A trip to Disneyland is always a special treat--they don't call it “The Happiest Place on Earth” for nothing. But a visit to the magical theme park can easily empty your wallet; a single one-day ticket can cost more than P3,000 already. If you want to stick to a budget, here are ways on how you can save money (the tips are based on visits to Disneyland Hong Kong and Tokyo).
1. Come prepared. Bring your own umbrella, caps and hats, sunblock lotion (important for all that walking under the sun!) and even jackets in case it gets chilly. Don't forget raincoats, too, if you’re planning on going on water rides. They do sell these at the attractions, but they do not come cheap.
2. Think of buying Disney merchandise elsewhere--ahead of time. It will be tempting to buy t-shirts, hats, or mouse ear headbands when you see loads of people in full Disney garb. Avoid the tempation by shopping at our local department stores, which often carry a wide range of Disney products. This will not only save you money, but your kids won't be as takaw-mata.
3. Bring a water bottle. Disneyland Hong Kong doesn’t allow food in the park, but you can get away with a reusable water bottle (just make sure it isn’t glass). Water fountains can be found in many spots in the park. Food is notoriously costly in the Disney theme parks. However, Disneyland Tokyo has a designated picnic area just outside the park entrance. Tip: pack your food in disposable containers. Another good idea is to have a heavy brunch before you enter. 4. Be wise about where you eat. For lunch and dinner, opt for the counter-service and cafeteria-style restaurants for value meals. Of course, a slice of pizza or a hotdog sandwich (with a large drink) will still be costly than when you buy it outside the theme park. But it cheaper than the sit-down restaurants (where the waiter takes your order at the table). If you don’t need large portions, kids' meals are also cheaper and usually come with a side and drink.
5. Don’t underestimate the map. If you’re going for a 1-day pass, the theme park's map is your best friend. You get a picture of the distances (read: the walking you need to do) of each ride or attraction. So prioritize: which is the attraction or ride you don't want to miss? Is there are a show you want to catch? Plan your route and include queue waiting times in your schedule. Unless you have an express ticket where you can skip lines (separate cost from your entrance fee), waiting time for popular rides can last for an hour and 20 minutes (we are not kidding).
6. Collect free souvenirs. The ticket cards, passes and maps themselves already make great souvenirs. The coin pressers found all over the park are probably the most affordable souvenir. These come out embossed with all sorts of Disney designs. But if you expect your kids to still get whiny about other Disneyland merch, you can promise them these free souvenirs:
Battery-powered Disney light sticks that they sometimes hand to visitors staying for the fireworks at the end of the day
Jungle Cruise Map at the end of the Jungle Cruise ride (you have to ask one of the cast members for one, and they usually ask for a joke in return)
Disneyland driver’s license after the Ride Autopia
Stickers from the different cast members who walk around the park for photo opportunities (grown-ups, they give it to kids)
7. Avoid data charges. The theme parks usually have free Wi-Fi in certain places. In Hong Kong Disneyland, it is near the main entrance, in shopping and dining areas, and along the parade route. See exactly where here. 8. Visit off-season. Prices are usually higher on popular months and days of the year, like summer time, Halloween and the days around Christmas. Save by visiting during the off-season from September through March. There will be less people, which means shorter lines and faster waiting times.
9. Decide on a budget ahead of time. These tips are all for naught if you can’t help but give in to the kids once you’re already there. Hence, it is important you sit the family down and set the family budget before the trip. If you want to stem the expenses, give the kids pocket money, which they are free to spend however they wish. It will force them to wait before buying the first thing they see inside the theme park.