Looking for the ultimate Disneyland Vacation Guide? This is the perfect jumping off point for planning a trip to Disneyland!
We are Disneyland obsessed. Yup. I said it. We live here in Southern California, and we've been Disneyland Annual Passholders since my daughter was a toddler. When we first started visiting the Happiest Place on Earth, it felt extremely overwhelming, especially with a young child. I researched TONS of Disneyland Tips…..and slowly but surely, we found our way. Years later, we help friends and family as they are planning a trip to Disneyland with everything from pictures to take at Disneyland to which Disneyland Character Dining experience to choose. Now? We share those same Disneyland Tips here so that all of YOU can enjoy your trips with minimal stress!
Where is Disneyland?
One of the questions we get asked the most from out of towners? Where is Disneyland located compared to the rest of Los Angeles. Disneyland is located in Anaheim, which is actually Orange County, not Los Angeles County. It's about 40 miles south of Santa Monica. What does that mean? Without a car, you're probably not going to also visit Beverly Hills, Hollywood or Malibu during a trip to Disneyland. And if you're looking for combined Harry Potter Disneyland trips…..that's a different park (Universal Studios Hollywood is about 50 miles north of Anaheim and Disneyland).
Getting to Disneyland
What airport is closest to Disneyland?
John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA) is actually the closest airport to Disneyland. LAX (the big airport in Los Angeles) tends to have better deals…..but be warned, in dreaded Los Angeles traffic it can be a bit of a drive. If you're looking for an LAX to Disneyland shuttle, you'll have plenty of easy options. There's the Disneyland Resort Express (which is a pretty reasonable price) and some of the hotels also have shuttles. You can also easily Uber or take a Lyft or rent a car if you'd like to have one (not necessary if you're staying on property or in one of the Hotels around Disneyland.
When to Visit Disneyland
Curious about the best time to visit Disneyland? Weatherwise, Fall and Spring tend to be lovely…..not too hot and not too cold…..which makes planning Disneyland Outfits easy. Crowdwise, think the opposite of school vacations. September tends to not be crowded, January and February are also lower crowds (that also is usually when refurbishments are happening around the park). If you're looking for special seasonal activities, in my opinion…..Disneyland Halloween and Disneyland Christmas are especially magical. Another special time to visit? A Disneyland Birthday is truly enchanting! They roll out the red carpet and make every child feel like a prince or princess.
Disneyland Deals and Ticket Sales
I know, I know…..tickets are expensive, so everyone is always on the hunt for Disneyland Deals. The best place I've found for Disneyland discounts? Getaway Today is a travel agency we've worked with a ton, and they have regular sales and discounts on tickets and hotels. They also have top notch customer service!
Planning your visit? One of the most important parts of any Disneyland Vacation Guide is the section talking about Disneyland Attractions. The Best Rides at Disneyland is really a matter of opinion and totally depends on who you are going with. Do they meet the Disneyland height restrictions for roller coasters? Are you looking for Disneyland Rides for Preschoolers with no height restrictions? My biggest suggestion? Make a list of your MUST ride Disneyland Attractions. Your top priorities. The don't miss ones. It may be classic Disneyland Rides like Peter Pan or It's a Small World, or daredevil options like Guardians of the Galaxy and the Incredicoaster. Once you narrow down your priorities, it's easier to plan an agenda.
And one thing to not leave off your Disneyland Schedule? Special shows and performances. Disneyland World of Color is officially back, and a don't miss. There are also amazing parades (I'm partial to both the parade and the evening show that are a part of Get Your Ears On). These are great opportunities to sit and relax a bit during a busy park day.
Disneyland Fast Pass and Maxpass
But what about a Disneyland Fast Pass? Is it worth it? And how to do they work? Disneyland Fast Pass is a reservation system for SOME of the popular Disneyland Attractions. It allows you to reserve a time during the day (you'll get an hour time range), when you are able to enter the Fast Pass line for that ride. Fast Pass lines have significantly shorter wait times. If you're visiting during a busy season, Fast Passes can be a huge help.
We get a lot of questions about how Disneyland Fastpasses work. There are two main ways you can use a Disneyland Fast Pass…..you can use the traditional manual technique or use the Disneyland Fastpass App called the Disneyland Maxpass.
The traditional Disneyland Fast Pass is a small paper ticket system. In the areas close to each ride, you'll find a ticket dispenser where you can press a button and receive a ticket for the Fast Pass line later that day. The upside of this method? It's free. The downside? You'll be running all around the park trying to get those paper tickets!
The Disneyland Maxpass is fairly new, and something I definitely recommend. Maxpass currently costs $15 per person (you'll need one for each person in your party) or is $100 to add on to your annual pass. It allows you to reserve Fast Pass line spots via your phone in the Disneyland app (you do have to be inside the parks for it to work) and also gives you unlimited Photo Pass downloads. If you'll be riding a couple of the rides that Maxpass offers, it can definitely be worth it. It allows you to select one Fast Pass at a time, and then gives you a “waiting period” before you can come back and select another. Pro Tip: pick the ride that tends to have the longest wait time first, Fast Passes can fill up for the day fairly quickly.
Disneyland Attractions with Fast Pass
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Haunted Mansion
- Haunted Mansion Holiday
- Indiana Jones™ Adventure
- “it’s a small world”
- “it’s a small world” Holiday
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
Disney California Adventure Park
- Goofy’s Sky School
- Grizzly River Run
- Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
- Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark
- Radiator Springs Racers
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Toy Story Midway Mania!
- World of Color
There's no food like Disneyland food, RIGHT? From Disneyland Character Dining to quick service options……we have our favorites. I always suggest planning one sit down meal a day and making that reservation in advance, then you can snack throughout the day or do a simple quick service option on the go. If you're on the hunt for the ABSOLUTE Best Food at Disneyland you can read our full list…..but my top recommendation? Don't forget to try a Dole Whip in the warmer months!
Disneyland Tips and Frequently Asked Questions
Can you bring food into Disneyland? Yes, you can. But remember, you'll have to carry it with you! I know plenty of moms who bring an insulated lunch box and food for their younger kids. We usually bring a couple snacks and a water bottle (they're permanent entries on my Disney packing list).
What's the deal with Disneyland lockers? The Disneyland lockers are my favorite Disneyland secret. Seriously. They're located at multiple locations in each park (on Main Street next to the Starbucks inside Disneyland, and on Buena Vista Street to the right when you enter Disney California Adventure) and there are an additional set of lockers in between both parks to the left of the Disneyland entrance (outside). Lockers inside the parks are $7 or $10 depending on size and are available for more sizes and prices outside the park (up to $15 for the largest size). You can access them multiple times a day with a code you set up. They're perfect for storing heavy jackets mid day, leaving purchases you don't want to carry around, storing rain boots for Disneyland in the Rain, or changes of clothes if you want to do water rides. We usually store heavier items in them (I've even stored my large DSLR camera there when I was done with it for the day), and it makes trips to the park so much more enjoyable.
What is the Disneyland Phone Number?
1 (714) 781-4636
What should I wear to Disneyland?
The weather varies GREATLY during the year, so be sure to plan your Disneyland outfits accordingly. We always suggest dressing in layers, and have a full blog post about what to wear each season. When it comes to the Best Shoes for Disneyland? Comfort is KEY.
All Things Disney
Read more about our love for all things Disney.