Disneyland Debate: How To Enter The Resort — Hike, Bus, or Cab?

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All photos by Seth Kubersky

Owing to its expansiveness and isolation, most visitors to Walt Disney World in Florida basically have their options for arriving at the attraction dictated by where they are sleeping: on-site guests get to use WDW’s Byzantine system of busses, boats, and monorails, while those staying off-site drive their rental cars into the theme park parking lots.

Anaheim’s Disneyland Resort, on the other hand, offers more entry options by virtue of its more accessible design. While there are advantages to staying in one of Disneyland’s three Mouse-owned hotels (early entry to DCA’s Cars Land┬ábeing chief among them), many off-site properties are nearly as close (or closer) to the Happiest Place On Earth than the official accommodations.

On my recent trip to California I tested three methods for getting into the Disneyland Resort, and I hope my experience will help you in planning your next trip. So, with deepest apologies to The Muppets, let’s look at whether to “[hitch]hike, bus, or yellow cab it.”

Hike

Let’s cut to the chase: if you are capable, walking is by far the best way to get from your hotel to Disneyland. It’s fun, it’s healthy, and best of all, it’s free!

The determining factor is the location of your hotel. As you’ll note in our list of recommended walking-distance hotels in The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, the ideal properties to walk from are located along Harbor Blvd between Manchester and Katella Ave. Staying here provides quick access to the main pedestrian entrance to the Resort just north of Disney Way. You can also find good deals on rooms around the intersection of Harbor and Katella that are less than a 15 minute walk from the park; I’m a particular fan of the Super 8 when traveling on the cheap.

Slightly less convenient, but still within walking distance, are hotels near the corner of Katella and Disneyland Drive. From here, you can walk north on Disneyland Drive and enter the resort by cutting through the Grand Californian Hotel into Downtown Disney. On my recent trip I stayed at the Best Western Stovall’s Inn (an unexceptional hotel in most respects) and had a pleasant 14-minute commute to the parks.

Do keep in mind that the convenience of walking is dependent on the composition of your party. Healthy adults should be able to walk 3/4 of a mile or more into the Resort without trouble, while groups with young, elderly, or physically challenged members may want to stay closer.

Especially important for families with stroller-age children are the numbers of intersections you must cross; while area surrounding Disneyland has adequate sidewalks and traffic signals, its best to look at a map and minimize the number of crosswalks you must use. The Candy Cane Inn is ideal of families in this sense because it is the closest off-site hotel that is on the same side of Harbor as the resort entrance.

Bus

If your hotel turns out to be too far to walk, resist the temptation to drive your car to the Mickey and Friends parking garage. Its entrance is designed to accommodate visitors arriving on the I-5 freeway, rather than Anaheim surface streets; and it requires a sometimes-frustrating ride on a parking tram, which drops you off in Downtown Disney, still a size able walk from the park entrance.

Instead, investigate the available shuttle bus options. ART, the public Anaheim Resort Transportation system, has twenty numbered routes that all begin and end at Disneyland. One-way fares are $3 per person; daily passes start at $5.

An even better option may be a private shuttle, if your hotel offers one. During my recent stay at the Hyatt Regency on Harbor, I enjoyed their dedicated shuttle, which features comfortable seats and Disney videos during the 15-minute voyage, for the same price as a daily ART pass. Before buying a private shuttle pass, enquire how often it runs (at least twice per hour in each direction is preferable) and if its schedule will accommodate Magic Morning or extended operating hours.

A final option for guests staying on Harbor and Orangewood: you can actually walk into Disney’s Toy Story parking lot and catch its shuttle bus to the resort for free! If you do need to park your car, the Toy Story lot is a popular choice among locals and Annual Passholders because it is more accessible than Mickey and Friends. Travel time from the lot to the park is usually under 10 minutes, thanks to a steady stream of buses; you can often wait longer than that for a Mickey and Friends tram.

Cab

Let’s say you’re at the tail end of a full day in the parks, or perhaps you’ve had one too many Uh-Oa’s at Trader Sam’s. If you are too tired to walk, or the shuttle buses have shut down for the night, your best bet is to hail a cab.

Be aware that there is no taxi stand available on the east side of the resort (along Harbor) and flagging down cabs on the street (like in New York City) isn’t advisable. Instead, walk through Downtown Disney to the taxi stand near ESPN Zone, or to the front entrances of the Disneyland Hotel or the Grand Californian.

My recent ride from the Disneyland Hotel to the Hyatt cost $10 (plus tip), a small price to pay for safe passage to my bed after a day of exhausting adventures in the Happiest Place on Earth.

What’s your favorite way to get in and around Disneyland Resort? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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Posted on February 25, 2013

10 Responses to “Disneyland Debate: How To Enter The Resort — Hike, Bus, or Cab?”

  • When we stayed at the Howard Johnson’s which backed up to the freeway we would drive. It was always a hassle because we would have to leave early, wait in the line of cars going into the Mickey and Friends parking structure, wait in line for the tram, wait in line for security, then wait in another line to get into the park. I dreaded those 30 minutes everyday.

    This time we are staying at the Best Western Park Place Inn which is at the crosswalk to Disneyland. We can get to the turnstiles in 7 minutes from the moment we step out of our rooms. Now, my mom is not a fast walker so it’s reasonable you could get there faster. Whenever possible, walk.

  • If we don’t stay at the GCH we love the Candy Cane Inn. Yes it is within walking distance but they have their own,free shuttle.

  • When we visited Disneyland Jan 2-6 of this year, we stayed at the nearby La Quinta and took taxis or private shuttles both directions. It’s close enough to walk for adults, but too tiring for our small children. We found that although there may not be an ‘official’ taxi stand on the west side of the resort (along Harbor), taxis do wait in the drop-off area. This drop-off area has been configured since last summer, eliminating the parking spaces and instead cars can split into one of two lanes to do the drop-off/pick-up. The right-hand lane is often where you’ll find 3-4 taxis queued up waiting for passengers. The fare to our hotel was $5-7, which with five people was cheaper than riding ART, and way more convenient.

  • We stayed at the Best Western Stovall recently. We found the walk to be just fine. It was kind of fun heading in and looking up at the Mickey’s Fun Wheel, and California Screamin’ as we walked. That 2nd picture (Katella) looks SO FAMILIAR! We had free ART Passes for our entire stay, but never even used them. Cutting through the Grand Cal was a nice trick. I can see how elderly, or those with mobility issues may not want to walk that far. But for our group, stroller and all, it was GREAT!

  • Last time I stayed at the Sheraton in Garden Grove, 1 1/2 miles away and I walked the whole time because it was faster than the bus.

  • We always stay offsite and not within walking distance. The Toy Story parking lot seems to be much quicker for getting from your car to the parks. We prefer it over Mickey & friends, which is beyond huge!

  • Walking is absolutely the best if you can do it.

    Recently, we stayed at the Best Western Park Place that was mentioned earlier in the comments. It was a win-win-win for us. The money we saved by not renting a car for those days at Disneyland and by getting a reduced rate from the hotel for not having a car onsite (limited parking there) more than made up for the cost of the shuttle from and to the airport.

    Plus, we were close enough to escape for an afternoon nap on our park days and could easily make a breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen on our departure, non-park day to get one last taste of the ‘magic.’

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