I thought that maybe it could be helpful to share with you some of the things that we did on our resent trip to the Disneyland Resort that really helped make our trip smooth and memorable for everyone. So lets just get right into it :)
We stayed pretty much right across the street from the entrance to the Disneyland Resort at the Anaheim Fairfield Inn by Marriott. This was so convenient! We didn’t need to rent a car, which really helped with the budget. We were extremely happy with the hotel as well. They offer Disney themed rooms (we requested the princess theme and it was awesome!), a pizza place and arcade inside the hotel, and a nice pool area. We were on the 7th floor which gave us an amazing view for the fireworks on the evenings we weren’t in the park to enjoy them. It was so great to be able to be so close to the park. We even got into the routine of going early to the park and then coming back to the hotel for a swim, relax, and dinner and then heading out for ‘round two’ in the evening. It was perfect!
When you get to the park entrance you have to go through a security line and then another line to get into the park you want to go into, be it California Adventure or Disneyland. These lines can be pretty long, but we found that if you choose one of the lines farther to the left you will get through a lot quicker. I had heard about this somewhere before we left and didn’t give it much thought until we were up against a huge line-up on our second morning. So we tried it and we couldn’t believe how much shorter the lines were and how quickly we got in. I can’t explain it. All I can say is “keep to the left” :)
Definitely take advantage of the FastPass where possible. FastPass kiosks are located near the rides they are offered for (Radiator Springs Racers, Soarin’ Over California, Indiana Jones Adventure, Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, and Star Tours were our favorites). These passes give you a time to return to the ride so you are not stuck in line for 90+ minutes. There is still a wait but it’s a lot more reasonable.
A quick note on the rides mentioned above. AMAZING! Each one of them was spectacular for different reasons and I would say each of them are not to be missed experiences :)
We purchased 5-day Park Hopper Tickets. This allowed us to come and go as we pleased between downtown Disney, California Adventure and Disneyland. It also gave us one Magic Morning early admission. We thought the magic morning admission was going to be some exclusive thing, but as it turned out it almost seemed busier the morning we went. Then once we got in we realized that only selected areas were open. So not quite what I thought it was going to be. But the 5-day Park Hopper is definitely the way to go! I honestly don’t think you could have fit more into a day than we did and we were hard-pressed to fit everything we wanted to do into our 5 days.
Be sure to check out the Jedi Training Academy. There are numerous shows each day. This is a fun opportunity for your child to be selected for Jedi Training and the chance to battle Darth Vader or Darth Maul. Thankfully both my children were chosen when we went (that would have made for a jealous rage by the left out one otherwise).
They got to wear a Jedi robe and use a light saber. Mace Windu and friends teach the chosen younglings a choreographed fight sequence and then they get a chance to test their skills against one of the dark lords. It is an awesome experience and the ‘host’ Mace Windu is full of hilarious comments as Darth Vader tries to convince these younglings to come over to the dark side. In the end they also receive a certificate that congratulates them on becoming a Padawan. Fantastic!
Sticking with the Star Wars theme, be sure to go on Star Tours. This ride blew my mind. This ride is a simulator with 3D-effects the features characters and scenes from the Star Wars films. We went on the ride 3 or 4 times and had a different experience each time. Apparently there are 54 different versions to experience! That’s right 54!!
For days I checked for a lull in the coveted Dole Whip (pineapple soft serve ice-cream) line-up but was shocked each time as to the absolute insanity of the line length. This made me all the more determined to have one. And that I did on our final day at Disneyland. I found out that it opened at 10am. We were in line to meet Princess Jasmine right beside the Dole Whip stand as we hung around waiting for it to open, and it was perfect. We were one of the first few through on the day and we hardly had to wait. And it was oh so worth it! YUM!
