For the last day our Disney World we saved the least for last. We had a 6pm flight to catch and only had a half day to spend in a park so we spent it at Hollywood Studios which is currently going through renovations and getting their own Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge later in the year. The newly opened Toy Story Land was the only important thing to visit for the day since the rest of the park is filled with rides and attractions that Disneyland offers so we only had a few things to hit up before leaving the park. Originally built to compete with Universal Studios as a representation of a working Hollywood backlot, it has evolved to lose that moniker and is becoming more of a traditional IP park.
We started off the day filling up our autograph books with our favorite chipmunks Chip ‘n Dale.
We proceeded to explore the park to find Toy Story land which is hidden behind some buildings and while we had a fastpass for Slinky Dog Coaster at 2pm we just couldn’t risk missing our bus to the airport and had to skip it. We did end up having lunch at Woody’s lunch box and enjoyed the BBQ Brisket Melt with Potato Barrels.
After lunch we went to take turns on Star Tours with Alice while Leela took a nap in the stroller. Leela did wake up in time to catch a showing of Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple in front of the Giant AT-AT.
To finish the day we went to ride on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™, and i was interested to see how Alice would react to it since she loves Guardians of Galaxy back at DCA. I thought it would be the same as it was at DCA and was pleasantly surprised on how it had a different ride mechanic to start the ride and i think Alice got a kick out of it too.
While not much of a park in its current iteration it was the perfect way to end our trip on a short day. I’m happy that we decided to go bite the bullet and go to Disney World before Alice got much older even if it meant that Leela wouldn’t enjoy it if we waited a few more years just because Alice is already starting to phase out of the princesses and we know we’ll go again in the future.
Day 4 had us visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom which as you can guess is part zoo part amusement park. The day started off rough as i happen to lose my magic band which killed the first hour in the park as i had to backtrack and head to guest services to get a temporary pass so that we could use all fast passes for the day.
Leela enterained herself while i was gone with the old pay phones around the park.
Our first ride was the Kilimanjaro Safaris which was a good 30 minute truck ride around the back area of the park where we got to see some giraffes, elephants, and rhinos.
After lunch it was time to visit the world of Avatar, and go on Avatar Flight of Passage which is still a super popular ride two years after opening. This was the ride that i was really hoping that Alice would reach the 44″ since we got fast passes for it. The wait time was over 2 hours without a fast pass and we felt like celebrities just zooming by everyone. After we got into the preloading area i was worried that Alice wouldn’t be able to do it since she had to sit in her own individual ride system and i just kept encouraging her that it was going to be fun. The ride was super intense and fun that i can describe as an extreme version soarin’ over the world, and it ended up being Alice’s favorite ride of Disney World.
After Avatar we headed to Asia to go on Expedition Everest which is a cross between Thunder Mountain and the Matterhorn, and this ended up being my favorite ride since i still prefer traditional ride motions versus motion simulators.
We enjoyed a late afternoon break of ice cream sandwiches and a Khumbu Icefall at Thirsty River Bar & Trek Snacks.
We ended the day back in Avatar to catch a showing of Pandora Drummers – Swotu Wayä which was fun since they had some audience participation.
Today was our 10 year wedding anniversary and the main reason we came to Disney World this week. We work up with the rain gone, and the sun out again the crowds were out in full force. We had a 10:30am breakfast inside Cinderella’s Castle which meant we needed to get on the bus for the 20 minute ride, through security and to the castle in time for our reservation. The problem was that there was an Extra Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom so everyone was going and we had to wait for 3/4 busses to fill up before we could get on.
Dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table is another hot reservation and originally we planned to skip it, but since we were sure when we were going to come back, and that the kids still like seeing the princesses we bit the bullet, and made breakfast reservation which also required paying up front the $58 adults, and $36 for children. That said it was a pretty cool experience from entering the castle to take pictures with Cinderella then being brought up stairs to the dining room which was surprisingly cozy. We all got either a sword or wand when we sat down and got a basket of pastries to start. The meal was a prix fixe so we just ordered what ever we wanted so Joy got the Steak and Eggs (really good), I got the Caramel Apple-stuffed French Toast (meh), and Alice got the Mickey waffles. Throughout the meal different Princesses would get an entrance music and make their way around all the tables. We got visits from Snow White, Aurora, Jasmine, and Ariel who chatted with us, signed autographs and of course took pictures.
