Disneyland California for First Timers

10 Things To Know Before Visiting Disneyland California

A First-Time Visitor Guide to Disneyland California

We are going to the happiest place on earth! Disneyland California is a magical place and has tons of fun things to do with your family, friends or significant other. If you're new to visiting Disney parks, there are many things that you need to know before going. Here are some important things that can help make your trip to the most magical place in California. Let’s go! 

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Travel Tips
  • For flights, Skyscanner is excellent for comparing the best airline deals.
  • For accommodations, our family trusts Booking.com for reasonable prices.

1. Disneyland California: Location, Travel Time and Park Hours

Location: 1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802

Travel Time to Disneyland:

  • Los Angeles to Anaheim: 1.5-hour drive (depending on traffic)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Disneyland Park: 1-hour drive or less (depending on traffic)

Two Local Airports Closest to Disneyland: 
If you’re in the US you can land at these two local airports.

  1. Long Beach Airport (LGB) 
  2. John Wayne Airport (SNA).

If you're still looking for plane tickets check out Skyscanner, it's a great platform that our family used to compare flight tickets and we always get the best deals there.

Try to arrange your transportation before arriving at the airport, especially if you have small children, as it gets really crowded at the airport.

Convenient transportation options to Disneyland:

  • Rideshare with Lyft (Car)

                - Download the Lyft app and request a ride to Disneyland
                - LAX to Disneyland costs around 50 USD - 70 USD

Disneyland Park  Hours:

  • Disneyland Park Hours: 8:00 AM - 11:00 PM
  • Disney California Adventure Park Hours: 8:00 AM - 10:00 PM

  • Parking opens at 7:00 AM

2. Places To Stay around Disneyland

Our family trusts Booking.com when it comes to hotels with great deals. Try to find accommodation near Disneyland as that will save you time with traveling and makes the most of your vacation days.

3. Disneyland California Tickets

Tickets for Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park (ticket prices vary on dates and events).

SoCal Residents:

  • We booked our ticket on a weekday during the SoCal resident 3-day promotion for weekdays only and no parking was included. 

  • SoCal Promotional Ticket for 1 person 
  • 73 USD per day x 3 days = 219 USD (access to Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park)

  • If there are any changes to your plans, you can always reschedule, as we did. Just make sure to book another reservation before your ticket expires. 

There are 3 kinds of Disneyland tickets:

  1. Standard Park Ticket
  2. Magic Key Pass
  3. Park Hopper Ticket

Standard Park Ticket:

  • 83 USD - 104 USD per day for 1 person (up to 5 days)
  • Children younger than 3 years old are Free and don’t need a ticket. 

Magic Key Pass and Park Hopper Ticket:

  • Allows you to explore both parks on the same day
  • You need a reservation for both parks ahead of time.
  • Make sure to switch parks at 11:00 AM; as always with most Disney parks, it’s subject to availability. 
  • If you go late you can go to both parks after 11:00 AM. 
  • As always, check the Disneyland website and the Disneyland app for any park hours changes and updates.

What's the difference between the Magic Key Pass and Park Hopper Ticket? 

Magic Key Pass:

  • Also known as Annual Passes 
  • Access to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure multiple times a year
  • Southern California residents can benefit more from this pass
It has four tiers that correspond to different prices and privileges however it’s still on a reservation-based admission to both parks.

Park Hopper Ticket:

  • Experience both parks in one day or up to 5 days only
  • Access to Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park 

Both parks are right across each other, so moving around from both parks is not that hard.

4. Parking at Disneyland

There’s no free parking in Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. We purchased the standard parking ticket and the walk to the entrance gate wasn't that long even with a baby stroller. 

There are two kinds of parking tickets: 

  1. Standard Parking
  2. Preferred Parking

Standard Parking:

  • 30 USD (as of March 2023)
  • allows you to come in and out of the park all throughout the day

Preferred Parking:

  • 50 USD Preferred Parking  
  • means you get to park close to the elevators for Mickey & Friends Parking Structure and Pixar Pals Parking Structure. And you get to park close to the Toy Story Parking Area bus stop.
  • also, you can come in and out of the park throughout the day
  • if you already purchased your parking ticket, you can still upgrade your ticket at the toll booth.


You can pay for your parking ticket ahead of time online, then simply show the QR code with your Disneyland app or pay at the ticket booth as you drive by on the day of your visit.

Where to Park?

There are 3 parking options: same price and opening hours

  1. Mickey and Friends Parking Structure 
  2. Pixar Pals Parking Structure
  3. Toy Story Parking Area

Mickey and Friends and Pixar Pals Parking:

  • Both parking structures are connected and in the exact location
  • Mickey and Friends Parking is closer to the park entrance as Pixar Pals is the newest parking structure. 
  • Same security checkpoint and free tram service to both park entrances or walk 10-15 minutes  to the park entrance.

