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What You Need to Know About Guided Disneyland Tours — Is One Right for You?

by Leap on July 1, 2023 Los Angeles

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For Disney super fans who want to learn more about Disneyland, Walt Disney or a holiday at the resort, Disneyland tours provide an inside look and some very special opportunities not granted to other parkgoers. These intimate tours are also great for first-time visitors, who can learn a lot and get their bearings. The tours add a sparkle of magic and offer a new or nostalgic experience to your Disneyland visit. Some can even take all the guesswork and planning out of some experiences in your day.

Disneyland Tours - Tour Guide

Overview of Disneyland Tours

Disneyland has held private tours inside the parks over the years. From getting to step inside Walt’s apartment over the fire station on a guided tour to taking a VIP Tour to skip the lines all day, you'll find a Disneyland tour for different interests and budgets. Some tours return seasonally, while others are available year-round. These tours have a fee (on top of theme park admission) and are considered an enchanting extra for guests who want to delve deeper into Disney history and trivia or want some stress-free pampering in the park.

For some tours, you may be provided with an earpiece so you can hear your tour guide speaking as you walk around the park. No doubt even the most knowledgeable Disneyphile will see new details or learn new facts on a Disneyland tour.

Types of Guided Tours and Cost

Our Guide to Disneyland Tours - Walt's Apartment

There are smaller guided walking tours and then there is a private Disneyland VIP Tour that will last most of the day. We offer details on all of these, with prices and how to book.

Your park admission is not included in any of the tours. In order to take a Disneyland tour, you need to have valid theme park admission and a theme park reservation. There is a 24-hour cancellation policy for most tours except VIP Tours (which need more notice to cancel). Tours are paid in full upon booking. The full price is charged if you do not cancel on time.

Walt’s Main Street Story Tour — $160 (for ages 3+), plus tax and optional gratuity

Disneyland Tours - Walt's Apartment

This 90-minute tour kicked off in October 2022. It takes you on a nostalgic journey from Walt’s boyhood home of Marceline, Missouri, to the very apartment he stayed in and entertained family and guests in while Disneyland was being built and in its early days. If you have ever gazed up at the light above the fire station or at the names on windows above shops on Main Street and wanted to learn more, this tour is for you.

Disneyland Tours - Walt's Main Street Story CookieThe tour includes:

  • A commemorative lanyard
  • A walking tour down Main Street, U.S.A. (filled with behind-the-scenes stories and trivia)
  • A visit to Walt’s legendary apartment
  • Refreshments (a cookie and beverage) on the apartment patio (allowing guests in that space for the first time ever!)
  • PhotoPass photos of your party with complimentary digital downloads (get that iconic photo of you and the lamp that always remains lit in honor of Walt’s spirit)

You can take pictures during the outside portions of the tour, but you must put your own cameras away before entering Walt’s apartment. Luckily, the PhotoPass photographer will capture images of you in the apartment. Keep in mind that the lamp in the window in our photos was changed to a lamp that more closely resembles the original just before the tour officially kicked off.

Celebrating Disney 100 at the Disneyland Resort Tour — $110 (for ages 3+), plus tax and optional gratuity

Our Guide to Disneyland Tours - D100 Decor

This two-hour tour takes you into both parks, but you do not need a park hopper ticket to join the tour. You do need a park ticket and reservation for Disneyland Park to start the tour. Tours take place from morning until early afternoon. The seating for the Magic Happens parade is for the first parade.

The tour includes:

  • Walking through Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park with an official Disneyland tour guide
  • Touring Buena Vista Street, Animation Academy, Main Street Opera House, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and Sleeping Beauty Castle
  • Taking part in a unique drawing experience at Animation Academy that features special characters for Disney100
  • A digital PhotoPass photo download of your snapshot in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle
  • A Disney100 Celebration treat
  • Reserved viewing for the "Magic Happens" Parade on the day of the tour (across from the Main Street, U.S.A. train station)
  • A specially designed Disney100 commemorative pin

Disney's Happiest Haunts Guided Tour — on sale Aug. 3, 2023. Prices to come.

What You Need to Know About Guided Disneyland Tours -Halloween Screams fireworks

Hear chilling stories as you tour a decorated Disneyland Park and get to watch Halloween Screams from a special viewing area!

