Disneyland On the Cheap

When Dean and I decided to take our kids to Disneyland this fall
a friend of mine naturally asked,
"How do you afford to take all your kids to Disneyland?"

Dean had been laying awake at night wondering the same thing.

Then I said "Don't worry honey, I am so cheap!
and he said with a smirk "um......."
and I said "don't even go there...I meant thrifty, I am thrifty!"

I am the girl who returns over-ripe oranges to Walmart, smuggles more than one Laffy Taffy at Maceys, hasn't paid for a babysitter since 2001, and re-uses dental floss.
(just kidding about that last one.)

So, here's how we did it.
Mind you, this whole post is written with a little tongue in cheap....
er, I mean tongue in cheek.

How we did Disneyland (Southern California) On the Cheap: 

$ - Start by getting the kids on board. 
Help them earn money for their own spending money.
You'd be surprised how many people fork over cash when you have your kids dress in rags, with messed up hair and hold a sign that says "Will work for Disneyland souvenir money."

$-  Establish a buddy system.
That way if anyone gets lost, you can find comfort knowing they are with their buddy. It really puts your mind at ease, and you will able to enjoy the rest of your day. Just figure they'll show up at the car at the end of the night.

$- Go with another cheap couple. My brother Wes and his wife Tammy were the perfect duo for our cheap trip. They were as like-minded as were in our quest for pinching pennies. We found ourselves trying to out-cheap eachother. It also helps when the kids ask for this or that, we were able to blame the other family...("Sorry River, we can't buy that $12.00 churro - we would have to buy one for everyone too.")  Also, Tammy was an easy one to sucker into going on the Teacups ride with the kids.

$- Befriend a local. Tammy's Uncle (a long-time San Diego resident) gave us the inside scoop on all things California. The kids fell in love with Uncle Ernie, he was amazing. He insisted that we all sit in the "Soak Zones" - best seats in the house he claimed. He was Right. We were close enough to the action to see the "help me " look in Shamu's eyes.  
$- Cheap beauty. - Allow the girls do their own hair, far away from the critical eye of the seventh grade. (ok that doesn't have anything to do with anything, but I just think this is a funny picture.)

$- Go off the beaten path. If you are willing to cross this crazy high, scary bridge like we did...you will find yourself in a quaint little neighborhood where you can invade someone's private beach house backyard and just hang out. If anyone questions your right to be there, just pretend to be hillbilly tourists from Utah and that you are too naive to know better.     
It works.

I hope Tom Hanks didn't mind.

$- Arrive early..stay late. We always get the most out of the park during the early and late hours. Dean and I have two very different ideas of "arrive early." Mine is before noon - His is before they open. Somehow we compromised.

                                                    Staying at the parks late is the thing to do.

We practically had the whole place to ourselves.
 I wondered why no one was on the Grizzly River Run at 11:00 pm.
Then, as a wall of water splashed up and over my head and poured down my back
 I figured it all out.

$- Bring yer own. We brought everything from rain ponchos to food and snacks, water bottles to strollers, cameras, hoodies, toys, and games. We enjoyed so many activities we otherwise wouldn't have because we were wearing rain ponchos.
Call us whimps, that's ok...many strangers in line did just that.   

$- Cheap Food. We took full advantage of the free continental breakfast. I mean FULL advantage. We found that if we could force feed the kids breakfast and then stifle the hunger pangs of our little'ns with granola bars, fruit snacks, Jolly Ranchers and peanut M&M's, we only needed to eat out once a day.

$- Go for the Cheap Thrills. Just letting the kids run around and just be kids is one of the best things about being on vacation. 
See, kids will be kids.
(Wes and Dean getting all excited about the new Twilight apparel line)

There is something thrilling about holding a starfish
 in your hand or petting a sting ray, or feeding a dolphin.

The thrill of plunging down a waterfall. 

For me the biggest thrill was the large Mickey Mouse swinging Ferris Wheel.
Dean had to do some serious talking to get me to go on the Ferris Wheel again.
I tell you...It's the scariest ride of all for me.  
At this point Quincy is sensing my aprehension.
Maybe this is why....
The second time around we handed out the
...pardon my french, "barf bags."

$- Free Things! Contrary to what most people say...there are free things to be had at the amusement parks. I guess "free" isn't always free when you consider the price of admission.  

Free trick-or-treating at Sea World.


Free head massages and 3-D glasses at Universal

 Free face painting and tortillas at Disneyland

And of course ...free..ahem, "barf bags!  boo yeah!

$- Spend a day at the beach. We didn't, and I wish we would've. On our way out of town, almost as an afterthought we stopped at the beach. We spent just about an hour there and told the kids as we arrived that they could only get their feet wet. See how they respect us? Sure enough our little troop plunged themselves in the water the minute their feet hit the sand and had a blast. No tickets, no crowds, no debit card, no toys, no keep arms and legs in at all times.
Just surf and sand.   

$- Fill em up cheap. We found that In-n-Out Burger
was the best way to fill up our hungry crew. 
Cheap food...a lot of it. Yes, we all have a love affair with the place.

(this is what we call foreshadowing)  I was saying "Hey, take it easy there Wade."
The food is so good. But sometimes it goes in...then out.
...for all to see on the San Bernadino freeway. Poor guy.

I realize the title of this Blog post "Disneyland on the Cheap" is an Oxymoron
I mislead you dear reader.
Trying to be cheap
while at a place that screams commercialism is a crazy desire.
However, a great time was had by all in a relatively affordable way.

Thinking back on those wonderful days in Southern California
I think of the cheap food, the cheap hotels, the cheap thrills and 
I say to myself..
it was all worth it, darn it. 

Speaking of cheap thrills.
Frankenstein just wouldn't let go.....

and yes I did go back for more.

I am sending him a friend request on facebook.


Popular Posts