Toy Story Parking:

  • Disneyland outdoor parking
  • a free shuttle bus to the park entrance or walk 10-15 minutes  to the park entrance
  • Bonus tip: During peak seasons, they do the security checkpoint before boarding the shuttle bus which saves you time and the bus drops you off straight at the park entrance.

Where To Go After parking?

  1. After parking, you need to pass through the Security Checkpoint.
  2. Depends on where you park:
    • For Mickey and Friends and Pixar Pals Parking Structure, take the free tram service to Disneyland Esplanade or the park entrance for Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park or walk around 10-15 minutes to the Park Entrance. 
    • For Toy Story Parking, take the free shuttle bus to the park entrance or walk 10-15 minutes to the park entrance.
  3. Welcome to the happiest place on Earth! Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park are right across each other, so hopping from one park to another is within walking distance.

5. What To Wear To Disneyland

It all depends on the month you’re going. Good thing, it doesn’t snow in Anaheim, California. 

Make sure to wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking a lot. Also wear a hat, and sunglasses, apply some sunscreen and bring a jacket. It's chilly at night when you're waiting for the fireworks.

Bring some water, snacks, hand sanitizer, and a big jar of patience for waiting times and the biggest smile on your face. It's also a good idea to bring a power bank for your phone so you don't miss any magical moments, maybe some cash or extra credit card, and any necessary medication. 

6. Foods Allowed Inside Disneyland

Yes! We're allowed to bring our own food but of course definitely no alcoholic beverages inside Disneyland, please note that there are no glass containers, no loose ice allowed and foods should not have any strong smells. 

We were able to bring baby food, sandwiches, boiled eggs, crackers and blackberries. It's also a good idea to review the prohibited items listed on the website before bringing in any food or beverages. Disneyland Park Rules 

7. Plan Your Day in Disneyland Like A Boss

  • Download the Disneyland App on your phone 

This will help you find your way around Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. The Disney Genie Service is a complimentary app for guests at Disneyland. This will allow you to save time and energy to know which rides, shows and dining places you want to go and try. You can even make mobile orders for food through the app and find the nearest restroom.

The app made such a huge difference as we navigated our way around the park efficiently. It also shows real-time waiting times and show times for all the attractions. And when you have a baby these things matter as the app tells us which rides do not have any height requirements and if it’s baby friendly.

8. Fireworks at Disneyland

  • The fireworks show starts at 9:30 PM
  • Every night during peak seasons like summer and the holidays
  • Friday through Sunday during the off-season
  • Always check Disney's website and the Disney app or simply ask a Cast Member for fireworks updates on your visit.

9. Best Time To Visit Disneyland

The best time to visit Disneyland is during weekdays and off-peak seasons, such as September to November and January to March, to avoid crowds and long lines.

Peak season in Disneyland includes holidays, weekends, and summer months from June to August. Avoid these months as it's the busiest time of the year when crowds are at their highest.

We went on January 6 and March 24.  I love Spring at Disneyland as we get to see the Tabebuia impetiginosa or Pink Trumpet Trees blossom. It was like Sakura Blossoms in California all of a sudden. The title image on top of these posts showed a glimpse of that very day. 

10. Favorite Rides and Shows in Disneyland California

My baby was 1 year old and 10 months old when we visited Disneyland and these were the rides and activities that made our day.

Disneyland Park Rides:

  • My personal favorites:
  1. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Ride
  2. Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Park
  3. Mickey's Toontown Park

Other baby-friendly rides:
  1. Disneyland Railroad 
  2. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage 
  3. "Magic Happens" Parade 
  4. Tale of the Lion King 

  1. Bengal Barbecue 
  2. Galactic Grill 
  3. Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo

Disney California Adventure Rides:

  • My personal favorites:
  1. The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure Ride is my all-time favorite as it brings me back to childhood.
  2. Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind Ride

Other baby-friendly rides:
  1. Pixar Pal-A-Round - Swinging
  2. Turtle Talk with Crush
  3. Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure
  4. Avengers Headquarters
  5. World of Color

This is where it all ends, my magical experience in Disneyland was worth remembering. Tiring but so much fun. Everything went smoothly for us going off-season was the best decision we've made as we didn't have any waiting time in and out of the park. I just can't imagine going during peak season. Anyway, I hope I was able to provide helpful tips for planning your Disneyland trip.

Have fun and be safe ^__^

Do you want more adventure?

Where am I going next?

For my next adventure, we're going to Irwindale, California to experience The Original and the Oldest Renaissance Faire in Southern California.

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