We are a Disneyland crazy family. There's just something about a singing and dancing mouse that gives us warm fuzzies. Yeah, now that I put it in writing, it sounds a little crazy to me too. Anyways...
Luckily for us, our extended family is just as crazy about that mouse as we are. That's made for some really fun family vacations. As we're gearing up again to go later this spring, I'm thinking more and more about how to save money and still enjoy ourselves. Especially with these three bottom-less pits I call my children. :-)
When it comes to saving money on food at Disneyland, these are a few tips and tricks that have served us well:
*Look to stay at a hotel that serves breakfast (or eat before the park)-- Many hotels in the area serve a continental breakfast. Start out your day on budget by saving money in this area. If your hotel does not serve breakfast, make a run to a local supermarket the night before and stock up on granola, yogurt, fruit, and other quick items to serve for breakfast.
*Pack a soft sided cooler-- While you cannot carry in a hard sided cooler or glass containers, Disneyland does allow soft sided coolers. If we have an extra set of hands, we might pack a small cooler with an ice pack. I can throw in hard boiled eggs, string cheese, go-gurts, packaged dips, etc.
*Drinks-- We're a big water drinking family, but the price of bottled water is outrageous. So we carry our water bottles. We fill them up with ice before leaving the hotel in the morning and a few hours later, it's melted nicely to drink. Most restaurants in Disneyland will refill them free of charge throughout the day. Additionally, you can always refill with filtered water in either of the baby stations found in both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. On the rare occasion that we do drink something other than water, the kids know that it's a treat and sodas will not be bought at every meal.
*Snacks are overpriced-- I know. I'm supposed to be giving you ideas on how to save money. But walking into the day knowing that you will spend more than usual can actually be reassuring. If I walk into my day not allowing any room for splurging, I get a little grouchy. So know your limit. It is one special snack a day or two? A certainly snack allotment for the trip? Or a special family treat at dinner? Know that it will be somewhat pricey and PLAN when you're going to spend that money. (for us, it's always a Dole Whip and a cinnamon roll)
*Check out menus before hand-- I try to grab means from the restaurants as we walk through Main Street first thing in the morning. This gives me a chance to check out the selection and prices before we're all hungry and clamoring for food. It's a lot easier to plan when the kids are happy rather than hungry. My husband and I will skim what we feel is nutritionally acceptable (if there is such a word at Disneyland) and within our budget. Then as we're walking to the restaurant later, we can tell that kids what their choices are within that. Often times, we've also found items that can be shared between parent and kids or between two kids. This has saved us a ton. Many of the menus can be viewed on Disneyland's website as well.
*Look for items you can split-- I touched on this already, but many of the restaurants have meals that are easily large enough to split. My husband and I split a soup and sandwich at the Jolly Holiday and still count it as one of our favorite meals. Rancho Zocalo have great items for splitting and an order of clam chowder in a bread bowl can easily fill two people.
*Food offsite is expensive too-- Know that food outside of the park is expensive too. So if you're trying to save money by leaving for meals, it's probably going to cost more when you factor in lost park time and travel. For us, it hasn't been worth the hassle.
So what are your splurges?
And what are your tricks for saving money on food?
*Linked to these Parties