DL first timer

Recently DH and I have been thinking of doing a trip to Disneyland instead of Disney World. We have never been to DLC, and it would probably be a one-time thing, since I just prefer Florida in general. But I think it would be really cool to try the DL version of rides. Plus there are rides there that WDW doesn’t have that look like a lot of fun! The Cars track ride (sorry, I don’t know the name of it), the Matterhorn, Indiana Jones, etc.
I have been to California once before, around the Long Beach area. DH has been to the LA area several times. I’m not sure if we’d visit just Disneyland while there or if we’d do some stuff on the side as well.
So, questions!

  1. How many days should we plan for in the parks?
    Think of it as the only time we’ll ever visit. I know it’s smaller than WDW, but we want to be able to experience everything and repeat our favorites. I was looking at tickets though… are you only allowed to buy 5 days??
  2. What time of year is best to visit?
    I prefer lower crowds, not too hot as I get heat stroke easily, and cheaper is always a plus.
  3. Would we need a car or could we get by with Uber/Lyft? It would just be the 2 of us.
  4. Hotel recommendations?
    Typically I would prefer to stay onsite. I know DL is more expensive for the on-site hotels, but if it’s worth the benefits, I’d be willing to save up.
  5. Any other advice or recommendations?

This trip probably won’t happen for a few years. We plan to go back to WDW first. So there is lots of time to save money and plan ahead.


Oh boy.

cracks knuckles

Let’s do this thing!

DLR is amazing in it’s own right, smaller, but no less mighty…especially for nostalgia.

My family doesn’t like crowds or extreme heat either, so we usually aim for in between the holidays. Nov/early December.

We stay across the street on Harbor Blvd or on property, Harbor is really close and if you do it right, you can walk to the entrance to the parks. Staying on property, the Grand Californian has a direct entrance into DCA. Doesn’t get much closer than that!

Radiator Springs Racers is SO much fun! Easily my family’s favorite. I grew up with Matterhorn so it has a place in my heart above EE at WDW.

The two parks are so vastly different. DL is more attraction focused whereas I find I do a lot of walking around looking at things at DCA. A week is more than enough time to do both parks adequately.

Food, so many options. That can go into a post all it’s own.

AP’s have been stopped indefinitely while they try a new pass program. There were too many SoCal AP’s who would go in every day and not buy anything (supposedly). They ratcheted up crowds and scared off people who don’t like to be packed in like sardines. Not sure what will happen in the next couple of years though. Good call on waiting a bit, with Avengers Campus opening, it’s going to be pretty packed for a while.


Oh! Also, big difference between HM, Pirates and Small World from WDW…I won’t ruin it, but you should try to do those too!

Blue Bayou is DL’s version of San Angel Inn. New Orleans’s type food but I go for the atmosphere (and the Mint Juleps!)


Oh how exciting! There are many of us who are die hard Disneyland fanatics that are going to LOVE answering any and all of your questions. I will try and answer as thoroughly as possible, but I know that if I miss something someone on here will fill it in.

  1. I would do no less that 3 days, but could easily fill 5 days! For a one and done, I think I would do four or five. You are very close to Knott’s Berry Farm, another local amusement park. I have never been, but it is on my list to try. If you are want to extend your trip, it could be an option. Because the parks are smaller and much closer together, there is not much need for more than five days. I personally have never gone longer that 3 days in the parks at any one time, but I would love to go for longer!

  2. I love Halloween and Christmas time at the parks. If going at either of these times, you can experience the Haunted Mansion Nightmare Before Christmas overlay, which is something cool and different. I personally prefer the traditional HM, but I know I am in the minority. At halloween time that decor is very cool and GotG has an evening only overlay called Monsters after Dark. At chrismas, IASW has the most incredible overlay and is an afterdark must do for me. If I had to pick one, I would say christmas. You will for sure get the cooler weather and the amazing ambiance. You can get somewhat lower crowds after Thanksgiving until mid December. Once schools start letting out, all bets are off.

3.You should be fine without a car. We drive to DL and never use it until we leave. Even if you choose to go to Knott’s, you can use their bus system easily to get there.

  1. It is unknown what the future holds for “on-site” perks, but you can stay at Hotels as close and in some cases, closer than the “on-site” properties. The one exception is GCH. I counted steps from our room to the Hotel entrance and it was 37 one time and 48 another. You pay $$$ for that real estate though! I personally love the DLH. I feel like I am at a resort and on vacation. DH and I love to grab coffee and explore the grounds and all the lobbies and check out the different exhibits. It has been a few years since I stayed at PPH, but it is the cheapest of the 3 and the furthest as well. Go on touringplans YouTube and watch the walk throughs of the different hotels to see what works for you. Just incase check out some of the offsite hotels as well incase the perks don’t justify the cost for you. My husband is spoiled and will only stay onsite. When I go without him, I usually stay offsite. I prefer hands down the onsite experience, but can afford to go more if I stay offsite.

