Everything you need to know about visiting Disneyland

Disneyland is one of those rare places that offers fun and entertainment for everyone, from bright-eyed kids to well-traveled adults. A visit is on every kid’s wishlist and planning a trip to The Happiest Place on Earth is a rite of passage for every parent.

From figuring out the type of tickets to buy, knowing where to stay and how to get around, and avoiding long lines, a lot goes into creating a seamless experience on your trip to Disneyland. Lucky for you, we’ve done all the research to help you make those decisions.

Here’s everything you need to know about booking a trip to Disneyland.

How to start planning a Disneyland vacation

Although a Disneyland vacation won’t require as much planning as Disney World, a little organization can create a more enjoyable experience.

If the planning process is still overwhelming, you can actually hire professionals to do it for you, free of charge. TPG’s Summer Hull and Richard Kerr have both utilized Mouse Counselors to plan their Disney vacations and both of them swear by it.

The planning service is free because the planners make their money via commissions paid out by Disneyland. All you have to do is submit a request for a quote and they’ll plan your entire vacation. They’ll even look for discounts, so you get the best deal possible.


Disneyland’s Cinderella Castle. ARIANA ARGHANDEWAL/THE POINTS GUY

Choosing the best hotel for your Disneyland vacation

There are many hotel options for your Disneyland vacation, depending on your budget and needs. You can pay a premium to stay on-site (which includes some added perks), or you can stay at a more budget-friendly off-site hotel within walking distance of the park that lets you book with, or earn, points.

Below is an overview of the best hotel options near Disneyland.

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Disneyland hotels

Disneyland operates three on-site hotels. The main benefit of staying at a Disneyland resort is proximity to the parks, Early Entry (admission to the parks 30 minutes before it opens to the public), preferred dining reservation access, character wake-up calls and more.

Rates at Disneyland properties tend to be quite a bit higher than at off-site hotels. Disney does offer seasonal discounts and sales during lower-demand times of the year that can reduce the cost.

Operating since 1955, the Disneyland Hotel is the first and oldest property within the Disneyland Resort. The hotel had a minor renovation in 2021 and is next to the Downtown Disney shopping district.

Standard rooms typically go for around $500 to $650 per night.


If you want a slightly more upscale experience in a better location, look no further than Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. The hotel is behind California Adventure Park and offers guests an exclusive entrance to the park.


While rates at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa start at around $700, they can creep up as high as $1,000 per night for a standard room during peak times.

Across from the Grand Californian, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is the cheapest Disneyland hotel option. Rooms are usually priced in the $400 to $450 range and the resort also has a private entrance to Disney California Adventure Park. The hotel is currently undergoing construction and will reopen as Pixar Place Hotel in the coming months.

View of the Paradise Pier Hotel from atop the Pixar Pal-A-Round in Disney California Adventure. LESLIE HARVEY/THE POINTS GUY

Disneyland Good Neighbor hotels you can book with points

There are currently 58 designated Good Neighbor hotels near Disneyland. These are hotels recommended by Disneyland for offering convenient locations and overall value. Many of these hotels can be booked with points; at some, you’ll even find special deals and packages.

Related: Where to stay at Disneyland: On vs. off-property hotel comparison


Hyatt has three hotels near Disneyland and all of them are designated Good Neighbor properties. As of August 2023, all three properties are Category 4 hotels, with standard awards requiring 15,000 Hyatt points and off-peak awards available for 12,000 points. Alternatively, use an annual free night award from your World of Hyatt Credit Card.

The Hyatt House at Anaheim Resort Convention Center is the closest to the park entrance, just a block away. I stayed here three years ago and found the rooms spacious enough to accommodate three kids and two adults. Our room had a small living area separate from the bedroom and a pull-out couch for an extra person.

Everyone gets free breakfast regardless of Hyatt elite status, which is great for families. Overall, this is a solid choice for a Disneyland hotel.

The nearby Hyatt Place is a block farther, and it’s a good option if you want a slightly cheaper limited-service hotel offering free breakfast. Room rates tend to be $20 to $50 cheaper than the Hyatt House when paying cash.

If you want a more upscale experience and don’t need to be within walking distance of the park, the Hyatt Regency Orange County is the way to go. The hotel is in the Anaheim Resort area, about 2 miles from the hotel. For families needing more space, you can also opt for a Kids Suite starting at 21,000 points per night. The Kids Suite offers a king bed, bunk beds for the kids, and a microwave and fridge for those late-night snacks.

