Want to visit the happiest place on Earth? Well, I aim to make you the happiest points person by reducing the cost of your visit to Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

In this guide, I start by looking at how many Disneylands there are and where they are located and focus on how to use and earn frequent flyer points on flights to Los Angeles, accommodation at Disneyland and transport options on the ground.

Next, I provide advice on getting the cheapest tickets to Disneyland and conclude with providing tips on how to avoid crowds during your visit to the park.

Disneyland Radiator Springs ride
By using the tips in this guide, you’ll be on the fast track to saving money on your California Adventure

How many Disneylands are there in the world?

There are six Disney amusement parks in the world.

Disneyland ParkCityCountryOpened
DisneylandAnaheimUnited States1955
Walt Disney World Resort OrlandoUnited States1971
Tokyo Disney ResortTokyoJapan1983
Disneyland ParisParisFrance1992
Hong Kong Disneyland ResortHong KongChina2005
Shanghai DisneylandShanghaiChina2016
Shanghai Disneyland
The newest Disneyland to open is in Shanghai, China

Make sure to factor into your budget plans the exchange rate of the country you’re looking to visit. For a family, even a small depreciation in the value of the Australian Dollar can add up.

What is Disneyland Park & Disney California Adventure Park?

The original park in California is the one that usually first comes to mind when someone mentions ‘Disneyland.’ Disneyland Park opened in Anaheim in 1955.

Another (slightly smaller) park called Disney California Adventure Park was added next to it in 2001. The latest attraction, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park, opened to the public in May 2019.

How to fly from Australia to Disneyland using points

The best-value way to fly from Australia to Disneyland is in American Airlines Economy Class from Sydney using Qantas Points. The second-best way is to use Velocity Points to fly Virgin Australia from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. Finally, cash tickets for under $1,000 return represent good value.

Using Qantas Points to fly to Disneyland

Although families vary in size, shape and form, for the purposes of simplicity for this article, I will assume that a family is two adults and two children, aged 8 and 10. I will also assume that they fly in Economy Class.

You’re going to want to fly into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). There are five airlines that fly nonstop from Australia to Los Angeles.

When using Qantas Points, you can choose between flying Qantas from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, or American Airlines only from Sydney.

A return trip in Economy Class on either airline will cost you 83,800 Qantas Points per person. For the family of four, that’s 335,200 points in total.

American Airlines Airplane on Tarmac | Point Hacks
Did you know you’ll save money if you fly American Airlines rather than Qantas?

If you fly Qantas, the taxes are $389 per person, which is quite steep. However, if you fly American Airlines, they’ll drop to $211. For the whole family, that’s $1,556 vs $844, a saving of over $700.

You can easily search for award availability and book your trip on the Qantas website. Here is more information on using your Qantas Points to get to the US.

Using Velocity Points to fly to Disneyland

If you have Velocity Points, you can choose from flying Virgin Australia from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, or Delta only from Sydney. The points pricing and taxes are the same regardless of the airline.

Virgin Australia 737 | Point Hacks
With Velocity Points, you can choose between Virgin Australia and Delta (both good options)

You’ll pay 89,600 points + $282 per person, or 358,400 points + $1,128 for the whole family.

Again, you can search for award seats on Virgin Australia and Delta through the Velocity website. Here is more information on using your Velocity Points to get to the US.

Using cash

A great deal for return Economy Class tickets from Australia’s East Coast to Los Angeles is under $900 per person; a decent deal is under $1,100. However, prices do tend to jump during school holidays, meaning it may be worth your while to use points instead of cash.

Which airline offers the most legroom on flights to the US?

You’ll get 32 inches of seat pitch with Virgin Australia, United and Qantas (on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner). Conversely, you’ll get one inch less on American Airlines, Delta and Qantas (on the Airbus A380).

Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner Economy Class
You’ll get an extra inch of legroom if you fly on a Qantas’ 787 rather than A380

This handy Google Chrome extension compares legroom across airlines when performing a flight search.

Flying within the US

If you are continuing on to somewhere else in the US or North America after your trip to Disneyland, I have a couple of pointers for you. Los Angeles actually has two airports that are more convenient than LAX.

Long Beach is the one that is closest to Disneyland and is a focus city for JetBlue, my favourite US domestic airline. They fly throughout the West Coast to places like San Francisco and Las Vegas, as well as to New York.

JetBlue planes on the tarmac
After your visit to Disneyland, you can get to Long Beach Airport in under 30 minutes

JetBlue offers the most legroom of any US airline in Economy Class plus they have free unlimited WiFi and great snacks.

