Planning a Trip to Disneyland

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Visiting for the 1st time, overwhelmed by the options

Dec 2005

I'm taking two girls, 8 and 11, to Disneyland in January. Being from the east coast (Disneyworld country), I've never been to Disneyland. I'm overwhelmed by the options and unsure of the best approach. Advice on what tickets to buy, where to stay, what to see, how to survive, tricks, tips, what not to miss, etc., etc., would be greatly appreciated. D.

I highly recommend you buy a book called ''Disneyland and Southern California With Kids''. It's put out by Fodors. We bought it, read it, and brought it along when we went this past April and it was a lifesaver. It gives you the lowdown on every section, ride and event at the park (as well as California Adventure), and the appropriate ages, scare-factors, etc. for each attraction. We stayed at the Howard Johnson's--a short walk to the park, and next to a terrific, family friendly restaurant. If you stay at the HoJo, ask for the 4th floor or higher, facing the park, so you can see the Disneyland fireworks at night from your room. I recommend a Park Hopper pass too--you can go back and forth between California Adventure and Disneyland. Have a great time!!! heidilee

It all depends on how much $$$ you have. Best accomodations: Grand California Hotel. You're ''in-park'', get on the rides earlier than anyone else, wonderful rooms, great food, etc. Second best: Disneyland Hotel. In-park also, a little less expensive, still feel immersed in Disneyland. More affordable: the Candy Cane Inn across the street. Cute, immaculately clean, shuttle to the park. Disneyland Veteran

before we went on our Disney trip, I read through several websites that offered tips for dealing with the crowds, the lines, and so on. Of the tips I read, the most useful were a) arrive *early* (at opening time), and b) walk directly to the back of the park, passing up everything you walk by, until you get to the very back. Start your fun there. This is because a) nearly everyone arrives either just before lunch or just after lunch, so if you're there first you'll miss a lot of the crowd, and b) nearly everyone starts with the rides and activities closest to the entrance, working their way back, so if you start early and at the back, no one else will have gotten that far back yet. That means there will be no lines or very short lines. Also, if you work your way from back to front, you'll find yourself already at the exit when you're done. That alone makes a world of difference. If you wind up at the front gate, it will be a lot easier to exit without your kids asking for on! e more thing, and another, and ano Good luck and have fun

We stayed at the Sheraton Anaheim. It is near disney, and they have a reliable (free) shuttle to and from the park so you don't have to worry about driving. Not the most exciting hotel (dated) but the disney properties were out of our budget. Belong to AAA? They usually sell tickets and hotel packages. Costco sometimes has Disney tickets also. anon

Where to stay depends on your budget. If you can afford it, you can't beat the location of the Grand Californian, with the Disneyland Hotel a close second. When I go on the cheap, though, I stay at the Ramada Saga Inn, which is easy walking distance to the park and very affordable, but pretty bare bones (it's fine if you plan to spend most of your time at the parks and your expectations aren't excessive).

I like the California Adventure Park as well as Disneyland, so I would recommend park hopper tickets for as many days as you have to stay (if you'll only be there one day, you'll probably only have time for one park).

My strategy is to get to the park when it opens, hit as many rides as possible before it gets crowded, then slow down and take in shows, parades and other more sedentary activities during the afternoon. Or, head back to the hotel and take a nap in preparation for the evening.

Don't miss: the fireworks, Fantasmic, the parade. Catch the Aladdin stage show in Cal. Adventure. The Muppet and Bug's Life theaters are fun in Cal. Adventure. Disneyland has a lot of the same stuff as Disneyworld, so much of it is probably familiar.

Lots of dining in Downtown Disney, but if you like Japanese, Yamabuki at the Paradise Pier Hotel was pretty fabulous. Carrie

There are many inexpensive hotels right near the entrance to the park (I found one through the AAA book) in fact many are suites. Then you can do without a car and walk to the entrance or take a bus. I've gone a few times for one day and just done Disneyland. I hear California adventures is mainly big rides which are better for teenagers. There's an excellent book that describes all the rides and attractions and gives you strategies for getting the most out of your time. I take one kid at a time because their interests are so different but yours are close in age so in may work better for you with both. I strongly recommend going on a week day so the lines aren't too bad. Last time I went we spent a day in Disneyland and a day at Universal Studios which I enjoyed even more than Disneyland. Fewer rides and more shows and virtual adventures. It's possilbe to get there on public transporation. The two times I've taken my son to Disneyland we start out when the park opens, spend about 4 or 5 hours, go back to the hotel to swim and chill out, and return to Disneyland in the evening for about 2-3 hours (see the parade, go on some more rides.) Have fun!! Have fun! Anon


Packing list for Disneyland trip

March 2004

Does anyone have a packing list for Disneyland, or any specific recommendations they would like to share? I have checked the website, but none of the posts had a pack list, and addressed things we have already accounted for. We will be taking a four day trip to southern California, spending two days at Disneyland. I have secured a motel room nearby at the Candy Cane Inn, so we will be able to take naps, have lunch, and play in the pool during the middle of the day.I am taking an umbrella stroller for my newly five year- old. Thanks, elizabeth

Take a cheap umbrella stroller if you're not going to rent one. You won't be able to take them everywhere and we didn't feel comfortable leaving our $50 stroller when we could have bought a $10 one for the trip. disney fan

The one thing we didn't bring enough of for our Disney trip last summer was healthy snacks and drinks. There is not too much healthy food at the park. You can load up your stroller - no glass bottles I believe - and save money, too. Also prepare your toy-buying rules before you go. There are souvenirs and toys everywhere . . . Have fun. sharon

Only One Day at Disneyland

Oct 2003

We are going to Disneyland for the first time with our 4 and 8 year old. I would love any thoughts and recommendations about spending a day there. We are planning only one day. Is that enough? Elyse

We are a Disneyland family so we go at least once a year. If possible get a map (program) before you go in. If you arrive the day before, you can get one at one of the information kiosks outside the parks. Check off rides and sights that you might want to do. Arrive at the park about half an hour before it opens. You will be able to do as much in the first hour as the rest of the day. Plan to have lunch at the Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland. They have a sit-down show at about 11 or 11:30 (check your program and arrive 1/2 hour before). This is a good time to rest, eat, and be entertained. 4- and 8-year-olds will enjoy Fantasyland and Toontown the most.

Other recommendations:

Jungle Cruise (Silly, but fun.)

Splash Mountain (One big drop, but great fun!)

Pirates of the Caribbean (A Disney classic!)

Autopia (Let the child drive, but have an adult in the car to push the gas pedal--it's really hard!)

Tom Sawyer Island is good for children that like to climb and explore.

''Honey, I Shrunk the Audience''--3D movie is OK, if your children are not overly sensitive. (My 12-yr-old does not like the special effects!)

Haunted Mansion--the same. My children were older than yours before they began to like this one.

Indiana Jones is one to go on early in the morning before the lines are too much, but it may be too ''Herky-Jerky'' and scary for your children, especially the 4-yr-old.

Winnie the Pooh ride was totally boring and because it is new, has a really long line. Get a fast pass if you must go on.

Take advantage of the ''Fast Passes''. Many of the big-ticket rides have this option. After going on a ride in the morning, if you all really like it and want to go again, you might want to get a ''fast pass''. This allows you to go on later, after a certain time, and bypass the long standby line. The down-side is unless you have a special unlimited park ticket, you can only get one fast pass at a time (per ticket) or until the posted time on the fast pass. If you have any specific questions, email me Marcia

I haven't done it yet with my own child (2nd on the way) but I remember my own experiences as a kid, adult, and with families with kids. One day did not seem like enough with the kids because they (especially the 4 year old) may get over-excited, over-tired, over-whelmed, etc...and need to have a break midway through, possibly for several hours. If you have two days you won't feel pressured to see it all in one day to get your money's worth. You'll feel more relaxed and be able to go at your kid's pace which may mean taking a break, leaving early, moving slower, spending 1/2 the day in one part, etc.... Also with two kids so far apart they will have different interests. The older one may feel resentful to have to waste part of his one day doing ''baby'' stuff but if you have two days he will be more relaxed about this too.

