The least amount of time that I, personally, would spend at Disneyland would be one day, from openning to closing on a day when the operating hours were from 8 or 9 a.m. to midnight. But, I have gone there for years, often go solo or without children, and know exactly what I want to do. Your circumstances are different. The least amount of time you should plan is at least two days. Three is more cost effective and will allow you the flexibility of having shorter days in Disneyland. If you are not going during peak season, plan at least one weekend day so that you can view night-time entertainment such as fireworks or Fantasmic.
You should plan a full day, opening to closing, to Disneyland.
Can you tell me the difference between 'Disney Park' and 'Disney California Park' ? We are travelling from Australia, and hopefuly coming in either March or September 2010.
Well, you can "Cram" in Disneyland in one day, but I don't recommend it.
I think the average out-of-town guest who is coming specifically to Disneyland visits 3 days, 2 days for Disneyland, and one day for DCA.
Many families will get a longer length ticket, for example Disney offers Australians a 2 week pass (14 days in a row). They don't expect you to visit on all 14 days, but it comes in handy for a short visit, such as a day at the beach, followed by watching the fireworks in the park.
With your age of boys, I think at least 3 days at Disneyland, a day at Knott's Berry Farm, if you like educational, the Discovery Science Center is just a couple of miles south of the park. Cleveland National Forest is a wonderful drive, stop at San Juan Capistrano first to check out one of the original Missions that help start California, and then head east on Route 74 to the Forest.
I think your kids are old enough for Universal studios Hollywood, that is a one day park.
And don't forget San Diego to the south, you can do one day trips from the Anaheim area, or get a Hotel for a day or two. SeaWorld San Diego is a classic, as is the World Famous San Diego Zoo.
Also I recommend the San Diego Maritime Museum, and the Seal Tour, which is an amphibious vehicle.
Also a Whale Watching Boat if you are they are in season (late December to early March).
Disneyland is the "original" park Walt Disney built in the 1950's. His "Dream", and started the chain of Disney parks across the world.
Disney's California Adventure Park is a park built in the late 1990's and 2000, and opened in early 2001. Disney wanted to try and get more out of town guests and turn the location into more of a resort than just one Theme Park with a Hotel next door. They did a great job with the Hotels and the new Shopping Center. Alas, the new park itself failed on many levels.
So much so, they are spending over $1 Billion in a major expansion currently (The original park that opened in 2001 only cost about $650 million to build).
DCA was originally designed to be Hip and Edgy and more for Adults and Thrill Seekers, and not much Disney. That focus has been changed many times since it first opened.
A few places to get a general feel...
And the Wikipedia pages...
One more thing, I strongly recommend you get the 2010 edition of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland.
Hopefully a local bookseller offers it. It has some great tour plans (schedules) in the book which are a great help.
In one day you can basically get a pretty good overview of one park or the other. You cannot to Disneyland itself in one day and do every single thing there, but you can do a lot from opening to closing - I think you'd really need two days to really have a chance to cover everything, but a one day overview might be enough for you. California Adventure is probably 1 day to cover it pretty well.
>>>>Can you tell me the difference between 'Disney Park' and 'Disney California Park' ? We are travelling from Australia, and hopefuly coming in either March or September 2010.<<<<
Darkbeer gave you a good description (and good links). I just want to follow with a couple of things.
First, some semantics that may help in communication. Technically, it is Disneyland Park and the term "Disney Park" actually refers to any park throughout the world that is owned by Disney. When you are inside Disneyland Park, or for that matter I guess Disney's California Adventure, you will see "branding" on products such as drinking cups that says Disney Parks and there are efforts by the company to market the parks as one, something that Disneyland fans who see Disneyland Park as special and separate from all other Disney Parks, don't care for. There are many Disney Parks, but only one original Disneyland. Disneyland is the park that was featured on the old Wonderful World of Disney television show.
Disneyland is the park that Walt Disney designed, built, walked, enjoyed with guests, and he and his family even had an apartment there. No other Disney Park can claim that, although Walt Disney World was his idea. Disney's California Adventure, although it will be more reflective of Walt's early years in California when the redesign is finished, can be fun but is not on the same stature as Disneyland and only around 10 years old.
Another note - about the time you are planning to come. In March, a large water feature in Disneyland Park, the Rivers of America will most likely still be drained as they will be working on cleaning and refurbishment of it. The river takes up a large part of the west side of Disneyland, feature three boat rides, an island that can be explored, and is the site of the Fantasmic night time show. The refurbishment will likely not finish until April. Also in March, there is a chance of rain still.
In early September, the Haunted Mansion ride will close for about three weeks and this is also the time when other refurbs may be done. In late September Haunted Mansion will reopen with a different theme, the Nightmare Before Christmas. Also, in late September the parks of Disneyland Resort will be dressed for Halloween/Fall and this is when the promotion called Halloweentime begins. It's a fun time that is becoming more popular. DCA will have a separately ticketed event that features a Trick or Treat Party.
During both March and September weekday hours are shorter than during peak season and the nightime entertainment may be cut back.
we just got home today & were in Anaheim for 9 nights, Disneyland was very crowded, we did use the fastpass quite a bit.
We spent one whole day just doing Cal Adeventure.
If u have small kids, give yourself plenty of time as there is lots of walking & lining up involved.
Without a car, it takes time to get around if u want to go to shopping malls ect.
We bought the 14 DAY PASS from expedia.com.au great value
We just got home from 12 nighst in Anaheim , granted we didnt spend each day in Disneyland , but we did spend about 6 full days and several evenings and could have spent more , I personally reckon you need a minimum of 3 full days to see everything .
If you want to spend a minimum amount of time I think you should purchase the two-day park hopper ticket. If you plan your time wisely, you can see 90% of both parks in 2 days. You should get the guide book mentioned above. There are some very important concepts in there that once you have them down, will make your time so much better. They include, using the fast pass, when to switch parks, what to ride first, when to get there etc. We were at Disneyland last Friday afternoon and went on 13 attractions in 7 hours. Cheers.