We’re Going to Disneyland – Tips Wanted!

by jessicaturner on March 7, 2014

Surprising the kids with a trip to Disneyland This year we had been planning to go to the beach on a family vacation. Last year we didn’t do a big family vacation (though Matthew and I went to the Bahamas), so the kids have been particularly excited about a trip.

All that planning changed when I was invited to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Disneyland. This is an invitation only blogger event and families are invited to attend too. I have wanted to attend for years and cried when I received the invitation. Such a blessing.

The event is April 10-13, so we decided to go to Laguna Beach for two days (Tuesday-Wednesday) and then Disneyland for four (Thursday-Sunday). That way we could still get the beach in! We are thrilled that the Pacific Edge Hotel on Laguna Beach is sponsoring our beach stay, and then we will be staying at the Disneyland Hotel for the conference (conference attendees pay a reduced rate, which we are thankful for!).

We kept the trip a secret for the past month, not wanting 60 days of “when are we going to Disneyland?”. Since our kids are little (5.5 and 2.5) we kept the unveiling pretty simple.

I bought them Trunki suitcases a few months ago. and I filled them up with all things Disney (mostly acquired from Target clearance shopping) such as Mickey and Minnie plush (70% off Christmas clearance – I simply cut off the Santa hats!), Mickey and Minnie stickers, shirts, markers, soap, etc.

suitcases
We gave the kids the suitcases after school and recorded their reactions. Skip to 1:15 if you just want to see their excitement.

With just 33 days til our trip, I am in full planning mode. (If you are a Pinterest user, be sure to check out my Disney board, which has tips for both Disneyland and Disney World.)

Here’s what we have done so far:

  • Booked a character breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen
  • Booked the Disney photo pass: Of course we will be taking lots of our own pictures, but multiple people told me this was worth the investment. I will be sure to review the service after the fact.
  • Ordered a free Disney vacation planning DVD (click the graphic below to get one for your family)


We will be doing Disney on our own on Thursday (the conference starts that night) and then Matthew and the kids will be doing the park during the day Friday while I have conference stuff). Saturday and Sunday we will just have conference activities in the morning. We are leaving Monday in the late morning, so we booked Goofy’s Kitchen as our farewell activity before going to the airport.

Will you share your best Disney/Disneyland tips with me? Would love any insights you experienced Disney parents have! I went to Disney World 20 years ago and have never been to Disneyland, so I think I am as excited as the kids.

Disclosure: some links are affiliate links



{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo-Lynne Shane {Musings of a Housewife} March 7, 2014 at 7:47 am

I’ve never been to Disneyland either, but I was at Laguna Beach last year for Mom 2.0 and omg…. most gorgeous place I’ve ever been. ENJOY!!

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Laura March 7, 2014 at 8:09 am

We just went to Disney World last month. I would recommend getting Fast Passes in the afternoon. I feel like we wasted a few Fast Passed by getting them in the morning when lines were short anyway. I also do not recommend Fast Passes for shows. It just gets you in early and you can do that on your own by arriving early. I did a few posts on our trip on my blog with more tips. Enjoy!

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Erin @ Blue-Eyed Bride March 7, 2014 at 8:27 am

I’ve never been to Disneyland, but as you know, we just had the most wonderful time at Disney World and can’t wait to go back. I assume the FP+ information I shared and Memory Maker information is the same. :) Have the past time!!

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Kelly H March 7, 2014 at 8:28 am

I’ve never been to Disneyland but have been to Disney World multiple times, twice with our kids. The first kids trip my youngest was 2.5, my biggest advise is don’t try to do everything — you can’t possibily do it all. Decide what is important to you and stick with that. Listen to your kids, when they are tired, let them rest! Don’t push them or you will have two kids melting down. Personally, for such a short trip I wouldn’t do many character meet and greets, typically there are long lines and you miss out on a lot waiting! Definately see the characters your kids love but you don’t have to stop for every Mickey and Minnie opportunity. You will get to see a lot of the main characters at the breakfast anyway. :)
Elias is going to have a blast! Five is a magical age at Disney. Adeline will love it too but she won’t remember it in a few years. I highly recommend going back when she is 5 or 6 as well to give her the same magical moment. That’s what we did with ours.
No matter what, have fun! It’s an awesome experience and well worth the investment.

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Kelly H March 7, 2014 at 3:08 pm

One more thing: 4-1-1 labels from Mabels Labels are FABULOUS! Even though my oldest was 9 the last time we went and clearly know our phone numbers, if she were to be separated from us we worried panic might erase her memory.

