Preliminary Planning for a first time Disneyland tour from a proficient Disney World guest

So my first inclination was to start a reservation for this coming May. I want to spend a day at each park unless you all recommend something else. I logged on to the reservation page and had some sticker shock at the price of the on-property hotels. Is this normal? is it necessary to stay on property for the real perks like in Orlando? Does someone have a guide or anything for my position? I am sure I am not the first to make this jump.

Thanks for any help,
bj32482

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Prepare to be wowed.

I’d go for two days at each park minimum, if you can spare it.

You can stay off property. We were miles off property and it was fine. @Wahoohokie @Jeff_AZ @lolabear_la and many others (I can’t remember names to tag - Miss Barb’s wild ride what is your screen name? @Ms.BarbsWildRide found you…phew. can help with hotels.

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If you’re experiencing sticker shock, I highly recommend staying off site. There are plenty of hotels on Harbor or Katella that are within walking distance and totally doable.

Do you have young kids? What is your party like?

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I would plan 4 days minimum, 2 at each park. We recently went for 4.5 days and even though crowds were fairly low, we wanted more time there.
The 3 onsite hotels are quite expensive, that is the norm. I love staying onsite (especially the Disneyland Hotel), but there are few perks these days. Early entry has not restarted or been announced as returning, there will be no onsite advantage with Genie Plus and the add on options (unlike at WDW), and the walk from DLH and Paradise Pier is longer than many of the cheaper hotel options on Harbor Blvd. We do stay within a block north or block south of the crosswalk (right by Park Vue Inn) when we stay offsite, any further walk than that, or needing to use transport of some kind to the parks kind of defeats the purpose of how close everything is at DLR for us.
I do recommend staying onsite for special and/or one time only visits, especially if you are used to the bubble in Orlando. The bubble can be mostly maintained this way. If offsite, just know that the real world hits you right in the face as you leave the DLR gates and cross Harbor Blvd. You may see homeless sleeping, people trying to sell you things, and cast members going to and from work in full costume. If any of these things bother you, onsite is a great choice. Most of us DL fans here are not bothered by these things enough to pay the crazy prices onsite every trip. We probably stay onsite one out of every 5 trips I’d say.

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Hi! I’ve been planning my first Disneyland trip since 2019 that’s still COVID delayed. However, I just rebooked yesterday! I can probably help, even though I haven’t gone yet.

OMG!! Yes! A minimum of $450 for DLH and $600 for GCH hotel.

You can, obviously, buy the Touring Plans unofficial guides. However, just hang out here and ask questions. There are also a handful of Vloggers on YouTube I found helpful when I first started. Here are a few I like:

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It doesn’t really matter, since the extra hours aren’t back but I don’t believe it was tied to good neighbor hotels. Maybe it changed, but when I was there in Sep 2019 the Magic Morning hour was available to anyone with a 3+ day ticket. You could choose one morning (or Tue/Thur/Sat) to enter DLR one hour early. Extra Morning Hour was available to all onsite guests. Again Tue/Thur/Sat for DLR but also Mon/Wed/Fri/Sun for DCA.

Getting in an hour early every day is a significant perk, but I ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the price. Honestly not sure how they’re drawing any guests without it.

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All of this is correct.

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Where do you like to stay at WDW? What is your preferred price point?

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I also just booked my first trip since 2019 yesterday. After an excessive amount of research and indecision, I went with the family suite at Camelot. There’s not many reviews out there for the renovated rooms, but I decided to roll the dice.

As someone used to WDW hotels, the ability to get from your (affordable!) room to the park gates in a matter of minutes is a game changer. With a toddler in the mix, this made our entire trip much more manageable than our 2018 WDW onsite experience.

One example… I stayed in the park one afternoon while my wife took our soon back to the room at BW Park Place. Exactly ten minutes after leaving the room they had found me on Main Street.

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When are you going? I go at the end of October and we are staying at Camelot. I have stayed at Tropicana (it is right nextdoor and is their sister property) and was pleased with the room.

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Here are some of my other lessons learned as a DL newbie.

