Visiting Disneyland is always a great experience: channel your inner child and ride the Matterhorn like you were eleven again. And in November through early January each year, the park takes on a special feel and becomes truly a magical place to spend the holidays.
But unless you are prepared to put a second on your house (or take a loan from your parents), Disneyland during the holidays can be an expensive vacation. Keep these tips in mind when planning your dream trip:
Dishing out the latest Disney deals since 2001, Mousesavers.com is one of the best places to start your Disneyland trip planning, with frequently updated information and travel highlights.
Want to know the best way to save money and eat well at the park? Mousesavers suggests the counter-service and cafeteria-style restaurants. How about what to wear on your feet that will keep you comfortable as you walk around the 85 acres that make up the public part of Disneyland ? Coolmax socks!
Mousesavers also gives great recommendations about finding inexpensive hotel rooms, specials on park passes and guides for moving through the park expeditiously to maximize your trip.
Heading to Disney World instead? Learn how to travel to Disney World on a budget.
FastPass and RideMax
One FREE tool at the park, which is often overlooked, is the FastPass system that allows guests to make a future “reservation” for a particular (often very busy) ride. For example – the Indiana Jones Adventure in Adventureland is a very popular ride. On busy days, the wait can be over 2 hours. So, stop by Indiana Jones and swipe your ticket for a FastPass ticket. Go off and do something else (Pirates of the Carribean, Jungle Cruise, even Tarzan’s Treehouse). Return to Indiana Jones Adventure at the time your ticket indicates and by-pass the regular line for the special FastPass line. Brilliant!
If you are really anxious to maximize your vacation, check out RideMax, a planning software designed to create custom itineraries for exploring Disneyland. Using tons of collected data about wait time and crowd levels, RideMax creates a special park plan just for you, with your favorite rides. This software is especially useful during the holidays when the attendance at the park spikes and holiday expectations run high. A 90-day subscription is $14.95, most definitely worth the money during a busy time at Disneyland.
Capturing memories of your big trip is fun – bring a camera and collect pictures with different characters as you move through the park. The daily schedule will list when the characters are in residence, so you can plan to meet them all. Buy an inexpensive autograph book when you enter the park, and collect signatures along with your photos.
Disneyland, California Adventure, and Downtown Disney have over 100 places to collect pressed pennies, one of the most inexpensive souvenirs at the park — unless you go crazy and insist on collecting them all. Bring along a bag of pre-1982 pennies, which contain more copper and thus look better when pressed. And stop in at the Guest Services Desk to pick up the Pressed Penny Map of the parks and shopping area.
If you are traveling with young children, another inexpensive souvenir is a custom silhouette at the Disneyland Silhouette Studio on Main Street. At about $10 each, the silhouette captures a moment in time and makes an ideal grandparent gift. Also a nice way to commemorate a first anniversary or engagement!
Sweatshirts and t-shirts are also common souvenirs, but if you want to save money, consider purchasing them offsite at the Disney Store in Downtown Disney, or for even better prices, at the Disney Outlet Store. With up to 65% off all kinds of Disney memorabilia, the outlet store is the place to stop before or after your big Disney vacation.
Special Holiday Attractions
Disneyland gets itself all gussied up for the holidays and brings out several special attractions and entertainment options just for the season. Don’t miss the “It’s a small world” holiday decorations and lighting; the Christmas Fantasy Parade with Santa; and the special “Believe… in Holiday Magic” Fireworks Show. And on Main Street, right as you walk in the park, is a ginormous Christmas tree with over 70,000 lights and 2,000 ornaments!
Be on board. If you go to Disneyland, do so with a skip in your step, prepared to meet all the fun characters and experience the excitement of “the happiest place on earth.” Better yet, go during the holidays, when the entire park is lit up in joyful splendor and the experience is just that much more!