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My husband totally surprised us by planning a quick 2-day trip to Disneyland. I mean, he seriously planned the entire thing BY HIMSELF and kept it a secret. I was shocked!! Not only was I shocked he planned the trip without me knowing, but he also made the trip as cheap as possible. That’s the way to win me over, Disney trips on the cheap.
I’m even impressed that he shopped around for the best deal on lodging and tickets. He’s been listening to me when I’ve mentioned that Get Away Today is one of my favorite places to book our Disney vacations because the savings is so great. Here is a peek at our 2-day trip and some Disney tips and money saving ideas along the way.
Our 3 oldest are off at college or on missions for church so it was only 4 of us this time. Wow! What a difference it is traveling with a family of 4 instead a family of 7. Our vacation was cheaper than normal from the get go since we were traveling with less people.
How we got there: We are fortunate to live in an area that has occasionally has inexpensive flights to Disneyland. The best deal we ever scored was our $62 round-trip flights on Jet Blue. This trip we flew via Alaska Airlines into LAX (we much prefer flying into LGB or SNA). My husband used our frequent flyer miles to score reward tickets for only 7500 points for one leg of the trip. That was an amazing deal! The flight for all four of us was made with airline miles so there was no money out of pocket.
When we went: We took this trip during our schools mid-winter break in February. We usually always avoid the weekends at Disneyland and we did so this time too. The crowds were a little heavy, but a busy day at Disneyland is still better than no day at Disneyland (I’m pretty sure Christmas & New Year’s are the exception to this rule, I still haven’t ventured to Disneyland on either one of these days and I don’t plan to in the future).
Where we stayed: We love staying within walking distance and since this was a short trip where we needed to maximize our park time it made the most sense to stay at a hotel within walking distance again. We stayed at the Grand Legacy at the Park (this is our 4th stay at this hotel). It is a super easy walk! I highly recommend checking the price of the hotel directly from their website and checking for any discount codes and them comparing it to the prices from Get Away Today. Keep in mind that the prices at Get Away Today include your park tickets so you will need to factor the cost of tickets in to the hotel to see the total savings.
Park Tickets: Since we had only 2 days in the parks, he opted to save money by just getting 2-day tickets with admission to one park per day instead of Park Hoppers. This made the most sense because it gave us one day at each of the parks. By choosing these tickets he saved us $180. Keep in mind if you are unsure if you will want Park Hoppers, you can buy one-day tickets and upgrade them to Park Hoppers while at the parks.
Souvenirs & Spending Money: I have mentioned before that we love buying Disney souvenirs. My husband usually has an annual pass that saves us 20% on merchandise. His pass expired recently and since we don’t have another trip planned for at least 10 months we figured it was best to hold off on updating the annual pass until our next trip. Since we often visit the Disney Parks once as a family and usually twice as a couple (due to business trips that take us to California anyway) we decided to get just one of us an Annual Pass on several occasions because in the long run it saved us money with the free parking and dining, merchandise and hotel discounts.
I do have a Disney Visa that allows me to save 10% on purchase of $50 or more at all the shops within Disneyland area. Right now there is an offer for a $200 Disney gift card when you are approved for a Disney Visa and spend $500 within the first 3 months of opening the card. You will earn 1% on all purchases as Disney Rewards that you can spend at Disney Theme Parks and more.
I had more than enough Disney Rewards to cover all our food, snacks and souvenirs. I signed up for the same offer several years ago. I figured the $200 gift card would be a great way to save money on our trip.
Food: The food has become one of my favorite things about a Disney vacation. Here is where we ate and what we snacked on this time around. I’ve mentioned it before, and I will say it again, it is totally worth planning where you want to eat ahead of time, it saves so much time and this way you get to make sure that everyone gets to eat at their favorite places at least sometime during the trip. It could just be our family that struggles with the “I don’t know where I want to eat, where do you want to eat” when on vacation, so I solved that problem with the planning. I am a HUGE fan of sharing meals too. It’s a great way to not over eat, save room for snacks and save money. We also tend to just order ice water with our meals, since it’s free, it’s another great way to save money and you better for you too.
Panera Bread – We ate breakfast here both mornings before entering the park. They open at 6 am so it’s easy to eat before the parks even open. I love that this is so close to the parks now!! The Panera Bread is located near McDonalds in the parking lot of the Marriott Fairfield Inn. You can even use their app to place your order ahead of time and pick it up.
Cafe Orleans – My daughter and I shared a Monte Cristo (it’s a must do for us) and my husband tried the “Crescent City” Salad with Blackened Chicken for the first time and he said it was one of the best meals he’s ever had there. We have a son that is picky when it comes to food, so instead of paying the high prices for something we knew he wouldn’t eat here, I packed a bagel and a few other lunch items for him.
Rancho del Zocalo – We had dinner here on our day at Disneyland. It has been awhile since we’ve eaten here and I forgot how much we loved it.
Flo’s V8 Cafe – We ate dinner here while we were at California Adventure, we pretty much make sure to eat here on every trip. It’s one of our faves! I recommend breakfast, lunch or dinner here.
Snacks – Our snacks consisted of Dole Whip, Churros, Hand Dipped Ice cream bars and believe it or not corn on the cob (my picky child loves the corn on the cob). If you haven’t yet tried the Hand Dipped Ice Cream bars from Clarabelle’s in California Adventure they are a must! This time I tried the Raspberry Sorbet dipped in milk chocolate and covered with Blue Raspberry Bursts (essentially Pop Rocks). It was yummy!
FastPasses: With only 2 days in the parks we made sure to take advantage of the FASTPASS system. Here is a tip for you! Check out the message we had on our Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters FASTPASS . This ride is occasionally not connected to the entire FASTPASS system so it allows you to have this FASTPASS and another one at the same time. If we weren’t paying attention to the time to get a new FASTPASS we would have totally missed the message. We ran over and got us another FASTPASS for Hyperspace Mountain.
Things we Did – No matter how many times we visit Disneyland, there is always something new to experience. I actually rode the Mad Tea Party for the first time ever (I had to make sure there was no spinning allowed)! We all saw the new Frozen – Live at the Hyperion and got to ride Soarin’ Around the World together for the first time as a family. The Main Street Electrical parade was back at Disneyland and our kids hadn’t seen it before. This is the same parade my husband and I saw on our honeymoon at Disney World 25 years ago.
We also like to visit the Animation Academy in Hollywood Land and try to draw a different character each time. They now have a schedule posted so you can see who they will be drawing at each time during the day. Head there at the beginning of the day so you can make sure to get the character you want.
Disneyland is one of our favorite vacation destinations, if you have a trip planned this year make sure you check out our other Disney posts:
- Tips for One Day at Disneyland
- Saving Money when Dining at Disneyland
- Great Way to Save on Official Disney Parks Souvenirs (Disney World)
- 10 of the Best Places to eat Lunch at Disneyland
- 10 of the Best Places to eat Breakfast at Disneyland
- Mickey Tic Tac Toe in a Bag
- 7 Reasons I Prefer Disneyland over Disney World
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