  1. The crowd flow is much different than at WDW parks. The much higher percentage of APs meant the normal evening lull did not happen. Some of the biggest crowds we saw all day were after dark. That said, it really depends on the evening entertainment.
  2. Also related to AP holders, people are not afraid to get their parade spots HOURS in advance. I think many of them were just there to see the parade (Main St Electrical at that time), hang out with friends/family, and have some snacks. So no real downside to sitting on the curb early.
  3. Those crowds can also lead to much longer lines than predicted in the areas near the entertainment. The line for Pooh was crazy before Fantasmic. Similar issue at Monsters Inc between showings of Frozen. Touring Plans does not take this type of thing into account.
  4. Don’t make our mistake of procrastinating on the Railroad. That was one of my “must do” attractions, but we waited and then ran into offline issues and parade delays our last day.
  5. Single rider lines are generally faster than FP.
  6. Character lines can be VERY slow moving, and longer than posted. Spiderman in particular.
  7. However we had a few great impromptu interactions with characters. Seemed much more “tv commercial” like. Though this may be highly dependent on having an adorable 3 year old with you. :blush:
  8. Gates only opened ~15 minutes before scheduled park opening. This probably varies based on expected crowds though, as I have heard 30 minutes or more.
  9. Fewer Photopass photographers than at WDW. Again could be due to being there in a down time.
  10. Galactic Grill is terrible. Though they did have a special “Darth by Chocolate Parfait” that was delicious.
  11. Avoid Peter Pan at rope drop unless you’re in the front of the pack. Especially if extra hours return. You’re better off taking advantage of short lines elsewhere and penciling in a 30 minute Pan wait later in the day.
  12. I know some hate it, but the swinging version of Pal-A-Round was a blast. My wife was terrified, which my son found hilarious.
  13. Obvious one but don’t miss the rides that aren’t in WDW or are there but not the same (Pirates, Small World, etc).
  14. Speaking of Pirates, I was really looking to Blue Bayou but found it disappointing.
  15. We did enjoy Bengal Barbecue and Pacific Wharf Cafe.
  16. Going back to the higher number of AP holders, the cast members kind of assume most people know what they’re doing. There were a few times we could have used someone directing us. Like in finding the queue at Minnie’s house.
  17. Great Moments with Mr Lincoln is a must-see. I’m a sucker for Disney patriotism though.
  18. If Genie+ works the same as Maxpass, set an alarm for your next booking time. Keep grabbing them throughout the day. From a WDW perspective, it was like you used your three FP+ choices already.
  19. Security is located in a way that allows you to park hop without going through security again. Super easy.
  20. One day at each park seems light. We did 3.5 days our first trip. Bumped it all the way to 5 full days this time. Can’t wait.
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Dec 11-18. This will be my first time seeing any of the Disney parks decorated for Christmas.

Positive reviews for Tropicana helped ease my concerns. I like the idea of watching fireworks from the Camelot pool area if we’re too tired to stay in the park.

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I will update you after we stay at Camelot.

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Man, I always tell people how helpful this website is…You guys are great. I would like to spend less than 150 on the hotel. My family will literally just sleep there…We are all-day action people. We have an 18-year-old and a 12-year-old. Both are used to 30,000 step days at Disney. As for our limited time at Disney, we are actually doing a California trip. We are driving to Monterey Bay, then to San Fransico, and then Yosemite. So a couple of days at Disney is all we can spare. Should we just do the main Disneyland and drop the extra park?

No I’d do a day at each with a 12 and 18 year old. Most of the bigger thrills are at California Adventure. You can probably skip some things at Disneyland that are aimed at younger guests and very nearly identical to WDW. I did just one day Disneyland in 2019 with DD12 and did everything I wanted but Big Thunder (it broke) and Star Tours (which was no biggie as it’s not different). You can get thru it all with a rope drop and good strategy. We didn’t even stay past the fireworks and the park was open till 12am so big Thunder might have come back online and we could have squeezed in Star Tours if we were capable of 8am-12am but it was our last day of three days of going hard and we were both done.

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For hotels under $150 look on Harbor Blvd first. I think we got the Fairmont for about $200/night with taxes. The rates have gone up since though so purchase in advance.

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We are all day action people too and only look for a safe and comfortable place to crash at night (and sometimes midday - though more & more we opt to just rest in the parks to not lose out on the time walking back & forth).

150/night is a rare and excellent price these days in the DLR area. Even for the cheaper motels. That being said, if you book in advance and look for deals, it may be possible. Some of our favorites that can be closer to that price range and are really close to the pedestrian entrance on Harbor are: The Anaheim Hotel, Park Vue Inn & Grand Legacy at the Park. We also will check Fairfield Marriott, Tropicana Inn & Suites, Camelot Inn & Suites but those don’t seem to have had great prices anytime recently. Some that we always consider but haven’t yet tried are Del Sol Inn, the 2 Best Western’s just across the street from the crosswalk. We’ve tried the Castle Inn & Suites once and it was a decent option. I would book it again.

You can also expand your search to hotels in the convention area and can walk to the nearby Toy Story Lot and take the free shuttles to the park from there (they do not care one iota if you actually park there or not). The hotels in this area are generally nicer and so pricier, but you get more bang for your buck in this area. The one we used to stay at frequently was the Sheraton Park (when we had an awesome credit card rewards program for SPG hotels that included this one- we got great rates & used points to upgrade to get their awesome hot bfast included free and/or the club lounge- but I don’t know that we would book their rack rates without the rewards now).

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Just to add, for my August trip, there were multiple Marriott’s near the convention center for less than $150 (I was at the Anaheim Marriott for $106/night). May be because conventions haven’t returned fully yet so demand is lower down there. It is walkable (15-20 min), but like @lolabear_la mentioned, the ART and Toy Story shuttle were also options to save your feet a bit!

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That walk is not bad on the way there but on the way back after a full day ooo boy! And since our trips are mainly with our 4 kids on the way back means they are usually crashed out in the stroller so it’s SO much easier to just walk than figure out how to load them & a stroller and the accumulation of stuff onto a shuttle so the walk it is. But solo or with all teen/adults, not a bad location.

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This is VERY true. Morning of, no problem. At night, no thanks! :joy: