Times are tight in western Canada right now, so I thought this would be a good time to show you how you can still take a family of 4 on a quick trip to Disneyland for around $2500 CAD. Yes, that still sounds a bit pricey, but it’s DISNEYLAND! Totally worth it ;). I am going to base this on a family of two adults and two children, departing from Vancouver, BC. From this point on, I will list all the prices in US funds (because our dollar is always fluctuating) with prices as of January 2016. My goal is to give you a general idea of the overall cost of a quick trip, broken down into all the separate components. Let’s get started!
Transportation to/from – $300 USD (this is based on current gas prices and a 6L small SUV)
Driving is almost always the least expensive way for a group of 3 or more to travel in North America, so we are going to go with that. Because there are two licensed adults in the car, they can take turns driving and skip the hotel completely. If you get tired, pull over onto one of the beautiful rest stops along I-5. These lovely rest stops have security, clean washrooms and vending machines. You can even read reviews for them online! Total distance to and from Anaheim is approximately 4200km.
Food – $225 USD
With the right amount of pre-vacation prep, you can cut this expense way down. Pack a picnic basket or cooler with meals and snacks to enjoy on the road to avoid the crazy roadside mini-mart prices on junk food (TIP: Most gas stations have a microwave you can use to heat food). The kids will eat healthier and you can avoid any surprise reactions to new foods while zipping down the highway 50 km from the nearest rest stop. You will also save on restaurants while on the road and this can save some major time! Bring a water bottle for every member of the group and a large, full water jug that you can refill from. My daughter and I like icy cold water, so I brought our insulated water bottles and filled the to the brim with ice before we left, topping off with water frequently. I also filled a small thermos with ice in case ours melted (which it did, so we were happy to have it!). I packed juice boxes for the kids, energy drinks for my husband and some cold coffee drinks for myself.
Pack enough breakfast and snack items to see you through the entire vacation and drive home, and don’t forget bowls, plates and cutlery! This will take up cargo space in the vehicle, but because it is a 5 night trip you won’t need too much luggage. A medium size cooler and grocery tote should do it.
To save on meals in the park you can share large meals, bring in your own water (TIP: they offer free ice water at all restaurants, but it is not filtered. The water in the Baby Care areas IS filtered) and your own snacks. Just make sure you do not use glass containers, they are not permitted in the park. Small, soft sided coolers are permitted so you can even pack perishables. Here’s a full breakdown of the food budget:
Groceries from home – $50 USD
2 park lunches – $40 USD
2 park dinners – $75 USD
Dinner on the drive home – $60 USD
Accommodations for 3 nights – $440 USD
There are MANY hotels within walking distance of the park, and that is what we are looking at here. Make sure to read the recent reviews before deciding on which one works for you. Also pay attention to the fees so you don’t end up being nickel and dimed for wifi, parking or resort fees. I found a few nice hotels with pools that offered clean, quiet rooms at $129 per night (off-season) and a $4 parking fee. The price above reflects the hotel cost including taxes and fees listed on their website.
Park Passes – $714 USD
Disneyland in Anaheim boasts two amazing parks: Disneyland and California Adventure. Both parks are packed full of rides, shows and entertainment in a compact area. It is quite possible to cover the majority of each park within a day if you are up for it! This cost is based on 2 adult 2-day park passes, and 2 child 2-day park passes. These passes do not have magic morning, so you may wish to schedule your visit on days with longer visiting hours to get the most bang for your buck. Be aware that the weekends often have longer park hours, but you will spend far more time in line ups. Weekdays the parks may close earlier, but in the off-season, you can expect very short line waits. I will be writing up another post soon to help you make the most of your Disney time. (TIP: cash in your AirMiles for park passes!)
Souvenirs – $100 USD
This number can vary greatly depending on the person and situation, but this is just a basic amount based on $25 per person. It is enough to cover those iconic Mickey Ears, a t-shirt, a new stuffed toy, or a multitude of other lovely items for you to remember your magical vacation :).
TOTAL VACATION COST – $1779 USD
Not too bad, right? Here is your itinerary
Day 1 – After an early lunch, pile into the car and drive!
Day 2 – Arrive in Anaheim, enjoy Downtown Disney and your hotel’s pool
Day 3 – Disneyland day
Day 4 – California Adventure Park day
Day 5 – Take a morning swim, check out, start driving
Day 6 – You’re home! Time for a nap 😉
Now what are you waiting for? Get packing!