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#279483 - 04/22/15 12:02 PM Help with planning
erika20_98 Offline
YuleLoggers Club Treasurer
Elf VP

Registered: 01/08/10
Posts: 1300
Loc: Idaho
I'm trying to plan my 1st ever trip to Disneyland later on this year. Any tips, tricks, suggestions on planning this trip would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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#279492 - 04/22/15 01:51 PM Re: Help with planning [Re: erika20_98]
Diana* Offline
Santa's Helper

Registered: 04/23/99
Posts: 12439
Loc: Pasadena, CA USA
Sign up for the Mousesavers newsletter. They send out info on discount tickets/hotels/etc. They've been to the parks a lot and have lots of great tips.

If you stay at a Disney resort they let you into the park early before the others. You can knock a lot of the long-line rides out in just a few minutes of time, thereby letting you experience more of what the park has to offer.

We typically will do some of the longer rides first thing (even when not staying at a resort) at rope drop (when the park opens). I can't stress enough how much it will improve your park experience to get there early! Really and truly. Last time we went we did Space Mountain right away, got on in less than 15 minutes, then did nearby Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters (probably less than 10 minutes) then went over to Matterhorn and again got on right away under 20 minutes (my memory is hazy, it may have been even shorter). We took advantage of fast pass for things like Indiana Jones so again, shortened the wait.

I like to do Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and Tiki Room in the heat of the afternoon as those are all indoors and rather long and relaxing. Tiki room is a great chance to sit down in an air conditioned room. It was one of Walt's favorites and is lots of fun. My kids LOVE the Dole Whip. Buy it in the inside the queue space line not the longer passing outside line. Show up early for the mini pre show in the garden to watch while enjoying the Dole Whip.

What are the age ranges of your group? It's easier to customize experiences based on ages. Little kids have different needs/likes than teens or all-adults.

We bring empty water bottles and keep them partially filled with water from water fountains in the park instead of spending $ on sugary drinks. I usually only 1/2 fill as I don't like the extra weight of a full bottle.

I also bring a few light snacks like granola bars to nosh on while waiting in lines. Being hydrated and not hungry goes a LONG ways towards keeping kids happy.

My number one rule: See a bathroom, use a bathroom. This goes for kids and adults alike! Nothing worse than having to hold it while in line or worse - while on a ride! Or having the need and not knowing where a bathroom is and having to search and fight the crowds to get to one. So seriously, every time you happen to see a bathroom GO for it. Pun intended :-) . Some kids will try to say they don't need to go. But trust me, tell them they have to try. Chances are they will use it if they go in even if they think they don't have to. This rule keeps everybody much more comfortable and happier during the park visit as it cuts down on stress.

Wear and bring layers! So Cal weather is very different early morning, afternoon, and evening. It's a little chilly in the mornings, can get very warm in the afternoon when the sun is going, and as soon as the sun goes down the temperature just drops. You don't want to be unprepared for nightfall and then spring for an unexpected shopping experience at the Disney stores for a $50 or more sweatshirt. Bring a light hoodie for night time. You can use a locker if you don't want to carry them.

Unless you are really stoked about shopping, save it for the end of the day. A lot of the shops on Main Street remain open when the rest of the park is closing down. It's a good way to save valuable park time. It's really hard to walk past all those enticing stores on your way in, but honestly, you don't want to carry stuff around all day anyways, so put the blinders on and power walk past them to your high-priority regularly a long-line ride! You'll be glad you did.

I think I'm hitting post limit - will write more later.

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#279493 - 04/22/15 02:22 PM Re: Help with planning [Re: erika20_98]
Diana* Offline
Santa's Helper

Registered: 04/23/99
Posts: 12439
Loc: Pasadena, CA USA
Have everybody pick their #1 attraction and make a priority to get those done early or get fast passes to guarantee getting on them. Then let everybody know that anything else is just gravy - great if you can visit them, but not a big deal if you don't get to it. Don't try to do everything especially if you are going during peak of summer school break. It's probably not doable and you'd be exhausted trying. Just pick some favorites and have a wonderful time doing those. When I was younger I was go go go and tried to do it all - just too much stress that way. Go at a comfortable pace and really soak in the environment and enjoy what is there in front of you. Look at a park map in advance, mark the #1 places, and sort of figure out your path. You don't want to keep jumping from land to land as all the walking will wear you out. Try to do the highlights of each land, then move on. You can back track a little if they are things that are near "the central hub" so you don't have to go far into the land.

The park is beautiful so when in line play games like "I Spy" to try to keep your party engaged and not bored, as well as try to encourage people to really look and see things. You'll start to notice lots of details and have a finer appreciation for everything the imagineers come up with. We also look for "hidden Mickey" symbols, and puns.

