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As Disney Prices Rise, How To Make Your Trip Affordable

All images belong to Jorge Villalba villalba.jorge1@gmail.com / Getty Images

Anyone who wants to experience the magic of Disney parks is about to pay extra for it.  

Prices have increased for everything from park tickets to the Genie+ add-on service. Single-park tickets at Disneyland, depending on the tier, now range anywhere from $115 to $179. Those purchasing Park Hopper passes, enabling them to go to Disneyland and California Adventure on the same day, will pay anywhere from $179 to $244.

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The Genie+ add-on service, which allows guests to enjoy their favorite rides without long waits, is also increasing from $20 to $25 per day at Disneyland.

At Walt Disney World, ticket prices were raised in February and are not part of the recent bump. But the price for Genie+ will vary instead of remaining a flat fee.

While there’s nothing magical about the sticker shock of these price increases, it is possible to navigate a visit to Disney parks on a budget. Here’s how to find the best deals while carefully determining which experiences matter most to you and your family.

Make Your Money Work for You

Buy Disney Gift Cards

An overwhelming number of frequent Disney visitors whom GOBankingRates spoke to insisted the best budget hack for visiting Disneyland and Disney World is buying gift cards. 

Disney gift cards can easily be purchased in bulk at retailers such as Target, BJs Wholesale Club and Sam’s Club. You can use them to pay for your park tickets or any merchandise you want to buy while visiting the parks. The general recommendation is to put these gift cards toward your shopping and souvenir budget and spend the entire balance during your trip.

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Bring Your Own Food

This is a tip that never gets old when visiting Disney Parks. Disneyland and Disney World both allow visitors to bring outside food and non-alcoholic beverages to the parks. If you need a place to store your food, Kristy Esparza, founder of JJ & The Bug, recommends leaving your lunches and snacks in the lockers near the picnic area located outside the Disneyland main entrance. 

Make Your Money Work for You

Bringing your own food means saving money on dining throughout the day. It also means you can pack all of your kids’ favorite foods, especially if they have dietary restrictions, and avoid struggling to find empty tables at crowded restaurants during peak meal times.

Remember to keep hydrated by refilling bottled water at nearby fountains. In the event you need to spring for a churro snack, put it on your Disney gift card. 

Visit the Parks During Shoulder Season

Your visit to Disney parks should be scheduled in the shoulder seasons. Ideally, the general recommendation is planning to go in late January or early February. 

While Disney parks are generally busy year round, there are fewer crowds after the holidays. This gives families planning for Disney trips the ability to get reservations and rooms at the hotels they want and access more rides during their visits.

Skip the Park Hopper

Families visiting Disney World may want to consider whether they’ll benefit from a Park Hopper pass.

Make Your Money Work for You

The reason to reconsider buying the Park Hopper, according to the Disney Parks enthusiasts GOBankingRates spoke with, is that it takes significantly more time to travel between the Orlando parks. Large families or groups may find they’re spending more time traveling to a park than they are enjoying the overall experience. 

The same can be said about the Park Hopper option at Disneyland. Consider which park you want to spend the most time in and save money by paying for a ticket specific to that park only.

Reconsider Adding Genie+

Esparza enjoyed a family trip to Disneyland earlier this month. She went with her husband and two sons, who are 5 and 7 years old. 

The family decided to use Genie+ for their Disneyland day. However, what surprised Esparza was how much the kids enjoyed the smaller activities. Their favorite parts of the day were experiences where you generally don’t need to use Genie+, like visits to the Enchanted Tiki Room and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. 

Esparza recommends weighing whether Genie+ is worth it for your family. This answer varies based on the rides and experiences you prioritize at the parks. When in doubt, find a moment to slow down and enjoy Disneyland magic through the eyes of your family members. You’ll be able to save more and better enjoy being in the moment together.

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