When Devin came home from work and said, “Wanna pack up and take the girls to Disneyland right now?” I was super excited. But we decided to wait a week, so we could have a little time to plan. And I was so glad I spent time researching before we left. We were able to make the girls’ first Disneyland trip really special, saving money where we could (tickets, princess attire, Disney t-shirts, snacks) and splurging on other things (makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and character breakfast).
Here’s what made our trip extra special:
1. We invited family to join. My parents were able to get out of work and go with us! We LOVE our Ma and Pa. And the girls were thrilled they came because they rode the rides together and got special treats with them (and Devin and I got to go on a bunch of fast rides together!). It was great all around! They made the trip so special.
2. Before we left, we bought dresses, shoes, gloves, tiaras, and princess jewelry. It was way cheaper at home than in Disneyland. Luckily, it’s Halloween time so there was a lot to choose from. I ended finding some good prices for dresses and shoes at Target (these were comfortable and cute ones for Mira, and Audrey got these not-so-glittery-but-super-cute shoes). We presented them to the girls the second night because Mira had her makeover at Disneyland the next day (see # 6).
3. We reserved a hotel super close to the parks. Our friends recommended several hotels, but we ended up staying at Best Western Park Place Inn and Mini-Suites (thanks, Tracy!). It was the perfect choice! It wasn’t as expensive as the Disneyland Hotels, but it was just as close (right across the street from the park on the opposite side of the other hotels, so it felt less crowded at the entrance). And we were able to take the recommended mid-day nap because it was so close! They also give government rates too. Score!
4. Tinker Bell had gifts waiting in the hotel room (inspired from this post). I went to the Dollar Store and bought disney bags and filled them with: glow necklaces, magic wands, autograph books, stickers, jewelry, hand sanitizer, and a “Disney Buck” for buying one item in the park. I got all these ideas (except the Disney bucks, a one dollar bill I decorated with disney stickers) from this post. I also got some cute princess jammies for the girls. We set their bags out and sprinkled glitter over everything. They thought it was so cool that Tinkerbell was there. (I also got a drink and candy for the adults, so they’d feel special too!).
5. We scheduled a character breakfast BEFORE the park opened so we wouldn’t waste precious park time and we could see a lot of characters. This post helped me decide to go to Surf’s Up Breakfast with Mickey and Friends at the Paradise Pier Hotel. It was super cute. It was pretty pricey (although I’m not sure how much it was exactly because my parents picked up the bill…thanks, Ma and Pa!). The characters were so great though. They came to our table and spent time with us. We got to hang with Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, and Stitch. The girls LOVED it! And they got to dance with Stitch at the end! 🙂
6. We scheduled a makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Disneyland (it was set for morning so she’d get all day to be a princess 🙂 ). We brought our own princess stuff (see number 2 above) and then got the cheapest package: the crown package for $59 (plus tax). It was such a fun experience for Mira! They did her hair, makeup, and nails. They also gave her a backpack with nail polish, makeup, and a brush. Her “fairy godmother” dusted an obscene amount of glitter all over her head and then presented her to everyone in the salon who clapped for her. So, so cute! Definitely worth the money.
7. We used Fastpasses and stroller passes. Here’s a bunch of info on Fastpass, if you don’t already know. Stroller passes were a new concept to me. Basically, if one person has to stay back with a sleeping kiddo (or a kid that doesn’t meet the height requirement), then the others going on the ride ask for a stroller pass. That pass gets up to three more people back on the ride without waiting. Super cool! And this trip, we also used the handicap lane since my mom had surgery on her foot and was using a scooter. That meant pretty short lines too!
Other ways we saved money: We also got discounted tickets through our cousin. We DIDN’T buy the park hopper ($40 per ticket). We spent our time at one park each day (there’s SO MUCH to do) and didn’t need to waste time skipping back and forth between the parks.
We still did our fair share of unnecessary spending on food in the park and balloons, but overall, it was a super successful trip!