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Flying to Disneyland these days—it’s a whole new ball game with the current global health crisis. This article was written specifically for flying with new restrictions in place and will serve as a solid guide whether you’re headed to Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World or any destination.
I support responsible travel and taking extra steps to slow the spread.
I flew within my social bubble and practiced distancing with those I made contact. I was in compliance with all government restrictions during my flight and my visit to Downtown Disney including frequent hand washing and wearing a mask in all public places.
Which Disneyland Airport is Best
Choosing an airport is likely your first step when booking a Disneyland flight. For those new to Southern California, options can quickly become overwhelming. What’s best for you might not be best for someone else—and truly, there isn’t a bad choice.
So when someone tells you to avoid LAX at all costs, understand that they don’t know all your circumstances. For example, if you’re coming from Australia to Disneyland then LAX is likely your best choice.
Here’s a snapshot of the six major airports near The Disneyland Resort to help you decide. If there isn’t a clear winner just from the descriptions, often airline prices and routes will further dictate which airport you end up using.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The most well-known airport in the region and serviced by most major and low-cost carriers.
LAX is about a 40-60 minute drive to Disneyland Resort. However, traffic can make a short drive distance-wise into a long, delayed arrival. On typical days and times, you won’t run over 90 minutes from the time you hit the road to pulling up to Disneyland or your area hotel.
Car rental facilities are off-site and provide free curbside shuttles in between their facilities and LAX. From this starting point you are in close proximity to every major tourist attraction in Southern California (including one of my favorites, Hermosa Beach).
I often book in/out of LAX because of the huge amount of inventory. I can always get a non-stop flight here and the schedules are often catered to commuters with flights arriving early in the morning and departing late and night.
Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR). Located in Los Angeles County and simply known as the Burbank Airport, you will find this small airport close to Walt Disney Studios, Universal Studios Hollywood, the Hollywood sign, walk of fame and many more tourist attractions.
At about 90 minutes away from Disneyland Resort, it is farther but serviced by low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines and many major carriers like Delta Airlines. Avoid traveling between Burbank and Disneyland Resort during rush hour or any home Dodger games for the least amount of traffic.
Burbank gets my business a lot because it’s a breeze to navigate and it’s closer to home for me. My family lives nearby, so I usually end up using Burbank often when scheduling is in my favor.
Long Beach Airport (LGB). Long Beach is a small airport in Los Angeles County about 20-30 minutes from Disneyland. Long Beach is serviced by select US carriers; if you can find a direct flight there you’re golden.
If you can find an affordable, non-stop flight to Long Beach Airport, this is my number one choice.
Orange County / John Wayne / Santa Ana Airport (SNA). Located in Orange County and conveniently only about twenty minutes from The Disneyland Resort and serviced by a variety of well-known airlines. John Wayne Airport is one of those airports with many names so be certain to use the airport code SNA when booking flights.
I’ve never flown from SNA because the non-stop options for me are limited, but friends sing its praises, like in this episode of the Disneyland with Kids podcast I co-host where we cover flying to Disneyland in depth.
Ontario California International Airport (ONT). Ontario is a small airport located in San Bernardino County and about an hour from Disneyland.
This small airport has never been an option for me, but if you see a good price here, there’s no reason not to snag it.
San Diego International Airport (SAN). The farthest airport from The Disneyland Resort is San Diego at about a two-hour drive. San Diego serves as a gateway to world-class beaches, the famous San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, as well as SeaWorld and LEGOLAND.
SAN could be a good starting or ending point for your trip if you book one way tickets and are including San Diego in your Disneyland itinerary.
My top choices for flying to The Disneyland Resort are BUR and LGB. Both rank high for convenience, airline ticket prices, rental car availability and prices, along with proximity to the resort. Plus, my family is super close to Burbank airport so I choose that one any time I can sneak in some family time with cousins, siblings, parents—you name it, they’re nearby.
Book Your Disneyland Flight
Find affordable Disneyland airfare with the strategies I use about 12 times per year. With the exception of 2020, I’ve traveled out of state at least once a month for the last few years.
