A couple of weeks ago I posted about Disneyland money saving tips. Well after spending 5 full days at the park, I’m ready to update you with what I think are the ultimate Disneyland tips. Some of them have to do with saving money, some are just some advice. I spent HOURS researching blogs, Pinterest and anything I could find that had to do with Disneyland. I even feel confident calling myself a Disneyland expert.
(thank you Lissarie Photography for the amazing picture of my daughter with Pluto!)
1. Bring snacks. I mentioned this before, but seriously this may be the most important piece of advice. The food is expensive. And Disneyland has a very powerful trick, they only sell food that smells amazing and hard to resist. Who spends $4.99 on a corn on the cob? This girl! I couldn’t resist the smell. Do your best to bring your own snacks and stay clear of the food vendors. Do enjoy yourself with a treat or two, but you will go broke eating at the park.
2. Shop away from the park. You’d think you could just go outside of the park for extras like shampoo, snacks, souvenirs , etc, but even the stores close to the park are dollars more than what you’d normally pay. If you have the time, get to a store as far from the park as you can. Our hotel didn’t have conditioner and I didn’t bring any thinking they would and the cheapest I could find was $6.99 for a small bottle–RIDICULOUS! Even a soda that would normally cost you $1.99 was up to $2.99!
3. Be prepared for all kinds of weather. We had been watching the weather and felt that is was going to be warm during our visit. Well it wasn’t. And we were NOT prepared with our clothes. It was actually quite cold which made us have to end up spending $50 on a sweatshirt. That was an unfortunate expense that we should have thought about, but our mind was on sun, not cold and rain.
4. Plan for one or two nice meals. Sometimes it’s torture to know you “can’t” spend money or that you are on a budget. Knowing you will get a reward is a great way to keep you motivated. Instead of saying you won’t eat out at all while at the park, plan one nice meal with your family. We had one night where we went to the Blue Bayou in the park and it was INCREDIBLE. The bill was too, but I am so glad we did it. It’s definitely worth planning for.
5. Skip the Dole Whip. I feel almost sacrilegious saying this, but every thing I read said you had to try one and I wished I hadn’t wasted the $4! I didn’t like it and it was a waste. So if you aren’t a fan of pineapple, this is definitely one you can skip despite what you read on the internet.
1. Don’t hop back and forth between the parks. We had hopper passes which I was glad for, but I think we could have planned better and stayed at one park one day and the other park the next day. It took a lot of time to walk between the parks and time we could have used for rides.
2. Download all the Disneyland apps for your smartphone. There are a ton of apps out there that give you info on the parks. They give you wait times for rides, restaurant info, parade info and even where you can find characters. Just search Disneyland on your smartphone app finder and you’ll see a ton. All the good ones are free and really helped us.
3. Try Ridemax. This is an amazing program. It really works too! It’s not free, but at $14.95 for Disneyland, it was worth it. Basically you put into the program what time you’ll get to the park and what time you’ll leave then all the rides you want. It will tell you what order to go in so you have the least waits. It really really worked and helped us get the most out of our time. I HIGHLY recommend it.
4. Take advantage of the Fast Pass system. A fast pass is available on certain rides where you can get the pass that will tell you to come back at a certain time and then go into a fast pass line. This means less of a wait for you. It’s fantastic! You can’t get a bunch of fast passes for a lot of different rides, but you can do one at a time until a certain time. These will seriously help your sanity. Waiting in lines is no fun and this helps so much!
5. Take breaks. Disneyland is overwhelming. It’s easy to get frustrated with all the crowds, pricing, your children, etc. But a vacation is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. It will really help you to take breaks and take things slow. Planning your day will help so you aren’t sitting around wondering what’s next or where you’re going. Breaks are great for kids too. Meltdown happens far too quickly for children and can ruin a day very quickly. Take the breaks you need to and keep everyone happy and rested.
Are you planning a trip to Disneyland? Let us know if you have any questions! We are Disney experts now so ask us!
Part of the fun of vacations is souvenirs. Growing up, I LOVED souvenirs. I don’t know if they are still around, but I would always make my parents stop at every Stuckey’s I saw. It’s not much more than a gas station, but they always had the best souvenir shop in everyone. I would see the sign a mile away and we would always stop. There were always toys for me to play with too! We traveled a lot when I was a kid so souvenirs were a big deal and I quickly learned how not to spend a lot of money, but still get something to remember your trip.
