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ROAD TRIP: Tucson to Disneyland

cars land disneyland road trip | ROAD TRIP: Tucson to Disneyland

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 $13/adult or $11/child (ages 3-12) to go inside Cabazon Dinosaurs, where you'll view 50+ dinosaurs and climb inside Mr. Rex!

cabezon dinosaurs tree
Cabazon Dinosaurs | Cabazon, CA
cabezon dinosaurs brachiosaurus
Cabazon Dinosaurs | Cabazon, CA

Cabazon is also home to Desert Hills Premium Outlets, which is close to I-10 and has a Five Guys and a Starbucks.

Desert Hills Premium Outlets
Desert Hills Premium Outlets | Cabazon, CA

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

Disneyland Hotel Room
Disneyland Hotel | Anaheim, CA

If you're staying on-property at Disneyland, there are three hotels to choose from: Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa (average nightly rate: $413), the Disneyland Hotel (average nightly rate: $360), and Disney's Paradise Pier (average nightly rate $269). 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-$20/day.

WHAT TO PACK FOR THE ROAD TRIP

road trip tucson to disneyland

To make your road trip even more fun, pack:

  • Water Bottles
  • Snacks: grapes, bananas, beef jerky, nutrition bars, trail mix
  • Easy Meals: pre-packaged salads, sandwich ingredients, homemade muffins, yogurt
  • Any games, DVDs, or audiobooks to entertain the kids
  • Baby Bag: for easy access to diapers, wipes, nursing cover, etc.
  • Sunglasses

WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR DISNEYLAND TRIP

Here is a basic packing list to get you started:

  • One outfit for each day* (including socks + underwear)
  • One pair of pajamas for each night
  • At least one sweatshirt or jacket for the chilly Southern California evenings
  • Swimsuit, sandals, and cover-up
  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, contacts/glasses, cosmetics, shampoo/conditioner, hair brush
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes (2 pairs is best)
  • Stroller and/or Baby Carrier (if you have a baby or toddler with you)
  • A bag or backpack to carry into the park
  • Water bottles
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera or phone (+ 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 local travel agent.

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.

Remember that little ones (under age 3) enter Disneyland for FREE!

HAVE FUN!

One of the big perks of living in Tucson is that you are in easy 7 hour drive from Disneyland!

Not a fan of long drives behind the wheel? No problem! You can fly from the Tucson International Airport (TUS) to LAX in less than two hours!

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