Info on driving from Phoenix AZ to Disneyland area

Penmac

Mouseketeer
Joined
Mar 31, 2017
We will be in Arizona for a dance competition next summer. We are East Coasters and have been to WDW several times- sometimes doing the 20 hour drive down I-95 and other times flying with cheap airfares. With 5 kids, west coast travel is generally out of the question from a budget standpoint. I was thinking this trip to AZ could be our one opportunity to go to Disnleyland! I went for one day in 1988 and haven't been since. Logistically, it does seem like a lot of moving parts. Car rentals, flying in and out of different cities... Wondering if this is going to even be financially reasonable but I am very interested in hearing from people who are familiar with the drive from Phoenix.

Checking maps it looks like it's around 6 hours, which doesn't seem so bad. But, since I am used to East Coast travel I have (what I am sure are highly exaggerated) visions of driving through deserts with no gas stations for hours. :sunny: Is this a fairly straightforward drive? I am thinking we would rent a minivan on our last day in AZ and head out in the evening once the day's events are done, so mostly an evening drive. We will probably stay in Cali for 3 or 4 nights- 2 park days. Return car and fly out of whatever airport offers best rates on one way flights.

Thanks in advance!
 

VandVsmama

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 28, 2011
I live in AZ and it's basically a straight shot west on I-10. Speed limit for almost the whole way is 75 mph once you get out of the Phoenix metro area. You can do a one-way car rental and starting the rental in Phoenix probably won't be too bad because usually nobody wants to travel to Phoenix in the summer (so there will be more availability for rental cars).

There ARE long stretches of the route with no gas stations, but it's not for hours. Probably an hour without a gas station. Quartzsite is the 1st "major" stopping point on the route west. There's a McDonald's there and a few gas stations.

Then about 60-90 min after that, you hit Blythe. Blythe is in CA just on the CA side of the AZ-CA border. There is 1 exit on the AZ side which has a truck stop and a gas station (on opposite sides of the freeway). Top off your gas there because 1 exit later, the gas price goes up by $0.75-$1.00 a gallon.

We never really run into much traffic until we get to Palm Springs, then we usually notice the freeway being a bit busier.

If you can swing it, try to time your drive so you avoid being in rush hour traffic, which would be in the 3-7 pm time frame. However, if you can't avoid that, you can use car pool lanes once you get more into Riverside county and Orange County. Usually, Google Maps recommends us to take the 91 freeway to get to Anaheim, but during rush hour, that freeway is a nightmare. During non-rush hour times of day, it's ok...but there's stretches of it through this hilly area which I find to be really stressful to drive through because it's 2 lanes in each direction through that part and people drive it like bats out of you know where...and there's hardly any shoulder. It's notorious for accidents in that part.
 


VandVsmama

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 28, 2011
Also, there's an app called Waze that a lot of people in So Cal use to help them figure out the best routes with the shortest drive time and fewer traffic issues.
 
  • Penmac

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2017
    I live in AZ and it's basically a straight shot west on I-10. Speed limit for almost the whole way is 75 mph once you get out of the Phoenix metro area. You can do a one-way car rental and starting the rental in Phoenix probably won't be too bad because usually nobody wants to travel to Phoenix in the summer (so there will be more availability for rental cars).

    There ARE long stretches of the route with no gas stations, but it's not for hours. Probably an hour without a gas station. Quartzsite is the 1st "major" stopping point on the route west. There's a McDonald's there and a few gas stations.

    Then about 60-90 min after that, you hit Blythe. Blythe is in CA just on the CA side of the AZ-CA border. There is 1 exit on the AZ side which has a truck stop and a gas station (on opposite sides of the freeway). Top off your gas there because 1 exit later, the gas price goes up by $0.75-$1.00 a gallon.

    We never really run into much traffic until we get to Palm Springs, then we usually notice the freeway being a bit busier.

