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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Discount Disneyland-

Our family does a lot of Disneyland. As a consequence, we have learned a little about visiting the Magic Kingdom. We enjoy sharing what we have learned, as do many Disneyland fans. Here are a few notes on saving money on your visit.

First, annual passes. This is the second year in which we have used annual passes in anticipation of more than one visit within a year. If you anticipate visiting for more than five days in any given year the annual pass becomes an economical option. The five day pass can often be upgraded to the Deluxe Annual pass for just a handful of dollars.

Distance from home to the Disneyland Resort can be a factor in making this decision. Our travel distance is 400 miles, which can be made in one day. The proximity makes the annual pass a good option for our family. The Deluxe pass has some blackout days, days on which the pass does not allow free entry. Those days may be purchased as discounted day passes. The Premium Annual Pass has no blackout days.

Obviously, if you live at a greater distance frequent visits can become much more expensive and require greater planning. There are a number of multi-day pass options. For a first time visit I would recommend no fewer than three days at the Disneyland Resort. This will allow you the time necessary to learn how to navigate the parks and use the many customer conveniences offered, such as the Fast Pass.

Prices change over time, as do the rules applying to day-pass-to-annual-pass upgrades. Check the official Disneyland Resort site for the particulars at around the time you are planning a visit, or stop by the Annual Pass center inside Disneyland Park for additional information while you are there.

Second, food. There are a lot of dining options within the Disneyland Resort itself. At present it is best to assume a minimum of $11 per adult, for the purpose of estimating. There are a few places within the resort that are a bit cheaper, but those are rare and the $11 estimate is a good starting point for thinking about the cost of dining.

There are some very nice restaurants within the resort that offer finer dining, at a somewhat higher price per person. If money is no problem and quality is important, there are some very good options within the Disneyland Resort. Again, consult their web site for additional information.

Just outside the park are some other options. An IHOP, a Denney’s, and a MacDonald’s are all within easy walking distance. They do, however, have a bit of price padding in their menus, and so might not provide significant savings relative to the distance you would have to walk. They do, however, remain good options.

Though it is a bit of a walk, the Anaheim GardenWalk mall is a very nice option. This is a new shopping and dining destination not terribly far from the Disneyland Resort. It is an attractive mall, with a number of dining options for the vacationing family.

The Anaheim Garden Walk is on the Anaheim Resort Transit (ART) system that performs shuttle services for some of the area hotels. ART is a great alternative to walking, and quite affordable.

Our third point is motel accommodations. Most of the motels and hotels around the Disneyland Resort have web sites, and can be easily searched out on the Internet. If you have a preferred motel chain that would be a great beginning to your search. Many chains have a system that allows you to earn discounts or free days. Having a favorite is a good place to begin.

The quality of accommodation varies greatly. The Disneyland Resort has three different hotels within its own system, at three different levels of cost. None are particularly inexpensive, but they are worth visiting on the Internet to see what the options might be. The benefit of on-site accommodations would be the ability to take a break from park activities to rest in the middle of a busy day. A nap in the room and an hour by the pool can be very refreshing in an otherwise very active day.

The ART shuttle system, along with other shuttle options, can make taking a similar break practical even if your budget drives you a few blocks from the action. Our last visit was with the Motel 6 on Disney Way. The ART shuttle was timely and prompt, and made planning any break during the day easy and practical.

Some nearby motels and hotels have themes to make them more attractive. Some have on site spa options, or fine dining options, and even convention facilities. Most of these are not necessary for families on a budget, but knowing about them can be helpful should you future needs change. It is important for the sake of planning to know the particular needs and desires of your entire party.

Remember, time taken in planning can greatly improve your use of time within the Disneyland Resort, reduce frustration, and expand your enjoyment of this wonderful family destination.

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