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How to Save Money at Disneyland During the Holidays

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Disneyland during the holidays is merry indeed. Make your Christmastime visit even merrier by saving some dough during your Disney getaway. Before you pack up the sleigh and head to the Happiest Place on Earth, check out these eight Disneyland holiday season money-saving tips.

Christmas tree at Disney California Adventure Park at Disneyland during the holidays
Christmas tree at Disney California Adventure Park (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer, Disneyland Resort)

1. Plan ahead.

The holiday season is a popular time to visit, so booking your vacation as early as possible is best. Although last-minute specials occasionally come up, you usually get the best deal when you plan your vacation in advance.

To maximize your savings, visiting during the least expensive portions season is best. This might mean foregoing seeing Mickey on Christmas Day. Opt instead for the first couple of weeks of December or the first week of January. Not only will this save you money, but also you will see fewer crowds during these times.

The easiest way to save money on planning a Disneyland vacation is to book your vacation with Get Away Today. With their Layaway Lock-in Plan, all you need to do is put $125 down at the time of booking.

You can make as many payments as you want, whenever you want, up until two weeks before your vacation. This will help you whether you want to book a vacation for this December or wait to experience Disneyland during the holidays next year.

Even Tow Mater is decked out for the Disneyland holiday season
Even Tow Mater is decked out for the Disneyland holiday season (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer, Disneyland Resort)

2. Buy Disney gear before you go.

Kids love buying trinkets during vacations. However, souvenirs in the parks are sold at a premium and the cost can add up quickly. Buy less expensive Disney gear like t-shirts, stuffed animals, and toys in advance from Amazon. You can find all sorts of Christmas-themed Disney apparel and gear, so you can enjoy Disneyland during the holidays in style. 

Then, you can use the money saved to splurge on special dining experiences like Character Dining or a fancy holiday meal.

Special parades and concerts are included at no additional charge at Disneyland during the holidays
Special parades and concerts are included at no additional charge at Disneyland during the holidays (Photo credit: Scott Brinegar, Disneyland Resort)

3. Find freebies and affordable souvenirs at Disneyland.

While you’re at Disneyland, be sure to take advantage of all the free stuff Disney has to offer. You can get complimentary pins inside City Hall on Main Street U.S.A to celebrate a special occasion like a first visit, birthday or anniversary. Over in Adventureland, ask your skipper for a free Jungle Cruise Map.

Character autographs are another fabulous and free Disneyland holiday season souvenir. Bring along a Disney autograph book and pen to collect signatures.

Meanwhile, smashed pennies make an affordable and fun way to celebrate the Disneyland holiday season. Buy a pressed penny souvenir holder in advance to get kids psyched about finding coin-pressing machines throughout the parks.

Santa at Disneyland during the holidays
Kids can collect autographs at Disneyland during the holidays from Disney characters and even Santa himself (Photo credit: Scott Brinegar, Disneyland)

4. Save money on your hotel stay.

Sometimes, the hotel stay can be the most expensive part of your vacation, but it doesn’t have to be. You can find hotels near Disneyland that offer a third, fourth, or fifth night for free. This will not only allow you to stay and play an extra day at Disneyland, but also it will save you money that you can spend at the parks.

Additionally, some hotels include free parking, free breakfast or complimentary shuttle service. Make sure to do your research to see which hotels give you the best return on your investment.

You can also save money when you bundle your hotel with park tickets, even Disneyland Resort hotels! If you’ve got your heart set on staying at a Disney property, the most affordable choice is typically the Paradise Pier Hotel.

Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel tends to be the most affordable of the three Disney Resort hotels during Disneyland holiday season
Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel tends to be the most affordable of the three Disney Resort hotels (Photo credit: Disneyland)

5. Bring your own food.

While Disneyland has some of the best sweet and savory foods around, eating in the park can be expensive. Luckily, you are allowed to bring in your own snacks and beverages.

Even though you can’t haul in a feast in a cooler, you can toss some granola bars, fruits, sealed bottled waters, and even some PB&J’s in your backpack. Then, you can use the extra cash you’ve saved to indulge in some of Disney’s famous holiday treats, like holiday cookies or their hand-made candy canes.

