A trip to Disneyland is expensive. Add flights and other travel costs and you’ve made an investment that you want to feel good about. And, while simply purchasing a park entry ticket will suffice for an amazing day of fun, there are several add-ons that I find are totally worth the money.
My husband (whose favorite ride at Disneyland is the tram back to the car) occasionally questions these add-ons. However, once he sees the end results, he’s always
totally excited about pleased with the outcome of these additional expenses.
Consider these extras for your next visit to Disneyland:
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
The princess years come and go quickly, so I highly recommend indulging in the boutique if your budget allows. For children ages 3-12, a darling boutique just beyond Sleeping Beauty’s Castle will make over your daughter in all her princess glory. A few tips:
- Bring your own dress in and purchase the Coach Package for $54.95, which includes hair and makeup. (Add $5 for nails, too, if you wish.) Your little one will leave with a sash and backpack filled with all her makeover materials to enjoy later on.
- Schedule your session in the morning so that you get the most for your money. Your princess will enjoy the ‘new look’ all day and into the evening if you start early.
- Reservations can be made by calling (714) 781-STYLE (7895).
- Review my Princess post for more details on the BBB and even more princessy options. (You can never have enough princessy options.)
A Character Meal
When I first started visiting Disneyland, I didn’t know about character meals, nor did I understand the benefits. I encourage you to plan on at least one character meal. Here’s how and why:
- These meals allow you to accomplish three things in one stop, which will save you lots of time standing in line at the park trying to do the same. First, you’ll get to enjoy a nice meal. Second, you’ll get character interaction and photographs. And, third, you can grab those elusive autographs kids go crazy for.
- Consider an indulgence at any of the 5 character meal options (at Disneyland, California Adventure or at one of the DLR Hotels) for your dining experience.
- All reservations can be made online or you can call (714) 781-DINE (3463) between 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM daily (Pacific Time). Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance.
- Don’t forget to bring your camera and autograph book!
- Think about other dining experiences, also, at the three DLR Hotels. Non-character meals have their advantages, too.
A Guided Tour
If you are an extreme Disney fan, one of the tours might be right for you. There’s a variety of options and they all have unique extras.
I’ve done one of them (Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps) and am so thrilled that I did. We toured the park, listened to vintage Walt Disney audio, saw the inside of Walt’s apartment (!!!!!!), ate lunch at Jolly Holiday Bakery, enjoyed 3 attractions with no wait and left with collector pins. I can’t say enough about this experience. Consider all of the tour options Disneyland offers. There are several! Some things to know:
- Tours have age restrictions and many are not suitable for young children.
- Absolutely bring your camera.
- Wear good shoes because you’ll be walking a lot.
- If you have options for timing, go with the earliest in the day to avoid a hot afternoon.
I’m a big believer in buying things that will last from Disneyland and Mickey Ears are at the top of that list. They’re timeless, can be personalized and will be something to save for years to come.
I bought all three of our children (those guys in the picture) their ears at their first visit and for several years, I carried them in my backpack for subsequent visits and photo ops. Now, they’re displayed in our children’s rooms and will be for a very long time. Some tips:
- Disneyland has three Mad Hatter stores that sell Mickey ears. You can find one on Main Street, in Fantasyland near the Tea Cups or by Splash Mountain in Critter Country.
- At California Adventure, find them at Boardwalk Bizarre, Oswald’s, Sarge’s Surplus Hut or Seaside Souvenirs.
- Have yours personalized for a small additional fee.
- Consider the headband variety for yourself. It will actually hold your hair back well throughout the day. Plus, they’re so cute in photos!
PhotoPass+ is a photography service Disneyland offers. Although you’ll likely take plenty of photos yourself, this service makes sense because you’ll actually show up in pictures rather than just taking them.
Preserving those memories with professional photography totally makes sense to me. And, since you’re doing all the planning, it’s nice to think that you’ll have photos to show that you actually exist. Details:
- Pre-order PhotoPass+ (at least 14 days) before arriving and pay $69.95, rather than $99.95.
- If you pre-order, a card will arrive in the mail prior to your trip. Show your PhotoPass+ card to Disney photographers throughout both Disneyland and California Adventure and have them take unlimited photos of you and your family in iconic photo op locations.
- Enjoy seeing the images from select attractions, too. (Don’t worry. You don’t have to show anyone if they capture you crying on Space Mountain.)
- Include “Magic Shot” photos by asking the photographer to help you set up holding Tinkerbell or other Disney characters in your photos. The characters will be photoshopped in before you leave with your images. Here’s an example:
- Take home a photo CD with all your images in one place with customization options available.
- If you don’t pre-order, no problem. Upon entry, find a photographer hanging out near the large flower Mickey just beyond the gates. He’ll give you a card after taking your first photo. As you tour the park, hand over the same card for all photos taken. Stop by the Photo Pass Service building on Main Street before leaving to pay and grab your CD filled with images.
Bonus tip: A “fancy” meal at Disneyland (Blue Bayou) or California Adventure (Carthay Circle) is a fun experience, too. Prices are high ($45 for surf & turf), but for a special occasion, I’d consider these two restaurants. Leaving the busyness of the park for fine dining feels good and you’ll enjoy the rest of your day afterward.
So, in summary, there are a multitude of additional spending opportunities at Disneyland. Know your options ahead of time so you can work some extras into your plan if your budget allows. If not, don’t sweat it. Disneyland is magical with or without the additional expenses. (And, if you don’t indulge now, you’ll have reason to return!)