Anaheim is a city few people actually know about unless you are a Disney fanatic. Most people visiting the world famous theme park assume that it’s in LA. In actuality, it is about 35 miles south of LA in beautiful Orange County. Most people intending to visit Disneyland will be flying into one of two airports: LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) or SNA (John Wayne/Santa Ana/Orange County). What is the best way to get to your hotel from the airport?
Renting a Car
If you are not a confident driver, do not have any patience or don’t like taking the freeway…. do not rent a car! Southern California is a dizzying maze of all of the above. With that disclaimer out there, renting a car is probably one of the most cost effective means of transportation. Everything in Southern California is very spread out. It can pay for itself if you are visiting San Diego or taking any other day trips.
Please keep in mind that if you are traveling with children that you will need to bring your own car seat or rent one. The airport car rental agencies will vary in what they have available. In summer and peak travel season they are not always readily available. Reserve ahead. Most major rental agencies are located at the airport.
Before booking any car rental, double check that your hotel has a parking lot and the cost of parking. You do not want a nasty surprise. Anaheim is congested and not all hotels offer parking. Be ready for sticker shock and prepared to pay between $10 to 30 per day for self or valet parking. I always advised my guests at the Disneyland Hotel to consider returning their rental cars and picking them up again when they were ready to take a day trip to save some money on parking costs.
Door to Door Airport Shuttles
Door to door airport shuttles are my preferred way to get from the airport to my hotel. These can be great as many of the companies have contracts with the airports to keep the cost to a fixed rate. From SNA to Anaheim it’s $10 and from LAX its $19. These shuttles do not require reservations, but I would recommend you make one for piece of mind. It can save you money to book round trip.
Super Shuttle is the largest van company in Southern California. I’ve used them a lot of times and have found them to be the most reliable. The other two companies that I have seen a lot are Prime Time and Karmel shuttles.
The vans can typically accommodate up to 9 people at a time. This can be a blessing and a curse. The vans will wait until they are full before they leave the airport. If it’s the afternoon the wait isn’t usually more than about 15-20 minutes. If it’s night, it can be much longer! I’ve had to wait for 45-60 minutes before. The vans also do not provide car seats for kids. You must have your own. If you are traveling in a larger party, you may want to take a taxi.
The shuttles usually accept cash and card payments. Gratuities are expected; I would recommend about 18-20%. If you are looking at total travel time it depends on how many passengers are in your van and how many stops the driver has to make. SNA is about a 20-25 minute drive to Anaheim and LAX about 45-60 minutes.
The biggest bus company is going to be the Disneyland Express operated by Southern California Grey Line or Coach USA. It was the preferred company for people traveling with families to the Resort when I worked there. The bus does not require a car seat and is usually the most relaxing way to get from the airport to your hotel.
The bus leaves the airport once per hour. One downside is that the last bus usually leaves by 7pm. Double check their website for the most up to date information. Now, the prices for the bus run a little higher than the previous option. From SNA adults cost $20 for one way and $35 round trip. Kids cost $7 and $11. From LAX adults cost: $30 for one way and $48 round trip and kids cost $9 and $14.
The Disneyland Express does not accept any cash payments. This is one company where reservations are not required, but buses can fill quickly. I would recommend you make reservations. There is no ticket booth at LAX so you will want to pay the driver directly. At SNA it’s at Terminal 2. Pick up locations at LAX are going to be on the outside island where the “Flyaway Buses and Vans” beginning at terminal 2. At SNA the location is at the Ground Transportation hub by Terminal 2.
The drivers are very knowledgeable and can help you figure out which stop is best for your hotel. Consult the DLR Express website as a guide here.
Taxis can be very economical when traveling with larger groups or if you just want to get to your hotel after a long flight. Taxis will be readily available upon arrival to the airport unless you are arriving late. We liked to recommend Southern California Yellow Cab. Going to the airport there were always flat rate coupons available at the front desk to give out.
If you are going fro the airport, there isn’t really a flat rate available, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask before you get in the taxi. Each company is different. From SNA a taxi should range between $35 and $50. From LAX the range usually is about $90-130. A gratuity of 18-20% is expected by the driver.
If you need a special van taxi ensure you request a head of time. Same thing with car seats. Some companies have them and other do not. A car seat is required for a child in order for them to sit on their own.
Shared Ride Services
In recent years Uber and Lyft have become extremely popular services to use. They are both readily available at both airports, but use caution. I won’t go into further detail. The ride cost will vary depending on the time of day.
The last option out there is to rent a limo or town car. The names off the top of my head I remember recommending as a concierge were: American Eagle, Best Transportation, Execucar and VIP Limos and Coaches. You will have to Google the companies for more information or feel free to call on of the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort for their list of preferred vendors. The companies may either charge a flat rate or will charge a minimum based on time, distance and party size.
If you are planning to arrive by public transit, check if your bus or train stops at the Anaheim ARTIC center. It’s an easy connection from there to the theme parks. I didn’t go into to much detail here because Disneyland has a fantastic guide already put together on its official website here on it.
This guide is meant to serve as a starting point for you to get you thinking about how you want to get from the airport to your hotel in Anaheim if you are visiting Disneyland. There are many factors to consider and only you will know which one of these options will work best for you. Good luck and until next time, happy travels!