After breakfast we explored the west side of the park which we didn’t see the first day, and got to see their version of Adventureland and Frontierland. We rode on Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean.
In the afternoon we went back to Fantasyland to ride on Dumbo, and 7 dwarves mine train again. We caught a showing of Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire while eating lunch at Casey’s Corner.
In the evening I booked a reservation at Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen for some pan asian food served in a restaurant themed after the Jungle Cruise. I thought it was a very well designed space and each room had their own theme to some sort of exploration.
In the evening we skipped the first round of fireworks and rode more rides finishing off on it’s a small world, and visiting Mickey and Minnie where we got some fun shots with. I even had Mickey sign my hat. Too bad Mickey broke our autograph pen which will always be a story to tell, since he honestly felt bad afterwards.
Club 33 is an exclusive Members Only Restaurant located inside Disneyland (New Orleans more specifically). I always wondered and hoped that one day i would find a way in and my chance finally arrived, thanks to a friend of a friend’s father in-law. We were lucky enough to score lunch dining reservations for a party of 12 for a Sunday afternoon in the park.
For Joy’s birthday this year i booked a special dinner at the Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand California Hotel. This was our first dinner ever at this restaurant and why not go all out and eat at the Chef’s Counter. I booked them a little late so we had to sit at the Dessert Counter side but found it just as enjoyable.
Saturday we redeemed the second day of our Southern California ticket and visited Disney’s California Adventures. With the Rock Your Disney Side: 24-Hours happening the day/night/morning before i planned that a lot of the Disney fanatics wouldn’t be there Saturday.
We arrived at rope drop and made our way through Starbucks (who accepts the Starbucks gift cards) and picked up a Fast Pass for Radiator Springs Racers for a reasonable time of 11:50am. My mom insisted that we still take advantage of the short single rider line and go on the ride anyways.
Next it was time to have some fun with Alice where we took her to a Bugs Land and went on Flick’s Flyer which was like Dumbo but seriously gets everyone dizzy. Then we went on the Monsters Inc. ride which was her first dark ride and she was holding on pretty tight to Grandma but didn’t cry.
I was really wanted to try some things that i’ve never done before so we went to The Disney Animation Building and learned how to draw Tigger, and do Turtle Talk with Crush. The rest of the day was spent roaming around the park, eating lunch at Taste Pilots’ Grill, and we finished up the day watching the Pixar Parade. It was a fun day, and it was nice to get out of there before nightfall.
Sunday we celebrated mother’s day for Joy and my mom at Disneyland. We’ve been thinking about going to Disneyland since they announced the Southern California ticket again, but never found a really good reason to go until today. We woke up as early as we could and got there around 9am and I only had one goal for myself and that was to get onto the newly refurbished Thunder Mountain.
They given the ride a nice full cleaning, and added some really cool special effects to the ride.
After we took turns going Thunder Mountain it was time to take Alice on Dumbo for her first flight on an elephant. She wasn’t exactly paying attention to what was going on and just wanted to play with the seat belt.
We headed back to Thunder Mountain for our fast pass and while we waited for my parents to finish the ride, Joy went to get some churros and lemonades, and came back with at Magic Moment free churro. Made our day for sure.
Alice had her usual pitstop at the baby center, so we stopped for a tasty corn dog.
Next up was a show at the Enchanted Tiki Room and a nice cool Dole Whip as the temperature of the day started to rise.
While waiting for our next fast pass at Indian Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye i bought my mom a new mickey hand spatula which she thought was perfect for spanking Alice.
We got on Indiana Jones quite quickly but as we were getting ready to enter the doors to Mara the car next to us broke down and we were stuck in our car waiting for a few minutes for the cast members to sort things out.
