Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do you believe in MAGIC? Disney Tips for parents with kids.

If you know my husband and myself, you know there are two vacations we are good at: Las Vegas and Disneyland.  The usual response when people find out we are going to either of these places are "AGAIN?"  If you find something you love, like we have- then you don't mess with it.  The last few days since I have been back have been filled with questions from friends and family looking for tips.  I decided to give you a few general tips, but if you are looking for more info on hotels and what not, I recommend checking out www.getawaytoday.com.  Since we booked with Getaway, each day we received a magic morning which means you get into the park an hour before they opened.  They are great to work with so check them out!

Hotel Info

I'm going to talk strictly Disney Resort.  Last Trip we did stay at the Embassy Suites about 20 minutes from the park and rode the shuttle.  It was about half of what the cost of the Pier was.  Know that there are so many options for hotels in the area to fit every budget.  
Tim's mom recently discovered the benefits to staying at the Paradise Pier Disneyland Resort Hotel.  This was by far my favorite Disney trip I've been on. 
The cute entrance to our hotel.  Ava was a lover of this statue!
  • It's the least expensive Disneyland Resort Hotel you can stay in and it sleeps 5 comfortably.  
  • You have a private entrance to California Adventure Park through the Grand California Hotel located across the street from Paradise Pier.  This is helpful since you can bypass using the front gates and it lets you in at Grizzly River Rapids.  
  • It's minutes from the Downtown Disney Monorail and this is another quick way into the park to avoid the front gates.  The monorail drops you off inside the park in Tomorrowland. 
  • You also have access to the other DL Resort Hotel pools.  Sadly, I never made it to the pool.
  • Lastly, I loved the quick walk back for nap time.  

 The view from our room. 

Park Tips
  • Take a cooler- drinks run $3+ each in the park.  Taking a cooler in your stroller means cold drinks whenever you need them.  We stopped at Food For Less around the corner from Disneyland and picked up capri suns and bottles of water.  We were so glad to have them since the temp was in the 90's each day.  Just remember NO GLASS bottles!  They won't let you into the park with them.
  • Take snacks to nibble on during the day.  Tim and I tend to share any food we get since Disney portions are rather large.  We had chips and crackers for us and Ava to eat while we were running ride to ride. 
  • If you want to eat at a fancy restaurant in the park, make reservations first thing in the morning.  They fill up quick.  Our personal fave was Cafe Orleans where we ate a Monte Cristo.  Let me just tell you one thing: Share! Disney portions can be enough for 2 people at most places.  I was so excited about the sandwich, I forgot to get a picture.  This picture is courtesy of www.themacandcheesechronicles.com
We also ate at Mickey's PCH Grill in our hotel Paradise Pier.  This is one of a few places that offers "Character Meals" where different Disney Characters go table to table and guarantee a meet and greet with photos and autographs for patrons.  This can be a little spendy, I believe it was around $40 for adults.  Again, the food was really tasty and drinks were included.

Another great character option is Ariel's Grotto in California Adventure.  This place is darling and it's the best way to see a few princesses all at once.  Ariel greets everyone for a personal photo session and then 4 other princesses came table to table to meet the kids (and some very excited adults).  Depending on the meal, this can run $30-$60 per adult. 

Now that we have food out of the other way.  Here are a couple other tips.
  •  The best time to enjoy Fantasyland- (that area in Disneyland with Dumbo, Teacups, and the Peterpan ride) wait until the evening parade starts.  I noticed most wait times aside from the parade were as long as an hour.  About a half hour before the parade, most rides went down to 15 minutes and some you could just walk on.  So my friends, wait for the parade if you want to ride multiple rides in Fantasyland quickly.  Don't forget that your littles can also ride other things around the park like Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Lightyear, Winnie the Pooh, and Haunted Mansion.  Fantasyland isn't your only option.  
The parade was a hit with our girl!
  • When Disneyland seemed to get more crowded, we made our way back to California Adventure.  Bugs Life Land is another great option for the littles.  I love Carsland, but Ava wasn't tall enough for any of the rides.  If you want to ride the "Cars Ride" you have a couple options.  You can grab a fast pass for it as soon as the park opens since these do go quick.  You can grab a stroller pass if you take your stroller to the gate and have one rider wait in line.  Lastly, you can do single rider and this seemed to be the most effective way to ride it quickly.  
Ava loved the "Heimlich Ride"
Character lines always seemed silly to me until I had my girl.  They ended up being the best part of our day.  She was so excited to see the cute characters in person.  We lucked out each time we saw a character pop up and didn't wait in a line longer than 15 minutes.   Have you camera ready!
  • If there is a certain character you are looking for and want to know the exact time they will be available, you can stop by Town Hall in the Main Disneyland Entrance and they can find out for you.  Last trip I wanted to get photos with Alice for Ava and they were helpful so I didn't have to wait around for hours. 


If you have any questions or great Disney tips- email us at individualrivalry@gmail.com.

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