Help trying to plan/budget a DL vacation as a newbie

Spectromagic1210

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jul 10, 2019
Hello All,

I have been going to WDW since I was 8 months old. I am use to the way the parks work and planning for that type of trip.
I am hoping to do DL for my 30th in December 2020, planning this is a whole new ball game. I saw that most people recommend 5 days in the parks.
We are looking at a Good Neighbor hotel since I don't have the type of income to be able to afford Grand Californian or even Paradise Pier.

However, food budgeting. I know that DL doesn't have a dining program/plan. How much does everyone budget per person/per day for food.

TIA!
 

BrandonH

Disney Fan+
Joined
Aug 28, 2019
It's going to depend on what you plan to eat. For an adult having two entrees (counter service) and a snack in the park each day, that will run you about $25-30 a day.
 

Cal-Pie

I admit that in the past I've been a nasty
Joined
Jun 2, 2011
The food budget question has so many variables. All menus and prices are posted in the app. Take a look and see what suits you. Will you want a table service meal daily, dining packages for shows, stick to counter service for most meals, does your hotel offer breakfast, etc? Budgets vary GREATLY depending on preferences.
 

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  • Becca1007

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 1, 2016
    Also ... note that the "good neighbor" designation is really just that the hotel pays disney to be marketed on the disneyland booking site. So you can also research on here the other Harbor hotels that are not participants in the program and I always recommend booking directly with the hotel.
     

    goooof1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 23, 2013
    Look above at the "stickies" and zero in on @HydroGuy. He has compiled tips that are very helpful..... general tips, those geared to wdw vets, how to choose the right hotel for you, etc., etc. Lots of good reading for you and plenty of time to plan !
     

    RemainSeatedPlease

    Part of Your World
    Joined
    Nov 22, 2014
    Also ... note that the "good neighbor" designation is really just that the hotel pays disney to be marketed on the disneyland booking site. So you can also research on here the other Harbor hotels that are not participants in the program and I always recommend booking directly with the hotel.
    I second this recommendation. The "Good Neighbor" designation is pretty much meaningless, and there is no benefit to booking the hotel through Disney. In many cases it is actually cheaper to book directly with the hotel, and buy tickets separately. As for which hotel to pick, keep in mind that Disneyland is very walkable. You will want to stay at a hotel within walking distance of the Harbor Blvd. crosswalk, probably about no further north than the Howard Johnson, and no further south than Katella Ave. This is just the ideal - if budget dictates that you stay further away, that's still okay and you may be able to catch a hotel shuttle, city bus, or Lyft to the parks. What you will want to avoid is having to drive in and park in a parking structure each day. That can eat up a lot of time!

    Which leads into my biggest piece of advice for DLR newbies...always try to make rope drop! The first couple of hours in DLR are amazing, you will get SO much done. Crowds really start to show up around 10-11am, so take advantage of all the time you can before that.

    As for food budget, as others have said, that can vary wildly. In my experience, DLR does not have as many table service options as WDW, and they just aren't quite as good. I rarely make table service reservations on my DLR trips. However, the counter service food is varied and excellent. I also typically stay at hotels that offer breakfast, or have a microwave/fridge so that I can bring and heat up my own breakfast foods. So, for my husband and I who eat lunch and dinner in the parks through counter service, it costs us maybe $20 each a day. Add in a snack or two and you're up to about $30 a person each day. Add in a Blue Bayou Fantasmic! package (which I highly recommend) and that ups the amount considerably, as that will cost over $100 for two people. So it really depends on how much you value food experiences!
     

    Disney_Alli

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 4, 2010
    In general - for just my husband and I - I budget about $100/day. Some days we go over that and many days we spend less but it evens out to about that. I make up a spreadsheet that automatically adds up each square and look at menus and guess what we’ll order for each meal and then do a total of the whole trip... I think I have a problem lol
     
  • JadeDarkstar

    Dis Veteran Pirate dragon mom
    Joined
    Jun 2, 2007
    I'm budgeting 15 each qs meal and we are planning on splitting many meals and eat snacks along the way. Also, look at Getaway today if you can. I find the packages are the best i can find and have hotels right across the street. some best those, ate best western Park place inn, Camelot inn, and one we are trying this time. Castle inn.
     