- Use Google flight search to show all possible flights available, except a few low cost carriers. Begin your search by typing in “Disneyland” as your destination, then click on “nearby airports” (bottom right) to include the airports discussed above. You can refine your search by selecting options like nonstop only. Bonus tip: look for the toggle alert that says “track prices” and google with email you as prices change.
2. In a new tab, shop low-cost carriers like Southwest and JetBlue on their official websites. I personally love flying Southwest Airlines because of their many perks:
- free checked bags
- free cancelation up to 10 minutes before your flight (the amount paid will be saved as future travel credit)
- rate adjustments online or over the phone if prices drop
3. When you’re ready, book directly through your airline. NEVER book via third parties like Priceline. If you need someone to walk you through booking your trip, we can set up a phone call to get things moving.
If you want someone to book it for you, I suggest using my favorite travel agents at Get Away Today. They can make the actual reservations on your behalf directly through the airline (and get you great deals on tickets and hotels). Call 855 Get Away and be sure to mention promo code DisneylandPlan when you book your 2+ night hotel stay as well.
With just a few minutes of searching using the right tools, you can save a lot for your family flying to Disneyland.
Before you travel, be sure to check into your flight 24 hours in advance.
Print your boarding passes if possible. Of course you can always have the boarding passes on your phone but I prefer to have the printed version so I’m not touching my phone as much or using my phone to scan at the same spots everyone else’s phone is touching.
As I leave for the airport I always double check I have things I cannot easily replace:
- TSA approved identification for everyone 18 or older
- Birth certificate for children under 2 traveling as a lap child
- Cell phone
- Face covering
TSA and Security
In 2020, you’ll need a face covering to get through TSA and security on your way to Disneyland. When you check in for airport screening, the TSA agent will ask you to lower your mask to verify your identity.
Not much has changed except distancing while waiting to go through security. For that reason, you should plan to arrive a bit earlier than usual. If you feel people are too close to you try saying something like, “Oh I am too close to you, let me step back (forward, to the side, etc.) so you can have your 6 feet of space.”
What can I bring through security? If you haven’t flown in a while, check out TSA’s guide to what’s allowed and what’s not. You can even type in items in the search bar and get instant answers. And yes, you can bring home that light saber you built in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
In 2020 there is an exception to the size of sanitizer you can bring. I recommend you bring your own sanitizer and antibacterial wipes to give your seat a throughout wipe down once you board.
Bonus TSA tip: take your sanitizer out of your bag and place it in its own bin. This way they can test the sanitizer alone instead of your entire bag. The same goes for fruit if you’re bringing those as a snack.
Boarding and In-Flight
Many airlines have modified their boarding and in-flight procedures to encourage physical distancing.
While you wait, find a place within earshot of your gate but where there’s lots of seats. Burbank is the only airport in 2020 I’ve had a harder time finding a distant seat. It’s just a super small terminal and not much room to roam.
After going through security, pick up any water or snacks you might need since these are limited on most flights. Use the restroom before boarding to avoid the one on board. If possible, choose a seat by the window and check your airline’s policy on leaving middle seats open.
Here’s my (airplane) runway look. Doubled up on the masks, wore my sunglasses and hat to create even more of a bubble around me and GUESS WHAT? I wasn’t even the craziest looking person on the plane!
If deplaning is a mess (ie not a distantly controlled process), wait it out so you can make sure you’re not squished by someone you didn’t travel with on your trip.
Once you land at your airport of choice, there’s more choice to make. Ideally, you’ll have those covered before you arrive. Getting to and from Disneyland is the major player here.
Driving a rental, taking a shuttle or using a taxi-like service all have their pros and cons. I recommend listening to this episode of the Disneyland with Kids podcast where we cover flying to Disneyland and ground transportation.
I also have directions, along with details on the following airports specifically here:
If you’re still confused because regulations regarding Ubers change constantly and you’re not sure which shuttle companies are still in operation, visit the Disneyland with kids Facebook group where you can get almost instant feedback to these questions and more.
If you’re flying to Disneyland in 2020 to see the reopening of Downtown Disney or just hopeful for when the theme parks themselves reopen, chime in with your questions or comments below.