Disneyland 2015 Trip Planning Guide


This post is a guide for planning your 2015 visit to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Here we cover tips and tricks for experiencing Cars Land and Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary, making 2015 a great time to visit Disneyland. We first posted this guide a few years ago when Disney California Adventure had its big reboot, and have updated it multiple times per year since. We have received messages from a lot of people who had great trips thanks to our recommendations, and this guide has been refined based upon numerous visits to Disneyland in 2014 (we didn’t do trip reports for the 2014 visits, but here’s our most recent Disneyland Christmas Trip Report) and will continue to be updated as we make regular trips to Disneyland in 2015.

Disneyland Resort has been on a roll as of late, expanding upon the success of its big recent addition, Cars Land, with the opening of Mickey and the Magical Map, plus World of Color – Winter Dreams, seasonal celebrations, and more. 2015 is Disneyland Resort’s “Diamond Anniversary”, which is slated to begin in May 2015. While all of the details have not yet been announced for the 60th Anniversary, we know that it will be based in nostalgia, and strong rumors suggest a new nighttime parade (a modified version of the Paint the Night Parade from Hong Kong Disneyland), new fireworks, significant upgrades to Fantasyland dark rides, and more.

We highly recommend a visit to Disneyland, as the 60th Anniversary sounds like it’s going to be awesome. Honestly, there hasn’t been a year recently when we haven’t recommended a Disneyland Resort visit. The place is firing on all cylinders. As long as Disneyland keeps doing new things and Cars Land keeps looking great, you may be hearing this same sentiment in 2015, 2016, 2017 and…you get the idea.

It may seem silly to point this out, but this planning guide applies to the Disneyland Resort in California. If you are visiting Florida, please consult our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.

This guide contains all the resources you’ll need to plan your Disneyland Resort trip, including when to visit, where to stay, what to do, and much more…

Disneyland Trip Planning Resources



If the above didn’t convince you, and you are trying to decide whether you should visit Disneyland in 2015, read the section below titled “Why you should visit Disneyland in 2015.” If you’ve already made up your mind, here are our Top 10 posts you should read when planning a Disneyland vacation. Think of them as like the 10 steps to follow to plan your Disneyland trip.

Each link will open in a new tab, so feel free to click away and go down the rabbit hole of Disneyland trip planning!

1. Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets – Our recommendations on what type of Disneyland tickets you should buy, including how many days, whether you should get Park Hopper, and where you can buy Disneyland tickets to save some money!

2. Disneyland Restaurant Reviews - The stereotype that all Disney food is unhealthy food like burgers and hot dogs is entirely false. Disneyland has inexpensive unique dining options as well as expensive fine dining. Good dining can help define a trip! Read about which restaurants are best in our dining reviews.

3. Disneyland Discount Guide – There are a variety of ways you can save money on a trip to Disneyland. From vacation packages to Costco discounts to off-season percentage off discounts to even discounts for military personnel, this page covers every way you might be able to save money on a trip to Disneyland!

4. What Time of Year to Visit to Avoid Crowds – The single most important part of planning a trip to Disneyland is determining when to visit to avoid crowds. Disneyland is busiest when school is out of session, so those are the biggest times to avoid. Learn what times to visit in this post!

5. Where to Stay: Off-Site or On-Site Hotels? – Depending upon where you stay, your hotel room could be the costliest aspect of your trip. Read why it doesn’t have to be in this post, why “on-site” hotels are not as important at Disneyland as they are at Walt Disney World, and how to score a close hotel for $50/night!

6. Disneyland Ride Guide – Disneyland has a ton of attractions, and a lot of visitors only have a day or two to spend at Disneyland. The article reviews every attraction at Disneyland, giving each a numerical score out of 10, plus highlights key attractions that we consider the best ones, which should be prioritized if you have limited time at Disneyland.

7. Disney California Adventure Ride Guide – Disney California Adventure had its Grand Reopening a couple of years ago, and a lot changed since then. Read our reviews of every attraction in DCA, along with numerical scores for each, and a list of the “must do” attractions you should prioritize. Cars Land is the obvious top priority, and if you want to get the most mileage out of it, check out our Cars Land Tips & Tricks post, too.

8. Disneyland Transportation – Should you fly or drive to Disneyland? Rent a car or rely on your feet for getting around Disneyland? We answer these questions and provide advice for saving money on transportation to (and around) Disneyland Resort!

9. Disneyland 1-Day Recommended Itinerary – Only have one day to visit Disneyland? This is a step-by-step plan of attack for which attractions you should do, where you should eat, what to see, and more. Likewise, we also have a Disney California Adventure 1-Day Itinerary if you’re trying to do that park in a single day.

10. What to Pack – Packing for Disneyland is comparable to packing for any vacation, but with a few twists. Here’s our list of “unordinary” items to pack that will help enhance your Disneyland trip!

Although this one isn’t necessary for planning a trip to Disneyland, we highly recommend you read our 101 Great Disneyland Tips post. A lot of these are more obscure and great little things that will help you visit the parks like a local. This is more granular advice than what you’ll find in our other planning articles, but we’ve had a lot of positive feedback from readers who really got a lot more out of their trips because of those tips.

What else might you want to know? Well, there are a lot of great times of year to visit Disneyland, but our favorite time of year is Christmas-time at Disneyland. The decorations are beautiful, the spirit is festive, and there are some fun attraction overlays and seasonal foods to enjoy.

Read our Guide to Disneyland at Christmas for additional information on visiting during the holiday season. If Christmas isn’t your thing, consider Halloween Time at Disneyland, and check out our Guide to Disneyland at Halloween for assistance planning a trip during that specific time of year. For tips applicable to trips anytime of year, consult the trip planning resources below.

Since we receive a lot of questions about Disney photography (all of the photos on this page and every other page on this site were taken by me), you might also want to check out our Disney Photography Guide for tips on taking better photos in the parks, and cameras and equipment recommendations!

That should about cover what you need to know if you’re thinking about visiting Disneyland Resort this year. We can’t encourage people enough to give Disneyland a try, especially Disney fans who are biased towards Walt Disney World as their “home” park. Disneyland is a totally different, much more relaxed experience. It’s intimate in both size and feel, and is oozing with history and incredible attractions.

If you want more convincing as to why you should visit Disneyland, keep reading…

Why Disneyland in 2015?

In my experience, a lot of Walt Disney World fans never visit Disneyland Resort, basically, because it’s smaller than Walt Disney World, not as isolated from the real world, and because it costs more to visit Disneyland. Likewise, a lot of non-fans who are considering a Disney trip as a once-in-a-lifetime, rite of passage trip for their kids default to Walt Disney World. This is understandable, but there is a case to be made for Disneyland, too. For those casual, once in a lifetime visitors, we have a Walt Disney World v. Disneyland Resort post that should be helpful for determining which coast might be better for you. I would strongly suggest reading that before deciding one way or the other, as there are pros and cons for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

If you’re in the former category, a fervent Walt Disney World fan who considers a Disneyland trip tantamount to treason, what follows is for you. Believe me, I know how defensive Walt Disney World fans can be, and how much they can hate Disneyland, seemingly without reason. Once upon a time, I was one of those defensive Walt Disney World fans. These fans retort “where’s your Westcot?!” when someone touts the number and quality of attractions in Disneyland. They point at the cheap hotels of Harbor Boulevard contaminating the “bubble” of Magic when someone points out the “blessing of size” of the smaller resort. You get the idea.

After visiting Disneyland Resort dozens of times in the past several years and truly falling in love with the original Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, I feel I can say with some authority that these Walt Disney World fans just “don’t get it.” Bluntly, if this describes you, it’s not Disneyland that’s the problem–it’s you.

Yes, Disneyland does have two parks to Walt Disney World’s four. No, Disneyland doesn’t have any water parks. Yes, it only has three resort-hotels. Yeah, the real world does sort of encroach-upon Disneyland. These seem to be some pretty serious blows to Disneyland being a viable tourist destination. Despite all this, Disneyland is still amazing–a must visit place.

