We flew home from Awesome Anaheim to Amazing Arizona last night. Both girls were content and smiley on the flight. As one elderly woman said at the end, "I didn't hear a peep from either of them."
The trip to Los Angeles was so doable, in fact, that I halfway considered buying Annual Passes to Disneyland (and a condo) while we were there. It really is a most magical place.
On the drive home from the airport, our 8-month-old was crying (she hates her car seat) and I was trying to distract her by playing "This Little Piggy" and shaking a variety of toys. Our 3-year-old looked over and very matter-of-factly said, "I think she wants to go back to Disneyland."
If you want some basic tips for navigating Disneyland with little ones, please see - 10 tips: Disneyland with a baby and preschooler.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind...
WHAT WE NOTICED:
- Streets: It's kind of a funny thing to take note of, but I couldn't take my eyes off of the shiny, spotless streets. Litter was virtually non-existent - stray wrappers and spilled ice cream cones were nowhere in sight. In fact, if someone did knock their tub of popcorn off the table, a street sweeper arrived in seconds to clean up the mess. It was really quite spectacular, especially considering the amount of people that are in the park.
- Smiles: I like to people-watch in Disneyland because, by-and-large, people are very happy. It has everything to do with the atmosphere that the Disney execs and employees purposefully create. The music is uplifting, the decor is festive, and the mood is clearly - unarguably - happy.
- Service: One of the most frustrating experiences at a big store or amusement park is having a question and not being able to locate someone to ask. That is not a problem at Disney. Need to know where the nearest restroom is? Or where the best place to eat is? Or what the height requirement is for a certain ride? Disney employees are EVERYWHERE, ready and waiting to help.
WHERE WE ATE:
- Compass Books + Cafe in Downtown Disney: Located at the west entrance of Downtown Disney, this lesser-known and less-busy cafe is the perfect stop for breakfast or lunch. In the morning, you can choose fresh-cut melons or delicious muffins. At lunch, you can opt for a pre-packaged salad.
- La Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney: This bakery almost always has a line...and for good reason! It has a prime location (it's at the end of Downtown Disney, right before you enter the parks) and has yummy, healthful options for breakfast and lunch.
- Corn Dog Stand on Main Street: These corn dogs are TAST-EE...and I don't even like corn dogs! Look for a little red stand that advertises corn dogs for $5.79. Each jumbo corn dog comes with either a bag of chips or sliced apples (we opted for the latter).
- Red Rockett's Pizza Port in Tomorrowland: Get a generously-sized pasta platter for $8-$9...or a big salad for around the same price. These plates can definitely be shared.
WHAT WE RODE/SAW:
- TIM'S FAVORITES: The "Believe in Holiday Magic" Fireworks show (He said it was one of the best fireworks display that he's ever seen), Splash Mountain
- MY FAVORITES: Tiana's Showboat Jubilee (a new show on the water, running through Jan. 3rd), Tower of Terror (Yes, I did go! Yes, it was scary...yes, it was fun), Space Mountain
- Our 3-year-old's FAVORITES: Dumbo, King Arthur Carrousel
WHAT WE WANT TO DO NEXT TIME (things we missed)
- Gadget's Go Coaster in Toon Town: I have a feeling my 3-year-old would have LOVED this ride, but we checked the line twice and the wait was 45 minutes. With no option for a Fast PASS, that line was just too-too long for a ride for tots.
- Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular: I'll just say it. I prefer the shows to the rides at Disney Parks. Not the 3D and IMAX shows. The musical shows with real-live actors, dancing and singing and performing in full costume and make-up.
- Terrace Wine Tasting: Apparently, you can go to this little terrace and sample a variety of wines for $10/person (or less). Wine experts are available to tell you "everything you always wanted to know about wines but were afraid to ask." Sounds perfect for a novice like me.
- Arrive early. We were in the parks three days - Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Every day, we noticed the same trend. The park was emptier in the am and filled up as the morning progressed. Next time, I'll take my own advice and try not to lollygag when we wake up.
