So I know I have a lot of content around Disneyland and making the most of your trip. But I wanted to put something together specifically for Aussies making their way ALL THE WAY across the Pacific. You want to really get it right if you’re gonna spend all that money and go ALL that way.
Unlike those lucky Californians who get discounted annual passes and can visit the Happiest Place on Earth every single day if they desire. Us Aussies need to make the most of it because who knows if you’ll ever get back again!
So here are my top tips for planning that first magical trip, including accommodation, ticketing, plans for each day and how to really maximise everything you see and do!!
Do Your Research
As soon as that thought pops into your mind and you have got Disneyland on the brain, start doing your research.
If you are flexible on when you can go, then use this time to find deals and specials to save on cost.
If you’re determined to go at a specific time, possibly peak like Halloween or Christmas – that is even more reason to plan because it is gonna be BUSYYYYY and expensive. LOL – no sugar coating.
There are hundreds of blogs, Pinterest posts and accounts out there dedicated to helping you – us Disney addicts are a cult!
Pop alerts on airlines for the dates you want to go to Disneyland. Speak with travel agents and shop around online booking sites for deals and cashback offers.
The more you plan, the more you will save and maximise your park experience! It’s not one to wing first time, trust me!
Thankfully from the east coast of Australia, getting to LA is one direct flight if you want. Around 14-16 hours depending on winds and direction.
There are always great specials running too, so it pays to check all the airlines and set up alerts as I mentioned before.
My personal preference for flying, especially with a family is Qantas. They are amazing when flying with kids and if you have Qantas Club, the lounge is a lifesaver on long haul flights.
If you are a frequent flyer member too, I like to save my points for longer flights like this to put in for upgrades, as it’s nice to have the comfort of business on the overnight legs.
I find their flight cost really competitive too, with regular specials to California. We have travelled both in the summer months and winter and got flights less than $900 return.
If you’re thinking of heading to Disneyland anytime soon, I’d sign up for your Frequent Flyer membership so you can start earning those points (your kids too, here).
But you can always apply for the points after a trip as well and have 6 months to do so.
Where to Stay
Like I mentioned above, if you’re going all this way you want to make the most of it. My suggestion would always be to stay onsite at a Disney hotel because the perks are really great for getting the most out of the parks.
The Grand Californian is my prefered hotel as it has direct entry to California Adventure Park.
A HUGE time saver on busy days and even better when you have Magic Hour. You can skip lines and crowds and easily get to the bigger rides early.
You can also select a package that includes The Verandah, which is an absolute lifesaver when you have kids. Also, a great way to save on food.
It is basically a self-serve kiosk with nibbles and snacks all day long. We would come here for brekkie, lunch and dinner and the kids love just being able to snack on fresh fruits and veg or sandwiches, rather than big meals all the time.
It was also handy to be able to come in and out of the parks so easy when we needed a break or nap. Either with kids or without 😉
When booking on site I would recommend speaking to an agent because they often have access to great deals and discounts specifically for Aussies, which can also include ticket packages.
Or check directly online for any specials.
If staying onsite isn’t possible, there are plenty of options close by the park. My suggestion would be to compare online booking sites.
Check for deals and cashback offers on places like Expedia or Booking.com and compare the ShopBack or Cash Rewards offers.
Here is a list of the top 10 hotels on Booking.com around Disneyland.
If you’re going to be offsite, you want to take advantage of having a bit more space and head to the local Walmart to stock up.
Food offerings outside the park weren’t super exciting. But plenty of places to stock up, and amenities like laundromats.
This is an important one, especially for Aussies coming so far!
Firstly, you need to decide how long you wanna spend there. My suggestion for first-timers is AT LEAST 4 days, two days per park.
It can be overwhelming that first time in the park and you loose so much timing walking around and getting your bearings.
Personally I would get a 10 Day Pass, and take advantage of the other great things in the Anaheim area and give yourself lots of flexibility.
Anything over a 3-day ticket will give you access to the early magic hour, so I would say this is the minimum.
Magic hour, even just on one morning is LIFE CHANGING. On each of the mornings we used it we managed to get on around 5-6 rides, and even rode some multiple times without getting off!
I also suggest getting the Park Hopper tickets. This allows you to enter both parks on the same day. It means you can have fast passes for different rides and plan your days better based on lines or whats going on in each park.
There is currently an offer for Australia or New Zealand Residents, buy a 4-Day Park Hopper Ticket for the price of a 3-Day Park Hopper Ticket.
If at all possible, I would suggest the 10-day ticket. Allowing you the flexibility to come and go as you please and get some other sites in around the area. Have rest days and really take in the Disneyland experience!
