WELCOME to the "Tips on Travel to the Disneyland Resort" page exists purely to help and give advice on travel to the Disneyland Resort. Our family - we have 3 kids so some of my advice is dedicated to traveling with children... other things would be helpful to just about anyone. So scroll down and see if any of the topics might be helpful to you. I will always be adding things I find to this so check back.
Photo is of our luggage for a group of 6 (3 kids and 3 adults)... sad to be leaving.
First off - I would check the Disney website first for Tips and Helpful Hints... their website is very helpful and can help explain things BEFORE you are standing there inside the Parks trying to decide what to do first.
Height Restrictions for Attractions
Advice to people bringing young ones to the Parks... know your height (and scary) restrictions ahead of time! This can help so much in just being prepared and preparing the young ones for realistic expectations. HERE is a link to tips about taking young ones to the Parks.
Grocery Store Delivery to your hotel...
Something that was really helpful the last time we traveled by plane to Disneyland was to order ahead of time and have groceries delivered to our hotel. (Just need a credit card and your hotel's physical address). Check ahead of time to make sure your hotel has "in" room refrigerators and how big they are. Also helpful is a microwave. Grocery delivery is free if you are a new customer and you order a minimum of $50. Easy for a family of 5. We flew into Orange County so packing things like a flat of water bottles or cereal and milk was out of the question. So before we left home we logged onto VONS.com (a popular grocery store chain in S. CA) and ordered up what we were going to need.
Snacks and drinks can be really pricey inside the Parks... especially fresh fruit. As long as your drinks are unopened you can get them through the Esplanade (area between the two Park entrances that have bag checks) security check. Lots of grace is given to families with children. We had entire bags full of food and they quickly looked and then just waved us right through. One note - at all of the Counter service places inside the parks... if you ask for water they will give it to you FREE. Not bottled water but disposable cups with lids and straws. FYI.
Grocery Store ordering is worth checking out and seeing if it is something that would save your family money.
Consider mailing dry goods ahead of time...
Because I am a little Type A... we also mailed a box ahead to our hotel with all of our "dry goods" - crackers, fruit snacks, granola bars, toiletries etc... Don't forget a box of ziploc bags - sandwich size and gallon size. If you end up eating at one of the buffets... fill up before you leave for the day. Serious snack savings here! If you choose to mail a box ahead... simply load up your shipping box and address it to your hotel... on the outside of the box mark it with your family name and "dates of arrival"... also include this information on the inside of the box. Then when you check in - let the front desk know you mailed a box and TADA... there it is. Our hotel already had the box in our room!
Interested in Character Breakfasts (meals)? My niece Erin has a wonderful Blog and wrote about her experiences at Character Breakfasts (meals) at the Disneyland Resort. She has been to all of them at least once!
Our family has not tried all of the Character Meals offered at the DLR but the ones we have tried are all awesome! Here is a list of the ones we have gone to (some more than once)!
Goofy's Kitchen (located inside the Disneyland Hotel) (3 times)
Minnie and Friends @ the Plaza Inn (our favorite and located inside Disneyland Park at the end of Main Street on the right as you head into the Park) (3 times)
Storyteller's Cafe' (located inside the Grand Californian Hotel) (1 time)
Princess Meal @ Ariel's Grotto (located inside California Adventure @ Ariel's Grotto Restaurant) (1 time)
Charging your phone inside the Parks
This can be so frustrating... I am convinced there is some kind of battery sucking tractor beam inside the Parks... I turn my phone on and an hour later my battery is gone. Check ahead of time (before you leave home) with your phone accessory store because there are gadgets out there that can recharge your phone right inside your backpack. But if that isn't you... then remember to bring your charging cord inside bag when you venture out to the Parks. There are MANY places if you play detective where you can find outlets all over the Parks. You might have to be a bit bold to use some of them but I have never been told "no". If sitting down and charging your phone is what you want to do. There is also a place on Main Street where you can "rent" a charger. My niece Erin has a wonderful blog and she recently wrote HERE about charging your phone inside the Parks.
Single Rider or Rider Switch (Stroller Swap)
Okay - can I help you with these...
FIRST - Single Rider Lines... Does it matter to you how long you wait in line? Do you really care if you experience the ride WITH people you know or will it be enough if you get on and get it done! Sometimes you are cutting your wait time by 2/3... so worth it! If you have kids with you though some rides have restrictions about WHO can ride without an adult... check that.
Rides that offer the Single Rider option that we have tried and definately think it SAVES lots of waiting time -
Disneyland Park -
Indiana Jones Adventure
California Adventure -
Radiator Springs Racers
Soarin' Over California (sometimes single rider on this attraction is NOT worth it)
HERE is what the actual Disneyland website says about the Single Rider Line...
