Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A "How To" Guide to Disneyland

My friend just asked me some Disneyland advice for her first trip there in awhile....I think she hasn't been since we were there in 1989 and Splash Mountain had just opened. It's changed a tad.

Anyway, it got my juices flowing. I can't believe we have been home for a month. Time flies. I feel very knowledgeable about the place, and I don't feel knowledgeable about a lot of things, so it's nice to have something I'm good at. Here's my advice for what it is worth:

1- Disneyland is no place for least young kids. Kids under 2 struggle and should be left with a relative or have a grandma in the park with you. Quinn once screamed all through Pirates when he was 20 months old. Not too fun.
Grandma & Grandpa Newman with at 20 month old Quinn

2- Pack lunch. There is a little convenience store by our hotel and we do PBJ for one meal. Then you don't stress so bad for paying 6 bucks for a hot dog later in the day. Plus, it takes precious time to stand in the lines for so-so food.

3- Speaking of food, don't freak out on the prices. There are some really yummy (though pricey) food experiences that are part of the fun. Blue Bayou is mine.
Emi 2008

4-Stay as close as possible. We usually stay at the other side of the crosswalk to D-land. I don't believe in hotel shuttles or parking lots. Our hotel is frills, basic pool, but we are barely in the room. It has a great quick breakfast. There were healthy options, but I let my kids down several donuts each morning. Hardly the breakfast of champions, but it's quick.
The view just steps from our room

5-Recycle your souvenirs. I bring the same ears/hats, t-shirts,etc. Saves a lot of cash.

6- Bill and I created a ridiculous point system for our kids so they could earn a trip gift. We had no real plan with it, but would give and take points willy nilly according to their behavior. It was kind of a "Whose Line is it Anyway" point system. It worked like a charm.

7- We don't spend a lot of time on the characters. There was a 90 minute line for Rapunzel. Ummmm, no. My kids don't know what to say to them, they don't care about autographs, we see the lines for them and just laugh. We will often do a character dinner or breakfast so they have some assured pictures.

(O.K....well sometimes we do characters. I hunted Minnie down like a dog. Emi was 3 and HAD to meet her. 2006 )
8- Stop and watch the magic. I'm a big sap when it comes to Disney. My kids have each had very magic moments in this park. Watch the New Orleans jazz band, or the Dapper Dans, or heck...even the street sweepers! One stopped and with his broom, he drew the greatest pic of Goofy on the sidewalk with water. It was so cool.

9- Make a schedule for your last day. We don't really follow a schedule the first 2 days, but I have each kid tell me what they want to hit again so we leave happy. I map it all out.

10- Google the dates that you want to go before you book. Hint...first weekend in Oct is unofficial California Gay Day (found that one out the hard way) and my cousin Brooke discovered that Mother's Day is Goth Day. Those events will not be listed in the official website.

11- Don't wear flip-flops. Or high heels. I'm always amazed at the footwear people choose to wear while trudging around Disneyland. Comfy, comfy secure shoes are a MUST.

12- Know ahead of time what rides will be closed so you can warn your kids. It saves a few tears. Splash Mountain was closed this last time and my kids really were cool about it because I had warned them for months ahead of the trip.

13- Realize that you will have a major family fight/meltdown at some point. This last one (mostly between Bill and myself) involved cough medicine, a run back to the hotel, construction, and a World of Color fast pass. We got over it, but it was ugly. Pirate Island was the one last time. The time before was somewhere on Main Street when I was prego with Quinn and we couldn't find anywhere to eat on a crowded Friday night. Growing up, my family had a famous one that involved cherry cokes and a hot mid-afternoon parade full of Sorcerer Apprentice brooms.

14-Force your kids to go on certain rides. They sometimes won't want to go because of the fear of the unknown. Drag them on (unless, of course, it is Space Mountain or Tower of Terror). They will usually be happy you did and then they didn't miss out on it.

15-This might be our most important rule, but not one many can use. We have a "Dis-ney-bility". Having Parker on the Autistic Spectrum kind of sucks most times, but it does award us a guest assistance pass. It basically sends us through fast pass or wheelchair lines. I often feel guilty since he is not severely disabled, but if you have stood anywhere with Parker for more than a few minutes, it's not fun. Lots of sensory and other various things are going on for him. It's tricky. It makes the day nice for him and his siblings.
(Parker 2008)

Anyway...that's all I can think of, but we live by these rules as if they were gospel. Sad. But we always have an AMAZING time, so I guess they are worth it.


Marrdy said...

I'll have to print these out. I haven't been to Disneyland since 1973...changed a bit I'm sure! Thanks for the tips.

brooke said...

Love the rules. #13 made me laugh and I firmly believe in #14... dragged Sammie on Space Mountain and it was herf favorite.

Anonymous said...

This post was so great! I love the idea of reusing the hats/t-shirts each time. I also think donuts for breakfast sound perfect. Its a vacation after all. I cant wait to tell you about our experiences. I have already talked to Brady about space mountain. I think he will do it.

pan x 8 said...

I have to say Liz.. you are GOOD! I love all of those! Could've used a few of those tips on our trips!

PJ Evers said...

Another helpful hint - Drew downloaded an app on his phone that told us what the wait time was for any ride in the park at that moment. (I went with Stacey & Drew and the kids to DisneyWorld in Feb.) I fully intend to download it again when I go to Disneyland.)
Patti Evers
PS - Liz, that picture of the kids walking on the beach is really really cute!