We also used a back pack leash when our youngest was 2.5. It gave him some freedom and us peace of mind. It’s the one and only time we ever used one of these. I highly recomend it for such a crowded place, little tots want to walk around too! Many people stopped us to ask where we got ours, we got it at Babies R Us for less than $15. Worth every penny even if we only used it on that trip!

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Sona March 10, 2014 at 1:32 pm

I would like to piggyback on Kellys advice. I believe parents get more excited sometimes than the kids and want them to see/do everything all at once. Especially after paying horrendous prices. Think back to when you were 5. Honestly MOST kids will not remember any of it….sorry. The photo shoots are great for memory books and scrapbooks, but they are much too young to carry that fun with them for long. The next day it will be on to what can we do now? It is just too much for a small child to take in. Relax, enjoy and take it easy. There will be other opportunities when memories are more developed. Wear very comfortable shoes.

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Mary March 7, 2014 at 9:46 am

We just took a trip to Disneyworld in November and loved it! One thing we did this time with the kids was pin trading. We got a bag of cheap pins on ebay and brought them with so my kids could trade. Its a great way to keep them doing something while walking through the park and it cuts down on them asking for “stuff” in all the gift shops!! My kids love it! https://disneyland.disney.go.com/shops/downtown-disney-district/disneys-pin-traders/

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Ashley March 7, 2014 at 9:53 am

Love Disneyland!! We lived in LA for a couple of years and lived going!
Do Fantasyland 1st, you’ll want be there to see your kids’ faces. :) It gets crowded quickly. There is a princess dance/coronation thing that has a ton of seating. They do it every few hours. There are 3 princesses there- they come out to do the May pole/dance with all the kids. No need to wait in line, just show up. Since Adeline is young, that may be enough of the princesses for her instead of standing in the long line to meet them. (If you do want to meet them, RUN there as soon as the park opens.)
Pack water, snacks, lunch. The kids can eat in line instead of having to wait in line and pay a ton of money on food.
Take a stroller. The food can stay there and you don’t want to carry the kids when they get tired.
Use a backpack. So much easier than a purse/bag.
Wear comfortable shoes. We always saw so many women in cute wedges, etc and they were miserable!
Have fun!!!

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jessicaturner March 7, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Yes to a backpack! GREAT tip!

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Sara Smeby March 7, 2014 at 9:57 am

I checked out the “Unofficial Guide to Disneyland” from the library and it was spectacular. Comes out annually and gives all sorts of good tips. One such tip is to catch the train immediately upon entering (when it’s not an early entrance day) and ride it to Toontown if your kids want to see Mickey and Minnie (we made a list and it was a Number One priority for the kids). You get there pretty quickly and then can work your way back.

*Double check* your kids’ heights and what the rides’ minimums are. Our youngest is petite and I wanted to know ahead of time if she’d be excluded from riding things her siblings would want to ride. Turns out she just met the requirement, but I’ve heard of parents buying cheapy Princess shoes (with heels) or cowboy boots to make the minimum .

Hope you have a magical time!

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Dawn March 7, 2014 at 10:13 am

I’m so happy for you guys! I ADORE Disney. We’ve never been to Disneyland, but have taken our kids to Disney World twice. My tips are:
* Bring your own stroller. You already know from all your flying that you can check your stroller for free at your gate. The strollers at Disney are hard plastic (not comfy) and get hot in the sun. It’s also one way to save money by not renting a stroller at the park. Do you have a double stroller? We brought our City Mini Double and were so glad we did. On our last trip our oldest child was 6 and did a lot of walking, but she was so happy to have a place to sit and be pushed thru the park when her feet/legs were tired.
* Comfortable shoes! My kids wore either Crocs or Keen sandals. I recommend this type of shoe over a tennis shoe, because they can get wet and then they dry very quickly while walking around. No soggy, uncomfortable feet!
* Pack ice packs and small collapsible coolers in your suitcases for bringing snacks to the park. We chilled the ice packs in our hotel room and then saved a lot of money by bringing our own snacks to the park. You know what your kids like, but we brought things like grapes, blueberries, cheese sticks, yogurt, apples, raisins, water bottles, baby carrots, popcorn, pretzels, etc.

I think I’ll stop there! Have an absolutely wonderful family vacation!!! God bless you with safe travels!

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jessicaturner March 7, 2014 at 4:19 pm

We don’t have a double stroller, but I think the kids will likely be fine taking turns. Adeline is so independent, she probably won’t want to ride a whole lot. :)

Good tip on the crocs!