When my kids were little they wanted to do character photos and autographs. These take a LONG time but the kids liked it so we did it. I bought a little Disney-themed notebook ahead of time (much more cost-effective that way - can pick one up for a dollar or two instead of $10 at the park) and had them write their name in it and maybe do a doodle or two or add Disney stickers to personalize it. It helped create anticipation before the big day and make it special. Keep a non-ballpoint style pen attached to the book to make it quicker/easier for the kids to find and the Disney Cast Member to write in the book. Some will do little sketches with the name or somehow make the autograph attractive.
If your kids are older and know there are just adults in a heavy costume then skip this time consuming activity and do other photo ops instead - outside signs to attractions or with pretty backdrops like flowers or the castle or whatever.

If you want a quality sit-down fancy meal then book at the Blue Bayou weeks and weeks in advance! My guys love the Monte Cristo sandwiches but could not eat it all, we took a lot to go. We prefer it for lunch. It's nice and cool inside and fun to see it look like nighttime during the middle of the day and see the fire flies from the pirates ride. It is really rather expensive though - so check out prices and be sure it is the direction you want to go in before booking. Last time we did it for late lunch and then skipped dinner completely - just got a snack to go when the urge hit.
We used to recommend the Golden Horseshoe Revue for a sit-down, casual, and be entertained lunch - but Billy Hill and the Hillbillies are no longer there. Pooh. I'm not sure if they are doing any shows there now or if they are worth the time.
I'm not fond of the big cafeteria style places personally. Expensive, and it encourages the kids to get more than they'll eat, and nothing entertaining while eating.
We've often done a bowl of hot soup in a bread bowl while staking out an evening seat for the big outdoor show. They sell those out of a doorway near Pirates of the Caribbean. Really filling, tasty, price friendly, and again makes use of time. If you are going to sit and wait for a show, why not do it picnic-style and have it be dinner time? LOL. Plus that night-time waiting can get chilly so a nice bowl of hot soup is perfect. We also partake of hot chocolate from the same place afterwards for similar reasons. Keeps the hands and bellies warm.

We have another rule - each person can pick one "special treat." I hate waste and it bugs me to see other parents throwing out 1/2 an ice-cream or 3/4 of bag of popcorn or whatever. A lot of times kids will say they want something because they see it, not because they are hungry or really want it. By saying they can have one treat but only one treat it makes the kids really think about what they want and then they savor their treat. It also cuts down on the amount of time you are hitting all those vendor lines! And it makes it easier to say no if they know the rule upfront so you aren't the baddy. Besides, otherwise the kids are tempted by all the treats and you don't need them going on a sugar binge and getting all hyper. Good limits help create a good time.

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#279496 - 04/22/15 05:57 PM Re: Help with planning [Re: erika20_98]
ajfargo Offline
Elf

Registered: 01/21/10
Posts: 26
Loc: Fargo
I just want to repeat what Diana said. Don't try to do everything in a day. By the time the day is over, everyone will be tired and crabby. Go at a slower pace and enjoy yourself. There is so much to see that you might miss. You can always come back another time and do what you miss the first time, but if you don't get back again, you want to have good memories of your trip.

One suggestion that can save time. Plan your meal breaks so they are a bit earlier or later that everyone else. Less chaotic, if that is possible.

I have never been to Disneyland, but have been to Orlando a few times and have enjoyed it alot.

There is another website with lots of good informations. It is a bulletin board type of thing. Maybe www.disboards.com

Have fun!

Allen

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#279506 - 04/22/15 10:02 PM Re: Help with planning [Re: erika20_98]
carstairs38 Offline
Santa's Helper

Registered: 03/02/10
Posts: 3378
Loc: Southern California
Hire me as your personal tour guide. I come cheap - park tickets. smile

Seriously, I can't add much more to what you've already been told. Definitely plan some time in California Adventure, but you probably don't need more than a full day there and can probably get away with less. Having said that, there are some definite fun things to do over there like Toy Story Midway Mania and Soarin' Over California. If you get a chance, go see the Aladdin show over there as well.
_________________________
Mark
My Ornament Reviews Upd 1/3

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#279626 - 04/26/15 05:50 PM Re: Help with planning [Re: erika20_98]
erika20_98 Offline
YuleLoggers Club Treasurer
Elf VP

Registered: 01/08/10
Posts: 1300
Loc: Idaho
We are hoping to go in late September or early October and we'll have at least 3 kiddos with us. A 7 year old, a 12 year old, and a 13 year old. It would be everyone's 1st time and I want to make it a great experience. What about hotels? Is it better to stay at a Disneyland hotel or another hotel? Thanks Diana for all the details and info. mark, I might take you up on that offer smile

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#279627 - 04/26/15 06:18 PM Re: Help with planning [Re: erika20_98]
Qwackertoo Offline
Santa's Helper

Registered: 04/13/99
Posts: 11863
Loc: Rocket City, U.S.A.
While I've only been to Disney World this should work for Disneyland too.