Alice’s last ride of the day was a ride on the boats of Storybook Land. She liked staring at our captain as she explained all the buildings and topiary. After that ride we decided to call it a day as the crowds were getting bigger, and it was time to get Alice home for her shower and bed time.
To avoid dealing with Mother’s Day Brunch madness i booked a brunch at the PCH Grill at Paradise Pier at Disneyland. I invited Jonathan’s family along as well since they weren’t doing anything yet either. I’m a sucker for breakfast buffets and this was our first Character Dining experience which i thought it would be entertaining for the kids as well.
Thankfully you can make Disney Dining RSVP online now instead of having to call in, which was necessary for a party of 11. There was even a long line just to check in. Some people looked very stressed of missing their RSVP time but the cast members seem to handle anything thrown at them (like adding two more to your party at check-in).
The craziness begins when you your table is ready and a host will walk you in where you’re greeted by Mickey Mouse himself. That way you can get a few pictures in before sitting down to start your meal.
As for the food i enjoyed my fair share of fresh Mickey waffles along with all the bacon and sausage i wanted. Considering that these Mickey waffles are around $6-7 a la cart in the park, i killed it by eating at least 8 of them. Along with a waffles there were pancakes, french toast, an omelet bar, bagels and lox, chilaquiles, cereal, and fruit.
All throughout your dining time various characters will stop by each table to say hello and snap some more pictures. We saw Minnie Mouse, Daisy, Pluto, and even Stitch!
Adults are $35, Kids are $15. The restaurant is located at the Paradise Pier Hotel which is the furthest from the park, but you can get validated for 5 hours at the parking lot located at the hotel. The decor matches the age of the hotel, but if your head is always scanning for characters and your kid you’ll barely notice the low ceilings or decor on the wall. You’ll need to make sure that you have lots of time planned for a meal because the process takes a long time between getting seated, getting your food, seeing and interacting with characters and then going back for more food.
Disneyland trips will never be the same, but it will be so much more fun now that I get to experience it all over again through the eyes of Alice. Of course our annual trip with Nina to Disneyland was the highlight of our winter vacation and it couldn’t have gone any better. The weather was in the mid 70s and again the crowds were very bearable for the time of year.
We started off our morning by heading to California Adventures to see if Santa Claus was back again for some pictures. We were some of the first people there when he showed up, so we got to take our time getting a few extra shots with the kids. Alice had no idea what was going on, and didn’t even wake up for her picture. Kaylee on the other hand didn’t want any part of the white bearded man.
Once that was done we headed over to Disneyland for the real fun to begin. I was really excited to see the holiday themed Jingle Cruise which was a new addition to the normal holiday stuff. There wasn’t much of a difference to the ride other than some decorations, and the jokes were pretty much the same. It also happened to be Alice’s first ride in the park!
With the help of my parents and some good planning we actually got to go on all of the big rides, as well as plenty of small rides with the kids. It helps that we didn’t need to do anything specifically and could just go with the flow.
Alice spent most of her time inside her carrier, but got out a few times to feed, and to ride its a Small World. At two months it was a little early to take her, but i can’t wait until next year when she’ll be over a year old, and much more appreciative of everything going on.
No day at Disneyland is the same as the any other, and all you can do is plan well, be ready to adapt, and make sure you enjoy yourself. I don’t have kids of my own yet, but i’ve been there plenty of times with kids that range from toddlers to pre-teens and each need their own supplies. These are beyond things you probably already know what to bring.
10. Extra Clothes
The mornings may be nice, the afternoons may be hot, and the evenings may become freezing so having jackets and sweats may be helpful to keep your family warm if the winds pick up or weather takes a turn for the worse.
If you plan on going on any water rides, especially Grizzly River Run you’re going to get wet, and i’ve seen some kids breakdown once they’ve become soaking wet, so entire wardrobe change may be necessary.
You have some options when it comes to storage as Disneyland now has all day use lockers which you can open and close all day without having to put more money into the machines. If not you can always just put them in your car and come back if need be.