    theluckyrabbit

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2012
    Some threads with good information for you:
    * DLR Info/Links - Maps, Hotels, DISer Reviews, Hydroguy's tips, NEWBIE INFO here! -- from the sticky threads at the top of the first page -- SO much helpful information found here!
    From that sticky:
    A DLR Guide for WDW Vets -- a classic thread and a must read for you!
    HydroGuy Tips Compilation -- a treasure trove of helpful threads for you!
    From the above link:
    "HydroGuy's Hotel Rule" www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1199862
    "Choosing the Right DLR Area Hotel for You" www.disboards.com/threads/choosing-the-right-hotel-for-you.3656512/ -- at DLR, it's not about on site or off site (both have their pros and cons) -- it's all about location, location, location! You want to be close walking distance to the gates (and this is totally possible!) -- what you invest to be close walking distance will save your sanity, wear and tear on your feet and legs, and give you major convenience as you can keep things at the hotel instead of lugging things with you all day, allow you to take breaks during the day because your hotel room is so close by, etc. -- look for the best deal you can find online with a no penalty cancellation policy, then book it! -- keep checking back to see if the rate goes down -- if it does, re-book and cancel the first reservation -- rates can go down closer to your dates
    "Maxpass/Fastpass: an overview and some strategy" by @Skyegirl1999 - www.disboards.com/threads/maxpass-fastpass-an-overview-and-some-strategy.3726246/ -- DLR doesn't have FP+, we have MP -- read through this very helpful superthread, then ask all your questions there -- you'll get great help! Almost all WDW vets love MP the first time they use it and prefer it strongly over FP+ -- this will be an added expense, but can be worth it, so budget for this if you think it can work for you
    Eating in the parks on a budget -- lot of good tips here! -- instead of a dining plan, lots of people use Disneyland gift cards to budget for meals at DLR -- that way you know exactly how much you have to spend and how much you're spending each day and how much you have left
    "Airport Proximity to DLR and Ground Transportation Information" by @3TinksAndAnEeyorewww.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2318297 -- ask all your airport and transportation questions here.
    Let us know if you have any more questions -- we're here to help! You're going to have a great trip!
     

    theluckyrabbit

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2012
    Just to add:
    You'll be visiting during Holiday Time at DLR -- one of the best times of the year (and busiest!) in the parks. There will be holiday extras offered then, e.g. Holiday Time Tour (has VIP seating for the holiday parade -- great viewing!), Holiday Food Festival in DCA, WOC Seasons of Light (Dessert Party is a super fun splurge!), Candy Canes (handmade in the parks! Only sold on special dates), Holiday Afternoon Tea at Steakhouse 55, etc.
    Look through this year's Superthread to see what was offered, where, and when, so you can get an idea of what you might want to budget for next year: 2019 Holiday Time at DLR Superthread: 11/08/19 - 1/06/20!.

    Do you have a Target Red Card? The 10% off gift card sale is this Sunday, 12/08 -- Disney gift cards don't expire in CA, so you could start saving up gift cards for your trip!
     
  • dina444444

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2013
    Just to add:
    You'll be visiting during Holiday Time at DLR -- one of the best times of the year (and busiest!) in the parks. There will be holiday extras offered then, e.g. Holiday Time Tour (has VIP seating for the holiday parade -- great viewing!), Holiday Food Festival in DCA, WOC Seasons of Light (Dessert Party is a super fun splurge!), Candy Canes (handmade in the parks! Only sold on special dates), Holiday Afternoon Tea at Steakhouse 55, etc.
    Look through this year's Superthread to see what was offered, where, and when, so you can get an idea of what you might want to budget for next year: 2019 Holiday Time at DLR Superthread: 11/08/19 - 1/06/20!.

    Do you have a Target Red Card? The 10% off gift card sale is this Sunday, 12/08 -- Disney gift cards don't expire in CA, so you could start saving up gift cards for your trip!
    Just to clarify, the target gift card sale is on target gift cards only which cannot be used to buy disney gift cards.
     

    theluckyrabbit

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2012
    Just to clarify, the target gift card sale is on target gift cards only which cannot be used to buy disney gift cards.
    Yahoo posted an article yesterday which stated that the sale would allow customers to use their Red Cards to buy other gift cards. Now, who knows where Yahoo gets their information and how accurate it is, but people were asking specifically about that, so it couldn't hurt to try buying one non-Target card to see what happens. Some people post that they are still able to use the Target gift cards to buy other gift cards in their stores (don't know where these stores are located), so apparently there are still gaps in the system. If one of the gaps happens to be at a store near you, go for it! (And then tell the rest of us where your store is located!)
     

