Saturday, December 22, 2012

How to Save Money in Disneyland (And Other Tips)

Planning a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, USA?  Here are some tips on how to save money on your trip.  There are also some other tips for making the most of your trip.


  1. On Mainstreet USA, the market house general store has refill-able coffee.
  2. Plaza Inn has refillable hot chocolate, pop, and other drinks.  
  3. Refill water bottles at Plaza Inn.
  4. Buy bottled water outside of the park ahead of time.  
  5. Kid's meals come with a small bottle of water.
  6. If you buy the souvenir cups and they are not refillable, check to see if the souvenir cup is actually smaller than the regular pop cups.  You might want to ask for the pop in the regular cups and just get the souvenir cup dry on the side to keep as a souvenir.


  1. Eat bread bowls!  Bread bowls filled with soup are very filling.  Most people can't even finish eating their bread bowl and it goes to waste.
  2. Kids meals are cheaper and they come with a main dish (mac and cheese, chicken and rice, etc), carrot sticks, celery sticks, grapes, and a small bottle of water.  They are a cheap way to add some variety to your meal.
  3. Buy fruit outside of the park ahead of time.  If your hotel has free fruit, take a few for the park.  Apples cost 2-3 dollars in the park.
  4. Eat breakfast outside the park, especially if breakfast is free with your hotel stay.  You may want to pack some baked items for your day.
  5. Check out Trip Advisor restaurant ratings for the Disneyland Park area ahead of time so that you know what's good and what to avoid wasting your money on.


  1. If you plan on bringing gifts back for loved ones, you'll find that it will cost you an arm and a leg.  If you have a lot of stockings to fill, consider buying items in prepackaged sets.  
    • For instance, you can buy a whole bucket of little green men for about $20 dollars instead of one little green man ornament for $14.  
    • Ornaments and pins also come in sets, so buy those instead of one by one.  
    • When you get home, re-package them individually.  You can use the free Disney Christmas labels here to make them look more official and festive.
  2. Trade for better pins.  If you buy a set of pins and there are some that you don't really like.  Find the staff that wear the pin lanyards and see if they are willing to trade with you.  You could trade for something you like better.  Sometimes you can trade for a more expensive/fancy pin too!
  3. Take advantage of the promotions going on.  
    • Sometimes you will be able to buy two dolls for a discounted price (ex. Minnie and Mickey together are cheaper).
    • If you buy up to a certain amount (ex. $40), you can buy another item for a discounted price (ex. Jiminy Cricket for $12 instead of $20).  So group your purchases together at one time instead of spreading them out if you want to take advantage of the promotion.
    • The food places give out a 20% off merchandise coupon when you buy your food.  You can use this at specific merchandise locations until 1pm.  
    • If you want to find all of your souvenirs in one place, go to World of Disney in Disney Downtown.  Disney Downtown doesn't require a pass to get in.
  4. Get free pins at City Hall!  You can get giant button pins that tell everyone that it's your first time in Disneyland, it's your birthday, anniversary, that you're an honorary citizen of Disneyland, etc.  Make sure you get yours!
  5. Fast passes are cool for scrapbooking.  Make sure you get a couple before you leave.  Of course, it's even better if you actually use your fast pass  :)  
  6. Some fast passes near the Midway will occasionally give you a voucher for free midway game tokens.


  1. The Anaheim Orange County Visitors and Convention Bureau has visitor coupons that you can print out and use.  There's even one for McDonalds!
  2. Anaheim Gardenwalk has a VIP Pass that gives you discounts on their restaurants and shopping.
  3. Check for other deals and promotions.

