Family Vacations to Disneyland

Arrow Discover more

Disneyland – Family Vacation Guide

In its 60-plus year history the Disneyland Resort has grown to a 500-acre, world-famous, multi-day, family vacation destination and the Disneyland Park is one of the most visited theme parks on the planet.

Why Go on Vacation to Disneyland

  • When it opened Walt Disney noted, “Disneyland will never be completed…as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

  • The park is constantly adding new attractions such as Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! that opened in May, 2017.

  • Disney fans now eagerly await the addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge scheduled to debut in 2019.

What to Do

The Disneyland Resort includes two theme parks, three resort hotels and the Downtown Disney entertainment/shopping/dining complex. To get you started, here’s a helpful overview of the major theme parks and attractions.

Disneyland Park

The original Disney park designed by Walt Disney and his team of Imagineers, Disneyland opened July 17, 1955. Disneyland occupies 85 beautiful acres and contains eight themed lands centered around the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle. Classic Disneyland attractions include Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Tours, it’s a small world, Indiana Jones Adventure and the Disney “mountain” range – Space Mountain, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. In addition, families can find many meet & greet opportunities with their favorite characters and entertainment options such as “Mickey and the Magical Map,” “Fantasmic!” and the “Remember… Dreams Come True” fireworks spectacular that lights up the sky at the end of each night.

tab image 1

Disney California Adventure Park

This park opened in 2001 and now contains eight lands, including the spectacular Cars Land, offering 35 different rides, attractions and shows as well as dining experiences.  Can’t miss experiences include: Soarin’ Around the World, Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!, Radiator Springs Racers, Toy Story Mania! and the World of Color nighttime water spectacular. Looking for a signature dining experience? Make a reservation for the family inside the Carthay Circle Restaurant.

tab image 2

Downtown Disney District

No admission ticket is required for this vast assortment of strip of shops, restaurants and nightclubs. Here, your family can pick up a souvenir they missed at the park, dine at one of the many excellent restaurants, or relax and catch a film at the multiplex cinema. Among the different shopping venues are the World of Disney store (one of the largest Disney shops in the area), Anna and Elsa’s Boutique and the Wonderground Gallery. Restaurants and eateries offer a wide variety and include Catal, Earl of Sandwich, Sprinkles, ESPN Zone, La Brea Bakery Café, Rainforest Café, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, Tortilla Jo’s and Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria. You will also find a number of engaging street performers throughout the Downtown Disney district, many of which have acts that are truly jaw-dropping in quality due to the proximity to Los Angeles and Hollywood.

tab image 3

Where to Stay

  • “The Happiest Place on Earth” is located in Anaheim, California approximately 45 minutes east of the Los Angeles International Airport.
  • Families looking to stay at Disneyland can book a room at one of the three official Disneyland hotels, or any of the myriad of accommodation options surrounding the resort.
  • Disney’s official hotels include: Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel.
  • Disney has partnered with nearly 50 “good neighbor” hotels, many of which are actually closer to the main entrance gate of Disneyland than the official Disney hotels themselves.

Getting Around

Once families arrive at the Disneyland Resort, they will find that both theme parks and the Downtown Disney District are within walking distance from the three Disney hotels, as well as many of the “good neighbor” properties.  If you’re flying into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), there is the Disneyland Resort Express bus to transfer families to Disneyland and Anaheim area hotels, but there is a separate fee for this bus service. There is also the Anaheim Resort Transit (ART) that provides a reasonably priced shuttle service around the area hotels, convention center and Disneyland attractions.

Dave Parfitt is a reformed academic with a PhD in neuroscience, who began writing about his family travel adventures after surviving a trip to Walt Disney World with his two budding princesses, now ages 19 and 16. As owner and editor of Adventures By Daddy, Dave offers family travel advice and escapist fun from Dad’s point of view.

Get travel news sent to your inbox