Why? First, the big reason: Disneyland is the original Magic Kingdom. It’s the only park Walt Disney personally walked, and its history and historic detail is amazing. Anyone who fancies themselves a Disney history buff but has no desire to visit Disneyland doesn’t really care that much about Disney history. The places literally oozes history. (Seriously, it’s this green stuff that rises out of the ground in New Orleans Square. Don’t tell Cal-OSHA!) Even if you don’t care about history, there’s a certain intimacy and charm to the place that no other Disney theme park in the world captures. It’s not that the park is stuck in 1950 (not even remotely so), but it does have a certain quaintness about it that makes it really feel inviting.

On the topic of attractions, don’t worry, because there’s a ton of them (I feel like Stacey in the “Must Do Disney” video). Disneyland (the park) has a staggering attraction line-up, with almost every version of attractions that are offered in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland being substantially better in Disneyland. Pirates of the Caribbean is longer. It’s a small world has a beautiful outdoor facade and includes subtle and well done (that’s right!) Disney characters. Indiana Jones Adventure puts the Animal Kingdom attraction with the same bloodlines to shame. The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is far superior to the Epcot Finding Nemo attraction. Fantasyland has several cute dark rides that are either gone from Walt Disney World (Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride) or never existed there in the first place (Alice in Wonderland, Storybook Land Canal Boats, Casey Jr., etc.). These are just some examples; the full list goes on and on.

This brings us to 2015. While Disneyland (park) has boasted a superior attraction lineup than the Magic Kingdom for a long time, Disneyland Resort began to shine as a bona fide tourist destination more recently when the billion dollar plus make-over of Disney California Adventure was completed, with Cars Land and Buena Vista Street both opening. You can read our full review of Disney California Adventure 2.0 here, but suffice to say, it is now an amazing theme park, and one of the best US Disney theme parks.

Following the Cars Land addition, Disneyland debuted Mickey and the Magical Map, an excellent stage show in Fantasyland. Other more recent additions have included World of Color – Winter Dreams and Viva Navidad for the Christmas season in Disney California Adventure. As mentioned above, 2015 is Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary, and a lot is planned for this year. The future into 2016 and beyond also holds a lot of promise, with rumors swirling that Star Wars Land, among other things, is on the way.

Because of the large and vocal Annual Passholder fan-base in California, and probably because of Disneyland Resort’s proximity to The Walt Disney Company’s corporate offices in Burbank, the California parks receive a lot of little additions each year plus more attention to detail that together make a big difference. Most people look at the differences between Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort on paper, and see the 4 parks of Walt Disney World versus the 2 of Disneyland Resort, and stop there. Game-over, Walt Disney World wins. However, this isn’t really an apt comparison; Disneyland has a greater attraction-density and brings its own special qualities to the table.

In all honesty, comparing Disneyland and Walt Disney World isn’t that easy. It’s like comparing two of your children. Yeah, in the back of your mind, you secretly prefer one over the other (kidding, parents), but it’s a tough comparison because both have endearing qualities. Saying Walt Disney World is better than Disneyland due to the number of parks each has is about as arbitrary as saying your taller child is better than the shorter one. It reduces the comparison to simple terms that overlooks so much. It’s probably a comparison you shouldn’t even make since both resorts are so different. You simply need to experience both.

disneyland-diamond-anniversary-trip-planning

I could go on for pages and pages about why Disney fans owe it to themselves to visit Disneyland in 2015, but hopefully this is compelling-enough to convince you Walt Disney World diehards to make the plunge and head to California. Like we said above, check out our “Walt Disney World v. Disneyland” post for more info, as well as how much time to spend at Disneyland, and other pros and cons of visiting. If you’ve never been to either Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort, it’s a good place to start as we attempt to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each in an unbiased manner.

If you want to start planning, make sure to read the articles in the links above to help you plan an incredible Disneyland Resort vacation.

For updates on Disneyland, the latest news, and tips, sign up for our free monthly newsletter!

Your Thoughts…

Are you planning a Disneyland visit sometime in 2015? Have you already visited Disneyland? What did you think? Have any tips of your own to add? Share your thoughts and any questions you have in the comments!

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130 Responses to “Disneyland 2015 Trip Planning Guide”

  1. Laura B. says:

    Heading down in September for the first time in 3 years (after being and AP holder for 5 years). So excited!!

    • Don Marshall says:

      I’m planning a trip to Disneyland for later 2015.
      Was wondering if there is a good time to go to see the xmas decorations when it won’t be to crowded or am I better going right after labour day?
      Anyone help ?

  2. Amanda Susan says:

    Don’t discount Paradise Pier. I stayed there in September and loved it. The room was a good size, comparable to the Polynesian. I loved the little Disney touches in the room. It’s a short walk to the parks and I enjoyed walking through the Grand Californian everyday. Sure it may have more of a hotel feel than a Disney feel, but if your argument for staying at a value WDW resort is that you’re never in your room, couldn’t you use the same argument for staying at Paradise Pier?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      From the photos I’ve seen, I haven’t been impressed. That justification works with a Value Resort because of its price. PPH is significantly more expensive. If money is no issue, then the justification works. But if money is no issue, why not just stay at GCH! ;)

      • Amanda Susan says:

        The price isn’t that significantly more expensive. When I went in September I paid less than $150 a night. At a recent trip to WDW in June and staying at All Star Movies I paid around $130 a night. I would put my room at the same level as a Delux room at WDW. All I’m saying is don’t discount it until you’ve stayed. Also while I was there I ran into a group of travel agents who said they were most impressed with PPH and thought GCH was overpriced.

      • Kim H says:

        I have to agree with Amanda…we stayed at PPH this past October and were pleasantly surprised. We have stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter and I would say the rooms were at least the same or better. We had an amazing view of DCA and the walk was not that much further than the Disneyland Hotel. We have also stayed at the DLH and I would not hesitate to go back to PPH, especially if you are looking at saving a little money and staying at a Disney hotel, as it is expensive to stay anywhere “onsite”.

  3. 2 years ago my wife and I went to DL for the week of new years. We had been about 20 years ago (showing my age!) but have been WDW fans in the interim two decades.

    Even with the Holiday crowds, we had a fantastic time. It really is a great place. And equally enjoyable to WDW – but different. Not better or worse, just unique in it’s own way. Visitors just need to be open minded and look for the mickey magic. We are huge fans of the Christmas decor.

  4. David says:

    I totally agree with you, every Disney fan absolutely has to experience the original park. Up until this year I was a total Walt Disney World purist and I always imagined Disneyland to be a bit old-fashioned and dull. But I was SO WRONG. I visited Disneyland in August/September and it is now on par with WDW. The Matterhorn has become my favourite ride in any Disney park (and is particularly special at night!) and Fantasmic around the Rivers of America is beyond words. I love the close proximity between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, and DCA will really be great when the new additions open.
    I didn’t even realise that Disneyland was ‘small’ – it has so many more rides than the Magic Kingdom, I was really amazed. The only thing I did miss about the Magic Kingdom was the escapism created by journeying across the Lagoon or by monorail…
    Yet I didn’t so much mind staying on Harbour Boulevard and out of the ‘Disney bubble’ as I’m British and being on street with a Target, an IHOP and a Coldstone Creamery is all part of the American vacation (I also enjoy staying on International Drive when in Orlando… I know, weird!)
    I’d never heard of Superstar Limo until you mentioned it and I looked it up on Youtube. Oh my. That has to be the most un-Disney ride ever!

  5. YR says:

    Nice post! Just wanted to point out that Disneyland Resort does offer its equivalent of extra magic
    hours for resort hotel guests.

    • Shay says:

      In no way to the one-hour-before-opening extra magic hours compare to the EMH at Disney World, particularly to night owls like us who never get 1-3 (3!!!) extra hours at night in the peak season. Being a the Magic Kingdom at 2am? Happy girl. Never get that same benefit at Disneyland.

