I’m going to share with you some tips and tricks on How To Plan A Family Trip To Disneyland On a Budget. Disneyland Park is one of my most favorite places. It truly is a family’s most magical place.
This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through those links, I am paid a small amount in advertising fees. Thanks for your support!
A Family’s Most Magical Place
I’ve gone a couple times previously, once as a family when I was younger and once as a reward from the company I worked for. But let’s be honest, truth be told, it’s expensive! Unless you do a lot of planning.
Back in 2011, I had wanted to take our two younger children on a family vacation other than a road trip or camping. But didn’t quite know how since we were on a fixed income. For some reason or another Disneyland popped into my head. My husband thought I was crazy because we simply couldn’t afford it. It was out of our reach financially. Not that we were poor, just spending $5-6000 for a family vacation seemed ridiculous. As determined as I am, I was set on finding a way to do it.
How To Plan A Family Trip To Disneyland On A Budget
First, determine how many days your family wants to be on vacation. Then, DO YOUR RESEARCH! Plain and simple. The internet is an amazing tool and somewhere out there are others just like you and I, who share what they learn.You should have a pen and a notepad handy because you’re going to write everything you learn down and you can figure out what works for your family. My goal was to plan a Disneyland vacation without the financial stress. So with a little faith, determination, and discipline, I started thinking about ways to make it happen.
Choose your Hotel
My first step in planning was to choose a hotel. I wanted a hotel that we could have the comforts of home but still feel like we were on vacation. After numerous searches, I came across multiple sites where the family reviews on the Staybridge Suites in Anaheim was exceptional and affordable. So this was the hotel we chose. We’ve stayed there both times so far and will be doing so again in October 2018. I can’t say enough good things about staying there.
You can read more about my review on the Staybridge Suites.
Tickets On Discount
Disneyland tickets, whether you choose the park hopper tickets or just one park, are always going to stay the same. Every once in awhile you’ll find they advertise a special, which you can adjust accordingly if the deal is going on during your planned dates or see if Disney will add the discount once you book. If you are using a travel agent, like we did our first trip, they usually let you know if ticket prices drop during your dates. When you book a Disney vacation package, it’s a bundle deal. We booked in late 2011 for our New Year’s 2012/2013 New Year’s trip.
Travel Agent or Not
If going with a travel agent – Do your homework and make sure they are very reputable. You can lose a lot of money if you choose just anyone. Our first trip we used AAA because we were members and our second trip we used an authorized Disney travel agent in another state. There are pros and cons to each and this next trip, I feel comfortable enough with all the research and experience that we will be dealing straight with Disney saving us around $400.
Start Saving and Planning Financially
This here would be one entire post alone. So I plan on giving you a breakdown in future posts how we save and plan financially each month for our next trip.
Once you know your dates for your trip, and have booked your vacation, start saving. Some people think I’m crazy when I start talking about our trip a year and a half prior, but both of our previous trips we’ve basically paid nothing for except a little time. Our next trip isn’t until October 2018 and I just booked our trip at the beginning of the week. That gives our family roughly 15 months to start saving and planning financially.
Swagbucks To Disney
Part of my research for our first trip was figuring out where the money for our trip was going to come from. Sure I could take a little from each paycheck but that still wouldn’t be enough. I found a wonderful site called Couponing to Disney where you can find all sorts of ways to save on groceries, on your everyday shopping needs and learn how to coupon and even Swagbucks to Disney.
You Can Get Free Gift Cards For Shopping, Searching and Discovering What’s Online at Swagbucks.com
Swagbucks played a huge part in helping our family afford Disney.
I would use Swagbucks in place of Google to search the internet and every so often I would be rewarded for my searches with points. Points can range anywhere from 5 to 100 points. It doesn’t matter what you search for.
Shop for points
Redeem points in Gift Cards
Once I earned a certain number of points, I redeemed those points for gift cards. When I first began planning and earning points on Swagbucks, I would redeem them for a Target gift card then use my Target gift card to buy a Disney gift card. (Target has since changed their gift card buying policy, where you can no longer use your phone app to buy a gift card with a gift card. I’ve read that some have no issues in store however I haven’t tried.)
Swagbucks is not the only source I use to earn gift cards for our family’s Disney trip. In another post, I’ll share and give you a breakdown of the many different apps I use to buy groceries for our trip, Starbuck’s coffee, Applebee’s, Disney restaurants and more..
Because there are so many components to using Swagbucks and how we managed to plan and go twice already as a family since 2011 using Swagbucks, I will discuss everything Swagbucks in another post.
Disney Vacation Account (DVA)
Once you start claiming your points whether it’s for a Disney gift card or a e-virtual Mastercard or Visa card, then start depositing those funds into a Disney Vacation Account (DVA). A DVA has all tools to help you plan and save. For us, it was like a savings account that you basically can’t touch the funds unless you’re making a payment on the trip. And if you want, you can set it up to deposit a set amount based upon your budgeted goal each month.
Our Vacation Package Totals
Our first trip, in 2012/2013 I booked during New Year’s purchasing a 3-Day park hopper with 5 nights at Staybridge hotel.
2012/2013 Cost for 2 adults and 2 children = $2.042.90
Cost = free with Swagbucks
Our second trip which was this past April during Spring Break for a 3-Day park hopper and 6 nights hotel at Staybridge hotel.
2017 Cost for 3 adults (our niece came with us) and 2 children = $3,961.06
Cost = free with Swagbucks
Planning for Fall Break 2018
Our next trip- 3-Day park hopper w/Premium Character dining and 8 nights at Staybridge hotel.
2018 Cost for 3 adults (our son is bringing a friend) and 3 children (our daughter is bringing a friend) = $5,446.05
This trip will be planned a little different. We are going during Fall break and are planning a couple of days where we do Mickey’s Halloween night. These tickets require a separate purchase and since we want to do two Mickey Halloween nights, these will be two additional days at Disney. I have not included these tickets in the total cost above. They are to be purchased in July of next year when the dates for Mickey’s Halloween party 2018 are released. I can only estimate that those tickets will cost us around $105 each person for each night.
Join Us On Our Journey……
I hope you’ll follow along with us as I share how our family is able to go to Disneyland on a budget.
What has your family done to make Disney more affordable?
Join the newsletter
Subscribe to get my newest healthy recipes for families, eating healthy on a budget and more!