When most people think of Disneyland, they think LA. The resort is actually located in Anaheim, about half an hour south of LA, and a much more convenient place to base yourself if you’re planning on spending more than a day in the parks (or want to explore a different area!).
How to get there: On my last trip, I caught the train from Union Station in LA straight down to Anaheim. It took half an hour, and even with my ginormous suitcase I didn’t have any issues. I paid $25 for my one-way first class ticket, with a student discount. I believe it’s about $18 for a non-student ticket in economy. Once I got to Anaheim, I caught an Uber to my hotel, which was about an extra $6.
On my way back, I was heading to LAX so I grabbed a SuperShuttle shared ride, which was $20 including a tip. There are a number of other ways, including bus tours and other private ride services, but as a solo traveler and value for money you’d be hard pressed to find a better way to do it.
Where to stay: Unless you’re looking to burn money (or for an extra special occasion), I would straight up recommend avoiding the Disney Hotels. They’re outrageously expensive and don’t give you a significant location advantage to the numerous other hotels in the area (unlike the case at Disney World, where you almost have to stay on-site).
On my first trip to Anaheim with my family, we stayed at a Holiday Inn. It wasn’t walking distance, but for a small fee you can catch the Anaheim Resort Transport buses (ART) which take you straight to the Disney gates.
This trip, I stayed at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel, which set me back around $115USD a night. They offer a free shuttle to and from the park every half hour, but it’s an easy fifteen minute walk from the main gates. Depending on the time of year you’re going and how far in advance you’re booking, you can get a bunch of deals around this price.
What to do: The obvious activity is Disneyland. I like spending at least three days in the area so I can see everything and not feel rushed. On the advice of a friend, I bought my tickets through aRes travel which saves you about $20 a ticket.
You have to be tactical about a visit to Disney, and plan your Must Sees in advance. As I’ve previously mentioned, if you’re there alone or don’t mind being split from your party, solo rider lines can be a HUGE time saver. Otherwise, strategically plan your Fast Passes (which are completely free, and just require you to put your ticket into a machine to get your return time) ensuring you get the most popular rides as soon as you arrive at the park. Rides like Radiator Springs Racers (which is a lot more fun than I imagined!) run out of fast passes quite quickly, and can have queues well over an hour long, so that’s one of the ones you’d want to rush and get. You can only get one Fast Pass at a time, however there is a small crossover window right before your time to redeem the pass where you can grab a new one. I would definitely do this before using your existing one to further cut down on times. Other than that, think about how much you want to see parades and fireworks (people start queuing for these hours in advance), and which characters you want to meet (if any) so you can make time to slot those in when needed.
My friends have been trying to get me into Ice Hockey (sorry…”hockey”) for a while now, so I took the opportunity to catch the Anaheim Ducks play a match while I was there in November. Tickets weren’t too expensive (although food and drink inside the venue was, but that’s a universal issue), and the venue is easy to get to and it’s a great atmosphere. Something to look into if you’ll be there during the hockey season!
When she was in Anaheim, my mum also loved outlet shopping (although this was back when the Aussie dollar was a lot stronger against the greenback), which is a definite time-killer if you have someone in your group who isn’t majorly into theme parks, or to take a bit of a break.
Where to eat: I’m as much of a fan at eating inside of the Disney parks as the next person, but there’s only so many churros, turkey legs, and corndogs a person can eat (I mean, there are many other dining options, but these three are everywhere). If you’re looking to save a bit of money, across the road from the main gate of the parks are a bunch of places to eat like McDonalds, Denny’s, and iHop. It’ll save you a bit of money, allow you to rest your feet, and also use some wi-fi (as they don’t have any in the parks themselves). It’s literally two minutes walking distance, so if you don’t mind diner or fast food, it’s an option to keep in mind. I also got a big brunch at iHop on my full day at the park, which allowed me to combine the cost of two meals into one, and left me full for most of my visit.