  6. Nice article, and right you are,
    Disneyland smells like history and I was blown away by the details and little corners with surprises that kept popping up. I visited Disneyland Paris on many occasions (I live in the Netherlands, Europe), then Disneyland Anaheim and finally and saw DisneyWorld too.. All three resorts have their perks, but honestly.. Disneyland Anaheim gave me the biggest thrill due to the history and unique attractions. Disney World on the other hand blew me away with the sheer size of the entire grounds, I fell in love with Epcot and Animal Kingdom, the Magic Kingdom was my least favorite.. but I goes that’ll soon change! As for Disneyland Paris, well.. it’s my home park.. the castle is the best one out there and I can’t wait for next years new night spectacular ; Dreams. But first it’s back to Disneyworld in january 2011!

  7. Dave says:

    Tom, as a frequent visitor to both coasts, I could not agree with you more. I have to say that while dining is better in Disneyland park then The Magic Kingdom, I feel the dining choices at California Adventure and at the resorts is somewhat lacking compared to the huge variety at Disney World.

    also, don’t forget the other advantage Disneyland has. The weather. while winter weather is similar on both coasts, Disneyland in the summer experiences dry days, cool nights, and low humidity. it is a great summer destination if you usually avoid Florida during the hot months as many people do.

  8. Hotel Managers Group sincerely congratulates themeparkinsider.com for their great articles and amazing photos about Disneyland park.
    Disneyland was always is always be the favorite destination in the world for our family.
    We wish you good luck for your blog!

  9. Dave says:

    Somebody knows their way around a camera. Great photographs on the site!

  10. Amy says:

    “Anyone who fancies themselves a Disney history buff but has never been to Disneyland doesn’t really care that much about Disney history”

    I consider myself a Disney “Theme Park” buff… I have not visted Disneyland… This is purely because of financial reasons, it’s a lot more expensive to vist California than it is to visit WDW from the UK (Believe me, I’ve looked into it). It’s on my bucket list though, and I WILL get there, one day. What I’m trying to say is that, not everyone who is a Disney Nerd has the money to visit Disneyland, or even the good fortune to live on the same continent as DL/WDW.

  11. Claire says:

    I know a lot of people are concerned with the “real world” encroaching on Disneyland, but honestly I have never felt like I was in the “real world” while I was in the park. It always felt very magical. The ambiance is present from the moment you step into the park, there is music, detailed decor, and character right by the entrance to greet you. I couldn’t say which park is better, because I love them both, but Disneyland has a special place in my heart because it was my first Disney park as a small child.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I mostly agree, but as soon as you step out of the park (or ride the monorail), you snap back to reality. That doesn’t happen for me from the time we start a Walt Disney World vacation until we end it. Happens at least twice daily at Disneyland. Still, everyone should visit Disneyland–it’s AWESOME!

  12. Dharma says:

    Heading to Disneyland for the very first time this July! Very excited to see Carsland & also to see the differences between Disneyland and WDW. We’ve been to WDW quite a few times in the past 2 years and decided we HAD to check out DL.

    Planning on 3 days there, also staying off-site, but really want to find a few nice places to eat while we’re there! I’m assuming it’ll be a busy time (end of July) but it can’t be worse than WDW for Xmas & new years, right?
    Love your blog btw, it’s very helpful!

  13. naren says:

    California Disneyland is so terrific in the night that I could not take my eyes off Sleeping Beauty Castle which looks so terrific in the night.

  14. jodi says:

    Do you think this will.still be able to be applied for a July 2013 trip? :)

  15. susan says:

    I Beg To Differ On The Price Differances. I Have Been Going To Disneyland For Years. I Prefer The Prices And The Hotel Choices. I Did Take My First Trip To WDW In December Of 2011 For Our 2 Week Honeymoon. It Was Nice But Very Spendy In My Opinion. Disneyland I Can Plan That For A Yearly Trip And Florida Well At Least Two Years To Save Up. The Airfare Is What Kills You. I Can Fly Round Trip To Anahiem For $100.00 And Sometimes Less. Florida We Spent $394 Round Trip Per Person And We Are A Family Of Six. Yes WDW Has More To Offer But Plan To Do Plenty Of Boat Or Bus TRansportation IfU Want To Eat AT Hotel… WE LOVE DISNEY!!

    • susan says:

      We Have A SURPRISE Disneyland Trip Planned For Our Kids During Thanksgiving Week!! We Generally Go In December So This Will Be A First For Us. Looking For Forward To All The Beautiful Christmas Decorations.

  16. tai says:

    disney has always been a place of happiness and fun. i went when i was 9 years old and it was wonderful and now its even better. at night is the best time to stay or come the shows are unbeliveable and amazing. its trely something to see, so go check it out, your children family or friends will love it!!!!

  17. Marcos says:

    For a first time visitor, how many days will you recommend me to stay??. We are from South Florida, but I want to take my 4 years old son to see Cars Land. Thanks in advance!

  18. Pam says:

    Heading to Disneyland from Texas this March…excited to bring my son for his first trip, and mine too! He just turned 5 and I wanted to make sure to bring him while he’s young enough to still enjoy Disney cartoons and all that jazz….I’m sure hoping we have a good time!

  19. The Shaffer Clan says:

    we’re planning on going in August this year. We’ll be traveling by car with a developmentally delayed 3 year old. We will be traveling on a budget and are wondering what additional tips you or others have for us. Thank you in advance!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      My only additional tip would be to read the dining reviews we have for counter service restaurants. If you want to save money, eating at quality counter service restaurants instead of table service restaurants is a great way to accomplish that!

    • Pat Tegges, Scottsdale, AZ. says:

      Hi, what is Superstar LImo?

  20. Mi Mi says:

    Our experience is that both destinations have their own unique perks…which keeps us bouncing back and forth over the years! The nostalgia at DL can’t be beat. It’s especially wonderful for small children. Three of our tiny grand-ones live only a few hours away, so this has become their only Disney park memory-maker… so far. (We have trip planned in 2014 to introduce the rest of the grandchildren there who live outside CA for a family reunion of the best sort. )

    Since my father worked in the security department in the Town Hall the summer of ’55 after DL originally opened, it was my first Disney park experience as a child & it holds wonderful memories. My grandparents lived in Burbank & took guests there all the time. We have great home movies of the park in the earliest of days!
    While DL is more do-able for little ones, and has new Cars Land (can’t wait for this May when we meet them there to see that,) WDW best fits the needs of older children. We first took our 3 then teenaged children to WDW in the mid 90s. After having grown up visiting DL (we lived in Las Vegas then,) WDW was full of new and grander experiences for them, and layered yet more rich experiences on their Disney ‘resume.’
    The less impressive Fantasyland of WDW at that time wasn’t an issue. They loved the Beach Club, water parks, as well as all the new places to explore.
    We plan on bringing the entire family to WDW in the future when all 5 grandchildren can handle the walking, heat, crowds better. My husband & I have enjoyed that locale close to 25 times in the past …almost 20 years! (Work, conferences, fun get-aways…) We live in Colorado, so both are easily accessible. We have no favorite!
    Disney parks on both coasts have become a family tradition for five generations of our family. Both are worthy of extended visits if you want to escape reality and enjoy beautifully manicured design and childlike fun. It just depends on the season and your stamina!