When staying in their hotels . . . you can have your packages sent to your room. Except for last day. They need the time to get them there.

Also when mine were younger . . . I'd shop for Disney tops/shorts/shortalls at our store or online on sale. We'd still give them each a souvenir allowance of 100.00 each but at Disney that doesn't go very far.
_________________________

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#279640 - 04/26/15 10:04 PM Re: Help with planning [Re: erika20_98]
Diana* Offline
Santa's Helper

Registered: 04/23/99
Posts: 12439
Loc: Pasadena, CA USA
Originally Posted By: erika20_98
What about hotels? Is it better to stay at a Disneyland hotel or another hotel?
It really depends on your personal preference. There are a lot of perks for using a Disney resort (like Deana mentioned, sending packages to your room, and also the extra hour early admission if you are there the night before), but of course, it comes with a price. You can find other hotels that are reasonably close by for cheaper rates, but don't have all those Disney perks.
Here is the link for the Mousesavers newsletter. You can get an idea of hotel pricing and other info.
http://www.mailermailer.com/u/signup/04019i

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#279651 - 04/27/15 08:19 AM Re: Help with planning [Re: Diana*]
Qwackertoo Offline
Santa's Helper

Registered: 04/13/99
Posts: 11863
Loc: Rocket City, U.S.A.
Do they ever offer *free dining plan* at Disneyland?

Late Sept. early Oct. might be a good time frame for them to offer it if it is also a slower season there.

Sarah & I did it at Disney World in early December of 2012 and it was great, actually too much food for the two of us. And early entry perk and late nights are also a factor at the World. Not sure about Disneyland. We can really hit a few rides, sometimes as many as ten rides, early in Fantasyland, Adventureland, and Tomorrowland pretty quick in the first 60-90 minutes. Might be decent hotel rates on property IF they don't have free dining plan . . . usually at World it is one or the other, not both.
_________________________

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#279747 - 04/29/15 01:46 PM Re: Help with planning [Re: erika20_98]
debbieg Online   content
Santa's Helper

Registered: 05/11/99
Posts: 4367
Loc: Arlington,TX
There are books available that give you the best strategy for visiting the parks. We've used them and were so glad we did. We didn't have to wait in long lines and we knew about the secrets in the parks. Look in the travel section at your book store.

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#279748 - 04/29/15 02:23 PM Re: Help with planning [Re: erika20_98]
btowndude Offline
Elf VP

Registered: 09/14/08
Posts: 1122
Loc: Central Valley of CA
FYI - There are no Disney Dining Plans at Disneyland.

Parking at the Disneyland Resort hotels is $17 a night.

There are no Disneyland Resort hotel shuttle buses to the park entrances. Most of the non Disney hotels do have shuttles. There is also the A.R.T (Anaheim Resort Transportation) shuttles.


Edited by btowndude (04/29/15 02:42 PM)

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#280874 - 06/07/15 07:09 PM Re: Help with planning [Re: erika20_98]
Faster Offline
Elf Engineer - Toy Design

Registered: 10/09/14
Posts: 182
Loc: Ontario
A few things:

You DO NOT need to stay on property to experience Magical Mornings. You need a 3+ day ticket or an annual pass to get Magical Mornings.
There are only 3 Disneyland resort properties. Prices range from the mid 250's to the 600's for basic room depending on time of year. If budget is a concern there are other quality hotels like the Howard Johnson Anaheim, Sheraton Park, Hilton Anaheim and Residence Inn Maingate. All of these hotels are within a reasonable 10 to 15 minute walk to Downtown Disney and the Parks. Just look for a Good Neighbor designation for an off-property hotel and you can be assured that Disney has taken the time to inspect the property and make sure it is up to standards. HoJo is Disney themed and is popular for families. This makes in more expensive then the Hilton which offers better service and amenities.

If you are staying on property, staying at the Disneyland Hotel is your best bet. It is the original hotel, the nicest of the bunch and it has the most amazing headboard in your room.

Since you have children and they probably want to meet the characters I would suggest making arrangements for dinning at Chef Goofy's. You are paying for the character show but it will save you time in the parks.

Finally if you want an upscale meal Napa Rose or Steakhouse 55 are both considerably better then Blue Bayou. Cartha Circle is also very popular in that range.

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