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Jennymom2five March 7, 2014 at 10:17 am

Just went to Disneyland this summer with a high school band trip for 2 of my boys. I didn’t have young kids with me, but I did observe/research some different things. By staying in a Disney resort, you will get early admission to the park the general public doesn’t get. Use that time to see characters, take pictures in front of the Castle etc… Also, pick your top rides and which area they are in and get those done right away in the morning. Take a break and go back to your room mid afternoon, when it’s most busy. Then take advantage of refueling, resting so you can be at the park for the fire works and close down the park. Comfortable shoes are a must. The park is by no means Disney World big, but it’s more walking than you think. Check out a specific Disneyland book and it gives you tips on the behind the scenes happenings and what to look out for. I noticed there were miserable parents and kids, so it’s not the happiest place on earth! Keep your expectations low, and things will go much better. If your day isn’t going as planned, just readjust. Enjoy the time as family, if you don’t get to ride a ride, it’s no big deal. It is the overall experience that matters. It will be a GREAT time!

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Nirupama March 7, 2014 at 10:32 am

They are so sweet! I’m sure you will all have a fabulous time.

The new cars land is awesome and I’m sure Elias will love it. Make sure you plan to get there early one day and get some fast passes (or head straight for the ride!). It’s the only way to beat the lines.

I have a post up about my favorite hidden photo spots, taking cute pictures is one of my favorite things to do at the parks.
http://avinashhecker.blogspot.com/2013/02/favorite-out-of-way-disney-photo-spots.html

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Linny Best March 7, 2014 at 12:15 pm

1st thing in the morning get fast passes for World of Color AND Radiator Springs Racers (in California Adventure if you have hopper passes). Those run out quickly and you can hold those fast passes with other fast passes.

Planning to do the Fantasy Faire (where you meet multiple princesses behind the castle) is great and less of a line while fireworks or the parade is happening.

Bring in as much food and drinks (water bottles and such…a cooler is fine too in the stroller! but no glass!) to avoid buying little snacks and drinks all day.

Have fun! And don’t hesitate to ask Cast Members(employees) questions…they may make magic happen for you!

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jessicaturner March 7, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Good to know about Fantasy Faire – Adeline is hoping to meet every princess. :)

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shelly coulter March 7, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Hey –we were just at Disneyland over Christmas with our boys (4, 6yrs). It was so awesome and we all had a blast. You guys will love it so much! Do you get to go in California Adventure too? The new Cars Land is amazing and was by far my favorite ride. But all of it is incredible. Biggest tip…take lots of snacks and water bottles. Plus cash for ice cream! :) I think the ice cream was usually $4.50 per icecream pop shaped like Mickey! :) A simple lunch for a family of four (hot dog, veggies, milk, hamburger/fries/soda) is about $50 in the park. So packing a lunch or at least part of a lunch is very helpful. We flew from Wyoming so we only had snacks packed and not meals. The Disney Jr Live show was fun and indoors…a nice break to sit down and enjoy. It was much quicker for my husband to run and get the fast passes, while the kids and I just took a break on a bench and had a snack. The biggest thing…is just to take it slow. We understood that with kids at this age we couldn’t see it all. We did our best not to rush them and just let them enjoy it at their own pace. We will see it all when they’re teenagers. :) We picked what they were most excited about and just took it slow. they did awesome and we were surprised that neither of them ever had a meltdown. Oh…another helpful treat was to bring a lollipop for the long ride lines. :) Have fun! It was magical to take them at this age…they loved it! We did the beach for a few days too…so much fun! Enjoy!

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jessicaturner March 7, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Yes, we will go to California Adventure too.

And yes, we will definitely be doing snacks too. We are renting a car, so I think we will make a target run for some bagels and snacks so that we don’t have to pack too many.

The reminder to take it slow is a good one. I am gathering lots of info these next couple weeks then will make a list of our top must-dos. I am just soooo excited!

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shelly coulter March 7, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Oh..something I didn’t think about was labeling our phone numbers on the kids somewhere. I’m pretty sure their are bracelets and tattoos you can get or make beforehand. This thought didn’t cross mind until we were in Disney for about five minutes and I realized how big and huge it was. I ended up writing my phone number across their forearms with a pen…better than nothing. They know their phone number…but not with the area code. :) So I improvised. I also reminded them that if they were lost to go up to a worker or a mom with lots of kids and ask to call us. Luckily we never lost them…but we did have a little lost girl come up to us in the treehouse playground and she was lost. I didn’t see a phone number on her and ultimately she went with a Disneyland worker to find her mom.

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jessicaturner March 7, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Such an important reminder!