My second suggestion would be to fly Southwest out of John Wayne/Santa Ana. Southwest is the only US airline that offers free checked bags (two per passenger!) and they have a reputation for being family-friendly and having great customer service.

Southwest planes at Austin Airport tarmac
Southwest is generally regarded as the best US airline for families

You can fly from this airport to places like Denver, Las Vegas and Oakland (just across the bay from San Francisco and easily accessible by public transport).

I recommend using Google Flights to compare your options. Here is some more information on which US airlines you should aim for (and avoid).

How to use points to stay at Disneyland

If you have access to enough American Express Membership Rewards points, then transferring them to Marriott Bonvoy is a good option. Make sure to choose a family-friendly hotel with features such as a kitchenette, free breakfast and a swimming pool.

Using American Express Membership Rewards points for Disneyland hotels

If you have an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards points—so not the Qantas and Velocity versions—then you have a couple of hotel options.

For Marriott stays

Marriott has 17 hotels in Anaheim. So which one should you choose? I have three top picks—and all of them have swimming pools.

The Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance has the best reviews of all of the 17 hotels. Plus, it’s only a 10-minute walk from the entrance to the park and has kitchenettes so that you can self-cater.

Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance waterpark
The Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance has a waterpark for the kids

It’s a Category 6 hotel, meaning it will cost you 40,000/50,000/60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. The price varies depending on if you’re staying on an off-peak/standard/peak date.

My second (and cheaper) recommendation would be SpringHill Suites Anaheim Maingate. It’s a little further away but offers free breakfast. It is a Category 5 property, costing 30,000/35,000/40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

JW Marriott, Anaheim Resort lobby
If you’re going on a more romantic holiday, the upmarket JW Marriott is a good choice

Finally, if you want a more luxurious stay, the JW Marriott, Anaheim Resort is a great option for honeymooners. It opens in April 2020 and will be a Category 7 property, meaning it will cost 50,000/60,000/70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

You can transfer your Amex points to Marriott Bonvoy at the rate of 1.5 Amex points = 1 Marriott Bonvoy point. That means that for a four-night stay on an off-peak date at the cheapest hotel above (SpringHill Suites), you’re looking at transferring at least 180,000 Amex points. If you are short of some Marriott Bonvoy points, you can buy them.

Then, you can book a hotel stay with Marriott Bonvoy points on the Marriott website.

For Hilton stays

Hilton Honors is another American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner. However, its pricing does not compare favourably to Marriott Bonvoy.

There are 12 Hilton properties in Anaheim. Unfortunately, Hilton does not publish an award chart (like Marriott Bonvoy does). Stays at any of the Anaheim hotels can cost anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 points per night.

Hilton Honors logo cropped
You’ll get more value out of transferring your Amex Points to Marriott rather than Hilton

Given that the transfer rate of 2 Amex points = 1 Hilton Honors point, you’ll be paying at least 240,000 Amex points for a four-night stay at the cheapest Hilton hotel on an off-peak date. Given the higher pricing, I think it is better to focus on the options from Marriott.

You can book a hotel stay with Hilton Honors points on the Hilton website.

Using cash to stay at Disneyland hotels

There are three Disney-branded hotels at Disneyland, but they tend to be quite expensive. There are good alternative hotels nearby—just make sure to compare deals and earn Qantas or Velocity Points on your stay. You can also earn Qantas Points on an Airbnb booking.

To stay at Disneyland Park

There are three Disney-branded hotels that are located right on the Disneyland property. However, they tend to be quite pricey, starting at US$350/night for the cheapest one.

Disneyland hotel pool bar
The three branded Disney hotels are right next to the park but you’ll pay for the privilege

The one closest to the action, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, has the best views but is also the most expensive.

You can check out the hotels’ prices on the Disneyland website.

With Qantas and Velocity Hotels

If you are going to book a hotel, try to do so through the Qantas Hotels or Velocity-Expedia portal. With both, you’ll earn 3 points per $ spent. However, Velocity has access to over triple the properties Qantas does.

A beginner's guide to earning Velocity points from hotel stays | Point Hacks
Did you know you can earn Qantas or Velocity Points when booking hotels?

Make sure to check the Qantas and Velocity guides before you book to see if they are offering double or triple points. They do this every four months or so but each promotion tends to last for only three days, so be quick!

With Airbnb

If you’re booking a stay at an Airbnb property, make sure to click through the Qantas portal first.

Qantas AirBnB | Point Hacks
You can earn 1 Qantas Point per $ spent with Airbnb

However, whilst you’ll earn 1 Qantas Point per $ spent, you can actually earn more with a different frequent flyer program.