    dina444444

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2013
    Yahoo posted an article yesterday which stated that the sale would allow customers to use their Red Cards to buy other gift cards. Now, who knows where Yahoo gets their information and how accurate it is, but people were asking specifically about that, so it couldn't hurt to try buying one non-Target card to see what happens. Some people post that they are still able to use the Target gift cards to buy other gift cards in their stores (don't know where these stores are located), so apparently there are still gaps in the system. If one of the gaps happens to be at a store near you, go for it! (And then tell the rest of us where your store is located!)
    From the ad:

    Screen Shot 2019-12-06 at 12.27.22 AM.png
    Screen Shot 2019-12-06 at 12.27.44 AM.png
     

    theluckyrabbit

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2012
    As I said over on the Budget Board, Target is putting more and more fine print out there, but there is still the occasional report of a gap in their system that allows a loophole. So some posters will try a "dummy transaction" with just one card to see what happens. Usually, the transaction will be denied. But, sometimes, the transaction will actually go through -- so it can be worth just trying to see what happens. Obviously not with huge amounts and obviously knowing that it probably won't work -- but if you do happen on a loophole, even just once, then that's great for you.
    And, if the OP shops at Target anyway, getting a Target gift card can help with savings if there will be a shopping trip to the Target on Harbor, south of the parks, for some groceries, sundries, souvenirs, etc.
     

    luvthemouse71

    Former Ride Chicken...
    Joined
    Apr 16, 2006
    I used Booking.com and booked Best Western- Stovall’s Inn. I got a good rate through them. There’s free breakfast so I will eat a big breakfast each day so I won’t have to spend as much $$ on food in the park.
     

    Disney_Alli

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 4, 2010
    Tuesday - 18thWednesday - 19thThursday - 20th
    Start DCA (EMH) but hoppingStarting DL - EMH
    DisneylandEMH 0900-2100Disneyland0800-1800DisneylandEMH 0900-2100
    DCA0900-2000DCAEMH 0800-2000DCA0900 - 2000
    EntertainmentEntertainmentPtN - 1845
    PPP - 1530
    EntertainmentPtN - 1845
    PPP - 1530
    PlacePricePlacePricePlacePrice
    HomeRed Rose Tavern25
    YVR40Cafe Orleans40Rancho del Zocalo30
    Bar/BurgersHarbour Galley30Jolly Holiday/PP30
    Trader Sam's35Galactic Grill20
    7570105
    Move hotels b4 park open

    Here's a sample of my spreadsheet from my last trip. It looks better in Excel but such is life lol
     

    nikkislaght

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 19, 2012
    I like to buy Disney gift cards starting about 6 months before my trip . I will do my weekly grocery shop , get the basics, no Starbucks etc and use the money saved to either add to an existing Disney gift card or buy a new one . I give 6 months because that allows me to skip a week or two and still have a substantial amount by trip time. You aren’t saving in the grand old scheme of things unless you buy Through Target red card for the 5% off, but it’s not coming out of the same pay package in one week. I also start to over pay my bills, phone , electric , sometimes by $5. Or up to $20. Or Bill. This puts me either very close to not having to pay that bill the month I go to the parks or reducing it a bit . Again, not saving money , but it’s not killing me that month , and what ever money I have I’m not worried about being broke at the end of the trip . And then getting behind in my bills . And if I have money left on the card at the end of my trip , I splurge in the gift shops !
     

    Paigesmom2013

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 25, 2013
    The 10% off Target sale is only for Target gift cards. And you cant use Target gift cards to buy Disney gift cards. (But you can use your Redcard.)
     

    theluckyrabbit

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2012
    The 10% off Target sale is only for Target gift cards. And you cant use Target gift cards to buy Disney gift cards. (But you can use your Redcard.)
    As I explained in the Budget Board thread and in my post above, there are still the occasional and rare loopholes in Target's system. People have posted that they have tried "dummy transactions" with just one card to see if it would go through and been very surprised to be successful. It doesn't happen often, but it can happen. It certainly wouldn't hurt to try once, knowing that the probability is low, but if you are one of the lucky ones -- good for you!
     


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