6 kids at Disneyland….and CHEAP?!
Who doesn’t love to go to Disneyland?! And when you have a chance to go for CHEAP, YOU TAKE IT! Our chance came fast…and I’m talking 2 days notice before heading out!
As the wife of an Entrepreneur, life has its ups & downs for sure….and once in a while a GREAT opportunity comes and we JUMP on it. Life is ALWAYS an adventure with Jase!
The Jase-man had to do some work in California, right during Winter break for the kids and I told him, if he’s traveling I want to go….especially if the kids don’t miss that much school. So off we went!
I planned the trip in a day, packed the whole car while the kids slept….and off we went to California, and the kids had NO IDEA! (We like to do surprises in our family…..as often as we can!) We told them we were going to California to see the ocean, visit a cousin and play in the sunshine while our Daddy worked! They were stoked….and they had no idea that Disneyland was included on this trip!
9 Tricks For a cheaper Disney Adventure
(many of these ideas I have gathered from my fabulous traveling friends, who are also Disney addicts)
#1 Find the Best Ticket Price – There are many sites to find cheaper tickets, travel agent friends (Enchanting Deals) who can do a whole hookup for hotel & tickets, or even military discounts. Normally we go with Enchanting Deals because she has the best hookups…but this time because of Our Daddy working in California our hotel was taken care of…so we invited our Military Grandparents to join us and we got the Military Discount for most of our tickets.
?? How many days do you do Disney ?? We like to do atleast 3. I feel like in 3 days you can see mostly everything, if time of year isn’t too busy.
#2 Accomodations – Whenever we choose a hotel, we make sure it has a complimentary breakfast! Then that takes out a meal that you have to prepare. After getting full on breakfast, the kids will take a fruit with them and then we have an extra snack for inside the park!
Of course choosing a hotel close enough to walk to Disneyland Park is important, if the hotel is not close enough to walk to the Disneyland Park, then we make sure it has a shuttle to the park. This is quite nice for when the day at the park has been long and walking home is just too hard for little feet!
#3 Pre-Purchase Souvenirs
– There are a few things that happen at Disneyland that you don’t even think about till you are amidst the DISNEYLAND CRAZE!
Clothes….most people at Disneyland are sporting some t-shirt, sweater, hoodie, or hat with LOGOS of disney characters, disney resort places, basically anything affiliated with Disney! This craze makes your kids want to have disney apparel as well. To avoid the mahem of buying a $45 t-shirt I like to yardsale/thrift shop/regular store shop for such apparel. You can find much disney apparel anywhere from yardsales to thrift shops to walmart to the mall! We collect a shirt or sweater for each kid and then on the first day we give them their awesome DISNEY item to wear and they are THRILLED!
The next craze is DISNEY PINS & Lanyards. I had no clue about this till our first trip to Disneyland years ago and everyone was wearing lanyards with disney pins, and everyone was trading them with ANY cast member at the park….totally didn’t expect this one. Luckily the Target/Walmart down the street sells cheaper lanyards than on the park. Now Disney Pins are a bit tricky, they are trademarked and cast members will only trade with trademarked ones. But trading is quite fun, so part of our budget we include a pin for each kid and then they can trade with cast members while we are there.
TOYS TOYS TOYS, it is very hard to avoid this one. We like to take our kids to the closest toy store (walmart/target) to peruse their Disney toys. The next day we compare the toy prices with the park & toy store. Its a toss up to what the kids will do, toy store usually but sometimes Disney has deals such as Buy 2 for a cheaper price…so we look for those.
We also try to look for toys that they can associate with a favorite ride or experience at Disneyland. Our 2 boys got very excited about the Light Sabers after they got a chance to train to be Jedis. That was a perfect souvenir.
Treats are something we like to prepare for. WE found some awesome Star Wars fruit snacks at the dollar store, we bought plenty. You can find snacks in many disney characters, so we stock up and bust those out as we pass the candy parlor and ice cream shop.
But we do treat the kids to a big ice cream from California Adventure on the hottest day we are there. On the pier they have the biggest soft serve and the price isn’t TOO ridiculous!
