Disneyland:
Vacation Planning and Savings Guide

Disneyland “The Happiest Place on Earth”, is a park of wonder and excitement that inspires visitors of all ages. Disneyland opened July 17, 1955 with 18 major attractions and now has more than 60 adventures and attractions spread over 85 acres, with many more in the adjoining California Adventure theme park and Downtown Disney.

Disneyland is the perfect vacation destination for families. It’s a family friendly place with something for everyone. The park is clean, has fascinating architecture, a wholesome atmosphere, quality attractions and entertainment, and well manicured landscaping. Everything about Disneyland truly is magical! Included on this page are many money and time saving links and tips to help you get the most out of your trip.

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When To Go:

Fall and early spring visits are most likely to have the best weather and the smallest crowds. The busiest times of the year are the summer weeks and holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. Often during the busiest seasons, Disneyland offers additional entertainment, parades, and shows to help compensate for the long lines. Disneyland at night is a beautiful site to see. If this is important to you, please note that the park may close before dark when it is not the busy season.

Where To Stay:

At Disneyland, three Disney-owned hotels are currently available adjacent to the park. Although they are beautiful, conveniently located, well run hotels, they are expensive. Watch for off-season or other special discounted Disneyland packages. This year Disneland is marketing some vacation packages and hotel deals to help them celbrate "The Year of a Million Dreams", so keep an eye out for special pricing. The most expensive and busiest time of year is generally mid-April, July, the first few weeks of August, and around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year.  The following phone numbers will be of use to obtain hotel reservations and general park information.

Disneyland Resort Travel General Disneyland Information (714) 520-5050

Sales Center Book Vacation& Travel Packages

Disneyland Hotel Reservations & Information (714) 520-6425

Disney’s Paradise Reservations & Information (714) 520-6425

Grand Californian Hotel Reservations & Information (714) 520-6425

A frugal minded vacationer will consider other hotel options. Many of the 40+ non-Disney hotels around Disneyland are just as nice, almost as close, within walking distance to the park, and considerably less in price. Additional savings may be obtained by choosing a hotel farther away from Disneyland. There are approximately 150 hotels and motels to choose from in Anaheim and many more outside the city limits. Economy hotels often have the basic services needed at even lower prices. Additional savings are possible by staying at an RV or Campground Park such as Anaheim Resort RV Park (714) 774-3860 or others easily located by an internet search for Orange County or Anaheim, California RV Parks.

Even if you're not staying at one of Disney's hotels, you can visit them to enjoy the atmosphere, have a meal, or shop.  If you belong to any credit unions, are a government employee, school teacher, or have associations with other such groups, check for any possible discounts. If you’re a member of AAA (800) 874-7532 or AARP, you can potentially save a bundle on your vacation. Both organizations have negotiated discounts at thousands of hotels, car rental agencies and cruise lines. They offer special packages throughout the year, so keep your eye out for Disneyland related specials.

Park Hours:

Disneyland is open 365 days a year and offers extended operating hours during holiday periods, summer months, and weekends when crowds and attraction lines are larger. For example during the Christmas and Thanksgiving holiday season or summertime Disneyland operates from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. Hours during early fall and late spring may be 9a.m. to 10 p.m. Later fall, winter and early spring hours are more likely to be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The key is to start your day early, and get a head start before the crowd arrives. Consider taking a break in the afternoon. If you don’t want to leave the park, catch some of the Disney shows and rest your feet. Or you may want to go back to your hotel, grab a bite to eat, and take a nap or swim. You’ll feel more refreshed and better able to take advantage of the late night Disney activities and shows.

Parking and Transportation At Disneyland:

Disneyland's parking lots charge about $11.00 per automobile. If you leave the parking lot, and return later in the day, your original parking stub is still valid so keep it handy.

Free trams run to and from the park and the Disney operated hotels. Trams also run in the parking lot itself transporting visitors to the park and back to their cars at the end of a long day.

