1st time to DL, what do I need to know?


So, my family of 5 is off to DL for the first time. We are going 2/2007. Where should I stay?, How many days do I need there? Is there a meal plan? What insider tips do I need to know? It is our first time visiting Ca, so what better way then to start in Disney! Any help would be appreciated!! Thanks


Hello there!! It wasn’t so long ago that I was a first-timer to DL either, 3 trips later and several years have passed and I’ve grown SUCH a love and appreciation for it. I noticed in your signature you are a WDW veteran, as am I, in my experience one very important thing to remember is… It’s a WHOLE different world. literally. hehe. There are SOME things similar in DL to WDW but A LOT is different.

To answer a few of your questions, as far as where to stay being the first, well it really depends on your preferences. There are plenty of high quality “good neighbor” hotels that sit within walking distance to Disneyland that aren’t Disney hotels. if you prefer to stay in a Disney hotel for the full experience my recommendation would be the Disneyland Hotel. This was where we stayed the first time staying “on property” and it was great. It’s the original hotel and holds a lot of the charm and nostalgia of “old Disneyland.”

As far as how many days… well, in my opinion, that heavily depends on crowds. I jsut realized you said you are going in February which I believe is a low season attendance wise. My personal preference would be a MINIMUM of 1 & 1/2 days for California Adventure and at least 2 full days in the DL park. Oh my first visit, which was during a slow season, we only did one day per park and it was a little overwhelming for a 1st-timer b/c I REALLY wanted to take everything in, which just isn’t possible in that amount of time.

You also asked about a meal plan; even though these are really convenient and debatebly a GREAT deal in WDW this doesn’t seem to be the case so much in Disneyland. Last time I checked they did have this whacky little “meal plan” where you used coupons in exchange for snacks and meals but as far as I’ve ever heard anyone say it wasn’t really worth it.

As far as insider tips go, I am sure a lot more Disneyland pros would be better suited to give those but one thing I DID learn real fast on ALL my trips is to DEFINATELY take advantage of the early morning. On the 3 trips I’ve made to DL I’ve noticed, busy or slow season, that parts of the park are virtually EMPTY in the very early morning at opening. This last trip, and we visited in June right before 4th of July weekend, we were able to do ALL of Tomorrowland and Fantasyland in just under 2 hours, even repeating several attractions. We arrived on the monorail on Tomorrowland RIGHT at opening and felt like we had the place to ourselves!!

Have fun :biggrin:


I’m staying at the Candy Cane Inn this trip, but it’s only 2 adults.

When we went with the 3 kids, we stayed at the Portofino Inn and Suites. It was very close, had a separate kids room with their own TV and activity area, and the price was very reasonable. It was clean and pretty and I would recommend it.

Portofino Inn and Suites Anaheim Hotel near Disneyland


Maybe it’s because I’ve been there so much, but I don’t feel like staying “on property” is as much of a necessity at Disneyland as I think it is at WDW. Most of the “Good Neighbor Hotels” are within walking distance- and that’s really all you need.

For me, California Adventure doesn’t even rate a whole day.

At least wo days for Disneyland, definitely, and keep in mind that the park hours in February are likely to be very short.

Like Wish said, skip the dining plan. “Wacky” is the word for it.

Make a reservation at the Blue Bayou. You don’t have to have a whole meal there ($$$$$$), but it’s just such a marvelous place to sit and relax. Make a mid-afternoon reservation and you won’t have to wait excessively long for a table on the water.

Also-- what Wish said about getting there when the park opens? ESSENTIAL! You’ll see so much more, with minimal lines.


February is not a bad time to go at all.

The weather is fantastic, unless it rains, like it did in Feb '05. That was a real bummer.

A lot depends on fundage and what it is you want. If you can afford it, stay at the Grand Californian. It’s not cheap, but it’s right there at the park! Other Disney hotels are nearby. But most of the local hotels are within walking distance.

Give yourself two days for Disneyland to do everything.

One day for California Adventureland.

There is a “meal plan”, but it’s not worth the effort. Take along cash or credit cards and you’ll get by fine.

The best thing to do is actually spend time reading Disneyland trip reports. They give you a lot of experiences without having to suffer through them.

California is really a neat place, and if you can afford to spend time there, you should take some to see some of the tourists stuff. But if you can’t, that’s the neat thing about California Adventure. It gives you a taste of all the different parts without the expense of flying or driving everywhere.

Feel free to ask more questions. :laugh:


6-2-6 really did a marvelous job answering your questions and I agree with everything he had to say.

DLR only has three on-site hotels. I used to think that staying off-site and saving money was the way to go. Until I stayed on-site. Now I’ll never stay off-site again. While off-site hotels are often within walking distance, you totally lose that magic Disney feel. I’ll tell you, staying at the Disneyland Hotel and walking through Downtown Disney in the morning is simply magic. It may be a bit more expensive, but in my opinion, worth every penny!

If you choose to stay on-site you have to book through AAA. Not only will you save money, but you also get unlimited fastpasses, early entry every day it is offered and other fun bonuses. Being on-site also allows you to charge purchases and food to your room and also have packages delivered to your room (just like WDW).

There are tons of great places to eat. Like Andrea said, Blue Bayou is a can’t miss. If you don’t already know, it is situated inside PotC, right next to the loading area. It is a blast to watch the boats going by and the atmosphere is amazing. I recommend going for lunch. If you make an 11:30 reservation (the earliest they take) and then show up early. If you are one of the first to check in you are almost guaranteed a water side table. I highly recommend the Monte Cristo, which is easily big enough for two adults to split (with left-overs). So that is a great way to save money there. And reservations can be made 60 days in advance!

Theres a few tips to get you started. Feel free to PM me if you think of any questions you have. I love talking DL and would be happy to answer any questions you have! I’m actually planning on going to DL in February as well! :happy:


I’m taking my very first trip to DLR in February. Obviously, it’s my first trip, so I can’t offer much advice, but I want to tell you that you’ve come to the right place. There are some true DLR experts among the members of MB, as evidenced by the posts above this one. Some of the most knowlegable members have already posted in this thread, and none of them would steer you wrong.

If I could offer just one little piece of advice, I would suggest you buy the Birnbaum Guide to Disneyland Resort. You probably will learn more from members here, but the book will definitely serve to get you even more psyched up before you go, especially with it’s nice color pictures.

Hope you have a great trip. :mickey:


Oh, this is important:

Get in the first row for Indiana Jones!

The other rows are terrific, the front row is spectacular. I’m generally not that picky about seating, but waiting an extra car for the first row of Indy is essential.

It’s especially fun if you drive. It’s that illusion of control and responsibility…!


Amen on the front row in Indi!!! It’s THE BEST!!! Indi has to be one of my all-time favorite Disney attractions!! :heart: If you haven’t gone on Soarin’ (DCA) yet the top row is THE BEST!!!


These are all great tips. Thanks so much for all of your input. I’ll keep you posted on my plans as they come together! Thanks again!!


One of the great things I appreciated when I visited DL was the fact that it is all so compact. It was very easy to get around to all the attractions and visit each of the three DL hotels and Downtown Disney. And, I still had plenty of energy at the end of a long day, too!:laugh:


Let me know if there’s anything else you want to know.

I will be there in four days!