What You Need to Know About Guided Disneyland Tours -Pirates

Disney's Happiest Haunts Guided Tour includes:

  • A 2-hour walking tour in Disneyland Park
  • Learning the history of Halloween and hearing tales about Disney experiences
  • Expedited access to Pirates of the Caribbean
  • A reserved viewing area for Halloween Screams (keep in mind that it's a projection show Monday through Thursday and has added fireworks Friday through Sunday)
  • A photo op with the Hitchhiking Ghosts Audio-Animatronics from Haunted Mansion
  • Disney's Happiest Haunts Guided Tour pin
  • A Halloween-themed treat

What You Need to Know About Guided Disneyland Tours - Main Street Jack-O-Lantern

You need a park ticket (ages 3 and older) and reservation valid for Disneyland Park for the same day as your tour. You'll meet your tour at the Tour Gardens on Main Street, U.S.A.

Holiday Time at the Disneyland Resort Guided Tour — $110 (for ages 3+), plus tax and optional gratuity

Disneyland Tours - Holiday Time Tour Guide

This 2.5-hour walking tour will return for the holiday season in 2023. It introduces Disneyland holiday traditions from around the world. This seasonal tradition gets refreshed every year so returning guests can discover new surprises! If you cannot get enough of the Disneyland Holiday Time décor and want more, this tour will give you an inside look. You can take a daytime tour and see the daytime A Christmas Fantasy Parade or the nighttime/late afternoon tour and see the evening parade. Keep in mind that treats and inclusions are subject to change over time.

Disneyland Tours - Ornament PinThe tour includes:

  • Lightning Lane access to “it’s a small world” Holiday
  • Reserved viewing for A Christmas Fantasy Parade
  • Holiday treats (a cake pop and gingerbread cake) and cocoa in a souvenir lidded cup with a lanyard
  • Added insight into Holiday Time at Disneyland, covering Christmas and other holidays
  • A tour lanyard
  • A pin that could also serve as an ornament
  • Stops and treats in both theme parks (you do not need a park hopper ticket)

Be aware that there may be two tour times for each parade viewing. The first people to arrive at the viewing spot get the first choice of where to sit on the curb or stand behind.

Disneyland Tours - Parade

We did this tour in 2022 with a stroller (and there were a few mobility scooters on our tour as well, so it is fully accessible). We chose the later set of tours to see the parade at night (and "it's a small world" lit up at night). The parade is extra beautiful in the evening! But this later tour also made for a later night for the preschooler. The daytime tour might be a better idea if you are bringing little ones.

Disneyland Tours - Check In

The tour kicked off at the meeting area. Then we hopped to Disney California Adventure (you do not need a park hopper ticket) to learn about the 1920s and 1930s decor for Buena Vista Street and the 50-foot tall tree. Did you know the base of the tree incorporates Walt's story of coming to California with the train and barn? We got a cake pop from Trolley Treats and learned about Hanukkah as well. Then we hopped back to Disneyland to learn about Christmas on Main Street, U.S.A. and how that tree was designed. We hoppened to catch the tree and street lighting.

Disneyland Tours - Holiday Tour Guide

We walked through Adventureland, New Orleans Square and Frontierland, learning about the Christmas decor and about Diwali, Kwanzaa, Navidad and Père Noël. Then we were off to Fantasyland and "it's a small world." Due to a loading delay on the day of our tour, we ended up heading to our parade-viewing spot before riding and instead got two multiple experiences added to each of our tickets so we could go back and skip the line for "it's a small world" Holiday plus another ride.

Disneyland Tours - Cup

While we watched the parade, we enjoyed our cocoa and cake. Cast members handed them out to us in the parade area.

Disneyland Tours - Gingerbread

We did this tour with a preschooler in a stroller. While she loved the tour, if we were to do it again, we might save it for just adults for a few reasons (or do the earlier tour). It's kid-friendly, but managing a stroller through congested walkways and handling a small child's needs while wearing an earpiece and following a guide and possibly holding a phone or snack is a lot to deal with on a busy day. It would have been nice to just listen without the stroller component.

Our original plan was to leave the park at 7 p.m. after the parade for bedtime. But since things did not go as planned, we needed to ride "it's a small world" after the parade and did not leave the park until 8:30 p.m., which was a bit late for our little sleepyhead.

Disneyland Tours - Girl with Lanyard and EarpieceSo while you can certainly bring your whole family, know that we think this tour mostly appeals to people who are new to Disneyland at Holiday Time. There is a lot to learn and great insight. We saw a lot of couples or adult friend groups enjoying the tour together. Make it a special experience with a loved one who is a holiday super fan.

The parade viewing area is a curb and sidewalk located across the street from Plaza Inn near Refreshment Corner and the Hub. There are no seats. Some people get curb spots and others stand in the back. The nice part about the viewing area is that you show up at the viewing spot just before the parade is about to begin. Instead of waiting two hours for your spot, you can be on the tour and enjoy seeing other parts of the park and even go on a ride during that time.

