We were two weeks away from our kid’s spring break week. The thought of no school for a whole week with no plans was not an uplifting feeling ( 🙂 ), so my husband and I decided to plan a getaway.
Our kids are finally ALL at a good age for Disney, so we decided to look into a Disneyland (Anaheim) trip. We had not been there in two years and it seemed like a good time to visit again.
We decided to visit our AAA office and find out the details about booking a Disneyland package for our family of five. We have three kids under the age of 11, so we have some very particular needs. These needs included, to name a few, a three day hopper pass to both parks (Disneyland and California Adventure), a hotel with suites, early entry to the park, and an affordable price.
We were pleasantly surprised to book a reasonably priced package ($1700) that included three nights at the Embassy Suites (a mile away from the park) and five 3 day hopper passes. I really believe in the multi day passes when you have young kids. It completely takes the pressure off having to hit all of the rides and shows in a short time frame. The kids were excited when AAA handed us our Disney envelope a week later that included cute luggage tags with Maeder from the The Cars movie on them. 🙂 Disneyland is opening its Cars ride this summer, so there is major promotion of the Cars characters going on right now with all of the Disney knick knacks.
Our Three Days at Disneyland and California Adventure
We were visiting the park from Tuesday to Thursday. We drove down to Anaheim early Tuesday morning and checked into our hotel. Everybody was anxious to get to the park, so we immediately headed to the Donald/Goofy parking lot to leave our car for the day. One aspect of the AAA package that is nice is free parking at any of the Disneyland lots all day every day during your stay. This is a huge savings in itself as it costs $15 to park your car in one of these lots for the day.
The good part about visiting Disneyland during a more popular time is that the shuttle buses are running constantly. A shuttle bus was there for us within moments of parking our car.
So, the talk on the shuttle was, of course, “which ride should we hit first?” It was decided to check out Buzz Lightyear in Tomorrowland first for my four year old son. He could not wait and we were all excited to see his reaction to meeting Buzz in person. Luckily, my husband had found a very helpful app, MouseWait, for our iphones that will tell you how long the wait is for each ride. Buzz appeared to only be 10 minutes, so we went for it.
While we were in line, my husband grabbed fast passes for Autopia. This strategy works really well – stand
in line with your family for a ride, while one member of your family runs off to grab a fast pass for another ride. This simple strategy worked really well for us and saved us hours of time.
Buzz Lightyear was a great way to start the day as everyone enjoyed it thoroughly. My husband loves video games, so any ride that includes the video game aspect of shooting for a target and earning points is always a big hit with him.
Immediately afterwards, we headed to Autopia and waited maybe 10 minutes due to our fast passes. Without them, it would have been at least a 40 minute wait.
Autopia was again, a huge hit, so we were off to a great start!
Our Disneyland Schedule of Rides
I thought it would be fun to document the order of rides and attractions that we visited while at Disney. I love hearing what other families visit while at the park. There are so many awesome attractions, its neat to see what other families consider to be important.
I documented this list as we went through Disney on my Evernote app:
Entered Disneyland at 1pm
1. Buzz Lightyear
3. Jedi Show
4. Disneyland Train to New Orleans Square from Tomorrowland
5. Cafe Orleans for lunch – the Monte Cristo is to die for! Highly recommend.
6. Haunted Mansion
8. Tarzan’s Treehouse
9. Jungle Cruise
10. Its a Small World
11. Wilderness Park at California Adventure
Left California Adventure at 9pm
Entered CA Adventure at 10am
1. Soaring California
2. Grizzly rapids
3. Toy story
4. Goofy flight school
5. Soft ice cream cones at Paradise Pier
6. Kebab lunch and Greek salad at Paradise Pier
7. Bugs life- bumper cars
8. Ariel underwater adventure
9. California screaming
10. Wilderness play area
11. Heimlichs search for food ride
12. Jazz cafe for Dinner at Downtown Disney- highly recommend the Drunken Chicken dish and the cheesy bread!
Went Back to Hotel at 8pm
Early Entry to Disneyland at 7:15am
1. Mr toad
4. Nemo Submarine Cruise
6. Haunted mansion twice
7. Winnie the pooh
8. Casey jr
9. Storybook cruise
10. Roger Rabbit car ride at Toontown
11. Disneyland train to new Orleans square
12. Canoe Ride – really funny captain on our canoe!
13. Lunch at River Belle Terrace with Jazz Band playing lovely tunes for us
14. Golden horseshoe revue with billy and the hillbillies- root beer float and sundaes
15. Disneyland Main Street Parade
17. Fantasmic at 9pm and Fireworks at 9:30
18. Alice and wonderland at 11pm
Left Park at 11:15 (Yes, it was a 16 hour day)
Disneyland was easier for us this time
So, I noticed two things on this trip to Disney including how much easier it is without a stroller and how apps make our lives so much easier.
1. First time without a stroller – YAY!! My husband and I felt so unencumbered, it was amazing. For the last ten years, we had a stroller at Disney – not anymore! Freedom! Our littlest is four years old and way past the stroller stage. Although, my husband did have to carry our little guy a bit. 🙂 Disney can be tiring and an afternoon nap is almost always going to happen with a four year old. The naps took place on my husband’s shoulder.
2. Apps are wonderful – Our Mousewait app and my Evernote app really helped cut down on our wait times and helped to keep us organized.
I used my Evernote app on my iphone, making it so easy to keep track of everything. If you have not tried Evernote yet, drop everything and download this free app. It seriously rocks. Whenever I need to jot down a reminder, or a note for one of my blogs, or just a random idea, I put the information on a note in Evernote. My Evernote then synchs with the Evernote app on my laptop at home as well as my desktop at home. I seriously do not know how I functioned without this app and its FREE!! Highly recommend.
Also, while in line, my iphone helped keep me and my kids entertained and the time flew by.
The walking around Disney without a stroller did not occur to my husband and I until we were in the park for several hours and we noticed hundreds of strollers parked everywhere, and we felt surprisingly not tired and in good spirits and it hit us like a ton of bricks. We do not have a stroller with us – wow. I don’t mean to rub this in, but rather to let Moms know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Your baby gear will diminish eventually and you will feel lighter and have more energy soon. I promise. 🙂
We really enjoyed our three day visit to Disney. Several rides and shows stood out for us including the following:
1. Buzz Lightyear
3. Haunted Mansion
5. California Screaming (awesome roller coaster!)
6. Lunch at Cafe Orleans – the Monte Cristo Sandwich is a must have
7. Wilderness Play area at California Adventure – the zip line in particular
8. Riding Alice in Wonderland for our last ride at 11:00pm with smiles on every family member’s face ( 🙂 )
1. Go for the two or three day hopper for a more relaxing visit
2. Use the Mousewait app to schedule when to visit rides
3. Use Fast Passes as much as possible
4. AAA has really great vacation packages to take advantage of, so looking into them would be smart
Disneyland is just so much fun and a perfect family vacation.
From this trip, I learned that the age of four is when kids really start to get it (the magic of Disneyland) and they thoroughly enjoy every aspect of this very special getaway. 🙂