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Amanda F March 7, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Jessica—have you been to allears.net yet? They have a veritable treasure trove of Disney information on their website. You’ll find helpful travel tips, theme park and resort menus/reviews, lists of park/ride closures and hours, news on parades and special events, and every other thing you could possibly imagine for both Disneyland and Disney World. I have been going to Disney my whole life yet I still manage to learn new fun things from the allears.net folks. I HIGHLY recommend visiting their site if you haven’t been already.

Have fun! Their reactions were priceless :)

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jessicaturner March 7, 2014 at 4:14 pm

No, but I will check it out!

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Stephanie Click March 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm

We’ve been to Disney World 9 times in the last 10 years — and just this past December, I did a blogger event for Saving Mr. Banks at Disneyland. My kids are just 16 months apart, so we’ve always used a double stroller for Disney. The thing that really struck me as a huge difference between Disney World and Disneyland was the size of the walkways. They are much more narrow in Disneyland. If possible, take a front/back double stroller instead of a side-by-side.

For line entertainment, we take pipe cleaners! Hours of enjoyment and not messy!

Also, buy your own glow sticks, bracelets, etc., and bring them with you. All the Disney light up toys for the evening are expensive. You will be a hero if you pull out glow items from your backpack!

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Maureen Pritchard March 7, 2014 at 1:07 pm

We have never been to Disney Land, however I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Disney World. I am glad to hear you are staying on Disney property. They make everything so easy, transportation, baggage. They have the BEST customer service in the world. Wear comfortable shoes, have a plan, know what your kiddos can/can’t ride. Be logical about the way you move through the park. Take advantage of magic hours if they are available to you (where the park opens early or closes late). Use fast passes as often as possible so you spend as little time as possible waiting in line. There are family lounges at Disney, I believe they have rocking chairs and quiet spaces if Adeline needs a rest.. Check them out. Take time to stand in line to meet the characters… It is so cool. Characters sign autographs, Disney sells a book for them to sign in. Some of the coolest things at Disney happen after dark – fireworks, light parades etc. look at the schedule of Disney events online and find out what is happening. Don’t be afraid to sneak back to the hotel during the day and snooze in the afternoon so you can enjoy some of theses things if your kiddos could handle a change in schedule like that. I know that Spectromagic Parade is on its way out the door, if it still is running. It is my FAVORITE! There are lots of parades, it is a good opportunity to see characters you might not “bump into”. I believe parade routes are also posted online. If there’s re rides you are going to stand for a long time to get into and they happen to be along a parade route, plan to get inline while watching the parade… It will help pass the time. If you plan to ride the tea cups – do it before lunch! :c). Have so much fun! It is soooo magical!!!

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Amy March 7, 2014 at 1:11 pm

You will love ending with breakfast at Goofy’s kitchen. We did the same thing a few years ago with our kids. Great memories from that morning!

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Katherine March 7, 2014 at 1:22 pm

My husband and I used to live 10 minutes from Disneyland so we had passes. One of the best and most fun souvenirs ever was from a shop just inside of California Adventure. You can fill a box with as much loot as you can fit for a Mr. Potato Head. Most of the goodies are Disney-related and it’s so fun to pull out and play with now with our kids.

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jessicaturner March 7, 2014 at 4:14 pm

That sounds so fun! Will definitely look for it.

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Natasha March 7, 2014 at 1:32 pm

You are going to have SO much fun!! We went a little over a year ago and our family had a BLAST! Here are 2 tips I hope you find helpful:

1) For Safety reasons, dress your kids in matching bright colored tee-shirts. I went to Michaels/Hobby Lobby and bought the bright neon green, orange and blue t-shirts and ironed on Disney images for the 3 days we visited. It was SO easy to spot our kids because they both wore the matching color shirts that were easy to recognize. A few Moms in line even commented that they wished they had thought of it because there were so many kids in the crowds and you want yours easy to spot even if they wander just a few feet away.

2) Autographs are such a fun and important keepsake for the kids! I brought along two Becky Higgins Project Life Mini Albums with 3X4 blank project life cards for the characters to sign. My kids loved having their own book and slipping the cards in after they were signed. When we got home, I filled the book with pictures of the characters beside the autographed cards and voila! Super quick and easy and the kids still love to look through these books and smile!

Hope you have a blast!

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Robin Troxell March 7, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Fun! we are going to Disney World in May, I have never been and my husband went once as a kid – we have three kids so I am pinning all of your pins on saving $$ :-)

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jessicaturner March 7, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Hope you find some good tips!

