Recently, we came back from a trip to Disneyland (our second in two years). It was quite a bit of fun, but of course, too short. However, I wanted to pass along some travel tips to folks who are thinking about going to Disneyland, based on what seemed to work with us. I am not a travel expert, so this is just what I learned from co-workers, and confirmed worked.
- Booking travel directly through Disneyland, instead of a travel agency, worked very well. We got good deals, and the process was pretty easy. You can do it online and by phone. I’ve done both and the phone was a bit easier because I didn’t have to worry about the computer crashing or the Internet being too slow, but the web was faster in a way. Customer service on the phone is fantastic though, like much of Disney.
- One of the useful things about booking your travel through Disney itself is that you can get the meal plans. These are food vouchers you can use to pay for meals, snacks, and even the expensive character dining events. We used almost all of our vouchers both times. I don’t know if you really save money using the vouchers, but they’re very convenient. Other families saw us paying with vouchers would ask where we got them.
- Booking through Disneyland also gives you a chance to get into the park early one day, which was pretty useful. The rides are really quiet in the morning, and you can easily enjoy your favorites before the lines get too long.
- Getting a hotel room next to Disneyland is really convenient. Once, when we lived in Ireland, we went to Disney Paris (a lot of fun too), but our hotel was pretty far. Carrying a two-year old who is tired on a hot, sunny day back and forth from the hotel is very tiring. We’ve stayed at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel twice and it was well worth it.
- If you have a little girl, definitely consider making an appointment to the Bippidy Boppidy Boutique. That was the highlight of the trip because if you do the big package, your daughter gets hair, makeup and a full costume with photos. Our daughter got a complete makeover to look like Snow White. Believe me, I want to post the photos here if I could.
- Speaking of photos, Disney offers a PhotoPass card for free. You will see photographers in many parts of Disneyland, who will take photos for you and scan the card (you can get additional cards too). If you register the card online at DisneyPhotoPass.com and can look at them later. Of course, they encourage you to purchase a few copies too.
- Although water and beverages are plentiful at Disneyland, sometimes you get burned out of the junk food and such. So, don’t be afraid to bring some pre-packed snacks and vegetables (e.g. carrot sticks, natural fruit, etc), and definitely bring some water bottles too, especially in the summer. We went in August once and it was really, really hot.
- John Wayne Airport/Santa Ana Airport is very close to Disneyland, and very quiet. It’s far less stressful to go through there than other airports like LAX and is my second favorite, besides Narita Airport in Japan.
- From there, I highly recommend the Disneyland Resort Express. Very convenient, but on the day you go back home, be extra careful and confirm when the shuttle comes to your hotel so you don’t miss it. Again, you can book this directly through Disney along with your travel plans overall.
I’ll try to update this list as I come up with other things, but for now, I hope this proves useful. Have a nice trip!