  21. Samantha says:

    I have been to WDW 7 times in the last 6 years (We were living in Georgia). Now, we are living back home in Alaska and have made reservations to visit Disneyland early this May! I have been to Disneyland 3 times, the most recent being 15 years ago (YIKES!). My parents, my husband, myself and our 3 children are all going for a week and will be staying at the Grand Californian. I have to admit, I am a WDW fanatic. However, I can’t wait for our trip to Disneyland in two months!!! For me, it’s all about experiencing the Disney magic in any way I can get it ;) If we were going to WDW again, I would have plans set in stone (When and where to make dining reservations, which park to visit on which days, which fastpasses to get ASAP when we arrive at the parks etc), however, because I was only 15 years old the last time I went AND considering how much has changed in the past 15 years, I am really struggling to get plans made. I know right now that 60 days in advance I will be calling to make reservations to eat at Blue Bayou as well as Goofy’s kitchen (for the character meal – which my 6, 4 and 2 year old will love!), but other than that I am clueless. I can’t seem to find as much information on which rides I should rush to first thing or other “experiences” that are must-do’s. I was hoping they would have a pirate’s league similar to WDW for my boys to get made into pirates, but the only thing comparable is being made into a prince at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and I have a suspicion they won’t be as into that. Guess I will do as much planning as I can while I count down the days until our Disneyland vacation! Thanks for the great article, BTW :)

    • Ann Marie says:

      We have always gone to Disneyland as it is closer to us than Disney World is. Then in 2012 our oldest daughter got the opportunity to work at Disney World through the Disney College Program and was able to get free tickets to Disney World. Even though we had those free tickets – it still cost us a lot of money to fly our whole family to Disney World. We went in September 2013 and stayed at Pop Century Resort because our daughter was also able to get us 60% off on Disney Resort hotels. There was free transportation to and from the airport and hotel as well and a shuttle to and from the parks and Downtown Disney for shopping. What we didn’t like was that at the restaurant in the hotel the alcohol was as easily accessible as milk, juice and water and was packaged just like some of the juices and several times our 6 year old almost grabbed an alcoholic beverage thinking it was juice. There was also the issue of the fact that the only rides our 6 year old was tall enough to ride was at Magic Kingdom. In the other parks he wasn’t tall enough to ride any of the rides and it was very hard to explain to him why he couldn’t ride any of the rides and everyone else could. Most of the time one of us would not ride a particular ride so that we could sit out with him.
      At Disneyland, he is tall enough to ride every ride but one and that’s fine with me because that means that no one has to choose which ride they have to miss out on or we don’t have to take turns sitting out with him.
      Disneyland is MUCH more family oriented, where Disney World caters more to adults because all the restaurants sell alcohol – even the quick service ones.

  22. Kaitlyn says:

    Hi. My friends are coming from out of town. I would like to take them to Disneyland, but its soo expensive right now. We are trying to plan a trip for 10 ppl. Do you know if there are any discounts anywhere for the tickets? Is there 2 day tickets for $99 offered for Socal residents? Thanks!

  23. Sara says:

    Hooray for this!!

    As a lifelong Northern California and avid Disneyland fan/atendee, I appreciate this post.

    I’ve only been to WDW 3 times in my life so far, but absolutely loved it. Whenever I mention it to people they always ask me which I like more, and I tell them that you just have to go, because they can’t(and honestly shouldn’t) be compared. I state my own personal and biased reasons for preferring Disneyland, but don’t discredit how amazing WDW is at all.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I can understand not wanting to compare the parks, but I think it’s fun. What should be avoided, in my opinion, is trying to draw too many unexplained, negative comparisons. As in, “WDW is better than Disneyland because Disneyland only has 2 parks and WDW has 4.” While the numbers there are true, they don’t even begin to tell the whole story…

  24. Tracy says:

    We booked a trip for the end of June and are staying the Anabella. We’ll be traveling with a 5 yo and 11 month old, so proximity was important to us. Have you heard anything good, bad or indifferent? Thanks for the info. Very helpful for people who like to do their homework for vacations.

  25. Brandon says:

    I’m actually going to stay at the hotel with my girlfriend this summer. (Due to the fact that I turned 18 on April 28.)
    We’re going to have a great time. We both share the same interest in cartoons and the history behind it.
    I’ve been to Disney World, and it has amazing attractions, (Specifically, Rock n’ Roller Coaster and Test Track.) but it doesn’t give me the same chills that Disneyland gives me. I’m not a thrill seeker, nor am I a guy who wants to lie on his ass all day in dark rides. I just have a love for Disneyland. The weird smell when you go into the park. The pricy churros. It’s part of my childhood and that’s why I love it so much. I guess you can say that I love Disneyland for the same reason that Floridians my age love Disney World. We grew up with it, and it’s a part of us.
    I have 2,000 saved in my bank account and I’m going to have a fun time with her. I’ve known her for two years and it’s going to be amazing sharing my first time on the park without my parents.

    So that long passionate answer is me paying homage to my long history with Disney.
    :)

  26. bevan says:

    I went last year

  27. Palerogue says:

    We are going for the Third year in a Row Memorial Day weekend (Woo Hoo) One week away from today :)~

  28. Broc Beau says:

    It has been about 3 years since my last visit to Disneyland. I’ve been a regular since it opened. I read all the hype on how fabulous the upgrades at California Adventure are and while that may be true, I opted to take my grandchildren to Disneyland for their first visit. The last time I was there I couldn’t help but notice how run down so many of the original rides were… light bulbs out, faded glow in the dark paint on rides like Peter Pan. Just an overall run down look. So yesterday I was looking forward to watching little faces light up just as mine had at age 5. It appears that all the improvements were invested in attracting more visitors to California Adventure as I found Disneyland to be in the same run down condition as my previous visit. I was devasted when my granddaughter got off her first ride declairing “this is lame”. I agree. The magic goes out the window when the park isn’t properly maintained. It was a ridiculously expensive day and were we able to do it over we would have gone to California Adventure where everything is shiny and new. Shame on the Disney Company. For what you charge a family for admission it would behoove you to keep the park in pristeen condition. It was clean but inexcusably rundown.

    • Micah says:

      That’s sad to hear about your impression of things being rundown and losing ‘the magic’ as a result, Broc. Was that your general impression for the whole park, or just some spots in Fantasyland?

      Going around Christmas this year, so hope the magic is alive and well at that time. I hear Big Thunder Mountain is due to open again this fall; I imagine that would have been a bummer for you with it being closed this year.

    • Pat Tegges, Scottsdale, AZ. says:

      Dear Broc B, what are you, Possessed? There is nothing wrong with the older rides !!!!! I think they’re fabulous!!

  29. Shay says:

    Really appreciate this rundown. My only counter-argument is that I find it surprising you think the food is superior in Disneyland. I am a foodie, for sure. Having grown up with frequent trips to DLR (I live in Seattle, so the flight was more reasonable), and now having 4 trips to WDW in my adult life, I have always been far more impressed with food offerings in WDW. I am not sure what you were comparing, but even if it was straight Magic Kingdom vs. Disneyland, I can’t fully agree with you. Though I am very VERY impressed with the improvements across the board in Disney theme parks nationwide, I still think MK wins over DL. And full resort to full resort, even Napa Rose (one of my fave restaurants in the world) and Carthay Circle can’t go head to head against the likes of Victoria and Alberts…not to mention the ridiculous variety offered throughout 4 parks plus a huge Downtown Disney district at WDW vs. DLR’s two small resorts.

    Ultimately, food aside, I can’t imagine any true Disney fan now “getting” the beauty of Disneyland on its own merits. I often speak to other fans who often say they like DLR more for the “walk in Walt’s footsteps” kind of reasons. The history is deep, and any fan can feel the spirit of all we know to be Disney which started in this park. Personally, having grown up around Disney and having mad love for it, I prefer WDW’s vast offerings. But I still go to DLR whenever I can!!

    • Shay says:

      Erp. now=not!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I suppose I should have qualified that with “pound for pound” or that counter service food is generally better.

      Walt Disney World has some fantastic signature dining (plus V&A’s), as well as great counter service, but there are plenty of duds, too. In terms of raw number of great places to eat, WDW wins out. But, it also has significantly more places to eat.

