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Disneyland Trip Planning Guide
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Brian Bennett

Back ] Disneyland Trip Planning Guide - Contents ]


Forward  |  Why Travel to Disneyland?  |  My Favorite Things at Disneyland


Disneyland Trip Planning Phone List  |  Critique of Published Disneyland Trip Guide Books  |  Other Disneyland Resources on the Web

Planning Ahead

Planning Your Trip  |  What Time of Year You Should go to Disneyland  |  How Many Days Do You Need to "See It All?"  |  Other Attractions in Southern California  |  Estimating What Your Trip Will Cost  |  Rental Car Considerations  |  What You Should Pack to Take on Your Trip


Should You Stay On or Off Site?  |  Off Site Accommodations  |  Disneyland Area Campgrounds  |  Disneyland's "Good Neighbor Hotels"  |  On Site Hotels  |  Grand Californian  Hotel  |  Disneyland Hotel  |  Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel

Disneyland Resort Primer
A Disneyland / WDW Comparison  |  The Ins and Outs of Disneyland Reservations  |  How to Use Disneyland's Transportation System  |  Developing a Daily "Game Plan"  |  The Daily Afternoon Break Touring the Parks With Kids  |  Touring the Parks With an Infant  |  Touring the Parks with Disabled Guests

The Parks
General Issues
  |  All About Admission Media (i.e. Tickets)  |  General Park Operating Hours  |  "Magic Mornings", the Disneyland Resort's Version of Early Entry  |  Fastpass -- Disney's New "Virtual Queue"  |  Disneyland  |  Details-at-a-Glance  |  Touring the Park  |  Attractions  |  Shopping  |  Disneyland Shows and Entertainment  |  Parade of Stars  |  Believe: There's Magic in the Sky  |  Fantasmic!  |  Disney's California Adventure  |  Details-at-a-Glance  |  Touring the Park  |  Attractions  | Shopping  |  Eureka! The California Adventure Parade

Everything Else
Downtown Disney  |  Guided Tours of Disneyland

Disneyland Restaurant Resource

First, if you couldn't find it here, I would appreciate it if you would click on this link and send me a message to tell me what's missing.  I'll do my best to "fill in the blanks" as soon as possible.

What You Should Pack to Take on Your Trip

This page was originally written for travel to WDW, but since it's a pretty generic list of things for any vacation to a sunny destination, there's no need to modify it much here.

Depending on the time of year you have to plan for varying weather conditions. Most recently, I've been to California in the Spring (March) and late Summer (September). In each instance, the weather has been very mild. Temperatures are typically in the mid- to high-80's during the day and drop into the 70's at night.

Barb and I have never driven to Disneyland, but the original notes here were for our driving trips to WDW. In addition, fellow MousePlaneteer Lani Teshima (lani@lava.net) added comments regarding air travel. Since this covered both options, I've left it intact. 

For a road trip, here's a good list of things to take with you:

  • Travel information (e.g. reservation documents, trip-tic, maps, etc.)

  • A lot of reading material. If you're a reader and like to read while on vacation, plan on having some time to do this.

    Those who want to limit carrying guide or travel books would do well to pore over them prior to their trip, then take only sections of the book (if you can't bear ripping out the pages, make photocopies).

  • Games and activities -- especially if you have children. A deck of cards, checkers, or a backgammon set can be fun to have around in the evenings. Certainly during the trip they can help break up the monotony of driving.

  • Swimming stuff, including suits and towels. I like to have a pair of water socks, too. Some people love 'em, some people hate 'em. Take 'em if you love 'em.

  • I suspect the hotel room towels are probably pretty plush. Air travelers are loathe to take up precious packing space on big fluffy towels. Also, those who don't like water sandals should take a pair of cheap flip flops. These protect feet from scrapes and cuts, which are easier to get if your feet have been wet all day and they are like prunes.

