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A Disneyland road trip is in the works! Here’s all the information you need for your travel to Disneyland via car.
Depending on where you’re coming from, your drive might take you a few hours or a couple days. Either way, it’s a big trip with excited kids in tow who are anxious and ready to get to Disneyland Resort. Ready to get to Walt Disney World in the meantime? Get your Walt Disney World quote here.
I teamed up with Maverik: Adventure’s First Stop to get you from point A to B in a fun, fast (and safe!) way for this road trip adventure.
Road Trip to Disneyland Car Prep
Before you hit the road remember these essentials:
- 2019 and 2020, get ready for some delays while passing through Arizona from Utah and into Las Vegas.
- Get your car serviced and oil changed. I like to go to Grease Monkey because they have free fountain drinks and popcorn which makes this errand less stressful when I bring the kids.
- Replace windshield wipers if needed. There’s often summer rain storms in the California and Nevada desert with heavy, quick rainfall. I’ve been stuck driving through one with old wipers and it’s not pleasant.
- Restock or purchase a new first aid kit.
- Paper map. Yes, a legit paper folded map of Los Angeles, Orange County and the vicinity. It’s much better to have this on hand and not need it then get lost with no cell service or end up in a crazy neighborhood courtesy of Waze.
Packing the car is a major event when going on a family road trip. I like to have almost everything packed up the day before so I know it all fits just the way I want it. I also like to have a full tank of gas the night before, filling up at my local Maverik. I love that you can see prices right from their website.
Disneyland Road Trip Activities
Beyond the basics of clothing, toiletries and more, I set up each kids’ seat and it always includes things to keep them busy and comfortable.
- Small travel pillow and blanket. In the summer each kid uses a beach towel instead of a blanket, because we know we’ll be using those in California too!
- Charged tablets and earbuds or headphones. We have the Kindle fire for each kid, along with soft padded headphones made for little ears.
- Snack bags. I used to just keep a giant bag of snacks in the front seat and pass them out as needed, but now I get a gallon zip lock bag and fill each with snacks and candy. There’s enough for one each hour but my kids decide when and what to eat. They usually have plenty to go around.
- Water bottles are a must for any traveling we do. I have one kid who only wants “home water” from our fridge, so if I put it in a water bottle it’s now just as good as “home water.” My favorite water bottle recently is my Bubba stainless steel with a straw. It keeps everything cold and I must have straws.
- Books checked out from the library. All library books stay in the car because we never want to worry about leaving them behind in a hotel room.
- Coloring book, doodle books and colored pencils—no crayons, those just melt! My son got this Marvel doodle book for his birthday and it’s perfect keeping kids busy on long drives.
- “Guess Who Said It” game featuring popular Disney movie quotes. You can print it out for your road trip here.
- Five Disney road trip movies the kids can watch during the drive
- No-prep Disney Road Trip Games
Disneyland Drive Pitstops
Let’s face it, you’ve gotta stop somewhere along the route. For my family, it’s usually for potty breaks and filling up the tank. Let’s be real—it’s my potty breaks and filling up my soda stash.
I always stop at Maverik’s along the route to Disneyland. We legit plan our stops out to go to Maverik’s because we know each and every one will be exactly what we expect. Clean, convenient, and packed full of everything we need (or don’t need!). Many of the state-owned rest stops are often closed, dirty and inconvenient.
And if we need a break to run around for a minute, there’s usually a grassy area and picnic tables on Maverik property to relax and stretch.
Many people driving to Disneyland will find themselves near Las Vegas. And I say it’s worth taking a break there. What? People go there with kids?
It’s a different experience for sure, but if you want to venture off the route, there’s some quick and free entertainment nearby.
We tend to drive right through Vegas, but a few years ago we went on a mini-vacay and had a blast. One tip: if you don’t want to get handed any fliers on the strip, try holding your child’s hand or carrying them. Street solicitors would still hand out that garbage while walking next to our kids, but not if we were physically touching (shielding?) our littles.
Here’s what you can do for a quick break:
- Wildlife Habitat with flamingos at the Flamingo hotel
- M&Ms World, cute products, displays and a little movie if you go at the right time
- Coke Store, try the flavors from around the world if you have a strong stomach
- Bellagio free botanical gardens
- See sharks at Mandalay Bay
What else do you like to do in Las Vegas or nearby with your kids for a quick pitstop on the way to Disneyland? See what our readers have added to the list on our Facebook page.
Road Trip Overnight Hotels
We’re kinda backing up here, location wise. . . sometimes your best option to getting there “faster” is to take a break. Everyone is more refreshed and patient when they don’t have to spend endless hours in the car.
My favorite place to stay overnight is Holiday Inn in Mesquite, Nevada which is just over the Arizona boarder. I usually drive as the solo driver and one time, the kids were just giving me too much grief to go on.
I booked this hotel last minute and was so glad I did! Walmart is right next door, so we picked up dinner, checked in and headed to their amazing pool. They have plenty of outdoor seating for dinner, even a grill to cook on. We relaxed in the pool and played at the splash pad. And those in-the-pool loungers are everything!
In the morning, breakfast was included and we were refreshed and on our way. I love that it was away from casinos and smokey lobbies, plus the pool was just incredible.
Read This Before You Go
If you’re coming in from out of state, chances are you’ll run into the California Agriculture Inspection. Don’t let this scare you. It’s no big deal. Sometimes you have to stop and talk to a state employee, other times you simply slow down and they wave you through.
California Agriculture Inspection
So what’s this all about then? This stop in Yermo, California is unavoidable if you’re driving from Las Vegas to Disneyland. They are looking “to make sure they are free from exotic invasive species that may be hitchhiking with them. Although the primary focus is on plant materials (i.e., fruits, vegetables, nursery stock, hay, firewood, etc.), other items are also frequently inspected.”
I’ve driven this route hundreds of time. I’ve been stopped maybe a handful of times. Each time they ask me if I have any fruits or vegetables and if I have an apple or two, I tell them and I am on my way.
What else should you know about getting through the inspection quickly? Be prepared by reading through these FAQs.
Skip the Sunday Drive
Consider this your warning. If you plan to be anywhere between Vegas and SoCal on a Sunday, be prepared for massive delays and traffic. Lots of people from LA and beyond make a weekend trip to Las Vegas. Sunday is the worst time make your drive from Utah to Disneyland.
When You Arrive at Disneyland
Once you get to Anaheim, be sure to print out your Disneyland Plan, we have itineraries for all types of groups and families. Now get ready to arrive in time for “rope drop” and open Disneyland Resort!
Do you make the drive to Disneyland often—tell us what we should add to our list!