Airports Near Disneyland

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Airfare costs to Southern California are one hurdle to visiting Disneyland. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is that there are 5 airports within driving distance of Disneyland. This guide to Disneyland area airports offers the pros and cons of each, along with some recommendations.

Having lived in Southern California for a couple of years now, we’ve had the “pleasure” of flying into and out of every airport near Disneyland, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. These 5 airports are Los Angeles International Airport, John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Long Beach Airport, LA/Ontario International Airport (in Ontario), and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

Most Disneyland guests are going to be familiar with Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and John Wayne Airport (SNA), the airports that are the largest and closest, respectively. No matter where we are going, we usually fly out of/into these airports. SNA is closest to where we live, but LAX typically has the best prices, more non-stop routes, and is the go-to choice for international flights.

To figure out which airport will be the cheapest option, we recommend using ITASoftware, typing in LAX, and selecting all nearby (LAX + SNA, LGB, ONT, and BUR) airports. Sometimes, this will have you flying into one airport and out of another, so be mindful of that. Note that we cover transit to/from the airport–including renting a car, using Uber, and the various airport shuttles–in our Disneyland Transportation Tips post, so we’re focusing solely on the pros & cons of each Disneyland area airport in this post.

With that said, let’s take a look at what each airport has to offer, along with its distance to Disneyland…

SNA

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Disneyland is located in Orange County, California, and so is John Wayne Airport (it’s the only one in Orange County on this list). Located 14 miles southwest of Disneyland, this is by far the most convenient airport for Disneyland trips. Even in poor traffic, you can be at Disneyland in 30 minutes from John Wayne Airport, which is pretty good by California standards.

It also helps that John Wayne Airport is not nearly as chaotic as LAX–the Duke won’t stand for any of that unpatriotic nonsense. It’s easy to drive in and out of SNA (and there are actually on-site car rentals), and usually getting through security is a breeze. SNA is pretty much reflective of Orange County in its laid back vibe. (Whereas LAX is much like the city of Los Angeles.)

Often, SNA will be the cheapest airport for flights to/from Disneyland, but even if it is not, consider paying a slight premium for the convenience. There’s a good chance that surcharge will be offset in less time and headaches, as well as cheaper rental car, shuttle, or Uber costs.

(Pro tip: Don’t be duped into dining at Ruby’s Diner, thinking it’s some special SoCal thing. Ruby’s almost exclusively preys on tourists; I know literally 0 locals who eat at this restaurant. Ruby’s sucks.)

LAX

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Located southwest of Los Angeles and northwest of Disneyland by about 34 miles, LAX is the airport people associate with Southern California. The major upsides to Los Angeles International Airport when it comes to visiting Disneyland are availability of flights (including non-stop flights into most other major airports in the United States) and, typically, pricing. Since LAX is a hub airport for virtually every major U.S. carrier, you have a lot of options when flying into and out of LAX. This results in more competitive pricing that, in our experience, can be about $100 cheaper per flight than alternatives in the Los Angeles and Orange County area.

The major downsides to LAX are Los Angeles traffic and the hustle and bustle of a major international hub airport. Walt Disney World regulars might equate this to the ‘bustle’ of MCO, but it’s not like that at all. Whereas MCO frequently has backups at security due to dealing with a deluge of inexperienced travelers, LAX is actually busy.

In fact, LAX is the #1 origin and destination airport in the world, and one of the busiest overall. It’s certainly the “craziest” airport in the world. The vibe of LAX is one that I’d describe as “organized chaos” and frequent/ongoing refurbishments mean you never quite know what random hallway you might be led down to go through security or to go to baggage claim.

If you’re renting a car, the traffic situation can be brutal, especially if you’re not used to aggressive L.A. driving. For starters, you have to deal with the outskirts of Los Angeles traffic just to get to the airport (you do not go through downtown). Then, you have to deal with airport traffic itself.


