Last year around this time, we were planning a trip to Disneyland to celebrate my son’s 10th birthday. I wanted to get the best deals possible on tickets. I also wanted to make the most of our time there as we were only going to be able to go for two days. We wanted to be sure to go to both Disneyland and Disney California Adventures. I did a ton of research and was able to plan a trip that was more affordable and made the most of our time. 

Disneyland tips to save time and money - cut wait times, save on tickets, and more

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Disneyland Website

The official Disneyland website has a wealth of information on it. You can purchase ticketsdining reservations, see a calendar of events for when you will be visiting, pre-arrival tips, and so much more.

You can also get the mobile app on Android or iTunes that allows you to buy tickets, see wait times, browse maps, locate Disney characters, and more while you are in the parks.

LCL Family at Disneyland

Get Away Today

Once you have decided to go to Disneyland you will need to choose where you want to stay. I did so much research and compared prices all over the internet for hotels and tickets to the park. I was unable to beat the prices I found on Get Away Today.

Get Away Today

We decided not to stay at any of the Disneyland Resorts since we planned a packed full two days at the parks and we knew we were not going to be in the hotel much. If we were planning a longer vacation I may have opted for one of the resort hotels as they do offer perks for their guests. This is something to consider when booking your trip.

We stayed at the Hyatt Place at Anaheim Resort.  It was within walking distance of the park. The hotel was beautiful and the beds were very comfortable. Included with our stay was a delicious, hot breakfast. They changed the options each morning so that was a really nice surprise! Parking was also free at our hotel. 

Hyatt Place at Anaheim Resort

Each morning we walked to the parks, but in the evenings we were completely exhausted. We opted to spend $10 each night for a cab to take us back to our hotel. It was well worth the extra money. There is also a shuttle available for $5. 

Helpful Tip: Be sure to factor in parking and resort fees when you book your hotel. These can quickly add up towards the price of your stay, especially the longer your trip is.

Another great feature of booking your trip through Get Away Today is their layaway plan. The Layaway Lock-In plan allows you to hold your vacation (Southern California only) for as low as $125 down. This can be a great way to help pay for your trip a little bit over time.

Get Away Today Layaway Lock-In

Get Away Today Layaway Details:

  • $125 fee includes nonrefundable $50 Layaway Plan fee.
  • $125 down payment for each room if multiple rooms are purchased. $50 fee
    only applies once if rooms are booked together.
  • Make as many payments as you’d like prior to travel.
  • Vacation must be paid off two weeks prior to travel.

Discount: Get Away Today is offering my readers an exclusive $10 off any Southern California vacation package of 2 nights or more and tickets! Use promo code: CraftyLife10

The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland Book

After securing our hotel and tickets I purchased the latest version of The Unofficial Guide Disneyland book. For us last year, it was the 2016 version, but purchase whatever version is current. The book is inexpensive (under $20) and contains a wealth of information. 

the Unofficial Guide Disneyland

The book shares information about:

  • Timing Your Visit
  • Where to Stay
  • Making the Most of Your Time
  • Touring Plans
  • Dining and Shopping
  • Food and Dining
  • Disneyland Park
  • Disney California Adventure (DCA)
  • Universal Studios Hollywood

It was great to get an idea of what we wanted to do, where we wanted to stay, and how to make the best use of our two days at the park.

I used the book to read about all the attractions, shows, and rides at each park. We made a list of our must see attractions and also the ones that would be nice to visit if we have time. This helped narrow down our focus for getting the most out of each day.

Splash Mountain

Touring Plans

I wanted to be sure we saved time waiting in lines. There were a lot of attractions we wanted to see at both parks. A subscription to helped me take the guess work out of what we wanted to do and when. The subscription is only $7.95 for a full year.

Discount: Purchase your Unofficial Guide to Disneyland Book first. Owners of the current year’s edition receive an additional discount on their subscription.

Crowd Calendar

We were lucky in that although we were planning a trip shortly after we decided to go, we had a range of dates to choose from over about 2 month’s time. The Touring Plans Crowd Calendar helped us decide exactly when to go. The Resort, Disneyland, and DCA are all rated on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 is when it is the least crowded and 10 is the most crowded. 

There are definitely times that were less busy than others. We were going on a weekend, which always tends to be busy. The calendar also lists any holidays or activities going on for those particular days. The crowd calendar also helped us decide which day to go to each of the two parks. 

Touring Plan

A touring plan is basically an idea of when you are going to visit each particular attraction or show throughout the day. This site offers pre-made plans based on if you are going with small children, just adults, or the whole family. They also have two-day plans and one-day plans for adults. You can also personalize a plan based on exactly what you want to do and see. It factors in the FASTPASS system, wait times, and showtimes.

We started with the whole family plan and personalized it based on the list I wrote from the Unofficial Guide book. The day before we left, I printed out our plans for each park.

I would also recommend downloading the Touring Plans app to use in the actual park.  Rides can unexpectedly be down or having maintenance, and you can’t always plan how the kids will do, etc. This way, you have your printed plan to follow, but you can update your plan in the app as you go and it will re-schedule when you should do what.

Using to plan our Disneyland trip meant we did not wait in line for longer than 30 minutes on either day! Most waits were under 15 minutes for us. We rode every single ride we wanted to and even managed to ride a few twice – like the Tower of Terror before they changed it over to the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride.


Disney California Adventures

Disneyland Tips to Save You Time and Money

What other tips have you used to save yourself time or money for your trip to Disneyland? Tell me in the comments.

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