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7 Money Savings Tips to make your Disneyland vacation more MAGICAL!

I went to Disneyland 1 time as a child.  However, I don’t remember it at all because I was only 2 years old.  I mean, we went other places and yes, I had a great and wonderful childhood filled with great memories and other vacation destinations (my mom reads this…..so I have to cover my bases, ha!) but there’s just something amazing about Disneyland and Disneyworld.  It’s like slice after slice of magical childhood goodness.  Yum!

So, when we lived in Georgia and were only 5 hours from Orlando (and only had Elli and Connor at the time), we decided to take a trip to Disneyworld.  All I have to say is that I enjoyed that trip just as much as any child in that entire park.  When we were standing outside the gates before they opened for the day, I still remember watching the little pre-show with some of the characters welcoming everyone to the park…..and crying.  Yep, I was totally overwhelmed and completely excited to be there but even more, it was an overload to my senses to see the magic in my little kiddos’ eyes.  Magic, I’m telling you.

So, we’ve been thinking lately that it’s time to go back…..but this to time to DisneyLAND.  We have four kids now and yes, little Oliver (who is almost 1) won’t remember a thing.  But Elli (8), Connor (7), and Chloe (4) will be in absolute heaven!  And you know, going when Oliver is still little will only give me an excuse to plan a 3rd trip in the future so that Oliver WILL remember a trip to Disney. :)

But, in order to make a 2nd trip a success, I’ve been gathering ideas and information……but have also come across some excellent deals and savings codes that some of you might be interested in as well.  Because I can’t be the only one planning a trip to Disney with the kids, am I? :)   (This post refers to DisneyLAND, but many of the ideas are applicable to both parks!)

So, here are 7 TIPS to creating a MAGICAL DISNEY VACATION!!!

(Be sure to read to the end for an EXCLUSIVE “Make It and Love It” Disney money saving CODE!)

1. Plan a special unveil. The magic can begin the moment you tell your family about your upcoming vacation plans. Let your kids open a gift, put together a puzzle, or take a treasure hunt to find out the good news. No matter how you announce it, a Disneyland vacation is always a welcome and magical surprise.

2. Lead up to the magic with Disney themed activities. Make a countdown chain and plan fun activities to create some magic at home. Make Mickey Mouse pancakes (I love THIS Mickey waffle maker!), plan a Disney movie night, put together a vacation playlist for your road trip or the plane ride, or do anything else that gets your family excited about your vacation destination.

3. Buy Disney souvenirs before you go and pack them without letting the kids know. Then, each night when they get back to the hotel, they’ll have a new gift from the Disney fairies (or their favorite character) waiting for them. HERE are a ton!

4. Dress like the characters. Wearing a character t-shirt, princess dress or even a pair of Mickey Ears is sure to get your kids extra attention from the characters. Plus, it will make for adorable and memorable photos.

5. Make a reservation for Character Dining. I wish we would have known the value in doing this when we visited Disney, but take it from me…….don’t waste precious park time waiting in line to meet characters. Let them come to your table in a relaxed environment. There are five restaurants that offer character dining, each with different characters, themes and menus. If you have girls, Ariel’s Princess Celebration is a must. Also, Goofy’s Kitchen, Surf’s Up Breakfast with Mickey and Friends, Breakfast in the Park with Minnie and Friends, and Chip ‘N Dale’s Critter breakfast are all fun for the whole family.

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6. Stay at one of the Disneyland Hotels. We did this for our last trip and let me tell you……this saved us so much agony.  You don’t have to worry about shuttles, the pools are all themed, and you get early entry every morning. It’s a tiny splurge, but will definitely be a vacation you’ll remember forever. Out of the three Disney hotels, the Disneyland Hotel itself has the most magical feel, complete with musical headboards featuring “real” fireworks over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Monorail water slides at the swimming pool, and other magical touches.

7. Preserve the magic when you get home. Sometimes the magic of a Disneyland vacation becomes even more magical after the fact. Have everyone write down their favorite moments from each day of your vacation and preserve it in a journal, smash book, photo album, or of course everything is a little more magical when you don’t have to pay full price.

