Yes, I said it! Disneyland can be relaxing and fun, BUT after many years of enjoying Disney fun I have a few rules that I live by:
- Stay at least 3 days, but no more than 5
- Stay nearby so that you can walk or shuttle easily back to your hotel
- Take a break away from Disneyland during the day
- Don’t sweat it if you missed it!
- Bring along your own snacks
- Understand the beauty of a FASTPASS and never wait in another long line again
- Avoid Disneyland during the absolutely insane times like the day after Christmas until New Year’s
- Make a Plan, but don’t be afraid to break it.
We live more than a days drive away from Los Angeles, and I have found that the times we have chosen to go to Disneyland for a day, it has turned into a crazy, hectic, miserable trip. I would prefer to skip Disneyland on that trip and return another time when I have more time to spend there. There is this urgency to get it all in, and not much time to sit back, and watch the fun or better yet watch the kids explore. I prefer 5 days….. Picture this…. You travel to Los Angeles and pop into the park that night to watch Fantasmic. The kids and adults are excited to be there and enjoy all that is fun about Disney. The next day your family catches a Character Breakfast at the Grand Californian: Story Tellers Cafe. You then drop into California Adventure, ride a ride or two, and grab some Fast Passes, then you go back to the hotel to sit by the pool and enjoy some of that California Sun. After some naps and sun bathing you go back to California Adventure and ride those rides that you grabbed the Fast pass for (don’t worry if you are late, they will honor Fast Passes that have expired within the day). You then finish the night off with A World of Color. The next 4 days are the same, only flip flop between spending a day in Disneyland and a day in California Adventure. Enjoy what every area of the park has to offer. Our favorite way to say Goodbye to Disneyland is to grab a spot on Main Street USA, send someone to get treats, (our favorites are Carmel Apples, and Ice Cream Sundae’s), and watch the Fireworks show.
Throughout the years we have stayed everywhere from the Candy Cane Inn, Residence Inn at Garden Grove, to the Grand Californian. The Grand Californian was a lot of fun, but also came with a HUGE price tag as compared with the hotels that are off resort. If money is no object then I would choose the Grand Californian every time. Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier are also fun, but my favorite is still the Grand Californian. The only places I have regretted are those that take a long time to get back and forth to my hotel (Residence Inn at Garden Grove). Residence Inn is awesome, they have great rooms, great breakfast, awesome staff, but…… the shuttle takes A LONG time to get you back and forth. During the summer months it fills up and you can sometimes have to wait a full 30 minutes before another returns. There are many lower end hotels nearby that you can stay at and easily walk back and forth. If you choose a hotel that requires a shuttle, just choose one that is nearby that will require a shorter shuttle time.
You will be having so much fun in the morning, and at about lunch time you will think, “I’m sure the kids can make it to tonight, Look how much fun they are having…” Well, you won’t be saying that at the night show. After a day in the heat with so much fun around you, your kids will be exhausted by the night show. Trust me, a break in the afternoon will make all of the difference!
There is a plethora of activities, rides, and shows to participate in at Disneyland. I have yet to do EVERYTHING that you can do at the resort in one trip. Before coming, choose some attractions that you don’t want to miss, and then “Don’t Sweat it if you miss it!”. I have often seen a mother running from one end of the resort to the other, yelling at her children to hurry up, just to be able to get it all in. It will ruin your vacation and defeat the purpose of a fun filled family vacation.
Bring along some of your own snacks. You can bring in anything that is not in a glass container, or in a cooler. It helps with little ones to have some reliable snacks on hand while waiting for something to start.
The Disneyland experience was made supreme when they invented the FASTPASS. If you are staying a sufficient amount of time the FASTPASS will enable you to ride on almost any ride without having to wait in a long line. A FASTPASS is a way of standing in line without actually standing in line. You go to the attraction and insert your park ticket into a KIOSK. The ticket will indicate when you can return and go through a much shorter line. Most lines are under 15 minutes. For more information on the FASTPASS, check out Disneyland’s Explanation of FASTPASS.
The only time I have regretted going was the day after Christmas until New Years Day. The park is almost unbearable. Sometimes it feels like you can hardly move from one place to another (even if it is 20 feet away). Although, I will never again go during that week at Christmas time, I would go before Christmas day and enjoy the Holiday decorations and attractions. I most enjoy going during the summer because during their high season they have more entertainment. More attractions tend to be open, and they have more characters roaming about. I have gone during a low season, and yes it is fun because you just walk onto every ride, BUT, there is something missing, FANTASMIC, Characters, bands playing at night, etc. Much of that extra stuff adds to the complete Disney experience. One time a friend asked me to write up what I would do in Disneyland for her. She was going in October and 5 of my top 10 attractions where closed during that month.
Take a look at the Disneyland Website before you leave on your trip and pick some attractions that you don’t want to miss. Make a small plan that lets you know approximately what you will be doing each day. Choose attractions that are close in proximity to each other for each section of time. You will not want to spend your time going from one end of the park to the next. To explore the many attractions that are located at Disneyland Resort check out Disneyland’s Attraction Overview. It will be able to give you answers to your current questions. Also, if your trip is soon coming you can even pull up a calendar with the dates you are planning to visit and get a more detailed schedule of what attractions are running.