Hey, friends! I’m FINALLY getting around to posting about our recent trip to Disneyland! We booked this trip back in May and looked forward to it for several months! The boys would repeatedly ask when we were going and we would repeatedly tell them, “AFTER Christmas!”
We chose Disneyland because we had been here before and stayed at the Grand Californian and LOVED how convenient it was to getting to/from the parks. Cash is in kindergarten and no longer naps, but Gage who is in Pre-K still naps during the week. He doesn’t nap on the weekends, but we were worried that the long days at Disney might require some naps.
Those that know me well know I’m a planner and super organized. #nerd I booked the flights to LA as soon as Southwest opened the window for December bookings! I wanted to make sure to get direct flights. I loathe layovers… It’s just wasted time! The only direct flight to LAX on December 26th was at 6:10 AM!!! Ack! A 6:10 AM flight on the day after Christmas with busy holiday travel meant we HAD to get to the airport at 4! We live an hour away from the airport so Jeff and I were up at 2 and we left town at 3! THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS! Needless to say, I had the littles in bed by 7 and the bigs in bed by 8 the night prior.
Here is my crew all smiles as we left town at 3 AM!
And here is my crew, still smiling, at 6 AM after we boarded the plane.
It was Cash & Gage’s first flight so it all had to be documented. 😉
So that early morning direct flight that I worked so hard to make sure we had… Yah, it had a flight change and we actually had a layover in Las Vegas for an hour. *eyeroll* We didn’t have to leave the plane so Gage and I made good use of our time taking selfies (ignore my extremely tired eyes!) while Kelby & Kevyn made TikTok videos on the mostly empty plane. Haha!
We finally made it to the Grand Californian around 11, but our room was not quite ready yet. I had ordered groceries to be delivered (we got a room with a kitchen) and needed to wait on that delivery before heading to the park. So we killed time exploring the lobby and then walked to Downtown Disney to have lunch.
Look at the size of that pizza!!!
Shortly after we finished lunch, I received a phone call that our grocery delivery would be arriving soon and I should meet him at the valet drop off. I should mention that the Grand Californian can accept grocery deliveries for you and will deliver them to your room when you return from the park in the evening IF you are not getting alcohol. I had ordered a bottle of wine and Jeff ordered a few beers to enjoy in the evenings so we had to wait to sign for the groceries ourselves.
Once we checked our groceries with guest services (because our room still wasn’t ready) we headed to Disneyland! Now, as I mentioned before, this was not our first time to Disneyland. We have been here once before, have taken the kids to Disney World twice before, and have done two Disney cruises. (We love Disney!) But this was the first time we bought our tickets with the PhotoPass that sends all your ride photos and other various spots throughout the parks to you. Y’all! It was worth every. single. penny!!! It was so nice to have all your photos sent to you!
Ok, now to the part I know many of you are wondering… How much does Disneyland cost and how we saved some money! Let’s start with the big one…
The Grand Californian – So I really don’t have any good news here for you. The Grand Californian is expensive. We chose this hotel versus the others for four reasons… 1. Location! It is the closest hotel to the two parks – Disneyland and California Adventure. Disneyland is a short walk and California Adventure you literally (in our case) go down the elevator and out the private entrance into the park! 2. We wanted a kitchen. Food at Disney can be ridiculously overpriced so anytime you have an opportunity to make your own meals, DO IT! 3. We knew we would appreciate the extra space that the Villas offer. Ours had two bedrooms, a living area/kitchen, and three full baths. 4. In order to utilize the Extra Magic hours, you need to stay at a Disney resort. Basically, we felt the extra money was worth it for all these reasons.
Flights – I am a big believer in booking early! Like, I usually know the exact day that Southwest is going to open the booking window and will have reminder set on my calendar. I’ve found that this is the best way to get direct flights (which I’m all about!) and get the best price! Now, we LOVE Southwest airlines and try to solely fly with them so we can rack up our points. On this particular trip, Jeff flew free so I only had 5 flights to buy. We also have a Southwest Airlines credit card and earn points that way as well. If you are interested in a Southwest Airlines credit card, use THIS LINK and we BOTH benefit!
I should also mention that I’ve booked early and then later re-booked my flights at a lower price during a sale. Southwest will credit your account with the money and I think you have a year to use it. When I did it, I called an agent as I wanted to make sure my flight did not change, just the price!
Disneyland tickets – Prior to our trip, I shopped online to try and find the best deal. I ended up getting my family all a MaxPass through Sam’s Club at a discounted rate. A MaxPass is your ticket, FastPass, and PhotoPass all in one.
Food – This is the area that I really feel we save money! Something I learned many vacations ago is to get a hotel room with a kitchen if it is an option. Yes, the room will cost more. But for a family of 6, we saved some serious money by not eating all 3 meals at Disney. Most days we ate at least one meal and sometimes two meals at our hotel. As I mentioned previously, we had food delivered to our hotel. THIS CAN SAVE YOU SO MUCH MONEY!!! We had two cases of water delivered so that every day we could put a few bottles in our backpack to take the park. We also ordered sandwich stuff for quick lunches and stuff to make our breakfasts. And, if you like an adult beverage in the evenings like we do, order that! Kelby and I were in the hotel gift shop one evening and a single can of beer was $12!
Also, we fly with a cooler. Yes, you heard me right. We freeze food and fly with it. We started doing this a few years ago after we found out Kevyn had a sensitivity to dairy. I feel better when I know I can bring food that she enjoys that will not upset her stomach. Plus, again, it saves you money!!!
So what do we pack in our cooler? Well, mostly pre-made casseroles because there is nothing easier than coming home from a long day at Disney and throwing a casserole in the oven while everyone showers. We’ve also taken frozen brisket and pulled pork to make into chopped beef sandwiches and pulled pork sandwiches. We just made sure we had some buns and bbq sauce on our grocery order. Also, if I have room, I throw in some frozen fruit in there as well.
THIS is the cooler we use along with THESE straps. And THESE are the plastic ovenware that I use to freeze my casseroles in. I just toss them after we are done. (You can stack 4 casseroles in the cooler and then slide a bag of frozen brisket along the side if you were wondering.)
I’m going to try to get Day 2 posted plus some tips on making your trip to Disneyland more enjoyable for the entire family in the next few days. Be sure to subscribe and follow my blog via email so you don’t miss it!