Hey, what happened to the Family Finance Picks this week?
Well, in a word: Disneyland. The (pre-college) kids all had the week off for Spring vacation and a rare break from the usual Hockey/Lacrosse/Soccer routine, so we decided to take a last minute road-trip to Disneyland. The family finance picks will be back in action next week.
In the meantime I thought I’d share a few quick tips that saved us a bundle on our trip — over $750 off Disney’s advertised Hotel-Park combo package.
- Do a little research. I like reading reviews on TripAdvisor. It’s a great way to find out what to expect amenity and price-wise. Read the most recent reviews to avoid unpleasant surprises — like construction at the Disneyland Hotel.
- Make your own package. Based on our research, we could tell the Disney vacation packages had a bunch of pricey stuff we didn’t care about. So, we dropped the meals (Jamba juices, lunches, and dinners at the Downtown Disney District instead), the character visits (the kids think they’re creepy anyway), and the concierge services (we like self-serve), and we looked for deals on just the individual pieces we wanted — rooms and tickets.
- Call and ask questions. I’m really hooked on the convenience of booking stuff on the web. It’s so nice to avoid waiting on the phone to speak to a human. Click, click, click and you’re done. But I had some questions about the prices I was seeing on the Disney pages, so I decided to call and ask some direct questions. I’m glad I did. I ended up paying 30% less than what I was seeing on the site.
- Check for specials. Disney happened to be running a special promotion on 3-Day Park Hopper Tickets, so we picked those up for quite a bit less than what was quoted over the phone. Check their special offers page. (Right now through May 28, there’s a nice spring special on room rates — unfortunately not available at the time we went.)
We’ve always just done daytime excursions to Disneyland in the past, but this time we wanted to check out the convenience of staying right at the park in one of the Disney hotels and catch the nighttime experience. Since TripAdvisor reviews had some complaints about construction at the venerable Disneyland Hotel, we went with the upscale Grand Californian. (Heck, we don’t take many family vacations, so why not?)
Yes, it was pricey, but I have to say it was completely worth it. We had an absolute blast! Every once in a while, you just have to go for it.