Best times of year for a quick Disneyland getaway from Toronto + trip planning advice?

Becca43

Earning My Ears
Joined
Apr 29, 2023
Hi all! Wondering if you can suggest some good times of year to take a trip to Disneyland and DCA from Ontario? Hoping to go on a little 3 or 4 day getaway sometime in the next year or so. I’ve looked into it before, but flight prices always kills me, especially when you’re there for just a few days. So expensive! In your experience, what are the cheapest times of year to fly there? And are there any specific airlines you would recommend? Would most likely be flying out of YYZ but open to other nearby-ish airports too (YTO, Kitchener-Waterloo, etc.). If you’ve opted to fly out of Buffalo or Niagara Falls (American side) for a DL trip before instead of flying out of Ontario, I’d also be interested to hear how you found that - upsides, downsides, would you do it again, etc.?

Also wondering if anyone has suggestions on where to stay? Looking at a solo trip or maybe having one friend along (also female). At WDW, I’ve taken to staying at the Disney resorts but I know a lot of folks tend to stay off-property when going to DL because it’s a lot easier to access the parks from non-Disney resort hotels. Not looking for anything fancy but somewhere clean, safe, and secure is key. Thanks in advance for your help!
 
My daughter and I did a quick trip last November. She had a convention in San Diego and I decided to tag along and make it a Disneyland bonus trip. We had no choice on the dates but it actually worked out very well. Here are some relevant points from our little trip:

-We flew out of Buffalo on Delta. With all the extra charges for baggage on budget airlines, Delta ended up cheaper with a carry on and personal item included. We flew into and out of San Diego because of the convention but the prices in LAX were even less expensive for our dates. We really really liked our Delta flights, it felt luxurious compared to the last few airlines I have flown. On previous trips I have flown into John Wayne airport (SNA) and I highly suggest that if your budget allows it. It is closer, smaller and simply easier. I think Westjet has a sale on right now because when I did a quick google flight search it was coming up with mutiple dates from Toronto to LAX for about $270 return. That is a decent price imho. similar prices out of Buffalo in Sept-Nov depending on the date.

-The weather in early November was spectacular. We had one morning that sprinkled rain but otherwise it was sunny and warmish. Not too hot, but hot enough that we were comfortable is shorts and t shirts.

-I learned from this trip that there are certain times that are suer busy at Disneylad because of YouTubers and Instagrammers trying to keep up to date on content. For example, the entire month of October due to Halloween and Oogie Boogie Bash. There is this little window of slow down that happens From Nov 1st to Nov 10th-ish that the Halloween decor is down and the Christmas decor isn't up yet and we happened to luck into being there during that time. Of course I would have LOVED to have had the Christmas stuff all around me but I think the trade off of a not as busy experience is worth it.

-Speaking of YouTubers, you might want to watch https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRDgYztYctlZ5Z2dN9CW49w or
or any other Disneyland Insta or Youtube you can. I found this super valuable for planning. We rope dropped based on the strategies, found out about food I wouldn't have know about like the Cheesy garlic bun from Maurice's Treats which we sat and ate while we watched Alladin and Cinderella walk on by https://www.instagram.com/foodatdisneyland/p/C3yqDlpPPYZ/******&img_index=1 These social media tools are now my good to for all travel, not just Disneyland. Another shout out goes to the Disneyland section thread of these DisBoards https://www.disboards.com/threads/my-disneyland-dining-reviews-with-pictures.1253888/page-249
@figment_jii has some of the best, honest and fun Disneyland food posts out there!

-We had one park day tickets and that worked for us. We really didn't get to everything in Magic Kingdom but a)we have been before and b)somethings were down for the day (I'm looking at you Matterhorn!) We had a 13 hour day and I don't know if I could have physically done more. We did purchase Genie+ for Magic Kingdom and that really worked well. We found we did not need it if DCA. We also found out that because of the Magic Key passholder date blackouts, sometimes the weekends are the slower times at Disneyland. You can google charts that will tell you when they are and plan around those.

-We stayed offsite at Homewood Suites by Hilton. I had Hilton points to use so that was part of the reason for this choice. Another was the proximity to the Toy Story parking lot. This is a little tip I got a few years back. The buses to the hub run from the Toy Story parking lot so if you stay at any of the offsite hotels that are close to the Toy Story parking lot entrance, you simply walk through and over to the buses as if you had parked your car. The lot attendants expect it, it is something lots of people do and as of right now, there are no issues with it. Homewood suites parking lot backs onto the Toy Story parking lot so you can't really get much closer. The price is pretty good and the breakfast that is included is full of variety and changes daily. We have also stayed at the Hyatt Place before Covid and did the same Toy Stoy parking lot walk through. We have stayed outside the Anaheim area in Laguna Hills and other places and driven in as well. I prefer to stay in Anaheim though, if the parks are our focus. I will say that I find the safety aspect of the general Anaheim area fine but maybe as a single female walking through the parking lot at night could feel weird. It is well lit and there are always people around but this strategy might not be the very best if you are by yourself. If you check out the Disneyland section of the Disboards you will find lots of reviews and suggestions for where to stay on the other side of the parks near the formal entrance. https://www.disboards.com/search/5610037/?q=hotel&t=post&c[child_nodes]=1&c[nodes][0]=26&o=relevance

-As far as other good times of the year go, I was reading that this spring, just after Easter was really quiet in the parks. I cannot say for sure because I wasn't there but I am guessing it is kind of a shoulder season time.