Just as the Dole Whip was my must have treat at Disneyland my husband’s was the Turkey Legs at Edleweiss Snacks in Fantasyland. It’s like you are back in the caveman times walking around gnawing on this gigantic turkey leg. He loved it! So much so that he had another one a few days later :)
If you have a little girl like I do there are a couple of things I would recommend experiencing while you’re at Disneyland. This seemed a bit strange to me but if you want to meet the Frozen Princesses you will have to go to California Adventure. You need to get there first thing and head down to the Animation Academy in Hollywood Land. About half way down on the right there is a station where you can get a ‘Return Ticket’. This will give you a time to return to meet Elsa and Anna. Apparently these tickets can run out within an hour of the park opening so get there early.
Meeting Elsa and Anna was a real highlight for my daughter. And as with all the characters we met they do an absolutely amazing job of making each child feel special. Another great spot for princesses is the Fantasy Faire in Fantasyland. There can be quite a line-up but you can meet numerous princesses one on one. So fun!
Another experience not to be missed by princess lovers is dining at Ariel’s Grotto. It’s on your right as you cross over the bridge into Paradise Pier at California Adventure. I made reservations for my daughter and I to go for lunch. There is a dinner option available too.
I had brought a nice little shimmery sundress for my daughter to wear but many, many little girls were dressed to the nines in their princess dresses, shoes, and crowns. When you get called down for your seating you go down a spiral staircase and Ariel is waiting for you at the bottom to have her picture taken with you and to greet you. Of course later you are shown these beautiful photos in a package, which you can purchase for $35 or something like that. How could I say no? Anyway… then you are led into the formal dining room which is decorated in an under the sea theme (so pretty).
My daughter was treated like a princess from the moment we arrived. The entire menu was under the sea themed and no detail was missed. My daughter kept going on about how this must be how real princesses have lunch, it was awesome. As you are enjoying your ‘royal’ lunch you are surprised by the arrival of a princess! For us it was Rapunzel. She came around to every single table and talked and took pictures and signed autograph books. My daughter was almost in tears with joy. I could see in her eyes how special she was made to feel by this one on one moment with each princess.
We were visited by a total of four princesses during our lunch. It is on the pricey side at about $50 per person. Just us girls went and left the boys behind and it was truly a magical experience.
If you get the chance be sure to see the Aladdin Musical Spectacular. It’s a stage show that runs four times per day at the Hyperion Theater in California Adventure. My kids were reluctant as we dragged them in, but were blown away by this wonderful show performed by some very talented people. Apparently the show is ending forever in January of 2016 so if you get the chance check it out before it’s gone.
While we were there we also saw Mickey’s Soundsational Parade, Paint the Night, Disneyland Forever, and the World of Color-Celebrate, the wonderful world of Disney. Each one was more impressive than the last. From beautiful costumes and fireworks to jaw dropping floats, dancing, projections, and effects with lights, water, and fire (they even made it snow outside). I walked away from each experience wondering how Disney could possibly top that … and they did, day after day, night after night.
The final thing I would recommend is to plan ahead. It doesn’t have to be much but if you have an idea of some of the things you really want to see each day and whether they have FastPass availability you will save yourself a lot of waiting. We also sort of mapped out what parades, nighttime entertainment, and fireworks we wanted to see and what nights they were showing while we were there.
I would just close by saying that a trip to Disneyland is not a vacation you go on to relax. We were up at 6:30 or 7am every morning and the kids usually did not get to bed before 10pm. But it’s one of those trips you will never be sorry you took. I loved Disney before we went but never really bought into all the hype of Disneyland. Well let me tell you after this I am hooked, 100%.
Walt Disney got it right! Disneyland is this magical place! For both kids and adults. My kids were made to feel special as they interacted with some of their favorite Disney characters. They got to go on amazing adventures on the rides and have amazing experiences watching the fireworks and light and water shows. The shear level of detail found everywhere and in everything continually blew my husband and myself away. You can go on any ride numerous times and see things and details you did not see before. You can ask for a specific kind of mug and the staff (cast-member) can tell you where to find from anywhere in the park. Their philosophy truly seems to be that they want everyone to have a memorable magical experience, and for us that’s exactly what it was.