Single Rider Line
Select attractions feature single rider lines that may reduce your wait time if you are willing to split up your party and ride alone. Look for signs at the attraction queues or ask a Cast Member for help. Subject to availability. Use this LINK for their official information on FAST PASSES.
What is Rider Switch/Stroller Swap (AKA Parent Swap/Kid Swap)?
Here is what the actual Disneyland website says about Rider Switch...
Are you traveling with a little one who either can't or wishes not to go on an attraction? If you have 2 or more adults in your party, you can take advantage of the rider switch program that enables you to experience the attraction while one adult waits with the child. You then "swap" to enable the other adult to enjoy the attraction as well.
This is me now and not official Disney...Okay so How do you do this?
Lets use Splash Mountain for example... DO NOT go to the end of the line... go to the entrance of the ride where you see a Cast Member standing collecting Fast Passes... approach them and ask for the Rider Switch ticket... they most often will just give 2 tickets to you. (Sometimes we work this a little and get get Fast Passes for this attraction as well.) One adult stays out with what ever children are not going to ride. Then either one or more of the tall enough people in your party take a ticket and go back up to the Cast Member and enter the ride at that point of entry. Then when finished riding use more of tickets in the same manner until all who have ridden the ride are done. That is how we have worked this. Definately saves some time and everyone gets to ride that wanted to (sometimes more than once).
Where should I stay? What is the best hotel?
Hotels I personally have stayed at...
Grand Californian (2 times)
Anaheim Fairfield Inn (2 times)VERY doable walking distance with children
Howard Johnson (1 time)VERY doable walking distance with children
Best Western Stovall (3 times)VERY doable walking distance with children and FREE Breakfast every day! So worth it!
Anaheim Marriott (1 time)(a long time ago and I would not recommend if maximum Park time is what you want)
I would recommend any of the above to anyone... all were good experiences and picked for different reasons depending on the goals of our trip. Sometimes picked for location... sometimes picked for convienence, sometimes picked for price, sometimes picked because of the kids... all nice.
Before the year 2000 I stayed several different places but I can't remember the names of any of the hotels... they were cheap and dirty and it is probably is better that I block those out of my memory anyway. Worth it in every way though!
Other hotels I have had heard terrific things about but do not have personal experience to share... all are within walking distance to the turnstiles.
Candy Cane Inn
Desert Inn and Suites
Best Western Park Place
Best Western Main Gate
I would say one thing about browsing the listings on the Disney website... when choosing a NON Disney Hotel (Disney calls them "Good Neighbor"... make sure you understand completely how far of a walk it is from the Esplanade. So many people I talk to end up choosing a hotel for a slightly cheaper price that is farther away. I am sorry - but isn't it worth a few extra dollars a night to not have to walk an extra 10 to 15 minutes each way to and from your hotel? ESPECIALLY when you have kids with you! Understand that when Disney says "one block away" - it is a DISNEY block and it is FAR! My advice - ONLY book at the hotels that say "across the street" if you have young children. Only book at the ones that 1 block if you are willing to do some walking! I personally do not like the Anaheim shuttles... I would rather walk... although some I have talked to say they are convienent... I just dislike waiting for a shuttle.
What Airport is the best to fly into?
I think this all depends...
What are you planning on doing while on your trip...
Exclusively just DLR... then I would suggest LAX or Orange County (aka John Wayne) Orange County is my first pick!
LAX will offer more airline choices but it is farther from the DLR and sometimes shuttle prices can be higher or you may end up waiting longer for your ride. Personally I do not care for LAX... I have had bad experiences with wait times for shuttles and it is just plain BUSY! I love John Wayne (Santa Ana) and will pick that one first if I can.
I made a mistake on a recent trip (Jan 2013) and booked flights through Long Beach... I got sucked in by the cheap air fare. What I didn't realize was the shuttle price more than made up for the money I saved on the air fare. Oh well... live and learn. It was a nice and small airport though and navigating it was super easy. Alaska Air no longer flies into Long Beach but sometimes you can get prices on Jet Blue.
If you are including other things on your trip besides a visit to the DLR... then I think preference for your family and what you plan on doing is best.
Another tip...park tickets! (keep them safe)
I recently became aware of a super cool tip to give you some piece of mind... if you are not an annual pass holder (which I am not either) you probably purchase 'Hopper" tickets on your trips to the magic... I am always paranoid something is going to happen to those tickets... lose them... whatever... a very simple thing to do is take a picture of the back of each ticket (the part that has the barcode)... doing this will make it VERY easy to replace those tickets should they get misplaced while you are on your trip.
Do we need to rent a car or just shuttle it?
All of the things written here are my personal opinion based on my previous trips or things others have told me about their trips... Links I have provided ...I do not take responsibility for the information to be current but have done the best I can to provide information that is the most current I could find at the time of orignally posting the information. No one is paying me to do this... I just love Disneyland and hope to help others get the most out of their visits to the Disneyland Resort!