📅 2023-Mar-30 ⬩ ✍️ Ashwin Nanjappa ⬩ 🏷️ travel, usa ⬩ 📚 Archive
Disneyland is the first theme park created by Walt Disney and is located to the south of Los Angeles in Anaheim. We decided to drive and visit the park for a couple of days since it seemed like a fun place for our kids.
The route to Disneyland from Fremont consists of getting out of the SF Bay Area to Los Banos. From Los Banos to the south of Bakersfield is I-5. After that the route goes through the heart of Los Angeles and gets out to Anaheim.
The I-5 between Los Banos and the mountainous outskirts north of LA is a simple 2-lane straight drive. This was probably the easiest and most comfortable drive I experienced in the US until now with a fast 70 mph speed limit. The right lane is occupied by trucks, so just staying in the left lane is all that is needed.
The stretch through LA city during Thursday evening peak traffic was about 1.5 hours of 5-10 mph pace. It was easily the worst driving experience I had in the US until now. Thankfully, I was spared this sort of jam on Sunday morning when we headed back.
Depending on the LA traffic, the actual drive time might vary between 6 to 7.5 hours for this route.
Buying tickets and making park reservations need to be done online well in advance. This can be done at: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/experience-updates/park-reservations/
Purchasing the ticket is only the act of making the payment. This does not give you entry to any park yet.
After purchasing the ticket, make a reservation at the park you want to visit. There are 2 theme parks at Disneyland: Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. There are options to associate each day-ticket with a particular park or hop between the parks.
Since the Disney California Adventure Park seemed to be catering more to adults, we decided to spend 2 entire days at the Disneyland Park.
The Disney site also allows you to book stay at their hotels (which are inside the park) or other hotels in Anaheim as a package. You might want to check if the package OR booking hotel yourself is a better deal.
There are a whole bunch of hotels that are right across the street from Disneyland and we decided to stay at one of them. This turned out to be very convenient since we could just walk into Disneyland without needing the hotel shuttle buses that are required otherwise.
All the information below is about Disneyland Park and NOT about the Disney California Adventure Park.
The park timings are 8AM to midnight. The park gets extremely crowded after around 10AM, so it is recommended to be at the gates at 7:30AM. It takes 30 minutes to get through the security bag check and the ticket scanning.
Installing the Disneyland app is a must for entering the park. We also used the app to check locations on map and how to walk there, wait times at the various rides, book lunch for pickup at the inside restaurants (which get super crowded at noon) and to purchase Genie+ (more on that below).
The park is divided into themed zones and there are rides, events, restaurants and stores in each zone. Here is what we tried:
There is a fireworks and light show in front of the castle at 9:30PM. This got super crowded with standing-room-only on the Saturday we were there. Folks were sitting on the ground everywhere by 8:30PM. This show is a must-do.
Disneyland is a great visit for kids. I was able to finally experience the many classic and memorable sights and rides from this old theme park that I had heard all my life.