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Disneyland Travel Deals:

Ways to Save on Your Disneyland Vacation

By Marianne Schwab | Best Travel Deals Tips Blog

I take my niece and nephew to Disneyland every year. Even though I live in the San Fernando Valley that is a mere 45 minute drive to Disneyland when there's no traffic, we will spend a night or two in Anaheim, California so we can maximize our time at the park. It's also easier on the kids than braving the 90-minute to three-hour commute during the week on packed California freeways. These Disneyland travel deals and ways to save on your Disneyland vacations I'm sharing with you are my personal tips based on my experience of making numerous visits to the Disney Parks in California.

Using all the tips and tricks I'm sharing, we saved over $500 for a family of three - one adult and two kids on a recent three day trip.

How to Save on Hotels Near Disneyland

The way to truly save on hotels near Disneyland and get the best rates is to avoid visiting on days when the kids are out of school during peak seasons like the summer, holiday breaks, or spring breaks. Also, avoid going when popular conventions, like NAMM, are in Anaheim (in January) as you'll pay top dollar for the hotel and you'll be lucky to find a room at at any inn near the park. Visiting Disneyland during the off season is a great money saving tip especially if you home school your kids and have that flexibility.

For great values, I recommend booking an all suite hotel like the Hampton Inns or Embassy Suites located just one mile down the road from Disneyland. For a family of three or more, it's nice to have the added space and kids can go to bed early if adults want to stay up a little later. They also include a free breakfast that will save a bundle on food (I'll do the math later on that one.)

The Hampton Inn and Embassy Suites hotel are located next door to each other on Harbor Boulevard and have an inexpensive shuttle that will save a bundle on Disneyland parking and headaches getting into the park. The shuttle runs every 20 minutes throughout the day.

Now there are lots of hotels located near Disneyland on Harbor Boulevard ranging from budget to four-star. My brother has stayed at both of the Best Western motels when he's been in town for NAMM (National Association of Music Marketers) right across the street from Disneyland and the rooms are clean and nice and you can't beat the convenient location. I just prefer the all suite hotels that are not that much more and have lots of extras that actually add up to savings.

How to Get a Free Shutte to Disneyland

Now, I haven't tried this while staying at the hotels in Anaheim, California, but you may want to try it since you can save on shuttle service costs and the hassle of packed hotel shuttles. Not too far from the Embassy Suites and Hampton Inn location is the new Toy Story parking lot on the other side of Harbor Boulevard. They have a FREE shuttle service (you have to pay for the one at the hotel), but you'll have to walk to the Toy Story lot from your hotel. Do not jay walk, but only cross Harbour Boulevard at intersections with pedestrian walk ways. I parked at the Toy Story parking lot recently when I went to Disneyland for the day and it was a real time saver and extremely pleasant experience.

You can also stay at hotels that are a short walking distance to Disneyland which is very convenient. We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express on our last visit to Disneyland and it was just a seven-minute walk to the front gate of the park.

Ways to Save on Your Food Budget

The all suite hotel rates are comparable to other hotels but the price includes a hot breakfast for the entire family (which can easily cost between $10-$20 per person on vacation each and every day) and the rooms have full kitchens. There are grocery stores nearby where you can pick up food for snacks in the park as well as bottled water.

We always pack healthy snacks and a lunch that won't spoil so that if we spend a full day at the park, we're only purchasing maybe one full meal and a snack. When it's typical to spend $10-$15 per person or more on each meal at the park, you can see how packing your own food can save at least $60 or more a day in food alone.

You can't bring coolers into the park (and technically you're not supposed to bring outside food unless you have dietary restrictions), but you can easily pack food in backpacks and if you're discreet, there doesn't seem to be any issue. We all carry backpacks so this helped a lot.

How to Get Discounts on Theme Park Admission

Check with your hotel to purchase your tix for Disneyland and California Adventure. They often have discounts only available at the hotel. If you're a Southern California resident, you may be eligible for other discounts, so check on the Disneyland website for any special promotions.

Grocery stores, like Ralph's, here in Southern California often sell discounted passes too. Last year, we got three days (two Disneyland, one California Adventure) for $109 per person for all three days when it's generally around $75-80 per person per day. We saved over 50% for a total of $348 between the three of us!

Finally, you can save a lot of money by purchasing two-day or three-day passes, but unless you're visiting in the off-season, don't pay extra for park hopper privileges. You'll have enough to do in one park for the day and it's an added savings.

Free Coffee Refills at Disneyland

At the Market House on Main Street in Disneyland you can get free coffee refills when you return to the store counter register all day with a same day receipt showing your previous coffee purchase. You don't even have to bring back your disposable cup to get the refill, just show your receipt for that day's coffee purchase and you will get a fresh cup with your coffee refill. Woo hoo!

A Word About Crowd Control

Here's a tip if you home school -- avoid going to Disneyland when "school's out for the summer." Take the kids to the park on a day when regular school is still in session as the park is far less crowded. If you have to go during peak season, get to the park gates when the park opens. Take the train to the back of the park and go from there. You'll avoid the crowds longer.

If you want to find out how crowded the park will be on the on the days you want to visit, check IsItPacked.com that predicts when the park will be packed or when it will be empty. Disneyland is always a more enjoyable experience for me when it's not so packed.

Disneyland travel deals are great but understand that even when you use my tips on ways to save at Disneyland, it's an expensive vacation for most family budgets. I do love feeling like a kid again every time I visit and here are my five favorite rides at Disneyland. I'm sure they're on your list too.

There are some great tips at MouseSavers.com. This is a website that specializes on ways to cut costs for out of towners.

More Ways to Save on California Vacations

To save up to 55% on other Los Angeles area attractions, check out the Go Los Angeles Card. If you have time while visiting Southern California, San Diego is only about 90 minutes south of Disneyland and the Go San Diego Card will save you a bundle on admissions to Legoland, SeaWorld, San Diego Zoo and more.

You know, your vacation can take over a year to save up for and only a second to ruin. Before you go, you may want to purchase travel insurance through Travel Guard. Starting at $30.

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About Marianne Schwab
TV Travel Show Producer

For over twenty years, TV Travel Show Producer, Marianne Schwab, has been collecting money saving travel tips as a travel producer for high profile television programs. She has flown all over the world and produced live television productions on location from Caesar's Palace on the Vegas Strip to the beautiful island of Oahu. Read more