I’m a Disneyland Expert, and These Expensive Extras Are a Total Waste of Money

by | Jun 25, 2024 | Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland, Disneyland Parks

Visiting Disneyland is expensive enough – so don’t waste your money on these extra experiences that simply aren’t worth it.

If you’re trying to decide what you should spend your money on during your next visit to Disneyland Resort, I’m here to help. As someone who’s visited Disneyland hundreds of times over the past three decades, I’ve tried just about everything the parks have offered, from dining packages to special add-on experiences.

And over the course of trying all of these different Disneyland extras, I’ve made a few (expensive!) mistakes along the way. Learn from my experiences and skip the following pricey extras during your next visit to the theme parks – and save yourself some money.

World of Color Dessert Party

world of color dessert party

The snacks served at the World of Color dessert party. Photo by Tatjana Lazar

World of Color is an incredible nighttime spectacular and well worth experiencing when you visit Disney California Adventure Park. But, having experienced the show in multiple ways and from a variety of viewing locations, I’m here to tell you the World of Color dessert party is not worth paying extra money for.

The dessert party costs $89 per person (and yes, that’s the price for kids, too), which means the price for a family adds up fast. You’ll spend over $356 on the dessert party alone for a family of 4.

And that $300-plus cost includes a small plate featuring sweet and savory desserts plus beverages (unlimited nonalcoholic or two alcoholic drinks per person.) It’s certainly not a full meal, so you’re really paying for the seating and some snacks. 

While the seating is certainly a perk – you’ll be seated at a tall table and in director’s chairs so you can see the show – it’s not really a must-have. You may not have a perfectly unobstructed view, and often, you can get a better view closer to the waterfront.

In my experience, this extra is one that’s just not worth its cost. Unless you’re celebrating something special, it’s not a lot of food; you’re essentially paying for a fine dining-level meal and getting light bites. 

If you need to sit during World of Color, a better option is to rent a wheelchair so you can stay comfortable and accommodated – and then use the wheelchair viewing area.

Disneyland Resort also offers other dessert parties, like the one for 2024’s Pixar Fest parade. These daytime offerings, which cost $69, feature a similar spread of sweet and savory bites, unlimited drinks, and one alcoholic beverage. You get a reserved seat and table along the parade route – and views are essentially unobstructed – but they, too, are a high price for the added perk of snacks and a chair.

Disney Princess Breakfast Adventure at Napa Rose

Listen, I am all about character dining. Whether you’re a kid or kid at heart, these dining experiences allow you to meet a whole host of characters without waiting in line and have some awesome interactions – and, more importantly, the food is usually great!

But when it comes to the four different character dining options offered at Disneyland Resort, one stands out as the worst investment: Disney Princess Breakfast Adventure at Napa Rose.

As Disneyland’s top-tier fine dining establishment, Napa Rose is notoriously expensive. And the character dining experience here is also quite costly; at $135 per person for adults and kids, it’s the most expensive one in the entire resort.

The experience does include some stellar food and fantastic one-on-one encounters with characters for Disney Princess fans. But frankly, you can have those same character encounters over at the Royal Hall inside Disneyland Park.

Here, you’re paying for a more exclusive character dining experience and that top-tier Napa Rose menu. And unless you’re celebrating something special or have room for a big splurge, spending $135 per person (remember, that doesn’t include gratuity!) is simply way, way too much for character dining, in my opinion.

Fantasmic! Dining Packages

New battle scene between Sorcerer Mickey and Maleficent in Disneyland's Fantasmic!

Photo courtesy of Richard Harbaugh/Disneyland Resort

Disneyland offers Fantasmic! dining packages that start at $25 for kids and $55 for adults (and max out at $89) at three different restaurants. Book a package, and you’ll enjoy a hearty meal plus reserved seating for one showing of Fantasmic! on the day of your visit.

While these dining packages sound like a great way to snag a seat for this popular summer show, there’s a catch. Buying one of Disneyland’s Fantasmic! dining packages is a less-than-stellar splurge because the seating isn’t any better than the free seating.

Absolutely everyone, regardless of whether or not they purchase a dining package, sits on the ground for Fantasmic!. 

There is one alternative: You can choose the Premium Package at River Belle Terrace, which allows you to reserve a table outside so you can watch the first showing of Fantasmic! while you dine. But those tables (and seats) are set quite far back from the water’s edge, which can alter your view.

Either way, your seating options aren’t great. You will be sitting on the ground, and you will be in a crowd of people. Unlike World of Color’s dessert party, which includes reserved tables and chairs for guests, Fantasmic! is more chaotic. You simply arrive at your designated area and grab a spot on the ground… and there’s no guarantee a taller guest won’t block your view. 

That’s why I’ve found these dining packages to be an unnecessary splurge. Oh, and if you want to guarantee a great view? You’ll need to spring for the most expensive package at Blue Bayou Restaurant. The more you pay, the better your reserved viewing area.

MagicBand+

Okay, technically MagicBand+ isn’t a huge extra expense. With options priced at $45 (or less, if you grab MagicBand+ on sale at DisneyStore.com ahead of your trip), it’s a relatively smaller add-on. But if you’re headed to Disneyland Resort, I’m here to tell you to save that money.

MagicBand+ is a must-have at Disney World, and it’s filled with features there. At Disneyland, however, the opportunities to use your MagicBand are few and far between. 

You can use MagicBand+ to scan into Disneyland and California Adventure as well as your Lightning Lanes (if you purchased Genie+, that is.) Your band can also be used to link any PhotoPass photos you take to your Disneyland account and app.

Additionally, your MagicBand+ will light up and vibrate to interact with certain experiences, such as the fireworks spectaculars at Disneyland and World of Color at California Adventure. 

But that’s not really much. Scanning into two theme parks isn’t really a huge perk; you can do that with your smartphone or a smart watch already. The vibrations and lights are cool, but not a must-have. And since hotel guests can’t even use MagicBand+ for purchases, as a room key, or for dining, it’s really an extra that falls flat.

Save that $45 or more and put it towards a better souvenir instead.

Posts by Heather Adams

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Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
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Authored by
Heather Adams

Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
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