Anyway, I cannot say enough great things about Disneyland itself. The park is just so magical. I love that there is so much variety within the one park, like being able to hit Galaxys Edge and then ride Jungle Cruise next. DCA isn't as good for me personally. I am not a huge Marvel fan so that part of the park is not thrilling to me. The Webslinger ride was fun and interesting with lots to see but kind of a one and done. I kind of get sick on roller coasters now so even though The Incredi-coaster is fun, I'm not really running to ride it. The new San Fransokyo Square was really cool and the food there was great but honestly I was underwhelmed by DCA this time round. My daughter, on the other had, LOVED it. Having said that, I would take a day at DCA over Knotts Berry Farm or soemthing like that anytime.

I hope this helps your planning!
 
Okay, so I have zero input on your flight questions except to say that flying into SNA is always better than LAX, but I can sure as heck help with the Disneyland/DCA specific questions!

As you can see in my signature, we've been to DLR many times in the past 13 years and have stayed both offsite and onsite. Over the last few years we have settled on staying onsite but we have stayed at a bunch of Harbor Blvd motels over the years.

Like all things related to a Disney trip, it all comes down to budget. As a woman, I would be fine staying at a motel on Harbor Blvd, even alone but I would want to stay at one of the motels that are directly across the street from the entrance. I would look at Park Vue Inn, Desert Inn & Suites, and Best Western Plus Park Place Inn. Those are the three closest places and where I would start looking.

Other random thoughts at DLR planning:

We always get park hoppers, add on Genie+, and get either 4 or 5 day tickets. Unlike WDW, park hopping is super easy at DLR and we will often go between the two parks multiple times a day, last trip our record was hitting each park twice in the same day.

My last trip was in April of this year, just after Easter and while the first 2 days of our trip were good in terms of crowds, the last 2 were insane! Always avoid October, Hallowe'en time is ridiculously popular at DL.

If you are not staying onsite, then definitely start your day at whichever park does not have early entry for DLR hotel guests.

Do not, and I cannot repeat this enough, do not try and grab coffee at the Downtown Disney Starbucks first thing in the morning. You are better to get to the gates before opening and then when you are let into the parks before rope drop, you can go to the Starbucks in the park. They typically let guests in 30 minutes before rope drop, at least that is what I remember.

There you go, pre-coffee thoughts! Feel free to ask me anything about DL trip planning, happy to help!
 
Thank you so much @alohamom and @Aladora for your thoughts and insights! Definitely going to look into that West Jet sale - $270 is _significantly_ cheaper and much, much more reasonable than I've seen when searching recently and in the past, so maybe I've just been looking at the wrong times 😅

Appreciate all the suggestions for where to stay as well! Not at all as familiar with Disneyland as I am WDW, so it's a huge help. Thank you for the tip about Starbucks as well - definitely made this mistake at EPCOT the last time I was there and, man, was that line long!!!

One big thing I'm realizing I forgot to mention! I will be travelling with a rolling walker due to having a chronic illness, so the other thing I guess I will need to consider is which accommodations will be accessible for me as well. There would need to either be the option to reserve a first floor room or to take an elevator if staying on the second floor or above. Can anyone share insights around accessibility of some of the hotels/motels suggested? It's not so much that I need my walker to navigate the hotel or even that I can't do a flight of stairs but just that there is no way I am going to be able to carry my walker up and down a flight (or more) of stairs every day to go to the parks... and I am 1000% going to need it for the parks. Lol.

Thanks so much! Open to any other general thoughts and tips of flights from Canada or accommodations if anyone has anything else they think would be helpful as well!
 
There are no direct options to fly to SNA from Toronto. Would require a transfer in Calgary/Vancouver/Chicago/Detroit/Denver/Dallas/Atlanta etc. The only year round options are Air Canada and Porter to LAX.

I'd personally take the direct flight to LAX and a longer commute to Anaheim over having to make a transfer and potentially more than doubling your travel day.

I stayed onsite and it was amazing. I went mid-September and it was crowded with conventions. Which can be entirely unpredictable. Still had an amazing time but you really need to prioritize your time for the before 4pm park hours before locals and conventioneers show up.
 