Save room in your budget for a holiday treat or two during Disneyland holiday season
Save room in your budget for a holiday treat or two (Photo credit: Disneyland)

6. Cap spending with a Disney or Visa gift card.

It’s easy to get so caught up in the magic of Disneyland, that you end up spending more than you originally planned. If you purchase a Disney gift card or a Visa gift card beforehand, though, you won’t go over your budget.

What’s great about gift cards is that you can choose the amount you’re comfortable spending, so you won’t have any unwanted surprises on your credit card when you get home. Disney gift cards make awesome stocking stuffers, too!

Using gift cards with a set limit can help curb spending during the Disneyland holiday season
Using gift cards with a set limit can help curb spending at Disneyland (Photo from ShopDisney.com)

7. Give a Disney vacation in lieu of a mountain of gifts.

While presents and stockings are always a glorious sight to see on Christmas morning, it can be stressful knowing what each person wants year after year. And, if your kids are like mine, they lose interest in their brand-new toys from Santa before the New Year. Instead, give the gift of a Disneyland vacation. You will create memories with your loved ones that will last a lifetime.

To add to the fun, wrap up a few Disney gifts to put under the tree and tie an invitation to Disneyland around a Disney character plush toy. Just imagine the look of surprise when that present is opened!

Get Away Today Disneyland Discounts

8. Get the best price when booking your Disneyland vacation.

You want to be sure you are getting the very best price when you book your Disneyland vacation, right? That’s why I recommend booking with Get Away Today.

They offer the best deals on discount Disneyland tickets as well as hotel deals. Even if you find a better deal elsewhere, they will not only match the price, but also they’ll beat it. Use promocode TravelMamas to get an additional $10 off your vacation package!

How to save money at Disneyland during the holidays
how to save money at disneyland during the holidays

Have you ever visited Disneyland during the holidays? Let us know your questions or comments below!

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin, MBA, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular travel blog, TravelMamas.com. She is an expert in travel with kids and without. As the author of the book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents how to make the most of traveling with babies and children. Colleen loves sharing tips on hotels, cruises, spas, theme parks, and global lifestyle topics. When she is not traveling the world, she lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments
  1. These money saving tips are awesome. Planning ahead is always helpful whether it’s a trip to Disneyland or any other vacation.

  2. I have always wanted to visit Disney during the holidays! These are some awesome tips that I will be putting to use for our trip in the spring!

  3. Toni | Boulder Locavore says

    These are really great tips! I love money saving tips, especially during holidays! Thanks for sharing these!

  4. I would love to take the kids to Disney during the holidays. We always say we are going to do it but we never do budget during the holidays.

  5. I need to keep all of this in mind when I head there with my daughter. We could easily go over budget if we’re not careful.

  6. I would love to take my girls to Disneyland this time of year. I bet it’s so magical. We have never even gone before. Hopefully some day that will happen.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      I hope that will happen for you too! Everyone should get to see the magic of Disneyland during the holidays!

  7. I would love to take the kids to Disneyland during Christmas season! Disney is already so magical. It would just be over the top amazing to visit during Christmas season.

  8. These are great tips for saving money at Disney World. I especially love the buying your gear beforehand!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Yes! I’ve already purchased my Disney gear from Amazon in advance for our New Year’s visit! 🙂

  9. Claudia Krusch says

    Disneyland during the holidays would be so amazing. I will have to see if we would be able to do it next year. I am always looking for ways to save while on a trip.

  10. These are great ways to save money at Disneyland during the holidays. I love going to Disneyland at Christmastime, it’s such a fun time to go when it’s all decked out for the holidays.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Agreed! Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are so pretty when dressed up for the holidays!

  11. Disneyland is so magical during the holidays. These are great tips on how to save money.

  12. Great tips. My family is most definitely a Disney family. We will be going next month.

  13. Melissa Chapman says

    I love these tips, I am not planning a Disney trip this season but I will keep this post as a reference if we do go. It is better to buy souvenirs and food off site is a great tip.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Yes, I am buying some Disney items from Amazon right now for our New Year’s Eve Disney trip. Can’t wait!

  14. We are hoping to bring our kiddos to Disneyland next year and these pointers will help so much. I am planning on bringing in my own food and water and just have a good day riding the rides.

  15. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says

    Thanks so much for these tips! I love Disney, but let’s be honest, it can be expensive! I am so bookmarking this.

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