      I should probably go back and clarify that…

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  32. Jame says:

    While visiting Disneyland, the places you stay are of the utmost importance. As a matter of fact, this is true for every other city. When you are visiting Pasadena, for instance, you can stay in a hotel that is located at the heart of the city and be near the buzz. Heard about Lincoln Motel Pasadena? It is centrally located and also does not cost that much to stay. You can stay here with your family and enjoy all the sights and sounds of Pasadena.

  33. Jeff M says:

    Tom, love what you’re doing with the blog.

    My family of five has been to WDW 6 times in the past four years, but now we are considering making the trek to Disneyland. For the first time out, what would be a good length of stay to fully experience much of what DL has to offer without staying too long? I’m thinking four days would be a good start, but am mostly clueless here.

    Thanks.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      That’s tough. It’s going to vary for everyone, but if you really want to take your time enjoying dining and everything the resort has to offer, I’d say 4 or 5 days would be ideal. If you just want to do all of the basics, 2-3 days.

  34. Nikkimouse says:

    Question! I am going to disneyland august 8th-11th but will also attend the D23 Expo. Should I expect Disneyland to be less crowded this weekend? Maybe everyone will be at the expo?

  35. Mike says:

    I am planning to be in Anaheim within a couple weeks and I just have a quick question. Is Epcot a separate ticket than the magical kingdom and adventure park? And is it worth it to go to Epcot. I am 26 and am going there with my girlfriend so some art exhibits and drinking would be good. Is it all in the same area or is it quite far to go from one to another? Appreciate anyone who has advice on this.
    Thanks!

  36. Dan H says:

    Hi Tom, this blog is awesome. So the GF and i are going Dec 12-14. We have the 3 day-1 park per day pass. i was thinking Thursday and Saturday in Disneyland and Friday in DCA. Does this sound OK? I haven’t been to DL in since I was 7 (I’m now 350, and I’m sure it’s been 10 years for my GF.I’m not sure that 2 days is enough in DL, but that’s all the time we have.

    Thanks!

  37. Ellen Hillery says:

    Leaving on 8/20. First visit since 1988. Disneyland hotel for 4 nights. Can hardly wait!
    Love your blog, photos, website, discussion contributions etc!!!

  38. mike says:

    Im Just curious. me and my wife are going from December 26th to Jan 4th. My first time and her 2nd. We have been to WDW about 6 times. I was wondering is that enough time for both parks, and still do some other things.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Yeah, you’ll have enough time for the parks and other activities in SoCal. You’re going at a really busy time of year, though, so expect to spend more time waiting in lines than normal.

    • Jane says:

      Enjoy the holiday decor, but be prepared for crazy lines! We (my husband and 2 children) have been both right before and right after Christmas. It was wayyy better before Christmas. Everyone has the time off between Xmas and New Years. You can still experience the grand holiday magic before Xmas, with smaller crowds

  39. Renan says:

    I went on the 15th,16th and 17th of June this year (yes on the 58th anniversary and I didnt realise it until I was there it made me very very happy) and we went 2 days to disneyland and one to california adventure and we did everything in Disneyland except for very kid things and stuff we were not interested.( we just didnt ride the main street vehicles, davy crocketts canoes, Watch the 2 shows at the royal theater the carousel, and dumbo. We watched all other shows and the parade and fantasmic and magical we watched it on both days and we managed to also ride things twice).
    For california adventure we did the same thing but just in one day(we didnt ride the red car trolleys, watch disney junior, ride anything in bugs land except its though to be a bug, maters junkyard. the bakery tower, carousel, jumpin jellyfish, and golden zephyr. We also unforntunally missed the second showing of the parade while at Alladin and we watched all other shows and World of Color and rode california screaming 4 times and tower of terror 5 and radiator springs racers one with fastpass and one with single rider right after 9:00 world of color.) I would also like to say that we did see many characters not just ride and took many pictures. We also didnt eat at the parks we brought out own except for ice cream and other small “cart” snacks.Do you think me and my family were able to do well with this trip. Do you think we really used our time well and the fastpasses since it was busy season and one of the day was the 58th anniversary. Do you think we did well?

  40. Roy says:

    Any idea when the Christmas holiday decorations will be up this year (2013)?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Dates aren’t yet official, but we expect the Christmas season at Disneyland to officially kick off on November 11, 2013. Expect the decorations around Disney California Adventure and Disneyland to start going up two weeks before then.

    • Pat Tegges, Scottsdale, AZ. says:

      Hi Roy,
      the Holiday decorations go up right after Halloween. They are fabulous and you will love them!! Happy Holidays!!

  41. Robyn Lee says:

    Greetings, I grew up 5 miles from Disneyland. Even though my family didn’t visit Disneyland as one might think being so close, it was definitely a big part of my growing up. We could see the fireworks on Wednesday night from Magnolia Baptist Church. My husband and I went to Disneyland on our honeymoon because he had never been. Comparing Disneyland to Disney World is like comparing apples to limes. Both are fruit, but they just aren’t the same. Disneyland doesn’t have four parks that are Disney. If you drive just a little bit you can go to, Medieval Times, The Wax Museum, the beach, but those aren’t apart of Disneyland. I live in Oregon now and it is a great supporter of the, Oregon Ducks football team. For the fans of Disney World to say bad things about Disneyland would be like me saying bad things about the, Red Sox at Fenway Park. I have no desire to visit Disney World. I am content and have great memories here at Disneyland. Hopefully, my husband and I will visit again some day with our sons. Thanks for reading.
    Tim, Robyn, Joseph, and Josh

  42. Rebecca says:

    Hi, firstly, just wanted to say how much I love your blog and how useful it has been when we have been planning our last three trips to WDW from the UK!!! This October we will be visiting DL for the first time and will have 2 days (1 park per day) there as part of our road trip around California. I have bought extra tickets for the Halloween party on 30th Oct and was wondering how this compares to MNSSHP? Also, are there any must do’s whilst we’re there (I know that 2 days might not be enough to see everything!!) Our party is 4 adults and 2 kids (10 and 8). Thank you!!!!!

  43. Kathryn says:

    I’ve booked the flight for Dec 1 to Dec 5. I am taking my 2 daughters (22&20). I sooo want to stay in a Disney hotel, but for the price and reading the on-site versus off-site, glad I booked the Desert Inn. I have never been to Disneyland. One of my daughters (20) has gone a couple of times, just one day each. Plan to saturate our 3-1/2 days with Disney. Thinking California Adventure Park just one day. I even printed off the Vegan Cowgirl’s guide to eating for one of them.

  44. Daina says:

    My husband and I are taking our 2 sons to DL this month for Halloween. As native North Californians we both went at least once a year as kids and continued through adulthood. We went to WDW a about 6 years ago for the first time, when our oldest son was 10 months old. Although the size of WDW was impressive, with a baby, and the strollers, diapers, food, bags and such that go along with them, the trams, monorail, boats and such that you have to take to get from your hotel to a park and back were very inconvenient. At DL, we simply walk everywhere, from hotel to park, to the other park and back. When my 2 year old is fully out of a stroller in another few years we will consider heading back to WDW. (The Animal Kingdom and Water Parks are worth the flight for a change of Disney Pace!)
    At WDW the list of on-property hotels was better, as well as the awesome fun of the water parks. The DL hotels, are all great…although we have stayed off property on occasio, the convenience of on-property and the guarantee of well appointed, clean roooms and the Disney feel is worth the cost. I do think the GC is overpriced, the DLH and PPH have rooms just as nice (and the same size!) for far less. (Although the PPH Pool is not great…so if you like to swim in the summer…go to the DLH!)
    And you didn’t mention the great convenience of DL Downtown Disney in comparison to WDW. In WDW there are more entertainments and clubs in DD, but the DL one is located by all 3 hotels, is easily walked to from any nearby off-property hotel, is cleaner, and has plenty of restaraunts, bars, shops, and music

  45. Deb says:

    I love love love your blog and tips.
    We are travelling from Australia with our two boys next week and have just learnt that the Christmas Celebrations start two days after we arrive. Super excited and will def utilize lots of your tips!!
    Thanks
    Deb

  46. olusegun maxwell says:

    i am a nigerian from africa,i got married last year and me and my wife has been looking for a perfect place for our second year weedding aniversary,untill i came accross disneyland in a book

    please kindly guide me on how i can achieve my dream of visiting disneyland with my wife

    Thank you

  47. Tara says:

    The first two weeks of December 2013 the park was completely crowded. When we arrived at 10am all 4 days the parking lot was full so we were redirected to the Paradise pier hotel parking lot which took us 40 min. To get to the front gates of the park as there was no tram to take us . We had to walk from one end of downtown Disney to Disneyland gates. Same thing last year 2012 parking lot full by 12 pm the first two weeks of December. Every ride was at least 70 min. Or more wait

    • Tom Bricker says:

      We were there the first weekend of December, and while the park was busier than expected, there were definitely a lot of attractions with wait times less than 70 minutes. The vast majority, in fact.

