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Disneyland Transportation – Getting There + Getting Around Once You Are There

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Disneyland Transportation – Getting There + Getting Around Once You Are There

Have a trip planned to Disneyland, and now worndering how to get around once you are there? We have the scoop on Disneyland transportation options here. Find information on what airport you should fly into for a Disneyland trip, as well as how to get from the airport to your hotel, and the best ways to get around once you are at your hotel or the Disneyland resort below.

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Disneyland Transportation Options

Planning a trip to The Happiest Place on Earth is filled with excitement, joy and a little bit of magic. However, unless you’re one of the lucky ones who already lives close to Disneyland, it can be overwhelming trying to determine how to get there and back, and around once you are there. Luckily, I’ve partnered with my friends at  Get Away Today to give you The Ultimate Guide on Disneyland Transportation Options. here

airports closest to Disneyland

Fly vs. Driving to Disneyland:

First things first, you need to determine if you want to fly or drive to Disneyland. While a road trip can be fun, it also can be filled with a lot of long boring roads, “are we there yet?” comments and fighting within close quarters. However, it can also save you A LOT of money in the long run, especially if you have a large family. A few things I like to consider when I am determining if I want to fly or drive to Disneyland are:

What are the current airfare rates & how many people do I have to buy tickets for?

    • If they are low, we will often choose this method of travel (we live in the Seattle area).
    • The more people I am traveling with, the more airfare will cost me, so for bigger famiiles in particular driving might make more sense.

How long will it take me to drive to Disneyland?

    • If I plan to take turns driving and we will drive straight through, it will save me the most. However, personally I hate to travel that way. So I always need to factor in the cost of gas, plus hotels for the way down and the way back.
    • You may also need to consider what it will cost you to take extra days off of work to see how the costs compare.

Do I like road trips (or do the people I am traveling with)?

    • Personally, I love road trips. But my family does not always. So for me the road trip is part of the vacation, but for many members of my family, they would rather get to their destination and enjoy extra days there instead.
    • Are there places I would like to see along the way. Resorts that would be fun to stay in? For example. we will often take a road trip down the California Coastline, and enjoy a night or two of ocean stays before landing at Disneyland.

Flying to Disneyland – 

If you do decide to fly, you’ll need to figure out what airport to fly into. There are a number of airports in the area, and planning a flight here can get confusing if you have not traveled to Disneyland before. The good news is that it also means you will have more options in terms of flights schedules and price options, if you are flying to Disneyland.

Below, I’ve listed the most popular airports for Anaheim travel, and what you need to know about each one.

What is the Closest Airport to Disneyland?

If you are planning to fly to Disneyland, you might be wondering which Airports are near Disneyland? We have listed area airports below in order of proximity to the Disneyland resort area (so helpful to know if you are staying at a Disneyland resort, or nearby Good Neighbor resort). Here is a little info on your best options for airports closest to Disneyland, and other things you will want to know about them, when selecting flights.

John Wayne Airport (SNA):

The John Wayne Airport is the closest airport to Disneyland and luckily, is often the least busy one to fly into. JSince it is the closest airport to Disneyland, John Wayne is my favorite option if prices are relatively close to the same at other nearby airports. It is definitely the one you want if you’re looking for the most stress-free and convenient option.

Long Beach Airport (LGB):

While it may be small, the Long Beach Airport is another favorite airport to fly into. After John Wayne this is the second closest airport to Disneyland. This charming airport was recently renovated, so it has the look and feel of a large airport, but without the big crowds. Plus, they have delicious dining options, little to no lines in security and it’s only a 30-45 min drive to Disneyland. So, if you ever see a good deal on flights to the Long Beach Airport, make sure you snag it.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX):

Wondering how transportation from LAX to Disneyland works? Here are some tips to know, when considering flying into this airport. Although it’s one of the busiest and biggest airports, you can navigate it if you really need to. It often has the best deals, since it has more flights coming in and out, and there are easy shuttle options from LAX to the Disneyland resort area. If you are looking for the most flight options, in terms of direct flights, flight times and best prices, check this airport out.

Ontario International Airport (ONT):

The Ontario airport is about an hours drive from Disneyland, so it is one I only consider if the rates are great. However, if you do find great flight prices for this airport, it may be worth it. It is a smaller airport, and shuttles might be harder to grab (unless it is going to your hotel), but still definitely worth considering if the price is right.

San Diego International Airport (SAN):

Obviously, you wouldn’t want to fly into the San Diego International Airport if you’re just planning on traveling to Disneyland while on your vacation. However, this is a great airport to fly into if you find a great deal and want to add on a few nights in San Diego as part of your vacation. San Diego has theme parks like Legoland and Sea World, so is a fun option if you have more planned for your vacation than just Disneyland.

If you do end up finding good flight deals, I would recommend booking them as soon as possible. Flight prices can change multiple times within the same hour!

