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The best airports for Disneyland

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Before Disneyland visitors can take a spin on a teacup or race in Radiator Springs, many will need to take another ride first: on a plane.

If you plan to fly to Southern California for a vacation at the Happiest Place on Earth, the airport options may seem a bit overwhelming. While the vast majority of visitors to Walt Disney World in Florida arrive at a single airport, visitors to its California cousin have about half a dozen viable options.

Which Southern California airport is the best for your Disneyland vacation? It depends! I’ve flown into them multiple times on my travels and certainly have my favorites. Which ones will work best for other Disneyland visitors, however, depends on a variety of personal factors, including distance, availability of nonstop flights, preferred airlines and price.

John Wayne Airport (SNA)

Terminal C Ticketing Counters in John Wayne Orange County Airport

The closest airport to Disneyland — and the only one located within Orange County, California — is John Wayne Airport. It is in the city of Santa Ana, just two suburbs south of Disneyland’s home in Anaheim.

John Wayne Airport may not have a big name outside of California, but it punches well above its weight. The airport has flights on just over a dozen U.S. and Canadian carriers, including all five of the largest U.S. airlines. SNA offers nonstop service to nearly 50 cities in North America. At the same time, it still feels small and easy to navigate, with short walks and reasonable security lines (TSA PreCheck is offered, but there are no Clear Plus lanes).

Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines offer the most flights at SNA, with frequent service to many major West Coast cities. For example, there are usually four to eight arrivals daily from Oakland International Airport (OAK) and five to 10 daily from Las Vegas’ Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) aboard Southwest alone.

The airport only serves a handful of nonstop destinations east of the Mississippi, so East Coast travelers may find the overall travel time to SNA less appealing if a connection is required.

The easiest way to travel from SNA to Disneyland is by using a ride-hailing service. Shared shuttle services out of SNA are often more expensive than a standard UberX or Lyft ride, even for solo travelers. The 14-mile ride takes about 20-30 minutes and usually runs $25-$30 before the tip. The two ride-hailing service pickup zones at SNA are within easy walking distance of the terminals.

Related: Things to know before using a ride-hailing service at the airport

SNA also has all major car rental companies on-site within walking distance. Consider the overall cost carefully, however, before you rent a car. In my experience, most visitors won’t need one due to Disneyland’s compact size. Additionally, parking charges at many Disneyland-area hotels can be pricey. If you plan to spend most of your time at Disneyland and only use a car for a few daytrips, renting for a day or two near Disneyland may be cheaper. There is an Alamo office within Disney’s Pixar Place Hotel as well as several rental car companies by the Anaheim Convention Center a few blocks from Disneyland.

Long Beach Airport (LGB)

Long Beach Airport Sign

The small but mighty Long Beach Airport is also extremely close to Disneyland; it’s about 14 miles west of the park in Los Angeles County, not far from the Orange County border. LGB has become an increasingly attractive alternative to SNA for many Disneyland travelers (myself included), particularly those from West Coast destinations.

Long Beach is a major Southwest Airlines stronghold, with just a few flights a day interspersed from Delta Air Lines and Hawaiian Airlines. Southwest acquired a substantial number of slots after JetBlue withdrew from LGB in 2020 and now offers nonstop service into LGB from more than 20 destinations. I’ve found that Southwest’s fares are usually a bit less expensive than those into SNA from cities with nonstop service to both airports, making it a money-saving choice for many travelers.

Another advantage of Long Beach for Disneyland travelers is the airport’s compact size. I can routinely walk off a plane at Long Beach, head to the curb immediately in front of the terminal, and be in an Uber on my way to Disneyland in less than five minutes. The rental car center is just steps away as well.

The distance from LGB to Disneyland is nearly identical to the distance from SNA to Disneyland. However, the drive takes about 10-15 minutes longer (and about $10 more in Uber or Lyft fare) because it is mostly along surface streets or a more circuitous freeway route. There can be a little more traffic during rush hour to consider, but it’s rarely crushing.

Long Beach Airport is also finishing up a major renovation, so the airport feels incredibly fresh at the moment. The airport also has Clear Plus lanes, although its security lines (especially with TSA PreCheck) are so short that you’ll rarely need other shortcuts. Long Beach is definitely an airport where you can cut it close, meaning more time for rides in the Disneyland theme parks!

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)


On the other end of the airport size spectrum is the behemoth that is Los Angeles International Airport. LAX is about 35 miles northwest of Disneyland Resort.

