Disneyland tips for college students

The happiest place on Earth is not necessarily the happiest place for a student’s  wallet. Disneyland takes a toll on a college student’s bank account, but with the right tips, a Disneyland trip might be possible sooner than you expect.

Visiting Disneyland during the off-season means ticket prices stay steady and crowd levels are more manageable. The off-season ranges from mid-January to mid-March, mid-April to mid-May and then mid-September to mid-November, excluding President’s Day weekend, spring break and Halloween.

Taking a day away from work or school during the weekdays means fewer crowds and shorter lines, making the trip worth the cost. Beware of weekends and events like Dapper Day — crowd levels are not forgiving.

The biggest debate that surrounds a Disneyland trip is what kind of ticket to buy. One-day single park tickets cost $96, and a single day park Hopper ticket is $150.

Watch out for discounted tickets available at Ralphs, Vons and local supermarkets, as well as online at InsideCBU.

For those who plan to go multiple times a year, the cheapest way to make the most of your money would be to buy an annual pass.

All pass types have payment plans available. After a $96 down payment, monthly payment amounts range from $16.09 for the Southern California Select pass to $50.25 for the Premium pass.

The Premium pass is the only one without blockout days. Take advantage of days other passes cannot for shorter lines.

Passholders get at least a 10 percent discount on food and merchandise. Higher passes yield higher discounts.

Premium passholders get parking for free but every pass below that has to pay per visit. At $17, parking a vehichle is an added cost that is easy to forget. A way to offset this cost is to carpool with friends.

If walking a little farther is not a problem, parking in the Downtown Disney lot can be cheaper than parking in the structure. For the first three hours, parking is free in Downtown Disney and each additional hour costs $6, up to $30. To get into the heart of the park,use your annual pass or ticket to take the monorail straight into TomorrowLand.

Another way to cut costs at Disneyland is to bring your own food to eat right outside the park. Packing your own lunch or bringing snacks to munch on throughout the day is an option, even though you cannot bring a lunch box into the park. There are picnic areas outside of the park and you can leave any lunch box or cooler in one of the lockers.

A good way to make sure you do not break bank at Disneyland is to have a knowledge of which places are more budget-friendly. Opt for a small snack or the “fast food” places like Flo’s V-8 Café in Disney’s California Adventure Park.

Skipping out on souvenirs is an easy way to save money. Free maps of Adventureland are handed out by the exit of the Jungle Cruise and the City Hall in both parks gives out free pins and birthday buttons. Mardi Gras beads can also be caught during performances in New Orleans Square throughout the entire day.

Your favorite childhood memories do not have to seem so out of reach — Disneyland was made for everyone to enjoy, even college students on a tight budget.

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