Jun 3, 2013

One Dozen Tips for a Magical Trip to Disneyland

Like I may have mentioned in this previous post, my family and I were out of town last week in Disneyland (for 5 days...).  This is becoming an annual trip for us and we've learned a few things over the years (my daughter was 6 MONTHS old the first time we visited).  In no particular order:

1. Go before the park opens. 
I mean, why not??  Want to sleep in?  That's fine, me, my family, and the 5,000-7,500 other early birds will get the worm.  By early birds, I mean people who wake up early, line up early and get inside the park before it opens.  By worm I mean every single experience with a short line you will ever have in Disneyland.  Seriously.  After the first hour or two there are noticeably more people, and the lines go from 5 to 10 minutes to 20-25 minutes.  We usually show up about 45 minutes before the park opens, and they usually let us in the gates about 20-30 minutes before the park "officially opens", then we can line up at the entrance to whatever land we are trying to go to.

2. Don't forget the sunscreen.
Seriously, the So Cal {Southern Californian} sun is unforgiving and there is a lot of white inside that park reflecting the sun back on you a thousand times, it's like the sunscreen companies have an agreement with Disney.  Nothing ruins a vacation faster than a kid with a sunburn... who has to wait in long lines... in the sun. {Buying sunscreen in the park or hotel "gift shop" will result in the need to take out a small loan from your bank, so bring yours from home}.

3.  Stop and take the pictures. 
Is it important to your kids they get to take pictures with a character?   They are not always out and about, sometimes you can't find a character to save your life.  They are all basically done taking pictures as of 4:30pm.  If you see a random princess or Mickey or Minnie walking, run over to them {while you simultaneously drag your child along, turn on your camera and when the character holds your child's hand or hugs them for exactly 10 seconds} and get that picture! 

If you see a "long line" of people waiting to take pictures with Mickey or Minnie or Goofy or Pluto on Main Street, do the math.  The characters spend approximately between 45 seconds and 90 seconds with each child.  {Slightly longer if they have an Autograph book} - count the number of children and that is about how many minutes you will wait.  Princesses take slightly longer because they talk to the little girls and discuss their clothes and hair.

4. Bring hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and maybe an oxygen tank. 
(Okay, I'm kidding about the oxygen.)  There can be literally 50,000-70,000 other people in the park on an extremely busy day, and they are all doing the same thing your kids are doing.  Wiping their nose with their hand, rubbing it on their back-side and then rubbing their back-side on every available chain and handrail... which your kids will touch, and likely lick.  {I seriously watched a kid rest his mouth on a handrail and taste it for a full minute... gag}

5. Buy the ears first thing. 
Depending on how many days you are spending at Disneyland, it's worth it.  Just go before the park is open, run into the Mad Hatter on Main Street (go through the right arch, it is just to the left of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln), pick out the ears that suit you (or your short person) and wear the heck out of 'em.  Your pictures will thank you.

6. Use the Fast Pass Option
I promise you, it is worth it.  It may seem a little silly to stop and wait in a line to get tickets that will give you a shorter line later in the day, but it is worth it.  For example, if you want to ride Indiana Jones and the line is 45 minutes to an hour wait, or Star Tours is a must-ride for your family, but the line is 90 minutes, you can wait a maximum of 15 minutes for either one of those rides with a fast pass, and go on a ride in the meantime. 

7. Don't skip the shows.
Both Disneyland and California Adventures have some amazing shows that you don't want to miss.  In Disneyland, head to the newest show: "Mickey and the Magical Map".  A show with it all!  Singing, dancing, music from many popular Disney classics and Characters, your kids with thank you, and so will your feet.  Other favorites include Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, the parade, Fantasmic, the fireworks and anything in the Golden Horseshoe.  In California Adventures two must-see shows are Aladdin and It's Tough to Be a Bug.

8. Teach your kid(s) about the "Bubble"
Most children do not have an innate sense of personal space {many adults don't seem to have one either}.  For the love of all things Mickey... PLEASE teach your kids about their personal space bubble.  Talk with them about not standing within someone else's personal space, or heaven forbid... touching another person... or kicking them... or "pecking" them in the back repeatedly with the bill of their hat.  (I was seriously kicked in the back of my calf by a kid in a stroller... not once but four times before his mom told him to stop... but failed to apologize to me). My kids tend to stand so close to the person's butt in front of us I have been concerned they would slip inside.  Saying "Don't forget your bubble" is also a nicer way to say "Get away from that stranger's butt!"

9. Smile and wave
Disneyland is one of the few places where you can smile and wave at complete strangers and about half of them will smile and wave back.  It makes for a fun game.   Count how many people you can get to smile and wave back, get your kids in on the action.  Also: be polite and friendly to the "Cast Members" {every person who works at Disneyland has that distinction}, and they will be friendly to you... sometimes they may even give you stickers or pins... or an extra ride on a ride. 

10. Wear sneakers.
I know that flip-flops are more comfortable, but after a full day of walking around Disneyland, no flip-flops can support your feet and protect your feet like a good pair of sneakers.   I am a bare-foot or flip-flop wearing California girl, but even I wore sneakers inside the park, and insisted my kids do the same.  Besides the hours of wear...  the number of times other people stepped on my toes or rolled over my foot with their stroller made it worth the extra layer of protection.

11. Play games to keep your kids distracted
For kids and adults alike, it can be an overwhelming place.  For a short child, they are in crowds of strangers, being dragged around by their hand with an exclusive view of lower backs and navels and forced to wait in lines with very little wiggle room.  Rather than either completely ignoring your kids while in line {allowing them to lick handrails and run in circles around the family in front of you}, or forcing them to stand completely still and nagging them to Stand here, no! NOT THERE! Right here!  Now move!! Why not make standing in line pleasant?

Three games we like to play are I spy, Guess what Character I am thinking of and the Counting game.  While walking between rides, we count little girls dressed in princess costumes, we count people wearing Mickey ears, we count the number of people wearing matching shirts or a Disney shirt... anything to help distract the mind and focus on just one person at a time, as opposed to the overwhelming crush of humanity that Disneyland can become.  While standing in a longer line, we play I spy or Guess the Character {20 questions is another name for the game}.

12. Make sure the primary photographer gets some pictures of him/herself!
Someone is carrying around the "big" camera, and other than the shots you will undoubtedly both get with your phone, usually there is one person who is missing from the pictures.  Make sure the camera is turned on them as well as the rest of the family.  Disneyland may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience or something your family does annually, but there are so many opportunities for memorable photographs... do your best to "spread the love" by getting pictures of all the family members

That's all I've got for now... come back next week and I will be sharing my best tips for saving money at Disneyland.  Have you ever visited Disneyland?? What is a favorite tip?  Maybe you travel a lot... share your favorite travel tip.  :)  Thanks for visiting!

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1 comment:

  1. Oh! You have me so wanting to go...I love that place...I feel like I turn into a kid again. I wore flip flops the last time I went. They weren't a cheapo pair...they offered arch support and everything. While I was uber comfortable in them, my feet were so dirty later. Yuck! I will wear sneakers next time.

    My tip for going is the backpack with snacks...which you touched on before, I think. I bring bottles of water and then those little crystal light packages to dress it up when we get tired of the plain water. However, no snacks or drinks can compare to an icy coke and churro.


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