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.

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.