If you, like me, are timid about taking your kids to Disneyland, I have a few tips. First, get a guide that will help you plan out your stay. My husband bought The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland months ago and begged me to read it. I did--in the hotel the night before we hit the park. Read it sooner than I.
You can spend hours and hours on the internet trying to get the best deal on the hotel and Park Hopper passes as we did in the beginning. Finally, with numbers and dollar signs swirling in our heads, we called a travel agent, told him we wanted to be close to the park with a room that could accommodate 5, a fridge, a microwave, a pool, and free breakfast. We also wanted three day Park Hopper passes. That was easy way out, and we couldn't have done it any cheaper! We stayed at the Desert Palms Hotel that was conveniently located walking distance from Disneyland.
Parking? If you are staying anywhere close to the park, don't bother. Most hotels are within walking distance or there are shuttles available for a fee. As a matter of fact, I was picturing the parking lot for Disneyland when I was 18. Imagine my surprise when that parking lot is now Disney's California Adventure Park. The parking lots were further away from the Disneyland than my hotel!
Get to the park early before it opens. It will be well worth your time. The park is less crowded in the mornings, and you may be able to ride the popular rides without waiting too long in line. You can also grab your fast passes for favorite rides. The second morning we were there, the park opened early for all those that validated their tickets the previous day. Even better, the final day of our stay, California Adventure opened early and everyone was in that location so Disneyland was unusually sparsely populated. Yay for us!
I have decided that frumpy is better than hoochie mamma! I saw so many pairs of tight, little shorts that I wondered if those women were getting any circulation to their legs. Besides, I don't want to sit the ride where someone's partially covered you-know-what just sat. I also saw little girls dressed like, well, why would you do that to your little girl? It is best to be comfortable in your clothing. Summer clothing that is neither too tight or too baggy is best when riding the attractions. Pockets that have Velcro, buttons, or zippers are a great help for keeping park tickets, fast passes, money and cell phones. Comfortable shoes are a must. High heels? Really? Yes, I saw women in high heels. The most darling were the little girls dressed as princesses. I even saw a little boy as prince charming. It was charming.
Food in the park is expensive and is there when you want convenience. We, however, opted to eat out of the park and ate many of our meals in our hotel room. Thank you Food 4 Less grocery store down the street! Make sure you pack snacks and water bottles. This will save you a bundle. One afternoon, we went to a cheap Mexican place in a strip mall called Alertos. It was sooooo delicious. I really have been trying to like the Mexican food in Utah, but my last experience was so bad, I couldn't even blog about it. My husband said it would be like giving a Broadway review to a junior high play. It was that awful. So when I tasted my burrito, I said, "Flavor, where have you been, I've missed you!" So yes, there are ways to eat delicious food without breaking the bank.
On Babies and Toddlers
This must be the reason why I never took my kids to Disneyland when they were young.
This photo represents not even a fourth of the strollers that were parked in front of the ride, It's a Small World. I saw couples pushing strollers with the kids and another stroller with all the
crap, gear that the kids require. I saw melt down after melt down. My kids never had a melt down, didn't require diapers, bottles, or excessive snacks. They were tall enough to ride all the rides and we could ride all together. Take that, you naysayers. My waiting paid off!
I actually did not take that many photos while in Disneyland. Sometimes we take so many photos we miss the moment. I decided to chill on the photo taking when I was missing the World of Color show at California Adventure because I was watching it through my tiny camera lens. This photo is of Ariel projected on the fountains. You can sort of see her red hair, but it is blurry and doesn't do justice to the real thing. Also, I saw moms take pictures of their kids on the rides and then they were so busy posting the pictures to Facebook and Twitter, that they missed the rest of the experience. I decided that I wasn't going to miss the experience. There are professional photographers who take pictures and scan a photo pass which they give to you. The next time a photographer takes your picture with Mickey Mouse, for example, you hand them your card to scan. After you get home, check out the pictures and purchase the photos if you'd like.
On Persons With Disabilities
Two years ago, my husband had an illness that affected his legs. He walks with a cane, and when the distance is too long, he uses a wheelchair. Disney is extremely accommodating to people in wheelchairs and those with other disabilities. In Disneyland many of the lines for the rides were not built for accessibility, so the exit is often used to push wheelchairs to the front of the line. California Adventure, on the other hand, is completely accessible and those in wheelchairs wait in line with everyone else.
I was so impressed with how the Disneyland staff treated an elderly man who had an intellectual disability. He was obviously a regular because we saw him two mornings in a row, and the staff all knew him. He would clap a pattern to tell the staff he was at the ride and they would clap back. They would then greet him with a "secret" handshake, call him by name, and acted genuinely glad to see him.
I was unimpressed with the people who obviously weren't disabled and somehow lied their way into having a disability pass so they could get on the rides more quickly. One group in front of us had one adult and nine young kids. None of whom appeared disabled. A lady behind us said, "This is the line for the cripples and I'm not crippled." Besides her politically incorrect use of the term "cripple," she openly admitted that she was bucking the system. Disgusting!
On the Rides
My favorite was Soaring Over California. It is as if you are hang gliding over the state. They even have the smell of the orange groves blowing peacefully in your face. Of course, Indiana Jones was pretty amazing as well.
Also, don't miss Tower of Terror, California Screaming, Star Tours, Space Mountain and the more peaceful Jungle Cruise.
We went on quite a few of the kiddie rides as well. The worst ride in all of Disneyland has to be Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. It could scare a little kid to death. It is dark, there are explosions and fire. My husband started calling "Mr. Toad Goes to Hell." A more apt name in his opinion.
On Chilling Out
Sometimes an afternoon nap might be a good thing while you are at Disneyland. But really, a day at the beach, is the best way to relax after the over-stimulation of the amusement parks. Look at that beautiful ocean. Definitely make this a part of your journey.
Here's to a wonderful California Adventure. I hope one day you might have a successful trip to Disneyland as we did!