The question I’m asked most frequently about Disney Parks is how much a trip costs. Frankly, there isn’t a quick answer I can give. There are many factors to a Disney vacation that are specific to the people going on them. Where you live, how long you are traveling for, what kind of lodging you prefer and eating habits are just a few items to consider. With that out-of-the-way, I thought it was time to give a general guide to the costs of a Disney vacation. We’ll start this series with Disneyland before moving on to Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland in later posts.
For this post, I’ll go through the different portions of a Disneyland vacation that will cost guests like hotels, park tickets and food. I’ll mainly be listing the lowest price possible for guests with a little commentary in each section.
Before we begin, a word of advice. When you start looking at any vacation don’t settle on the week before you look at prices. Have a list of weeks or weekends that work for your group and then price out what is best. I know this can’t always be done but it will save money. For Disneyland, I would usually start looking at prices around 6 months in advance. If you’re planning a trip for the middle of summer or over a holiday then looking a little earlier wouldn’t hurt. On to the different parts of a Disneyland vacation that will cost you.
I’m not going to put a price down here because I don’t know where you live. Having said that, airfare to Disneyland can be had for fairly cheap all around the country if you are flexible. Much of this is thanks to Disneyland having three airports in its general vicinity. If you are mainly focused on Disneyland then flying into John Wayne (Orange County) Airport is ideal. Long Beach Airport and LAX aren’t bad options either so searching for flights to and from all 3 of them is a good idea.
If you live along the west coast or even on the west side of the country then flights can easily be had for under $200. East of that, deals are still to be had. Even for international flights, LAX is a great hub to fly into making this cheaper than other American options.
Along with airfare, transportation to and from the airport is something to consider. As I mentioned, flying into Orange County is a great option as far as location. If Disneyland is all your trip entails then taking public transportation to and from the airport is the cheapest, and a relatively, easy option. You likely won’t be spending more than $10 a person on transportation if that’s the case.
Traveling around LA and Southern California, which I recommend, raises the cost exponentially. Renting a car for a couple of days would be ideal in that situation, although paying for parking at a hotel generally prohibits us from renting one for the whole stay. I’ll get to more of this in a different category.
Hotels – $150/night
This largely depends on when you go and where you want to stay. Obviously, the more popular times of year and the nicer hotels will cost more. Even in those busy times, $150/night for a hotel can be done but you may be sacrificing some convenience. My favorite sites to search for hotels are tripadvisor and Expedia. If you are planning something last-minute then Hotel Tonight is a good option.
For a more lavish trip, you could spend anywhere from $175 to $500 a night. For Disneyland, I prefer location above all and don’t worry much about the hotel’s extravagance. There are hotels to stay away from (feel free to ask specifics in the comments) but, for the most part, the cheap hotels will offer close to the same thing.
If you do go to Disneyland during a less popular time (September, January, etc.) then finding a hotel under $150/night should be fairly easy. If you wanted to stay a night or two at the beach or in LA it may be slightly more expensive than what I’ve estimated, again, depending on the time of year.
Park Tickets – $306 for a 3-day Park Hopper Ticket
Disneyland tickets will likely be the most expensive portion of your trip. I do recommend the park hopper option if you are there for more than a day. But, if you are looking for a way to save money then forget the park hopper. I prefer four days at Disneyland and that is where you start to see more value, but completing most of the attractions and shows in 3 days is doable.
Buying from the official Disneyland site or at the park is the easiest (and safest) route but it isn’t the cheapest. Mousesavers always has great advice on discount tickets and they currently recommend aRes Travel. They currently offer a 3 Day Park Hopper for $306, 4 days for $329 and $346 for 5 days. They also offer ticket bundles for other attractions around Southern California if you are interested.
Food – $35 per day/person
I’m guessing that you could eat for slightly less money a day than I listed but this is eating the way I’d recommend. Kids would definitely cost less than this. But, I do recommend mainly eating in Disney Parks as the surrounding options aren’t great and the counter-service in Disneyland is pretty solid. This cost could surely go up if you have a few sit-down meals, which I recommend, but didn’t include since I’m trying to make this cheaper. Get breakfast at McDonald’s or a grocery store and then eat in the parks for your other 2 meals most days.
This will vary depending on how often you go and basically whatever you want to spend. We don’t spend as much on souvenirs at Disneyland anymore outside of the occasional sweatshirt or special item. But if it’s a first time trip and/or you’re taking kids then the souvenir budget will be larger. We always set some sort of budget for both souvenirs and food and then borrow from one or the other depending on what we end up wanting. $50 a person seems more than reasonable but you could go without spending anything here so I didn’t put it up top.
This and airfare are the other portions of a Disneyland trip that I can’t really factor. I’m a firm believer in doing a few things outside of Disneyland just because I love Southern California. The beaches are pristine and there are some beautiful and unique places to visit. Your itinerary will depend on individual interests but much of what I recommend doesn’t cost much extra. Staying at the beach for a night may be a little more expensive than a Disneyland hotel. Food will likely be the same unless you go to a nice restaurant.
If you are doing some exploring then ultimately I recommend renting a car for a few days before Disneyland and then returning during the Disneyland portion of the trip. There are several other fun options throughout Southern California in terms of theme parks, namely Universal Studios and Knott’s Berry Farm. Here’s a list of other places to go in Southern California. Again, if you have specific questions please leave them in the comments below.
For a family of four, this ends up totaling somewhere close to $3,000 for a 5-night stay and 3-day ticket. That is before airfare is factored in but is fairly liberal in some other areas. Speaking for Melissa and I, we have done Disneyland trips for a long weekend for around $1,500. That’s before factoring in travel rewards on credit cards and other discounts which we recommend taking advantage of.
If you have any questions or thoughts about the cost of a Disneyland trip please leave them in the comments below! If you enjoy what you’re reading please subscribe to the blog and like our social media pages which you can find on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!