There is no arguing that Walt Disney World is expensive, but many people go year after year to get their “Disney Fix”. If you don’t want to spend that amount each year, how about planning a trip to Disneyland Resort instead? It’s still every inch Disney (it’s where Walt walked!!!), but you can take a shorter vacation. Hear me out.
At Walt Disney World, there are four theme parks and two water parks (only Typhoon Lagoon is open right now). Most people feel like they have to do it all! That means that your vacation will be a week long.
Disneyland, on the other hand, has Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. It is possible to do both in just two days, although I recommend three. That means that instead of taking a week for vacation, you can take a long weekend.
To get the most out of Walt Disney World, most people will stay on property. It’s convenient then to get to the theme parks. Disneyland only has three hotels, and they are pricey. It’s a good thing that there are plenty of clean, safe Good Neighbor Hotels in the area that are within walking distance. On our last two trips to Disneyland we stayed close enough that we were going through security in the same amount of time that it would have taken to catch the bus at a Walt Disney World resort. These hotels were affordable, too. I’ve never had a problem finding reasonably priced accommodations within walking distance to Disneyland.
Since time is money, let’s also talk about that for a moment. If you have Park Hopper at Walt Disney World, it takes a lot of time to get from one park to the next, and you need to repeatedly go through bag check. At Disneyland, bag check is when you arrive, you only have to go through it once. If you have Park Hopper, it is so convenient. The two parks are right across from each other! We’ve hopped back and forth between parks several times in one day without worrying that we would lose time.
Disney Genie+ costs more at Disneyland, it’s $20 per person, per day. I’ve found it worth the cost, because it includes all of your PhotoPass downloads. On our last visit to Disneyland we added Disney Genie+ one day. We were able to ride everything we wanted, and we took advantage of PhotoPass that day. On our other days we waited in the Standby Lines and still rode almost everything that was important to us.
Airfare is going to eat up a chunk of your budget, no matter which coast you visit. The nice thing about visiting Disneyland is that there are several close airports that you can choose from. Orange County John Wayne Airport (SNA) is the closest, but it isn’t always the cheapest. We usually fly in and out of Los Angeles Airport (LAX) because there are several nonstop flights to and from Orlando. We’ve also flown out of Ontario International Airport (ONT). Other nearby airports that you might want to consider are Long Beach (LGB), Hollywood Burbank (BUR), and San Diego International (SAN). If you’re flexible on your flights and dates you might find a deal!
Getting to Anaheim from the airport is another cost to consider. I do not recommend renting a car from LAX, especially if you’re trying to save money! There are extra charges that they don’t tell you about when you reserve the car, and they try to upsell you like I have never seen before. If you’re just visiting Disneyland, you won’t need a car. You can easily use Uber or another rideshare service to and from the airport. If you fly into LAX, don’t look at the cost of an Uber when you land. Take the shuttle to the rideshare pickup area, and then check the cost. On our last trip the Uber from LAX was about $60, which is comparable to two people on Mears Connect or The Sunshine Flyer. (Please tip your rideshare driver generously!) If you do decide that you need a car, rent one in Anaheim instead.
You really can’t compare a Walt Disney World or a Disneyland vacation, both are must-visit places with their own charm! If you’re looking for your “Disney Fix” and Walt Disney World won’t fit into your budget, Disneyland could be the perfect solution. There’s a reason why it’s called “The Happiest Place on Earth”. A couple of days at Disneyland truly makes me happy!