Archive | disneyland tips

happy travels {recap}

Last week was TRAVEL WEEK and I had a lot of fun posting about all the things that I have learned along the way…here is a recap of all the traveling posts:
Travel Tips {general tips}
Disneyland Tips PART ONE
Disneyland Tips PART TWO
Travel Tips {No Kids Allowed}
Camping Tips PART ONE
Camping Tips PART TWO

There are so many other great ideas out there!

HERE is a great list for packing tips!
HERE is a great article about flying along with kids!
HERE is a great blog about family traveling!

Enjoy and Happy Travels!
And of course there is even more to check out on my Pinterest board: travelBUG
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travelBUG {DISNEYLAND TIPS~PART TWO}

If you missed it yesterday I posted the first part of a Disneyland Tips series I am starting. Here are a few more things to let you know all about! I have added links where possible…so check it out for yourself!

DISNEYLAND rides that we LOVE:

Peter Pans Flight {even though the line is always long}
Buzz Lightyear’s Astro-Blaster {it’s always cold in there…gotta love that on a hot day}
Shooting Range in Frontierland {the boys love this and honestly I do too…it’s really fun}
Space Mountain
Thunder Mountain
Splash Mountain
We love all the “mountain rides” but they are usually not for little kids…be sure to get fast passes or use single rider lines if possible
Small World {great with the kids and babies can ride on laps}
The Train {this is my favorite way to get around the park and relax for a few minutes and if you get on at the Tomorrowland station you will see a Disneyland treasure of an old moving Dinosaur display behind glass that has been there a long time}
Storybook Land {it’s the boat ride that passes through the whales mouth in fantasy land…It’s cute and relaxing and again a baby can sit on your lap}
Mad Hatter’s Spinning Tea Cups {we don’t get motion sickness…so this ride is so fun for us}
Tom Sawyers Island {beautiful, fun, relaxing, exciting for kids…just a great hidden adventure in the middle of the park}
Pirates of the Caribbean {classic, fun, cool ride…yo ho yo ho a pirates life for me}
Matterhorn {it’s kind of jerky…but beautiful at night when the park is all lit up}
Astro Orbitor {we call this the Rocket ride…so fun}
Gadget’s Go Coaster  {the kids totally love this little ride in TOONTOWN}
DISNEYLAND shows that we LOVE:
Fantasmic {this one is a classic & never get’s old in my opinion}
We actually like the Abraham Lincoln show in the theater near the front of the park but I think it’s under construction currently. It’s always cooled off in there so we especially like it if its hot and our feet need a break!

DISNEYLAND food that we LOVE:
Big Thunder Ranch: a sit down buffet {it’s tucked away behind the Big Thunder Mountain ride and is an amazing all you can eat BBQ, cornbread, coleslaw, beans extravaganza…yum y’all…but very expensive so save your money for this one}

The Blue Bayou: a sit down restaurant {the restaurant inside of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and you almost always need a reservation. the ambiance is like a beautiful outdoor restaurant in the south with chirping crickets and lanterns and delicious mint juleps…but again this one is also very expensive}
Cafe Orleans: a sit down restaurant {this place has the famous Monte Cristo sandwich that everyone talks about…it is richly decadent. i loved the salmon salad & they had great kid options…although Grant slept on my shoulder the whole meal when we went there last time…lovely shady setting too} Bengal Tiger Kabobs: walk-up/casual/to-go snack  {this little walk up stand is across the walk from the Indiana Jones ride and serves veggies, meat and yummy pretzel roles} Dole Whips: walk up casual to-go treat  {prepare yourself for a lightly whipped pineapple ice cream delight that is TO-DIE-FOR…and it’s cheap and delicious to boot…the line is just outside the Tiki Room and seems to always be very long…especially on hot days}

CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE rides that we LOVE:
Toy Story’s Mid-Way Mania {This is my ALL TIME FAVORITE ride…but consider yourself warned that the line is ALWAYS long so get in it early and bring snacks and get the rider switch if you can}
Soarin’ Over California {unlike anything that I have ever experienced…just awesome}
California Screamin’ {the best roller coaster ever}
Tower of Terror {not for the faint of heart…beautiful view at night…it will make your heart drop into your stomach in the most terrifying and thrilling way imaginable}
All three of the above rides have fast passes available and you will need a rider switch to do all of them if you have little ones; but note that they all have a single rider lines also
the Ariel ride {it’s darling…very old school in some ways but great if you love that sweet little mermaid}
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail {a great place for the kids to run around and quite a bit of shade for the grown-ups…its an unexpected spot of fun}
Cars Land {aka: Radiator Springs} {It’s awesome, very crowded and so similar to the movie it’s almost unreal. There are only a few rides in Radiator Springs but there are some great restaurants and you can often meet Lightning McQueen and Mator. If you want to go on the RACERS ride {the most popular ride in the park these days} you have to get in the fast pass line {near bug’s land} ASAP in the morning! This line can take an hour to wait in so grab your coffee and send someone to get your fast passes {make sure everyone has entered the park if you do this though or it won’t work}. You can use the rider switch to do this ride and many people I know have just done the single rider line {it will save you an hour or more to do this as some people wait almost two hours just to ride this one}

CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE shows that we LOVE:
World of Color {if you want to see this show you have to get fast passes as early in the day as you can even though it’s at night…you can eat as specific restaurants that allow you to get the fast pass if you purchase a certain amount of food but it is usually very pricey to do it so be prepared}. Once they run out of these passes you cannot get them and you won’t be able to watch the show. They only allow people to stop and watch in the area roped off for World of Color fast passes.
It’s Tough to be a Bug {in Bug’s Land…my kids who are 4 and 5 were scared last time…this may be more suitable for older kids and grow-ups like us who want to laugh and cool off from a hot day} Disney Junior — Live on Stage! {if your kids watch Disney Junior…and mine do…they will love this little show}
Pixar Parade {we have not gotten in to waiting for parades often but the kids keep asking…so I am sure that stage is coming soon!}

CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE food that we LOVE:
Carthay Circle Restaurant: sit down/ somewhat fancy {This beautiful art-deco spot in the center of the park was modeled after a theater that Walt Disney loved…you can read all about it online…and is perfect for a fancy meal or special occasion…the atmosphere is as spectacular as the food…we went there for our Christmas Dinner this year and let me just say that while very expensive…it was just AMAZING! They have a World of Color fast pass arrangement if you get a minimum amount of food so be sure to ask about that too…oh and you will of course need reservations for this one as well}
Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta: walk-up/casual/to-go or sit outside {At the very back of the park past Goofy’s coaster and near the jelly fish ride is this awesome hidden restaurant that serves amazing Italian pasta’s and salads. There is a great spot next store that serves several fabulous Mediterranean dishes as well. This has become our new favorite place to eat lunch or an early dinner}
Pacific Wharf area: walk-up/casual/to-go or sit down outside {There are several options for food at the pier including Asian cuisine, Mexican entree’s, margaritas & Soup in a bread-bowl delights and they are all yummo…secret hint: if you head towards Cars Land this area leads to a really cool path & view of Radiator Springs that you will be glad you checked out}
Cozy Cone Hotel: walk-up/casual/to-go snacks {These fun CONE concessions in cars land have great snacks like popcorn, ice-cream, etc. and are impossible to miss}
Ariel’s Grotto: sit down/buffet {this restaurant sometimes allows you to see most of the princesses during your meal. They actually come up to your table…we did this when Paige was 2 and loved it! It’s a set buffet that is like $30 per person but looks out over the water of the whole park. I heard it has changed and is now a place you can see the World of Color show. So check out the scoop on that when you get there or call ahead.}

Here is one more resource to check out:
Disneyland Discounts HERE

If you missed yesterdays post {DISNEYLAND TIPS- PART ONE} be sure to check it out!

I’m sure I will have more tips to add soon as we are going to go a few more times in 2013 {and I will do my best to update this if things change}. Until then see ya real soon!

 

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travelBUG {DISNEYLAND TIPS~PART ONE}

Woohoo! Time for one of my favorite subjects: Disneyland! My closest friends consider me a Disneyland expert. I am not compared to many die-hard Disney fans. But I have visited the Disneyland Resort many times throughout my life and love going with my kids now! Aaron & I learned our way around the parks when we had annual passes a few years ago {we lived in Anaheim pre-kids}! This year for Christmas my sweet mom gave us all a yearly pass…so we have been able to go twice already with the kids. Several questions come up when my friends ask me about Disneyland. How do you do it with kids and when is the best time to go? First, I will tell you to be flexible. Disneyland always has little things going on and you never really know what you are going to get too far in advance. CHECK DISNEYLAND’S WEBSITE & HOURS often so you can plan accordingly. A ride might be closed or it may rain or it may be really crowded. If everyone in the group picks one ride they have to go on…that’s a good goal to shoot for…and fill in from there. Here is my list of tips that I have been compiling for a few years to send my friends and some websites that I find helpful {it became so long that I had to break it into two parts}.