Driving to Disneyland 

Driving can be the most economical way to get to Disneyland, depending on where you are coming from. But there are some things to consider when looking at the driving option. Other costs you will want to consider if driving include:

  • Disneyland Parking – will you drive your car to the parks and pay for daily parking, or leave it at your hotel and take one of the modes of transport listed below.
  • How long will it take you to drive, and will you require additional hotel stays for the trip or time off work & school (and how does adding that cost in compare to flight costs).
  • Parking at your hotel – is there a fee for this (or can you find a hotel deal that includes parking). Here are some options with free parking & more freebies in the area!
  • You can find directions to Disneyland here.

*** Pro Tip for Saving on Gas 

If you plan to drive, gas will be one of your biggest transportation costs.

Here is one trick we use to save on gas for Disneyland trips:

Buy Disney Gift cards during a rewards offer at one of your local grocery stores and use them for food or other costs while at the park, but earn extra gas discounts. You will need to research to see if they have gas stations on your route once you leave your home state, but it can really help on those gas costs with some careful planning. For example when. Safeway runs a get 4x the gas rewards on gift card purchases, so you can get 4x the amount of points towards a gas discounts for whatever you spend on Disney gift cards. My family was able to save $1 per gallon off each fill up with a little careful planning during one of our road trips down using this method.

Getting From the Airport to Disneyland:

So now that you’ve landed, what’s next? You’ll want to find a reliable and highly rated transportation service to get you to and from the airport. Whether you reserve it in advance or want to worry about it once you get there, here is a list of reputable options you can choose from below.

It is important to note that not all of these options may be available at all airports listed above, but for the most part they should be at the top 3. If you are looking for what the specific transportation options from each airport are, Disney has a good resource to check out here.

Wondering if you need a rental car for a Disneyland trip? I would say that depends on if you plan to do anything else in the Southern California area, or if you will strictly be visiting the Disneyland resort. If you are sticking close to the Disneyland resort area, then there is no need. There are many transportation options to get around, and much of it is walkable. If you plan to venture outside the Disneyland resort area, then you may want a rental car (note you will need to plan for parking costs if you do this).

Karmel Shuttle Disneyland Service:

The Karmel Shuttle Disneyland service option, is our favorite shuttle pick. I love using Karmel Shuttle Service because they tailor everything to you. Instead of waiting for other shuttle services to make their rounds, Karmel Shuttle is always on time to pick you up. Although you do need to make a reservation for this shuttle at least 72 hours in advance, they’ll actually track your flight to see what time you’ll land. In addition to this, Karmel Shuttle is also available to pick you up/drop you off at any Anaheim area hotel for the ultimate convenience. Looking for a private shuttle? You can book either a shared or private shuttle, depending on what’s best for you and your family.

Looking for Karmel Shuttle coupons? Check out Get Away Todays discounts on all Karmel Shuttle Services, so you can save you both money and time.

Find Current Rates for Karmel Shuttle Disneyland Service Options Here

Disneyland Resort Express:

Sadly the Disneyland Resort Express has been discontinued. We know many people have heard about this option, so we want to make sure everyone knows it is no longer in service, and the next best alternative in our opinion is the Karmel Shuttle Disneyland Service, if you are looking for a great shuttle option.

Uber & Lyft:

Uber and Lyft are both great options for transportation, especially if you didn’t reserve a service in advance. Although they are different companies, it’s all the same, so feel free to use whichever one you feel more comfortable with. A majority of the time you can find promo codes online that will give you a free ride or $15 off your first one, so be sure to be on the lookout for those to save some extra cash. To use either of these services, you’ll need to download the prospective apps. Once you do, it will ask you to create an account and input your card information. After this, you’ll want to input your current location, the location you need to go to and what type of vehicle you need (this will depend on how . many passengers you have with you.). Once you do this, the app will search for the closest driver in your area and notify them to come pick you up. I’ve found that even with a tip, this is the most economical option, especially if you split the total with someone else.

Two things I would mention about using ride share options to Disneyland or nearby:

  • The first is that if you are grabbing a ride share from a nearby airport to your hotel, note that they are usually required to have their pick up areas away from the main transportation hubs of the airports. So you will want to be sure to research that ahead of time and know where y ou are going.
  • The second is that if you are using them to get from the parks to your hotel or someplace else, I highly recommend grabbing one before the parks close. Once you get close to park closing time, it can get pretty chaotic. I have never personally used one from Disneyland, but we did from Universal last year and it was not a fun experience. The crowds were large, and they hiked prices up, and it took forever to get a ride for us. We ended up grabbing a taxi and saved over Uber in these circumstances, so do your research ahead of time on this.


Taxis are often a convenient option, but usually not the cheapest. However, they are typically easy to locate at any airport, and quick to get into and heading to your destination.

The other thing to consider here is that you will be paying a metered rate, vs per person. So for my family of 4, it was not much more to grab a taxi than it was a shared shuttle for your latest trip. Taxi rates will flucuate based on the time of day (so if it is rush hour traffic it will take you longer to get there, and you will pay more – vs the fixed rate of a shuttle).