Oh yea, although the junk food is part of the experience I would take at least some provisions of your own if you can (check the rules) like water/juice, fruit, sliced cheese, etc... so you're not relient on the outragiously priced stuff for your every need.

Just my thoughts. I'll be interested to hear what the parents have to say who've been there since I'll be in a similar boat in several years (not so far away).


Recommendations from 2002 and earlier

March 2002

We are planning our first trip to Disneyland this summer (July!), and would be very interested to hear any recommendations for places to stay (we are a family of four) that are near the park, and not quite as expensive as the Disneyland Hotel. I checked the web site, and all recommendations are for 1999 or prior. Has anyone been recently who has a hotel recommendation? Any other tips that might ease the way? Thank you! Claire

my last trip to orlando was in'91, we stayed at the Peabody hotel, nearby. it is sisters with a famous place in memphis or somewhere like that, and sports a huge neon duck on the roof. live ducks ceremoniously marched on a red carpet from the lobby, down the elevator, to the pool for the day, and back. very silly and fun. there is a classic diner as well. have a ball and wear your sun Block di

I am going to Disneyland next week (that's why the newsletter will be on vacation!) I'll report when I get back on specifics.

has tons of great advice including a good section on hotels. We are staying at the Anaheim Marriot, because that's the place I got for $35 on Priceline. It's supposed to be three star, but who knows. Last time we were there we stayed at the Castle Inn and Suites directly across the street from Disneyland, and while it was a little run down, the kids liked the theme atmosphere, and I liked the microwave and fridge. There's a new deal called passport which allows you avoid lines (you still have to wait, but not in the line). Other news we needed to tell our kids ahead of time... Cinderella's Castle is being remodeled and Splash Mountain is closed. In any case, I'll know more when I get back and I'll no doubt be disney-ed to death and singing It's a small world to everyone I know. Myriam

If you can stand one more piece of advice on Disneyland, my sister and her family went there last year, and she said the ''Unofficial Guide to Disneyland'' book was absolutely terrific for making your visit fun and stress-free. Jennie

My just turned 7 year old and I are going on April 20. We got a package through and chose one of their lower priced Good Neighbor hotels. Its the Red Roof Inn right across from the park - supposedly its been newly renovated so we'll see. What I liked about the Disneyland package is that with one step I booked airfare, airport shuttle, hotel, tickets, fast pass, extra goodies, etc. I think the whole package, 2 nites in hotel, airfare/shuttle, 3-day Disneyland/California Adventures pass, and goodies like a Breakfast with Mickey, arcade coupons, preferential seating at certain events, etc. cost $620 for the two of us. By the way, from April 15 thru I think September, Disneyland is offering a buy 1 adult ticket - get 1 child's ticket free promotion. Karen H.

We just returned from Disneyland with our three children (9, 5 1/2 and 20 months). We had a good time, though in the case of my five year old she may very well have had a better time renting a room at the Marriot in San Francisco (she *loved* the hotel!).

We stayed at the Anaheim Convention Marriot. We got the hotel via priceline, for $35 a night and it was really a good deal, in our opinion.We rented two rooms and got adjoining rooms on the bottom floor, on the same wing as the pool. The Marriot was *full* of families, most using priceline and I think we paid the least of anyone I heard. The hotel has a very prompt shuttle that runs every half hour to Disneyland, and you should definitely use it instead of driving your car to Disneyland... You end up walking a little less from the shuttle than the parking lot. The hotel had refrigerators which we made liberal use of... We brought cereal for breakfast, juice boxes, milk and some snacks so we didn't end up spending a huge amounts on low-impact meals. The pool was lovely, the hot tub great.

