So you want to see the Happiest Place on Earth?
Fabulous! Let’s talk trip planning. Planning is the most important step for keeping costs down. Over the next few weeks I will share my tips to save money on a Disneyland Trip. The first question is when do you want to go?
When is the best time to visit Disneyland? The quick and easy answer is during the week, in the off season. Low crowds make a more enjoyable experience. My kids are really little, so a school schedule is not even a factor and with only one income, we don’t have to coordinate 2 work vacation schedules either. <– There is one benefit to only one income!
However when YOU go might be dictated by work and/or school schedules so just figure out what is best for your family. Keep in mind that it can be very busy during the summer, spring break, Christmas break, Thanksgiving and any 3-day holiday weekend. The drawback for going during the off season is that more attractions are closed for refurbishment; there are shorter park hours and less parade and show times.
I personally think the trade offs for going during the lower season are well worth it. Heck it’s even better with limited hours for me. We find it’s much harder to open the park up and close it down now that we hit our 30’s and have 2 kids. Peter and I used to be hardcore Disneyland folks. Now we need our sleep and rest/nap time as much as the kiddos!
Plus when its low season and you have a Magic Morning, (see HERE for more info) it’s much easier to enjoy it. During the busier season, the park opens at 8am. Your Magic Morning would then start at 7am, which means you really should be at the park in the entrance like by like 6:30ish.
That is starting to sound a little too early for us. Don’t get me wrong, my kids torture us never sleep in! However, we usually aren’t dressed, fed and on the move by 6:30. If the park doesn’t open until 9 or 10 am, then that magic morning (1 hour earlier) is much easier for us to accomplish!
One of our favorite times to visit is in early October, they decorate and celebrate Halloween at Disneyland. We also like to visit around our birthdays: late September and late April.
Let’s talk costs!
How does the time of year affect your trip budget?
There are certain times of the year when Disneyland runs ticket promos like 5 days for the price of 3 or adult tickets for the child’s price. My experience is that these promotions are usually only in the spring through the fall and not during the holiday season <– Bummer
Hotel rates can also be affected by the time you choose to go. In particular for us, we are HOJO loyalists and ALWAYS get the entertainment rate (More about this in the next part of this series)! I would guess they have some rooms at the Entertainment rate year round, but how many does depend upon capacity.
Higher season= fuller hotels= less discounts! <– Makes Sense 🙂
And of course transportation costs are affected by the time of year. Both gas for road trips or airfare. I think this is more controllable with planning though, particularly with airfare.
Our Holiday Trip
We planned our trip this year for the week after Thanksgiving. We love going to Disneyland during the holidays and the best time to do that is during the 1st (2) weeks of December after the craziness of Thanksgiving but before school lets out for Christmas break. (You can see what Disneyland says about their Holiday Celebration HERE).
In the past, we have done quick weekend trips during the 1st (2) weeks of December and have had a blast. Those whirl wind trips are not really an option with little ones though. <– Unless you are insane 🙂
A trip during the holidays is a must; you get to enjoy the lovely holiday decorations, music, treats and special edition attractions. The key to really enjoying it is to avoid the insanity of high-holiday crowds. This year we are actually going Sunday-Friday, so literally during the week! <– YAH!!
If you can’t go weekdays during the 1st (2) weeks of December, I would recommend a weekend trip during the 1st (2) weeks of December. I have been RIGHT before Christmas and it was INSANE. I would never CHOOSE to go at that time again, but it was the only option for everyone going on that particular trip.
We also enjoy celebrating birthdays at Disneyland, it’s a great way to *justify* a trip! We plan on going next year in April (mine & Elliot’s birthday) and September (Peter & Quinn’s birthday). Both of those months aren’t bad as long as you avoid Easter, Spring Break and Labor Day!
When do you usually go to Disneyland?
*Up next in my Disneyland Trips blog series: Where should you stay?