Welcome to One Smart Mouse’s Disneyland Planning Guide! You’ll find all the information you need from park info, tickets, hotels, transportation, savings, and so much more!
Our Disneyland Planning Guide will not only help you learn about the Resort, it will also help you save money! Be sure to look for all of our money saving tips in the guide!
If you’ve never been to the Disneyland Resort, you’re in for a real treat! It’s the most Magical Place on Earth! Dreams come true here everyday and it’s about time you get to experience it! Planning a trip can be easy or hard, depending on how you approach it. Let us give you some pointers to help you understand a few things.
The Disneyland Resort has 2 Parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. They have 3 on Property Hotels: 1. Disneyland Hotel 2. Paradise Pier Hotel and 3. Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. These are owned and operated by Disney. All other hotels are known as Good Neighbor Hotels and are off property but considered by Disney as great places to stay.
Currently you can purchase tickets that range from 1 day to 5 days. Depending on how long you want to play for it’s always best to purchase as many days as possible as the price per day drops the more you add. For instance, the 2 day ticket costs about $99 per day but the 4 day ticket costs about $72.50 per day. So the more you play the less you pay!
Tickets can be purchased as either 1 Park Per Day tickets or as Park Hopper tickets. 1 Park Per Day tickets give you access to one of the 2 parks each day of your visit. You CANNOT visit both parks on the same day.
The Park Hopper tickets give you access to both parks as much as you want for the length of your ticket. We always recommend this ticket as it gives you a lot of flexibility to change parks when one is busy. We recommend getting your Park Hopper tickets with Get Away Today as they always have the best discounted prices! You can also try Park Savers for great deals as well!
For more information on discount Disneyland tickets be sure to read our guide so you can save the most money.
Tickets are only valid for 13 day after first use unless you have an annual passport. Tickets cannot be used by different people, it must be used by the same person on each day of use. Disney takes this very serious and will revoke tickets if you’re caught doing this. Only buy your tickets from vendors who are authorized. We suggest Get Away Today for discounted tickets.
Get the Magic going all year-round with an annual passport! These give you 1 year of access to the Parks, some with restrictions and black-out dates. All offer discounts on food and merchandise, tours, and special events. Please visit here for information on each individual Passport. You can also read our guide here for picking the best annual pass and how to save money when buying one.
Packages make planning a Disneyland trip so much easier! They typically include your tickets, hotel, and in some cases dining, airfare, and rental car. Not only do packages offer convenience they also come with lots of great extras for free! Lanyards, backpack, coupons, and more!
For more information of Disneyland Packages like the best times to book and who to book through for the best discounts read our guide to Disneyland Packages. We work with one company, Get Away Today, for the best package prices online!
There are 3 airports that service Disneyland within a 45 minute drive or less:
- Orange County – John Wayne SNA
- Long Beach Airport LGB
- Los Angeles Airport LAX
SNA is the closest airport to Disneyland and typically takes about 15 minutes to drive from there to Disneyland with clear traffic. While the airport is a smaller one it really nice and offers lots of places to eat, shop, and of course catch your flight. It’s also part of the Disneyland Resort Express motorcoach program which you can read about below. Airlines include Southwest, Delta, United, American, and Alaska.
LGB is the second closest airport to the resort and typically takes about a 20-25 minute drive with clear traffic. It’s also a smaller airport but was recently re-done and has some great eating places. Airlines that service Long Beach include Southwest, JetBlue, Delta, and American Eagle.
LAX is the furthest airport from Disneyland and can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to drive. This is a major airport with many airlines servicing it. We won’t list them all but most likely your airline will fly into it. It’s great for International flights. LAX is part of the Disneyland Resort Express motorcoach program which you can read more about below.
Getting to and from the airports can be pricey depending on which type of transportation you take. Rental cars can be picked up at all 3 of the airports around Disneyland. If you choose to rent a vehicle keep in mind that your hotel may charge a parking fee. Disneyland also charges a parking fee if you’re thinking about parking at the resort. It’s approximately $20 per day for cars and motorcycles. However, they are a good option if you plan to leave the resort a lot and head to the beach or other So. Cal attractions.