Like I said if you’re coming all that way, make the most of it!
Food & Drink
There are so many options for places to eat at Disneyland. And they cater exceptionally well to any dietary requirements or allergies.
I would suggest mapping out some of the most appealing places in the parks and Downtown Disney before you go, so at least you have some idea on where to go when you get in.
If you are staying onsite with Verandah access, then you will almost always have access to nibbles and drinks throughout the day. And I would stock up on cans of drink and snacks to take with you to the park.
If you are staying offsite, then I suggest heading to the local Walmart or convenience store and stocking up on a few essentials.
Eating out gets expensive on any trip, however, the dollar is at an all-time low. And has been going this way over the last few years, so it isn’t something likely to correct overnight.
In saying that, there are a few musts when visiting Disneyland. Including Mickey waffles, pretzels and you MUST book at least one character breakfast.
I have done both Napa Rose and Storytellers, both within Grand Californian hotel. And I hear wonderful things about Plaza Inn.
You can book this in advance, and I suggest as far ahead as possible to make sure you get the date and time you would like.
You might not also know that you can use the app to order from anywhere in the park and take your receipt to the collection counter to collect. A big time saver.
Plan Out Your Days
This is critical to getting the most out of your trip. From what park you go to first to which rides and how you board them!!
As I mentioned before, if you have Early Magic Hour – then use it. Get on as many rides as you can with little to no lines.
Take on the most popular rides first like Incredicoaster, Guardians, Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Soarin’ and the new Star Wars – Millenium Falcon Smugglers Run.
The best way to work out your best order of attack is via the app and wait times listed.
You will also need to get a digital boarding pass for Rise of Resistance. This can only be done at park open time, not during EMH.
For more on that, you can check out my IG post here.
After EMH, it is every man for himself and the best way to plan out your day is with FastPasses and rides with smaller ques in between.
How To Use The FastPass System
This is a common question I get. And I understand why, as it differs from park to park.
At Disneyland California, there are two ways to use them:
- Traditional Paper Passes: You go to the ride and get a physical ticket that has a return time for your Fast Pass. You can get one of these every two hours, and you need your original ticket to do this. You cannot do it with a digital ticket.
- Via the Disneyland App with MaxPass: If you have the Disneyland App and get a MaxPass for the day you can book your FastPass via the app (all digital no physical ticket needed). MaxPass is $20 USD per ticket, per day. It also gives you any photos taken in the park by the official photographer without watermarks on that day. You can also get a FastPass every 90 minutes using this system (unless your return time is earlier)
If you have a large family or you are staying multiple days then it’s not really cost-effective to do this every day. I would choose a busy day, maybe the weekend, and use it to get on all the bigger rides.
Be strategic and leave the smaller rides with shorter lines for standby.
Use Single Rider, Rider Switch & Buddy Pass Lines
The single rider line is amazing. Especially if you’ve ridden the rides before and just want to get a few extra goes in. Great for parents who want to take it in turns as well. Kids over 7 can use single rider also.
Rider Switch is for parents to take it in turns, let them know as you go up. This is available even if there is no single rider line.
There is also Buddy Pass on both Toy Story Midway Mania and Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue. This works similar but you can actually go with a friend, it’s to fill up empty rows!
These are not advertised and don’t have a separate line, you need to go to the attendant and ask. A hot little tip!
Suggested Order For Rides
I would also note, you can search “single rider” on the Disneyland app and it will tell you which ones have Single Rider lines. It will also tell you what current Fast Pass return time it is giving out.
If the time is beyond the 90-minute window (using MaxPass) or two hours using traditional, you can have more than one Fast Pass at a time.
|Disneyland Park||California Adventure Park|
|Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run|
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
|Radiator Springs Racers (FP seems to run our pretty quick on this ride)|
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout
Toy Story Midway Mania
Soarin’ Around The World
Everything beyond these usually doesn’t have a line over 20-30 minutes or don’t offer FastPass anyway.
If you are after more handy tips on how to tackle the parks I have dozens of more blogs you can check out.
I hope these tips have been handy in planning out your first Disneyland trip. And if you have any other questions, do not hesitate to ask!
And don’t forget to ask for your free “first visit” badge from any guest relations kiosk in the park to keep as a memento from your trip!
In 2018, we took out a family of 4 over for a total cost of $12,000. This also included 3 days in Palm Springs and 2 in San Diego.
Depending on your accommodation selection, it is not unreasonable to take get your family over to Los Angeles, and spend 4-5 days at Disneyland for under $10,000.
As well as some good strategic planning round fights and tickets, staying vigilant for sales and offers.
You can check out my travel budget blog, with our entire Disneyland family trip budget here.