Disneyland is an adventure for both kids and their parents. We’ve had some good visits and some not so good ones. These are a few tips and tricks that I picked up on our last visit to the Land of the Mouse. Hope you learn something that makes your vacation just a little bit more magical!
First, there are three Disney hotels. If you are going to stay overnight and want to splurge, I highly recommend Disney’s Grand Californian. It is the big, log cabin looking hotel that is connected to Disney’s California Adventure Park. We enjoyed everything about our stay there. The staff is so friendly and helpful – with EVERYTHING. They walk around saying, “Have a grand day!” Too funny! They have restaurants, a spa (sadly I didn’t get to try it out), pools with slides and a kids’ club. The best part of staying at the hotel is its location. You are part of the theme park and can head back to your room any time you’d like. My daughter and I went back to the room to rest in the afternoon and then easily rejoined our group later in the day. You could also take a break and head to the pools when it gets super hot and then return in the evening for the fireworks and special night shows.
We’ve stayed at the other two Disney hotels too. Disney’s Paradise Pier is what I call the Goofy Hotel because it has a statue of Goofy surfing in its lobby. It’s older, but still well maintained. One disadvantage is it’s not quite as close to the parks as the Grand. The last one is called the Disneyland Hotel. As far as quality goes, it’s in between the other two hotels – not as nice as the Grand, but newer and better equipped than Paradise Pier.
If you check out the Disneyland website, you’ll see they are offering 25% off hotel stays Sunday through Thursday. Also, another tip about staying there is we were invited to stay an additional night for a super discounted rate. We booked two nights and on the second day when they sent us the bill under our door, there was a note saying we could extend our stay for $199. That is a very good price for that hotel. Maybe they have that sort of deal when the hotel isn’t full?!?!
One more bonus about staying at a Disney hotel is early entrance to the parks. They allow you to enter Disneyland at 7 am (which usually opens at 8 am) a few days out of the week. If you are serious about riding ALL of the rides, this is the way to do it! You also get into California Adventure Park at 9:15 am (which usually opens at 10 am). Not bad!
As for tickets to the park, there are many options. We went with season passes because we’ll probably go back a few more times before the end of the year. If you want just two days at the parks, they have a special ticket for $99 that allows you to go to Disneyland one day and California Adventure the other day. It expires soon and has some blackout days so it didn’t work for us. But it might be just right for your trip!
Once you are in the parks, you have to check out their newest rides. In Disneyland, it’s Star Tours. They’ve completely redone the ride and it’s amazing! Both of my kids (and my hubby) loved it. They rode it a couple of times too. I recommend getting “fastpasses” for the popular rides – like Star Tours, Space Mountain and Splash Mountain (others are included too). To get a fastpass, you walk up to the ride, insert your ticket into a machine and it spits out an additional ticket. This special ticket allows you to ride the ride during a certain time of the day via a separate line – a much, much shorter line. It’s awesome and it’s free! The wait time on Autopia was 45 minutes when we used our fastpasses and we only wanted 8 minutes to get on. It was glorious!
If you head over to California Adventure Park, make sure to get fastpasses for the best roller coaster around, California Screamin’. It’s a non-jerky roller coaster that has a little bit of everything. There is a loop, twists and turns and some great dips. You should also ride the brand new ride there, Toy Story, because it’s very fun too. The kids loved the 3D games that you get to play as you’re guided through a Toy Story extravaganza.
While you are at California Adventure Park, you can dine at the Wine Country Trattoria and enjoy a glass of vino. Unlike Disneyland, alcohol is served at specific locations in CAP. If you want to venture outside the parks, there are multiple restaurants and cafes in Downtown Disney. We loved Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria. They had crayons for the kids, delicious thin crust pizza and cold beer for the adults! Yum!
Finally, at the end of the day (if you’ve made it this far), you can watch the fireworks at Disneyland or head to the World of Color show at California Adventure Park (make sure to get a fastpass first).
Good luck and enjoy your vacation!
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