Planning a trip from Tucson to Disneyland by car? We have a full guide to help your road trip be as safe, fun, and stress-free as possible. Read on for information about where to stay, places to stop along the way, and what to eat on-the-road.
According to Google Maps, the trip from Tucson, Arizona to Disneyland Park is 470 miles and will take approximately 6 hours and 51 minutes. That's the shortest route possible (along I-10), but your time may vary based on the the weather, traffic conditions, and how many people you are traveling with.
There are two possible routes to Disneyland from Tucson.
ROUTE 1: 1-10
The first route is on Interstate-10 and is about 10 minutes shorter. This "northern" route takes you through Phoenix, Palm Springs, Riverside, and then Anaheim.
A notable stop along this route is in Cabazon, California in Riverside County. The most distinctive feature of this stop are the dinosaurs! You'll want to take a quick photo or two after going to the restrooms. If you have time for an extended break, you can pay $15/adult or $13/child (ages 3-12) to go inside Cabazon Dinosaurs, where you'll view 50+ dinosaurs and climb inside Mr. Rex!
Cabazon is also home to Desert Hills Premium Outlets, which is close to I-10 and has a Five Guys and a Starbucks.
People sometimes also stop in Palm Springs, a popular luxury destination for celebrities. It doesn't look particularly striking when you drive by, but this "secret city" has a number of high-end resorts and upscale restaurants. Many of the most popular attractions (Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, etc) are not necessarily right off the freeway. If you're just making a quick stop, you can look for (or route to) the In-N-Out alongside I-10 in Thousand Palms, CA. It's Exit 130.
ROUTE 2: I-8
The second route is along Interstate-8 and takes you through Yuma and San Diego on your way to Anaheim. Although this "southern" route is about 20 miles longer, some people select this way to bypass Phoenix traffic and/or because they are planning a stop in the San Diego/Carlsbad area.
If you have small children with you, you may want to stretch your legs and eat lunch at West Wetlands Park in Yuma. Also known as "the castle park," this city park features an impressive castle-themed playground with swings, a dragon slide, a tot area, and climbing apparatuses. You'll also find a lake, covered ramadas, 9-hole disc golf trail (bring a frisbee!), and a second playground at this expansive 110-acre park. Note that it's not far from the freeway and there is a Sprouts grocery store nearby if you want to pick up a few lunch items for a picnic! (This is probably not a great place to stop in the middle of the summer since Yuma temps can easily reach 110+ during the hottest parts of the year).
WHERE TO STAY IN ANAHEIM
If you're staying on-property at Disneyland, there are three hotels to choose from: Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the Disneyland Hotel, and Disney's Paradise Pier. All three offer subtle Disney theming and convenient access to the parks.
You can also stay off-property at a neighboring hotel and still be within easy walking or shuttle distance. In fact, there are quite a number of hotels that are walkable to Disneyland. It's a breeze to find accommodations with complimentary breakfasts, regular shuttle transportation, and other amenities. Most hotels in the immediate area have a parking fee of $15-$25+/day.
WHAT TO PACK FOR THE ROAD TRIP
To make your road trip more fun, pack:
Snacks: grapes, cherries, beef jerky, trail mix, dried fruit
Camera, laptop, and/or phone (and related chargers)
* It may be wise to pack a 2nd outfit or a poncho if you plan to go on water rides (Splash Mountain in Disneyland or Grizzly River Run in Disney California Adventure).
P.S. It's good to be prepared, but don't sweat it if you forget something. Another great thing about Disneyland is that there are plenty of drug stores and grocery stores in the area.
WHERE TO BUY DISNEYLAND TICKETS IN TUCSON
If you want to purchase Disneyland tickets BEFORE you get to California, you can go on to the Disneyland website and make your purchase. Tickets can also be purchased from a Tucson travel agent.
DISCOUNTS ON DISNEYLAND TICKETS
It's almost impossible to find discounts on 1-day tickets no matter where you buy them, but you can sometimes find package deals (try Costco) if you are purchasing 3, 4, or 5+ day park-hopper passes. Alternatively, you can wait and purchase your tickets at the hotel you are staying at since hotels sometimes offer gift cards and/or discounted tickets for guests. Remember that little ones (under age 3) enter Disneyland for FREE!
Tickets typically range in price from $83-$104/day, depending on the season and day of the week. The most expensive option is to buy one ticket. If you purchase 4 or 5-day tickets, your tickets will be a lower price.
CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE VS DISNEYLAND PARK
There are two theme parks, which are part of Disneyland Resort. Both offer amazing attractions, shows, and dining venues that will mesmerize your whole family.
DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE PARK
Disney California Adventure Park is the newer of the parks. This park features many classic stories alongside newer installments from Pixar and Marvel. In most parts of the year, California Adventure tends to be less crowded than Disneyland Park. If you want an immersive and wonderful theme park experience with more room to roam and less waiting in lines, California Adventure may be your park.
There are currently eighteen rides at California Adventure, including Disneyland's fastest roller coaster (The Incredicoaster reaches 55mph and is the only coaster at Disneyland with an upside down loop).