  48. Duy says:

    Thanks for the post. I ve been to Disneyland resort at 2009 for 4 consecutive days and stayed at Disneyland hotel. The resort is really nice. I really dont like people who compare Disney park to Disney Park. Personally I think they are all great, and some are just little greater than others. They cannot compare a park with nearly 60 years old to a park that just opened couple years. Some said that TDR is the best. Japanese does not rate their parks the best. They really like TDR, but they also want to explore all Disney Parks worldwide… and enjoy them, not judge them. The true is each resort all has their own unique E-tickets, as a Disney fan, enjoy all of these are better than anything.

  49. Kirstine says:

    Hi Tom,

    I’m from the UK and have been to Disneyland before about 5 years ago but only for a day! Me and my boyfriend are planning a trip to California for the future but were thinking of waiting a year and going in 2015 for the 60th anniversary! I just wondered if you think this is a good idea for the best year to go as we won’t be able to go again any time soon! And also what time of year for that would be best for the anniversary? Hope you can help! I love reading your trip reports.

    Kirstine x

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I think waiting for the 60th might be a good idea if you’re a fan of the Disneyland dark rides, as they’re rumored to receive some nice upgrades for the 60th. Otherwise, I don’t really think much will be happening…but I could be wrong!

      Christmas-time is probably the most romantic time of the year. YMMV, though.

  50. veki says:

    I would like to ask what do you think if visiting Anaheim and Disneyland is okay during Thanksgiving Holiday?

  51. Jo says:

    We will be in So. California over Memorial Day Weekend – our only opportunity to visit Disneyland. We’ve been to Disneyworld and Disneyland several times over the years with our kids when they were much younger. This time we’ll have 4 young adults – mid-20’s – with us when we visit in May 2014. Which day will be better to do Disneyland – Saturday or Sunday of Memorial Day weekend? Thanks.

    • Tim says:

      Go to the parks on Saturday it’s the lowest attendance day of the three. Still busy but not as bad as Sunday or Monday. Tim

  52. Abi says:

    Hi! We just returned from a magical trip to Disneyland and DCA. With less than a month to prepare for our last-minute vacation, stumbling across your blog was fortuitous and a gift. I scoured through old posts and heeded many of your tips, recommendations and suggestions (esp. 101 Tips and Top Disney/DCA Attractions).

    We never would have considered the park hopper pass, but it turned out to be the perfect option for our two days of Disney. The last week of January was a FABULOUS time to visit. Just a handful of rides were closed for refurbishment, the weather was nice (mid 70s on day one, mid 60s on day two), the longest line we waited in was 40 minutes to get our Radiator Springs fast passes. Otherwise, it was 15 minutes tops! We saw everything we REALLY wanted to see in the first day, so our second day was bonus.

    I could go on and one, but the short of the long is that my husband, kids and I had a WONDERFUL time, and we will fondly remember our first Disney vacation forever. Thank you so much for your great blog, Tom. It was a trip saver.

    All the best to you!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words, and I’m happy to hear that your trip went well! It’s always nice hearing from people who have used the tips here and had a great time! :)

  53. David S. says:

    My wife and I will be visiting Disneyland for the first time in September 2014. We live in Florida and visit WDW all of the time, in fact we are annual passholders there. We are flying out to CA to do the repo cruise of the Disney Wonder back thru the Panama Canal to Port Canaveral Florida. We are flying out early to spend a few days at Disneyland before the cruise. Any tips or suggestions for two newbies to Disneyland? We both are semi-retired and Disneyland has been on our bucket list for a few years now. We are staying at the Disneyland Hotel for our stay at Disneyland.

  54. Erin says:

    I’m planning a vacation in August 2014!!! Hope that’s a good time of year to go. It’s my 7th or 8th time. But my friends first. This is an awesome post! I will keep eveything in mind!

  55. Excellent article. I absolutely appreciate this website.
    Thanks!

  56. Daniel says:

    Hi I’m planning to visit my daughter that lives in San Francisco and would like to take her to Disneyland. I will be traveling 3/19 thru 3/25. I have a couple of questions.

    1. Does it make sense to drive from San fran to Anaheim? Flights from San Fran to LA seem to be expensive for next week.

    2. What tickets should I purchase? Two day park hopper or two single day for each park? Don’t want to waste time and money on things that she may not be interested in.

    Any other suggestions or input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Have you looked into flying into LAX or SNA? Both are good options close to Disneyland. With as short as your trip is, I wouldn’t want to do the drive, but it’s probably not that much longer than flying, once you factor in time at the airport, etc.

      I’d recommend Park Hopper tickets. The two parks are a really short walk from one another, and it’s nice to take advantage of that (and you can double up on FastPasses this way if it’s busy!).

    • senobio aguilera says:

      driving from San Fran to Anaheim-drive along the coast. I recommend this trip for everyone. You are driving along the coast-and have the beach at your side. Along the way-you will see elephant seals, seal lions and maybe during what time of the year whales. you will see California surfers riding the waves-people camping on the beach. I would not recommend going from south to north along the coast-you don’t get to see as much.
      If you do wish to fly-try Ontario airport or john wayne, both are closer (less traffic) but LAX can be cheaper-but not always worth the traffic hassle.

  57. Katherine says:

    Hi Tom,
    We are planning a trip for the first time to DL the second week of May ( 8-17) we have 2 kids ( almost 4 years old boy and 7 years old girl) we live in Seattle and we are thinking to spend 3 days in DL , 1 day in San Diego ( Seaworld and ….) then visit universal Studios ( I’m not sure if the kids would like it or we have to skip it) also what beach would be good to spend a day. We think to rent a car, but not sure if we have have to do it after DL ( we are planing to stay in a hotel within a walking distance to Park )and then rent it for the rest of our trip, we are thinking to buy the Southern California city pass. Which airports do you recommend us? SNA? Other attractions to visit with kids? Do you recommend us to stay in Anaheim in a hotel the 7 days and then make the trips from there or can we move closer to San Diego?

    Thank you very much in advance for this fantastic blog.

  58. Angelina says:

    Disneyland disappointment ….

    Hi everyone my family and I went to disneyland california for Christmas…this was my children’s Christmas present this year…..The happiest place on earth right?…Not for us……we went on Christmas weekend…..my daughter is 10 and my son is 7…this is all they wanted from Santa this year is to go there… so we planned our trip…we planned our trip through Disneyland and stayed at a neighbor resort … I will never again go to the theme park again  …. or trip was miserable.      _____For it to take all of our savings and to drive 23 hours _____…it was horrible my kids were sad…_____.it was so busy we could not ride any rides…people were running in to us about knocking my daughter over…..we could not see any of the shows people were crowded everywhere workers were very rude about standing were you could try to see… it was a reserved spot, ….

    go figure…….. just a heads up dont go durring a holiday they ruined our Christmas. …. I will never go again !!!!!! I also notified the  customer relations desk  of the  problems we were having they said next time dont plan durring a holiday …..well I kind of figured that much…

    they were no help at all….I rate this theme park very low… wish my family could have had fun for christmas…like all the commercials….. well not my kids they were very sad…..lines were like 3 to 4 hours long….we even paid extra for the park hopper tickets

    I guess that a theme park that large wont care about losing business for a family of 4 when they have so much business already….. I think thats wrong..