  • A travel alarm clock. Barb and I like to have our own clock with us so that we don't have to rely on the hotel wake-up calls. I've been burned too many times on wake-up calls that either I forgot to set-up or that I did set-up but that the hotel screwed up. Besides, I use the travel alarm at home, so the noise that it makes is familiar to us and wakes us up without a problem.

  • Some digital watches have loud enough alarms, as long as you take your watch off and place it by your bedside table.

  • Change (or dollar bills) for parking! You'll have to pay for parking at Disneyland and at the Disneyland Hotel (you can get your parking stub validated if you buy something or have a meal, so take it with you.)

    Don't forget lots of dollar bills for tipping! Most people who have check-in luggage will need quite a bit of small bills just on their way to the hotel. Tip the cabbie who takes you to the airport. Tip the porter at your departure airport. Tip the porter at your arrival airport. Tip the cabbie who takes you to the hotel. Tip the porter at the hotel. At $1.00 per bag, you can easily spend $10.00 on tips alone. MY tip of course, is to take just a carry-on with you. :>

  • Snacks for the trip and to have during your stay. We sometimes will stop at a local store and pick up some snacks to have in the room.

    Gatorade or Kool-Aid powder is handy as well. Also, could I recommend that you take along some fruit with you? Chips and peanuts are okay, but vacations tend to put people on a junk-food diet. At least for snacking, some healthy food is better. And fruits have their own containers (peels) and are very refreshing, lo-fat/no-fat and good for you.

  • If you don't have a room with a refrigerator, you probably will want a cooler. At least then you can keep some pop and milk cold for when you get back to the room and want to relax.

    Carbonated and caffeinated drinks are actually not very good for you (but then, that's just *me*). If you don't have a room with a refrigerator, ask to see how much it costs to RENT ONE. Often, it's very cheap (only $5.00 per night?). Definitely worth it.

    Be careful storing milk in a cooler--it could go bad!!!!! You should refresh the ice often from the ice machine if you use one.

  • Pillows and blanket for the trip if you're driving.

    Definitely OUT for flyers. On the other hand, the crescent-shaped inflatable neck pillows are GREAT (even for car travelers).

    Sunscreen is important especially during the Summer and early Fall months and especially if someone in the family is sensitive to the sun. Actually, most people don't know that the sun is closer in Orlando than it is in other parts of North America. I would recommend sun BLOCK (an SPF of at least 24 if not more). Keep in mind sun block needs to be put on regularly every couple of hours. One slather in the morning will not last all day. You'll need the waterproof type if you're going to the water parks. Don't forget slathering all over your ears, and lip balm!! Chapped lips are painful!

  • A med kit. This doesn't have to be extensive, and you don't need to carry it around the parks (first aid stations are located in each park) but it's nice to have band-aids, aspirin, solarcaine, and other such things handy in the room.

    It is best not to get a sunburn at all. But if you do, aspirin (NOT Ibuprofin) will help lower your body temperature. Take a cool bath as well, and drink PLENTY of non-carbonated, non-caffeinated liquids as you are burning liquids through your skin FAST. Solarcaine is okay but greasy. Aloe-based products are probably better.

  • Of course, you will want to take your own toilet articles: Soap (you can't depend on the hotel providing enough) and shampoo (you also might want your own products if you suffer from allergies), q-tips, brush and comb, dental care supplies, sanitary supplies, shaving kit, nail and skin care and makeup, etc. I also pack a travel blowdryer, since not all hotels provide them.

    Again, take a look at my Travelite FAQ, in the toiletry section. As for soap, many people like to take the Disney soap (the Disney-owned resorts provide Mickey themed soaps and shampoos for guests) home with them so they'll have to bring their own. Otherwise, hotel soap should suffice (and if not, you are paying good money so you can call downstairs for more). Many hotels will provide blow dryers IF YOU ASK. They'll have them in housekeeping. Keep in mind you should be leaving $1 to $2 tip every night for your room maid, especially if you get them to do anything extra, or you leave your room particularly messy. To be honest, it's best not to have to use a blow dryer or curler at all. Nobody is gonna care if your hair's not curly enough or fluffy enough. :>

  • Appropriate clothes for the duration of the trip. If you travel in late Fall or Winter, be prepared for temperatures to swing either way so you'll definitely want to pack a jacket. Dress clothes might be needed for a nice sit-down meal, or two, or if you're planning on attending church during your trip. Casual dress is acceptable at almost all Disney restaurants but you will probably feel more at ease if you're nicely dressed at many of them (Granville's Steak house, for example).

