Why Do Frugal People Go To Disneyland?

being frugal at Disneyland
Can you be frugal and still go to Disneyland?

As some of you may know, our family has a big trip to Europe coming up this summer. It will be our daughter’s first international trip. In fact, none of us have ever been on a trip of this magnitude.With the transportation and lodging all booked, we are starting to plan what we actually want to do when we get there.

We are not cool people who can float with the wind. Without plans, our adventures turn into chaos pretty quickly, and we want to take advantage of any advance discounts. One of the places we’re considering for our trip is Disneyland Paris.

Disney can be the bane of a money saver’s existence. Overpriced admissions, food, drinks, and souvenirs disguised in mouse ears can really trip up a travel budget. It almost makes me wonder why frugal people actually go to Disneyland.

Our Disneyland Experience

reasons people go to Disneyland
This is why we went to Disneyland!

We did go to Disneyland California a few years ago. It was halfway through our debt payoff journey. After almost a year of spending as little as possible, we needed a reward. Lest you think we went all crazy with the Pirates of the Caribbean, I can honestly say that this was the first frugal trip we ever took. Most everything was paid in advance with money earned from side hustles or gift cards we already had.

After that trip, I thought we could cross Disney off our list forever. I’d rather sit in a nest of spiders than to go to Disney World in Orlando. We were done with the house of mouse.

Our daughter had just turned 5 before this trip, and now I am starting to realize that she doesn’t remember much of it. Yes, she remembers bits and pieces, but it isn’t the nice happy Disney memory I hoped she would have. Do you have to go to Disney for a happy childhood? No. Do I want her to remember that her mother stood in line for 2 and a half hours to meet Rapunzel? Yes!

Why Would You Go To Disneyland In Paris?

Why not? While we would not fly all the way to France specifically to visit Disneyland, we will have four days in Paris as part of our travel plans. I’m sure there will be lots of this trip that involves things an 8 year old doesn’t particularly enjoy. With the promise of a Disney adventure, I bet we can get her walking 10 miles without a complaint.

Plus, it’s an interesting life experience. People in our area do not go to Europe, at least when they have young kids at home. Whether it’s because of cost, lack of desire, or fear of the unknown, it just doesn’t happen. Our kiddo probably won’t remember fine art sculptures, but I think she would remember this part of the trip for always.

How Much Does Disneyland Paris Cost?

I was pleasantly surprised at the cost to visit Disneyland Paris. Granted the park is much smaller than Walt Disney World, but we only want to spend one day there anyway. For early admission tickets, the cost for two adults and one child is €159 or $189 IF you buy through the European site.

The French site offers three choices in tickets, Mini, Magic, or Super Magic. Mini is for low season and is the cheapest. Magic has more availability but is more expensive. Super Magic has no blackout days and is the most costly. For our dates, the Magic ticket will work. If you go to the US Disney Paris site, the only option is Super Magic tickets! Je suis une touriste americaine stupide! (I am a stupid American tourist)

I can read a little French, but even without speaking a lick of Francais, it’s possible to view the site in English first then change to French or use a program to translate it into English. To buy the tickets on the US site, the cost would have been $258. It pays to do your homework.

If you also compare the price to Disneyland California at $282 or Disney World’s Magic Kingdom at $310, it makes Disneyland Paris the cheapest alternative to revisit the most magical place on earth.

How Much For Food and Transportation?

There is a train from Paris right to the entrance of Disneyland for €7.50 or $8.80 one way, and I believe kids get a discount but I haven’t figured it out just yet.

As for eating, Disney parks forbid outside food and drink, but that rule seems to be loosely enforced. You can’t bring in a gigantic cooler and set up a smorgasbord, but snacks or sandwiches in a backpack seem to be allowed through security. If we don’t eat the rip off food there, it shouldn’t cost more to eat at Disneyland than anywhere else.

What We Won’t Be Doing So We Can Afford Disneyland

We’ve decided to avoid some of the major tourist attractions on this trip. While it might seem like sacrilege to go to Paris and skip the Louvre, we just aren’t that artistic. I grew up in Kentucky, where fine art meant having a life size Kentucky Wildcat painted on your bedroom wall. I don’t want to waste my day fighting crowds to get a glimpse of Mona Lisa. We’ll go to a museum, just probably not that one.

We also probably won’t go to the top of the Eiffel Tower or ride the London Eye. Just viewing them from the ground is enough.

The other thing we won’t be doing is taking taxis. Just by walking and using public transportation, we can save enough to buy Disney tickets. I won’t hesitate to hail a cab if we get hopelessly lost and are in danger of a meltdown, but the plan is to get around on the cheap. Taxis scare the crap out of me in the US, so I can’t imagine how crazy they must be in major European cities.

Nothing is set in stone, but if we are frugal about most days, we can splurge for one at Disneyland.

Why Do Frugal People Go To Disneyland?

For the experience. Like it or not, if you have a young child, the place they probably want to go the most in the world is Disney. I never got the chance when I was a kid, so maybe I’m living vicariously through my daughter.

I know people can rationalize spending for just about anything, but I do think it’s good to show kids the reward for making and saving money. We have a regular dialogue in our house about why we don’t spend foolishly so that we can spend on what is important to us. I also think, even at her age, she knows to appreciate things like a trip to Disney, even if she might not really know how lucky she is until much, much later in life!

