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.
: 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.
: 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.
: 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.