Travellers should plan ahead when visiting Disneyland in Anaheim and Walt Disney World in Orlando. A good strategy will cut town on line-up wait times and help save you money on your vacation. This article discusses:
best days of the week to go to Disneyland;
best time of day to go;
how to use Disney's FastPass;
saving money on Disney area hotels; and
saving money on food during your Disney vacation.
Disney theme parks are a great vacation destination for kids and families. Problem is, most families with kids travel to Disneyland at the same time of year – the summer months. This is the peak vacation season for travellers and Disney theme parks are no exception. Travellers are better off planning ahead when it comes to visiting Disneyland in Anaheim and Walt Disney World in Orlando. Doing so will avoid the frustration that many parents have when planning a Disney vacation. A good strategy will cut town on line-up wait times and help save you money on your vacation.
Best Day of the Week It goes without saying that crowds will be smaller during the off season, but for many families, especially those with school-aged children, this is not possible. If you cannot avoid the off season, try to go during the last week of June or the first week of September. Once July 4th rolls around, Disney parks is in high gear. If you are planning a July or August trip to Disneyland, Tuesdays through Thursdays are best. While Disneyland does not release daily attendance records, weekends are noticeably busier than week days.
Best Time of Day Any parent knows that getting out the door with kids in the morning can be a daunting task. Families on vacation like to sleep in and take their time getting out the amusement park. Use this to your advantage by getting up early and arriving at Disneyland or Walt Disney World early. It will pay off significantly. You will get into the park quicker and line-ups for attractions will be short. Disney usually opens at 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. during the summer. Be sure to ask your hotel for a wakeup call and give yourself and your family plenty of time to get to the park.
I also recommend that people leave the Disney park around lunch time or shortly thereafter. This is when the park is its busiest, the weather is hot, line-ups are long, and kids are starting to get tired. This is a good opportunity to head back to your hotel, have a snooze, rest your feet, or cool off with a swim. Meltdowns usually happen in the late afternoon for kids (and parents) who try to go straight through without a break.
Use the FastPass FastPass is a ticket you can get on select Disney rides that give you a timeslot in which you can bypass the line for a particular attraction. You are only allowed one Fastpass at a time, and typically have to return to the ride in about an hour to bypass the line-up. Think of the FastPass as a buddy who holds your spot in line. Upon entry to Disneyland, head straight for your favourite attraction (or the most popular) and grab a FastPass, slip in a quick ride on a different attraction, then return to redeem your FastPass. You can repeat this pattern all day long.
Save Money on Disney Area Hotels Because there are so many hotels within a short radius to Disneyland, there is often an opportunity to get a great deal on a hotel. Although many hotels have excess capacity, they are reluctant to publish major discounts on hotel rooms because customers with existing reservations may demand a discount as well. Instead, many hotels sell off excess capacity to hotel reservation websites that do not reveal the name of the hotel until after you purchase. Hotwire and Priceline are two popular 'opaque' hotel reservation websites.
Although travellers can usually get better hotel deals on Priceline, I recommend families avoid using Priceline for Disney vacation hotels for a couple reasons. First, Priceline hotel room reservations are only guarantee accommodation a maximum of two hotel guests. This is problematic for parties of three or more. Second, Priceline hotel reservations do not guarantee any particular amenities. While most Anaheim and Orlando area hotels have swimming pools, it would be a major disappointment to ‘win’ a hotel on Priceline that did not have one.
Hotwire is a safer choice for families while still offering great discounts. Anyone considering Hotwire should visit HotelDealsRevealed.com, a website that has compiled Hotwire hotel lists from Hotwire customers. By comparing amenities on the list to Hotwire, it is possible in many instances to reveal the name of a Hotwire hotel before you purchase.
Save Money On Meals Most hotels have mini fridges. It is often worthwhile to take a taxi to a supermarket and stock up on essentials – soft drinks, sandwich supplies, and breakfast cereal. Disney does not allow outside food into its parks unless a visitor has food allergies. Fortunately, portion sizes are large in Disneyland and can usually be shared.
I recall taking my nieces to Disneyland back in the mid 90’s. We did not have a lot of money and the hotel we were staying at only had a mini fridge and a coffee maker. We got really creative and used the coffee make to boil water to make instant noodles and other instant meals that required boiling water. We even threw some wieners in the coffee pot (without the coffee of course) and had hotdogs!
Randy Greencorn is the creator of HotelDealsRevealed.com, a website to help Hotwire and Priceline users get the best deal on hotels in the United States and Canada. This website contains a Hotwire and Priceline Forum where members share Hotwire/Priceline winning bid information on hotel reservations.