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Sorry to hear that your experience was negative. It’s pretty well known that Christmas weekend is insanely busy (the busiest weekend of the year). Before going to any theme park (or anywhere, for that matter), it’s a good idea to do a little research. I understand your opinion of Disneyland is tainted, but just some general advice for future trips! :)

      • Chante says:

        Hi Tom!

        I have only been to Disneyland once. I was a great time for the family, but as much as I stayed up at night researching, I feel I missed out of the proper way to plan my trip. Is there something like a tip sheet that will help me plan better for my trip in October of this year. I believe I read someone mention 101 tips for your trip. Please help… SOS

  59. Troy houghton says:

    Just found this site. Really enjoy it. we are going to Disneyland in late September and early October. Any thought about what Crowd or wait times should be. Some sites say it should not be bad

  60. Katy says:

    For large groups….check out vrbo.com, it’s actually a great site for anywhere you want to go. Some of the vacation rentals by owners available near Disneyland are just amazing. Many are within walking distance to the parks, have themed rooms, pools, jacuzzis, game/media rooms, toys and playground areas. Well equiped, just bring your food. We rented a 5 bedroom,5 bath for 4 nights, each room had private bath. Lots of living space. Sleeps 22 (19 of us, 11 adults & 8 kids 1-8 yrs old)sounds crazy, but plenty of room for all and HUGE savings.

  61. renata says:

    Hello! I will travel the west coast during December and I planned to spend December 25 and 26 in Dineyland. I know the parks will be crowded. Do you think it can be a bad experience? I could not think of a more magical place to spend Christmas…
    Best regards,
    Renata (from Brazil :)

  62. Brina says:

    Great blog with great tips. I live in WA state and have been twice in the last 7 months… with our next trip planned for September. I’ve never read the blog, but use these same tips from things I’ve learned. :) If you are going to go to the park for longer than 5 days, it’s definitely best to buy a deluxe annual pass. We life going during “off season” although we know that certain rides are typically down for refurbishment, but the crowds area much lighter during the week. We went the first week in May(2014) and the only ride that had crazy wait times was radiator springs…of course, that ride is awesome. ;) The rest were typical, 10-30 minutes, which was great for us.

    One day in the future I’d love to visit WDW, but for now, my heart begins to DL… my three girls are new Disney fanatics, thanks to mommy.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Going during off-season is definitely the way to do it. We also love that (typically) the weather is also better during the slower times. Not that SoCal weather is ever bad, but it seems best during the spring and fall when crowds are lowest!

  63. Mom of 4 says:

    Aloha!!! We are planning a trip in October 2014 to Disneyland CA! Hoping this is a great time to take our little ones. We have never,yes never, been to DL so this is an adventure for us! I love this blog and all it’s great tips! Thanks Tim & Sarah! We’ve heard a few “must do” tips from friends. 1. Ariel’s Grotto breakfast 2. A world of color 3. Firework show and much more! Can’t decide on a 4 day or 5 day hopper pass. Would there really be a huge difference? Is 5 days too much? We have 3 adults & 4 kids. I want to make sure we’re not rushing through. With the hopper passes, are you able to hop back and forth in the same day? Suggestions on doing this? Also planning on going to Universal Studios. Just for one day. Is this enough? LegolNd is a must for our boys. One day or two? Someone told me the water park there is only open on the weekends in Oct. True? Phew…this is an exciting trip to plan. First family vacation? I’d love any feedback, tips, ideas. Mahalo 😊

    • Heather says:

      Hi! I just wanted to give you my opinion, as my entire family loves our vacations in Disneyland and I think yours will too! We have taken our children to Disneyland a few times over the years and they love it at any age. We always plan as many days as possible, even though my husband grew up near Anaheim and knows the park well. For my family, five days is not too many. Just as you said, you do not want to rush. Also, we always find that there are certain rides that you will want to enjoy on multiple occasions. We do normally go back and forth between parks in the same day. I recommend that you know the schedule for both parks ahead of time and make plans for certain shows that you wish to attend. The shows are amazing, don’t skip them to focus on the rides, that would be a mistake. As for Universal, in my opinion, one day is enough. You might not ride every ride, but considering the drive to get there, (we always buy the combination tickets and bus transfer), you probably won’t want to go more than one day. I have never been to LegoLand and do not know anything about it. I hope this helps a little, I am sure your whole family will love it!

    • feisme says:

      be sure to check and see which nights are Mickeys Halloween party. the park closes at 7 to the general public and you must have purchased separate Halloween tickets. The Halloween party doesn’t officially begin until 7, but they will let you in at 3. I would definitely take the kids. everyone is in costumes and they give you a trick or treat bag at the entrance with a map of where to get candy. it is spooky but fun for all ages. and the Halloween fireworks are the best of the year. we like to head over to the plaza café for an evening snack about an hour before the fireworks. get a table outside on the castle side of the restaurant. that way you can enjoy the fireworks while out of the crowd, sitting down and enjoying a warm cup of tea. I would not buy a regular ticket for that day. we will be attending at the same time of year and will get a Halloween ticket for that day and enjoy a sleep in morning and a leisurely day around the pool and a nap before we get our costumes on and head over.

    • feisme says:

      be sure to check and see which nights are Mickeys Halloween party. the park closes at 7 to the general public and you must have purchased separate Halloween tickets. The Halloween party doesn’t officially begin until 7, but they will let you in at 3. I would definitely take the kids. everyone is in costumes and they give you a trick or treat bag at the entrance with a map of where to get candy. it is spooky but fun for all ages. and the Halloween fireworks are the best of the year. we like to head over to the plaza café for an evening snack about an hour before the fireworks. get a table outside on the castle side of the restaurant. that way you can enjoy the fireworks while out of the crowd, sitting down and enjoying a warm cup of tea. I would not buy a regular ticket for that day. we will be attending at the same time of year and will get a Halloween ticket for that day and enjoy a sleep in morning and a leisurely day around the pool and a nap before we get our costumes on and head over.

    • Chante says:

      I can tell you that I visited in October ’12 and it was a great time of year… I wasn’t too crowded and the weather was just perfect! We were able to swim and enjoy the pools at the Disneyland Hotel Resort. Please do be aware that October means Halloween time. This means that on certain night the parks will close and everyone including Pass Holders MUST leave the parks because Mickey’s Halloween Party starts at that time. This requires a completely separate ticket about $70. This consists of rides, a Halloween candy loop throughout the park, and a night of fun until midnight. Just beware of the nights this are held. I will be there this year in October as well… Perhaps we will cross paths!

  64. Dussel_Brad! says:

    This is a place to be :) Reviving your childhood memories and the virtuous chance for being a kid all over again that to with your own kids is beautiful and mind blowing. Will be visiting the magical Disneyland all over again! Loved it..

    • Mom of 4 says:

      Wonderful. Have you been since last October? You live in California Chante? Is it really $70 pp extra to enter the Halloween party? I guess I better do some more research.

  65. Kathy says:

    Our organization (California School Nurses Organization) is having our 65th annual conference in Aneheim. Our theme – from Walt “If you can dream it, you can do it”. We would like your permission to use your autum pic of the Partner statue of Walt and Mickey at the magic kingdom. Please advise next step. Thank you

  66. Janet says:

    We were at the Grand Californian July 2013 and they have extra magic hours for resort guests AND THE MAGIC EXPRESS. Not sure how you missed these two,??

    Great article overall by the way.

  67. John Grant says:

    I’ve heard that the change from Halloween to Christmas decorations occurs at Disneyland literally overnight. Is that true? I’d love to time my visit to see both sets of decorations. Any idea when that happens this year (2014)?

