Home > Travel > Why Do Frugal People Go To Disneyland?

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


About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. In my opinion, anyone should be able to visit wherever they like, as long as they are comfortable that they can afford it and it doesn’t get them into debt. Travel is an amazing life experience, but I would say do it for the right reasons- not because you feel guilty and not because all your children’s friends have been but your’s hasn’t (children should understand they cant have everything the same as children). That’s my opinion though but it’s not for me to say what other do and don’t do 🙂
    Miss Tulip x
    The Thrifty Magpies Nest

  2. If Disneyland is what’s going to be a highlight of your trip, then go for it! And you’re right to explore all the options of how to get the best deal. I can’t believe the tickets on the French site are so much cheaper… well, I guess I can, but wow!

    • I think people mark up prices for Americans all the time. I’m not sure if they think we’re rich, stupid, lazy, or maybe all 3! I’m not sure Disney would be my highlight of the trip, but it would certainly be one for our daughter.

  3. We went to Disney World with my son four years ago before we became financially responsible and found that it was VERY easy to be financially irresponsible while at Disney because they are so many emotions flying around and whenever there are emotions involved poor money choices come in. Looking back, though, I realize there were many smart choices we could have made and prepared better for the experience.

    • We do pretty well if we set rules before the fact like no snacks or souvenirs onsite. Otherwise, we have to deal with please, can I have this or that and I feel like I’m saying no all day.

  4. Like Mrs. Pop said, if it’s going to be the highlight of the trip then definitely go for it. We went to Disneyland while we were in San Diego last summer, but we got crazy discounts for my father-in-law being military and going right at the beginning of the slower season. I’d much rather get hung by my toenails than go, but Elsa was there…

  5. I’m not a lover of art or like tourist traps, but me personally? I wouldn’t skip the Louvre or going up the Eiffel Tower. I think if it’s in your spending plan, Disneyland is great! Paris sites are not exactly “kid-exciting” so to have that balance would be fun. In general with Paris, I loved just walking around soaking up the culture. Do not rush Paris…stroll….

    • I was looking at the Eiffel Tower tickets and they aren’t that bad, especially if you take the stairs to the 2nd level. I think that might be what we do or if we’re tired, we’ll just have a picnic in front of it. I also hate being in small spaces with crowds, so I’ll probably be content not to go to the top.

  6. We never went to Disney when I was little. My parents said “you wouldn’t like it”. So, I’m hoping to one day live vicariously through my daughter when we take her eventually. Good to know 5 was a little too young for her to remember, I’d like the Little Miss to make some memories. Have a fantastic trip!

    • Hopefully 8 will be old enough to remember it always. I think we have the same ideas about Disney. I wish I could have experienced it when I was little.

  7. We are currently planning a trip to Disney World later this fall. We’ve been saving for over two years. The way I look at is is that you can afford it, can pay cash, and save up with that one goal in mind, then the experiences can be worth it. We’re definitely hoping it’s a trip that our kids will cherish.

    • That’s an excellent post. I think you can spend money on whatever you want as long as you know why you’re spending and it’s planned.

  8. What a great opportunity to teach the kids lessons in frugality. By living a frugal life the rest of the time, you can save up the money it costs to go to Europe AND to Disney. Have a wonderful trip!

    • Thanks. I do use our trips all the time as reasons why we don’t buy this or do that. I’m not sure it all sinks in, but hopefully it will over time.

  9. I LOVE Disney 🙂 It’s one of my most favorite memories from when I was a child and my dad would take us multiple times a year. I will never forget it! 🙂

    • I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say they hated going to Disney as a kid. I guess they have that going for them at least.

  10. Hey, its your trip. Do what makes you happy! I am pretty much dreading the day when my husband and kids talk me into Disney. It’s bound to happen eventually.

    • I think if our daughter asked to go all the time, that would make me not want to. The fact that she never really asks us to take her even though I know she really wants to go makes me want to do it.

  11. 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.

    • 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.

  12. 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. 🙂

    • 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!

  13. 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.

    • 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.

  14. 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!!

    • 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!

  15. 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!

    • 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.

  16. 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.

    • 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.

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. I love Disney. It is such an experience to go to any of the Disney locations but you are able to do it in not too big of a budget. Sound like you are being smart and doing your research.

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