The Cost of a Family Trip to Disneyland

Thanks for sticking with me through this long personal odyssey through three days in Anaheim.

Here is the simple expense report for three days in Disneyland, two adults and two kids:

Park Tickets
Lunches in Park
Other Food
Dinners outside
Resort Shuttle


Calculating Price per Ride
Another facet of the story is revealed if we analyze the data making up my park experience.

With my $199 three-day ticket, I experienced twelve characters, thirty rides, three walk-throughs, four parades and one fireworks show.

Obviously the "ride" is the base unit of entertainment in the resort, but I needed numbers for character interactions, parades etc., so I came up with relative values to those activities and tweaked them until my total price equalled that $199.

Thus my trip can be dissected into 30 rides at $4.70 each, twelve character visits for $2 each, three walk-throughs for $3, four parades for $5, and a fireworks show for $5.

I could also divide the price by the total number of hours being entertained to the Disneyth degree, but I'm not going to bother. I'll just tell you it was well worth it.

A Crowded Park is Less Entertaining
The data reinforces the sense that you get a lot more for your dollar when the park isn't crowded. For example, we were able to experience 47% more fun on Friday at a wide-open California Adventure ($76.10) than Saturday at a busy Disneyland ($51.60).

Both Nick and Alisha had a story of the ultimate deserted Disneyland experience on a day when it was lightly raining.

Park Hopper Tickets are unneccessary.
For $15 more per ticket per day, you can give yourself the flexibility to visit both parks on each day. In most cases, this is not neccessary. This is like buying a $100 gift certificate that works at both Macy's and Nordstrom for $120. I recommend just commiting yourself to one park per day. It isn't like you are going to run out of things to do at Disneyland.

Check out Disneyland Ticket prices here.

The Ticket Hack
If you really want to cheat the ticket price, share your tickets. Buy the six-day tickets, use them for three days and transfer them to another family for the final three days. The tickets are good for 13 days after you first use them, and that fourth, fifth and sixth day are amazingly cheap.

Updated Prices

Adult Ticket Price (Single Park)

  2011 2012
1 day $80 $87
2 day $158 $170
3 day $199 $220
4 day $219 $245
5 day $230 $260
6 day $235 n/a
Day Event Name Event Type Price
Thursday Pluto Character $2.00
Sleeping Beauty's castle Walkthrough $3.00
Car Toon Spin Ride $4.70
Snow White Character $2.00
Mad Hatter Character $2.00
Mary Poppins Character $2.00
Jafar Character $2.00
Malificent Character $2.00
Snow White's Scary Adventure Ride $4.70
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters Ride $4.70
Submarine Voyage Ride $4.70
Jungle Cruise Ride $4.70
Tarzan treehouse Walkthrough $3.00
Jasmin Character $2.00
Tigger Character $2.00
Pooh Character $2.00
Splash mountain Ride $4.70
Haunted Mansion Ride $4.70
Thunder Mountain Ride $4.70
Thunder Mountain Ride $4.70
Parade Parade $5.00
Thursday Total $71.30
Friday Ariel's Undersea Adventure Ride $4.70
Golden Zephyr Ride $4.70
Jumping Jellyfish Ride $4.70
Soarin' over California Ride $4.70
Grizzly River Run Ride $4.70
Phineas and Ferb Dance Parade $5.00
Goofy flight school Ride $4.70
Goofy Character $2.00
Goofy flight school Ride $4.70
Tower of Terror Ride $4.70
Tower of Terror Ride $4.70
Incredibles Parade $5.00
Ladybug Ride $4.70
California Screaming Ride $4.70
California Screaming Ride $4.70
Grizzly River Run Ride $4.70
Wilderness Explorer Area Walkthrough $3.00
Friday Total $76.10
Saturday Captain Hook Character $2.00
Small World Ride $4.70
Peter Pan's Flight Ride $4.70
Autopia Ride $4.70
Star tours Ride $4.70
Thunder Mountain Ride $4.70
Cruella deVille Character $2.00
Space Mountain Ride $4.70
Parade Parade $5.00
Fireworks Show Show $5.00
Pinocchio's Daring Journey Ride $4.70
Alice in Wonderland Ride $4.70
Saturday Total $51.60
Grand Total $199.00

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