Going to Disney: 5 money-saving hacks for planning a cheap Disneyland trip

Disney may be the happiest place on Earth for you and your loved ones, but your bank account might not feel the same way. According to Hipmunk, in 2016 the cost of a Disneyland trip would cost a family of four an average of $1,624 in airfare, $2,128 to stay four nights in a Disneyland Resort Hotel, and $1,010 for park admission tickets for four days. Don’t forget to add in the costs of souvenirs, dining, and other must-have experiences!

The good news is that with a little faith, trust, and creative planning, you can take advantage of several money-saving tips when it comes to planning a Disneyland trip. Here are a few we recommend:

Take advantage of points programs

Booking flights and hotel rooms are often one of the most expensive parts of a Disneyland trip, but with all the mileage and points programs out there, you can significantly cut back on these costs.

Signing up for a travel credit card like Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard or Capital One Venture One will allow you to rack up travel points with every dollar you spend on the card. Richmond Savers even figured out a formula for using these types of credit cards to take your family to Disneyland for nearly free.

Use your kicks

Shopkick user Courtney Cole discovered a really smart way to use her kicks to earn some extra spending money for her family’s upcoming Disneyland trip. “My daughter is three-and-a-half and we promised her a Disneyland trip as an incentive for potty training. Because I’m in Target all the time, I started using the Shopkick app a lot more and used my kicks to buy Target gift cards, which I then used that to buy Disney gift cards. I would go to Target, check in, scan everything I could and get those kicks.”

During her family’s Disneyland trip, Courtney used her gift cards to buy things that might normally be over budget. “I knew I was going to spend money on meals, toys, and a princess makeover,” Courtney explains, “But because I used my kicks to buy the gift cards, I didn’t have to feel bad about it.”

Due to the success of this trip and her ability to accumulate so many kicks with only a few months prep, Courtney and her family have another Disneyland trip in the works. “I plan on making more of an effort and saving up my kicks to do the trip next year. That’ll give us a whole year worth of kicks to use in the parks.”

BYOFD (Bring your own food and drink)

Mickey Lunch for Disney Trip - Going to Disney: 5 Money-Saving Hacks for Planning a Cheap Disneyland Trip
image credit: bentolunch.net

Food and drinks in the park can cost a pretty penny, but sometimes you just need to splurge on a Dole Pineapple Whip or indulge in Chef Mickey’s Character Dining experience. The key is finding a balance. Before you leave, plan out which meals, snacks, or drinks you most want to splurge on in the park. Bring everything else with you.

According to the Disneyland website, guests can bring coolers that are 18”x25”x37” and store them in the rentable lockers by the Disneyland Park main entrance. You can also bring in hydration backpacks, which are great for storing water and any souvenirs your little ones might pick up throughout the day.  Just remember you can’t bring any alcohol with you into the park.

Snag discounted admissions tickets

Are you a member of AAA? Do you plan on taking a youth group of 10 or more kids to the park? Are you or your spouse in the military? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be able to take advantage of special Disneyland park admissions prices.

If not, don’t worry. There are other ways to snag discounted admission tickets, but it can be tricky and risky to do so online so proceed with caution. The key is finding a reputable discount ticket source. MouseSavers (a website dedicated to helping you save money when it comes to all things Disney) recommends using aRes Travel for discounted tickets.

Go during the off season

Disney Savings tip: go during the off season. Going to Disney: 5 Money-Saving Hacks for Planning a Cheap Disneyland Trip

Last year, Disney rolled out demand pricing for park admission. On certain high-demand days, the ticket prices increase, while days with less traffic are less expensive. These off-peak times are usually after the holidays—January and February are ideal—and from the end of August until mid-to-late October.

When it comes to the resorts, Disney offers three “seasons”. Around January, February, and the first three weeks of October, November, and December is the Value Season. If you manage to time it right, Value Season is the least expensive and least crowded time to book at the resorts.

Do you have a money-saving tip when it comes to trips to Disneyland? Share with us @Shopkick on Twitter #ShopkickBlog