The Hyatt Regency Orange County operates a shuttle to Disneyland every half-hour. The cost is $6 per person per day and free for kids 3 and under. You can often find package deals that include shuttle service for four as well as parking and a Disney-centric welcome amenity.

Related: Here’s how to quickly stock up on Hyatt points for your next vacation


IHG has five hotels near Disneyland, three of which have the Good Neighbor designation. The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Anaheim Resort Area is a Good Neighbor property and is the closest of them all; it sits about a 10-minute walk from the park entrance. Award rates fluctuate wildly and can sometimes be as high as 50,000-65,000 points per night, so it’s sometimes a better value to book this property with cash.



Marriott has 11 Good Neighbor hotels near Disneyland. The closest properties to the park entrance are the Fairfield Inn by Marriott Anaheim Resort and the Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim Theme Park Entrance. The Fairfield Inn charges anywhere from 34,000 to 59,000 points for an award night.

Depending on the date of your stay, you can redeem your up to 35,000-point certificate from the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card or the annual up to 50,000-point award from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. This could be a great redemption, considering the hotel can go for more than $250 per night at peak times.

The Courtyard is a higher-end hotel with a water park requiring 68,000 to 98,000 points per night.


Hilton has a whopping 12 Good Neighbor Hotels in the Disneyland area, although quite a few are not within reasonable walking distance.

For the best location, you’ll want to consider the Home2 Suites by Hilton Anaheim Resort or the Hilton Garden Inn Anaheim Resort. These two hotels occupy a single shared building, which is nearly right across from the park entrance.

The Home2 Suites tends to be the better value of the two even though it usually costs a bit more, as it includes free breakfast. Additionally, a standard two-queen studio room at this hotel sleeps up to six, offering two queen beds, a sofa bed and a full kitchen. Even though the award rate is steep at 60,000, it could be worth it since most families will need just one room. That being said, TPG values Hilton points at 0.6 cents each, so it’s generally not a good idea to redeem points unless standard rates are at least $360 per night.

The SunCoast Hotel is the next closest option, less than a mile from the park entrance. It’s a doable walk, or you can opt to take the Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART) bus that stops outside the property. The SunCoast is a Tapestry Collection property offering beautiful, light-filled rooms with bright pops of color to give you that Disney vibe.

Related: I spent 6.5 hours on hold to buy Disneyland tickets — was it worth it?

Types of Disneyland tickets


There are multiple types of Disneyland tickets available. The type of ticket you should get depends on factors like which park(s) you want to visit and for how long, how often you plan on visiting Disneyland and your budget.

Disneyland tickets fall into seven tiers (Tier 0 through 6). Tier 6 is unrestricted, and the remaining tiers are subject to increasing blackout dates. Before you purchase a ticket, be sure to check the theme park calendar for park reservation availability.

Let’s take a look at each option.

Single-day tickets

Disneyland’s single-day tickets range from $104 to $179 per day and provide admission to one park only (either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure). Disney classifies children as those aged 3 to 9 (and offers a slight discount on child rates); it classifies adults as those 10 and older. Children 2 and younger do not need a ticket.

Related: How to make a reservation at Disneyland

Ticket prices vary per day based on demand. You can search the ticket calendar to see prices on the day(s) you plan to visit.

Multiday tickets

Multiday tickets are a good option if you want to visit Disneyland parks for several days, with per-day prices being discounted the more days you add on. Two-day tickets cost $285 (an average cost of $142.50 per day), and five-day tickets cost $83 per day.

Multiday tickets get you into both Disneyland and California Adventure — but not on the same day. You’ll need to stick to a single park per day.

Park Hopper

Park Hopper tickets allow you to visit Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on the same day. You can add this option to any multiday ticket for $60 per ticket or single-day tickets for $65. These tickets are ideal if you want ultimate flexibility in the attractions you visit in a day. The 1-Day Park Hopper tickets are especially ideal if you want to experience both parks on a short timeline.

Note that Disneyland currently only allows guests to park hop at 11 a.m. or later.

Magic Key (annual pass)

Disneyland also offers Magic Keys, which are annual passes. Passes are limited in number, so not all pass types are always on sale. Prices range from $449 to $1,599.

Related: Everything you need to know about Disneyland tickets and pricing

Disneyland ticket discounts

While Disneyland tickets can be pricey, there are several ways you can save money. Some discounts are exclusive to members of specific groups and may be limited to certain times of year, while others are open to the public.

