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
I signed up for the Disneyland 5k back in the winter time and knew it was a long ways away but kept up all summer going for 2 and 3 mile runs even during the weekdays. I couldn’t seem to get past running a 9:30 mile, and really tried to get it closer to a nine minute mile to beat my personal record (PR). Going into race day i was faced with a dilemma of racing by myself or walking with Joy since she’s pregnant, and my sister still sore from her minor surgery the week before. I planned on walking part of the race with them and running the last two miles.
Race morning I woke up at 3:30am to get ready and drive to Cerritos to pick up my sister, and get to Disneyland by 5:00am for our lineup. While waiting for our corral to be released i was still figuring out what to do, but once we were off, i said screw it and decided to walk the course too. I didn’t want to be left out of all the pictures i knew were going to be taken, but it was really hard not to just start jogging with so many other people really running. The other thing that made me feel better was that we weren’t given a timing chip so everything was basically off the record since it was just a “fun run.”
The course layout was entirely inside the ground of Disneyland, California Adventures, and Downtown Disney, and the first time we ran through, Joy was going as fast as possible, but this year we took our time and even back tracked a few times to get another picture. The course started off by going down Disney way that led to the back of DCA and we entered right next to Cars Land.
We stopped along with a bunch of other people to snap a shot in front of Radiator Springs Racers.
Then a stop in front of the the World of Color fountains. Where we almost didn’t get this shot because we had a cast member try 4 times and didn’t even take one picture. Thankfully we checked and got another runner to take an actual picture.
Then it was off to Disneyland where we circled the castle through Fantasyland, and Frontierland where we found Chip and Dale. Finally the home stretch had us run through Critter Country and out the back to head back towards Downtown Disney.
I had plenty of energy so i did a lot of slow motion running next to Joy, and some running forward and circling back to Joy to get my kicks in, but when we finally crossed the finish line my overall time for the 3.1 miles was slower than what it took me to run my 10k (6.2 miles) back in February with a time of 1:04:11.
Here we are with our Alice and Wonderland medals.
10. Grizzly River Run
The Grizzly Run is a white water rafting adventure that i guarantee you will get wet on. While a very good ride, you can really only go on Grizzly’s River Run when its hot, and when its hot the ride line can get to be over an hour long. Definitely get a fastpass if thats the case. The seats next to an entrance tend to be extra wet, and water will rush up from the floor from the drains as well so i recommend planning ahead and wearing sandals.
There are free lockers available for 2 hours at a time next to the ride so you can keep your valuables dry.
9. Mickey’s Fun Wheel
The Ferris Wheel is possibly the scariest ride out of both parks. There are two options getting onto the ride, a normal gondola and a swinging gondola. The swinging gondolas are on rails that will roll at different heights where your momentum will swing the gondola almost parrallel to the ground. You can hear people screaming all around Paradise Pier and they are real screams of terror.
Barf bags are available inside the gondola for those who can’t handle the swinging
8. It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
It’s Tough to be a Bug is one of two of the 4D shows at California Adventures. Its a very amusing show displaying all sorts of interesting bugs there are in the world, that leads into a very scary appearance of Hopper looking to destroy everything. The show appears from all around you and be prepared to get sprayed with water.
The show may be a little too intense for young children so you might want to sit near an exit if it gets too crazy for them.
7. Disney’s Aladdin’s A Musical Spectacular
The Aladdin Show at California Adventures brings me back to the days that there were shows at Videopolis in the 80s and 90s. Its a classically designed theater with orchestra and mezzanine seating that seats hundreds. The show is basically the Aladdin movie condensed a bit, but the jokes that the Genie makes are typically up to date, and the specials effects are pretty good.
The theater is a great place to rest your feet in an air-conditioned theater for 40 minutes.
6. California Screamin’
California Screamin’ is Disneyland first inverted ride is a fast and exciting ride right from the get go. The ride starts out with a bang launching you from a stand still to 55mph in an instant. The longest ride in the park sends your through many dips, banks, and one giant loop.
The ride closes for the World of Color Show, so make sure you get on before the first show.
5. Soarin’ Over California
Soarin’ over California is considered the best ride of California Adventures by my dad, but its only number 5 for me. The flight simulator is like being on a glider with your feet dangling in the air, and takes you on a flight over the entire state of California. The ride brings you from the snowy mountains of Lake Tahoe, to the golf course of Palm Springs, and ending up back at Disneyland.
Its worth the wait and extra round if you can ask to sit on middle of the first row
4. Toy Story Midway Mania!
Toy Story Midway Mania! is a 4D ride which takes you through five carnival games that has you throwing rings around aliens, to shooting down plates to see who can score the most points.
- Hamm & Eggs (egg throw game now featuring Buttercup from Toy Story 3)
- Rex and Trixie’s Dino Darts (dart throw game; once Bo Peep’s Baa-loon Pop)
- Green Army Men Shoot Camp (baseball throw / plate breaking game)
- Buzz Lightyear’s Flying Tossers (ring toss game)
- Woody’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Gallery
Keep your eyes out for the super small targets because they’re worth the most points.
There are no fast passes available for Toy Story Midway Mania! so lines are consistently long.
3. Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! is a kids ride that i can’t get enough of. The ride takes you through the story of Monsters, Inc. from beginning to end, and is another multi-sensory ride. I love smelling each of the scenes like wasabi in the sushi restaurant.
The ride is open even during the nighttime party events like the Mad T Party, and the queue is always short, you just need to go behind the stage to avoid the excessive noise.
2. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
The thing i think that separates Disneyland apart from other theme parks is the fine touches all around the ride beyond the ride itself. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a free falling elevator ride up and down the hotel facade, and your journey begins even before you put on your seatbelt. There’s a whole backstory of hotel guests who were caught in a lighting storm while on the elevator and now haunt the hotel.
Most of the cast members that work the ride really like to get into character so don’t take offense if they don’t have a typical Disney attitude.
1. Radiator Springs Racers
Opened just last year, it has taken over the best ride in California Adventures, and more importantly makes it worth spending the money to get into California Adventures. The ride is based off the Test Track ride at Disney World, and takes you a drive through radiator springs leading up to a race against another car full of people where you’ll feel some real G forces when dropping into some of the steep turns.
Everyone knows that this is the best ride in the park and the queue will average two hours just after the park’s opening. Get in line fast or get in line for a Fast Pass thats located near the Bug’s Life theater. If you’re there with grown kids then opt for the Single Rider queue which times can be super short.
The Radiator Springs Racer Fast Pass wont count against you for the rest of the day, so you can still get Fast Passes for other rides.