In terms of Disneyland, we got a three day ''Park Hopper'' pass which would have been less expensive had we gotten them through AAA. If you plan ahead, that's the best deal or the deal through U-Hall or many other benefits offices. FastPass works great, but you may end up getting a FastPass for five hours later for some of the big rides (Indiana Jones, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad) which may or may not work with little kids. We were there on some VERY busy days, and lines were interminable in most attractions. If you arrive EARLY (At opening) you will get more rides in the first hour and a half than you will for the next six hours. My toddler was afraid of any dark rides but liked most of the outside rides (Dumbo, the teacups and It's a small world), My five year old liked most of the rides she was able to go on, but we didn't try any of the really wild rides with her. My nine year old loved the big rides, but was a little crabby on the little kid rides. We got a guidebook called the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, which was mildly useful. In general, what it says is, arrive early and go on the big rides first. If you want to borrow this, let me know.

We found it worth it to go to a character breakfast so the girls could ''meet'' the characters. The one at Goofy's Kitchen was actually pretty good, though expensive. Book ahead or come early. Folks who arrived after 10 were told that there would be a two hour wait.

Disney's California Adventure is lousy for little kids with the exception of the ''pretend Yosemite'' playground, which the girls really liked. The flume ride was really fun for everyone. California Screaming is a big, bad roller coaster and very fun for those who love them. Soaring over California is just as amazing as everyone says. Use a fastpass for it, or go RIGHT in the morning. You only need a half a day for DCA, and it costs the same as a ticket to Disneyland(not worth it, in other words).

Leave the park for the middle of the day... the lines are SO long, and the kids will be happier... We were at the park from 8-11 (roughly) went back to the hotel from 11-4 or so, and went back for great fireworks and parades and a few rides. New annoyance I hadn't anticipated was teenagers renting wheelchairs so they'd get ''disabled'' access to the rides... They were very wild with them. We also went to Universal Studios. Great for older kids, but not toddlers or more reserved younger children. The studio ride was fun, and the Jurassic Park flume ride was really fun. They had a discount running with Coke, so if you brought a coke can in they'd discount the ticket $4 each.

We drove there and back. Total time back: 5 hours 45 minutes to our door in Oakland, but folks who don't drive with a professional commuter may want to budget more time based on a more reasonable 75 mph pace. Myriam

In the Wall Street Journal from Tuesday, April 9, on page D16, there is a section entitled ''Desktop Traveler /Conquering the Magic Kingdom.'' While the focus is mainly Disney World, the websites they list could be extremely helpful in planning your trip and probably include Disneyland, as well (that's my guess). Daphne

California Adventure

Aug 2001

I wanted to thank those who gave recommendations about Disneyland a few months back. I've since been there and wanted to give a strong recommendation for visiting the new Disneyland Resort. Disney has added a whole new theme park to its Disneyland center (so now they call it Disneyland Resort) called California Adventure. We visited for three days over President's Weekend and we absolutely loved it. It wasn't too crowded (but once more people learn about the new park I bet this will change) and the rides, attractions, food and ambiance are wonderful. We stayed in a very nice and clean hotel literally steps from the entrances to both Disneyland and CA Adventure (closer even than the Disney hotels) called the Best Western Park Place. We made our reservations through AAA, but the prices would be the same directly through Disney's website. The Park Place is one of the Good Neighbor hotels affiliated with Disney but is considerably cheaper than the Disney hotels. We splurged on a mini-suite (2 queens and a pull-out couch), got three-day flex passes to the parks, a character breakfast in the Disneyland hotel (equal to $16.95/adult) - with two adults and a 2-yr-old for $550 for three days. It would have been cheaper if we'd gone with a smaller room. Compared to the $900-1100 it would have cost to stay in any of the Disney hotels for the same time it was quite a bargain. And since we spent the majority of our time in the park(s) it didn't really matter what kind of room we had, anyway. Disneyland is still Disneyland, more oriented toward the younger kids. CA Adventure is definitely more geared for older kids and adults, but there are still several attractions appropriate for youngsters. The Paradise Pier (sort of a copy of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, only better) is really fun, the restaurants are interesting with a range of prices. GREAT food, even at the lower end of price. Plus, the best part of both parks is Disney's relatively new FASTPASS system where you can go to any of the popular rides and get an assigned window of time to come back and get directly on the ride without waiting in line. You know what the return time will be before you get the reservation, so you can plan things out. We never waited in line for a ride more than 5-10 minutes - even Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, the new rollercoaster, etc. We simply had a wonderful time (so did my 9-year-old neice) and I recommend visiting soon before the summer crowds arrive!