These are some ideas my parents did with me and are still special to this day.
1. Start a state spoon collection. A lot of people do this and it’s great! For every state you visit, make it a point to get a spoon with that state on it. I ended up with all 48 states that I traveled to. Just need two more to go and I’ll be complete. Usually they were about $2.99 and sometimes it was a hunt to find them. But the hunt made it more fun!
2. Playing cards. This became kind of an obsession for me. I used to play cards quite often with friends and it was so much more fun to play with cards from different places. I have been able to travel overseas quite a bit and everyone sells cards. I loved playing back at home and remembering what I had seen and being able to tell stories to my friends. And cards are CHEAP!
3. Postcards. Who doesn’t LOVE getting a postcard from when you are on the road. Most postcards cost less than a $1 and then just postage. It’s the ultimate souvenir!
4. Golf balls. My husband wants me to write this, because I don’t play golf, but he says his parents always bought them wherever they went. He says they are cheap and you can display them at home on a shelf. I’ll have to take his word on the golf ball idea, but I have seen his parents collection and it’s quite impressive.
Did you have any family souvenir traditions?
I am really excited to share with you readers about the mini-vacation that we just planned to go on. We had an unexpected need to go to a town 4 hours away and decided since we had to go anyway that we ought to make a vacation out of it since every weekend after that is booked through September. Since it was last minute we didn’t get a whole lot of time to plan and save so we needed to do it on a dime and we did!
Our biggest expense was going to be gas, hotel and tickets to the theme park we will be going to. And I am happy to say I saved on almost all of them! Here are some ideas that you can easily incorporate into your family vacation.
1. Cash out any credit card points. We use a bank that accumulates debit card points and we had gotten enough for $50 cash back! That pays for all of our gas there! Even though we earned those points, I kind of feel like our gas is free.
2. Save your pennies. We have one of those lose change electronic banks in our laundry room. We’ve had it for about 2 years and we just always throw in our money we find laying around or any that comes from the dryer. When we cashed it out we had $80! That almost pays for a whole night at the hotel.
3. Look for discounts. The theme park we are going to does discounts when you buy tickets online.
4. Call your insurance agent! Yes, you heard me right, your insurance agent. Some of the larger companies does deals with hotels, theme parks, movie theaters etc. to get you a discount. We got $12 off our theme part tickets and 20% off our hotel stay just for being customers.
5. Buy snacks ahead of time. We’ve been doing this for years, but it’s actually much cheaper to go to Wal-Mart, Target etc. and buy snacks ahead of time and just load the car up. You tend to spend more when you get snacks from a convenient store. I went to Target today and spent $8 on snacks that will last the whole trip!
Estimated Trip Cost Before Discounts
Gas: $40 roundtrip (we have an awesome gas saver!)
Total with discounts and other misc cash: $320!
How awesome did we do!?
Do you love camping? There seems to be a large group of people who absolutely love it. This girl isn’t one of them, but my husband is obsessed with it. I don’t complain either, because you can’t find a cheaper activity if you do it right. Even if you do it wrong, you’ll spend less on camping than a traditional stay at a hotel with activities. Here are some perks for camping just in case you were looking for a reason to go.
1. You save money on lodging. This is a given since you’ll be staying in a tent, but camping is seriously cheap. We live right by Glacier National Park in Montana. They have prime camping spots there and for around $10 a night. Most national parks are going to be very inexpensive and you can usually even reserve spots for busy seasons.
2. You save money on food. When you vacation, I bet most of your budget is spent on food. With camping your food bill will be a fraction of the cost. And don’t worry, you don’t just have to do things like cold sandwiches and smores (although I am not hating on them). The possibilities are endless! We love to make what we call “poor man meals” when we go camping. You throw raw chicken or beef or any meat you want into a “pack” of aluminum foil with our favorite veggies and potatoes then season them. We make these before we leave and leave them on ice and just throw them on the campsite grill when we get there. You can eat them straight out of the foil and they are delish! We’ve even learned to “grill” fruit. We soak stawberries and pound cake in melted butter and grill it until it’s toasty. Throw some whipped cream over it and it’s amazing!
3. You save money on activities. Usually campsites are in National Parks or other places that have things to do in them. We go camping right next to a lake that has a beach. The kids LOVE it. They play in the water all day. You don’t have to pay for entertainment once you get where you are going. Maybe a few bucks here and there, but nothing like other vacations.
