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  • Christine Hardenberger

Disneyland Guide for Walt Disney World Lovers -- Arriving in California


You arrive at Los Angeles International Airport excited to start your magical Disneyland vacation! It’s a bit odd that your Magic Bands didn’t arrive before you left home but you figure they will be awaiting you at check-in. You bypass baggage claim and head for the Magical Express. Let’s do this!

Um…where is the Magical Express? There don’t seem to be any signs. Wait, did you just hear your name over the intercom? You need to go to baggage claim to get our luggage? What in the name of Sam Hill is going on?

Welcome to California, frequent Walt Disney World visitor! Nothing here is as familiar as it may have originally seemed. The place where all the Disney magic started may feel like Walt Disney World but it is, in fact, very different. So different, in fact, that guests who have only visited Walt Disney World may have a bit of a hard time figuring out how to vacation in this strange new land.

Come, let’s walk together through the house that Walt built. It’s time for you to learn all about Disneyland. In this blog series, I will cover everything frequent Walt Disney World visitors need to know about visiting the Disneyland Resort. Let's start with your arrival.

Frequent visitors to Walt Disney World love Disney's Magical Express. The Disney elves spirit away your luggage while you head for the comfort of your motorcoach to enjoy a relaxing ride to your resort. Your luggage will magically appear in your room while you are off enjoying the theme parks. So, where do you find Disney's Magical Express at Disneyland? Well, you don't.

Transportation is not included with your Disneyland Resort package and Disneyland does not operate any sort of airport transportation either from Los Angeles International Airport or John Wayne Airport (the two most common arrival airports). You will need to find your own way to Disneyland. In order to reduce stress and start your vacation off on the right foot, I recommend selecting your transportation (and booking it, if necessary) in advance.

The vast majority of Disneyland visitors arrive at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) or John Wayne Airport (SNA). Both airports have several options for transportation to the Disneyland Resort. These are my recommendations:

Disneyland Resort Express (operated by Southern California Grayline): The Disneyland Resort Express is the most popular shared ride shuttle to Disneyland. While it is not run by the Disneyland Resort, it is the official shuttle to both the hotels of the Disneyland Resort and the Disneyland Good Neighbor hotels. This shuttle is reliable, comfortable and one of the most inexpensive ways to reach the Disneyland Resort. While the buses run frequently, be prepared to be on there a while. The buses stop at all of the Disneyland Resort on-site hotels and all of the nearby Good Neighbor hotels so it can take a while to reach your destination. You can book tickets in advance by clicking here. You can also simply show up and get on the bus, but I prefer to have everything nailed down in advance. Plus, there are often discount codes as well. Simply Google "Disneyland Resort Express discount" for the most up to date offers. Please note: The Disneyland Resort Express does not pick up your luggage. You must get your luggage before boarding the motorcoach.

Car or Limousine Service There are many car and limousine services that will take you from LAX or SNA to the Disneyland resort. While prices vary from company to company, you can expect to pay somewhere between $120 and $150 for a standard car one-way to Anaheim. This is definitely a pricier option, but it's also more convenient, quicker and a bit more luxurious. Since this will be a private car, you will go directly from the airport to your resort with no stops in between.

Uber or Lyft Both of these popular ride-sharing services operate out of LAX and SNA and are a great option for transportation to the Disneyland Resort. You can expect to pay between $40 to $50 one-way for UberX or Lyft and between $70 to $80 for UberXL or Lyft Premier. Unless you are traveling alone, these services are actually cheaper than the Disneyland Resort Express and you get a private car. Remember, there can be surge pricing during busy times, so always double check your cost estimate. Please note that there is a specific pick-up point for ride share services. Your driver will call you to let you know where to meet. (Click on either of the links to get a discount from me!)

Public Transportation While you can take public transportation from LAX or SNA to Anaheim, don't. Southern California is not known for it's great public transportation. While it may be a bit cheaper, it will take you a month of Sundays to get there. Budget for another form of transport.

Good! Now you are on your way to Disneyland! Join me next time to chat about where to stay when you visit Disneyland.

See ya real soon!

Christine Hardenberger is the owner of Modern Travel Professionals and a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World and Disneyland. When you are ready to book your Disney experience, let our team of experts craft the perfect Disney vacation for you!

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