Disneyland Monorail

The Disneyland Monorail has been in operation since 1959….it is a classic Disneyland experience in its own right!

Transportation Options Once You Are On Site at (or near) Disneyland

Once you are on the Disneyland Resort property, transportation becomes very easy. Everything here is in walking distance, but there are some options to help you get around easier too.

Disneyland Main Transportation Center –

This is the area you will want to know about if you plan to park at Disneyland. Note that Disneyland parking can reach capacity during busy seasons, and it is not cheap to park at Disneyland. So if you have the option to take a shutle in or uber in, we recommend that. But if not, here are a couple of good tips about parking at Disneyland.

You can get:

  • Get 3 hours of free parking at the Downtown Disney lot with a minimum $20 purchase from Downtown Disney locations
  • 5 hours of free parking with validation from any Downtown Disney table-service restaurant or AMC Theatres

Shuttle service is offered at the Toy Story Parking Lot to transport guests from the lot to the park entrance.

Disneyland Drop Off Area

If you have someone in the area to drop you off (and save on parking or shuttle service), you will find Disneyland Drop off Areas to do so. Follow the signs to the drop-off area in the Simba Lot for 15-minutes of free parking.

You can also find an additional drop-off area on the east side of the resort off of Harbor Boulevard.

Disneyland Monorail

Once on property, you might wonder about what transportation options there are to get around. The Disneyland Monorail is the best option to get from Downtown Disney to the Disneyland park.

The Disneyland Monorail runs from the beginning of Downtown Disney (just across from the Earl of Sandwich area) to Tomorrowland in Disneyland. It can be a great option if you want to get into Disneyland from the Disneyland resorts, or if you are parking and walking into Downtown Disneyland.

The monorail route is a 2.5-mile route and take about 13 minutes for the round trip journey. You will find that the monorail runs approximately every 10 mintues. It is also a nice alternative to skip the main gate area and lines, if you are staying at a Disney resort, or will be in the Downtown Disney area. You will need theme park tickets to ride it (and they will scan them before they let you in). Many kids also love to ride in that front car, and you might have to wait for an extra train or two if that is important to your family.

Disneyland Hotels – On Property Options

In terms of getting from your hotel to Disneyland, the simplest option is to staying on property: We share more about that in our Disneyland Hotels article, if you want to know more about each property and how to access the parks from them.

disneyland train

Hotels With Shuttle to Disneyland:

Outside of staying at hotels in walking distance to Disneyland, staying at hotels with free shuttle to Disneyland is the next best option. Plus, many of these will be much more affordable, and often the shuttles are super convenient too.

When looking at hotels with shuttle to Disneyland there are generally two options. The first is that the hotel provides a free shuttle service (often their own hotel van or bus) and the second is a paid shuttle service, like the Art bus we mention below. Both are generally great options, but I would encourage you not to just assume the free shuttle service is superior. The Art is often very affordable (can sometimes be added into package deals) and it is usually very predictable and convenient. Free shuttle services (ones that are based on your hotels own private service) will vary from really great to not so great, depending on your hotel.

Of course, you’ll ideally want to choose a hotel that is close enough to the park that you can walk. However if you happen to have a hotel that’s farther away, don’t fret! The city of Anaheim has so many transportation options to choose from, that you’ll be at the Disneyland Resort in no time. Below, I’ve listed some of my favorite ways to get around below.

Taking the Art Shuttle To Disneyland

ART Shuttle To Disneyland (Anaheim Resort Transit) 

Not only does it partner with a majority of the Anaheim hotels, but it also travels to Anaheim locations other than Disneyland. Want to go to the Packing District, Knott’s Berry Farm or an Anaheim Angels game? The ART Shuttle can take you there. While it might take a little bit of planning, you can easily plan . your stops to get where you need to go.

We used the Get Away Today 5-day passes mentioned below, on our last trip to Disneyland, as we stayed at a Disney Good Neighbor hotel. It was really convenient as the Art ran from our hotel to Disneyland and back every half hour, so it was very convenient to plan around.

***Pro Tips for Saving on the ART Tickets:

  • Get Away Today offers discounted shuttle prices where you can get a 5-Day unlimited shuttle pass
    for the price of 3, or a 7-Day unlimited shuttle pass for the price of 5. The best part? Kids ride FREE with a paying adult.

Find Current Rates for the Art Shuttle Here

As you can see, getting to and from the Disneyland Resort is easier than ever before. If you’re looking to plan your next Disneyland vacation, make sure you book with Get Away Today. With discount tickets, hotel specials and a flexible Layaway Plan, you’re bound to have the best vacation yet! To book, visit getawaytoday.com or call 855-GET-AWAY to speak to a travel expert directly. Don’t forget to mention promo code ThriftyNW for an additional $10 off your vacation package. Let them know that Thrifty Northwest Mom sent you!

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