Have you ever been on a cruise? My family loves them and when done right, you can do them for cheap! Here are some tips from a fellow veteran cruiser.
1. Book off season. Even if you go in say October, you will get a HUGE discount compared to summer time and it’s just as fun. Most ships have heated pools and don’t forget the hot tubs! Some cruise lines will be as much as half off during the off season.
2. Buy a coke card or BYOB (Bring your own beverages). If you are a big soda drinker, buy the soda card. Ours cost around $25 and it was for unlimited drinks. Without it, I am positive my husband would have blown all our vacation money on coke. NOT. EVEN. JOKING. Some cruise lines will allow you to bring on soda and bottles of water. Make sure to check before you take it.
3. EAT EAT EAT. Ok maybe this isn’t a money saving tip, but most every food item on the ship is free even room service. Live it up guys and eat!
4. Skip the alcohol. Seriously if you can abstain this is the time. This is where the cruise lines make their money. If you can skip it, you will save so much money. Even if you wait until you are at a port, you will save tons of money.
5. Skip the professional photos. My husband and I went on our first cruise for our honeymoon and didn’t buy any of the professional pictures. But then we went with my whole family a year later and watched my mom spend close to $500 in pictures! Don’t do that! Instead have a friend take a picture of you in front of their snazzy backdrops. Most cruise lines have no problem with you doing that.
6. Skip the internet. You are on vacation right? DISCONNECT!!! We needed to get on for 2 minutes to check something and it cost us $10! Skip it, you don’t need it right?
7. Do your own shore excursion. The ship will immediately bombard you with shore excursions and they aren’t cheap. However, you can always do research before you go and book your own with a local company. My husband and I found one that used to be part of the cruise line’s excursions, but they had gone their separate way. We paid half of what other people were for a similar experience and it was awesome. Remember you are in a foreign country most of the time so be careful and double check the companies you are going with.
I grew up watching movies where only “rich” people went skiiing and only in Aspen. Am I the only one? It wasn’t until I moved to the Northwest that I learned about ski bums and I knew all these college students that skipped class most days to go skiing or snowboarding definitely weren’t making the big bucks. Then it happened, I got addicted to snowboarding and I quickly figured out how to do it on a dime.
With it being the very height of ski season, here are some thrifty tips that I learned during my snowboard addiction.
1. Buy a season pass.
I would NOT recommend this to someone who has never been. If you are like my husband you may go once and decide you’d rather never step foot on a ski lift gain. However, if you know you plan on going a ton, this is the way to go! And the other secret is to buy it BEFORE the season begins. Most resorts will have a period where they sell them cheaper than normal pre-season. A lot of resorts do this post-season as well. This can easily save you a couple hundred dollars.
2. Buy your tickets at Costco.
A lot of resorts will strike a deal with Costco giving their lift tickets at a discount for club members. You usually have to buy 2-4 tickets, but if you have a group going this can easily save you $10-$20 dollars a ticket. Check with your local Costco to see if they have any lift tickets.
3. Bring your own food.
I’ve never been to a resort yet that didn’t allow outside food. Have you seen the cost of food inside the lodges? It’s usually pretty expensive. So bring your own and you are set. You can even leave a cooler in your car and when you’re ready for a break, head out there and enjoy a thrifty lunch.
4. Try night skiiing.
Our local ski resort has an awesome deal on night skiing or snowboarding. It’s actually half the price of an all day ticket. It’s perfectly lit up and they do a great job of keeping everyone safe.
5. Watch for discount days.
All of the resorts in our area have discount days. Usually they will do lift tickets 2 Fridays a season for just $10! There is usually some catch like you have to buy both days at once, but that is still a steal! Just plan on going twice.
6. Get your gear used.
Renting can get very expensive if you plan on doing a lot of snow sports. It’s best for you to own your own. However, buying used is a great option for saving money. Just watch for quality and have it inspected for safety. Always replace the bindings on both skis and snowboards for added safety.
What’s better than the happiest place on earth? How about a DVD to plan your trip there?
Just sign up here and they will send it to you. Even if you are planning for the future, this is a great grab. I have been dreaming of taking my now almost 3-year-old. We took him when he was 6 months old, but he didn’t seem to care. I think a DVD of this magnitude would get him excited!