With World of Hyatt

My final accommodation suggestion is to consider buying World of Hyatt points for a stay at the Hyatt Place at Anaheim Resort/Convention Center. World of Hyatt is my favourite hotel loyalty program and this particular property is ranked in the top 20% of hotels in the area.

Hyatt Place at Anaheim Resort:Convention Center room
All of the rooms at the Hyatt Place have a sofa bed and some have bunk beds too

Furthermore, breakfast is complimentary and it’s a 20-minute walk to the park.

This property costs 9,000/12,000/15,000 (off-peak/standard/peak) World of Hyatt points. If there is a 40% buy points bonus running, then this may work out cheaper than booking with cash.

Earning points on transport to Disneyland

Ridesharing

To get to and from the airport and perhaps the park, you may wish to take a Uber rideshare. You can earn Uber Rewards (from early 2020), but note that only higher-tier members can convert these points into Qantas Points.

Uber Rewards
Uber is launching its own rewards program in Australia in early 2020 and you’ll be able to earn points both here and overseas

Shuttles

From LAX, you could also take the Disneyland Resort Express shuttle. It services many Anaheim hotels and costs US$30/9 one-way (adult/child); return fares provide better value.

Public transport

To get from your accommodation to Disneyland, you can take the public Anaheim Resort Transportation bus, which has various routes. It costs US$6/2.50 (adult/child) for one day or $16/3.50 for three days.

Anaheim Resort Transportation bus
The easiest way to get to and from the park is to either walk or catch a public bus

You can save time by buying the passes through the RideART mobile app or getting your paper passes delivered for free to your hotel (organise this at least a week before arrival).

Car rentals

Finally, if you want to avoid the hassle of rideshares and public transport, you may wish to rent a car. You can earn 700 Qantas Points on a rental with Avis or Budget. Or you can earn 800 Velocity Points per rental with Europcar, Hertz or Thrifty.

If you do rent a car, make sure to factor in the parking fees that you will be charged at your hotel (averages US$20 per day) and also to park at Disneyland ($25 per day).

How to save money on Disneyland tickets

I won’t get into tickets too much as there is no points angle. However, in brief:

  • Ticket prices vary by demand, called Value/Regular/Peak (much like hotels have off-peak/standard/peak dates)
  • You can get the latest ticket prices here
  • Ticket increases usually occur overnight around 6-7 January every year, so lock in the cheaper price before this if you can (even for future visits)
Disneyland Toy Story ride
To save money on Disneyland tickets, opt to visit for a multi-day pass but visit only one of the two parks each day you go
  • As you’d expect, the per-day price gets cheaper if you purchase a multi-day ticket; you can find discounts on multi-day tickets, so shop around if you have time
  • If you buy a multi-day pass, you can visit one park on one day and the other on a different day; however, if you only have one day and really want to visit both, you’ll need to spend more money on a Park Hopper add-on

How to avoid crowds at Disneyland

With over 18 million people visiting Disneyland each year, you’ll rightly want to be smart about how you plan out your visit. Here are some tips to save you time:

  • Avoid mid-November to mid-January, mid-March to mid-April, and mid-May to mid-September (basically, expect crowds during the Australian school holidays as well as the long American summer break)
  • Visit on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday
  • Download the official Disneyland App to enter the park with an e-ticket as well as monitor attraction wait times
Disneyland parade
It’s important to have realistic expectations of crowd sizes and wait times when visiting Disneyland
  • Save time at popular rides by getting a FASTPASS (free) or purchasing a MaxPass (US$15/day, per person)
  • If visiting both parks on the same day, go to California Adventure Park first, then Disneyland Park as the latter closes later (opening hours)
  • Use this Google Maps trick to see when crowds peak not only at Disneyland but also other tourist attractions and restaurants

Summing up

The cost of a trip to Disneyland can be reduced by using your points for flights and accommodation.

The best-value way to fly from Australia to Disneyland is in American Airlines Economy Class from Sydney using Qantas Points. The second-best way is to use Velocity Points to fly Virgin Australia from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.

If you have access to enough Amex points, then transferring them to Marriott Bonvoy is a good option, especially if you choose a family-friendly hotel. If using cash, make sure to compare deals and earn Qantas or Velocity Points on your stay.

It pays to do your research on how to best get to and from the airport, as well as your transport from your accommodation to the park.

Finally, you can save time and money by purchasing a multi-day ticket, visiting the two parks on separate days, and travelling off-peak.

Supplementary images courtesy Disney and respective airline, hotel and transportation companies.

How to fly from Australia to Disneyland using points was last modified: January 3rd, 2020 by Matt Moffitt