Let me start by saying Disneyland is not my vacation destination of choice. But, my family found itself in SoCal for a week so, as they say, when in Rome. We had one day, with our three and five year olds, during Spring Break, to tackle the happiest (note sarcasm here) place on earth. Here’s how we survived:
Get there early:
Doors opened at 8am (normally 9am) and even earlier if you are staying at a Disney hotel, and the park was manageable at that hour. We jumped on lots of rides with little to no wait. This became nearly impossible post-11am.
Wear Comfortable Shoes:
I left the house wearing my cute loafers and in the car, changed into my sneakers. This was an important game-time decision that I didn’t regret. I didn’t look cute (seriously, check it out) but I comfortably survived 11+ hours on my feet, running around like a maniac. Just do it.
Park Hopper Ticket:
It’s worth the extra money for this ticket, which gives you access to both Disneyland (all the classics) and California Adventure (Ariel, Cars, beer!). They are a very short walk apart.
The first thing you should do when entering the park is get a FastPass to your ‘must-rides’. This lets you come back during a set window to ride, without standing in a massive line.
Lunch with the princesses (and beer):
I forgot to make a Disney character meal reservation, so while my husband and kids waited in a ride line (see Divide and Conquer below), I got on a ‘day-of’ list for lunch with Ariel (and Snow White, Belle, etc) at Ariel’s Grotto. The reason(s) to dine at this insanely expensive establishment: Cross-off photos with all the princesses in one shot, while eating. And, as importantly: alcohol (dedicated menu below!) That’s right, while Disneyland is dry, California Adventure is not. Cheers!
Divide and Conquer:
Do not go this trip alone. Unless you are determined to go on every ride with your kids, it’s best (for everyone involved) to divide the wait with another adult. I’d scope a lunch spot or get in line for the next ride, while my husband rode one with the kids. You can easily join your crew at the front of a line, so long as someone’s been standing in it the whole time.
Snacks & Water:
You can bring in as much food & water as you like and I’d suggest loading up. This was a big mistake I made. I thought I had enough and by 10:30 am, we were flat out of snacks and not making friends while my son screamed for Cheerios in the Dumbo line. Have an insane arsenal to keep them happy.
One thing massively lacking at Disneyland, and not surprisingly, considering the target audience, are electrical outlets. I was on the hunt from the moment I stepped foot in the park and my phone battery starting draining, fast. I found one, I repeat one, near the reservation stand at Ariel’s Grotto. I thought I’d discovered the one thing Disney hadn’t thought of, until I realized they have locker-charging stations! Brilliant. Lock up your phone, charge it for a while, and come back when it’s ready.
Don’t rely on your phones to take photos because you’re going to need the battery juice to text your coordinates (divide and conquer!) So, make sure to bring a small camera, and the old Flip. Lots of the rides snap pictures of you enjoying the experience (see me below). Instead of spending big bucks for a Disney sanctioned photo, I saw lots of people just taking a photo of their photo. But you didn’t hear that from me!
And the final freeby tip is…
Buttons at CityHall:
Near the entrance to Disneyland is City Hall. Stop in for some free buttons (if you’re into Disney memorabilia).
We survived and I’ll admit, we’ll go back, in another 5 years.
Image Source:// All Author’s own
Do you have any tips for surviving Disneyland?