Disneyland Vacation Planner

Entrance to the Disneyland Resort
daveraley/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

Are you planning a Disneyland vacation, but can't figure out where to start? This free, eight-step Disneyland vacation planner will help you find a place to stay, save money, and find the best things to do and see in and around Disneyland. We'll even tell you how to keep from standing in line.

When it opened in 1956, "going to Disneyland" meant one theme park with sixteen rides, and one Disney-owned hotel to stay in. In 2001, everything changed. While adding Disney California Adventure to their theme park family, Disney also added a new hotel, centered the whole complex around the Downtown Disney dining, shopping and entertainment complex and called it all Disneyland Resort. Today, let's get acquainted with the Disneyland Resort.

Learn About Disneyland Resort

Disneyland Resort
Let's start at the beginning. This article describes everything that's within the Disneyland California Resort, including the theme parks, hotels and Downtown Disney. It includes tips on how long to stay here, and extra things to do.

Disneyland Resort Map
Use this handy map to get oriented. It shows all the Disneyland Resort properties, streets, trams and trolleys.


Disneyland Dreamin'
These Disneyland pictures will help you get an idea of what the place looks like. Take a virtual tour of Disneyland, California Adventure and Downtown Disney and picture yourself there.

01 of 09

1. When to Go

The Best Time to Visit Disneyland
The ideal time to go to Disneyland would be when all the rides are open, only a few people are there and the weather is great, but unfortunately, such a day doesn't exist. Use this information to decide what the best time is for you.

Disneyland at Halloween
Haunted Mansion gets transformed into Haunted Mansion Holiday in Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas style, but that's just the beginning. Find out what else goes on when Disneyland get dressed up in its Halloween costume.

Disneyland at Christmas
Do you believe it snows in Anaheim in December? Find out how it happens and what else Disneyland does to celebrate the season.

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02 of 09

2. Costs and Cost Control

Calculating the Cost of a Disneyland Vacation
Courtesy of Deana Marion

Now's the time to figure out how much your Disneyland vacation will cost. This week, we offer a cost estimator, suggestions for how to keep costs down, and information about the Disneyland-area hotels.

Costs and Cost Control

How to Save Money on Your Disneyland Vacation
Got sticker shock after using the cost estimator? We have some ideas to get your vacation budget back under control.

Disneyland Tickets
Tickets will be a big part of your trip cost. Frankly, the Disneyland website can be very confusing when you're trying to compare prices, so we created this simple guide to summarize the ticketing options.

Disneyland Discount Tickets
Don't expect to get big discounts, but this article will tell you all the ways you can get your tickets for less than full price.

Disneyland Packages
Guide to choosing Disneyland vacation packages includes what you get (and what you don't), costs, pluses and minuses.

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03 of 09

3. Where to Stay

Disneyland Hotel
© 2007 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by permission

Disneyland Lodging

The best way to compare the hotels near Disneyland is by looking at a map. It takes away all the hype and will instantly reveal which places are closest to the gate. Use the handy Disneyland hotel map guide to start your research. It shows where the hotels are, their most important characteristics, and links to make your reservations.

Where to Stay?
Our guide will help you find lodging in a jiffy.

Disneyland Hotels
Disney-owned hotels offer a themed lodging experience, famous Disney service and perks by the handful, but are they worth it? We'll help you decide.

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04 of 09

4. What You Need to Know About Disneyland

Welcome to Disneyland!
©2011 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

When I was a kid, Disneyland was the Holy Grail of vacation destinations. With Walt on TV every Sunday telling us how wonderful the place was, we dreamed of Disneyland as if it were Shangri-La. Now, more than 50 years later, it's still my favorite theme park. I hope you'll enjoy it, too.

Learn About Disneyland

Disneyland Visitor Guide
Read this article to get an overview of Disneyland and find out what others think of it.

Disneyland Hours

Read this guide for everything you need to know about Disneyland hours.

Things to Do at Disneyland
Get a rundown of the best things to do at Disneyland - including some you not know about. Plus learn about free things you can get while at Disneyland.

Disneyland Rides
Print this handy ride sheet to get a concise summary of all the rides in the park. If you have kids shorter than 4 1/2 feet tall, this guide will be a big help. Check the height restrictions and set their expectations in advance.

Disneyland Shows
Use this guide to Disneyland entertainment to find out what the shows, parades and other entertainment offerings are like, how long they last and whether they're right for you.

Disneyland Tours
Few Disneyland visitors know that they can take a guided tour. They're not well advertised and it's hard to find information about them even if you know they exist. However, you may find one of them to be just the thing for your Disneyland vacation.

