Things to do in Anaheim, California
Founded in 1857 by 50 German families ('Ana' refers to the nearby Ana river, while 'heim' means 'home' in German), Anaheim was a farming community until Disneyland opened in 1955. Overnight it became the global home of family fun.
With three large theme parks that are constantly adding new attractions, beautiful weather year-round and a family friendly vibe, Anaheim is the perfect place for a family holiday. And there's more to this city than theme parks - there's a trapeze school, a skate park, a flight deck simulator for kids (and adults) and a nearby coast that's full of beautiful beaches, including Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.
But at its heart, Anaheim is a city that loves Disney. Go and scream your lungs out on the Incredicoaster, take selfies with Mickey Mouse and Goofy, and eat so much fun food that you start to crave broccoli. Doing Disney in Anaheim is a rite of passage that every joy-loving family aspires to.
About our Auckland to Anaheim flights
Air New Zealand operates daily non-stop flights between Auckland and Los Angeles and flying time is about 12 hours. There are four seat choices - Economy, Economy Skycouch™, Premium Economy, and Business Premier™.
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Doing the original Disneyland®
Every kid in the entire world wants to go to Disneyland Anaheim. It's the stuff of legends and an experience they'll never forget. And there's a choice of two options, the original Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park.
Many people choose to buy a three-day pass for Disneyland Park. The pass also includes one 'Magic Morning', where you can enter the park before the general public. There's an endless list of things to do here: you can meet all the Disney Princesses, cartoon characters and Star Wars stars; there are parades, tours, shops and more than 40 restaurants and places to eat; plus there are the classic attractions, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and the 'it's a small world' boat ride. You can also climb aboard the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge or take a spin in the tea cups at the Mad Tea Party.
Take some time before arriving to plan out what you're going to do. Your kids may want to meet Elsa or Tiana at the Royal Hall. They can do that all day, every day. However, parades happen at specific times and some rides, such as the Incredicoaster, are hugely popular, so you might want to target them first thing in the morning. If you get a FASTPASS, ensure you understand how it's designed to be used. Not all rides or experiences accept the FASTPASS, so check before using.
Other things to do in Anaheim
Anaheim attractions and activities are all about fun and frivolity with your family. There are many places to go other than Disneyland, so make sure you leave enough time to spread yourself around the city. Here are a few to check out:
- Knott's Berry Farm, California's first theme park, welcomes over six million people every year. It has water rides, the Silver Bullet, Supreme Scream, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang and a ghost town railroad adventure
- Legoland is a must-do for families, and with 60 rides and attractions it can easily occupy a whole day. As well as visiting the 'Block of Fame' to see a range of famous people built from Lego, your kids will love building a Lego car they can actually race around a track
- Adventure City is great for younger children. Admission is inexpensive and there are heaps of happy-making rides that aren't too scary
- Camelot Golfland takes mini golf to a whole new level. It also has a Fastcar Raceway, laser tag and bumper cars
- Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament is an afternoon and evening attraction involving a four-course banquet, sword fights and authentic jousting
- Pirate's Dinner Adventure is another feast and fun option with live entertainment set in the piratical days of the 1800s
- Knott's Soak City is a water park of immense proportions. The newest family ride, The Wedge, takes groups on a thrilling and exhilarating trip with surprise drops, twists and turns
Family resorts for a relaxing stay
To make your life easier when you're exploring theme parks in Anaheim, stay within walking distance of Disneyland - it saves having to find a car park and if someone gets exhausted, they can pop back to the hotel for a nap. There are plenty of resorts to choose from. Most have a pool, playground and plenty of family-friendly facilities, because that's what Anaheim is all about.
Courtyard by Marriott is worldwide, so you know you'll get a quality stay. It has a water park with slides, and the one-bedroom suites will suit a family of four. A deluxe family room is fine for a family of six.
Knott's Berry Farm Resort Hotel is only a hop, skip and a jump from Knott's Berry Farm. It has a massive outdoor pool and play area, basketball and tennis courts, and a spa pool for parents. It's very family-friendly and your kids will love it. Plus there's a free shuttle service to Disneyland.
Howard Johnson Hotel has the advantage of having a pirate-ship themed water playground for the kids, with some more grown-up pools for the adults. A two-bedroom suite will happily accommodate a family of five for a few days. This place gets busy, so you need to book well in advance.
The best of Orange County
In and around all the fun you're having, you'll need fuel up to keep your family fizzing. There are a few special snacks must be sought out while you're discovering places to eat in Anaheim. A balboa bar is a local treat - a square of vanilla ice-cream on a stick, dipped in chocolate and rolled in lollies or nuts. Also make sure you visit the Crystal Cove Shake Shack for a date and ice-cream smoothie - it's been a favourite of locals since 1946. And don't forget to try a slice of boysenberry pie from Knott's Berry Farm - it's an iconic Anaheim eat.
For an authentic Anaheim souvenir, check out the tiki mugs from Trader Sam's Grog Grotto - the prices include a drink. Orange County is also the original home of Oakley Sunglasses and Vestal Watches, if you want to invest in a memento with longevity. For the extended family, a pair of Mickey Mouse ears can be personalised and themed at Disneyland - they'll be much appreciated by all recipients who are still knee-high to a grasshopper.
Things to do in Anaheim at night
After days of Disney princesses and yahooing on crazy rides, you'd be forgiven for wanting to stay in your hotel and put your feet up. But don't. There's still more to see (you can always sleep on the plane home!).
Heat Ultra Lounge is THE place to be. Right next door to Disneyland, it entertains up to 900 people with DJs and artists from around the world, an amazing lighting and sound system, exclusive VIP rooms, and luxe indoor and outdoor patios.
If bowling is your thing, there are options galore, including Lucky Strike for a blend of bowling and multi-media art. There's also Bowlmor Lanes, where you can hire a 10-lane bowling suite with a full service bar.
For a big dose of R & B, House of Blues offers a non-stop programme of live music gigs. Other music-themed options include Rumba Room Live, Chain Reaction, the Juke Joint and OK 501 Music Studio.
Best time to visit Anaheim
Even in December, California's coldest month, Anaheim has daily highs in the low 20s. The hottest time is August, when you can expect daytime temperatures in the 30s. Rainfall is minimal most of the time and virtually non-existent during the USA summer. Basically, any time is good for Anaheim!
How much will it cost?
Not including air travel and hotels, you should allow about USD $150 to $200 a day per person for food and entertainment.