Do I need a Rental Car for a Disneyland Trip?

If you plan on flying into the Orange County Airport (SNA) for your Disneyland trip, and if you’ll be staying in Anaheim, or at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels, and if your theme park plans are limited to Disneyland and California Adventure, you might think about skipping the rental car on your Disneyland trip.

Anaheim Resort Transportation
Anaheim Resort Transportation

The Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART) system runs, on the average, every 20 minutes on several different routes through Anaheim and Disneyland during Disneyland’s hours of operation. ART Passes may be purchased from your hotel or other convenient public sales outlets. Drivers do not sell passes. Also, ART passes can be purchased at kiosk locations around the Anaheim Resort area.

There are several restaurants in Downtown Disney, and several more just across the street from Disneyland on Harbor Blvd. Grab a limo or van service to/from your hotel and the airport and use the ART system to get around Anaheim. It will save you a bundle!

Not knowing about the ART ahead of time, we rented a car for our Disneyland trip. Aside from a trip to Wal-Mart, we didn’t use the car at all during the first three days of our trip. We did use it on the last two days, mostly because it was just sitting there not getting used; and because the idea of making use of the convertible on the two-block drive to Disneyland sounded like more fun than the bus. But honestly, the car was a waste of money, and we wouldn’t have used it at all had we known then what we now know.

The ART also has trips outside of Anaheim to other theme parks, like Legoland, so even if you’re planning a trip that involves more than just the Disneyland properties, it might be worth your time to take a look at the Anaheim Resort Transportation system before you reserve your rental car.

Mickey’s Halloween Party

Mickey’s Halloween Party is easily our favorite time of the year to visit Disneyland. This year (2017) the party will be held on select evenings from September 20th to October 31st, with the highest ticket prices on the most popular nights, including Halloween.

Tickets go on sale July 17, 2017, for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club members, and Disney Visa Cardholders; and July 24, 2017, for the general public. Tickets are limited, and you should expect that every party will sell out. The more popular nights, like Halloween, will sell out first. But my favorite time to go is the first week of October.

Tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party are less expensive than a day ticket to the park, and with entry available up to three hours prior to the party, there is more than enough time to spend what amounts to an entire day in the park. So, for families on a budget, this is a fantastic time to not only save a few dollars but also to have a special and different experience at Disneyland.

Of course, the park is decorated for Halloween. As it is all day for the Halloween season. But there special soundtracks and lighting for areas like Main Street USA during the party which adds a little extra “creep” to the night. And there is Trick-or-Treating available all over the park. That’s right, FREE CANDY!

Exclusive to Mickey’s Halloween Party is the “Frightfully Fun Parade,” which kicks off with an ominous warning by The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. Then, friends and fiends from Halloween Town announce the arrival of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Soon, Dr. Facilier and his Shadow Men will captivate with their bayou music. And don’t miss the Grim Grinning Ghosts who have come out to socialize!

“Master of Scare-emonies” Jack Skellington and his ghostly dog Zero will entertain you with soaring flames, projections of rising ghosts and classic Disney villains like Maleficent and Ursula the Sea Witch—all set to a medley of Halloween-inspired songs in the “Halloween Screams” fireworks spectacular, another Halloween Party exclusive.

Kids and adults can wear costumes, and since Disney PhotoPass is now included in the price of your Halloween Party ticket it’s a great way to have some really special pictures taken with the Villians of Disney.

Of course, with so many special activities happening in the park, very few people find the time to ride the rides. Ten-minute wait times on the popular attractions like Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and Haunted Holiday Mansion are commonplace. So, if the rides are your thing, this is a fantastic time to just ride the rides all night long.

New this year, Oogie Boogie has risen from the shadows to take over Disney’s California Adventure park with his oversized silhouette beckoning guests through the main entrance as a swarm of bats encircles Carthay Circle Theatre. This is the first year that Disney’s California Adventure has participated in the party. Entry to Disney’s California Adventure is also available up to three hours before the party starts, making the Halloween Party the least expensive Park Hopper ticket you can purchase.

Lastly, this is a great time to stay at a Disneyland Hotel. I pretty much always recommend the hotels across the street, an easy 5-min walk away. But imagine instead, walking up to your hotel room to discover a spooky door banner indicating something special took place inside. As you step into the room, a host of personalized surprises, goodies, and treats make you feel like Mickey himself has visited. This little bit of extra magic is only available at the Disneyland hotels.

Disney California Adventure

It’s no secret that you can do DCA in about half a day, but what you might not know is how you can do it really, really well on a budget of about half a day.


You want to arrive early, at least 30-minutes before the park opens, and get yourself as close to the front of the line as possible. As the gates open, a new crowd will form inside the park on Beuna Vista Street where park employees will have a rope strung across the street to hold you there until the park formally opens.

People are typically going one of about three places from this crowd: Radiator Springs and/or Radiator Springs Fastpass, Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout, or Toy Story Midway Mania. So most of the people in this crowd are going to crowd to the left. If you are traveling with smaller children, this might be your plan as well. But adults and those traveling with older children should work their way to the right-hand side of the crowd. We have a different plan.

When the park opens, head straight back and to the right. Go all the way back to Goofy’s Flying School. We were the only one’s on it when we visited, and we were able to ride it three times back-to-back without even getting off the ride because no one else was in line. We could have ridden it more, but we wanted to enjoy the rest of this back corner of the park in a similar fashion.

