Jason and I LOVE going to Disneyland with our kids. It’s a special place to us! Not only did we get engaged there over ten years ago, but it’s always been something that we’ve enjoyed doing together as a family. We started taking our kids to Disneyland when they were months old! Yes, I am that mom that wore my babies all over that park, “introducing them” to Mickey, Minnie, and all the characters when they were little guys.
IT’S SO FUN.
Our kids, now 4 & 2, have already grown up knowing what Disneyland is and they LOVE IT. We try to go a couple times a year if possible and it’s really something we enjoy doing together.
But whether you’re experienced Disneyland travelers like us, OR considering taking your family for the first time, I’ve complied a list here that will HELP YOU. Disneyland can be overwhelming and a ton of work if you aren’t sure what you’re doing. So here’s a good list of tips that I’ve learned in the past. Keep in mind, this is NOT a sponsored post. I did not receive anything for free from Disney or anyone else in return for sharing my tips. I just want to share what I’ve learned!
tips to know before heading to Disneyland
1.Stay Close to the Park
Staying right across from the park is where it’s at. No trams, no buses, no waiting, no hassle. When we go to Disneyland, we stay along Harbor Blvd, and anywhere that says it’s at Disney’s main gate. The last time we went, we stayed at the Park Vue Inn and it was literally RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET. The hotel itself wasn’t expensive and we had a room with a king size bed AND a bunk bed. SCORE. Why do we like this? Because when your kids fall asleep in their strollers from pure Disney excitement overload, you don’t have to wake them up to get onto the tram. You don’t have to load everything into the car and then wait in line to exit the parking lot. You just walk across the street to your hotel, take the elevator up to your room, wheel the stroller in and PUT THEM IN BED. Sure, you have to walk a little bit further. But they’re already sleeping, right? So why disturb the peace and enjoy a little California midnight stroll. And it literally takes ten minutes once you exit the gate. Plus, if you forgot something at the hotel or even if you want to head back for a rest, you don’t have to wait for the bus or tram, giving you back so much time to play inside the parks.
2.Buy Full Price or Special Offers Through Disney
There are A LOT of websites out there that are claiming that you can purchase Disneyland tickets at a VERY discounted price. I know how tempting this can be- Disneyland is expensive! But these websites work because they are purchasing 6 day Disneyland passes and renting them out to 2-3 families at a time at a discounted rate to you. Seems like a good plan, yes? Especially financially! BUT. EVERY TIME WE GO we see Disney confiscating tickets that have been purchased this way. They are REALLY cracking down. And there would be nothing worse than spending any amount of money, getting to the gates with your excited children, and being told that you can’t get in because your tickets are fraudulent.
My advice? Save up for the trip and purchase them from Disney’s main gates or website. I know they’re not cheap and that it can cost a pretty penny to take even just a family of four. But it would be better than not getting in at all! And those websites will NOT give you your money back if Disney takes your tickets away. Save up, purchase from Disney, and check their website often! Disney is always running packages and specials that can save you a little money.
3. Do One Park Per Day
We USED buy the park hopper tickets when we would go, and try to cram in both parks in one day. But this time when Jason and I took our boys in May, we decided to do ONE park per day (we were only there two days). It was SO much better! We were able to focus on each park and accomplished SO much more each day and our time wasn’t divided. When you try to squeeze both parks into one day, you don’t realize how much time you waste just walking back and forth! And you have to exit and re-enter both gates, swipe tickets, get hands stamped etc. When we committed to and stayed in one park for an entire day, we were able to do AND see SO much more than we had before. And it eliminated the stress of “not getting to ride everything”. With no walking back and forth, we were able to do it all and MORE.
4. Eat Breakfast As You Walk, Pack your lunch, Purchase Dinner
We love to try to save money where we can when we go to Disneyland. Food just isn’t something that we want to spend our money on. EXCEPT- I DO have to say that we LOVE Disneyland’s food options. But it can get REALLY expensive really quickly, so we choose to put our money elsewhere when we are on the trip. So whenever we plan a Disneyland trip, we ALWAYS bring easy things for breakfast (granola bars, fruit, pop tarts, pastries and take advantage of the hotels continental breakfast. We usually make our own iced coffee too and bring it in a gallon sized container. So when we leave the hotel, ALL of us eat AND have our coffee on the walk over. To snag the coffee recipe we use and are obsessed with, check out The Pioneer Woman’s Iced Coffee recipe. It’s the bom dot com.