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Karen March 7, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Oh my goodness…it was my dream vacation for our family. We went in 2012 when our kids were 6.5 and 3 and it was everything I could have hoped for in a vacation. I did TONS Of research because my goal was to be as organized and informed as possible, knowing that we would have to “go with the flow” once we got there because of small children and lines, etc! Bring in bottled water and small snacks. Goofy’s Kitchen was the best. Yes to the autograph books…such a hit with young children! Use that early morning time….families with older kids tend to sleep in. We were in the park at the opening time (or before on our magic morning). One morning we were on every ride in Fantasyland in under an hour. The other morning, we went on every ride in Tomorrowland in the first hour and a half…utilize those slower morning hours!! We also splurged on the World of Color picnic meals….a bit overpriced, but a really yummy meal in a fun package and they came with the fast passes to World of Color…just one less line to stand in that day! The parades are a must (in both parks)….tons of characters, great music, and a chance to sit for a bit and enjoy the show! We got churros (a Disneyland favorite treat!) and sat on the sidewalk while we waited for them to start. I did buy the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and it was really helpful and I’ve been able to pass it on to several friends over the last few years. We took naps and swam in the hotel pool every afternoon…a great way to refresh ourselves before the second half of the day! Good call on the Photo Pass…very convenient and has a nice array of professional photos of the parks that I didn’t take the time to photograph. I could go on and on…..:)
Have a great time at the Happiest Place on Earth!

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jessicaturner March 7, 2014 at 4:13 pm

I’m glad you said something about the photo pass because Matthew said he thought it was a waste of money – ha! :) I told him lots of people said it was a good thing.

And yes to afternoon swimming and rest. Adeline and Elias both take naps, so I think that sounds like a good plan!

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Carol Lindberg March 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Laguna Beach is fabulous and such a walkable place. If you’re facing the beach, up on the hill to the right overlooking the beach, there is a wonderful Mexican restaurant that has been there forever http://www.lasbrisaslagunabeach.com I haven’t been to California is probably 8 years but will be there next summer! Yea! I did check on-line & it’s still there. I noticed that it’s described as upscale Mexican so check to make sure it’s appropriate for your kids (assuming you love Mexican food). I remember kids being there.

I haven’t been to Disneyland since I was In high school (paper tickets for the rides). I still remember how magical It’s A Small World was. I still loved it when my parents took us & our son to Disneyworld twice (he was 3 1/2 & then 6). The challenge with naps is that it takes awhile to get from the park back to the hotel. So you waste a lot of time traveling out & back in. We never did leave for naps.

Another idea is to prepare an character autograph book before had. I actually took in a pack of Creative Memories Disney Milestones pack so I didn’t have to worry about spilling something or getting sunscreen on the actual album. If you’re interested & can’t find in Nashville, I think I have a Disney Milestones Kit in Atlanta. I know I have a Disney punch, a Disney Picfolio (slide-in) album (red w/black Mickey) & a mini paper album. I think I have a pack of Crusin’ Cars 12×12 paper. You can email me of you want at cpacarolATbellsouth.net

I liked the Disney Passporter book. I also really liked the Unofficial Guide to Disney. Also there are apps that you can purchase to let you know the waiting time for different rides!

By the way, I graduated from Vanderbilt and have spent lots of time in Nashville. Have your kids done the scavenger hunt at Cheekwood? My son loved it. He’s 10. & we probably went when he was about 7.

Have a wonderful trip. Loved your Trunki idea!

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Mary B March 7, 2014 at 7:53 pm

It’s been 7 years since I’ve been to Disneyland. My kids were 4, 7 & 10 when we went. What I will add is that while there is plenty to see and do given the fact that it is landlocked we didn’t feel like it was overwhelming with little kids.
I felt we adequately saw the park and rode the rides without feeling overwhelmed. So take it in! Fun memories you will have!

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Kathryn March 7, 2014 at 8:21 pm

You can get a “First Visit” pin at either park. It makes a great souvenir. Also, if your kids like treasure hunts, you can search for hidden Mickeys throughout both parks. There are books and websites that list where they are. They’re always fun to discover!

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Rebecca March 7, 2014 at 9:36 pm

I’ve never been to Disneyland but I’ve done disneyworld! I recommend buy some cheap autograph books online before you go! The ones in the park are quite pricey. Also your kids can decorate some of the pages to make it more personal for the characters to comment on – they’ll love it!

I don’t know what the weather is like in CA for April and if there are wet rides at Disney? If so take some waterproof macs/ponchos for you guys to wear. Again quite pricey in the park so best to be prepared.

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Rebecca March 7, 2014 at 10:34 pm

I’m a local and actually sitting at Disney’s California Adventure as I type this!

First, bring your patience as you will be here in the middle of spring break season – it WILL be crowded and Disneyland is much smaller than Disneyworld and feels crowded easily. Staying on property is great – get here early! If the parks open at 8 be at the gates by 730. You can do more between 8-9am (or7-9 if you have extra magic hours from hotel stay) than you can from 12-5!

