“Any dollar saved or earned is another dollar for Disney!” – DISboards
As someone who loves to save money while getting the best value, this quote rings true. I also find truth in the phrase, “time is money.” Here are some easy tips to make both your time and money go further when visiting Anaheim, CA. It’s the home of Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure, and much more. Keep reading to enter a giveaway for a free night’s stay at the Country Inns & Suites in Anaheim, CA or the Country Inns location of your choice!
Plan ahead for extra savings. Start saving in advance of your trip. A few ways include:
- Set up an automatic vacation savings account. You can even have a portion of your pay sent to a separate account via direct deposit.
- Ask friends and family for Disney gift cards for birthdays and holidays.
- Apply for a rewards card. Several Disney and non-Disney cards offer rewards or savings on purchases before and during your stay. Some also include perks such as a free character meet and greet or a free photo in the park.
- Look into using your Target REDcard credit/debit card to purchase Disney gift cards. While the policy could change without notice, you can currently save 5% on your gift card purchase. Disney gift cards are valid for the purchase of park tickets, food, gifts, and even in Downtown Disney.
Anaheim is not LA. I know it’s temping to try to pack things in, but Anaheim is really nowhere near Los Angeles. You won’t get to see much if you try to experience both in one day. For example, Disneyland is at least an hour and a half from Universal Studios and could be up to a three hour drive if you travel during rush hours. You won’t likely be able to pack San Diego attractions and Disney into the same day either. It’s best to stay over in town the night before your Disney days and be rested and ready to go when the parks open.
Eat breakfast before you go. Hotels such as Country Inns & Suites offer complimentary hot breakfast included in the price of your stay. Disney is magical, but the food prices can leave a dent in your wallet. That money is better spent on other experiences. You won’t be able to bring items such as bottled water or glass into the park, but bringing a snack from outside the park is allowed.
Walk or take a shuttle. Even as a local, I can attest to the annoyance and wasted time of finding a parking spot, walking from the parking spot to the tram, eagerly waiting during the tram drive to the gate, and all of it in reverse on the way out. And you’ll have to pay a hefty fee for that privilege! Hotel shuttles can get you closer, though there still may be a wait coming or going especially if the shuttle you need is full. Even better, stay within walking distance at a hotel such as Country Inns & Suites in Anaheim. You’ll end up walking, waiting, and paying less than us locals and get to spend more of your precious time inside the park.
Have an app handy. Disney’s official app lets you check wait times, skip ticket lines, check return times for FASTPASS, view GPS-enabled maps, locate your favorite characters, and more. MouseWait is a similar app with lots of great info as well as a fan forum of app users and user-reported wait times.
Grab freebies while you’re there. I love reading advice from other frugal families such as how they purchase princess dresses, stuffed toys, and official trading pins ahead of time. But there are plenty of free souvenirs to bring home from inside the gates.
- One of my favorite items are the maps of Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. They change the cover graphics often and it’s the one item I always have in my hand or nearby throughout the day.
- Whether you are celebrating your first visit to Disney, engagement, wedding, graduation, birthday, or if you’re first in line for a pickle or Dole whip, you can ask a cast member for a chance to receive a pin. Wear it to increase the chance of other special surprises around the park.
- Earn a Senior Wilderness Explorer badge (a sticker) by completing the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail at California Adventure.
- Maps of the Jungle Cruise are almost free. You’ll likely have to perform a dance, animal noise, or whatever the skipper has in mind in exchange. If you miss it or want to bring one with you just in case, you can print your own!
- Participants of the Jedi Training Academy are presented with a free certificate at the end of the battle. Register your kids at the kiosk located outside the exit to Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland.
- Try dancing to the tunes of the performers in New Orleans Square for a chance to receive free Mardi Gras beads.
- If you know of any other unique freebies, please leave them in the comments below!
You don’t need to be inside the park to watch the fireworks. If you happen to be in town the night before or just want to avoid the tired, cranky crowds along Main Street, you can still see the Disney fireworks. Our kids were always impressed with the show, even without a perfect view.
- Even if you don’t have a ticket and if you are willing to go through the security line, head to the end of Downtown Disney and into the Esplanade, the area between the entrances to Disneyland and California Adventure.
- In Downtown Disney, grab a seat on one of the concrete benches near Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. Or ask for a patio table at the restaurant and eat while you wait to enjoy the same view (and 4 hours free parking with validation!). Whether you dine in or take out, don’t miss their heavenly beignets.
- Walk just outside the concrete barriers to the valet/taxi circle located between Rainforest Cafe and ESPN Zone where you will find a long grassy area that is almost never crowded.
- We’ve also viewed the fireworks from the Mickey & Friends parking structure before driving out for the night.
- If you’re staying at the new Country Inns & Suites in Anaheim, avoid the crowds completely and let the little ones get to bed earlier by viewing them right from your hotel.
Some of the amenities and perks this new Country Inns & Suites location has to offer include:
- 174-room newly constructed hotel within walking distance of Anaheim attractions including Disneyland
- Modern interiors with stylish furnishings
- Spacious rooms with spa inspired bathrooms
- Complimentary hot breakfast
- Bar serving spirits, wine, beer and lite menu fare
- Free Wi-Fi
- 24-hour fitness center
- Large outdoor patio with heated pool and whirlpool
- Great view of Disneyland’s fireworks
This location is also an excellent choice for hotels near Anaheim Gardenwalk, Anaheim Convention Center, the Honda Center, home of the Anaheim Ducks and seasonal shows such as Disney on Ice, as well as Angel Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Angels.
Here’s your chance to win a one night stay at Country Inn & Suites by Carlson! One winner will be randomly chosen from the comments on this article (located below) and will receive a one-night stay voucher to use at the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson location of their choice. Sweepstakes ends January 31st, 2017 at 11:59pm PST.
There are two easy ways to enter this great sweepstakes (choose one):
- Visit the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson website and return here to leave a comment. Let us know which of their locations you’d like to book a stay.
- Click to watch this short video and return here to leave a comment. Let us know your favorite Country Inn & Suites in Anaheim amenity.
This sweepstakes has ended and we have a winner. Congratulations, Leigh B.!