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Last updated: July 10, 2023
DRIVING Disneyland has four parking sections. The main parking areas are the Mickey & Friends and Pixar Pals parking garages, which you can get to directly from I-5, Disneyland Drive, or Ball Road.
The garages are connected to Downtown Disney and the theme parks by Disney trams.
If you'd prefer to walk from the garages, it's about a mile from the garages to the parks' gates. You can cut south to Downtown Disney and use the pedestrian bridge on the Pixar Pals garage's south side to cross over Magic Way and access the sidewalk past the parking lot.
The most convenient parking area is the Toy Story lot south of the corner of Katella Avenue and Harbor Boulevard, This lot also accommodates oversize vehicles like buses and RVs, with shuttles and walking paths to the parks.
All of the parking areas open about 60 minutes before the parks. But you should try to arrive around 75 minutes before opening to be near the front of the line of cars waiting to park.
No matter how or when you arrive, you'll go through Disney's metal detectors and baggage screening on the ground floor of the garage on the way to the parks.
Once through the entrance turnstiles, you'll begin and end your day on Main Street, U.S.A., a turn-of-the-20th-centrury recreation of small-town America.
Main Street ends at a central hub from which branch the entrances to four other sections of Disneyland: Adventureland , Frontierland, Fantasyland , and Tomorrowland. Two other "lands", New Orleans Square and Critter Country, can be reached through Adventureland and Frontierland, and Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge connects to Critter Country and Frontierland. Mickey’s Toontown is located on the far side of the railroad tracks from It's a Small World in Fantasyland.
Sleeping Beauty Castle, the entrance to Fantasyland, is a focal landmark and the visual center of the park.
The castle is a great place to meet if your group decides to split up during the day, and it can serve as an emergency meeting place if you are accidentally separated.
Keep in mind that the castle is large, so be specific about where to meet at the castle.
Note that parades and live shows sometimes make it difficult to access the entrance of the castle from the central hub. Another good meetting place is the Partners statue of Walt and Mickey, in the central hub.
'Rope Drop' refers to cast members using a length of rope to hold back crowds until the park opens. After the rope is dropped, guests can head to their first ride.
Early Entry is available to guests staying at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels, and guests who purchase a 3+ day ticket with Park Hopping.
Disneyland uses several opening procedures depending on the time of year and expected crowd levels:
As much as we also hate Disney's nickle-and-dime-ing, our honest advice is to bite the bullet and buy Genie+ anyway, especially if you plan on park hopping.
In terms of dollars and cents, the cost of Genie+ at Disneyland is roughly $5 to $10 per hour saved - and it gets better if you park hop.
If you are spreading out your resort visit over four or more days, you can probably get away without Genie+, but at Disneyland Park the service is a huge boon even during moderately busy seasons.
Individual Lightning Lane, on the other hand, are more available but far less valuable at Disneyland, and are therefore relatively overpriced. In particular, Rise of the Resistance's Lightning Lane can cost $25+ at Disneyland.
While we endorse buying Genie+, we don't recommend buying Individual Lightning Lane unless you're visiting on a busy day and have to ride Rise of the Resistance.
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