Stay in one “land” until you’re done! Don’t walk all over the park – I’d you start in fantasyland stay there. Peter Pan will always have a line – instead of waiting 45 minutes in the early morning – ride Dumbo, Casey jr, Carousel and the tea cups in the same amount of time.

Plan for snacks in line – it makes the time do faster and keeps kids entertained.

Measure kids heights – use parent swap if both kids can’t ride at the same time. Use fast pass but be award or return times – Disney has gotten much stricter with sticking to slotted window.

Plan for shows and parades. You’ll need to get parade sears 30 minutes (minimum) before start time. Again, use as rest or snack.

Favorites for my 5 year old – Staf Tours, Buzz, Toy Story, Mickey and the magical map, Pixar parade, soaring over CA, little mermaid.

Don’t miss play area across from grizzly river rapids – great to burn off steam!

Most if all – you just won’t do it all – let kids enjoy and pace – when their tired they don’t enjoy it – sometimes a rest is best for all involved!

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jessicaturner March 8, 2014 at 5:32 am

So many great tips – thank you!

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Cherryl March 7, 2014 at 10:49 pm

I am an annual passholder for almost 8 years with my kids. Disneyland is so great! Just some other tips would be to use the monorail to enter Disneyland if you are staying at the Disney Hotel. You get inside the park so much quicker. Also when you go to CA Adventures you can enter through the Grand California Hotel if you are staying at one of the resort hotels. Another quick way to get in. And definitely use the pool at the Disney Hotel. My kids loved it there. They have a great water slide & kiddie area. And I agree to use the photo pass. I love it! It may cost a lot but if you have the park take a ton of pictures it may be worth it. Enjoy!

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jessicaturner March 8, 2014 at 5:30 am

Great tips, thank you!

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Becky March 7, 2014 at 11:11 pm

I just wrote a post that is just that “never before seen Disney tips” . We took a trip with our kids & my niece & nephew (ages 7, 5, 4, 3, 2) and had a blast, but I wish I would have known some of these before we went! :)
Have fun!!

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Becky March 7, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Oh- the link MIGHT be helpful, right? πŸ˜‰ http://www.yourmodernfamily.com/never-seen-tips-disney-kids/

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jessicaturner March 8, 2014 at 5:30 am

Thanks so much for sharing!

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Sara @ Mom Endeavors March 8, 2014 at 12:12 am

LOVE the video! So cute! Can’t wait to meet you! :)
I really need to write a post like this for Disneyland, but a lot of the tips work for either place! http://www.momendeavors.com/2013/08/10-tips-for-visiting-walt-disney-world-with-babies-young-kids-travel-tuesday.html

Take advantage of the rider switch pass for sure for rides with your little guy! And, the photo pass is awesome. We forgot to buy ours ahead of time last year and I REALLY regret that. :)

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sl March 8, 2014 at 10:04 am

Michael’s had alot of cute disney stuff in the $1-$3 spot 50% this week. Would be great for small gifts instead the gift shop there. Have fun!!

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Mothering from Scratch March 8, 2014 at 12:22 pm

{Melinda} I agree with Kelly H who commented earlier. Don’t spend too much time with Character Meet and Greet. I went to Disney World when my kids were about yours ages and they wanted to do that, but it really did take up 1/2 our day. The lines tend to be really long.

You will have a wonderful time. Disney is magical. It is just is. We live near Busch Gardens and go there fairly often. It’s fun but just not the same. :)

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Bree March 8, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Bring snacks!!! We’ve been to Disney World 3x now and have been prepared each time. The parks allow you to bring your own food, so pack lots of snacks to save yourself not just money, but time. The kids can nibble while waiting in lines for the rides. And when you do eat meals, eat off-schedule. Like bulk up on breakfast before you get to the park, snack all morning, skip the lunch crowd from 11:30-1:30, and grab lunch at 2pm. When you eat later, it also allows the kids to go longer until dinner (hopefully) and then you can miss the dinner rush too. And aks for/look for “kids packs” at the eateries. Not all eateries advertise but most have them. Kids packs are really just what the kids want – a box with a pack of godlfish, a wrapped cookie, carrots and dip, some sort of fruit, a yogurt tube, a drink. Whatever they don’t eat, you can stash in your bag and take with you. They are the best way to go some meals/days.

Find a good – not too big. I picked up a baggalini – it water proof. I like the cross body. The weather should be pretty consistent then, so you probably won’t need sweatshirts, so you shouldn’t need a huge bag.