I make sure to pack sandwiches for lunch with fruit, pretzels, bagged chips, juice boxes, veggies, and nuts. I grocery shop before we leave and bring a cooler. The hotels all have refrigerators in them that you can stash everything in once you get there. Seems like a lot of work, but it’s worth it. We typically plan to buy a couple snacks in the park and we ALWAYS buy our dinners at Disneyland. Pizza Port is our most favorite spot to dine. Ariel’s Grotto in California Adventure is awesome too. But we save a lot of time AND money eating this way. Our kids eat breakfast in the stroller and because lunch is already made and ready, we can stop anywhere and eat really quick. No lines, no waiting, no spending unnecessary money.
5. Buy souvenirs at the beginning of the trip
This one is personal preference. BUT, we like to buy our kiddos a special little stuffed animal or souvenir at the beginning of the trip. This eliminates the whining and asking for something new every time we get off a ride and it dumps us into the gift shop. I just can’t handle whining. AND they get to snuggle their new stuffed animal the entire trip which makes for special memories.
6. Use the Baby Center
THIS ONE IS BRILLIANT. If you have a baby, small children or are nursing- this tip is for YOU. Disneyland has a Baby Center stocked with diapers, formula and other supplies you might need or run out of while in Disneyland. Not only that, but they provide comfortable facilities for you to nurse or bottle feed your baby in. If any of you have tried nursing your four month old on one of those Disneyland benches, you know it’s NOT FUN. Trust me, I’ve done it! Take advantage of the Baby Center and you won’t regret it.
7. Get a locker INSIDE the park
They have lockers available outside both gates of the park, BUT if you need to get a locker, I would get one inside whichever park you are going to do for the day (assuming that you’re doing one park per day). Then you don’t have to leave the park to go grab your jacket and all your belongings are somewhat close.
8. Fast pass/Rider switch pass
Whether you have small kids or not, your party should TOTALLY USE THE FAST PASS SYSTEM. It basically puts you in line without having to physically wait. You receive a Fast Pass ticket with a time allotted on it. You return between that time, and you get to move to the front of the line to jump on the ride. And while you’re “waiting” for your time to arrive, you’re free to enjoy the park. It’s a no-brainer.
The Rider Switch Pass is for those families who have small kids with them, who can’t yet ride the adult rides. You arrive to the ride, speak to an attendant who is working the line, and ask for a Rider Switch Pass. They’ll give you one and ask who is riding now, and who is staying with the baby or kiddos. Whoever is waiting goes and sits down (or gets a snack nearby ETC) while the rest of the family rides the ride. When your family gets off the ride, you and one other person get to jump right to the front of the line to ride it. So no one misses out and you don’t have to wait double the amount of time to ensure everyone gets to ride.
9. Don’t go back for naps
Even with your hotel being right across the street, we have found that going back to the hotel for naps is a waste of time. If your kids will nap in the stroller, then it’s best to let them do that! Then you don’t miss out on any time in the park walking to and from the hotel. And if your kids sleep for at least two hours like mine, then that’s a lot of sitting around in the hotel waiting for them to wake up. Sure they might get grumpy, and they’ll be exhausted. But kids are flexible and will adjust! Not to mention, they’ll probably sleep better for you once you’re back to the hotel for the night!
10. Turtle Talk with Crush
While all the rides, exhibits and shows at Disneyland are totally worth it (in my opinion), we stumbled upon a new one that I HAVE to share with you! The next time you’re in California Adventure, you HAVE to check out Turtle Talk with Crush. I’m not sure how Disney does this, but it’s awesome. Basically, you all file in to a big room that looks similar to a movie theatre. Kids are allowed to sit in the front on the floor. When it starts, Crush arrives on the screen and in REAL TIME speaks with individuals in the audience. BY NAME. He answers questions from the audience on anything anyone wants to know. It was amazing! He actually picked our oldest son, Cruz, out of the crowd and had a whole conversation with him! Trust me, it was the highlight of our trip that he got to talk to CRUSH HIMSELF. It was pure amazement and totally thrilling for my little guy. Next time you’re there, you have to check it out. Check out this video to see more of what I’m talking about. But to get the FULL experience, you obviously have to just go experience it.
Like anything, there’s always more than one way to do it. SO. What are some of YOUR tips for traveling to Disneyland? Are there things that worked for you that I need to know about? I’d love to hear your suggestions as I’m always looking to make this trip with growing kiddos easier, more enjoyable, and as inexpensive as possible!
*Remember, this is not a sponsored post. I did not receive anything from Disney in return for sharing my tips. I just thought maybe it would help out another mama who is looking to take her sweet family there!