- Bring a stroller (and a baby carrier - if you have a baby). It costs $15/day to rent a stroller in the park and double strollers are not available. It may seem like a cumbersome thing to bring with you, but it will be worth it.
- Take photos at the beginning of your trip. At the end of your trip, everyone will be exhausted and running around trying to do everything they didn't get to do. At the beginning of the trip, you are fresh and excited and less rushed. P.S. Toon Town is an excellent place for photos.
- Use Fast Pass and Kid Switch. Fast Pass is well-known. Kid Switch is less known. I'm not even sure if it is officially advertised or if that is the correct term for it, but most rides will allow one parent to go through the fast pass line while the other parent waits for the kids - and then you can do a little switcheroo. Just ask at each ride.
- Smile. Laugh. Don't get down about the little things. Remember to be a fun parent. I saw so many parents get all red-faced and up-in-arms about the tiniest things. So what if your child has a little accident or decides she doesn't want to ride on Snow White after you've been waiting in line for 25 minutes. It doesn't matter in the long run. Just have patience, be gentle, and move on with your day.
YOUR TURN: What are your favorite restaurants, attractions, and shows at Disneyland and California Adventure?
Note: Disneyland covered my travel, hotel, and park passes, but did not require or ask me to post about my experience. All sentiments expressed in this (and every) post come directly from my heart.
You covered this well, I think! We did rent a double stroller for the week b/c we didnt' want to mess with one on the plane. With older kids, that worked fine. But with younger ones, even the walk from the bus to the stroller rental can be long (to say nothing of the walks in the airport) and bringing a stroller is well worth the trouble.
I so agree with your last statement. I really tried to keep this in perspective! :-)
I dare say, stephanie, that you must be the single best informed person i know about all things Disney! I haven't been to Disneyland since I lived in CA (20 years ago). I'm not much of a crowds person. My sister still lived in LA and she's always trying to get me to go whenever we visit. you're explanation almost makes it sound pleasant! :-)
Hubs and I love Tower of Terror. Just like kids we ride it over and over LOL Love fast pass! We haven't been to Disneyland but rather Disneyworld and it is magical. Haven't been in quite some time because our hearts pull us back to Jamaica every year but we do plan to return.
Looks like ya'll had a blast!
These are great tips and absolutely agree with them all! Great post, so helpful!
I second Red Rockett's Pizza Port. It has been a while since I was last at Disneyland, but I can still remember how amazing the pizza was that we ate there.
How exciting! Thanks for sharing your insights and tips. We are going to Disney World (in Florida) next week. It will my baby's first time -- and my first time there with a baby. I just found out about the Kid Switch too and think it's a great idea.
Awesome posts, I love all the shots that you got of the 4 of you....I need to remember to hand over the camera and get those shots too! So nice getting to meet your hubbie and seeing your 3 year old, she is such a cutie pie! Keep in touch and hope to see you again when we can chat more!
I am so glad you guys had a wonderful time!! :)
Tiana's Riverboat show was one of the highlights for my four girls from our trip to Disney World... they loved the final song and asked me repeatedly to sing it for them. I am still often randomly asked to sing it with them and we went almost a month ago! Too funny that it was one of your favorites as well!
Hmmmm....my favorite Disneyland attraction? Pirates. For sure. I can't help but be transported back to girlhood when I ride it. And PS. It's better than the Disney World version of Pirates. Just sayin'....
So great to see you and your family at Disneyland! I have to mention the fabulous scents that come from La Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney. We walked by there several times and they are downright intoxicating. Cinnamon sugar...
How fun! Looks like you guys had a fantastic time!! I haven't been to Disneyland in years, but I do love Space Mountain (I think it has been redone since I have last been there) and the line at the Indiana Jones ride is quite fun. There are lots of little 'tricks' along the way (like pulling on the rope in the well and hearing someone call for help, or pulling on a wooden pole and having the ceiling start coming down). The fireworks are simply amazing and I must admit, I got teary eyed when I saw Fantastmic! Such a fun place.
Space Mountain and The Haunted Mansion are definite favorites! And we love the Riverbelle Terrace (I think it's called that) for breakfast. Sounds like you had such a lovely time!