Photopass is awesome because its the best way to get the best photo of all 4 of you together. Hint – pick your fav pics from photo pass and pay for the downloads. Sooooo worth it. Also – the photographers at the park are often willing to take photos with YOUR camera, if you ask nicely and there isn’t a big line. LET THEM! Our full family photo last year was from my camera, the Disney photographer took it.

Have a plan, but be flexible – especially with kids! Its better to do fewer things that they really want to do, then try to push/rush them into doing it all and everyone ending up miserable. that was our biggest lesson. As I said, we’ve been 3 years now and still haven’t done all the rides at Magic Kingdom because our boy just wasn’t interested.

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Kim March 9, 2014 at 1:39 am

We are annual passholders at Disneyland and live in OC, so we go all.the.time. One thing I didn’t see mentioned is that “Parent Switch Pass” can be attained at the front of many rides. One parent goes in and waits in the line, rides the ride, while the other waits with kids. Then, the parents switch and the other parent goes in through the exit to ride the rides. We do this for several reasons: 1) so we adults can ride the fast rides and 2) my older child can go on rides with one of us that the younger child cannot. While we are waiting for the switch to happen, we will find a ride that is short for us to go on, or play around in Toontown playground or in the jumping puddles at CA adventure (bring a towel, extra clothes, and shoes…or just change into swim suits, but they must wear shoes).
And there is no time limit or amount of passes you can attain, but the colors do switch every day, so they need to be used during that day.

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Living Eventfully March 9, 2014 at 9:23 am

Eat a corn dog and dole whip float.
There’s a Target within a mile half of Disneyland but if you have a car I would go four miles away to Fullerton Metro Center…not as busy with tourists. There’s an In n Out there too!!
I think there’s a costco across the street. Just ask your concierge or front desk for directions.
Take complete advantage of the concierge to book your events in the park. Staying at the DL Hotel gives you a lot of clout!!
FYI if you have ever been to DW, DL is completely different on many levels in my opinion.
There’s a newer Shopping/dining location very near DL called the Anaheim Garden Walk if you’re looking to eat outside the park one day. Four days is a lot of time to spend at DL and you may want some contact with the outside world!
Must see in Laguna is Heisler Park. And eat at a good Mexican restaurant while in the oc. Have fun!!

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Living Eventfully March 9, 2014 at 9:46 am

Oh!! And download the DL app for your phone! It gives you real time info like wait times for rides. Amazeballs.

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Kim March 9, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Jessica, we took our three girls to Disney a couple years ago. They were 1, 3, and 5. We had an amazing time! My husband loves the planning part of Disney and had our days fully planned using touringplans.com. That website helped us choose what park would be best each day, and what order we should do the park for the least amount of waiting time. It was perfect!!! Matt printed out a little card for each day with our plan. We went in May and didn’t wait hardly at all. It was crazy how quickly we got through each park each day. We did everything we wanted to do. We would go from opening until 1:00. Then go to our house for naps and return to the park around 4. We didn’t miss a thing on our list and all the kiddos were well-rested! We never would have been that prepared without that website. It was a huge blessing for our trip. Touringplans.com would be a great tool for the one day that you guys are going on your own. You’ll get the more in and you’ll have a definite plan, so you’re not backtracking or wasting time!!! So many good tips there…definitely check it out!

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jessicaturner March 10, 2014 at 9:59 am

This sounds right up my alley! Thank you!

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Stacy March 11, 2014 at 11:52 pm

We’re big fans of Disneyland and we’ve been there several times. I haven’t read all of the tips thus far, but in case these 10 things have not been mentioned, here you go:
1. Don’t attach your Disney Tickets to a lanyard around your neck. People have been known to easily lose their tickets and other passes this way since they can become detached or slip out without you noticing and Disney will not refund for lost tickets.
2. Many of the rides in Fantasyland and the other kid areas are dark inside and quite scary to little one’s (I.e. Peter Pan, Roger Rabbit, etc.) I was unprepared for this with my almost 3 year old at the time. She loved the Winnie the Pooh ride, though. There are plenty of attractions, though, so don’t worry.
3. Stake out good spots for the parades well in advance (at least 30-45 minutes) if the park is crowded.
4. The Hillbilly stage show at Frontierland is not to be missed. It’s very very funny and entertaining! We see it every time we go!
5. Get to the park as early as possible in the morning to make the most of your day.
6. The Haunted Mansion is probably too scary for children under 7. They will probably do fine on Pirates of the Carribean, though.
7. Don’t miss It’s a Small World.
8. All food is expensive inside the park. Eat outside the park and bring your own water bottles and several snacks if you want to save money.
9. Bring Sun hats, sunblock, and even bandanas to tie around your neck in case lines get long and the sun is hot.
10. There’s a great potty, nursing, diaper changing place in the Main Street area. It’s very clean and wonderful.
Hope these tips help. Have fun!