Halloween Time Tour

As Halloween Time approaches, keep an eye out for the return of the Happiest Haunts or a similar Halloween Tour!

VIP Tours

Disneyland Tours - Signage

If you are looking for a personal tour guide to take you around the park and help with navigating your day, you might be interested in a VIP Tour.

Disneyland VIP Tours — starting at $3,500 for up to 10 people of all ages, plus optional gratuity

The VIP Tours are a much bigger deal and a much longer affair than the smaller tours. You can customize this private tour length (and what you cover) to your party's needs for your whole Disney day. The tour is a minimum of 7 hours and a maximum of 10 hours. To book, an adult 18 or older needs to email [email protected] or call (714) 300-7710.

Disneyland Tours - Matterhorn Bobsleds Lightning Lane

This is a large-budget item, but if you can afford it, it takes all the guesswork out of your trip. You can skip the lines for rides, get priority seating for shows, get dining reservations made for you and allow the tour guide to handle the itinerary, with your interests at heart.

Disneyland Tours - ECVs

A VIP Tour includes:

  • Your own private tour group of up to 10 people (including infants)
  • Complimentary strollers and wheelchairs (based on availability)
  • Assistance from VIP Tour Coordinators, who can help you plan start times, special celebrations, your group’s priorities for the day and special dining needs, including booking dining reservations
  • Hassle-free planning (tell the concierge what you'd do during your dream day at Disneyland, and let them customize a flexible day based on your family’s specific needs and priorities!)
  • Flexibility if something else sparks your interest
  • Dining reservations
  • Reserved viewing — VIP viewing and seating for select nighttime spectaculars and stage shows (subject to availability)
  • Priority access to favorite Disneyland Resort attractions
  • VIP Service — enjoy Disney hospitality and attention to detail with your own personal guide to help meet your needs, entertaining your family with insider tips and stories throughout the day

All offerings, services and experiences are subject to availability, weather, change or cancellation without notice.

Keep in mind that VIP Tours are nonrefundable when canceled 48 hours or less prior to arrival. If you book a VIP Tour as part of a Walt Disney Travel Company Package, the tour is nonrefundable when canceled four days or less prior to arrival; if you need to change or cancel your tour, please contact your Travel Professional.

Disneyland Tours - Cafe OrleansThe VIP Tour can be super helpful for a trip-of-a-lifetime experience, especially for people new to the park who don't know where to begin (or for anyone wanting a knowledgeable Disney expert at their side for a day).

For a lower price point, you might find a dining package worth it to get reserved viewing for shows and parades and Genie+ to skip some lines, rather than a pricier VIP Tour. But if you have the money and a large group, a VIP tour may help you maximize time and reduce stress. It's also going to spoil you rotten and set up unrealistic expectations for all future trips. ;)

How to Reserve and Where to Meet

Reservations are highly recommended. You can reserve regular tours online on the Disneyland site up to 60 days in advance. You may get lucky and book same-day up to 20 minutes prior to the tour as available. It never hurts to ask! You’ll pay in full at the time of booking.

You'll want to book VIP Tours early. Call or email to start that process.

Check in for your guided tour in Disneyland Park at the tour check-in area to the left of City Hall, near the tunnel under the train station. Arrive 15 minutes early. Your VIP concierge can tell you where to meet for those kinds of tours.

Guidelines for Tours

Here are some guidelines and tips to keep in mind:

  • You must have valid theme park admission and a theme park reservation on the day of your tour. Book early enough since a tour does not guarantee theme park reservation availability.
  • Make sure your park reservation provides access to Disneyland Park before the start of the tour.
  • Guests younger than 14 years of age must be accompanied by an adult 18 or older during the entire experience. For VIP Tours, guests under 18 must be accompanied by an adult 18 or older.
  • Late arrivals may not be able to join the guided tour.
  • Disneyland tour services are available during normal park operating hours only.
  • Tours are outside, so wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather.
  • Know the cancellation policy in case plans change.
  • Tours are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. (It can be challenging to maneuver through the tight crowds and stick together as a tour, but if you get lost, your guide can use the earpiece to help you find your way back to the group.)
  • Have cash on you if you choose to tip your tour guide.

Are you planning on taking a Disneyland Tour? Be sure to get your theme park tickets and make reservations so you can access the park. 

Related: Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland

Related: Disneyland Dining Packages — Where to Splurge & Where to Save

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