The Disneyland Resort Express Motorcoach is a great way to get to and from the airport and your hotel. It makes several stops around Disneyland including most neighboring hotels and of course the 3 Disneyland Property Hotels. Depending on which airport you fly into it will pick up every 30 minutes to every hour. Be sure to check the schedule while you’re booking. Click here for a coupon to help you save on your booking!
Taxis, Uber, and LYFT are great options if you don’t want to pay parking and rental fees. We highly recommend Uber and LYFT for getting to and from the airport. They are readily available and cheaper than taking a taxi. Use our coupon codes to get your first ride free with both companies! If you don’t have these apps on your phone we suggest taking a taxi. Many of them offer a flat rate to Disneyland and back. Just be sure to ask them. If you’re staying at a Disneyland Property Hotel ask the bell desk for a flat rate coupon upon departure.
An urban legend would have you believe that this service only comes with certain tickets or costs extra. Let us assure you, this is not true. Fastpass comes on EVERY ticket no matter where you get them! It’s like a “save your place in line” service where you get the Fastpass, leave, and come back later to skip the main line and get on the ride! It saves a lot of waiting time and allows you to go do something else until your return time. We suggest always using it! Fastpass machines can be found outside of most major rides. Simply insert in a valid theme park ticket and receive the Fastpass. Return during the posted time and skip the line!
An update to FASTPASS happened in 2017 that now makes the entire service electronic, meaning, you no longer need your little slip of paper for your FASTPASS. It goes directly on your park ticket which is now scanned at the FASTPASS entrance to each ride. Be sure to have your tickets out and ready to scan at the FASTPASS machines. You’ll thank us and this Disneyland Planning Guide later for that!
MaxPass is also new to the Disneyland Resort as of 2017 and has made things interesting. This new service enhances the current FASTPASS system in that it allows you to make FASTPASS reservations without actually having to go to the FASTPASS machines and scan your ticket. You can now schedule a FASTPASS from your phone anywhere in the park. There are a few exceptions to this but for the most part that’s how it works. Read more about MaxPass, how it works, and if it’s worth the extra money or not in our MaxPass Guide.
World of Color
The most amazing and wonderful show you’ve ever seen! Lights, colors, water, fire, and all your favorite Disney characters set to classic Disney music! Wow is right! It’s something you have to experience! A ticket for a showing is required. It works just like Fastpass: It comes on every valid theme park ticket! The machines to get your tickets for a show are located right next to the entrance of Grizzly River Run in California Adventure Park. Show tickets go fast so get there first thing! You can also purchase a meal and receive a special seating ticket to a show by visiting here.
Magic Morning Early Entry
This feature comes on 3-day tickets or higher only. It allows you entrance into Disneyland Park 1 hour before it opens to the public. It only runs certain days, typically Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. It comes on your ticket. It is different than Extra Magic Hours that is offered only to guests of the 3 Disneyland Property Hotels.
Extra Magic Hour
This is only available to guests staying at one of the Disneyland-Owned Property Hotels including Paradise Pier Hotel, Disneyland Hotel, and the Grand Californian Hotel. Extra Magic Hour is everyday at a different park. It typically follows the schedule of Magic Morning Early Entry which is Disneyland Park on Tues, Thurs, and Saturdays. On all the other days Extra Magic Hour is for California Adventure Park. Time are subject to change to check with your hotel the night before to verify the time. Take it from us and this Disneyland Planning Guide, Extra Magic Hour is a must do each day! You’ll get a lot done in just an hour because the park is pretty empty.
Best Time to Visit Disneyland
There’s a lot to be said about visiting Disneyland. We all want to visit when there are smaller crowds and shorter wait times. We also want to go when it’s easy for families to travel. Finding a balance between the two can be hard but it’s possible. We’ve studied the crowds over the last several years and have broken down each month; what you can expect during each one and when the best weeks are to visit Disneyland.