Disneyland on a Budget: Part 1

>> August 15, 2008

I thought maybe I would write a little bit about our budget for Disneyland and how I saved some money on our trip. I will break it up into a few posts, since I can write quite a bit about it. Hopefully you find some useful information.

Disneyland on a Budget

We enjoy going to Disneyland and in years past have sometimes gone more than once a year. I have been saving this year for our BIG trip this fall. This will be a special trip for us, we will be celebrating Quinn's 1st b-day, my husband's 30th and our 5 year anniversary all rolled into one (all 3 happen within 2 weeks of each other). We are staying 5 nights, which is a longer trip than usual for us, which results in a larger budget.

I will explain our budget and share how we are saving money.

Original Budget
Airfare: $250
Hotel: $425
Disneyland Tickets: $375
Meals: $300
Gas: $20
Parking: $40
Transfers: $80
Housekeeping: $10
Total Budget $1500

We are flying southwest airlines and I booked the 1st day our travel date was available. Southwest is a bit different than other airlines in that only a few months are available to book ahead of time. The earlier you book, the more likely that southwest will have their special Internet rates available on the flights you want. In addition, on the first day the fall travel dates opened up, there was a special Ding fare that helped us save an addition 15% off the fare. Our airfare cost us $243.90 for 2 tickets. We are taking Quinn as a lap baby, since he will only be 1.

We are staying at the Howard Johnson Anaheim (Hojo). We have stayed there several times in the past and find it to be the best value at Disneyland. Staying on site is wonderful and we love it, but it just isn't in our budget when we are going for 5 days and I am staying home with Quinn. We did manage to snag an "entertainment" rate at the Hojo for their premium rooms which is $74 a night and includes view of Disneyland, a fridge and microwave in our room. There are a few hotels a bit closer, but the slightly shorter distance does not outweigh the "properties" of the Hojo. They also have entrainment rate of $59 for a standard room, which are almost as nice minus the microwave and "Disney" view.All you need to get these great rates are an entertainment card. There are only a limited number of rooms at these rates though, so you want to book in advance.

Disneyland Tickets:
We bought our tickets through Getaway Today, it cost us $388 for 2 5-day hoppers (Under 2 is free). I used a promo code to bypass their $10 handling fee. I could have found our hopper passes SLIGHTLY cheaper (closer to the $375 I had originally estimated) however Getaway Today is offering 2 Magic Morning Days with their tickets (the only place that offers this feature) and with a little one I think the extra magic morning is worth the cost.

The magic morning gets you into Disneyland 1 hour earlier with FantasyLand and TomorrowLand open. Magic mornings are only available on Sat, Sun, Tues and Thurs. I think they are worth it, particularly since FantasyLand does not have any fast pass options. We have a few faves in FantasyLand (Toads, Alice, Peter Pan) that we always ride. However, I anticipate we will be riding most rides in FantasyLand with our little one this time.

I budget $15 for dinner, $10 for lunch and $5 for a snack for each adult. We eat breakfast in our hotel room or on our way to Disneyland, (part of the reason we like a fridge/microwave in our room). I either pack food or have groceries delivered. In addition I am adding another $10 per day for Quinnie boy, either kids meals or extra sides since he is eating solids now.

Parking/gas: We are flying out of Phoenix to make it easier with Quinn; We can fly directly to Orange County which is a much shorter ride to Disneyland vs. LAX. So I budget for gas to phoenix and parking at the airport

Transfers: We had originally planned on taking a taxi from the airport to our hotel, which is certainly painless from the Orange County Airport, however with the car seat issue I am not sure if we will do that. This decision is still up in the air. We bring our car seat, rent a car and rent a car seat or take the Disneyland express bus (a greyhound that doesn't use car seats). The bus is $50 round trip for 2 adults, so I will keep this at $80 or under.

Misc: Tips for maids and Fun stuff. We usually leave $2 a day in our hotel room for maid service. We don't usually buy a lot of souvenirs, but depending upon finances we will budget a little. Quinnie is too little now, but in the future I plan on buying Disney trinkets ahead of time at $ stores or clearance sales to bring with and dole out each day. Hopefully that will keep our costs down that area too.

I will try and post the next part tomorrow. :)


Precious August 16, 2008 at 4:32 PM  

Hi KC,

I have been fascinated with how well you have done saving for this trip. Especially the way you got the airline tickets. I am going away in September on an unexpected 11 day trip to New York and the airfare and rental car cost both my arms and my legs!

Precious August 16, 2008 at 4:43 PM  


Just a little tip: It is cheaper to park at one of the Park n Rides near the airport and take their shuttle to Sky Harbor than to park at the airport. We always do that!

kc August 16, 2008 at 7:09 PM  

Hi Precious, thanks for the encouragement :)

Do you know off hand which off site parking places you have used before? We always have used the official phoenix economy parking and have been happy. But it looks like the rates have been raised a bit and I did notice that rates were cheaper off site. However, I have seen some of the offsite (tiny dive sort of lots) and am afraid that I will pick the wrong one. I really need to know which one we will use and have directions to it before we leave (I don't want to just pick one on the fly when we get there KWIM?)

Precious August 19, 2008 at 5:47 PM  

I am so sorry that I didn't see your question before now.

This is the one we have used for years:


It has a coupon for the rate to print and you can make your reservations. The site also has directions. It is very easy to get there. I like this lot because my car is secure! They have a shuttle that gets you very quickly to your terminal at the airport and when you call them from the airport when you arrive back they are there within minutes outside in the area where the shuttles pick you up. We have been extremely happy with this company. Sometimes the Entertainment Book( if you have one) has a coupon for them in it also!

kc August 20, 2008 at 1:57 PM  

Thanks, I will look into that lot.

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