If you are a fan of the Cars and/or Marvel franchises, California Adventure is where you want to be. See below for an alphabetical listing of all rides.
Goofy's Sky School
Grizzly River Run
Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout
Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind
Jessie's Critter Carousel
Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree
Monsters Inc Mike & Sully to the Rescue
Radiator Springs Racers
Silly Symphony Swings
Soarin' Around the World
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure
Toy Story Midway Mania
Web-Slingers: A Spider Man Adventure
SHOWS & CHARACTER EXPERIENCES
There are currently a dozen shows and character experiences at California Adventure. Be sure to check the Disneyland App and/or a paper copy of the schedule when you arrive to make note of times and locations for concerts, plays, musical pop-up performances, and character meet-and-greets.
Anna & Elsa's Royal Welcome
Disney Junior Dance Party
Five & Dime
Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off
Turtle Talk with Crush
Viva Navidad Street Party
World of Color
Dining options are plentiful at California Adventure and most visitors would argue that this park is more enticing for foodies. Food & Wine Festivals are typically held at this park and there are 35 restaurant choices - not counting cappuccino, churro, fruit, lemonade, popcorn, pretzel, and turkey leg carts.
Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats
Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta
Carthay Circle Lounge & Restaurant
Clarabelle's Hand-Scooped Ice Cream
Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill
Corn Dog Castle
Cozy Cone Motel
Fiddler, Fifer, & Practical Cafe
Flo's V8 Cafe
Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop
Jack-Jack Cookie Nums Nums
Lucky Fortune Cookery
Magic Key Terrace
Pacific Wharf Cafe & Distribution Co.
Paradise Garden Grill
Pym Tasting Lab & Test Kitchen
Rita's Baja Blenders
Senior Buzz Churros
Studio Catering Co.
Wine Country Trattoria
World of Color Dining Package or Dessert Party
UNIQUEASPECTSOF DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE
As is the case with both parks, California Adventure has a wide variety of gift shops, fabulous photo spots, and interesting things to do. Several of the unique aspects of California Adventure include:
Buena Vista Street is modeled after Los Angeles in the 1920s when Walt Disney arrived in California. If you can catch Five & Dime performing in the evening in this historic corridor, you'll be transported back in time to toe-tapping tunes.
You'll recognize Pixar Pier right away as your vision is instantly drawn to the Mickey Mouse ferris wheel and the Incredicoaster roller coaster. Behind these two attractions is a boardwalk-style pier with carnival games, dining venues, and smaller attractions - all with Pixar themes. The carnival games are pay per play.
Hop aboard the Red Car Trolley, a charming vintage trolley that will take you through Buena Vista Street and Hollywood land. Included with your ticket.
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is "a world of woodsy fun." If your kids still aren't tired after 20,000 steps, they can climb the Cliff Hanger Traverse, glide down a natural rock slide, go high on the ropes course to the lookout towers, or practice their park ranger skills on the tire swing at Sequoia Smokejumpers Training Tower. Included with your ticket.
Wander through Sorcerer's Workshop to learn some of the magical tricks that Disney animators have up their sleeves. Bookish types will enjoy entering a chamber modeled after the Beast’s secret library from Beauty and the Beast and interacting with an enchanted book to discover which Disney character your personality most resembles.
The Bakery Tour is a super quick, self-guided walk where you can learn how sourdough bread is made. Includes a free sample!
When you think of Disneyland, the iconic Sleeping Beauty castle likely comes to mind - as well as classic characters such as Mickey & Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Snow White, Peter Pan, and Pinocchio. Disneyland Park harkens back to your favorite classic characters through amazing thematic rides that tell enthralling stories that you know and love.
Disneyland Park beats California Adventure for the number of rides available with the number currently at thirty-two (see below).
If you love classic stories, have a toddler or preschooler, or are an avid Star Wars fan, Disneyland Park is your best bet.
Alice in Wonderland
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Casey Jr. Circus Train
Davey Crockett's Explorer Canoes
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
Indiana Jones Adventure
It's A Small World
King Arthur Carousel
Mad Tea Party
Mark Twain Riverboat
Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway
Millenium Falcon: Smuggler's Run
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
Peter Pan's Flight
Pinocchio's Daring Journey
Pirates of the Caribbean
Sailing Ship Columbia
Snow White's Enchanted Wish
Star Tours: The Adventure Continues
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Storybook Land Canal Boats
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
SHOWS & CHARACTERS EXPERIENCES
There are currently eleven shows and character experiences at Disneyland. Be sure to check the Disneyland App and/or a paper copy of the schedule when you arrive to make note of times and locations for concerts, plays, musical pop-up performances, and character meet-and-greets.
Enchanted Tiki Room
The Dapper Dans
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
Magic Happens Parade
Main Street Cinema
Meet Disney Princesses at Royal Hall
Meet Tinker Bell in Pixie Hollow
Storytelling at Royal Theatre
Tale of the Lion King
There are 32 restaurant choices at Disneyland Park - not counting cappuccino, churro, fruit, lemonade, popcorn, pretzel, and turkey leg carts.
