Finding Disney Family Travel Deals

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By Matt Villano

My family and I are at Disneyland this week, chasing Minnie Mouse, exploring the new Cars Land and shrieking like banshees on Thunder Mountain. We were here last in April. Under normal circumstances, there's no way we could have afforded two trips in one calendar year to see the Mouse. But with an amazing vacation package from Disney itself, we're living large for less.

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It turns out deals like ours are the secret to doing just about everything at Disneyland on the cheap. Here are some of my favorite places to find them:

-The
Walt Disney Travel Company offers deals not only on hotel accommodations, but on complete packages as well. (Often there are other perks, too, such as special hours in Toon Town, and phone calls from specific characters at set times of day and night.)

-Expedia, the travel web site, is offering a number of discount promotions from now through the end of summer. Two of my faves: this one, which offers customers special time in the park; and the deals listed on this page, the site's general Disney page.

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-Memberhip in certain organizations brings good deals, too. AAA members can enjoy discounts here, while Get Away Today Vacations (which serves Utah only) serves up some killer discounts on its main page, too. Costco, the big-box superstore, also offers great packages.

Outside of these travel deals, there are other strategies to save money on your next trip to Disneyland.

-If you don't feel that you'll visit enough in a calendar year to warrant the purchase of an Annual Pass, be sure to check Disneyland.com for promotional ticket pricing which is available on select dates throughout the year. Generally speaking, the more you stay, the less you pay. Additional days can be added to your 3-day Park Hopper ticket for about $15 per day.

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-Instead of paying for every meal a la carte, explore some of the dining deals inside the park. The best dining bargains can be found at Quick Service locations. For $15-$20, you can order a healthy entree and a non-alcoholic beverage, which in most cases will be large enough to share between two adults. If you're interested in all-inclusive dining, the park's Dine in the Magic plan includes two meals and one snack per person per day. The snack and meal vouchers are redeemable at cafes, snack spots and restaurants throughout the entire resort. (There are other all-inclusive dining options, too; for more information, click here .)

Click over to Are We There Yet for more insider information from the field.