::Disneyland Resort Tips::
{for DISNEYLAND & CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE}

When to go:

This depends on you, your family, your tolerance for crowds and changes in weather. Ask your friends who have gone and check out these sights to learn more and to get an idea of what the experts say about the crowds.
HERE {just click on the month you are considering}
HERE {this one gives a general description for each month}
and
HERE {this is comprehensive & really great}

As far as the best season to go…it just depends on you. I like the summer activities and weather and late hours {assuming it’s not too hot}. I like the winter activities for Christmas and we don’t usually mind the colder weather. Rain is a blessing in disguise because people scram…but don’t forget your ponchos {we bought the ponchos they sold there in December and have been very happy with them and if there is even a chance of rain we bring them}! Be careful of Summer, November through December, Spring Break season and major holidays if you do not like crowds.

What to wear:
For Everyone: Comfortable shoes and layering my clothes are the two key ingredients for comfort in Disneyland, in my opinion. I am always careful to check out the forecast beforehand so I know if I am wearing comfortable sandals or comfortable sneakers {and/or my cozy UGGS in the evening}. For the most part Anaheim has great weather. We typically bring clothes for hot mid-day and cooler evenings and everything in between. Sometimes I try to dress cute and sometimes I try to just be comfy. We all have some cute mickey sweatshirts now too that work great in the evening!
For the Kids: We love to let the kids dress up in their favorite Disney character costumes. This is not for everyone, but it works for us. I dress the kids in their regular clothes under their princess dress or Buzz wings so that they can take them off anytime. Also, if Paige wants to wear princess shoes I just throw a comfy pair in the bottom of the stroller so she can change them anytime.
How to get on your favorite rides:
Pick the ride you all can’t miss and get the fast pass for those first. They only allow you to have a few fast passes at a time {in both parks} and everyone must be present to get it. Also, now you must return in the window of time that your fast pass indicates or they will not let you use it. There are a few phone apps that tell you wait times…these are helpful for sure. Also, if you don’t mind riding alone you can go into a single-rider line on most rides as well. So, for example, if a group only has three people with them you get to hop on the ride as a fourth. Ask at each ride to learn how to do it. In general, fast passes are key. For more info on Fast Passes go HERE. One more note, the lines for rides are less crowded during parades {one time we literally walked right onto Small World without waiting in line because the parade was just starting and all the kids wanted to see it}. If you can live with out stopping to watch the parades {or talk your kids into living without seeing them} you may get a quicker ride out of the deal.
How to get around the park and figure out the schedule of events:
There are maps and daily event schedules at the front of each park where they scan your tickets and you check in. So grab them. Events & times can change daily so this really helps! Also, many people know their way around so don’t be afraid to ask someone walking by or of course a cast member {disney’s name for employees}. We are always happy to help when someone seems lost!
Where to eat:
See my notes in PART 2 {tomorrow} for some of our favorite spots to eat in each park. You can totally bring your own food if you want…but sometimes its just more fun to eat overpriced junk food when you are in Disneyland! First of all, try to eat at off times when nobody else is hungry. Late mornings and early afternoons tend to be less crowded. Also, depending on what food you select you can often grab something to eat in line while you are waiting. Those mickey hot pretzels or dole whips are some of our favorite “line-waiting” snacks! Most resort restaurants have these kid power packs with fruit & cheese and goldfish crackers…these have been life savers for us as well!  The most important thing to keep in mind about restaurants is that if you want a sit down style {like Blue Bayou} or a Buffet {like Big Thunder Ranch} you must get a reservation in advance. I cannot stress this enough. Any type of buffet or popular spot with fill up {especially if you are going with a large group} so call ahead. They start taking reservations six weeks in advance! CALL (714) 781-DINE and click HERE for more information.
How to have fun and fight off the crankies:
Rest when you are tired. If the kids need to sleep in a stroller or on your chest just let ’em. Bring tons of snacks. As I mentioned above, most of the resort restaurants have these kid energy packs with fruit & cheese & yogurt and goldfish crackers…these have been life savers for us as well! Go for more than one day {if possible}. And the most important is: Stay hydrated. Typically cranky grown-ups and kids need water {or a snack}. You can ask for regular water at any restaurant. You can even bring your own water bottles if you so desire {no glass is allowed in the parks so keep it stainless or plastic}.

