World of Color nightime show at Disneyland California Adventure Park
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Visiting Disneyland California – Tips, & Tricks for Planning!

If you are considering visiting Disneyland California, this article is a great place to start. Let us share what is Disneyland California, how big is it, what rides and shows you can find, what makes this park unique from all the other Disney Parks, plus lots of Disneyland California tips and tricks. Let’s get started! If you are considering visiting Disneyland California, this article is a great place to start. Let us share what is Disneyland California, how big is it, what rides and shows you can find, what makes this park unique from all the other Disney Parks, plus lots of Disneyland California tips and tricks. Let's get started!

Visiting Disneyland California

Are you ready to experience the magic of Disneyland California? Step into a world where fairy tales come to life and adventure awaits around every corner. From taking a spin on iconic rides like Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean to meeting your favorite Disney characters, there’s something for everyone at the Happiest Place on Earth. Immerse yourself in the enchanting lands of Disneyland, from the whimsical wonder of Fantasyland to the futuristic thrills of Tomorrowland. Indulge in delicious treats like churros, Mickey-shaped treats, and Dole Whip as you stroll down Main Street U.S.A. and take in the sights and sounds of this magical place. Don’t forget to catch a dazzling fireworks display or watch a spectacular parade that will leave you in awe. Make memories that will last a lifetime as you explore all that Disneyland California has to offer. So pack your bags, grab your ears, and get ready for a dream come true at Disneyland! Don’t miss our other advice to help you plan the best vacation! We have helpful travel tips, easy steps to plan a trip, the best family cruise, look up travel guides from A-Z, and of course Disney trip planning too! If you are considering visiting Disneyland California, this article is a great place to start. Let us share what is Disneyland California, how big is it, what rides and shows you can find, what makes this park unique from all the other Disney Parks, plus lots of Disneyland California tips and tricks. Let's get started!

How big is disneyland california

Disneyland California is located in Anaheim, California, and covers approximately 500 acres of land. While it may not be the smallest Disney park (that title goes to Hong Kong Disneyland), it is still a magical and expansive destination for families and Disney fans alike. Disneyland California is made up of two parks – Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park – as well as three hotels: Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. Each hotel offers its own unique Disney experience, making it easy for visitors to stay immersed in the magic of the parks. Disneyland also offers many partner hotels; these major hotel chains are litearlly across the street and offer competitive rates for those wishing to visit the happiest place on Earth. Getting to Disneyland California is a breeze, as it is conveniently located near major highways and near two airports –  35 miles from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and 15 miles from John Wayne Airport (SNA). Visitors can also take advantage of various shuttles to reach the park. The weather at Disneyland California is typically mild and sunny, making it a wonderful destination to visit year-round. However, it is important to check the forecast before your visit to ensure you are prepared for any unexpected weather changes. With so much to see and do at Disneyland California, you’ll want to keep reading all our advice to most of your trip and enjoy every moment of your magical experience!

disneyland Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters
Disneyland Clifornia Adventure Park Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters

Going to Disneyland

As I shared in Which is Better Disneyland or Disney World, Disneyland is not a carbon coby of it’s east cost relative Disney World. Disneyland has unique rides, different shows, and a completely different subculture. I love both parks, but in completely different ways. Let me try to explain a little. There are only two parks which are seperated by a plaza, making it a more manageable park. You can literally walk between the parks (assuming you have a park hopper ticket) and experience parts of both of them on the same day. You will want a day for each park because they both have some amazing rides, but I love that you can get back and forth so conveniently.  You won’t need to waste time on buses going from hotel to park as everything is so close together and easy to walk to. On the topic of walkable, Disneyland California has all the best rides, plus some fun nostalgic ones, all crammed together in a small space. So you won’t have to walk 25,000 steps a day like at Disney World! Plus Disney land seems to be made to take slower, there are benches everywhere making it perfect for the whole family, including grandparents.  You can even watch a parade or fireworks from a bench! That’s vacation! There are fewer Disney owned hotels, but plenty of less expensive options literally accross the street. With limited space they work on updating current rides frequently so you’ll see rides like Alice in Wonderland with both classic figures and screens, blending technology from the past and present beautifully. Plus Disneyland has gotten some major upgrades including Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, Pixar Place, and Avenger’s Academy!

disneyland smallworld all lit up for christmas and holidays
Disneyland Small World all lit up for Christmas

When is disneyland the busiest

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, consider visiting on weekdays during the off-peak season. This will allow you to enjoy shorter wait times for rides and a more relaxed atmosphere throughout the park. Let me give you a couple guidelines of when Disneyland is the most crowded:

  • October is the most crowded month
  • 3-day weekends (such as Labor Day weekend, Presidents Day Weekend, etc)
  • Spring Break – crowd levels spike mid-March and the first week of April
  • Larger crowd levels in July, especially around July 4th
  • Christmas crowds, especially Christmas Day, Thanksgiving weekend, and the 2 weeks leading up to Christmas (Holidays at Disneyland are really spectaculary and despite the crowds are a great time to visit. The holiday lights, parades, and overlays run the first week of November until the first week of January)
  • New Year’s Eve (and surrounding days)

