Money Saving and Stress Reducing Tips for Visiting Disneyland


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I can’t believe it’s been a week since we spent a holiday in Disneyland to celebrate our daughter Ilse’s birthday. We planned for months, as we knew that Ilse would have a better memory of this third birthday trip versus her first birthday trip. Ilse had a blast meeting her favorite characters and eating new foods despite the occasional meltdown. If you’re thinking of traveling to Disneyland & Disney California Adventure park this summer, I’ve got a few fabulous tips to share that will save you money and reduce stress.

Anaheim Packing House

On our first night in Anaheim, we couldn’t decide what to eat for dinner. Did we want a chain restaurant or something more local and low-key? Local won out, and this place did not disappoint with restaurant options for everyone. This communal space features over ten restaurants and dessert spots with indoor and outdoor seating. There’s parking nearby in a small lot and limited street parking. Prices rival anything one might find in our Ferry Building. The best part was the indoor bench swings!

Character Dining

Taking a photo with a favorite Disney character can be stressful. The lines are always long. Children and parents alike become cranky after waiting for what seems like an eternity, only to be told that their character is no longer taking photos. To alleviate the stress, I recommend doing one of the character breakfasts. Since it was Ilse’s birthday, we did two of them. We ate hearty breakfast fare both times (Mickey-shaped Belgian waffles, anyone?), and Ilse was able to greet and take photos with Disney characters. No waiting in line. No cranky parents or children. The characters visited each and every table a few times during their meal. The gleeful smile on Ilse’s face and the dozens of photos (and videos) we took were worth every penny. I would do one again the next time we come.

tips for visiting disneyland

Bring your own food to Disneyland

Like major league baseball parks, families can now bring their own food and beverages into the theme parks. Bring your own water, snacks, sandwiches, and even soft drinks into the park. Of course, some restrictions apply. Save your money for that turkey leg and churros you’ve been craving or my personal favorite, a Dole Whip. We stocked up on goods at the local Target (there are two in Anaheim), so we could have them handy at the parks. Nothing like a cold lime La Croix to refresh after hours of walking!

Travel Essentials

As a family of three, we have traveled with Ilse on a plane on six different occasions. My top three travel faves are our lightweight Summer 3Dlite stroller,  staying in an all-suite hotel, and a Skip Hop water bottle.

Our stroller has traveled with us on all of our trips. It’s lightweight, collapses easily for the TSA scan and gate check, and easily reclines when Ilse needs a nap. Tip: purchase your stroller in a bright color. Ours is a discontinued orange. Black is chic, but easily gets lost among ALL the other black strollers at a stroller parking area.

Second, I love all-suites hotels. I am partial to my company’s brands because they feature complimentary breakfast (additional savings) and refrigerators, sinks, and sometimes a stove top or microwave in the guestroom. The rooms are also bigger. Go with the brand of hotels that you like and search for those features. For days when we did not have a breakfast planned, the hotel’s breakfast worked out fine. We use the refrigerator for milk, alcoholic beverages for us, and perishable snacks like fruit and yogurt.

Lastly, besides being adorable, we love the Skip Hop water bottles. They conveniently fit in the cup holder of her stroller and are easy to clean. We currently have two – one for preschool and one for home. Replacement straws are easily purchased on Amazon.

Check Out Orange County Moms Blog

Ready to learn even more about visiting Disneyland and the surrounding area? Visit our sister site Orange County Moms Blog for the local scoop.

And we’d love to hear about your favorite travel finds and faves. Share them with us in the comments below!



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