I find that my kids appreciate when we actually buy something from the park, IF they DON’T GET IT EVERYDAY!
#4 Documenting Memories – With smart phones, tablets, and those big ole Cannons & Nikons….I know no one needs help documenting their time at Disney. But I tend to jump in on all the fun and forget to pause and catch that perfect smile! My Little Miss Evee loves….and I mean LOVES Minnie Mouse. She was so excited to meet her, she almost didn’t talk. I convinced her to talk and then she rambled on and on about all the Minnie Mouse toys she has. So darling!
See these are the moments we all wait to capture & will remember forever, that moment makes all the cost worth it.
A) – Purchase autograph book OFF park site. Get as many autographs as possible, this helps my kids feel like they are meeting movie stars. (truthfully, I’d rather they idolize minnie mouse than a tv star)
B) – Take pictures at these moments:
-Signing autographs & Posing with characters (of course!)
-Walking with Characters (if characters are going to their next spot to sign autographs, they CANNOT stop for you….really they WON’T, but we love a good walking picture. Hubby likes to spot the character coming, run ahead and turn to get him coming straight on. He has the kids run up to the character and hold hands….BOOM! PERFECT PICTURE!)
-Waiting in line, Pose next to props! This is perfect for passing the time quickly & makes for fun pictures.
-Picture of the picture Disney takes. At certain rides (splash mtn, astro blasters, california screamin, etc) they take pictures of you going fast or shooting things, We take a picture of the screen instead of buying the picture.
-Innoventions Exhibit in Tomorrow Land has GREAT places to pose & have fun, my boys loved the Iron Man area!
C) – Make a photobook! If this is an event that happens every couple of years, or this is the first time, MAKE YOUR CHILD A PHOTOBOOK! We made individual photobooks for each kid after the first time we went in 2009. They would read & look at that book almost every day for a very long time, they still bust it out to look at all the characters and see all the fun / silly things we did! You can find great deals on Shutterfly, mixbook, etc. Groupons have great deals as well.
#5 – First Rides First
a) – We make sure that we go on the busiest rides at the very BEGINNING of the day.
These rides get long lines a bit later on in the day:
Thunder Mtn., Matterhorn, Fantasy Faire, Radiator Springs Racers, Splash Mtn., Indiana Jones Adventure, & Space Mtn.
*make a plan! You can download apps to see what the wait times are for rides, this helps to prepare for melt downs*
b) Get FAST PASSES for the other rides you can’t get on right away.
We like to get a Fast Pass for a Ride, then hit all the rides in that land while we wait for the time to come up.
C) Don’t forget about Rider Switch Pass –
Also known as the Parent pass, is FABULOUS! We use it often because we have so many littles that don’t hit the height requirements. If part of your family CANNOT go on the ride because of height or baby is sleeping, when you get to the front of line to get on the ride ASK FOR A RIDER SWITCH PASS! Once you are off the ride, you can go through the Fast Pass line and get straight on the ride (occasionally there is a wait).
D) Check HEIGHT REQUIREMENTS before promising kids what rides they can go on! Purchase / Wear Tennis shoes that have an extra inch (or more) in the sole. Double up socks if there is room in the shoe. And if your son is just 1/2″ under the height requirement and he is desperate to get on that ride….well you simply put some starburst in his shoe and BOOM problem solved!
#6 – Food, Snacks & Meals
I am cheap! So I know that eating out is EXPENSIVE, eating at any theme park is SUPER EXPENSIVE! I do a few things to help keep cost low, bellies full and happy kids.
a) YOU CAN BRING FOOD IN! I always have a water bottle for each kid, strap it to stroller & refill whenever we take bathroom breaks (there are plenty of fountains around, and some restaurants on site will fill it up for you). Hydration is the key to happy kids and not-grubby-for-candy kids!
b) Healthy Snacks – clementines, small apples, grapes, baby carrots, raisins, nuts, trail mixes, cereal, dried fruit, granola bars, applesauce and fruit cups. You can find so many things at the dollar store close to Disneyland….REALLY TONS!
c) Easy Meals:
-I make PB&J ahead of time, and when you’re running around and starving, everyone LOVES PB&J.