Disneyland paint hte night sky nighttime parade

disneyland planning

Okay, let’s start planning your next trip to Disneyland California. Lucky for you the weather is pretty wonderful year-round. First step for me once I get some idea of when I want to visit, trying to avoid crowded times while still going the time of year I want to visit,  is looking at the Disney Park Hours calendar. This gives me an idea of park hours or closures. Sometimes Disneyland closes early when companies rent out the park for their employees, special annual pass holder events, ticketed items like Star Wars Nites, etc. so make sure to check if your desired dates will conflict. Next I always look for planned closures so I don’t plan a trip hoping to ride Matterhorn Bobsleds just do discover it is closed for refurbishment.

Disneyland California Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Disneyland California Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

How Long do you Need at Disneyland

Now that you’ve narrowed down your dates even more it’s time to plan where you are staying and for how long. My answer to how long I want to visit is always as long as I can, but I know time constraints and cost are always a factor. With so much to see and do, it can be tempting to try to fit everything into a short visit. However, in order to truly experience all that Disneyland has to offer, especially if you flew into California or drove from a large distance,  it is recommended to stay for at least two to three days. Spending two to three days at Disneyland California allows you to explore both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park at a leisurely pace. This gives you the opportunity to ride all of your favorite attractions, catch a variety of shows and parades, and experience the magic of the parks without feeling rushed.

carsland at disneyalnd california adventure park is amazing
Cozy Cone Motel Carsland at Disneyland California Adventure Park

Where to stay at disneyland california

There are plenty of amazing accommodation options just a stone’s throw away from the happiest place on Earth. From charming hotels with Disney-themed decor to nearby partner hotels that offer some great discounts, there’s something for every type of traveler. Where you stay will in large part be dictated by your budget and personal preferences. If you want to fully immerse yourself in the Disney experience, consider staying at one of the three official Disney hotels – Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, or Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. These hotels offer exclusive benefits like proximity to the parks, super cute themed rooms, getting into the park 30 minutes before other guests, staying cashless by using a MagicBand+, and even a private entrance to Disney California Adventure Park. We find that we are hardly in our hotel. We tend to head to Disneyland first thing in the morning and come back at the end of the day. All I really want is a comfy bed, and a hotel close enough that I don’t have to mess with any shuttles.  By staying at a partner hotel, which can still be booked through Disneyland’s website as a package with tickets, I get a steep discount.  The best values and closer hotels do book up, so try to plan your trip at least 6 months in advance for the best availability. I look for hotels that are listed as accross the street or less than 1/2 mile from the parks. Those are all a quick 10 minute walk through a well-lit, well traveled walk.  There are plenty of off-site hotels to choose from. Besides saving aorund 50% from staying at an official Disney hotel, many come with complimentary breakfast too.

Pirate on pile of treasure and gold coins at Disneyland California Pirates of the Carribean Ride
Pirate on pile of treasure and gold coins at Disneyland California Pirates of the Carribean Ride

How much does it cost to go to disney land

Planning a trip to Disney Land but not sure how much it will cost? The price of admission can vary depending on when you are visiting (it is more expensive at peak times) and which ticket option you choose. A single-day ticket for adults starts at $104, with prices increasing for peak times or park hopper options. If you’re planning on staying for a few days, multi-day passes can be a more cost-effective option, 5-day tickets cost $96/day. Make sure to check out their special offers page where they frequently offer dels like $75/day tickets for local residents. To give you an idea of pricing if you are flying in for a trip in August and will be staying nearby. If you have 6 nights of hotel stay and 5 day-tickets for 2 adults and 2 children you will spend $4822 at the amazing, newly updated Pixar Place hotel or $2848 to stay nearby at a partner hotel with 20 minute or less walk. Don’t forget to budget for additional expenses like food, souvenirs, and transportation.

disneyland california adventure park senior buzz churros
Churros Senior Buzz Churros in Disneyland California Adventure Park

Disneyland California Tips and Tricks

Heading to Disneyland California soon? Here are 20 tips and tricks to make your trip even more magical!