  2. I have tons, but I will wait until I know what the new normal is going to be and then answer this.


Thank you so much for the lovely summary! I think 7 days sounds decent. If we could only do 5 days, I’m sure that would be enough. If AP’s returned, I would consider buying to allow for 7 days in the parks. We could always sight-see nearby to fill up extra days… or just relax!

Yes I will want to compare all rides that have WDW vs DL variations! The only rides I would not go on are any coasters that have upside down sections like the Incredibles ride, right? I don’t know if there are any others. Plus I could ride Mr Toad’s!! I miss that ride, as it was a childhood fav in WDW!


I’m glad to know 5 days is plenty! It will mean that departure and arrival days could be resort days or offsite days. Thanks for pointing out Knott’s! We watch Ordinary Adventure on YouTube and their trips to Knott’s look like a fun little day trip!

So is Nov/Dec typically the best time to go? I usually avoid the holiday months to see lower crowds. But if it’s the best time, then we could make it work! I think holiday overlays are cool, but we’d probably want to experience the original versions if possible.

I’m so relieved there are good transportation options. The one time I visited Long Beach, my Mom rented a car and it was some of the worst traffic and my Mom drives aggressively so I was constantly car-sick. Of course, my Mom won’t be coming with us, but I just have a bad association with driving in CA now lol.

Wow GCH is CLOSE! That would feel amazing! It’s like double the cost of the Paradise Pier. I’ll take a look though at all the hotels and compare :smiley:


Following b/c I’ve also not been to DL.

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Also, do I need to be concerned about Wildfire season when visiting Disneyland? From what I understand, DL is far enough from the typical fire areas to not be a concern?

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I will also say that Knott’s is fun around the holidays with various craft fairs and baking treats.

I took my family there for a day during our last trip and we were all very surprised at the rides. Less Disney/family friendly and more thrill which isn’t our schtick. We ended up doing the log ride and the mine car that’s right next to it…and that’s it. DH didn’t go on either. Most everything else was Snoopy toddler-esque or upside down/straight drops.

For both of you, maybe look into a few videos to see if it’s worth it to you. DH ended up finding a museum tour he liked and we spent most of our time there wandering Ghost Town. Then we bailed back to Disneyland for the night.

Sentiments were that they liked it with a promise to return to see it during the Christmas season, but for rides we’re still firmly a Disney family. (we were there the week of/after Halloween and they were still trying to switch everything over)

Funny enough Barb, you were just mentioning Grad Night, Knott’s was where mine was.


My grad night was at Disney and I feel like my boys are missing out! Okay, really I am missing out b/c since they were little, I have been wanting to go as their chaperone :disappointed_relieved:


Hmmm, I think I’d have similar disappointment with the rides then at Knott’s. I will do research beforehand like you said and make sure it’s worth a day’s time. Are there any other nearby tourist spots or places to see that we could easily Uber to?

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I wanted mine to be at Disney too! We were literally one town over…it made no sense…but it is what it is. I’m sorry you won’t get that experience.

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Like @Ms.BarbsWildRide, I’ve never really done more than three days at a time at DLR. It’s totally do-able in three days, but if it’s a once in a lifetime trip, I would definitely do 5 days. I don’t know that you’d need longer than that. So much at DLR is superior (in my opinion) than the equivalent ride at WDW! I even love the castle more even though it is much smaller. Incredicoaster is the only upside down ride, so that’s the only one you’ll need to skip.

I also agree with @Ms.BarbsWildRide that I prefer original HM to the holiday overlay. But Christmas at DLR is amazing. I love the parade, the castle lighting, the IASW overlay/lighting, etc. And the time in early November or early December/post Thanksgiving is usually a lighter crowd level.

My DD18 is campaigning for a DLR trip this summer! We were supposed to go in April 2020. We haven’t gone this long with out DLR since we first started going yearly in 2014.


Thank you! I’m glad Incredicoaster is the only one I’ll need to skip. I can watch DH go on it once or twice :slight_smile:

Haha, I often hear people say DL versions are superior. I will be the judge of that! Of course, I will admit it if that is indeed the case :wink:


Splash was my only exception to that.


Don’t get me wrong. I still love WDW, but I have all the emotional ties to DLR. First visit at age 4 or 5 in probably 1970-ish! Distinct memories of Pirates. Vague memories of Tea Cups.


Well I’m not a fan of Splash. I was forced on it as a kid. I enjoyed it until the drop at the end, but I hated the drop so much that I never wanted to go on it. I just had to go since my family wanted to. I think DH would love to compare them though! Maybe he will get to see the original WDW Splash before the refurb.

Of course!! I think whichever one you grow up with will probably always be the favorite!

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We have more than a few DLR converts. Calling you @qwerty6!


Haha well I promise I will admit it if I’m converted :wink: but I’m a stubborn one for WDW! :smiley: