Plan an Affordable Weekend Trip to Disneyland


Dreaming of a weekend getaway to the Happiest Place on Earth and wondering if you can do it without spending a whole lot? Here are some helpful tips to make it happen:

  1. Research + Planning = The Most Bang for Your Buck
  • Packages: Booking a travel package with air, hotel and Park tickets can add up to big savings, so take some time to do some research. You can find package deals with Alaska Airlines, Costco, Travelocity and other sites. Compare your findings with offers listed at Disneyland.com before booking.
  • Off Peak: Visiting Disneyland during “off peak” times such as September, between Thanksgiving and Christmas and in January can help you save money. It’s also wise to avoid conventions when possible.
  • Fly Smart: Fly in early Friday morning and take a late flight home Sunday so you only need two nights of hotel accommodations. If you’ve been diligently collecting airline miles, consider cashing them in for a free flight to the Happiest Place on Earth!
  • Park Tickets: Disneyland Resort Park Hopper entry passes are definitely the way to go. They’ll save you money over one-day, one-park tickets and you’ll have the flexibility of visiting both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure every day of your stay. Park Hopper passes may be purchased with travel packages, online, at your hotel or at the Parks.
  1. Sleep on the Cheap

Nothing quite compares to a stay at one of Disneyland’s three resort hotels, however, there are many terrific and affordable “Good Neighbor Hotels” at the Disneyland Resort to choose from as well.

  • My top recommendation is the Candy Cane Inn. Not only is it a short walk or shuttle to the Parks, CCI also includes a deluxe continental breakfast for no additional cost.  Rates for weekends in early December are currently as low as $139 a night.
  • Another affordable favorite of mine is the Howard Johnson Anaheim. It’s just a hop, skip and a jump from the Parks, and has comfy rooms and family-friendly amenities. I recently found a rate of $129 per night for a weekend in early December.
  • Disneyland.com reveals lots of other Good Neighbor hotel options, one is sure to fit your budget. And remember, it’s always a good idea to check hotel reviews before you book so you can avoid “surprises” (I like TripAdvisor).
  1. Tips for Dining that Won’t Break the Bank
    • Go Continental: Book a hotel that offers continental breakfast with your room rate (see Candy Cane Inn above).
    • BYO Snacks: Make room in your suitcase and pack some granola bars and other easy-to-carry snacks. They’re great for kids, and also complement a grown-up’s fresh cup of hotel coffee to kick start to your morning. They also make for a great on-the-go or “waiting-in-line” snack while you’re in the Parks.
    • Enjoy Brunch and “Linner”: Instead of three full meals, plan a late-morning brunch and an afternoon linner. In Disneyland Park, I recommend brunching at Carnation Café on Main Street or Riverbelle Terrace overlooking the Rivers of America for reasonably-priced and filling fare. For linner, I recommend Downtown Disney District walk-up counters at Tortilla Joe’s (tasty, made-to-order tacos) and Napoli (pizza, pasta and salad) where you can grab a meal for under $15 per person.
    • Here’s even more tips on how to eat on the cheap at Disneyland
  2. Membership has its Privileges: If you’re a AAA member (or Disneyland Annual passholder), don’t forget to flash that card at your hotel, at restaurants and in shopping venues throughout the Disneyland Resort for discounts.
  3. Souvenir Savings: It’s easy to be enticed by the fantabulous array of Disney-themed merchandise sold throughout the Parks. However, some of the best Parks souvenirs are those that don’t cost much at all:
    • Stop by the Silhouette Studio on Main Street for a quick and totally personal souvenir for just $9; spring for the old-time frame ($9) so your portrait is ready to display when you get home.
    • Autograph books are an inexpensive and fun way for young Mouseketeers to interact with their favorite Disney characters.
    • Digital photos taken on your camera can’t be beat. Ask Disney Photopass Cast Members to take your photo with your camera, they’re happy to oblige!

Please share with us your best tips for saving money on a trip to Disneyland.

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About Megan Prine

Megan Prine has a reputation among her friends as a "Disneyland Nerd", earned thanks to her frequent trips from the soggiest place on Earth Seattle to the Happiest Place on Earth. She's been halfway around the world to Hong Kong Disneyland, but has yet to make it to Walt Disney World (go figure!). Megan (sounds like "vegan") is a fan of classic Disney movies, some of her favorites include The Parent Trap, Swiss Family Robinson, Babes in Toyland and the Silly Symphony "Skeleton Dance". Her mantra is that life is short, so we owe it to ourselves to make time for more fun and adventure than we think possible. Can also be seen on: Twitter as @meganprine, Meegie's Disneyland Tips, and Adventures With Barack, which follows the shenanigans of a certain presidential action figure.
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5 Responses to Plan an Affordable Weekend Trip to Disneyland

  1. Jann Gobble says:

    My suggestions?

    Use web-only booking codes when booking a Good Neighbor hotel. For instance, a current web-only rate for the Best Western Plus Stovall’s Inn (a renovated Best Western Plus hotel on the SE side of the park on Katella at Disneyland Drive) has many of their November/December rates below $100.00. My next trip (on Nov 11-13) has a rate of $96.00 including continental breakfast and an extremely large room with two queen size beds and a 32-40″ HDTV. These rates can most easily be found by booking through the parent web site at (for instance) http:///www.bestwestern.com/ and may not be found on portal sites such as Hotels.com.

    These rates sell out quickly but many managers open their availability back up throughout the season, so my next hint is this: Even though you have a reservation, shop around! Most hotels have a 1-3 day lee-time with regards to your reservation. This means that there is — many times, no fee involved should you change your mind and cancel the reservation. Thus you may book the hotel you find with the best rate as soon as you find it — and later change your mind because you shopped around, took your time and found a better rate. There is generally no issue canceling the first reservation (after you have made the second one, of course). This is hotel-specific, so be sure of the issues surrounding your reservation prior to taking this advice.

    Park Passes:
    If you intend on going more than one time (on more than one trip) per “rolling 365 days”, your best bet *may* be an “Annual Passport” instead of a “3-day pass”, for instance. A 3-day Park Hopper pass is $183 for a child 9 or under and $199 for anyone 10 or older. Compare that to a Deluxe Annual Passport at $379.00 for 315 days throughout the year (with certain blocked out days). A Premium pass is $499 for 365 days in the year with no blockout days. If you are planning more than one trip and stay 3 or more days then an Annual Passport may be best for you. Both “Passports” include discounts at eateries and some tours, etc. Look into them. For a larger family that tends to spend much of their money inside the resort at Dining establishments and shops the discount can be hefty and make up for the difference in price.

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  5. Kathryn-Claire says:

    Thank you so much for this post! As a college kid who also adores Disney, I am always looking for a way to get to the parks inexpensively. I had never heard of the Candy Cane Inn, but I will definitely check it out the next time I visit!

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