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Planning a Disneyland summer vacation? Why it may already be too late

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The Sleeping Beauty Castle is seen at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., on Friday, April 30, 2021.

The Sleeping Beauty Castle is seen at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., on Friday, April 30, 2021. Here are five things to consider when booking that Disneyland vacation.

Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

Perhaps it’s been a few years since you booked a trip to Disneyland, but that’s on the to-do summer vacation list now that the temperature is hitting triple digits and the kids are out of school.

What’s changed about the process of lining up a visit to the theme park?

Here’s a few things to know when booking that trip, and why it’s a good idea not to wait.

How do you book Disneyland theme park tickets?

Disneyland tickets are available for purchase through the official website and on the Disneyland app, as well as through other vendors, like Costco or travel companies.

Park tickets can be purchased from one-day to five-day variations for those visiting from outside California. 

There are also three-day options for California residents, with the price changing depending on if you visit during the week versus during the weekend.

For non-Californians purchasing tickets, tickets start at an average price of $104 per day on a one-day ticket and can get as low as $76 per day for a five-day ticket.

That will allow you entrance to either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure, on a standard one park per day ticket.

There is also the Park Hopper option — the ability to visit both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on the same day — which costs an additional $60 per ticket.

How do you make Disneyland theme park reservations?

One key change that Disneyland has made is that, in addition to purchasing park tickets, reservations are now required to attend either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure.

Ticket holders must have a reservation for each day they plan to attend one of the parks, and reservations can run out for any given day.

Because of that, it’s smart to check if there are reservations available on the days you are looking to visit the parks before purchasing your tickets.

For that, Disneyland has a reservation availability calendar online.

When purchasing tickets through the Disneyland website, after buying the tickets, the reservation availability calendar will appear and customers will have the option to choose which park to attend each day of their visit.

In the case of Park Hopper tickets, you’re choosing which park you will start the day in, and can go between parks beginning at 1 p.m.

It can’t be stressed enough: When booking the tickets — whether straight through Disneyland or through a vendor — make sure that the reservations are made as well. 

Otherwise, you’re likely to be denied entry, even with a ticket.

How do you make Disneyland dining reservations?

There are several sit-down restaurants at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, as well as at Downtown Disney District, the shopping and dining area in close proximity to the two parks.

Typically, you can begin making reservations as early as 60 days out, and those reservations can be made either on the Disneyland website or through the Disneyland app.

Like theme park reservations, though, the closer it gets to the dates of your park visit, the more likely these dining reservations become unavailable.

What are Disneyland’s hours?

These are the current operating hours at the theme parks, barring any special events that may change the times: 

  • Disneyland is currently open from 8 a.m. to midnight each day. 
  • Disney California Adventure is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.
  • Downtown Disney District is open from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. the next morning.

What is a Disneyland special event?

One other key detail is to watch for special events, like Grad Nites in the summer or the Oogie Boogie Bash in the fall.

These are special, ticketed events you can attend that happen during the nighttime hours. 

The special events will take place at either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure, depending on the event.

There are two important things to note:

  • Standard Disneyland park tickets and reservations do not include these special events — tickets for the special event must be purchased separately through the Disneyland website.
  • Special events will close down the park early where the event is being held, at either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure, for those who haven’t purchased a special event ticket.

Check the Disneyland calendar online to see if there are special events running during the time you are looking at attending the parks.