Disneyland on a dime: Making memories while saving money

With+careful+planning%2C+you+can+decrease+the+dent+in+your+wallet+and+increase+the+fun+you+have+on+your+next+trip+to+Disneyland.+

Javi Rosas

With careful planning, you can decrease the dent in your wallet and increase the fun you have on your next trip to Disneyland.

Javi Rosas, Reporter

As a thrill-seeking student, Disneyland isn’t only the happiest place on Earth but also one of the priciest. However, if you strategize in advance, you can get the most of your experience without breaking your wallet. Being prepared includes booking your experience ahead of time, searching for affordable hotels while staying in the vicinity and calculating what to bring to save money on food.

The first thing you want to do is pick a less eventful day to go to Disneyland. The tickets are broken into different price tiers, with Tier No. 1 costing $98 for ages 3 to 9 and $104 for adults. The highest, Tier No. 6, costs $155 for kids and $164 for adults. The tiers go up depending on whether major events are happening, such as the “Oogie Boogie Bash” during October or the holiday parades in November and December. Prices are also higher — and the park is more crowded — on weekends.

When purchasing your ticket you will also get the option to add Genie+. This service costs $25 per ticket but offers time-saving benefits. Some attractions can have up to 85-minute wait times, and if you want to fit the most into your visit, the lines can seriously hinder your progress.

With Genie+ you get to use the Lightning Lane to skip large portions of the line. This system replaces the FASTPASS tickets that were sold in booths in each of the parks. This can reduce the wait to 15 or 20 minutes. However, you can’t use the Lightning Lane more than once on the same ride, and you must make reservations at least one hour apart. These limitations prevent visitors from abusing the service and allow others to also enjoy the rides.

Another feature of Genie+ is that high-demand rides like “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance” and “Radiator Springs” can have an additional fee to use the Lightning Lane. Instead of tacking on the extra fees, ride these attractions during lunch time when the line is shorter.

When buying tickets, you have to choose between Disney’s two neighboring parks, California Adventure and Disneyland or purchase a Park Hopper pass that lets you visit both but costs an extra $65. You also have to purchase a parking pass if you bring your own car and that can cost $30 per car.

Each park offers a different experience. California Adventure has more attractions catered toward adults and based on newer Disney storylines from Marvel and Pixar. The park is smaller than Disneyland, which can allow you to get the most out of your day.

Disneyland holds more of the nostalgic rides, such as “Dumbo’s Flight,” “Thunder Mountain” and “Indiana Jones,” and these tend to have long wait times. It also has more areas to explore, a wider food selection and a greater variety of shops. It also offers the immersive “Star Wars” area that features the build-your-own-lightsaber experience.

Food at Disneyland can get pricey, so consider preparing options ahead of time. You are allowed to bring your own water and food. Another way to save money is to bring your own sandwiches as they are easy to make. If you stay at a motel that has a complimentary breakfast, you can save on an additional meal.

While you may opt to spend more on your ticket to cover more ground in a shorter time, you can make up for it by cutting your lodging budget. While there are several hotels and motels nearby, they can get expensive, unless you bring friends and split the cost. The closer you stay to the resort, the more expensive the lodging. Make sure to plan ahead to see the better deals. Or take your chances on a travel website and either bid for a hotel or look for last-minute hotel deals on sites such as lastminute.com or Trivago.

Hopefully, this advice can help you save money while making memories in the land of the mouse, particularly now that COVID-19 restrictions are a thing of the past.