Pretend like your trip to Disneyland is like going to the beach so pack anything you wouldn’t want to pay double the cost to buy on the fly. There’s nothing worse than getting a headache during your day in the park, or coming home with a face and back burnt from being in the sun for 10 hours of the day.
- sun block
- chap stick
8. Pre-purchased Souvenirs
Save some time and money and pre-purchase your autograph books, and glow in the dark necklaces that you can get at the dollar store instead of shelling out extra cash for disposable things. If you want to start pin collected start off by checking eBay for people tying to get rid of their extras.
7. Phone Apps
MouseWait is a handy app available for both the iPhone and Android phones which will be invaluable if you’re trying to get on as many rides as possible. Its a social based tool which will give you the most up to the minute wait times for rides and the availability of FASTPASS around the park.
FourSquare allows you “check in” at venues throughout the day. The most important check in is the one at the parking lot so you’ll remember what floor and what column you’re parked on. There’s nothing worse then ending your day and having no idea where you parked at. It can also keep track of your day so you can remember how your day progressed.
6. Phone Chargers
If you’re anything like me, your phone will be dead before lunch if you don’t bring a charger with you for all your phones. Between taking pictures, using MouseWait, and checking football scores you’re going to be constantly on your phone. It also doesn’t help that for reason that may include too many people within a certain cell phone tower, or just being in a bad reception area your phone is constantly looking for a signal to connect to which of course drains the battery even faster.
Disneyland have new Phone Charging Lockers available for rent. Disney is pretty good at hiding open power sockets but MouseWait also has a handy guide to where you can find available outlets.
5. A Plan
You can make an advanced dining reservation up to 60 days before your visit at select restaurants by calling (714) 781-DINE or (714) 781-3463.
Plan for afternoon breaks whether to take a nap, or just time to reset yourself in an air conditioned lobby of the Grand Californian.
Watching a outdoor show? Bring blankets to sit on and mark your space. As a kid my mom would camp out in front of the Fantasmic show saving our spot while my sister and i would continue running around the park. When we would get back we would have plenty of space to lay down and wait for the show as well.
Have a meeting spot if you ever get separated from your group. My family’s spot was at the Lost Parent Sign in front of City Hall.
4. Snacks and a Water Bottle
While i personally think that dining in the park is part of the experience, snacking on churros, ice cream and popcorn all day aren’t particularly necessary. Sometimes you just need something to munch on in line that wont get messy, or make you full before dinner. I really recommend a trail mix of nuts and dehydrated fruits that wont melt, or get sticky while you eat. Its also very important to keep hydrated throughout the day, and bringing a water bottle you can constantly refill is a lot better than having to buy it in the park.
You’ll be tempted to wear sandals into the park, but unless you can do hikes in them then leave them at home. Make sure you bring comfortable running/walking shoes that you don’t need to break in, or mind getting dirty. You’re body will thank you after 12 hours of walking on the hot asphalt, and countless times of being stepped on, or being run over by a stroller.
2. Kids Info Cards
Kids can get separated really easy in crowds or wander off before you realize it so if you may want to pin an info card of your mobile phone number so a kid can reach out to any cast member to help get them back to you. Cast Members are really diligent of connecting lost kids to their parents so if you’re worried about them not being able to get back to a meeting point then you should have a way for them to reach out to you.
1. Right Attitude/Patience
Disneyland may bill its self as the Happiest Place on Earth, it could also be name the Busiest Place on Earth, most Stressful Place on Earth, or Hottest Place on Earth and if you’re in charge of the day then it’ll all be put on your shoulders. Disneyland is suppose to be fun, so just know there are things you have to deal with and everything should be fine. Knowing these things will help you enjoy your day in the park:
- It gets crowded, so make sure you can deal with stupid people.
- You wait in lines all day, so make sure your kids know that sometimes you have to wait for an hour.
- Its expensive, as long as you know you’re going to be spending money it wont surprise you on how much things costs when you’re there.
- Give yourself enough time, because the more you rush throughout the day the more you’ll end up missing