We were just there first week of May and have been in October, November, and August. For this trip, I signed up for emails from Air Canada, JetBlue, and Southwest to watch for offers and remind me to check prices every Tuesday. We ended up flying out of Buffalo, which I prefer, nonstop to LAX on JetBlue for under US$300 ($1777 for six).
BUF is nice for starting and ending your trip, with affordable parking and a small footprint that is easy to navigate. LAX is gigantic, but the only challenge I've felt there is "the final mile," which for us was getting from our car rental place to our terminal quickly enough in traffic. We meant to arrive an hour before and got to the gate five minutes before. BUT we were not late because LAX truly runs 24-7. Food places open, *plenty of security lines* open at 11pm for people taking red eyes. Meanwhile, when we landed in BUF (a touch ahead of schedule) we had to wait for a coffee place to open at 7am.
We enjoyed the Tropicana, walking right across the street to the parks, as well as the Cambria, despite the hike (hiiiike), because of its heated water slides, breakfast buffet, and resort vibes with 8pm Disney movies shown on the pool deck for wet and dry audiences alike.
We used to end our trip with two nights at a Disney hotel, but the cost just can't be justified for us. Especially with how much tickets cost (we did a 10-day trip that included LA and Yosemite, too, and the tickets were the most expensive line item, above food, above airfare, above all three hotels combined) and the need/desire for Genie+.
If you can, take half a day to see the Pacific. You've travelled too far to not get to the coast, and there are a million beaches.
Plenty of times of year are great in Southern California. We timed trips for Halloween, for the start of Christmas, for MTFBWY (this year's trip), and for low(er) crowds the last two weeks of August, when Cali kids are back in school but Ontario isn't. Pick a time that suits your life or desires (Christmas is magical, but more crowds; August is hot, but not humid, and the park runs on a full summer schedule even after Cali has restarted school), or your budget. It will be lovely. Even if it rains, that just scares locals away.
 
All great thoughts! Thank you! When you fly out of BUF, do you drive right to the airport ahead of your flight or do you drive down the night before, stay over in an airport hotel in Buffalo, and head to the airport for a flight the next morning? The latter is what we used to do when I was a kid, but I think I’d prefer to drive to the airport on the day of my flight if taking the flying out of the US route… If you’ve driven down the same day, how much time do you find you have to give yourself to make sure you arrive with plenty of time ahead of your flight? Or are you relatively close to the border to begin with? My main concern would be the potential of getting stuck in traffic or at the border and being delayed to the point that it causes a problem 😅 I’m not crazy far but I’d say it’s a sold 1h30 to 2hrs with average traffic and no major delays from where I am. TYSM!
 
For me, flying out of Buffalo really depends on the time of year, the time of the flight, and the day of the week.

In the winter, we almost always go either super early or stay overnight.

For a super early flight, we tend to go the night before. I pack a dedicated overnight bag with just the basics for just the airport hotel with pyjamas, toothbrush the next day travel clothes etc. I don't really sleep well on the first night of a hotel stay so this isn't always the greatest strategy but it does help with beating the traffic. With the influx of people moving out towards Grimsby and the Niagara Region in general I find that it really can add time and frustration to that drive to the border.

I feel like you do have to consider extra time in the form of going super early of staying overnight on weekends simply because of Niagara Falls tourist traffic.

A few years back, my cousin got married at WDW on the Victoria Day long weekend. Her parents are the type of people who do everything very last minute and actually missed their flight down for the rehersal because of the holiday weekend traffic backing the border up. They were on Southwest and were able to just get on the next flight but it was wild!

In general I find it overall less stressful and most of the time less expensive to fly out of Buffalo. I don't really like the drive home after a vacation but I hate having to fight Toronto traffic for almost the same amount of time when we fly out of Pearson, especially when there is a time change involved.
 
Thanks for your input! I forgot about the time change when travelling from Toronto to Anaheim too 😅 also important to consider when choosing where I fly out of as well, I guess. Lol.

Since it looks like there are no direct flights from Toronto to SNA as mentioned above, what's everyone's preferred method of getting from LAX to the DL area? This is where Mears comes in so handy in Orlando... I could take Uber or Lyft potentially, but I will have my mobility aid with me, so if there is an option similar to Mears where I know it will be easy to store it, that would be preferable I think... any thoughts/experiences to share? Thanks again!
 
Thanks for your input! I forgot about the time change when travelling from Toronto to Anaheim too 😅 also important to consider when choosing where I fly out of as well, I guess. Lol.

Since it looks like there are no direct flights from Toronto to SNA as mentioned above, what's everyone's preferred method of getting from LAX to the DL area? This is where Mears comes in so handy in Orlando... I could take Uber or Lyft potentially, but I will have my mobility aid with me, so if there is an option similar to Mears where I know it will be easy to store it, that would be preferable I think... any thoughts/experiences to share? Thanks again!

We have used Executive Car Service a few times and found them wonderful.
 
































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