A trip to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park can cost you a pretty penny. Admission tickets are very expensive, the cost for a 3-day park hopper pass for a family of 4 (2 adults + 2 kids between ages 3-9, 10 and up pay adult price) is $1038. This allows you to enjoy both parks for 3 days and includes one Magic Morning when you can enter the parks 1 hour before it opens. Single day/single park admission is $90 for kids and $96 for adults.
(I’ve heard that Disney is scheduling a price increase sometime in 2016 so check current pricing when you plan your Disney vacation)
Aside from admission tickets there are Disney “extras” through out the park and Disney hotels. There’s also the costs for parking, character meals and special event seating if you choose to purchase them. And of course the cost for meals, snacks, and souvenirs while you’re in the park. Disney does not allow outside food inside the park unless it’s from the Disney hotel’s club lounges.
We took the kids and grandkids to both parks last year, here are the “deals” we encountered and what we thought of them. We stayed at Disney’s Paradise Hotel Club Rooms and purchased 3-day park hopper passes. We also purchased several in-room celebration packages, The World of Color Dining Package, a Photo Pass and a Character Breakfast at the PCH Grill in the hotel. The only other extra we considered but didn’t purchase was the Fantasmic Premium Seating Dessert Package.
Paradise Hotel Club Room – Definitely worth it! The breakfast, snacks, and drinks were well worth the extra $50 per night we paid for each room. Club Rooms include:
- Priority check-in
- Poolside, standard and theme park view rooms
- Cast Members available prior to and during your visit for reservations and vacation planning
- The exclusive Beachcomber Club lounge featuring complimentary:
- Continental breakfast
- Snacks including fresh fruit
- Coffee, tea, sodas and other beverages
- Evening wine and cheese reception
- Nightly turndown service
- Family Movies
The great part about Club Rooms in my opinion are the snacks which you can scoop up and bring to the parks. The Club Lounge is always stocked with fresh fruit, small bags of snacks, bottled water, juice boxes, and cans of soda. If you don’t find what you want there are attendants who will be happy to bring more out.
The lounge is open early for breakfast and is open until the wine and cheese reception. I loved being able to pop in during the day just to rest my tired feet while enjoying a cold soda and some chips, or dropping by before dinner for a glass of wine.
With the prices of drinks and snacks in the park the extra nightly cost of a Club Room is well worth it, you will spend more than $50 a day in the park just buying bottled water and drinks for the family!
In-Room Celebration Packages – A definite splurge! Was it worth it? It depends.
Packages from $35.95 for Mouse ears, autograph book, and jelly beans to $395.95 for the Mickey and Friends Birthday Bash that included banners, balloons, boxes of gifts, candies, and more. These packages can only be delivered to your room at one of the Disney Hotels.
Celebration packages include room decorations to suit the occasion.
We bought the Mickey and Friends Birthday Bash for my grandson Devon, we were celebrating his 5th. birthday at Disneyland,
a couple of Mouse ear packages for my 2 son-in-laws who had never been to Disneyland, and the Disney Snack Pack my grandson Dion because he had never been to Disneyland and we didn’t want him to feel left out. We spent over $500 for all these extras.
Again was it worth it? In my opinion it was just to see my grandkids eyes light up when we walked in to their room to see it fully decorated and gifts everywhere. I admit we went a bit overboard, I’m sure there’s a package to fit most budgets.
Character Meal – A Disney trip wouldn’t be complete without a character meal. We chose to have PCH Grill’s Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey and Friends, after we stopped by the lobby shop for more mouse ears of course! Cost for the buffet breakfast is $31 for adults, $16 for kids.
Other Disney restaurants offer character meals throughout the resort and parks. Was it worth it? The breakfast buffet included Mickey Mouse waffles, eggs, breakfast meats, cereals, and more. The food was nothing special, the service was great,
but the highlight of the morning was hanging out with Mickey and his friends.
In my opinion it was definitely worth it, you got to do it at least once, the kids, and the adults loved it.
Admission Passes – We purchased 3-Day Park Hopper Tickets with Magic Morning. You can visit both parks each day of the ticket and get one early admission morning (1 hour before parks public opening) to select attractions.
We got a military discount because my son-in-law is active duty, those passes must be purchased thru the MWR office. Military ID must be presented the first day the passes are used. This is the best pass to purchase if you want to go to both parks. Other passes are available, choose the best one to fit your budget and time. There are also annual passes and passes for California residents.
Is the extra hour worth it? In my opinion not, one benefit of staying at a Disney Resort is early admission every day of your stay, so we had it already. In reality almost everyone gets early admission so there are lines to the rides that are operating. The hour gets you on 1 ride in either park, 2 if you’re lucky to be at the front of the line to gain admission and run to the first ride. You can however obtain a fast pass to one ride before rushing to get in line for another.
World of Color Dining Package – We purchased this to get into the premium viewing area at the World of Color show in the evening.
3 restaurants in the California Adventure Park participate in this program: Ariel’s Grotto, Wine County Trattoria, and Carthay Circle Restaurant. Lunch prices for the fixed menu start at $32.39 adults, $20.50 children ages 3 to 9. Dinners start at $45.35 adults, $23.75 children ages 3 to 9.
What this means is you have lunch/dinner at one of the restaurants, after the meal you get tickets to the premium viewing area.
We had lunch at the Trattoria, the food okay, nothing special. The premium viewing area is pretty large, if you want front row viewing by the water you will need to arrive early and stake your spot. It’s standing room only, there are no seats. In my opinion you can see the show from just about anywhere around Paradise Pier
Fantasmic PremiumViewing with Dessert Sampler – $59 gets you a seat in the elevated Premium Viewing area at Rivers of America in the Disneyland Park, a dessert box, and drink.
I couldn’t see my way into spending $59/person, so we took turns saving our spot for the show. It’s a great show, but in my opinion not worth the extra cost. At least not for the Sampler pictured here!
Disney Photo Pass+ – In my opinion it’s best deal in the parks! For $99 you get a card that’s scanned every time you take photos on the rides, at character meals, or with roaming Disney park photographers. It’s valid every day you’re there. Take as many photos as you want, just remember to scan your card.
When you get home you can download the photos or request a disc be sent to you. Photos are enhanced with frames, stickers, and special magic character poses, you also get stock Disney photos. The cost of ride photos add up, this pass is worth it if you love having your photo taken. We got over 200 photos on our disc and were able to upload it to a photo sharing site to make photo book. You can also log-in to your account for 30 days after your trip to edit photos, add borders and stickers, and order photos, books, and more.
The pass is definitely worth the cost if you love having your photos taken on the rides and want to keep all those photos. The cost of one photo taken on the rides start at $14.95 each, it does come matted in a nice cardboard folder. Passes can be purchased at the character dining restaurants, the photo centers in the parks, or for a discounted price online at www.DisneyPhotoPass.com.
Fast Passes – Fast Passes are free with admission ticket, but is it worth the time to get them? The Fast Pass Kiosks aren’t always by the attraction they are for. Fast pass for Radiator Springs Racers in the California Adventure Park is by Maynard’s Junkyard Jamboree, far from the ride which is at the end of Cars land. Look out for signs to direct you to the fast pass locations for each attraction. A Fast Pass is worth it for the very popular rides, you can go on one ride while waiting for your time for the other ride. You can only get one fast pass at a time, you must scan each admission ticket each time you get a fast pass. We found it best to get fast passes for everyone in our party even if not everyone wanted to ride, that way those who wanted could ride twice.
You don’t have to purchase any of these “extras” unless you want to, but I’m almost sure you won’t be able to get out of the parks without buying something. Be prepared to pay $4 for a bottled water and even more for meals and souvenirs. A trip to Disneyland does not come cheaply!