If you want to waste 90-seconds of your life that you are never going to get back, you can go ride the Golden Zephyr. Or you could just skip it. Either way, from there go hit the Silly Symphony Swings. You’ll likely walk right on, and might even ride it by yourselves. We did.

From the swings, we walked right on to King Triton’s Carousel; and then onto California Screamin with only about a 10-minute wait.

By now, the long line for FastPasses should have diminished and you should start collecting them. Collect a FastPass for Radiator Springs on the way to ride Soarin’ around the World, and then either stand in line for Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout or collect a FastPass for it as well. If you choose the Fastpass option, you’re on break to do as you please until it’s time to return to your rides that you have FastPasses for. In fact, now is a great time to relax a bit and enjoy some food down on the wharf – or wherever you like to relax.

This plan is somewhat general in nature, doesn’t allow for customization, and was created and utilized on a Value Day, meaning off-season and lower than normal crowds. Peak-season mileage may vary, and the best way to maximize your time in any Disney Park is to use RideMax. In fact, we highly recommend it.


Our only child is a teen, so we’re done with most of the little kid stuff that Disneyland has to offer. That means fewer rides that appeal to us and the prospect of standing in long lines several times a day. Or so we thought! Enter Ridemax.

Ridemax promises more magic, less wait. And they totally deliver in ways that are hard to imagine until you’ve experienced it for yourself.

Ridemax is a planning tool designed to help you spend less time standing in line at Disneyland (and Walt Disney World), and more time doing the things you want to do! They are like the NSA of Disney Attraction Wait Times. And when you’re spending hundreds of dollars a day on admission alone, don’t you think that it’s a good idea to spend more time doing what you are paying for?

As far as the rides were concerned, we were basically interested in Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Matterhorn, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. The sample ride plan below is for just some of those rides. As you can see, we did all the rides we came for (on Day 1) before lunch.

We’ve obscured much of the image above to protect Ridemax’s intellectual property. The portions highlighted in yellow are the breaks scheduled by Ridemax. We planned our rides first, then scheduled our meals into those breaks. As you can see, we were left with plenty of time for spontaneity. And that meant more Princess and Character Photos than ever before!

Those that argue against Ridemax often argue that when you plan everything out to the last minute you rob yourself of the magic that is accidentally finding your way into something you might not have experienced otherwise. But with 6 hours of break time in our plan, how could we not? Not only did we do everything we wanted to quickly and efficiently, we actually had more free time to explore and have fun than if we had wasted hours just standing in line.

Others argue that there’s no fun in keeping a schedule. Well, if schedules are a problem for you, you might be right. But it’s a schedule for fun, so we didn’t mind. And we weren’t able to keep it exactly as planned, either, due to temporary ride closures. But that allowed us to stop and enjoy some Beignets while we waited. And with all that information at our fingertips (much more than I have shared in that one image above), we were well informed on how best to handle the temporary closure and make up for it once it reopened.

Ridemax is much more than just a schedule. It’s a complete dossier of expert advice on how to make the most of your Disneyland (or Walt Disney World) visit. You’ll discover things you didn’t know, best places to watch a parade, and even which line is shortest at Pirates of the Caribbean. To get all of this intel you’ll need to purchase the package that includes the PDF. Because that’s the only place you’ll find much of it.

My personal promise to you is that you’ll love Ridemax and that you’ll never want to do Disneyland any other way once you’ve experienced it. But don’t just take my word for it, Ridemax promises a 30-Day money-back guarantee on all of their products.

And no, they didn’t pay me to write any of this. I love them enough to write it for free, and you will too!

Main Street Electrical Parade

I first saw the Main Street Electrical Parade, not long after it’s debut in 1977, at Walt Disney World in Orlando. And it made a lasting impression. To this day, it’s my favorite Disney parade.

I’ve seen it a number of times over the years, including once at Disney California Adventure in 2005, and most recently in what will become its final performance at Disneyland.

That’s right, it’s time to say goodbye to our old friend the Main Street Electrical Parade. Originally scheduled to end on June 18, 2017, the parade got an extension, due to its popularity, and will now run until August 20, 2017.

The Main Street Electrical Parade will be replaced by Paint the Night, which refreshes the characters and music for a younger generation. Paint the Night doesn’t appeal to me in the same way that the Main Street Electrical Parade does, but it’s not about me. It’s about hoards of kids that don’t know what they are watching anymore, and the new parade fixes that with updated soundtracks, LED Lights and impressive new technology.

For me, one of the best viewing locations is just across the street from It’s a Small World, just past the reserved seating area, there is a small area that remains open for public viewing that not a lot of people know about. You can safely arrive about 1 hour before the parade and easily find a space to call your own.

If you’d rather have a bench to sit on, stroll just past the castle on the right side, as your head in the direction of It’s a Small World. There are benches along the left side of the walkway, directly across from Pixie Hollow, that makes for great viewing. But you have to get there early. Like 2-3 hours early.

If you’re traveling with small children and would like the cast members in the parade to interact with your children, you don’t have to leave it to chance. It is their job to interact with them, but it’s pretty much impossible for them to interact with all of the children along the parade route. So here are two things that you can to do to ensure that your child stands out in the crowd:

The first, of course, is get there early and get a seat right on the edge of the parade route. And second, do something that gets them noticed. One of the families that we saw brought dollar store “glow stick” Princess Crowns with them to the park, and they put them on just before the parade started so that they would be their brightest as the parade came by. It was amazing. I think every single character that could have possibly interacted with them, did.