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Complete Disneyland Planning Guide

Complete Disneyland Planning Guide

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Heading to the Disneyland park soon? Are you feeling overwhelmed with the idea of planning your vacation and don’t know where to start? Are you stressing about park tickets, a hotel room, wait times and more? Don’t worry anymore! You are in the right place!You are in the right place! My complete Disneyland planning guide will walk you through every part of the planning process. It doesn’t matter if this is your first trip to Disneyland or if you’ve been before, these tips will help plan your Disneyland trip.

I’ve put together a complete Disneyland planning guide just for you. Just breath. Everything is fine. You’re going to have the best time on your vacation! I’ve got a list of steps to walk you through the planning process. You got this! My Disneyland planning guide will make things easy. If you’re planning a visit to Florida soon, I have a complete guide for Walt Disney World here.

I’ve got an episode on my podcast about planning your Disney vacation. It will be helpful for you. Make sure you check it out!

1. Decide When To Visit

The Best Time To Visit Disneyland

The first step to your dream Disney vacation is to decide when to visit. Would you like to visit during the summer or over spring break to avoid taking kids out of school? Do you prefer to visit during a special event like Halloween time or the Holidays? Are you looking for warmer weather or do you prefer to visit when it’s cooler?

There’s lots of things to think about when you’re deciding when to visit Disneyland. Luckily, I have a full guide to Disneyland for every single month of the year! You can check out a Disneyland crowd calendar for each month, special events, weather, what to expect and more! These guide will be really helpful to you as you’re deciding when to visit the happiest place on earth! You can find them here.

2. Are you using Disney Genie Plus?

Decide if you’re going to use Disney Genie Plus. Disney Genie Plus are the new system that replaced the old fastpass/maxpass system at Disneyland. Disney Genie Plus is an additional $20 and allows you to enter certain attractions through the Lightning Lane. You’ll want to do some research and figure out if this option is right for your group. You can purchase it with your park tickets or you can add it separately using the Disneyland app after you’re in the park. You can find more info here.

3. Buy Tickets

You’ve picked your dates and you’re ready to book your vacation to sunny southern California! But, first, you need Disney park tickets. You can’t visit Disneyland without tickets! You can purchase tickets from the Disneyland website, but if you go that route you’ll pay full price. Please don’t pay full price for your tickets! Discount Disneyland tickets are available!

My partners at Get Away Today have the very best ticket prices around! I have been using them for 15 years and love them. I won’t buy my tickets anywhere else. They have incredible customer service and they even have layaway plans! They care about your vacation and are the best place to buy discount Disneyland tickets. You can read about how amazing they are and all the things they offer here. They also have great deals on hotels!

There are two ticket options. One park per day and the park hopper. The park hopper allows you to “hop” in between Disneyland and California Adventure after 1pm. Personally, I don’t buy park hopper tickets often. I prefer to purchase one park per day tickets. There’s so much to do in each park, there’s enough to keep you busy for a full day. So, I prefer to purchase the less expensive one park per day option.

4. Make Park Reservation

Tickets AND park reservations are required to visit the Disney parks. Now that you’ve got your tickets, you can make your park reservations. After you’ve purchased your tickets from Get Away Today, you can log into the Disneyland website and make a reservation for each park you’d like to visit on your trip. Disneyland has two theme parks(Disneyland and California Adventure) and a shopping/dining district(Downtown Disney).

5. Book Lodging

If you purchased a package with a hotel from getawaytoday you can skip this step. Many people enjoy staying on property when visiting Disneyland. Disneyland has 3 resorts to choose from. The Grand Californian, Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier hotel. They are all fairly expensive. You can read about the different on site properties here.

You don’t have to stay at a Disney resort to have a great time. If you have a large family(more than 4 or 5) or simply want a cheaper alternative, you may want to consider staying off property. There are lots of off site hotels that are actually closer than the Disneyland resort properties! Staying off site at a cheaper hotel is one of the best ways to save money on your Disney vacation.

Our family of 6 loves to stay at a hotel right across the street. I like to be able to walk to the parks in the morning! There are many affordable options. Here’s a guide to the 15 best hotels near Disneyland on Harbor Blvd.

You can also check with Get Away Today for some great hotel options! You can find all of my hotel reviews here.

6. Book Dining Reservations

Some of the most popular dining experiences at Disneyland require reservations. Guests can make dining reservations 60 days in advance on the Disneyland website or on the Disneyland app. Do some research on the Disneyland website and figure out what restaurants you’d like to eat at and if a reservation is needed. There are many quick service dining options available that don’t require reservations. Don’t feel like you have to have dining reservations. You will still have lots of great food options to choose from without them. Here’s some posts on quick service dining at Disneyland that will help. We usually book 1 or 2 reservations per trip and eat at quick services restaurants for all the other meals.

If you’re looking to save money, bringing in some of your own food to Disneyland is a great way to do it! We eat breakfast in our hotel, bring in a picnic lunch/snacks and eat at a quick service for dinner. You can find out more about bringing outside food into the parks here.

7. Make A Basic Plan For Each Day

The next step in my Complete Disneyland Planning Guide is to make a basic plan for each day. Now don’t freak out when I say “basic plan”. I’m not suggesting you have to schedule every minute of every day, unless you want to! If that makes you happy, do it! I prefer a detailed plan myself, but a basic plan is fine too.

Take some time to research the popular attractions and entertainment from each park. Do you have any favorite characters you’d like to see? Figure out what’s most important to you and your family. Decide which rides you’re going to do first thing when you arrive so you don’t waste time standing around making a plan.

Take a look at the map from each park so you’re familiar with the layout. You can find one on the Disneyland app. Write out a general outline for your day. If you’re interested in rope dropping, you can find some helpful information about it here. Make sure you add in meal times and breaks. I have a free touring plan that I update each month that might be helpful for you. You can find it here. Make sure you check out my downloadable touring plans if you’d like a step-by-step guide to the parks! 

If this is overwhelming, I’m here to help! I offer custom Disneyland plans complete with a personalized itinerary to help you avoid long lines and accomplish everything that’s important to you.

8. Read My Top Tips

Take a look at my top Disneyland tips. These will be so helpful for you! These tips will walk you through all the important things that you need to know for your Disneyland trip. You will learn so much and show up prepared for anything and everything! Find them here.

9. Buy Some Essentials In Advance

Disneyland has everything you could possibly want/need for sale in the parks, but it’s expensive! I like to buy a few things in advance on Amazon to save a little bit of money. You can find my list of what to buy on Amazon before your Disney trip here. I also make sure I have a fully stocked park bag before my vacation, so I’m ready for any situation! You can find my park bag essentials list here.

10. Enjoy!

Don’t forget this is a vacation. You’re supposed to relax and enjoy yourself. You’ve put in a little work ahead of time planning your vacation and it’s going to pay off big time! I hope my complete Disneyland planning guide was helpful for you. Remember to go with the flow and have a good attitude. Take lots of pictures and enjoy your magical Disneyland vacation!

I hope my complete Disneyland planning guide was helpful for you. If you need more help or have any questions, reach out to me and ask! I’m happy to help! If you have any questions while you’re in the parks, ask a cast member. They are so friendly and helpful. I know you’re going to have such a good time on your vacation!

Make sure to check out my podcast for lots of Disney planning information! You can find it on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Just search for “Mix In Some Magic” Follow me on Instagram for more Disney tips and lots of Disney fun!