Good Food

These were my favourite places to eat at Disneyland and California Adventure Park.
  1. The French Market has good food served up cafeteria style.  Prices are fairly reasonable (about $13 for an entree) and there is live music in the eating area outdoors.  
    • Tested and found tasty:  The corn chowder bread bowl is filling and very tasty.  They actually garnish the soup with some tasty corn and green onions.  The other places don't garnish your bread bowl.
    • Tested and found tasty:  The chicken entree with mashed potatoes, vegetables, and corn bread is good.  Sometimes they give you extra mashed potatoes and you get a nice, full meal out of it.
  2. The Lucky Fortune Cookery isn't particularly cheap at around $8-9 for a take-out box, but it's tasty and filling.  Being a Vancouverite, we missed Chinese food after a while and wanted some simple stir-fry.
    • Tested and found tasty:  Chicken and rice, but ask them to put the sauce on the side.  The sauces are not very good.  You can ask to taste-test the sauces, pick your favourite, and then have it on the side to add as needed.  We found the no-sauce version good enough without needing to add any sauces.
  3. The Belle Terrace has tomatoes, lettuce, mushrooms and onions on a self-serve basis.  So if you get a burger/sandwich there, you can load up on the veggies and practically have a salad and burger in one. Burgers also come with a small side dish. 
    • Tested and found tasty:  We tried the pulled pork sandwich with the pasta salad side and it was good.  The pasta had artichoke hearts and olives in it.  I covered the rest of the plate with lettuce, tomatoes, and the mushy mushrooms and onion mix.  It was SUPER messy, but yummy.  I went back for more mushy mushrooms  :)
  4. Ghirardeli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop has chocolate chip cookies that they heat up before they give to you.  It wasn't actually the best chocolate chip cookie I've had before, but if you're going to eat one, you might as well have delightful melted chocolate in each bite  :)
  5. Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlour has ice cream (of course).  We tried the chocolate chip cookie sundae and it was an utter failure as the cookie sucked and the vanilla ice cream had ice chips in it.  However, we did try a simple waffle cone with two scoops later on and that was good.

Tasty Treats (but not necessarily cheap)

  1. Churros (about $3.50) - we ate a lot of these because they seem to taste better in Disneyland than in Vancouver.
  2. Popcorn (about $4) - it smells so good.
  3. Pineapple Dole Whip outside the Tiki Room - tasty!
  4. Green apple (about $2-3) - it can be tart and very refreshing after eating a lot of deep fried foods.
  5. Frozen banana covered with chocolate and peanuts (about $4) - you may or may not like these, but I do!
  6. Giant Turkey leg (about $9-10) - I love these, but they are a pain to eat.  You will look and feel like a cave person when you eat them.

Other Tips and Tricks

  1. Get Fast Passes for rides!  Important ones to get are the Radiator Springs Racers ride at California Adventure Park, Indiana Jones, and Star Tours.  On busy days, the Radiator Springs Racers ride will run out of Fast Passes for the whole day by 9am so get there early and pick up a Fast Pass right away.  Fast Passes can lower your wait times to maybe 15 minutes instead of 1.5 hours!  
  2. Pick up a "Fast Pass" for the World of Color show ahead of time.  It is not a real "Fast Pass" so you can overlap it with other ride Fast Passes.  The pass will let you move to the front of the best viewing areas so that you can actually see the show!  
    1. The best view is right at the front centered between the California Screaming roller coaster and the ferris wheel.  You will get water mist, but not wet.  You will also feel the heat of the fire (but obviously not burned).  
  3. If you enjoy the Star Tours ride and the lines are short, go on it again!  Apparently there are something like 54 different versions of the show.  
  4. If you like Broadway Disney shows you should definitely go watch the Aladdin show at California Parks Adventure.  It's 45 minutes long and as good as the $50 Broadway ones (but shorter).  I liked it so much I watched it twice... but I'm a big Broadway musical fan.

Share Your Tips!

Do you have some great insider tips and ideas to share!  Please leave a comment and let us know!

Have fun in Disneyland!

1 comment:

KC said...

We usually bring a bunch of snacks with us like fruit leathers to save $ on food. It sure is not cheap to eat at Disney World :)