We recently visited Disneyland (California) with our family, my mother and mother-in-law. It was a fantastic magical holiday enjoyed by all. I had not been to the park since I was in high school (um..a few years back..ROFL) and loved every minute of it. Here are a few tips for any of you planning a holiday to Disneyland that may make your time there more enjoyable.
1. Make A Plan
Disneyland is now made up of two parks (Disneyland & California Adventure) and a dining/shopping area (Downtown Disney). Have a plan for your must see and do attractions. If you have four days, take two for each park and save some time for shopping on the final afternoon. Wear good shoes as we walked 36 miles over four days on our recent holiday to Disneyland.
2. Choosing A Hotel
Back in the day it made a difference whether you stayed at one of the onsite park hotels or not. Today there are many fantastic options two miles or less away from Disneyland at over half the price. We discovered the Hyatt Orange County during our last visit and returned again this time. The Hyatt is a fantastic location, great for families, many dining choices across the street, and a Target a block down the road. Great room but I never really saw it as we were too busy playing at Disneyland.
3. Smartphone Applications
Two social media applications were fantastic at Disneyland. Foursquare and Instagram. Every single location in the park is a check in and what can be cooler than to announce to your Twitter followers and Facebook friends that you just checked into Disneyland. A great chance to add a photo and tips as you progress through the park. Instagram gets priceless photos touched up using various filters and effects and emailed off to family in no time. Epic!
4. Buy The Park Hopper Pass
The three day Park Hopper pass is the way to go as it allows you any rides in both parks with in and out privileges. Brilliant!
5. Rent A Stroller
Whether you have kids or not rent one. Makes getting around with your gear and purchases much easier and there are ample parking. Note to families that they rent single strollers, no doubles. You can bring your own into the park. Stroller rental is on the right before you enter the main gate!
6. Get in the Disney Spirit
This is not any fun park people. This is The Magical Kingdom. For those of us who visited long long ago, we tend to forget the difference. Whether you are a returning Disney veteran or first timer take time to pause, read and embrace the quote on the arch before entering the park. “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.”
7. Visit the Mad Hatter
On your first day head to the Mad Hatter and buy your Mickey ears. There are many to choose from these days and choices of font and styles for your monogrammed name. Be fun and act like a kid again. I wore mine for all four days. Something about seeing a big six foot dad with three kids all wearing ears made people smile. Good mojo! Ears with your name are $17 dollars a pair.
One little known fact is that every shop and stand in Disneyland has a stash of buttons for different occasions. My daughter was on her first trip to the park and it was here birthday week so she wore the “First Trip” and “Birthday” buttons while I just wore my “Birthday” button. The rest of our family wore the “Celebrating” buttons. Park workers wield more power than you know and they recognize and appreciate the flair. You may even be offered a spot at the front of a line or a Universal Fast Pass. Other buttons include Graduation, Anniversary, Engagement, Marriage, etc.
9. Grab A FastPass
Use your map to identify popular rides you want to try. Plan to get FastPasses for these rides when the park opens and throughout the day. FastPasses give you a range of time when you can return and hop in the fast lane (they really are fast) without waiting ninety minutes plus. You can only have two at a time. Tip: FastPasses for the Star Wars ride in Disneyland run out early in the morning so be sure to get there first if you want to try that ride. Tip 2: If you have an extra park pass for someone not needing a ride’s FastPass (grandma, mother in law, etc.) get one anyway. Before you head to the front of the line find someone at the end of the regular line and give them a “miracle.” Can you say positive Disneyland Mojo!
Now that you have your ears and flair adopt the spirit of the Magical Kingdom and do three simple things. Smile, say hello, and wave to people (when on a ride or other transportation). Every Disneyland employee has a name badge that includes their home town. They love it when people greet them with a hearty hello using their first name.
11. Food, Food, Food
There are many great choices of food and snacks at Disney, and I love it all. The important note here is that Disneyland and California Adventure Land both allow you to bring your own snacks and food into the parks. I would plan on doing so as it helps to have a boost while in a line from something other than cotton candy.
The big rides get all the attention but some of the smaller classic rides should not be overlooked. Great examples are Mr. Toads Wild Ride, It’s A Small World, Tea Cups, Mark Twain’s Riverboat, etc. Lines are shorter and kids of all ages love them, even adult kids. Be sure to check requirements for all those in your party wanting to try a ride. We saw many families having to leave to the front of a long line they waited in because they did not do so.
Finally, if you visit Disneyland with friends and family lookout for these 12 hidden gems and let me know where you find them.
“Premium Gas – 5 cents a gallon”
“Here Lies a Snake Whose Fatal Mistake was Frightening the Gardener who Carried a Rake.”
“Brides for Sale”
“Crystolic Fusion Batteries”
“Warning: Do Not Disturb The Bats!”
“Mustache Mona Lisa”
“Short Change Bank”
“The Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed”
“The Great Wart Myth”
“Nowhere in Particular”
Do you have any Disney tips, tricks or stories to share? Let’s hear them!