Arrival in Disneyland
Here is the breakdown on the passes and tickets. This is going to be an expensive vacation, but you want to make sure you are getting the right pass for what you intend to do! First off, figure out how many days you have for Disney. If you are on a budget, best to just choose one park for one day and focus on it. If you have two days, one day for each park is sufficient. A good approach is to arrive at your hotel in the afternoon, spend an evening in Downtown Disney to hype your kids up (make sure to pick up your tickets then if you don’t already have them) and then spend two action-packed days at the park. If you do decide to do 3 days, Magic Morning is super fun (you get to go in the park before everyone else!) but make sure to take breaks and naps. Three is the absolute MAX number of days I would plan. Disney is exhausting and gets less fun when you are there forever. I highly recommend you purchase your tickets in advance and not at the window. The lines in the morning are SLOW and you will lose an hour of non-crowded park time.
Annual Passes: Now this is where it gets fun! We LOVE our Annual Pass and if you’re planning on spending 3+ days in Disneyland in a year, it may be worth looking into getting one. These estimates assume a regular Park Hopper Pass costs $150. All passes allow monthly payment plans with no interest.
So Cal Select: $399, pays for itself in 2.5 visits. This pass is the one we had for two years. It’s blocked out most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and for nearly all of June, July, August, half of November, and most of December. It’s open to only LA zip codes unfortunately. It’s better than no pass, but make sure the dates you want to go are not blocked out!
Disney Flex Passport: $599, pays for itself in 4 visits. I’m not really sure why everyone doesn’t have this pass. The only blackout dates are the last two weeks of December. The caveat is you have to make a reservation on the Disney App to be let in the park. There’s a small chance the park may be full on the days you want to go. So far, we haven’t encountered any blocked days, but that may change as more people buy the pass. You can have two reservations in a 30 day period. They are rolling reservations. What this means is if I make a reservation for tomorrow and August 1st, I can make a second reservation after my visit is over. Theoretically I could visit every day if I just continued to reserve the day of.
Disney Deluxe Passport: $799, blocked Saturdays, most of summer, and Christmas.
The other two include parking and are over $1000. Best not to even consider them unless you live in LA and are a total Disney freak with an unlimited budget.
How To Get Around
Car: Our favorite parking structure is the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure. Take a picture of where you parked! It’s easy to forget and you are screwed if you forget. The neighboring new lot (I think it’s called The Toy Story Lot) is OK. Do not park at The Pixar Lot because it’s far. From there go through security and then take the tram to Disney! You can also walk into Downtown Disney and take the monorail if you already have your tickets. If security lines and tram lines are insane, it’s an easy 15 minute walk through Downtown Disney to get to the parks. If you’re exploring the rest of LA by car, see our LA guide for how to work the freeways.
Walking: Plan to walk everywhere! It’s the main form of transit in the Happiest Place on Earth where you also get the Most Steps and spend The Most Money.
Taxi / UBER: The UBER drop-off is really handy. If you are just doing Disney, see if you can avoid parking a car and use UBER to get dropped off.
Public Transit: No public transit lets you off in Disneyland conveniently.
LAX Airport: I can’t decide whether I dislike this airport or Madrid airport more. It’s huge, difficult to navigate, and dirty. The plane fares out of here are cheap though, so you can’t argue with that! The airport was built 50 years ago and they had NO idea how big Los Angeles was going to get. There is a Disney Shuttle that will drop you right off at Disneyland! If you are staying elsewhere in LA, see our Arrival In LA post for how to leave LAX.
Burbank Airport: My sister who is a 15 year LA resident, swears by this airport. She says it’s worth any increase in fares to not have to deal with LAX. I’ve never flown it because cheap flight deals are just too tempting for me. Best way to leave Burbank is via UBER. This airport is FAR from Disney.
John Wayne Airport: Smaller airport in Orange County, pretty close to Disneyland. The Disney Shuttle also serves this airport. This would be my first choice when just doing Disney and not the rest of LA.
We love Scott’s Cheap Flights for finding killer flight deals! You can also set an alert on Google Flights or use Hopper to track flight prices