Budget Vacations: Budgeting Your Trip to…Disneyland

Coke or Pepsi? Burger King or McDonald’s? Walt Disney World or Disneyland?

What do these comparisons have in common? Everyone has their preferences. With the case of the Disney parks one groups swears to the Florida-based Magic Kingdom while the other won’t travel anywhere else than the Anaheim location. Unfortunately, those who stick with the humongous scope of the Orlando version are missing out on a wonder of amusement imagination.

Disneyland opened up in 1955 and, save for a few years at the beginning of the 21st century, has continued to improve over the decades. Now close to celebrating its 60th anniversary, both Disneyland and its sibling Disney California Adventure Park are preparing for a fantastic celebration. You and your friends or family can be a part of this with a bit of financial fortitude and budgeting.

Why? Well, admission to the park no longer costs $1 like it did at its opening. In fact, a trip which includes transportation, lodging, tickets and dining can run well over $1,000. Here are a few things to consider should you want to visit Disneyland in the near future.

Purchasing a package

Groups of five or less may be able to save some money on their trip by purchasing one of the many packages Disneyland or places like AAA offer to travelers. These packages normally combine transportation, tickets and accommodations for a lower priced trip. There are also Disney-offered packages that include free meals within the park or Downtown Disney as well as other extras. Consider these carefully before making a choice.

Getting there

Should a vacation package not be in the cards, you’ll want to start your planning with how to get to the Southern California amusement park. Those within the U.S. could drive; however, this can be costly with fuel, accommodation and dining payouts, not to mention wear and tear on the vehicle. Another option is to fly. If Disneyland is the main destination, a flight into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is not worth it. It can take 90 minutes to get to the park on this 35-minute drive thanks to the area’s famous traffic jams. The more convenient and less expensive alternative is to fly into Orange County’s John Wayne Airport. The 13 mile drive takes about 45 minutes during the heaviest of traffic.

Staying there

Where Disneyworld features dozens of in-park properties to stay at, Disneyland offers just three — Disneyland Hotel, the Grand Californian and Paradise Pier. These accommodations are walking distance to both parks, provide transportation and can be incredibly expenses for even a family of four. Another option is to stay at one of Disneyland’s Good Neighbor Hotels. These aren’t on-property locations but are within walking distance to the main gate or provide transportation to the park. Many of these Good Neighbor Hotels are also much cheaper than those on park property.

Getting in

The most expensive part of going to Disneyland? Getting in. A four-day pass for an average family is almost $1,000. It goes over that mark when you upgrade to a park hopper pass that permits you to go between Disneyland and DCA in one day. Consider looking into discount tickets at locations like AAA or looking into an annual pass if you feel you’ll visit more than once a year.

Other attractions

Disneyland isn’t the only amusement park in the area. In fact, before Walt Disney opened the gates Buena Park’s Knott’s Berry Farm ruled the area. Now the Southern California area is full of less-expensive amusement parks, including Universal Studios, Magic Mountain, and San Diego’s LEGOLAND. Try to take a break from Disneyland and budget a trip to one of these other parks.

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