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Cori March 14, 2014 at 4:37 am

Hi..just saw this and have been many times to many of the Disneys. My best suggestion is to get there early and know the ‘must rides’ for your family. For ones that have Fast Pass go and get the Fast Pass (Toy Story) comes to mind. Know that as soon as your fast pass time starts, you can get a fast pass to another ride. As an adult who loves Disney, I had to remind myself that if my daughter wanted to ride the carousel 5 times, than that was OK. It really is a day for them to remember and have fun. If it is hot, try to do the rides with outside lines early. Know that the car line is one of the longest for some reason, so if that is a ‘must ride’, I would recommend hitting it early. Most of all, have a great and safe trip! Blessings to you and your family.

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Sarah March 25, 2014 at 12:19 am

Hi Jessica,
I have kids the same age as you and my husband works at Disneyland, playing in the
Disneyland Band (and directing it some too) so we go often… usually at least once or twice a month. I read some (but not all) of the comments, so there may be repeats but here’s a couple things you’ll want to know:
1. Princess Fantasy Faire no longer exists. There is however a new princess area set up to the left of the castle in DL that does afternoon princess shows. They’re pretty short and I bet Adeline would love them, so check the white paper with show times that you can pick up (along with a map) when you go through the main gate.

2. Bring a backpack. Bring at least one water bottle–you can refill it over and over again. Bring snacks for the kids–not only because they’ll get hungry, but also because they help pass the time when waiting in the inevitable long lines.

3. Use your early morning access due to staying at the resort to get a fast pass for Radiator Racers (in CarsLand in California Adventure) FIRST THING in the morning. They’re gone for the whole day within an hour of the actual park opening time, plus, the earlier you get your FastPass the better, because that ride gets shut down for maintenance all.the.time. and even with a fast pass sometimes you can’t get on if your slot isn’t until evening. Plus, you can only have 1 fast pass (per person) at a time, with the exception of World of Color. Get a fast pass for World of Color. I think you and your kids will really like it.

4. Right next to CarsLand is Bugs’ Life. It is nice (and underrated) for kids this age. It has a splash area (nice if it’s super hot outside) and more shade then most of the park. It also has a little train, bumper cars and some other rides aimed at younger children. (Not super exciting for the parents, but also not usually as crowded if you need a break from the crowds.)

5. Speaking of CarsLand, at dusk, they play the ‘Life Could Be A Dream’ song (just once) and the lights all come on like they do in the movie. If you’re near by and you like the move, it’s worth trying to catch. :)

6. Everyday EXCEPT Wednesdays and Thursdays, at 10:55am in front of the castle, the Disneyland Band comes out and plays a set of songs. After the first song, Mickey Mouse comes out with the whole gang to join them. Try to get your kids in the front row for it and they’ll get to see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald Duck, Chip & Dale, the Mad Hatter, Alice and more, all at once. (Also, my husband will either be directing the band or playing the trombone.)

7. If your kids need to burn off energy from waiting around in lines, there’s a playground in Toon Town (DL) with a little slide and things to climb on, or even better IF it’s open is the Dug & Russell scouting area from “Up” (CA) but it was closed last week.

8. I realize you don’t have a baby, but there’s a baby care room/area at the end of main street (DL) that is nice because it has a changing table area (if you have diapers) as well as small toilets and sinks that are nice for little kids.

9. My kids are 6 and 3 (as of last week). Their favorite rides in DisneyLand: Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, Dumbo, Peter Pan (crazy long lines though), Winnie the Pooh, Small World, Chip & Dale’s ‘Roller Coaster’, Storybook something (not my fav), Pirates of the Carribbean (a little on the scary side for littles),
Favorite Rides at C.A.: Ariel/Little Mermaid (I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s my daughter’s favorite), the Monsters Inc. ride, Radiator Racers, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Soarin’ Over CA (my 3 year old isn’t tall enough though), the Toy Story arcade style ride.

10. At many rides, you can ask a cast member for a parent line pass if you explain that one of you has to wait with your daughter (and/or son), they’ll give you a pass so that you could (wait in line and then) take your son on the ride and then after you come out, your husband can skip the line (by giving them the pass) while you wait with your daughter. Does that make sense? They do this for lots if not most rides.

Hope that all helps. Have fun!

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Jill March 25, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Buy more Disney stuff now and take it with you in gift bags. That way you don’t have to but “expensive junk” when you get there.

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