-Meat & Cheese sandwiches: bring a small squishy cooler bag with sliced meat & cheese & a loaf of bread. We stop near main street and snag a bunch of mayo,mustard & ketchup packets & have our meal.
-Oatmeal packets. I stop off at the Baby Center off Main street & heat up water in their throw away cups & dump my oatmeal packets in.
-Microwaveable soup containers. These fill bellies fast too, not the favorite meal. but definitely great for a cooler Disney day. (heat up at the Baby Center)
-Hot Cocoa packets, heat water up at the baby center and everyone LOVES hot cocoa. Better than paying $2-$3 a cup on park site.
One of the main thrills of Disneyland is meeting your favorite characters.
a) Come early to the park – Catch Mickey & Friends in the circle before Main street. Catch 3 princesses at Fantasy Faire by the Royal Theater. Catch Tinkerbell and fairy friends at Pixie Hollow on the way to Matterhorn (behind Astro Blasters).
b) ASK where your favorite characters will be or IF they are at the park the day you visit. You can stop in or call City Hall each day to see which Characters will be where & what times. You can also ask Cast members, I find the ones that are helping a character will know where all the other characters are at.
c) GO WAY EARLY to favorite character meetings, i.e.: Anna & Elsa meet! I went over to the Fantasyland to stand in line 10 minutes before they said they would open the doors, when I got to the line it was a 2 hr wait in line (I didn’t wait). The next day I went an hour early to stand in line and I was behind 10 people. So I happily waited, while HUBBY took the kids on rides around Fantasyland. We got to meet Anna & she talked to each of my 6 kids, took individual pictures with them & signed all their autograph books. I didn’t mind waiting cause it made their YEAR!
d) Keep an eye out at all times! Just walking to our next ride we catch many characters walking to their next meet & greet. So we run up ahead & snap a walking picture with them. Or we find our favorite characters in random places, like Mary Poppins near the Ice Cream Parlor or Captain Hook & Peter Pan near Snow White’s wishing well. Be ready to at any moment to snap those pics!
I used to think that Disneyland was all about the rides….this is half true. My kids love the rides, but sometimes when they’re tired, its raining or just because We made sure to see a show! There are plenty of awesome shows that’ll make just as many memories as the rides.
A few of our favorite shows have been:
-Disney’s Alladin: A Musical Spectacular – this is like a full on broadway and well worth it (California Adventure).
-Mickey & the Magical Map – So fun seeing many characters on stage that you will never see in the park, like Pocahontas. In the theater near the entrance to Toon Town.
– Pixar play parade (California Adventure) – Has all the characters from your favorite Pixar shows, and they will shake hands & get close to you while dancing in an awesome parade. Show up at least 30 min early to get a good seat.
– World of Color (California Adventure) – One of my favorite night time experiences, the kids LOVED IT! Get great places to view it by getting a FAST PASS for World of Color EARLY in the morning of that day. If you don’t get a chance to get a fast pass, the NEXT BEST place to view it is on the Paradise Pier right outside Ariel’s Grotto. It gets packed up there, so make sure you have enough people to save space at least 45 minutes before it starts.
#9 Gratitude Walk home & Smiling more!
At the end of the day I have to remind myself that kids walking for miles + rides & thrills = over stimulated & exhaustion! So back to hotel is always whinny & full of meltdowns. I like to talk about all the fun things we saw, have them tell me their favorite moments, we try to emphasize how lucky we/they are for being at Disneyland…and this Attitude of Gratitude helps the walk home seem less as long. Then when I get back to the hotel, I quickly write down our favorites so when the whole trip is over, I don’t forget all these things.
Now Smiling More…This is mostly for me, but if you’re a busy mom & sometimes get caught up in the time schedule…I forget to have fun & enjoy those wonderful smiles on their faces. But those pictures help me to remember. AND hubby and I do the same thing I tell the kids to do, TALK about our favorite moments & the awesome experiences we’re having right then!
And of course after the Photobook is published & we look over it weekly….we know it was well worth it!