Los Angeles International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in the western half of the United States, so it goes without saying that passengers have a multitude of flight and airline options here. For travelers coming from most major cities on the East Coast or from international destinations, LAX may be the only airport offering nonstop service to the Disneyland area. The massive competition at LAX can also drive prices down, so the airport is often the cheapest option.

Ground transportation at an airport like LAX is more complicated and time-consuming than at LGB or SNA. Ride-hailing is less convenient and more time-consuming, as the airport has a single pickup zone (LAX-it) that arriving passengers will need to take a shuttle to reach. Only black car services are allowed to pick up curbside. Standard UberX and Lyft fares between LAX and Disneyland are normally $60-$80 each way, but surge pricing can sometimes cause wilder price swings at peak periods.

Because of the cost and distance, shared shuttles can be more economical options from LAX to Disneyland, especially for solo travelers or couples or families and groups too large to fit in a regular Uber or Lyft vehicle.

Traffic between the airport and the theme parks can be substantial during rush hour. Travelers need to plan for the ride to take up to an hour or more at peak periods, and for a major airport’s longer ticketing counter and security lines. When comparing airport options, those flying in for a very quick Disneyland trip should consider the time lost in transit.

For this reason, I haven’t flown to LAX for a Disneyland-only trip in close to a decade. It simply takes too long and is too expensive when coming from airports in the San Francisco Bay Area (my home base), where both SNA and LGB are alternatives. But if LAX is your only nonstop option, it’s still likely the smarter choice, even with the more significant hassles on the ground.

Other Southern California airports to consider

I highly recommend booking flights into SNA, LGB or LAX for visitors only planning to spend time at Disneyland. If your travels to Southern California include more than Disneyland, other regional airports can come in handy. Although these airports are farther away, they may be closer to something else you plan to do. Additionally, they may offer cost savings or a nonstop flight option to save on overall travel time.

Ontario International Airport (ONT)

Ontario International Airport on Takeoff

Located about 33 miles northeast of Disneyland, Ontario International Airport is a medium-sized airport in San Bernardino County. The airport is larger than Long Beach Airport but smaller than John Wayne Airport. Southwest carries the most passengers from ONT, but American Airlines and Frontier Airlines also have a substantial number of flights.

The drive from ONT to Disneyland can often be similar in length to the drive from LAX but with different traffic and commute patterns to consider. The airport serves many of the same nonstop destinations that LGB or SNA does, so I find the airport only really makes sense for Disneyland travelers who find a serious flight deal or are coming from those few cities without LGB or SNA service.

Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR)


Hollywood Burbank Airport (formerly known as Bob Hope Airport) is an airport similar in size to ONT in the north suburbs of Los Angeles. The drive to Disneyland is only about 40 miles, but the route passes through all of the worst of greater Los Angeles traffic, potentially making the trip two hours or more during peak times.

For Disneyland-only vacations, BUR is rarely worth the distance and traffic. The airport, however, can be a very smart option for travelers who also plan to visit Universal Studios Hollywood, located just 5 miles away. Universal Studios has become an increasingly popular theme park for visitors beyond Southern California with the addition of Super Nintendo World last year.

San Diego International Airport (SAN)

Arial view of San Diego, California

Some Disneyland travelers may want to consider San Diego International Airport. It’s the second-largest airport in Southern California behind LAX and offers more nonstop flight options than the smaller regional airports, especially from East Coast destinations. It’s also the closest airport to Legoland California, so visitors who want to combine Legoland and Disneyland in a single trip may find it convenient.

Taking a ride-hailing service or a taxi from SAN to Disneyland would be cost-prohibitive for most travelers, but there are some transportation alternatives. Rental cars are routinely pretty affordable in San Diego. The 95-mile drive from SAN to Disneyland can be full of traffic, so plan on the journey taking two to three hours. Additionally, an Amtrak train runs from downtown San Diego (just a few minutes from the airport) to Anaheim.

Bottom line

Disneyland Castle in February 2024

There is no shortage of airport options for travelers flying into Southern California for Disneyland vacations. SNA and LGB are the most convenient and easy-to-use choices, but they don’t always have flight options to serve travelers from beyond the West Coast. Airports a bit farther afield can present the opportunity to save money or miles, in addition to being more convenient for visitors traveling to other Southern California theme parks or tourist attractions on a Disneyland trip.

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