Disneyland at Night
Discover the special charm of Disneyland at night - rides that are best in the dark, evening shows and fireworks

Enjoy Disneyland to the Max

Disneyland Tips
Do you know how to stay comfortable, where to get your batteries charged or how to get into Main Street USA early? We do.

Seven Ways to Stay Out of Line
Read about all the ways you can avoid waiting in lines and learn about the secret weapon that keeps us out of line and on the rides.

Disneyland Past and Present

Disneyland History
Read about the first fifty years and find out about the blackest Sunday in Disneyland history.

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05 of 09

5. What You Need to Know About California Adventure

Welcome to California Adventure!
©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

Disney's newest Southern California theme park is all about the state it's located in. It's all of California's best bits distilled into Disney-style rides and attractions. They also have the best rides in the resort, Soarin' Around the World and the Incredicoaster.

Learn About California Adventure

Disney California Adventure Guide
Read this article to get an overview of Disney California Adventure and find out what others think of it.

California Adventure Rides
Print this handy ride sheet to get a concise summary of all the rides in the park. If you have kids shorter 4 1/2 feet tall, this guide will be a big help. Check the height restrictions and set their expectations in advance.

Enjoy California Adventure

California Adventure Tips
Do you know where to find a nice place to cool off on a hot day? We do


California Adventure Photos
This photo collection includes some great aerial shots taken while the park was under construction.

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06 of 09

6. Why Go to Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney
Courtesy of Disneyland Resort

This is our shortest lesson, but nevertheless important. It features the entertainment and dining complex that sits in the center of Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney

Learn About Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney
Read about Downtown Disney: where to eat and shop, entertainment and find out how others rate it.

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07 of 09

7. Other Southern California Destinations

People Petting Elephants at the San Diego Zoo
Gerald French / Getty Images

In case you're planning an extended vacation in Southern California, this week we feature some of its most popular family-oriented destinations.

Los Angeles-Area Theme Parks

Six Flags Magic Mountain
They like to call themselves the "extreme" theme park. This place has lots of big, fast roller coasters.

Universal Studios Hollywood
Half movie studio tour and half theme park, Universal Studios has lots to offer.

San Diego Sights

San Diego Zoo
World-famous and justifiably so, the San Diego Zoo is a Southern California favorite.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Run by the San Diego Zoo, this park has lots of room, and animals roam in large enclosures.

An ocean-focused theme park.

You'd be surprised what Lego's Master Builders can make out of the classic building blocks, and your younger kids will especially enjoy this theme park.

The Beach

Newport Beach
For an old-fashioned day at the beach, you can't beach Newport.

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08 of 09

8. Things to Do Ahead of Time

You Need to Plan Ahead for Some Disneyland Activities
Courtesy of Linda Sherman

Besides the stuff you've already thought about, like hotels, meals and transportation, there are a few other things you may want for your trip. Pay attention, you can save time and money with these suggestions.

What to Pack
If you're a gal going to Disneyland, I know how hard it can be to figure out what to pack. I've been there so many times - and seen all my friends packing failures - that I created a guide just for you. Here's what you need to pack for Disneyland - and what you don't

Disneyland Tickets
Buy them now. You can save money if you buy your tickets online, and you won't have to stand in line when you get there.

Before You Leave for Disneyland
Use this checklist to learn what you should do before you leave - and when.

Meeting the Disney Characters
Read about all the ways you can meet the Disney characters, the less-expensive way to enjoy a character breakfast and where they all hang out. Reserve ahead to avoid disappointment.

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09 of 09

9: Things to Do Just Before you Leave

Things to Do Before You Leave for Disneyland
Courtesy of the Disneyland Resort

This step is designed for you to use when your trip is getting close.

Disneyland Weather and Climate
Should you pack shorts or hats and gloves? This is a good time to check the latest weather forecast and review what to expect in each season.

More Disneyland Tips
Learn how to avoid crowds, stay comfortable, get organized. Includes special tips for traveling with kids or pets, and how Disneyland can help with other special needs. 

Getting Around Anaheim and the Disneyland Resort
Read about ways to get around, how to get from your hotel to the theme parks and other options for Anaheim transportation.

Ways to be a Smarter Disneyland Visitor
For many people, Disneyland is the dream vacation, a trip of a lifetime. Why spend all your time there in line, or pay too much for your trip? Our guidelines will help you avoid the common traps many Disneyland visitors fall into. You can also get ideas for those can't live without moments with our Disneyland bucket list.

A Review

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FASTPASS Step by Step
Discover how a Disney FASTPASS works and see a step-by-step guide to getting and using one.

Have a Great Trip!

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