Your Ultimate Guide to Visiting Disneyland

Disneyland Resort

It’s billed as The Happiest Place on Earth, but planning a trip to Disneyland Resort in ​​Anaheim, California can sometimes feel a little like a ride on the Mad Tea Party tea cups. Worry not; we’ve rounded up all the info you need for visiting Disneyland Resort and its two theme parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park.

How to get there

The closest airport is John Wayne, 25 kilometres away, but if you’re arriving from overseas you’ll land at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), 55 kilometres from the resort. From LAX it’s a 30- to 60-minute drive – you can hire a car or book a shuttle service such as KarmelThe Los Angeles Metro (a combination of bus and rail) is the most affordable option but can take up to three hours during peak times.

If you’re planning on renting a car, pre-book parking at the Mickey & Friends or Pixar Pals Parking Structures from US$35 (about $53.38) a day and jump on a tram to the Disneyland Resort Esplanade.

When to go

Lunar New Year celebrations, Disneyland, Los Angeles

Expect smaller crowds from mid-September to mid-November before Thanksgiving (although Halloween is still one of the most popular celebrations at the park) and mid-January through to mid-March. Christmas, spring break (typically late March) and June through August are the busiest times. Keep in mind that while wait times might be shorter during the less crowded months, the resort typically reduces operating hours and attractions may be closed for renovations.

During summer, crowds are often smaller when annual pass holders are blocked from entry, including on many weekends. Compare your travel dates to the Imagine Key and Enchant Key passes on Disneyland’s calendar before booking.

There are also special events to consider: Lunar New Year celebrations, the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival in March and April and Halloween festivities throughout October to name a few.

To get the most out of your Disneyland Resort experience you should ideally set aside two or three days, but if you only have one, stick to Disneyland Park for the classic experience. It’s here you’ll find attractions like Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as plenty of photo ops. Prices vary throughout the year but single-day tickets start at US$104 (about $158.59) for adults and US$98 (about $149.44) for children aged three to nine.

For multi-day trips, book Park Hopper tickets that let you move between Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park after 1pm. As well as a park ticket, you’ll need a park reservation for the same date.

No matter when you go, it’s worth arriving at the gate at least 30 minutes before opening to get a head start navigating the entrance and security queues. Be sure to check the official Disneyland website to see the latest updates on opening hours, rules and restrictions for visitors.

Where to stay

Disneyland Hotel, Disneyland, Los Angeles

Disneyland Resort has three on-site hotels, all of which are a few minutes’ walk from the park gates. Disney's  Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is the most luxurious, with rustic, Craftsman-style interiors (full of magical Disney touches, of course), three pools, upscale dining and an impressive spa. Opened in 1955, Disneyland Hotel (pictured) dials up the nostalgia thanks to themed suites and two retro-style pools. Or, check out the newly reimagined Pixar Place Hotel, inspired by Pals from your favourite Pixar films.

There’s also plenty of off-site accommodation nearby, either within walking distance to the park or along the Anaheim Resort Transportation bus line. The tidy ​​Anaheim Camelot Inn & Suites is just a five minute drive away or stay in JW Marriott Anaheim Resort’s elegantly appointed rooms.

Book your Disneyland tickets then head to to start planning the rest of your adventure in California.

What to eat and drink

Disneyland Park Lamplight lounge, Los Angeles

For all-American hits, Carnation Cafe on Main Street, USA can’t be beat – think fried pickles, burgers and Walt’s Chilli served beneath candy-striped umbrellas. Pixar-themed Lamplight Lounge is a go-to for lobster nachos, while Blue Bayou Restaurant’s New Orleans staples (jambalaya, Cajun cauliflower) are ideal for refuelling after a long day of exploring.

Some of the best grab-and-go meals can be found at Ronto Roasters in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, where the Ronto Wrap – sausage, roast pork and slaw in a pita – and its vegan counterpart are fan favourites.

If you’re in need of a quick pick-me-up, try the turkey legs at Edelweiss Snacks, chocolate popcorn at Kat Saka's Kettle or Mickey Mouse-shaped pretzels throughout the park. Don’t skip a Dole Whip – the legendary pineapple soft-serve from Tiki Juice Bar in Adventureland.


Guardians of the Galaxy ride, Disneyland Park, Los Angeles

One of the latest additions to Disney California Adventure Park is Avengers Campus, created by the Avengers to train the next generation of Super Hero recruits. Top-billed is Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT!, a thrilling 40-metre drop ride with six different storylines to experience, but you’ll also witness stunt shows and the 3D WEBSLINGERS: Spider-Man adventure.  Also on your to-do list: Cars Land, which recreates the desert landscape of the 2006 film.

Over at Disneyland Park, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is jam-packed with attractions. Feel the cockpit rumble as you blast into hyperspace on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run or build your own custom lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop. Serious fans won’t want to miss Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, an immersive ride that mixes animatronics, special effects, towering scenery and small drops, or enjoy a galactic concoction at Oga’s Cantina. Long-standing favourites like whimsical boat ride “it’s a small world” and the Mad Tea Party can be found in Fantasyland, a great starting point for younger kids, or those who love classic Disney nostalgia. Don’t leave without stopping for a snap in front of the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Tips to know

- Downloading the Disneyland app is a must: you can navigate using the interactive map; see attraction wait times; pre-order meals to avoid waiting in line; make restaurant reservations and join virtual queues for rides.

- Enhance your Disneyland experience with the Disney Genie+ service, an itinerary creator that also lets you purchase Lighting Lane access to select attractions and download photos from rides.

- If money is no object book a VIP tour. A private guide will help your group of up to 10 plan the perfect day, including priority access to rides. For pricing, visit the Disneyland Resort website.

- You can bring outside snacks and non-alcoholic drinks into Disneyland as long as they’re not in glass containers. There’s also a picnic area with lockers for storing your food and utensils.

- Switch your phone to flight mode during underground rides like Indiana Jones, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean as searching for a signal will drain the battery. You might want to pack a portable charger, but there are also phone charging kiosks throughout the park.

- Disney has several guides for guests with disabilities as well as a dedicated Disability Access Service (DAS) program for those who have difficulty waiting in long queues.

Have the time of your life in Disneyland when you fly to California with Qantas. Plan your trip now.

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SEE ALSO: Which California Hotspot is Right For You?

Image credits: Disneyland Resort; Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort (Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure Park); Scott Brinegar/Disneyland (Paradise Pier Hotel); Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort (Lamplight Lounge at Disney California Adventure Park); Rob Sparacio/Disneyland Resort (Guardians of the Galaxy-Mission: BREAKOUT! at Disney California Adventure Park); Richard Harbaugh/Disney Parks (Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland Park).


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