You know how some airports quiet down late at night? That does not happen at LAX. We’ve driven here at midnight before, and traffic was still backed up outside the airport. Other times, it’s totally fine in the middle of the day. If you’re not comfortable or experienced dealing with heavy traffic (and plan on renting a car), the stress of flying into LAX probably is not worth the money you’ll save on airfare.

LAX is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Nothing about the LAX experience is predictable, and I could see this being a really stressful place for families. We have grown to appreciate LAX for its utilitarian efficiency (given the traffic this airport sees, it’s actually a bit amazing the airport doesn’t collapse in total gridlock) and quirkiness (no one cares if you bring your dog into the airport; that’s our dog, Walter, the “official” ambassador of Los Angeles! 😉 ), but inexperienced travelers will likely feel differently about it.

(Pro tip: there’s an In-N-Out Burger on Sepulveda that is literally walking distance–I’ve done the walk many times–of Terminal 1.)

LGB

Long Beach Airport is often forgotten when people evaluate flight options, which is odd since it’s actually closer to Disneyland than LAX, and is only slightly farther than SNA at 22 miles away.

Like the other non-LAX airports on this list, Long Beach Airport is a quiet airport where security is usually fast and the terminals are quiet. If you’re traveling with small children, the advantage this offers cannot be emphasized enough. It seems like JetBlue tends to have deals out of here, but when that happens, it only tends to be for one way out of a roundtrip. (Problematic if you’re renting a car, but not an issue otherwise.)

I know design considerations are not pertinent for most people when determining where to fly, but I love the Art Deco style and ‘Golden Age of Aviation’ style of the terminals. Unlike LAX, which seems content sacrificing its Googie style as it modernizes, Long Beach Airport recently overhauled its terminal while preserving its history.

ONT

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Located due east of Los Angeles and northeast of Disneyland, LA/Ontario International Airport is 33 miles away from Disneyland. Whenever I’m flying anywhere within the United States, I make a point of checking Ontario, as it is inexplicably the cheapest option about 20% of the time. I don’t know why since the airport is so small, but it’s true. (It seems to happen the most with Southwest and Delta, for what it’s worth.)

If given the choice between LAX and ONT, which are almost exactly the same distance from Disneyland, I’d recommend ONT every time. While traffic can be bad to either, LA/Ontario International Airport is a sleepy little airport that seldom has lines at security, and is incredibly easy to navigate. Its atmosphere is basically the polar opposite of LAX, and it’s a pleasant place to fly out of. Granted, you won’t be able to shop for a designer handbag in the terminal (so what’s the point of even flying?!) but it gets the job done.

BUR

At “only” 40 miles away, this might seem like a potentially appealing option. However, Burbank is north of Los Angeles and Anaheim is south of L.A., meaning that you have to drive through the heart of the storm to get between the two. On a bad day, that could mean 2 hours of traffic. On a good day, it’s still an hour worth.

Ultimately, though, the probability that flying into or out of Bob Hope Airport in Burbank will be the cheapest option is actually significantly lower than the probability that you’ll see a Kardashian while at this airport. (On any given day, you’re likely to see someone here.)

It’s a convenient option if you’re staying in or north of DTLA, but as far as Disneyland-centric options go, Bob Hope Airport is an unreasonable and unlikely choice.

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So that’s that when it comes to airports near Disneyland. A good 80% of the time, your best options are going to be LAX or SNA, which are the well-known choices when visiting Disneyland. However, if this post is going to help even 20% of you find a better deal or more convenient option, than hopefully it’s a worthwhile resource.

Oh, and finally, a “bonus” 6th airport: Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale. You can’t fly into this one, but it’s interesting as the terminal is now owned by Disney, and the company has restored the location and turned it into something of a museum. Pretty neat.

If you’re preparing for a Disneyland trip, check out our other planning posts, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, tips for booking a hotel (off-site or on-site), where to dine, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide!

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Your Thoughts

Do you have a favorite airport near Disneyland? Which, if any, of these airports have you used? Agree or disagree with our takes on each of them? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!

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