Free busses run from most of the area hotels and RV parks to a bus station area just outside Disneyland’s main gate. It's very convenient to use the shuttles instead of your own vehicle and saves you the daily Disney parking fee. Find out if your hotel has such a service and what the operating schedule is.

Weather:

Spring and fall temperatures are generally pleasant. Summer can be very hot with temperatures often around 90 degrees so wear sunscreen and bring a hat and sunglasses. Those in your party will feel better strength throughout the day, if they simply will wear sunglasses and hats .Winter day highs can range from the 50’s up to low 70’s and drop down into the 40’s at night. Bringing a light jacket for spring and fall and a heavier coat for winter is wise. Jackets can be left at rental lockers at the front entrance of Disneyland or in your car until you need them. Even if it rains you can still have a fun Disney day. Large black trash bags make wonderful rain gear that is compact and inexpensive.

Ticket Prices:

One day tickets to Disneyland generally are not discounted.

Children under 3 are free. Children 3 – 9 are $56. Children 10 and over pay the adult admission price. Adults are $66.

One-day Hopper passes are available so you can visit Disneyland and California Adventure on the same day. Children are $81. Adults are $91. Trying to enjoy two parks in one day might be spreading yourself too thin.

Two-day Hopper passes to visit Disneyland and California Adventure: Children $112 Adults $132

If you plan on a longer stay at Disneyland, purchasing multi-day Park Hopper or Annual Passes online in advance will save you time and money.

Seasonal discounts on Disneyland tickets are sometimes available especially for Southern California residents. Check with the Disneyland ticket office for current admission prices since prices change frequently.

Disney Guest Relations General Information & Park Hours (714) 781-7290 This is a good number to call for the most up to date information.

How Long To Stay:

You can have a great time in just one day, and a thorough visit of Disneyland can be accomplished in 3 days.

Food:

Food at Disneyland, while tasty is rather pricey. To save money, eat a hearty breakfast before starting your day at the park. Bring your own snacks and pack a picnic lunch or dinner that can be kept in your car or a locker at the entrance of Disneyland. Rental lockers operate on quarters. Each time you open your locker you must insert more quarters so keep the amount of times you open your locker to a minimum. Sandwiches, fresh fruit, pre-washed and packaged vegetables such as carrots, applesauce cups, fruit roll-ups, granola bars, nuts, trail mix, string cheese, and juice boxes or bottles are excellent inexpensive picnic foods.

If you purchase food while in the park, know that counter service restaurants are less expensive than those with table service. Also purchasing one larger meal and splitting it may be more cost effective than buying two smaller meals. Watch and see what other customers are ordering so you can see the size of portions being offered at different restaurants.

Vendors are on every corner offering a variety of snacks and drinks. You will save money by passing on these tempting treats and putting that money towards a real meal.

Carry a few snacks, gum, and mints with you in a purse, fanny pack, or backpack to help when someone in your party is hungry between meals or to ease the boredom of long lines.

What To See:

If you've never been to Disneyland, you'll want to create a rough schedule and become familiar with the layout of the park so you have an idea of how to cover all the major attractions you'd like to see. If you're going to be in the park for only a day, you might want to plan more carefully. Allow your kids to be involved as you plan your trip. Write a list of attractions and restaurants that you really want to catch, with each person going on the trip giving input. During your trip, make an effort to hit everyone's high priority wishes.

Ride Tips:

There are minimum height requirements for riders on many of the most exciting rides. Note these requirements so you do not wait needlessly in a line.

Use the Fastpass systems and save time! Fastpass is Disney’s way to minimize your wait in lines at the more popular attractions. With Fastpass, you return later at a specific time, skip the regular long line, and enter the shorter Fastpass line.  Find the Fastpass machine near the attractions entrance. There will be signs showing the current expected wait times for the regular line. If you don’t want to wait, check the current Fastpass return scheduled time. If the time suits your plans, have each member of your group swipe their park pass in a machine so you all get the same return time to the attraction.  When you return, simply go to the Fastpass line and you’ll soon be on the ride. I’ve found this to be the best way to ride the most popular rides without wasting large portion of my day waiting in lines. Usually I get a Fastpass reservation for a popular attraction and then take in the shows or other attractions in that area of the park until it is time for me to use my Fastpass. This saves a lot of wear and tear on the feet going back and forth from one side of the park to the other.  Note that you can only have one Fastpass reservation at a time.