    If you can swing it, try to time your drive so you avoid being in rush hour traffic, which would be in the 3-7 pm time frame. However, if you can't avoid that, you can use car pool lanes once you get more into Riverside county and Orange County. Usually, Google Maps recommends us to take the 91 freeway to get to Anaheim, but during rush hour, that freeway is a nightmare. During non-rush hour times of day, it's ok...but there's stretches of it through this hilly area which I find to be really stressful to drive through because it's 2 lanes in each direction through that part and people drive it like bats out of you know where...and there's hardly any shoulder. It's notorious for accidents in that part.
    Thank you for the great info! I am hoping that prices will be competitive on some aspects of the AZ leg of the trip since it’s basically 1000 degrees in July. 8-) Will leave more $$$ for Disney!
     

    VandVsmama

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 28, 2011
    Thank you for the great info! I am hoping that prices will be competitive on some aspects of the AZ leg of the trip since it’s basically 1000 degrees in July. 8-) Will leave more $$$ for Disney!
    Usually there can be some good hotel deals in the Phoenix area in the summer. Same thing on car rentals, too. Come over to the Disneyland side of the board, too, because there's a lot of great info there about Disneyland trip planning. It's different than planning a WDW trip.
     

    GrnMtnMan

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 2, 2008
    Wondering if this is going to even be financially reasonable but I am very interested in hearing from people who are familiar with the drive from Phoenix.
    I'm an east-coaster and I did a version of this trip in August 2019. We flew into Phoenix, went to the Grand Canyon for two nights, drove to Las Vegas for 2 nights, then finished up in Southern California and Disneyland, flying home from LAX. Its a 4ish hour drive for each leg between PHX and the GC and the GC and Vegas.

    The Grand Canyon and Las Vegas legs of the trip can be done pretty cheaply....just something to consider if you don't expect to be out in that part of the country again.
     
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  • bcla

    On our rugged Eastern foothills.....
    Joined
    Nov 28, 2012
    I'd note that unless you're taking lots of side roads, almost any fairly new car should be able to make it from Phoenix to Anaheim on a full tank. But yeah - fill up in Arizona just before the border and you'll save on fuel compared to most of California.

    If you're a Costco member, from a recent visit I found that the cheapest gas within 5 miles of Anaheim was the Costco (if you're a member) in Fullerton.
     

    Penmac

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2017
    I'd note that unless you're taking lots of side roads, almost any fairly new car should be able to make it from Phoenix to Anaheim on a full tank. But yeah - fill up in Arizona just before the border and you'll save on fuel compared to most of California.

    If you're a Costco member, from a recent visit I found that the cheapest gas within 5 miles of Anaheim was the Costco (if you're a member) in Fullerton.
    Thanks. We are BJ’s members. There are more of them here than Costco and a gas station right near our house. We have the credit card so get an extra discount on gas.
    Helpful to know in advance that AZ gas is more reasonable. I drove to NC last spring and someone on disboards gave me the same advice about crossing the VA/NC border. Every bit helps when you are saving for return Disney trips. 😊
     

    bcla

    On our rugged Eastern foothills.....
    Joined
    Nov 28, 2012
    Thanks. We are BJ’s members. There are more of them here than Costco and a gas station right near our house. We have the credit card so get an extra discount on gas.
    Helpful to know in advance that AZ gas is more reasonable. I drove to NC last spring and someone on disboards gave me the same advice about crossing the VA/NC border. Every bit helps when you are saving for return Disney trips. 😊
    They're not in California obviously. California has a bunch of differences including higher fuel taxes and a specifications for fuel that no other state requires. The price spikes every time there's a refinery accident or a refinery goes down for maintenance. Here's a GasBuddy map. As of today, for regular the cheapest is $3.659/gallon in Blythe, CA right on the Arizona border. A few miles across the border in Arizona it's as low as $2.779.


    The price of gas around Southern California varies a lot though.
     