Can you be frugal and still go to places like Disneyland? Do you think we should spend a day at Disneyland Paris? Are we missing out if we skip the Louvre?

Disneyland Paris Image: Wikipedia Commons

 

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Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of Snipon.com.

36 Comments

  1. Shout out to growing up in the KY!!! As such, I never got to travel until I was an adult. My parents took my sister and me to Disney World when I was 16 and my sister was 5. It was fun, but I was at that awkward age where you don’t want to spend time with your family.

    But now that I’ve moved to Los Angeles, I go to Disney Land once every year for my birthday. If you’re smart, Disney doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It sounds like you guys have a good plan.

  2. Yay! Disneyland. I think those people who go to such theme parks have and should have extra money to fully enjoy the experience, considering also it’s outside the country. As long as you have budgeted it beforehand, you will never go wrong. Just stick to the plan. Enjoy!

  3. Hi,
    I live near Paris and my husband actually works at Disneyland so I can offer some advice.
    I would definitely try to go on a Tu-Th if you can, it is less crowded. You can most certainly take your own food, including sandwiches and such. There are water fountains everywhere. There are 2 parks, the main with the castle and the Studios, always less crowded and with a new attraction, the Ratatouille ride that I highly recommend. Some of the rides are pretty much the same in bith parks, the setting is different is all, you always have less waiting time in the Studios.lots of the rides are under construction as of now but should be available at summer time.

    I would recommend that you try the London Eye or, if it’s too much of a wait, you have a beautiful view from the St. Paul’s church tower which is cheaper(much cheaper). In Paris, you have beautiful views from the eiffel tiwer of course but also from the Notre Dame tower or the Sacred Heart’s tower. Climb one, it really is worth it. You could take a day trip to Versailles during your stay, it’s pretty impressive. So are the lines unfortunately.
    Have a nice preparation time and trip this summer.

    1. Thanks so much for your input. We will be in Paris mid week, so that’s probably when we’d go. I appreciate the inside information from a local.

  4. I think it depends on each child. My parents waited until I was 8 to take me to places of historical significance, like Philadelphia, New York, and I loved the museums, even then. But they did wait til I was 11 to take me to Europe. I’m sure y’all’ll have a great time!

    1. I’m not sure if 8 is old enough, but I’m also never sure if points redemptions will be readily available in the future or what our time schedule will look like in a few years. If our daughter gets involved with some sort of sport or activity during the summer months, we might not have three weeks to do it down the road. I think we’ll go for it and hope for the best.

  5. Paris can be wonderful. Might take a little creativity to keep your daughter into it, but still very doable. My parents took my sister and I to Germany at around her age. They still think it was one of the best things they did as parents. Food in Paris will be better, but my parents hit the jackpot when they found some erdnusscreme at a store in a little village… Peanut butter. I really think you should soak up all the local culture possible when traveling (don’t eat at the Hard Rock Cafe) but some luxuries from home can really make a difference too! Hope you enjoy. And can’t wait to hear about it!!

    1. One of my biggest worries is feeding my very picky husband and a child who has never really eaten outside the box. Hopefully we’ll have a good experience. That’s funny about the Hard Rock Cafe. On the only trip I’ve ever taken to Europe, we got so tired of Italian food that we started salivating when we saw a HRC with American food. I guess we are creatures of habit!

  6. I’ve been to Disneyland Paris. Make sure when you go that you are NOT expecting it to be like Disneyland CA. The park is run according to the tastes and culture of Europeans. The cast members will not be overly friendly, it may seem rude to a lot of Americans. Also the standards of the park might not be as high. For example, damage is repaired immediately at the US parks, Disneyland Paris will take their time getting to it. When they change out landscaping at the US parks, they do it overnight. At Disneyland Paris they may remove the current landscaping one day and not get the new stuff in for a couple of days. When I went, the planters all around Small World were just dirt. I’m not saying that Disneyland Paris is not worth going to, but just don’t picture that it will be a carbon copy of the US parks.

    1. That’s good to know, and maybe why it’s not as expensive? We won’t go in expecting Magic, maybe just a little Pixie dust.

  7. Ugh, I’ve always been major league anti-Disney, I’m just not sure how much longer I can keep that up with 4 kids in the house. 🙂 I have a feeling we’ll be going one day ourselves. And I’d totally skip the Louvre and the “inside” Eiffel Tower trip in favor of something more kid-friendly. Great choice you’ve made, IMHO. 🙂

    1. I’m not anti-Disney. I just hate the way they market so hard to kids. Even going in the Disney store seems like you are an awful parent if you aren’t buy a bunch of stuff. That’s probably why we never went when I was a kid, that and the fact that my Dad has zero patience for lines or crowds!

  8. My family and I road-tripped from Minnesota to Florida twice when I was younger. Those were two of the best vacations of my life, and definitely are two of the most memorable times in my childhood. Disney is expensive, but if you have kids I think it’s totally worth it.

    1. That’s good to know that you remember it and value it as one of your better childhood memories. Half the time I wonder if we are doing stuff more for us or for our daughter.

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