Ride the most popular attractions early in the morning or in the late evening. The following rides usually have shorter lines at these times: Big Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones Adventure, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Star Tours, and The Matterhorn.

Occasionally rides are refurbished. If certain rides are important to you check with Disneyland to see which rides are scheduled for repairs before making your trip.

Additional Resources: For trip planning helps, resort descriptions, off site hotel descriptions, attractions descriptions, restaurant reviews, and limited information about other Southern California attractions consider consulting one of the following books. You can purchase these books for less at Amazon.com. Or instead of buying trip planning books, check them out from your local library or bookmobile. If the books are not available in your library, ask your librarian to do an inter-library loan. Your librarian will locate and borrow the desired book from another library for you.

 Birnbaum’s Disneyland Resort: Expert Advice from the Inside Source

By: Stephen Birnbaum

The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland

By: Bob Sehlinger

Visit the official Disneyland web site at Disneyland.com for the most up to date park information.

Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau, 640 West Katella located across the street from Disneyland inside the convention center. ( 877) 991-4636. Here they can provide you with information on area activities, hotels, shopping, and Disneyland. Calling the visitor and convention bureau is a free call, lets you speak to a real person instead of using an automated voice system, and is usually less busy than the Disneyland phone lines.

More Disneyland Money Saving Tips:

Bring your own film for your camera. Film is expensive at Disneyland. Disposable cameras work well and minimize expenses if you were to lose your camera.

If you have small children, bring your own stroller instead of renting one.

Drink water from drinking fountains or bring your own water bottle instead of buying bottled water from vendors.

There are many enticing shops and souvenirs available. If you will be allowing your children to make purchases, set a budget ahead of time so your children know their spending limits. This will prevent blowing their spending money in one day and may reduce the number of souvenirs that were neat at the time but are soon neglected and a waste of money.

Disney promotes that it makes vacation planning easy and can take care of all your air, hotel and ticket needs. Indeed it is easy to let Disney plan your customized vacation, but you will pay dearly for it. Various travel agencies offer packaged deals to save as well. But before committing to any deal, research hotels and RV parks, check on airline prices, figure out your gas costs and ticket prices and see how much you can save by planning your trip yourself.

Take advantage of the free breakfasts offered at many hotels.

Hotel rooms with refrigerators or mini kitchen units will save you money. Prepare a portion or all of your own meals and save on restaurant expenses.

If you need 1 or 2 more beds ask for roll away beds instead of obtaining another room. Or bring along a few extra sleeping bags.

If you have relatives or friends in the near vicinity of Disneyland, ask to stay with them. Or if you relatives are along your travel route, spending a night with them will save you a night of hotel expenses.

If you are driving, make the most of your trip by planning to see other interesting sites along the way. Pack the maximum trip value into your gas mileage. Other attractions in the Southern California are Universal Studios in Universal City, The San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park, and Sea World in San Diego, Legoland in Carlsbad and Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park. You may want to visit one or more of these attractions during the same trip or as an alternative to Disneyland.

Ask Disneyland for free trip planning literature.

Have your children suggest ways to save on your trip. There may be things they are willing to give up you never thought about.

Having laundry done professionally by the hotel can be very expensive. Do your own laundry. Bringing some detergent from home will save you more. Or bring sufficient clothing so you do not have to wash.

For other money saving tips click on 101 Ways To Save Vacations and Cheap Airline Fares links on the left side of this page.

We hope you have a wonderful Disneyland vacation and enjoy your time there as founder Walt Disney intended.

“To all who come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past...and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts which have created America...with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world." 

Walt Disney, Disneyland Opening Day Speech, July 17, 1955

 

 

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