By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer

With summer vacation officially started on Monday, plans for the next three months have been taking off. For those who are thinking of traveling, why not celebrate surviving the 2018-2019 school year by taking a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.?

Having gone there for the sixth time in March with my family, we have finally figured out ways to enjoy going to this magical, and quite expensive, theme park without having to overstress about finances and other complications. For a wonderful time at the happiest place on earth, here are some tips and techniques for first-timers and long-time visitors.

Purchase park tickets online
For all six trips, my family has been getting deals through Mouse Savers and Undercover Tourist to purchase park hopper tickets for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. Both sites provided us with prices cheaper than what the ticket booths in the park would cost. When we needed five-day park hoppers for our trip in March, Mouse Savers was selling them for $289 each while Disneyland was going for $395. This saved us a total of $424 for the four of us, giving us that much more money to play with that could go toward food and shopping.

The Disneyland mobile app has features such as viewing wait times for rides in both theme parks. (Screenshot by Lexus Yamashiro)

Have the Disneyland mobile app handy
Downloading this app was a tremendous help for several reasons. The main benefit for having this available was so that we could see the wait times for all rides in both parks. It was incredible to know how long some of these wait times were, the longest being three hours for Soarin’ Around the World. Checking for these wait times was essential as it helped us to know which rides we could get on quickly and should avoid.

The Disneyland app also provided us with information on attractions and restaurants that were and would have been closed for refurbishments. We were able to see the schedule of renovations and took notice of the Indiana Jones Adventure ride looking to close on the fourth day of our seven-day stay. With this in mind, we knew to hop on this particular ride more often before it could close for the rest of the week.

FastPass everything
Wait times are insane. Having a FastPass allows you to get into rides faster within 10 to 15 minutes but requires that you and the rest of your party head back to the ride within a specific time frame. As long as everyone’s time management skills are adequate, you will be able to ride any attraction in the meantime to kill time. If you have plans to watch a nighttime show such as Fantasmic or World of Color, it would be best to FastPass for those as well to ensure for front row seats. Of course, seats for the FastPass section are first come first serve, so arrive at least half an hour before seating begins for a closer view.

Purchasing generously portioned meals help to save money throughout your vacation. (Photo by Lexus Yamashiro)

Research food options and prices in advance
Finding places to eat inside or outside the park can add up considering how expensive some of the food places can be. Taking the time to research some meals versus spontaneously buying whatever looks tasty at the nearest eating spot helps to save money. My family and I traveled to Disneyland set on getting fish and chips from our favorite little hole in the wall within Frontierland of the park: Stage Door Café. Sold with three pieces of crispy, golden fried cod and french fries, we could buy this for just $9.99 which was surprisingly cheaper than the chicken tenders.

Keeping an eye out for places that serve generously portioned meals was also beneficial to stretch those dollars. We stumbled upon The Bakery Tour in the Pacific Wharf of Disney California Adventure Park where it bakes fresh sourdough bread that is used as bowls to sell clam chowder and broccoli cheddar soups. It can easily serve and fill up two people and only costs around $12.

Of course, constantly eating in the parks can be tiring after a while, so pick up tourist magazines that provide coupons in the back of them for nearby restaurants. Even if they are as little as 10 to 20 percent off an entire check, this can still save a few bucks. As a last resort, if the hotel you are staying at provides complimentary breakfast specifically with food like hard boiled eggs and bread, make an egg salad sandwich for lunch one day; the parks have free packets of mayonnaise, pepper, and salt lying out in their utensil and condiments stand that can be used to make these simple sandwiches.

Take several pictures and videos
The best way to remember your time at Disneyland is by having a camera on hand to take as many photographs and videos of what is happening around you. Being that my family and I have gone six times, we get to look back to the time when we first went in 2003 and compare how much we have grown since then. The parks are constantly changing and expanding, so getting to capture familiar and new memories make the trip much more memorable.