    This is a nice section--unfortunately when you tell people they have to dress nice, they'll bring a nice OUTFIT, which they don't need to do. If you have a casual collared shirt, a tie would do fine (with a casual blazer jacket). For women, a silk scarf and black panty hose do wonders to a plain top and skirt outfit.

  • Comfortable shoes for walking. Don't buy new walking shoes the day before you leave for your trip. If you don't own some already, buy them a month or two before the trip and break them in. I once made the mistake of buying new walking shoes in California just before spending a couple of days at Disneyland. I was a fool. Dress shoes (and especially heels for ladies) are appropriate for dress-up meals and other occasions, of course, but don't plan to wear them in the parks. In fact, don't plan on wearing any shoes in the parks that are less than amazingly comfortable. Tired feet are a given at Disneyland. Don't make the mistake of allowing blisters or real pain ruin an otherwise great trip.

    My recommendation for those who are packing lightly, is to wear a pair of Hush Puppies, Rockports or some other comfy pair of walking shoes that look nice. For women, they can wear a pair of open-toe Rockport sandals or City Sport Tevas. I have worn these to nice dinners (even weddings, on the road) as well as church. The key is to find shoes with the soft Corfram soles. You know--like running shoes. Many nice walking shoes have the soft sole snow. With the right arch supports, you can walk in them all day.

  • Sunglasses...don't leave home without them....no matter what time of year it is. In the Spring, Summer, and Fall, it can be downright dangerous to drive during the day without them.

    Sunglasses should say UV BLOCK. They are important in the parks and not just for driving. Your eyes have to adjust between the outdoors and the indoor rides--sunglasses help you adjust and prevent you from getting a headache. I would also recommend a hat or visor. Keeps the sun off your head, your ears and neck.

  • A Fanny Pack. We use these to carry many things during our days in the parks. Frankly, we try to "travel light" during our days in the park and avoid taking the fanny pack at all, but sometimes it's needed...you'll have to decide for yourself.

    Many experienced travelers prefer a day pack so they can carry light cardigans, water, binoculars, cameras, etc. Some use fanny packs. More of a personal preference thing.

  • A Camera or video camera. A pain to lug, but Kodachrome (or whatever brand you prefer) can capture a wealth of memories that can never be experienced again. Extra film, batteries, recharger and cord (if you have one), etc. should be tossed in, too, of course. One excellent trip report that I've read (Rick Chase's, which you can read in the WDW trip report section of this Disney Trip Planning Resource Net) mentioned that it's a good idea to shoot a roll of film and get it processed before the trip...just to make sure that the camera is working.

    Unless people are serious amateur photographers and this is a photographic excursion, it's a better bet to take a point-and-shoot camera and not worry about all the expensive equipment.

  • Driver's license and proof of insurance if you're planning to rent a car (or drive your own).

    I tell ya; people pack *WAY* too much. I travel with one little carry-on bag now and I can live out of it for a week.

Consider your own trip plans and your own needs and plan accordingly. The key, though, is to think it through in advance and write (or type) a list before you start packing. One last tidbit, Barb and I have a Word document that contains our packing list. Every time we travel to Disneyland or elsewhere, we print out the list and use it to jog our memories. There are blank spaces for the quantities of socks, shirts, and so on...and we just cross off any items that we know we don't need for any given trip. Otherwise, it's a very complete list that we've used and updated over several years.

Looking for more information on packing?

Travelite FAQ - Lani Teshima-Miller site provides suggestions for air travelers.


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