Here’s a look at common Disneyland ticket discounts:

California residents: California residents living within qualifying zip codes can sometimes purchase special multiday discount tickets for as little as $83 per day. Disneyland tends to offer these tickets to Southern California residents in spring and to all California residents in summer and early fall, but these offers are not guaranteed. Proof of residence and a valid government ID are required for purchase.

Military discounts: Qualifying military personnel can purchase three-day Disneyland Park Hopper Tickets for $245 and 4-day Park Hopper tickets for $280.

There is a limit of six discounted tickets and blackout dates apply. These tickets are available to active or retired military members, including the National Guard, Reservists and the U.S. Coast Guard.

AAA: AAA members can save on multiday Disneyland tickets, including Park Hopper tickets. However, the savings are not as big as advertised because AAA tacks a fee onto the final purchase page. Membership fees vary, ranging from $56 to $119.

CityPASS: CityPASS offers Disneyland ticket discounts ranging from $5 to $26, depending on your ticket type.

Undercover Tourist: Undercover Tourist is a tried and true way to save on Disneyland tickets. The site currently offers discounts ranging from $7 to $33 per ticket.

Get Away Today: Get Away Today is another travel agency that specializes in Disneyland travel and offers discount tickets as well. Get Away Today will always price-match the best deals you may find elsewhere.

Related: How to use points to buy Disney tickets

Best time to visit Disneyland

The best time to visit Disneyland depends on a variety of factors.

For the best experience, you’ll want to avoid school holidays, weekends and major ride openings. Late summer and early fall tend to be less crowded, but the weather in August and September can be excessively warm (although never as hot as Walt Disney World in Florida).

A great way to plan the best time to visit Disneyland is to check your desired travel dates against the IsItPacked crowd calendar. The calendar considers all of the previously mentioned factors to generate a crowd forecast.

Related: 9 things families should know before visiting Disneyland

How to reduce your time in line at Disneyland

Disneyland may be The Happiest Place on Earth, but it’s not immune to long, stressful lines. That’s especially true on weekends, holidays and when it comes to popular attractions.

Start at the back of the park and move your way up front

If you arrive just before the park opens, a good strategy to avoid crowds is to start at the back of the park and move your way forward. Many visitors (especially those with kids) will get caught up in the crowd-control mechanism near the entrance — character meetings, retail shops — before making their way to the rides closest to their path.

You can beat the crowds by moving in the opposite direction. The same goes with mealtimes: Plan to eat before or after the noon rush, and you won’t encounter crazy long lines. You might also find shorter wait times at your favorite rides while most guests are preoccupied with lunch.

No lines at the Millennium Falcon ride on 2021 reopening day. ARIANA ARGHANDEWAL/THE POINTS GUY

Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes

Disney Genie+ (along with a related service, Individual Lightning Lane) allows Disneyland guests to skip the standby line on many of the park’s most popular attractions. The Disney Genie+ service starts at $25 per person per day and allows you to make Lightning Lane reservations throughout the day. You can make your first reservation after you enter the park and then subsequent reservations as you redeem each one or after two hours pass (whichever comes first).

Related: How I maxed out Disneyland’s Genie+ and rode 26 attractions in a single day

You’ll also get unlimited photo downloads from all attraction photos and those taken by PhotoPass photographers; and you’ll receive features like audio tales and AR photo lenses to help you pass the time waiting in line.

There are a few attractions that do not participate in the Disney Genie+ service, but most of these attractions nevertheless have Lightning Lanes. You need to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane reservation (sold separately) to skip the line for these select attractions. Pricing ranges between $15 and $25 per person per attraction, and you can purchase up to two attractions per day. The current list of attractions participating in each program is available on Disneyland’s website.

Related: 10 line-busting tips for less waiting and more playing

Early Entry

Guests staying at Disneyland resorts can enter either park 30 minutes before they open to the public. This is worth taking into consideration when making your hotel reservations since an extra 30 minutes before park opening means virtually no lines.

Use the Disney app

The Disneyland mobile app is key to a seamless Disneyland experience. Aside from storing your park tickets, the app helps users book restaurant reservations, make Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane reservations, order meals to-go on mobile and see wait times for rides.

The Disney app can be an invaluable tool in avoiding lines for rides and restaurants, allowing you to enjoy your limited time at the park.

Use the Ridemax app

If you want to avoid lines like a pro, consider downloading and subscribing to Ridemax. The app creates a custom itinerary for you based on the rides you choose and the amount of time you plan on spending at the park, to minimize wait times. A 90-day subscription costs $14.95, while an annual one costs $24.95.

There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if it is not as helpful as you’d hoped, you can get a full refund.

