Mickey Mouse stole my wallet, my life savings and my sleep...and I haven't even gone to Disneyland yet. For the past 3 weeks, I have spent every night planning and price shopping for the bargain deal on our Disneyland vacation and I FINALLY booked a hotel.

I got the Disneyland bug last year but we were so broke I took one look at the hotel prices and squelched the fire before it burned out of control. This year, the bug was back and I was only slightly more prepared for the financial burden of Dumbo's magical plunder into debtor's prison. I have learned a few things along the way and hope this helps any of you in planning your next Disney Debt Getaway. My first mistake was deciding too late in the year that I was itching for a Disney fix. This left us hotel shopping for availability in the heart of sucker season-mid July-nothing's cheap, nothing's available and everything's gonna be packed with crowds (yay). Nonetheless, the itch was greater than the cost and crowds so I forged ahead. I read reviews on epinions, travelocity, disneyland, orbitz, everywhere and decided that I wanted to stay in the park to ease the frustration of having 2 kids in tow. And yes, this vacation is being planned by me and mostly for me, too. I then opted for just one day of tickets (for ONLY $188 for our three tix) and two nights in the hotel so we could make the most of our day in the park. Which hotel? The Hotel Grand looked amazing but at $400/night, not practical. Disneyland Hotel was slightly cheaper but most guest reviews noted the building's outdated, unkempt rooms so I chose the third option, Paradise Pier. Not as flashy, but reviewed with higher satisfaction rates and lower cost. In the middle of July, we got a standard room for $270/nt. With tax and fees we came in at $639 on Gtahotels.com. This is a British based booking site so I'm still hoping that we actually have a room in California when we get there (and the $270 wasn't in Pounds). I found hotels.com a very helpful resource in accessing price options. Disneyland's website offered packages and hotel booking but it wasn't necessarily the best price for the options we needed.

Because we decided to buy tix into the park for one day (to save cost), we cannot purchase our tickets in advance. Multi-Day Parkhopper Tix are available online and appear to be the best bet if you are interested in both parks and can spring for the extra $66/ticket. We might change our minds about our ticket choice once we arrive. (We have already racked up over $800!!)
(That's right girls, you're taking out student loans for college because we blew your savings on a trip to....DISNEYLAND!)
$99 DEAL 3DAY Park Hopper at ALbertson's! See here: http://messageboards.aol.com/aol/en_us/articles.php?boardId=416474&articleId=18819&func=6&channel=Travel
I am going to buy these today and will confirm if they are myth or reality! (6/26/08)

I have also explored the impossibility of the park attractions themselves with a 3 year old and an 11 month old. What rides can they ride? What are the tricks? Here are a few sights I found helpful for pre-trip planning. One mom's review of Dland with a 3 yr old: http://www.epinions.com/kifm-review-3B04-34F72B04-3A0DD6FA-prod6

A variety of posts and opinions on Dland with an infant: http://www.themeparkinsider.com/news/response.cfm?ID=2174
This guy lists all the rides babies can go on, and separates by "-LAND". I can only imagine what his garage looks like!
A cool family travel site (but you may need to register, free) wrote this article:
If you can spring for an actual reference book, this one is popular:
The Unofficial Guide To Disneyland, buy it on Amazon.com
INSIDER's TIP: Apparently, there are a few staff in the park that you want to wave hello at and engage in conversation. Their sole purpose is to give away FREE stuff! Free VIP passes to The Princess Fair, Free Tickets to Fantasia, Free Stickers, Free whatever other special things there are in the park. These Disney Staff members are dressed all in blue, wear a blue hat and carry a blue sachel (picture The Man in The Big Yellow Hat meets The Blue Men, wait, I think that would make them green. Anyway, you get the idea.) Find the blue people.
So, I'll be MIA in blogworld for a few days in July whilst I tramp around the magic of Disneyland with my lovely brood in tow.
I would love to hear from all of you regarding your tips and tricks to Disneyland success,
The Happiest (and no doubt Most Expensive) Place On Earth. Looking forward to your comments! -G

1 comment:

JO said...

I am, again, obsessing about Disneyland. We have tentive dates in mind...around the same time as a lovely friend of our as well, post-turkey day. Went back through the info, so very helpful. I hope it works out this time!