Disneyland Park is also the only place you can get bantha milk (otherwise known as blue milk) from a milk stand or order up the famous DOLE Whip, a soft serve pineapple dessert that is particularly delightful on a warm day.
Alien Pizza Planet
Blue Bayou Restaurant
Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo
Fantasmic Dining Package
Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor
Hungry Bear Restaurant
Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe
Kat Saka's Kettle
Mint Julep Bar
Rancho Del Zocalo Restaurante
Red Rose Tavern
River Belle Terrace
Royal Street Veranda
Stage Door Cafe
The Golden Horseshoe
The Tropical Hideaway
Tiki Juice Bar
Tomorrowland Skyline Terrace
Disneyland Park offers a number of unique and recognizable themes and experiences that make this park the quintessential Disney experience. As the first of all Disney theme parks, you'll notice the fingerprints of Walt Disney everywhere you look.
The Disneyland Monorail is a 2.5-mile, 13-minute round-trip journey on a high-speed single rail transportation unit. There are two stations. The Tomorrowland station is right above Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Guests with theme park admission can skip the Main Entrance by boarding the Monorail at the Downtown Disney District station—and travel straight to Tomorrowland! It's not really a ride - more a crazy cool way to get from Point A to Point B! Included with your ticket.
Many people visit Disneyland and never set foot on Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. You have to ride a log raft across the Rivers of America to get there. Once on land, cross suspension bridges, explore caves, and climb through a fort.
You've probably seen the Sleeping Beauty Castle in a million Disneyland commercials, but did you know you can walk inside and experience Aurora's story through 3-dimension displays and sound effects?
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opened in 2019 and is a 14-acre land that will transport you right into the Star Wars movies. Meet nefarious and noble characters, ride two attractions, or make reservations to have a drink at Olga's Cantina.
Tarzan's Treehouse is currently closed and will reopen sometime in 2023 as Adventureland Treehouse, a whimsical attraction inspired by Walt Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson. We are so excited about this return to its roots and can't wait to wander up and down staircases, imagining what it would be like to live in a tree on a tropical island!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is new at Disneyland for 2023?
Disneyland is celebrating Disney100 in 2023. It's a special anniversary, marking 100 years of The Walt Disney Company, which includes limited-edition decor, treats, and souvenirs - particularly in shades of purple and platinum.
Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, a new family-friendly attraction, in Toontown opened in late January 2023.
Speaking of Toontown, it is currently closed for reimagining and will reopen on March 19, 2023 with CenTOONial Park, Chip 'N' Dale’s GADGETcoaster, Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, Mickey's House, Minnie's House, Donald's Duck Pond, and Goofy's How-To Play Yard. This will be your go-to spot if you have toddlers or preschoolers!
Wondrous Journeys is a new nighttime show that is projected on to Sleeping Beauty's Castle. You'll be mesmerized as you catch glimpses of your favorite characters from Walt Disney Animation Studios over the the past 100 years.
Magic Happens Parade: Led by Mickey Mouse and his pals, this daytime spectacular celebrates moments of magic from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios films as they are brought to life on a grand scale with stunning floats, artistic costumes and an energetic musical score combined with beloved Disney tunes. Disneyland parades are incredible! Catch one if you can.
Other new additions in recent years include:
Tale of the Lion is a live Broadway-quality musical, currently playing at The Fantasyland Theatre.
Snow White's Enchanted Wish - reimagined with new magic in storytelling!
Jungle Cruise - now with an expanded storyline and more humor!
Star Wars: Galaxy Edge: 14 acres for fans to immerse themselves in a galaxy far, far away.
World of Color ONE is a dazzling light and water nighttime show with an inspiring message that one person can make a difference.
If you haven't been to either park in recent years, you may also be interested in the following:
MagicBand+: Launched in 2022, MagicBands are waterproof, rechargeable wearables that look like watches (although they don't actually tell the time). Guests can connect MagicBand+ to their theme park tickets or Magic Key passes in the Disneyland app. The wearable can also be used to check into Lightning Lane entrances (separate valid Lightning Lane entry required) and easily link Disney PhotoPass photographer-captured photos to your Disney account. MagicBands are an optional add-on purchase.
Disney Genie and Genie+ debuted in late 2021. Disney Genie is a free planning service in the app where you can put in your preferences and a personalized itinerary will populate with relevant rides, show times, and other helpful tips. Genie+ is a paid service where you can enjoy Lightning Lane entry arrival windows for select attractions all day long. Lightning Lane is the new name for the old fast pass system. You can purchase individual Lightning Lane passes for the most popular rides, but they are not included with Genie+ and can run $25+ for a single ride.
Is there a Disneyland annual pass option for Arizona families?
Disneyland annual passes are called Magic Key Passes. There are four passes to choose from (Inspire, Believe, Enchant, Imagine). Imagine is for Southern California residents only so the other three are the only options for Arizona residents. Currently, the Inspire Key is the only option for sale and has a price tag of $1,599/person.
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