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Friday, November 13, 2009

Disneyland: Enjoying your visit

{Most of these tips are aimed towards families with young children. I may have only been to Disneyland twice, but I have spent many hours researching tips, studying maps, reading other bloggers experiences, and poring over the Disneyland website and here are some of the things we will be implementing.}
  • Disneyland's official rules say no outside food or drink is allowed, but common consensus is that they ignore water bottles and snacks for young children. We are taking a Camelbak instead of water bottles and snacks for our kids. Believe me, you do not want to be stuck with Disney's snack carts when your kids are hungry or you will spend a fortune!
  • Although we don't plan on spending a lot of money on snacks inside the park, I know that the smell of Churros will get to all of us, so we have agreed that we can get one treat to share every day.
  • There is a designated picnic area outside the main gates with lockers you can rent to keep your picnic lunch in. If you do have to buy a meal at the park, try splitting one or buying a kids meal--the portions are huge.
  • If you have a baby or young toddler, the first thing you should find is the Baby Center at the end of Main St. They have a private nursing room, changing tables, child-size toilet, high chairs, and a microwave to heat up baby food and bottles. And it's a complimentary service! Tempe was about 4 months last time we went to Disneyland, and the Baby Center was a haven for me.
  • Try to hit up the most crowded rides--Dumbo, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, and Peter Pan--as soon as the park opens to avoid long lines. Better yet, stay at a Disney Resort hotel or buy at least a three-day park hopper pass and get in an hour early to beat the crowds.
  • During parades is another great time to go on popular rides!
  • If you can't make it to these hot rides before the lines get long, use Disney's Fastpass service. Fastpasses are a great way to save time. At most of the most popular rides, there is a kiosk where you swipe your ticket. It prints off your Fastpass, telling you to come back in a few hours during a two-hour window of time. When you come back, you get in the much, much shorter Fastpass line and end up waiting a fraction of the time you normally would. This service is FREE and open to all visitors, yet somehow most people don't know about it! Take advantage of it!
  • One of the first things you should do when you get to the park is choose a designated meeting spot. You don't want to be like my parents, who took their three children to Disneyworld, split up to go on different rides, and then spent three hours waiting for each other in different places. Yeah. It was horrible. The Walt and Mickey statue in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle is a good place to meet.
  • With young kids, of course you'll try not to lose them, but admit it, sometimes it happens. Make sure your name and cell phone number is conspicuous somewhere on them--a bracelet or a tag on their shoes. I am planning on actually using a permanent marker to write this information on the inside of their wrists, just in case.
  • If you do lose your kid, go to the Lost Children waiting room on Main St, near the First Aid Center.
  • Souvenirs can be expensive, but you can't go to Disneyland and not get one! I like Mickey hats. Nothing screams Disneyland more than this iconic hat, but they are only $7 (well, they were in 2007) and you can have your name embroidered on the back for free. Other cheap souvenirs are packs of postcards, pressed pennies, or autograph books (don't buy one there--make your own before you go and take pictures of your kids with the characters to go along with the autographs!). You could also buy little Disney trinkets (The Dollar Tree has tons of them) before you go, slip them in your diaper bag, and whip them out when your kids start eying the expensive stuff in the stores.
  • Speaking of shopping, if you don't want to carry bulky packages all over the park, have your purchases sent to the exit gate where you can pick it up when you leave for the day
  • Look for Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald Duck, and their pals in Main Street Square, just inside the gates, and don't miss the Princess Pavilion, where you will find a variety of princesses every day. Ariel hangs out at Ariel's Grotto in California Adventure. And Tinkerbell and her fairy friends have their own new Pixie Hollow where you can find them.
  • Think about your choice in strollers. If you have more than one child who will want to ride in one, consider taking two cheap umbrella strollers instead of your expensive double. Sad to say, strollers do get stolen at Disneyland, and you'd rather lose a $10 umbrella stroller, wouldn't you? It also gives you the ability to split up if one kid needs to go back to the hotel for a break and the other one doesn't.
  • Overscheduling can take the spontaneity and fun out of a trip, but you should have an idea of where you will want to spend your time while at Disneyland. If you are going to California Adventure as well, you may want to dedicate large blocks of time to each park so you aren't running back and forth all day--spend the morning at CA and the afternoon at Disneyland, then the next day spend the morning at Disneyland and the afternoon at CA.
  • Study a map/list of attractions before you go and make a master list of the things you have to do before you leave. You can explore the park at Disneyland.com, and even create a list of attractions, including where they are and pertinent information (height restrictions, etc), to print off and take with you when you go. If you take the time to do this, you will be sure to get to all the things that are most important to you and still have time to do everything else before you leave.
  • Take the time to meet the characters, take pictures in front of the castle, and see a show (the Aladdin show at California Adventure is amazing!) These are the things that set Disneyland apart from other theme parks.
  • If you forget a camera or just don't want to be bothered pulling it out, look for Disney cast members with cameras. They will take your picture and load them all onto a "photo pass". You can look at the pictures online later and buy prints of your favorites (at Disney prices, of course).
  • Come prepared for any disaster--bring a change of clothes, diaper rash creme, sunscreen, hats, Tylenol, water and snacks, and anything else you could possibly need for your family. Be prepared to leave for a few hours if your kids have a meltdown--midday is a good time to go back to the hotel because it is the most crowded time of day.
  • Have fun!! With all the time and money you put into your Disneyland trip, you want to enjoy it, right? :)

1 comment:

The Paxton Family said...

Also a little known fact at DIsney (ALL Disney parks) Is that you can get a FREE complimentary cup of water at all "fast food" locations inside the park! At Disney land the cups are smaller than at Disney World, but it's still COLD FREE WATER. Just step up to the line and ask for a "complimentary cup of water" you can do this all day! And it definitely saved on having to lug around water bottles for everyone when we went. more room for other things and less weight to carry!

*Disney Trivia*
They give out free cups of water because when the park first opened they didn't have enough water pressure to work the drinking fountains AND the toilets. So the decided to work the toilets (thanks!) and give out free water cups to everyone. And the tradition of free water lives on today :-)