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Let’s be honest though. Disney isn’t cheap! We really searched for great deals to make the trip a little less expensive and we are super excited we found Get Away Today. They send thousands of families on magical Disneyland vacations each year at hugely discounted prices.

They offer exclusive extras like free breakfast, free parking, free night specials, and reduced rates at certain hotels.  They also have the lowest park ticket prices, award-winning customer service and their packages come with all sorts of fun gifts.  Yes, please!

 You’ll save an average of $200 – $400 per package.

PLUS, “Make It and Love It” readers can save an extra $10 off when you use promo code: “LOVEIT” on any 2-night or longer package.


You can book online or call 855-GET-AWAY.

Do YOU have any tips to make others’ Disney experience more magical? I’d love to hear your ideas.

But, so far, with deals like THESE, we’re excited to set a date for our next Disney vacation.

-Ashley

Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
7 money savings tips to make your disneyland vacation more magical!
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  4. Ellis says:

    Before we took our son to Disney World (he was almost 3 at the time), I found clips of the parades and fireworks shows on YouTube. We watched them together and talked about the trip. When we got there, he was really excited to recognize things he’d seen online. He can be a little cautious by nature, and I think having him “preview” some things beforehand made the experience even better for him! :)

    1. Ashley says:

      That is actually a really great idea! Even for kiddos who aren’t as cautious, I think giving them plenty of previews not only gives them an idea of what to expect, but also amps up the excitement and anticipation!

      Thanks Ellis!
      Ashley

  5. Becca says:

    That’s really interesting that you’ve found Getaway Today to be SUCH an excellent value; we always compare pricing and have purchased through them once, but even then, we didn’t make our full purchase I don’t think. They are usually not better priced, although it’s nice that their hotel pricing includes taxes!

    I second the commenter who mentioned RideMax–I’ve found it worth the price!

    1. Ashley says:

      Good to know….I love comparing prices and it seems as though the best deal may change here and there from season to season!

      Thanks for the reminder Becca!

  6. Candace says:

    I’ve never been to DisneyWorld but I grew up near Disneyland and have gone many times over the years. I still feel as excited as a kid each time I go there. My husband and I even spent our 35th anniversary there! Several years ago a friend and diehard Disney-vacationer told me about Ridemax.com. It’s an online software program available for a very reasonable subscription fee that will help you maximize your time at both Disneyland and DisneyWorld. I will never go to either without using Ridemax again! Not only did it allow us to spend less time standing in lines, and therefore to ride more rides, but the trips where we’ve used the Ridemax schedule were more relaxed and enjoyable compared to earlier trips. It’s simple to use and the additional tips (such as the best place to stand to see the fireworks or watch the parade, and the best place to stand on early entry days into California Adventure – hint: stay to the right!) were invaluable. I have no connection with Ridemax.com, I just HIGHLY recommend it!

    1. Ashley says:

      I love how much you guys love to go as adults! Now I know I’m not the only one!!! :)

      These are really good tips too, so thank you!

  7. Melanie says:

    Great suggestions. I love Disneyland. Actually I’ve been 3 times over the past year. I’ve used Get Away as well as Costco Travel. With Costco Travel the prices weren’t discounted much but it included some freebies such as free character dining. That right there sold me. I love character dinning. I’ve done Ariel’s Grotto because I have 2 girls (personally not my favorite). I love Minnie & Friends Breakfast. I’ve also done Chip and Dale’s breakfast a couple times. Keep in mind its not your usual characters, they are “the critters”. My kids have loved everyone we’ve done. While yes the Disneyland Hotel is more themed we prefer the Grand Californian Hotel. Its the closet to the parks and makes coming back for a break or nap a breeze. The convenient factor is worth the extra money. Plus its an amazing hotel with private entrance to California Adventure. Bring your own snack for the kids to help on food costs. I swear because they are constantly seeing food and people eating they are always hungry. There is great food at Disneyland/California Adventure. Follow Disney Hungry on Instagram you’re mouth will start to water. Also use an app that tells what the wait times are on the rides. I could go on and on. Have a great trip!!!

    1. Ashley says:

      Oooooh, these are good tips…..THANKS!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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