Friends, let’s be real… Disneyland is expensive. The undeniable fact is that you will need to figure out a budget. If it takes a couple of years or even five years, it will be worth it. One of the things I tell people when I explain how To Disney is that yes, it’s expensive and you can’t dismiss it or ignore it. The cost is real. However, you need to figure out a way to somehow detach that fact in your mind so you can make it happen and have the experience of a lifetime. We’ll share some ideas how to do this here.
For some perspective, my younger brother took his family of seven just this summer. It was their first trip to Disneyland. For three days with access to both parks (Park Hopper), and a home rental, they spent $3,500. They added on MaxPass to each ticket and two of their five children are under 10 so those tickets were slightly less expensive. This did not include food or travel expenses like gas, etc. Again, Disneyland is expensive.
Here are some things to be aware of that may cost you money. We might take some of these and write full articles for them so this will be more of a quick summary.
- Parking: Disneyland property parking is currently $20 per vehicle/day, or $25 for RVs. (more info)
- Some hotels also charge for parking
- Park Tickets: Click this link to see current pricing
- Add-ons like MaxPass or PhotoPass
- Annual Passports
- Lodging: You gotta sleep
- Food: You gotta eat
- Travel: Driving or Flying
- Transportation: Uber/Lyft or shuttle services
Over our many years of planning and making trips to Disneyland, we’ve come up with some great strategies and tricks to try and keep that dollar sign out of the front of your minds. One thing we started doing is getting money cards from our bank and preloading them with a set amount of money. We had three total. In the ideal world, we would use them for either each person (when it was the three of us), or one for food, one for souvenirs, and one for “other stuff”. Usually we’d just use them until they were gone and move on to the next one. The real benefit of this strategy is that instead of using a debit or credit card, where the amount goes up, the money card’s amount goes down. It’s a controlled amount. You can’t overdraft. Plan your budget to include these money cards and your in-park experience will feel more comfortable and you won’t be nervous or anxious about spending too much money. With banks and their mobile apps you can easily make a visual check on their balances if you feel like you need to. Also, be sure they have a major credit card logo on them, like Visa or Mastercard, otherwise they may not work.
Other ideas we’ve used is looking for deals. Disney has really tightened up in the past several years on other parties selling discounted tickets. It mostly doesn’t happen and if you do find one, the discount is usually fairly minimal. We like getawaytoday.com. They do a great job of bundling hotels and park tickets. The park tickets may be lightly discounted but their agreements with hotels let them package deals at a decent discount and your overall costs are lower. When I say look for deals, don’t be tempted to look at places like eBay or craigslist. Most of those are partially used tickets and while they may work, Disney has protections in place and may reject the tickets. Also, those places are hotbeds for scammers and creeps. I would just avoid them.
The bottom line here is that while Disneyland is not a cheap vacation, it is so, so, so worth it! The experiences you’ll have will be unmatched. The memories you make will be indelible. Your children and friends and family members will have these times to think on for years to come. Even if you only ever make it once or twice, it will be worth it. You can’t really put a price on magic. Disney has magic in spades!