Happy Kids, Inc: Best Tips For Disneyland With Your Family
Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Best Tips For Disneyland With Your Family

By Meg Hodson

My family had one of our most memorable vacations recently when we took a road trip to Disneyland. My daughter was performing and participating in a Disney Performing Arts workshop with her dance troop. We decided to make a family vacation out of it.

Disneyland Family Vacation Top Tips

We embarked on our first Disney trip four years ago when our children were 7, 5, and 2. It was a great trip, but we were novices. My husband and I had been to Disneyland many times on our own, but not with young children. There were definitely many things we learned that we were going to cover on our most recent trip. 

Disneyland Family Vacation Top Tips

I have compiled a list of my favorite tips, insights, and best bets to make your Disneyland trip with kids stress free and memorable.

1. Pack Snacks and Water Bottles. As you can imagine, all that walking and activity makes kids tired! Although the only snacking my kids usually do is an after school snack (they are 11, 9, and 6 now), at Disneyland it is a different story. I was careful to give them a snack every 2 hours and plenty of water. Some of my favorite snacks to pack include: granola bars, string cheese, fruit snacks, carrot sticks, nuts, chips, and apple slices, 

Technically Disneyland requests that you don't bring outside food or beverage into the park. But I didn't run into any problems, especially since my daughter has food allergies. It can sometimes be tough to seek out water fountains and refill stations in Disneyland, so if you stumble upon them, take advantage and refill while you can. Most restrooms have water fountains and occasionally you will find that restaurants have refill stations (I found a great one at the central restaurant in Tomorrowland, right behind the Jedi Academy training area). Don't forget that the soda fountains in restaurants will also have water taps, too. 

2. Follow @DisneylandToday on Twitter. There are a lot of +Disneyland  apps out there, but there are no official apps for Disneyland run by Disney. The apps you do find that assist with wait times and such tend to be unreliable. You can check the Disneyland website for major closures and renovations going in, but for the day to day pulse of Disneyland, it's essential to follow @DisneylandToday on Twitter. I directly tweeted them questions regarding rides that were temporarily closed and got very quick answers.  Trust me, this came in handy when we were on one end of the park but had fast passes for Space Mountain on the other side of the park. We didn't want to make the trek unless we knew for sure that the ride was open.

Toy Story Mania at Disney California Adventure

3. Rent A House. We are a family of 5, so our hotel options can sometimes be limited. We stayed in a nice hotel our first trip, but received a suggestion from a friend to look into renting a house. I was surprised to find that there were a lot of options, many just minutes from the park. We decided to get one with a pool and hot tub, which did add to the cost. While the cost of the house was more than a hotel room that would have accommodated us, I felt overall, the pros outweighed the cons and that we actually came out even.

First, we used the pool a lot more than we ever would have in a hotel. Most of our days on vacation were longs ones at the park. My husband and I relished the hot tub for our tired legs; in a hotel, we would not have been able to leave our sleeping children to go to the hot tub, but with the house, we could (along with pouring a glass of wine!). 

While we did splurge and take the kids to Goofy's Kitchen for breakfast one morning, all other days we had breakfast at the house, saving our family a lot of money when we normally would have dined out for breakfast. P.S. Although spendy, Goofy's Kitchen was a hit and the food was amazing. The kids didn't need as many snacks that day, either, because of the amount of food they had that morning! 

We were also able to prep snacks and lunches easier by having a full kitchen in the house versus a mini-fridge in a hotel. 

4. Fast Passes. If you are not familiar, select rides at Disneyland have Fast Passes available. You can come back at a specific time and avoid a long wait. On select attractions, it's important to get your Fast Passes first thing in the morning or you may not get Fast Passes at all.  One of the most popular rides in California Adventure is Radiator Springs Racers in CarsLand. The normal wait time is 1 1/4 hour to 1 1/2 hours. Plan to enter the park when it opens and get your Fast Passes right away. For example, we got Fast Passes around 9am and had a return time of 3pm for the ride.  

Disneyland has a new performance and light show every night that is not to miss, Fantasmic. It is important to have reserved "seats" for this production and ideally, you want to be front and center to enjoy it fully. If you plan accordingly, make reservations at the River Belle Restaurant and enjoy a front row view and the pleasure of sitting down while you watch. If not, plan to get Fast Passes. Again, you need to get these as soon as you enter the park in the morning so that you get passes for the section that faces the front of the production. You can pick them up at a kiosk in Frontierland near Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

The Carousel at Disney California Adventure

5. Find Some Shade. Overall, I think Disneyland has better shaded areas than California Adventure. But I think the shade at outdoor restaurants is better at California Adventure than at Disneyland! We enjoyed a great, surprisingly reasonably priced lunch in the shade at the Alfresco Tasting Terrace in California Adventure. In Disneyland, seek the best shade in New Orleans Square and Frontierland.

6. Souvenir Shopping. Obviously enough, Disneyland has plenty of stores to find the ultimate souvenir. My one piece of advice would be to look beyond the "big box" stores and shop at some of the shops that are unique to each part of the park. We found fun stuff for our boys at the big store in Adventureland directly across from the Jungle Cruise. The best shop for finding those coveted Disneyland trading pins is in Frontierland. If you have Star Wars fans in your house, skip Main Street and head straight to Tomorrowland to the behemoth store next to Star Tours. If you do need to visit one of the larger shops, my favorite is the World of Disney in Downtown Disney.

7. Best Spots For Pins. I became a pin collector on our most recent trip to Disneyland. My children began collecting them 4 years ago on our first trip. My husband also did at the end of our last trip. They enjoyed shopping for pins on this trip immensely, as well as trading pins with cast members (remember, if a Disneyland cast member is sporting a lanyard with pins, you can trade with them!). Our favorite places to buy pins with the best selection include: The Toy Shop store by It's A Small World, the pin shop I mentioned above in Frontierland, World of Disney in Downtown Disney, and the gift shop right when you enter California Adventure (where you get your ears when you enter the park). 

8. Dinner At Blue Bayou. We made reservations well in advance for this popular sit-down restaurant that overlooks the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in New Orleans Square. Between the glowy drinks, the impeccable service, and delicious food, I highly recommend working this into your trip to Disneyland. 

Blue Bayou Glowy Drinks at Disneyland

Follow along:
 photo facebooksoft_zps2ca46363.png photo instagramsoft_zps234eaf53.png photo twittersoft_zps7e0a4b92.png photo emailsoft_zps2931cb4a.png photo pininterestsoft_zps05cdae05.png photo googleplus_zps1619805c.png photo tumblrsoft_zpsd813c422.png photo rsssoft_zpsaf899a58.png
09 10 11 12
Blogging tips