    Thanks!
    jg

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I wouldn’t say it’s “literally” true, but it sort of is. Actually, during the last couple of HALLOWEEN parties, there is actually snow on Sleeping Beauty Castle, which can look a bit…uh…odd, to say the least. Many decorations do go up overnight, but not everything. It takes about a week or so to get it all done.

  68. Mandi says:

    I am so glad I saw this website. I was wondering if you are familiar with Disney’s Disabilities Access Card? I have a child who qualifies for this card but I am still unclear how it works. It sounds like a fast pass…only a little different? We are planning to stay for 3 days (Dec 2, 3, 4) Because of his cognitive disability, it is crucial we make the most out of this trip. Doing this, I will need to plan a detailed itinerary. Problem is, I’m overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. We do plan on purchasing a park hopper. He is 12 but cognitively, he is about 4. This will be his first time. I know he’s ready. Any advice is greatly appreciated :-)

  69. Lori says:

    We have plans to go to DL the first of Oct. One of those nights they close at 6:00 so am I understanding right that for another 63.00 we can stay until 11:00 which is Mickeys Halloween Party? Which includes all the rides etc… Just like a normal day at DL only paying that extra to stay?

  70. Pat says:

    We will be in Disneyland oct 14-19, 2014
    with a five day park pass. I have 2 questions:
    1) what nights close early and require a Halloween
    Party pass? I don’t understand this. How much
    for the party passes?
    2). Will we need the chilly Toggs during that
    time period?

    Thanks for the help

  71. Chris Harras says:

    We are considering coming to Disneyland from Christmas to New Years, is the park really crowded during that time or would another time be better?

  72. Jules B says:

    A group of adult friends and I are planning a trip for April 2015! Some in the group range from never-been to go-once-a-year. We are road tripping it down from Vancouver, CAN, hopefully stopping along the beautiful coastline on the way. We are thinking of giving Disneyland 3 full days to enjoy, is that a decent amount of time? What other tips/suggestions do you have for first timers or for those who haven’t been since 1996! :)

  73. Rachel says:

    This was really helpful in planning my trip. I’ve just returned from an 18 day trip to Disney with 8.5 people (I’m over 7 months pregnant), in an RV with a budget of $6500. I’ve decided to blog about it also, so other folks can learn. Here’s the first of the series outlining costs – deals and general mayhem.

  74. Map Destinations says:

    Preparation is the key for maximizing your time at Disney World. Surprises are great when they’re from Mickey Mouse; not when you discover after the fact that you could have saved a bundle with a discount offer or when you’re scrambling to change your schedule to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours.

  75. Kirstine says:

    This is amazing! Thanks so much for posting this! I have read the other planning guides for previous years but was excited to see this one because I am going this year in May for the Diamond celebrations! We were originally planning on going for the actual anniversary on July 17th but because we probably won’t get a chance to go again soon we opted for a less busy time. We are going for 5 days and meant to be flying back to the UK on 22nd of May… which I realized after I booked flights is likely to be the 24 hour event! When/if that gets announced we will be changing our flights to come back the next day. Do you think they will announce a 24 hour event for the friday of memorial weekend again?

    Sorry for the ramblings, I’m just very excited haha.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Yes. It will either be a 24 hour party or a 60 hour party. It probably won’t be announced anytime soon, but I am pretty confident one of the two will happen.

  76. Andrew says:

    After being WDW locals my wife surprised me with a trip to Disneyland for my 30th in Novemeber. We feel in love with it! Everything there just seemed better. We love WDW and being a quick drive from there it will always be home to us but I can’t believe how much we have missed Disneyland in the 6 weeks we have been home. We are already planning a return trip for the 60th anniversary in July! I wish we could go back sooner. What do you think it will be like around that time Tom?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      What will it be like in terms of crowds? Insanity. July is already a busy month, and that is the month of the *actual* anniversary (July 17), so expect huge crowds that week, and the week around July 4. Here’s what I said in response to another comment on another post–this might be helpful:

      “I think mid-May will be the perfect time to visit. That’s when everything will soft opening, and the parks generally aren’t too bad then in terms of crowds.

      Yes, there will be more annual passholders visiting this year in mid-May for these festivities, but I think that will be one of the LEAST busy times of year since the big push won’t come until summer.

      Of course, this is all speculation…I could very well be entirely wrong!”

      • Andrew says:

        Haha, thanks for the response! I tried to convince my wife that we should go a little later in the year but seeing as she love the history of the parks she wants to be there on the anniversary and I can’t persuade her out of it haha. Thankfully we are passholders and the rooms aren’t to expensive!

  77. Delores says:

    Great post! I’m actually planning a first time visit for October. My hubby and I will be going for our anniversary; excited to read that DL will be celebrating an anniversary too Plus I’m excited to be traveling without kids ;)

    We are WDW regulars. I can’t wait to see DL in person and compare the locations. Will be starting our bookings soon!!

  78. Michael says:

    Tom,

    Seeing as I live in No. Cal., we head to DL frequently. Went twice in 2014. So I’m mostly curious about the Diamond Anniversary.

    You stated it starts in May 2015 and that there might be some changes – i.e., the parade, fireworks, and Fantasyland dark rides – but do you know when any changes will be announced?

    I assume you’ll be on top of the ball and let us readers know as soon as they come out?!?! :)

    Just wish I could know whether the changes will be significant enough to start planning another visit in 2015.

  79. Maria says:

    Hi Tom, I have been stalking your blog for a while now, reading up on all your helpful tips and suggestions. Love how organized this site is! Your unbiased opinion would be very helpful in breaking a tie vote in our family right now…

    I am planning a 2-day trip to Disneyland in March 2015 (can I just say I’m so bummed that the Diamond Anniversary Celebration starts in May? but we have no choice on dates or making it longer… we live on the East Coast and are working within the constraints of my husband’s work conference in SoCal) and ParkSavers has 2 options – the 2-day 1 park each day ticket and the 2-day park hopper tickets. For a family of 5, the difference is almost $200. Our family is currently tied (bc the youngest didn’t vote) on whether that $200 would be better spent on Park Hopper passes or as extra cash to spend on food/stuff.

    I have 3 very active and energetic boys, so walking between parks isn’t an issue (I have a stroller for the youngest just in case). They won’t be interested in the Princess-y type things for the most part, and since we will be there on a Monday and Tuesday in March (not spring break), hopefully the lines shouldn’t be too long. But we are staying w a family friend, not at a Disney resort, so I understand the early start option will not be available for us.

    Any insights you can share will be much appreciated and help us make a final decision, so thank you in advance!

    P.S. Are there fireworks every night, even Mon and Tues?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      My vote would definitely be for the Park Hopper tickets, especially if you’re good with FastPass, as you can simultaneously hold a FP in each park. That means Soarin’ and Indiana Jones FPs at the same time. It also means going to the park that opens earlier to start the day, and finishing at the one that closes later.

      Whether there are fireworks in March on weekdays depends upon how busy it is. If these are ‘off-season’ days, fireworks typically will not be shown.

  80. Ashley says:

    I planned a trip for myself, my husband and another couple with two kids for the week of the 9th of February, and I’m pretty bummed that the castle will likely be undergoing renovations and covered in tarps, not exactly the best first impression! That and closures of entire sections of both parks have me a little worried. Looks like things won’t be fully operational until May. On the plus side, until they get the new World of Color show up and running, Fantasmic plays every night in DL! But Fireworks only on Fri., Sat., and Sun. except for in the Summer season, Maria.

  81. pam says:

    have you been there since fantasmic became fastpass only? we went for the star wars runs and hated the change! it made it impossible not to stress over seeing the show instead of deciding to head over early to find a good spot or late to find a mediocre spot. seems like the powers that be are trying to make disneyland more and more like disney world instead of the easy going west coast feel it has always had :(

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