  • MaddAboutYou

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Apr 18, 2018
    We always drive from Phoenix to Disneyland as it's so much easier and less expensive than flying, and really not much more time is involved by the time you factor in parking at airport, security lines, etc. Reserve a car outside the airport area and you'll save in extra 'tourist' fees (taxes). Enjoy your trip!
     

    bcla

    On our rugged Eastern foothills.....
    Joined
    Nov 28, 2012
    We always drive from Phoenix to Disneyland as it's so much easier and less expensive than flying, and really not much more time is involved by the time you factor in parking at airport, security lines, etc. Reserve a car outside the airport area and you'll save in extra 'tourist' fees (taxes). Enjoy your trip!
    Depends on the airport and the particular rates. I've seen airport rates as low as $5/day, and if it's a low fee airport that works pretty well. But when it's stressed to capacity, airport rates spike up more than anything else.
     

    Deb1993

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Aug 29, 2019
    Like GrnMtnMn, my family did a similar trip from the East Coast in 2016 June/July. We flew into Phoenix, drove to Flagstaff and stayed overnight. Drove to Grand Canyon, stayed for 2 nights, drove to Vegas, stayed for 2 nights, drove to Anaheim, stayed for 4 nights, then drove to San Diego, stayed for 3 nights, left car rental we picked up on Phoenix in San Diego and flew home to NY. Great trip.
     

    Summer2018

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 29, 2017
    We will be in Arizona for a dance competition next summer. We are East Coasters and have been to WDW several times- sometimes doing the 20 hour drive down I-95 and other times flying with cheap airfares. With 5 kids, west coast travel is generally out of the question from a budget standpoint. I was thinking this trip to AZ could be our one opportunity to go to Disnleyland! I went for one day in 1988 and haven't been since. Logistically, it does seem like a lot of moving parts. Car rentals, flying in and out of different cities... Wondering if this is going to even be financially reasonable but I am very interested in hearing from people who are familiar with the drive from Phoenix.

    Checking maps it looks like it's around 6 hours, which doesn't seem so bad. But, since I am used to East Coast travel I have (what I am sure are highly exaggerated) visions of driving through deserts with no gas stations for hours. :sunny: Is this a fairly straightforward drive? I am thinking we would rent a minivan on our last day in AZ and head out in the evening once the day's events are done, so mostly an evening drive. We will probably stay in Cali for 3 or 4 nights- 2 park days. Return car and fly out of whatever airport offers best rates on one way flights.

    Thanks in advance!
    We did it in April, Thursday before Easter week. We had a family reunion in Phoenix, AZ. We flew in from NYC on Thursday and spent Friday and Saturday with AZ family. We drove our rental car to Disneyland on Palm Sunday. The ride was longer than predicted because I ate something that didn't agree with me the night before, so we stopped a lot. It was super cool to see the different landscape from what we are used to in the east. The mountains were huge, and there were windmills everywhere. It was a beautiful ride.

    We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel for six days and absolutely fell in love with both Disneyland and California. We took a day to drive out to the beaches. We watched the surfers on Huntington Beach and Seal Beach. We loved walking through Downtown Disney every day instead of having to take a long bus ride to get there in WDW. The monorail took us into Tomorrowland. We didn't bother with walking down Main Street to enter because the castle was being refurbished at the time.

    Going home, we flew from John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana, CA. The drive was fine one way, but I didn't want to do it again going home.
     
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    disneyseniors

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 2, 2014
    We've thought of doing this trip several times. Now that my husband has retired I think we will do it. We have family in Casa Grande so that makes it easier. Sounds fantastic. I will go to the Disneyland site and check it out. Thanks for the great info:)
     

    oakleycat

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 19, 2017
    Like everyone says, it's a really easy drive. I live about 20 minutes from DL and have family all over the Phoenix area so I've done it many times. Just leave early or late enough that you're not hitting rush hour traffic, make sure you carry lots of water with you just in case as it will be 100+ in the desert, and remember to get that gas before the CA border! I fill up in Phoenix and can make it home on one tank.
     

    Paigesmom2013

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 25, 2013
    Someone mentioned a possible detour to the Grand Canyon. I really recommend staying at one of the park lodges. 1 or 2 nights is enough time. The reservations were refundable (at least 2 years ago), so if you even think you might go, get your reservations asap.
     

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