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If you know me, you know that I love Disneyland, and I also love saving money at Disneyland. One of the best ways to save money at Disneyland is by bringing in your own food. With that, my family loves to utilize the picnic area in Disneyland to not only get in a good, filling, affordable meal, but to give us a short break from the parks. Check out my complete guide to the Disneyland picnic area.
Where Is The Picnic Area in Disneyland
The lockers and picnic area are outside the parks, at the edge of the esplenade before Downtown Disney. They are surrounded by bushes, but you can walk past the Lost and Found, lockers, and bathrooms, and through the gates, when coming from the parks or Harbor Blvd.
If you are coming from the trams, turn left after the Tram loading area, and you will see a break in the bushes to enter the picnic area.
The Lockers in Disneyland’s Picnic Area
The Disneyland picnic area includes picnic tables and benches, as well as lockers. What I love about these lockers is the size. They are much larger than that lockers througout the rest of the resort. In fact, the large lockers can easily fit a carryon bag in them.
You can see the kiosk (which takes both cards and cash if I remember correctly) where you go to get a locker.
There are different sizes of lockers. The lockers are either Large or Extra Large, and run $12 and $15. Don’t assume you will need a large locker. We take a good size, hard sided cooler and a bag with dry foods, as well as keep sweat shirts and other items, in a large locker.
Remember, you do not want the lcokers in the esplenade if you plan on taking a large cooler. You also can not use the lockers in the park. Hard-sided coolers will not be allowed past the gates. They are one of many items “banned” from Disney parks.
However, when we have gone with our friends and their five kids, we needed an extra large locker. With 12 of us (8 kids) we needed a lot of snacks, and a lot of food since we would eat both lunch and dinner out at the picnic area. SO- we purchased an extra large locker for the day for $15.
We might have been able to get away with a large, but we didn’t want to chance it. We put 2 coolers in (our friends was a soft cooler, about the size of a large duffel bag and ours was the 28 quart Coleman above). We also put in sweatshirts for Mike and I and a bag with dry foods, plates, etc in it.
The $15 was worth it when you consider the cheapest meals run approximately $7/person (hot dog with chips and small soda). We saved more than that easily, within our first meal.
Why we love Disneyland’s Picnic Area
Now, a lot of people wonder about the picnic area. You may have been to Knotts Berry Farm other parks, where the picnic area left a lot to be desired? Well, I love Disneyland’s picnic area. It is very clean, quiet (except once in a while when the monorail goes overhead or you hear the cap gun go off from the Jungle Cruise) and you still get to hear the music playing so you still have that Disney feel. They have recycling bins, lots of shade, drinking fountains to top off your frozen water bottles with some non-frozen water, and it just feels very relaxing there.
A little background on how we decided to use the picnic area. In 2007, the first day we went to Disneyland, with our friends (that we went with in October) and another friend (so still 10 of us since The Goof wasn’t born yet) we took a small cooler- and ended up getting a locker. Wasn’t really planned, but yeah, that is how it worked out. That day was great, and while at the end of the day our feet hurt from walking so much (which none of us were used to) on cement, and just all the excitement of the park, we lasted the entire day.
The next day, our friends with the 5 kids didn’t come, but my parents did. They drove to the park (where as we had walked the day before). So, instead of pay for a locker, we put the cooler in the car and came back to the vehicle for lunch. Something happened, we didn’t make it through the entire day. As we rode the tram back to the parking garage, we realized how tired we were, how much our feet hurt, and we ate, and went back to the tram, now sore and barely able to move (all of us). So we only stayed a few more hours in the park. We didn’t think much of it since we had done so much, but when we didn’t leave the park the next day we went, we again, made it the entire day. Our final day, once again, we returned to the car, and we decided to leave right then. It became clear that sitting, and leaving the excitement of Disneyland was a cue to our bodies that it could let us know it was tired.
When we went in March of 2011, we found the same thing, but rather than return to the car, we often just ended up eating in the park, which cost us a lot of money. So in October, we got the lockers, and found that it was a lot better experience. So from now on, we will use the lockers. The fee might seem expensive, but when you consider that it is less than a meal for 2 in the park, and that it saves you from wasting your money on a ticket that you only spend a few hours in the park for because you realize you are tired, the cost is very minimal.
For more on saving money on food in Disneyland, see THIS POST on snacks in Disneyland.