Your Disneyland vacation planning is simple to put together. Just follow these easy steps to make sure you set up the most positive experience.

Disneyland Vacation Planning: Steps to Take Before You Go

For my little guys’ Christmas present this year they got a trip to Disneyland California! They hadn’t been since they were babies and didn’t remember anything about it. As someone who was born in Anaheim and grew up going to “the park” on a weekly basis, I had to fix that!

Disneyland is a magical place for any age, but especially for kids 8 and under! They loved it!

Planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort is easy and fun. One of the benefits of a Disneyland Resort vacation is how close everything is. When you stay at a Disney hotel, you are within walking distance from all of the action. Your Disneyland vacation plan is simple to put together. Just follow these easy steps.

Pick the Season to Visit Disneyland

Southern California has pretty consistent weather, which is awesome. There will be occasional overcast and some rainy days, but there is not a huge seasonal concern in terms of what time of year to avoid. Even when it rains at Disneyland, it won’t be that cold. And the best part is, the crowds are small! We totally got rained out, but we wore ponchos and powered through! We still had a great time. Some of my best memories as a kid at Disneyland are from rainy days.

The biggest difference when choosing when to go to Disneyland is in Holidays. Seasonal overlays have an impact on your experience, as do holiday crowds. The seasonal offerings of Disneyland like Halloween and Christmas season decorations and shows can be so incredibly fun, but also so crowded!

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So, the first thing you should do is weigh the pros and cons of what time of year you would like to visit. A good indication of when to expect busier crowds is to check the Disneyland website for annual pass holder blackout dates.

Summer, Halloween, and Christmas weekends will always be the busiest! I find that the best time to go to Disneyland California is January or September, just when the holidays are ending. We went mid-January and there were hardly any lines.

 

Set a Budget for your Disneyland Trip

There’s no question that Disneyland is not a cheap vacation, but if you play your cards right, there are ways you can save money at Disneyland. One great way to save is to purchase a Disneyland package that includes discounted tickets and hotels. My favorite place to find discount packages is here.

You’ll also want to set a budget for your daily expenses at Disneyland for food and souvenirs. Depending on what level of dining you like, I would plan on around at least $15/meal for each person.

Choose Your Hotel at Disneyland

Disneyland has three hotels to choose from, but there are many non Disney hotels within walking distance from the parks. Even the nicer hotels like Hilton and Sheraton are available at a greatly reduced cost compared to the Disney owned properties. On the other hand, The Disney hotels offer perks such as Character dining and reservations to experience the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge coming at the beginning of summer.

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The Disney hotels offer the greatest convenience and continual immersion in the Disney magic, plus you can have early admission to the parks. The cheapest of the Disney hotels is Paradise Pier Hotel, which is further from the action and something to consider.

Choose a Disneyland Package

If you want an easy way to purchase Disneyland tickets and book your hotel, I highly recommend purchasing a Disneyland vacation package. You can get deeply discounted tickets and room rates by doing this. Plus it just makes life so much easier!

Purchase your Disneyland Souvenirs Before you Go!

I love Disneyland, but there is no doubt that the upsell on their souvenirs is just outrageous. And when you’re in a magical place, kids are bound to be in a more-more-more mindset where they’ll want every awesome toy or gadget they see.

Luckily, there are so many cheap Disneyland souvenir options out there that you can buy ahead of time and dish out to your kids as needed or saved at the end for a big surprise in your hotel room!

These are a few of our favorite Disneyland souvenirs to buy ahead.

Create Your Disneyland Itinerary

On the Disneyland Website you can use the interactive map to plan your park strategies and decide where to eat. It’s good to come up with a general framework for how you would like to approach each day.

Buy your passes in advance to save money on the ticket prices. Park hopper passes make much more sense here then they do at Walt Disney World. Since it’s just a few seconds walk from one gate to the next, It’s not a bad thought to include that in your schedule.

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Keep in mind that California Adventure usually closes earlier than Disneyland when you make your plans. Park hours can change on a day to day basis, so be sure to know the opening hours when planning your trip.

You’ll also want to check the schedule and plan for special events like shows or Savi’s Lightsaber Workshop. 

While you plan your days, make good use of the maps and plan the paths you want to take. If you want to experience the parks fully, it is important to plan an efficient route. It’s also important to include breaks into your plans. You should also allow some time for Downtown Disney if you can.

Make Reservations for Disneyland

You can make your dining reservations two months prior to your vacation. There are some really great restaurants to experience if you have the budget. Blue Bayou is a classic and Carthay Circle in California Adventure is exceptional.

Check your restaurants to confirm whether they recommend reservations. Don’t forget the hotel restaurants or Downtown Disney when you make your plans. Steakhouse 55 and Napa Rose are two of Disneyland resorts best restaurants. You can make your reservations online here. 

Going to Disneyland is much easier than going to Disney World and takes much less planning in general, but it’s still wise to do some advance research! But don’t worry, even if you spend your day wandering around the parks, it will still be magical!

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