BY MARCIA LEONE
When you get the call from Mickey to come and experience the happiest place on earth, you pack your sparkly ears, dress your baby as Minnie and jump on the next flight to LA.
If you follow us on Instagram you would have seen us packing all we could into 4 days at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure recently. From the nostalgia of Main Street to the thrill of the rides, to the fireworks over Sleeping Beauty’s castle; it was definitely one of those trips we will remember for a lifetime.
For many of us (particularly those that live on the other side of the world) Disneyland is one of those once or twice in a lifetime experiences. So, as promised, I’ve pulled together some tips and tricks for you to make sure you get the most out of your time at the Happiest Place on Earth.
- Plan your visit when it’s not too busy. Avoid Spring Break, Halloween and Christmas if you can as the crowds and waiting times get crazy. Allow at least 4 days to do both parks properly, you’re not going to get through everything in one or two days – you will just end up a frazzled mess.
- If you can, stay at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels. This decision can make or break your trip – especially if you have young children. We stayed at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa which has direct entry to California Adventure Park and Downtown Disney. It was so easy to duck back to the hotel for sleep time and rest – we would go in and out 3 or 4 times throughout the day. Archie and I would even duck out at 9.30pm at night to go on some rides without the queues! IT’S GLORIOUS.
- Arrive at least 30 minutes before the park opens. Lines are shorter in those first few hours, and the less waiting with little ones – the better!
- Be prepared with a plan. Download the Disneyland App where you will find maps and wait times for attractions so you can get the most out of each day.
- Definitely utilise the EXTRA MAGIC HOUR. If you stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel you also get the Extra Magic Hour where you can enter the park one hour before opening. You’ll be surprised by how much you can get done in that hour. Hot tip: Even if you are staying offsite you can still get a Magic Morning if you buy a 3+ day ticket in advance.
- MAX PASS VS FAST PASS. Although you can’t control the crowds you can navigate through them. Via an actual machine near the attractions (Digital FASTPASS) or via the Disneyland app (MaxPass), you can pull FASTPASSES. Each FASTPASS gives you an allocated time to bypass many park guests in the standby line to get on the attraction quicker. It is free, but not unlimited; you have to wait 2 hours between fast passes and only available on selected attractions. If you get the MAXPASS you can get fast passes straight from your phone – which saves time walking across the park. It costs $10 per guest, per day. It also includes photo pass so you can get professional images around the park and character dining (no prints though).
- RIDER SWITCH. Now mum or Dad don’t have to miss out if you have a child that can’t go on the ride. This genius service allows you to take turns on the ride without losing your spot- and the child that can ride gets to go twice – so good!
- Take a break mid-day and return after a few hours. This was one of the reasons that we chose to stay at Disney’s California Adventure Hotel. When the park started getting really busy towards midday, we went back to the hotel for a swim, rest and recharge.
- The Character Breakfast is a must. This is probably the best way to see most characters rather than waiting in long lines with grumpy babies – no thanks! It’s much easier to keep them happy with a yummy piece of french toast in their hands.
- Regroup at Grizzly Peak in Disney California Adventure. If you’re not staying onsite and need some down time throughout the day head to Grizzly Peak in DCA – a tiny bit of zen. There are also Baby Care facilities at both parks with breastfeeding rooms and a general quiet place to take your kids.
BABIES UNDER 2…
Surprisingly there are SO MANY rides babies can enjoy – in fact love – at both parks. Poppy loved Peter Pan, It’s A Small world, Bugs Land and Toy Story. We even took her through Haunted House and she slept her way around Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise.
Then there’s Toontown of course, with the candy coloured houses, cute characters and a nice little park to sit and play. My rollercoaster obsessed boy loved Mickey’s Roller Coaster (OK I did too!)
We took a family poll and our top 3 attractions at each park were…
DISNEYLAND: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Indiana Jones Adventure, Peter Pan,
CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE: Radiator Spring Racers, Soarin’ Around the World and Toy Story Mania.
And last but not least: don’t forget to buy Mickey Ears!!
All our videos are saved on @notsomumsy story highlights too!