Planning Your Trip to Disneyland: A Guide

Halloween at Disneyland

© Betsy Malloy

The Disneyland Resort is a combination of the original Disneyland theme park, created by Walt Disney in 1955, and Disney California Adventure theme park, which opened in 2001. California Adventure faces Disneyland and shares ticketing booths at the main entrance. The Resort also includes Downtown Disney, a pedestrian street lined with shopping, restaurants and entertainment venues, and three Disney-owned hotels in or adjacent to California Adventure.

Is Disneyland Appropriate for All Ages?

Yes, there is plenty to do at Disneyland for anyone from toddlers to seniors. Even most teenagers can find something to entertain them at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Disneyland has more to do for toddlers and California Adventure has more thrill rides designed for teens and adults. There are plenty of shows, shopping and even antique spotting for people who don't enjoy rides.

What Is There to Do at Disneyland?

Disneyland is divided into nine themed "lands" with rides appropriate for different ages and heights, shows that will entertain kids and adults, opportunities to interact with Disney characters, interactive activities and exhibits, shops selling souvenirs and collectibles from kitsch to fine crystal, themed snack bars and fine restaurants, live bands, dancing, parades of elaborate Disney-themed floats and characters and a nightly fireworks and light shows.

There are also special seasonal activities for Halloween and Christmas.

For a full list of rides and activities, go to the Disneyland Directory.

What Is There to Do at California Adventure?

California Adventure is divided into eight "lands" which originally represented different aspects of California from Hollywood to San Francisco, from the beaches to the mountains, but has shifted a bit with the addition of Cars Land recreating the fictional Radiators Springs in Arizona and the transformation of Soarin' Over California to Soarin' Over the World.

It is a smaller park, but has bigger thrill rides than Disneyland. Arcade games are also popular with teens. There are activities for the younger set, including interactive shows where kids can sing along with their favorite Disney Channel and Disney Jr characters. There are opportunities to meet Disney characters and plenty of places to shop and eat. There are factory-type tours of a bakery and a tortilla factory. Mobile parties with live music take place a couple times a day and there's a dance party every night in Hollywood Land with Disney themes that change periodically based on new movies that come out.

How Much Time Do We Need to Visit Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure?

To see and do everything at the Disneyland Resort, including Downtown Disney, you could use a full four days, especially if it's high season and the lines are long and if you'd like to take a break in the afternoon to avoid getting worn out. To just hit the highlights, you can do Disneyland in a day and California Adventure in a day. If you're not planning on riding many rides, you can do both parks in one day. To make the most of the amount of time you have, try using RideMax and FASTPASS to cut the amount of time waiting in line.

When is the Best Time to Visit Disneyland?

Any time of year can be a good time to visit Disneyland depending on what type of experience you're looking for. Summer is high season, so you have to cope with crowds and hot weather, but you get a lot more open hours per day for your money. November and December you get the great holiday decorations, but it gets dark early, park hours are not as long as summer and there's a chance of rain. Here's a full list of pros and cons for When to Visit Disneyland.

Where Should We Stay to Visit Disneyland?

To get the most out of a visit to Disneyland, it is best to stay near the park. There are three Disney hotels adjacent to California Adventure. These are most convenient, but also more expensive than hotels surrounding the park. Disneyland Resort hotels also fill up early, so if you want to stay there, plan ahead.

The park is surrounded by dozens of hotels, and there are shuttles between Disneyland and surrounding hotels for a small fee. 

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Disneyland?

There are a bunch of different ticket configurations you can purchase for Disneyland and California Adventure. For the full breakdown see my Disneyland Tickets page.

Where is Disneyland?

Disneyland is located in Anaheim, California, 13 miles from John Wayne Airport in Orange County (SNA), about 35 miles from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), 35 miles from Hollywood and 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

1313 Harbor Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92802-2398
(714) 533-6840