toontown and a snack in the shade on Tom Sawyer’s Island will do wonders.
Ingenuity and groundwork are the keys to successful Disneyland outings. Whether you want to save time, money or your sanity, there are countless ways to optimize your experience. With a little creativity, you actually can organize a blissfully synchronized family vacation. Dreams really can come true at Disneyland, and you don’t have to wear Mickey’s wizard hat to create the magic.
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