Tuesday, September 13, 2011

To all who come to this happy place - welcome!

As a veteran Disneyland park go-er I was recently asked how many times I've been in my lifetime. Considering I've been going 3+ times a year since I was 2 and I go about once a week nowadays, the answer was...over 100. I think that's an understatement.

So here are some of my favorite Disneyland tips and tricks (check out the update for 2013)

If you think Disneyland is a nightmare, you're just not doing it right. When my kids were younger and they had passes - I would take them every few weeks, and there are ways to make your Disney trip easy peasy. Honest.

People always ask me for tips on taking their kids to Disneyland - I have been working on this list for a long, long time. These are a few tried and true things that will make your day a whole lot easier!

I don't like lines.
Yeah. Neither do I. The absolute best way to take advantage of free reign in the park is to stay in a Disney hotel because they let you in one hour PRIOR to opening this is called 'Magic Mornings'. A select few rides are open, usually the ones for the kiddies in Fantasyland. If those aren't for you, at least youare IN the park and you have a prime spot for first choice of all the rides once they open up all the lands.

I know not everyone wants to stay in a hotel, in that case the optimum ride time is when the parades start, (that's where all the kids are). Same with the fireworks at night. Just skip the fireworks if rides are your priority.

If YOU love the rides, then get this: a lot of the fast rides offer 'single rider' which means you can go up to the front and ride while your spouse stays with the sleeping kid, then you switch off.

One more thing - Disneyland apps are your bff. From wait times to height requirements, it will save you a headache from running from one ride to the other. 60 min wait for Indiana Jones? Forget that, go eat a corndog. (the corndog line even has a wait time on the app!!) MouseWait is my fave.

Now this is the kind of wait time *I* live for:
My kids need to pee.
Anytime I can, I head back to Main Street to go to the Baby Care Center. (Next door to the Corn Dog Truck.) They have toddler sized potties, changing tables that are cleaned and wiped down after every use, baby food if you need it, a microwave, and a breast feeding room. I love that place because I am a total clean freak. Sadly, adults aren't allowed to pee there, so you're on your own. Hey, at least the kids are taken care of.



I want good food, not crappy park food.
Anytime you go to a theme park it's easy to get suckered. I am anti-hamburger/chicken nuggets/fast-food-esque things for my kids, so I am always looking for something better.

For breakfast: The Carnation Cafe on Main Street
Wow the breakfasts here are good. Just nice and homey and really tasty. Eggs, potatoes, and the cutest little Mickey waffles ever. There is a wait though, but it's worth it.

For Lunch
: Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country
Disneyland is changing their food options and all for the better. The newly revamped Hungry Bear Restaurant across from Splash Mountain now has more (even vegetarian) offerings instead of the same old burger and fries (ugh, not a fan). Fried Green Tomato sandwiches, sweet potato fries - all make for new and out of the ordinary theme park food.

For Dinner
: The Plaza Inn on Main Street
They have really big spaghetti and chicken dinners, that are large enough to share, which is great for your budget too. Also the dining is indoors, which is comfy at night.

I need a souvenir.
The best things ever are personalized. Biased opinion, here. Sure you can get Disney ears, but did you also know you can get anything personalized? Towels, tees, jackets - just bring your purchase to the Disney Clothiers store on Main St. NEXT to the Mad Hatter and they will embroider names for you for an additional charge. It's a unique gift esp for people bringing gifts back home.
Note: Did you know that if you break a Disneyland toy while you are there (I'm looking at you kids) or if your balloon pops (still looking at you, kids) Disney will replace it for free? Hey, whatever it takes to avoid crying is fine with me.

This could go under 'snack' too, but popcorn buckets are great. They cost a little more than a popcorn box, but that you'll just toss. These come with a lid so you can easily tote it all day. They buckets are collectible in the sense that they are always changing, but here's what I like, you can take them home, wash them, and they really come in handy for storing legos, crayons, any small toys. It's a nice reusable container.

The newest container is hard to find - a special R2D2 popcorn bucket!! This was put out to celebrate the opening of the new Star Tours ride. I love it since I adore Star Wars, but beforewarned. It costs WAY more than your average popcorn bucket, coming in a steep $15. You heard me. And yes, I bought it. Anything Star Wars, I just can't help myself.

I want something sweet.
Ok, this is my biggest secret of all, and I will probably regret saying this one, but the ice cream shop on Main Street is FABULOUS. If...you want to wait an hour and half for ice cream. I've done it. Don't. It's a nightmare and at the end you'll be too pissed off to eat. The secret is...go across the street. The Main St. Cone Shop is next to the lockers and has ice cream cones, sundaes and...NO LINES. Seriously. Your anger management therapist will thank you.

The park is also attempting new fun desserts that are certainly memorable and very Disney-fied. From mini pies to cupcakes they are breaking the trend of boring old cotton candy and ice cream. Just check out that Belle caramel apple!
Those are just a few of the questions people have emailed me about navigating Disneyland. If you have any more just let me know. I'm not an expert, just someone who goes...A LOT.

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6 Comments:

Blogger APlanet4Creation said...

Jenn,

Do they serve real eggs at The Carnation Cafe? We had a heck of a time finding a place that didn't have powdered eggs. Even Rainforest Cafe served powdered eggs and it was expensive too. We LOVED staying at the Disneyland Hotel! Thanks for that suggestion!! We plan to stay on site at Disney World in 2015.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 9:14:00 PM  
Blogger Jodi said...

I wish I could go 3 times a week! Just hoping to making it THIS year since I couldn't go at all last.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 9:17:00 PM  
Blogger connie k. said...

Living in Southern California and having a Disney pass is the best! You're right, the lines for rides during parades and fireworks shows are really short--we go for Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. During the summer we even go after work for a couple hours. Now, do you have a secret to getting Dole Whip faster? ;-)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 9:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Cynthia said...

Parking in the structure and getting on/off the tram with a stroller is such a hassle. Do you have any suggestions to make it a little less painful? Also, we're planning to go to Disneyland for the trick-or-treating event for kids. Do you have any tips for that as well?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 9:22:00 AM  
Anonymous justJENN said...

@Connie
The secret to getting Dole Whip faster is to not buy it in the park. ;)

Now it's available in Hollywood:

http://justjennrants.blogspot.com/2011/09/whip-it-good.html

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous justJENN said...

@Cynthia
There IS an easier way. At the tram stop you can go out the side entrance and take the WALK all the way to the front entrance. It follows the same line as the tram, but on the OUTSIDE of the gate. Ask an attendant to point you the right direction.

It's a haul, but I've done it just to avoid the stroller lines. And really the kid gets a ride, you're the one doing all the work. It's worth it!

As far as the Halloween event, I would only suggest that getting the 'treats' shouldn't be an elbow pushing catastrophe. The park sets up PLENTY of these treat stations and your kids will always be able to get some. Also a lot of station have healthy alternatives to candy which is nice.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 11:04:00 AM  

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