  1.  Download the Disneyland app before you go to keep track of wait times, find character meet and greets, and make dining reservations.
  2. Arrive early to beat the crowds and enjoy shorter lines for popular attractions.
  3. Consider purchasing Genie+ or lightening lane to save time waiting in lines (This is like the old fastpass program, but it costs extra now)
  4. Take advantage of Rider Switch if you have small children who can’t ride certain attractions.
  5. Pack snacks and water bottles to save money on food inside the park. (Disneyland will give you a free glass of water if you ask for one at any window with a soda fountain, but it is so helpful to have your own to make sure you keep hydrated!)
  6. Wear comfortable shoes – you’ll be doing a lot of walking!
  7. Make dining reservations in advance to ensure you get a table at popular restaurants. Other than perhaps a character meal, we prefer to eat at quick serve places throughout the parks. Our favorites are: Flos V8 Cafe, Cozy Cone Motel, churros (anywhere adn everywhere), Docking Bay 7, Pym Test Kitchen, anywhere in the Paradise Pier area (mexican / chinese / bread company), Rancho de Zocalo,  and Royal Street Verandah
  8. Bring a portable phone charger to keep your devices powered up throughout the day. We use this handy brick charger!
    singing heads in haunted mansion become pumpkin heads in the fall at disneyland california
    Singing pumpkin heads in Haunted Mantions during fall at Disneyland California
  9. Visit during off-peak times like weekdays and during the school year to avoid long lines.
  10. Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours if you’re staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel.
  11. Use the single rider line for quicker access to popular attractions. (Examples: Radiator Springs Racers, Indiana Jones Adventure, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Space Mountain)
  12. Don’t forget to get a celebration button if you’re celebrating a special occasion
  13. It may be more crowded, but visit the parks during the holiday season for festive decorations and special events.
    double rainbow over small world ride at disneyland
    double rainbow over Small World boat ride at Disneyland
  14. If it rains many locals leave, so you should stay to enjoy lower waits! Just make sure to get to an indoor line before it starts raining (Pirates of the Carribean, Indiana Jones, Star Tours, Fantasyland has several nearby, Guardians Breakout, Soarin, etc)
  15. Check showtimes for parades and fireworks in advance to plan your day accordingly.
  16. Take advantage of Disney PhotoPass to capture all your magical moments.(This is included if you purchse Genie+)
    aladdin musical show at disneyland
    Aladdin musical show at Disneyland California Adventure Park (no longer showing)
  17. Make sure to take some candid pictures of you and your family thorughout the day, but don’t take so many you aren’t in the moment!
  18. We try to eat one meal as a late lunch/early dinner and just get a couple snacks thorughout the day – this allows us to save $ and enjoy some yummy snacks that Disney is known for too
  19. Pin trading is not a big deal on the west coast, so don’t bring a huge stockpile of pins to trade.
  20. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy every moment of your Disneyland adventure!
World of Color nightime show at Disneyland California Adventure Park
World of Color nightime show at Disneyland California Adventure Park

Best things to do at disneyland

Well of course you want to enjoy the rides (learn about the best attractions disneyland), but there is so much more to see and do at Disneyland than just the rides.

  • catch the an amazing parade that feature sall your favorites like Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, and even Star Wars characters.
  • Interact with one of your favorite characters throughout the parks. You can do so much more than just take a picture, think of a funny comment, something you want to ask them, etc. and the experience will be so much more genuine and richer. Show Gaston how big your muscles are, ask Cinderella her favorite food, etc.
  • You can also book character dining experiences to enjoy a meal with your favorite characters up close and personal without searching the park to find them
  • For those seeking a little extra magic, consider watching the fireworks show at night. The dazzling display of colors and music will leave you in awe and make you feel like you’re part of a fairytale. Truly the evening fireworks are not to be missed.
  • World of Color is my favorite evening show at any Disney park! It is so beautiful with spraying water in various colors, projections, and more! Make sure to grab your free ticket early in the day to claim a spot close to the water.
  • Fantasmic is another wonderful evening attraction where you will see what is in Mickey’s imaginations – it is so much fun!
  • And don’t forget to explore the various themed lands within Disneyland, each offering its own unique charm and attractions.  You can ride Davey crockett canoes, explore Pirate’s Laire on Tom Sawyer’s Island complete with old pirate ships, teasure, and some pretty cool high-tech surprises in the caves
  • We love resting on benches and catching the Dapper Dans, Toy Story soldier act, live music, marching bands, and more!
  • If you are visiting during the holidays you MUST take time to see all the amazing holiday decorations, especially at night. The Haunted Mansion is transformed into the Nightmare Before Christmas, mainstreet is stunning, the castle gets decorated, Carsland is so cute, Small World gets an over-the-top holiday overlay on the inside out, and so much more!
  • See all the new merchandise, including some seasonal items at the shops
disneyland its a small world with holiday overlay is amazing
Small World at Disneyland California with holiday overlay is amazing

Best Disneyland Rides

It looks like this post has already gotten really long, so I’ll save the Best Disneyland Rides for a sepearte article. Don’t miss it though! The rides are what make Disneyland so different and special – they are VERY different from Disney World’s attractions. disney fantasmic show at disneyland and disney world with steamboat willie drivint the boat filled with disney favorite characters with mountain and colorful water behind

Go Disneyland

Hopefully in this post I’ve been able to show you how amazing Disneyland California is! It is well worth a visit, even if Disney World is in your back yard. I know you will enjoy the many fun rides, attractions, and seasonal offerings only Disney land offers.  And after reading this article you have everything you need for going to Disneyland, from planning, how much it costs, where to stay, where is Disneyland, and what all it has to offer! Have a magical day at the most magical place on Earth!

Disneyland California Planning Help

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