We love a good family road trip, especially one where Disney is the destination! One of the many perks about living in the Phoenix area is the relative close proximity to many different awesome places to visit – like Disneyland!! It’s only about a six-hour drive for us, so it’s a road trip that we’ve done many times over the years! After making our Disneyland road trips so many times now (and with 3 littles in tow), I thought I’d share some of our favorite family Disney road trip tips! These tips focus on Disneyland (since that’s what we live closest to), but many of them are great for a Diseny World road trip too!
5 Disney Family Travel Road Trip Tips:
Consider breaking up the trip.
Obviously, the length of your drive will determine if breaking up the trip is needed – or how many times you’ll need to break up the trip! One thing that we’ve found is that it works great for us to leave on our Disneyland road trips after dinner (that way no one needs to miss school or work that day). We dress the boys in jammies and have just about a 3-4 hour drive to get to our hotel stop (since we’re in Phoenix, that stop is usually in the Palm Desert/Cathedral City/Banning area). We can almost always find a room rate (that includes breakfast) for between $75-$105/night. So, we roll in late (the boys are already sleeping) and stay the night there. We get up in the morning, have a quick breakfast, and then only have about a 1.5 -2 hour drive to Disneyland. It is SOOoo nice!! This works well on the way home too! You can maximize your day at Disneyland and leave late at night. Then just drive a couple hours!
Now, a six-hour drive is by no means “too long” to drive straight through. But, it can be a bit draining, especially with little ones. So, breaking up the trip like this has worked REALLY well for us. Hotel prices in Anaheim typically aren’t cheap, so you can almost always find a better rate by staying a night about 1-2 hours outside of Disneyland.
Plan a fun stop or two.
Whether you’re breaking up the trip or not, you will inevitably need to plan in a stop or two (whether for food, potty breaks, diaper changes, etc) –especially with little ones in tow. Where/when you decide to stop might vary depending on whether you’re breaking up the trip. So, as you plan the road trip, map out some possibilities of good stopping points before you leave. Ask for recommendations for others – favorite food stops, nice rest areas, or even some fun roadside attractions.
For those of you headed to Disneyland from the southeast (like from the Phoenix or Tucson areas), here are some of our recommendations:
- Even with breaking up the trip, we usually stop in Blythe for food & bathrooms. Exit on Lovekin for a McDonald’s, Carl’s Jr and Starbucks – all really close to the interstate. We usually grab dinner and do bathroom breaks before getting back on the interstate.
- Another fun place to stop is Cabazon just west of Palm Springs. Take the Main Street exit and you’ll find these HUGE dinosaurs right behind the Burger King there. The dinosaurs have been featured in a number of movies/shows/commercials/etc. and they’re a super fun quick stop! Plan this around a meal and you can dine under the Apatosaurus! 😉
Make a Road Trip Scavenger Hunt.
You can make the trip a little more fun by creating a unique scavenger hunt for your route. You can put landmarks on it of things you might see along the way – even particular plants, wildlife, license plates, etc. If you’re coming from Arizona like us, you could add things like the AZ/California border stop, Joshua Tree, the windmills, the giant dinosaurs, etc. Here’s a great printable example from Eclectic Momsense.
Create a Disney Road Trip Pack.
The first time we did a Disney road trip with the boys, we surprised them with some fun Disney-themed trip activity packs. Putting together backpacks with fun activities (this DIY Disney travel board works GREAT!) doesn’t take too much extra work and is great for keeping the kids occupied for a while in the car. First, their excitement of the bag itself continues for a bit. Then, all the activities and items inside can really help keep them occupied (and helps keep the excitement up).
Bring your favorite Disney movies & music!
This one probably goes without saying, but don’t forget Disney music and Disney movies. If you have a DVD player in the car, don’t forget the actual discs. Or, if you’re using tablets, be sure to download your digital Disney movie files before you go! We usually let the boys pick out 2-3 Disney movies to have in the car to add to the fun. Then, before we go, I like to make sure we have our favorite Disney soundtracks and playlists with Disney tunes for singing along. After all, jammin’ to some Disney tunes on the way is a must
Take the stress out of your Disney Trip Planning!
If you want to make your Disney Trip Planning easier, consider booking through Get Away Today! That’s who we use to book our trips and so we’re thrilled to partner with them as an affiliate! They really make the whole thing so easy & are great about getting you the best deal! They even have Layaway plans available for just $125 down (and you have up until 2 weeks before you go to make final payment)! Plus, Save $10 on any Southern California vacation package when you use our exclusive Get Away Today coupon code: MOMENDEAVORS.
For more Disney trip ideas, be sure to check out these posts: