facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast phone blog search brokercheck brokercheck Play Pause
%POST_TITLE% Thumbnail

The Financials of Going to Disneyland — and Five Tips

I’ve lived my entire life about an hour from Disneyland, but I remember only going twice growing up. It just wasn’t something my family wanted to spend the money on, and by the time I was a little older, I had no interest in going myself. When I had kids, I figured we’d take them a couple of times and that would be that. But seeing the look in my kids’ eyes the first time we went as a family and how much we enjoyed it, I started thinking about going more often. And then Covid happened …

Right before Covid, our family had just gone to Disneyland. As we were quarantining, I thought a fun way to pass the time would be to watch YouTube videos of all the rides. Then the algorithm started showing me videos about the best foods to eat, the best strategies/times to go on rides, and where all the hidden Mickeys are around the park. My wife lovingly says that during Covid I became a full-on Disneyland nerd (Dis-nerd for short). 

Once Covid restrictions were lifted, I wanted to treat the family to a big Disney trip, stay at the Grand Californian Hotel, and go all out. Needless to say, Disneyland can do a number on your wallet (my brother likes to call it “The Mouse Trap”). 

However, the pull of the park is too much for me now. I have gone 4 to 5 times a year for the past few years and figured I’d pass along a few tidbits I’ve learned as I’ve become a more seasoned Disneyland goer.  

1. Staying at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels does have its perks.

While it’s expensive to do so, staying at one of the three Disneyland hotels can be beneficial if you are trying to hit lots of rides. First, each hotel has easier access to the parks (compared to parking in the parking lots), you can get into the parks 30 minutes early, and ride some of the rides (we always hit the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland first because the wait tends to be around 40 minutes for it no matter what time of day it is). Also, if you get tired during the day, it’s easy to head back to the hotel for a nap – especially with little ones. But there are also plenty of more reasonably priced hotels right down the street from the park entrance if that doesn’t fit into your budget.

2. Rope Drop!

The first two hours of park time are the best for hitting as many rides as possible. Typically, the parking lots open at 7 a.m., the gates to the park open at 7:15 a.m., and then you wait at a series of ropes until 8 a.m. for the park to completely open. That’s why 8 a.m. is called Rope Drop. If your goal is to go on rides, then you must get there early to take advantage of smaller crowds.

3. The Weekends are the new Weekdays.

It used to be that going to Disneyland Monday through Thursday was the best day to go and avoid crowds. That is no longer the case. Disney has moved to a variable pricing structure, making Friday through Sunday the most expensive days to go and Monday through Thursday the least expensive. This means that crowds are larger during the week than on the weekends. So, you can go during the week if your budget can’t handle the higher weekend costs, but just know that you’ll typically be dealing with larger crowds.

4. The Food is Really Good!

I just went in early August and my mom, Pam, joined our family for one of the days. As we sat down for lunch, she was talking about how the food used to be so terrible back in the 90s. Well, let me tell you, things have changed. Today, there is so much good food all around the parks and it seems like it gets better and better every time we go. There are still some restaurants that are clunkers, but overall, it’s easy to find a tasty meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our favorite time to go is usually during the Christmas season. The California Adventure Park has the Festival of Holidays where new pop-up food stands are dispersed throughout the park offering delicious treats.

5. Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on Yourself

One thing we have learned – especially going with kids – is that going to the parks can be stressful. That stress comes from feeling like you must maximize everything because you have spent so much time, money, and energy just to get there. The best thing you can do is just enjoy your day. Make time to relax, people-watch, and see what’s going on around you. There is always something happening in the parks like meeting a character, going on your favorite rides (mine are Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Thunder Mountain), or just sneaking in a delicious treat (try the Churro Toffee … so good).  

If you want to dive deeper into some more Disneyland content on YouTube as I have, I recommend searching for Fresh Baked or Provost Park Pass for great family-friendly videos about the parks. Or if you have any upcoming trips planned and want some more pointers, give me a call. I’d love to help.

~ Steve Gormley