Friday, September 27, 2013

Planning a Trip to Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm

As you may know, I recently went on vacation to Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm.  It was an unplanned vacation and we had a wonderful time.  We decided late on a Monday night that we were going and left 9 days later.  I worked 80+ hours in those 9 days.  Needless to say there was not much time to plan a vacation, yet it was one of the best times our family has shared together.  I would like to share some things that I learned to help you plan a trip to Disneyland.  However, some of the things I share may help you plan a trip to somewhere else.


Shop Around
1. When we planned our trip, we didn't have a lot of time to plan.  However, I still took some time to shop around.  I started by checking at work to see if I could find discounts through my corporation.  Discounts for Disneyland weren't that easy to come by with the short notice that we were planning.  The corporation that I work for has lots of discount programs available.  Check with your HR department to see what is available.  I was able to purchase our tickets at a savings of $22 each for Disneyland and a few dollars for Knott's Berry Farm.  Every little bit helps.
2.  On-line travel companies can save you big bucks.  My favorite place to go is Priceline.com.  I have found great deals on airline tickets, car rentals, and hotels.  I found a great hotel within walking distance of Disneyland.  More on choosing hotels later.
3.  Don't be afraid to check to see if your destination has deals.  Though I wasn't able to find a deal that suited my needs from Disneyland, you might find a hotel/ ticket deal while at a Disneyland Resort.


Choosing a hotel
1.  As mentioned before, Disneyland has it's own hotels.  Check it out and see if you can save money and meet your families' needs.
2.  Choose a hotel that offers breakfast.  This has the potential to save you big bucks.  Eating at Disneyland is a bit expensive.  The hotel we chose was a bit more expensive than some of the cheapest.  However, it provided a full hot breakfast instead of a continental one.  We typically didn't need to eat until mid to late afternoon.  More on dining later.
3.  As mentioned earlier, we chose a hotel within walking distance of Disneyland.  This saved us money every day because we didn't have to pay to park.



Dining
1.  As mentioned before, we chose a hotel that offered a full breakfast.  We usually weren't hungry until later in the day and didn't even need snacks.
2.  Disneyland's official brochure asks that you not bring food into the park.  I didn't find this until the night before our last day in the parks.  We carried snacks into the park on the first day and water bottles in each day.   Bags are checked at the entrance and nothing was said.  It seems that they unofficially allow small snacks.
3.  Water is your friend and depending on the time of year, you will need to drink lots of it.  If you carry a water bottle or purchase one in the parks, there are lots of drinking fountains to fill them.  A drink is going to cost between $3-4.
4.  There are lots of great places to eat in the parks.  We wanted to experience them so we decided to eat one meal a day in the park.  It pretty consistently ran us around $65 a meal for a family of 4 with drinks.  We tried:  Rancho del Zocalo and Redd Rockett's Pizza Fort at Disneyland, Paradise Grill at California Adventure, and Johnny Rockets at Knott's Berry Farm.  California Adventure does not refill drinks, but the others will.  This was helpful to know.
5.  The snacks in the parks are going to run around $5 each.  We didn't purchase a lot of snacks, but there are some great ones available.
6.  Knott's Berry Farm has a large drink bottle that is refillable the day of purchase.  Check it out in the morning.  We didn't know about it until near the end of the day so didn't use it.


Online Resources
Learning about what is available is very important to maximizing your Disneyland experience.  Look online, read blogs, and see what you can find out.  Don't forget to check out the Apple and Android app stores and Pinterest is loaded with ideas.  Here are some things I would look for:
Pin trading - so much fun.  Find out how you can prepare before ever leaving home
Wait times
Fast passes
Attractions - familiarize yourself with what is going on when you are scheduled to be there
Hidden Mickeys
Food


A bit more on buying tickets
The more days you buy at a time, the cheaper each day will be.  We chose 3 day passes that enabled us to get into both Disneyland Parks.  We spent 2 days at Disneyland and 1 at California Adventures.  We did not choose the park hopper option which was more expensive.  If we had it to do over again, we would probably choose the park hopper.  It would allow a bit more time to divide between the 2 parks.  This is just a little something to think about.


Packing a bag
As I mentioned, I packed snacks the first day.  What I didn't mention was that I ended up taking most of them back to the hotel.  However, there are a few things I would absolutely pack in a small backpack.
Camera
Ziplock bag (comes in handy for the camera, cell phone, and wallets on those water rides)
Water flavor packets (I really don't like water)
Sunblock
An autograph book or journal - mine is here

I hope this is helpful as you begin to plan your next trip.  Watch for more posts about Disneyland.  In the meantime, remember to take some time to enjoy the little things today.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

What fun pictures!! It looks like you had a great time!! It's been a few years since I've been and after seeing these pics, I want to go back!! Thanks for the awesome tips, too!!

Lisa
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