How to get the best pictures:
There are photographers all over the parks {usually in the best photo op spots} that can take your picture. The first person to take your pic will give you a card that each new photographer scans when they take your pic. It’s totally free and you get to view all the pictures they each took online and order them later. So if you end up with a cute family picture it’s worth it {although they are very expensive}. But the nice thing is you can also hand the photographer your camera and they will take a picture for you. You will get a decent picture in a great spot. They will even take pictures with an iphone/smartphone camera…so don’t hesitate to ask them.

What to buy for those darn souvenirs:
This is up to you. We go to Disneyland often. For our average trips we generally don’t even consider souvenirs for our kids. But there is something about those Disney stores that tend to draw our kids in {and I’m guilty of being drawn in as well}. Instead of fighting it we have adopted a new plan for this year while we have passes: our kids have to earn chore money to buy Disney souvenirs. We may get a small thing here or there for the family but if they want something special they have to work hard to do chores and make money in preparation for the trip. I tell them how much they have so they can figure out what they can afford to buy! So far it has worked pretty well {other than Grant insisting that it is too hard to decide and taking three days to actually pic something}! Oh, and my kids love those souvenir penny smashing machines that smash a penny and make a special imprint on it…they get to crank the machine and get a cheap little trinket…so it’s a win/win {as you can see below}!
What in the world are those character autograph books all about?:
Okay, if I’m being honest I used to think they were dumb. Who needs an autograph book? But we got them for our kids in December thinking it would be a fun way to document how many characters we could see in a year. I hope put their pictures with each princess and character next to the autograph and call it good. But you know what…those things are great for more than just a keepsake. When the kids get up to the characters {regardless of how beloved that person may be to my child} they freeze. They don’t know what to say or what to do {and man those lines to see them can be LLLOOONNGGG}. These little things are a great icebreakers {especially considering that many of the characters don’t even talk}! They are not a necessity but boy have I been glad we got them.

What’s the best thing to do with babies, toddlers & strollers:
We loved bringing our kids when Paige was only 2 and grant was about 9 months old. It is totally manageable if you know the tricks {and they are free if they are under 3} so keep an open mind! If you are bringing or renting a stroller {and I highly recommend it} remember you cannot bring it in most ride lines or shows-so be prepared to park it. With this in mind mark it with your name clearly. Also, I keep a small backpack/purse with my valuables on me so that I can easily park the stroller anywhere and get in line {there are designated stroller parking areas all over each park}.  Also, you should know about the rider switch card. When you get in line most rides have a Disneyland worker who you can ask for a card from. You have to show them that you have a small child with you. Basically since you have a little one it allows one of you to go on the ride with your older kids while the other sits out with the baby. Then when the others get off the ride the card allows the baby-watcher to get into the fast pass line or go through the exit (usually where the handicapped riders enter) line and hop on the ride since they just missed it. You can go back and do this anytime. Does this make sense? Ask the cast members {employees} working there and they will explain the whole thing. Totally worth it! Bringing an ergo or whatever baby carrier you have is a great option as well…my babies seemed to roll with the whole thing as long as they were with mamma! There is a mother’s room that has a changing area and nursing area in Disneyland so be sure to ask about that as well.

What’s with the lockers?:
If you like to pack light, are going all day and or need lots of snacks on hand the lockers can be great. They are located near the bathrooms in between the parks {closest to Disneyland} and I think there are some inside each park as well. But note that they are pricey. When I went with just my friend Courtney I stuck a warm sweatshirt and my UGGS in it for the evening shows. You may have a hotel close by and then you can just go back for a rest and change so you are ready to hit the park again for some evening fun {but this depends on the time of year and if you are planning on an all day extravaganza}!

Be sure to stay tuned for {DISNEYLAND TIPS – PART 2} tomorrow!

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