I’m not a fan of amusement parks. At all. You can read my grumbling about how I detest all the germ-y bratty kids HERE.
I’ve lived in Los Angeles 14 years and haven’t set foot into Disneyland not once.
However, when my 40th birthday rolled around I wanted to do something new and an activity I could enjoy with my kids. I decided it was time. I packed up the kids and we hit the happiest place on earth.
My parents flew into town for the festivities and made it a fun mini vacay. To my surprise I actually enjoyed it. 🙂 Here are Disneyland tips from a park rookie:
1. GO EARLY– I cannot stress this enough. Yes, it sucks rolling out of bed before the sun comes up but it’s so worth it. Plus the kids will be super excited you’ll have minimal resistance from the mini troops. Get there about 30 minutes before the park opens and you will experience the REAL Disneyland magic: NO LINES!!!! We rode FOUR rides in an hour, absolutely NO WAITING. No FastPass needed. No high priced Disney guide. The employees were practically begging us to hop on rides.
2. STAY OVERNIGHT– Disneyland isn’t far mileage wise but with traffic can take up to an hour and a half for Angelenos. Our hotel offered a FREE shuttle all day to and from Disneyland. It was hassle free and super convenient. There was a full service Disneyland info counter to purchase tickets & get useful tips. It was walking distance to Outback Steakhouse, Starbucks, Joe’s Crab Shack, Mortons, Target, and many more places. It wasn’t flooded with a zillion Disney going kids, which was nice. Surrounding hotels are a TON cheaper than the Disney properties and a lot newer.
3. TAKE A BREAK– We took advantage of the free shuttle service and left the park mid-day to swim at the hotel. Lines are the longest and days the hottest in the mid afternoon so we relaxed at the hotel and got our second wind. After it cooled off and the crowds died down we took the shuttle back to the park for more Disney fun.
4. DO A CHARACTER MEAL– We ate at Goofy’s Kitchen and the boys said it was “the best experience of the the whole trip”. You need to make a reservation ahead of time. You can do it online HERE. We went for Sunday brunch. It was an all you can eat buffet. Adults $30.99 & $15.99 kids under 10. Totally worth the price tag. Disney characters come to your table while you eat and happily pose for photos & autographs. It is a great experience everyone should do once. Goofy even poses for a special pic w/your guests before you eat and you can purchase a photo souvenir package.
5. STAY FOR THE FIREWORKS– In addition to an amusement park scrooge, I’m also a fireworks hater. They are useless and loud. HOWEVER…I was absolutely AMAZED by the Disneyland fireworks extravaganza. It is stunning and so much more than just shooting 4th of July firecrackers in the sky. It’s set against the Magic Castle fully narrated in spectacular show using Disney story lines. It’s accompanied by state of the art lighting and music. It is a must see. Put it on your bucket list. You won’t be disappointed. It truly is magical and made this skeptical bat teary eyed.
6. HANG OUT LATE– After the fireworks, there is a mass exodus of park goers. Weave yourself out of the exit crowd and onto the rides. Lines are super short near closing time. Also, the 2nd show of Fantasmic is much less crowded than the first. You can check it out after the fireworks. Don’t forget to bring a jacket. LA nights can be cool once the sun goes down.
7. DRESS ALIKE– Put the kids in matching attire or clothing that stands out. If you get separated it’s easy to find them. Bright colors, tie dye, or bold patterns are great. You might feel goofy (see what I did there?) but in a huge crowd you’ll be able to find your peeps easily.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Disneyland. A little planning and research helped make it enjoyable. The best part was a memorable birthday with family. We’re already planning a second trip!
Goofy’s Kitchen brunch with Pluto