Related: The best restaurants at Disneyland

How to save money on your Disneyland trip

There are many ways to save money on your Disneyland trip, whether it’s getting discounted park tickets or deals on your hotel bookings.

Use points

We’d be remiss to start the money-saving portion of this guide without mentioning points. Whether it’s your airfare, hotel or park tickets, you can use points to offset a large chunk of your Disneyland vacation. Disneyland has lots of point hotels starting at just 12,000 points per night for off-peak awards at any of the area Hyatt hotels.

With the 60,000-point sign-up bonus from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening), you could cover up to five nights at one of these hotels.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is another great option for earning and redeeming miles towards a Disneyland trip. The card currently offers 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

All you have to do is charge your Disneyland hotel or vacation package to the card and then redeem miles toward the expense. And if you don’t quite have enough miles now, you have up to 90 days after purchase to save and redeem miles toward a travel expense.

Check for package deals

You can save a lot on your Disneyland vacation by booking a package deal through a site like Get Away Today. For example, a four-night stay in September in a one-bedroom suite at the Element by Westin Anaheim Resort Convention Center with three-day park hopper tickets for a family of four will cost $3,297.88 when booked with Disney directly.


Through Get Away Today, the same package deal costs $2,682.53.


Costco is currently offering Disneyland travel packages that include savings on on-property Disneyland hotels and a Disney gift card:

  • Stay two to four nights and receive a $185 Disney Gift Card
  • Stay five nights and receive a $205 Disney Gift Card
  • Stay six nights and receive a $225 Disney Gift Card
  • Stay seven or more nights and receive a $245 Disney Gift Card

Buy Disney gift cards on sale

Buying Disney gift cards can save you about 5-10% on the cost of food and merchandise at Disneyland hotels. Sam’s Club, Staples, Target and Safeway occasionally discount the price of Disney gift cards by about 5%. Add cash back bonuses and savings from a card that earns bonus points at grocery and office supply stores, and the savings will stack up.

I’ve personally had success using my Chase Ink Plus Business card (card no longer available) to buy Disney gift cards at Staples, stacking the savings with 5% cash back through Dosh (Note: I will earn a $10 referral if you sign up with my link and make your first qualifying purchase).

The information for the Chase Ink Plus Business Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Bring your own swag

If you’re taking your kids to Disneyland, buy all your swag ahead of time. Everything is incredibly overpriced at the park, and there’s no reason to spend $30 on mouse ears when you can find equally cute ones on Etsy or Amazon for $5.99. The same goes for all trinkets and toys that end up in a forgotten pile somewhere.

Related: 7 Reasons why Disneyland is better than Disney World

You might feel sentimental about bringing back a $40 snow globe, but trust me: The memories you make are more important (and lasting) than the overpriced merchandise you buy at the park.

Related: How much does a Disneyland vacation cost?

How to get around Disneyland

Unlike the sprawling Disney World resort, Disneyland is easy to get around on foot. But if you get tired after a day of park hopping, you can take various modes of transportation around the park. The Disneyland Railroad offers an 18-minute ride with stops at Main Street, New Orleans Square, Mickey’s Toontown and Tomorrowland.

The high-flying Monorail is great if you want a faster way to get around the park. The Monorail makes the 2.5-mile journey through the area in just 13 minutes, stopping in Tomorrowland and the far end of Downtown Disney.

For a slow, fun ride, you can hop aboard one of Disney’s Main Street Vehicles near City Hall and Central Plaza. They include the Jitney, a horse-drawn streetcar, the classic fire engine and omnibus.

Over at California Adventure, the Red Car Trolley makes four convenient stops throughout the already walkable park.

Related: The essential guide to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland

The best credit cards to use at Disneyland


You may be surprised to find that the Disney Visa Card isn’t among the best cards to use at Disneyland, though it can be a good option if you’re looking to finance a Disney vacation. The best cards for booking Disneyland packages will be ones that earn bonus points on travel, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar and use your $300 annual travel credit to offset part of the expense.

When it comes to spending at Disneyland theme parks, you’ll want to use a card that earns bonus points on dining. The Citi Prestige® Card (card no longer available) is a great option, as it earns 5 points per dollar spent in this category. The American Express® Gold Card is also a great choice, earning 4 points per dollar on restaurant dining.

The information for the Citi Prestige and Disney Visa card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Bottom line

While it’s not as large as its Florida counterpart, Disneyland does require some planning. This guide should make the process of planning your Disneyland adventure a little easier.

Additional reporting by Leslie Harvey.

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