Recommendations from 1999

June 1999

I got back Saturday from a week in Southern California (3 days at Disneyland, 2 days at Legoland, and a couple of rest days) with my husband, almost-3-year-old daughter, and just-turned-5 son. I saw a lot of people who brought their own strollers and a lot of rental ones. We carried both kids at Disneyland when they got tired (in arms or on shoulders) and ended up renting a double stroller for both of them when we went to Legoland. Disneyland does rent double strollers, and although they don't recline, if your kids are tired enough (as mine were) they'll probably sleep in *any* position!

As for the rides, my kids liked the merry-go-round, the Dumbo ride, and It's a Small World in Fantasyland. All the rides like Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland where you ride a car around in a dark place were too scary for my almost-3 year old. In fact, other than the merry-go-round their favorite place in the entire park was Goofy's boat -- a two-story stationery boat for climbing and make-believe that is in Mickey's Toon Town. Even my 5 year old liked playing in the completely stationery model of a car next to the Autopia race track more than actually driving the moving car on the track!

Please note that this type of thing (which rides and activities your children will prefer) is so varied. My best friend's 5-year-old son loves wild rides and would be bored with rides like Dumbo. My kids thought the tram ride between the parking lot and the Disneyland entrance was fun!

One other note, I bought a copy of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland from and found it tremendously useful. This message is getting long, but I want to include what they said about strollers since that was your main concern: Strollers: They are available for a modest rental fee just inside the main entrance and to the right. The rental covers the entire day. If you rent a stroller and later decide to go back to your hotel for lunch, a swim, or a nap, turn in your stroller but hang on to your rental receipt. When you return to the park later in the day, present your receipt. You will be issued another stroller without an additional charge.

Strollers at Disneyland are large, sturdy models with sun canopies and cargo baskets. We have seen families load as many as three children on one of these strollers at the same time. The rental procedure is fast and efficient. Likewise, returning the stroller is a breeze. Even in the evening when several hundred strollers are turned in following the laser and fireworks show, there is no wait and hassle.

For infants and toddlers the strollers are a must, but we have observed many sharp parents renting strollers for somewhat older children (up to age five or six years). The stroller prevents parents from having to carry children when they run out of steam and provides an easy, convenient way to carry water, snacks, diaper bags, etc.

They also mentioned that one of their readers brought a fancy $300 stroller of her own to Disneyland and just brought a bike lock to secure it while they were on rides. That may be an option for you if have an expensive stroller and are worried about theft, although I haven't heard that it's a problem. Also note, the double strollers for rent put both kids in side-by-side and they share one seatbeat over both their laps. Good luck and have fun!! Sharon

Kathy, June 1999

We just completed a 2 day trip 2 weeks ago with a 4 year old and an 11 month old. We were in the park for 7 hours the first day. We used an umbrella stroller for the 11 month old which I find to be the easiest to deal with in the park. They're small enough that you can actually stand in line with one, eg Dumbo was 45 minutes long, I kept the baby in the stroller all the way until the end and then just collapsed it and set it over the final railing before we got on the ride. The line areas are too narrow to fit a standard size stroller. The 4 year old did fine w/o a stroller. Whenever she was tired we would just carry the baby for awhile and let her ride. It seems like they get enough rest when they're actually on the rides to do OK walking between them. An umbrella stroller also collapses for easy riding on the train when you don't want to do a round trip or when taking the tram.

May 1999

We stayed at a wonderful hotel in Orange County last weekend, the Embassy Suites in Santa Ana, 7 miles from Disneyland and 5 from Newport Beach. Only $89. a night for 2 queen size beds and a separate living room with a fold out sofa bed. Two TV's, 3 sinks, a mini-kitchen with fridge and microwave, a full hot breakfast, pool and hot tub. The center of the hotel has an Atrium that goes up 10 floors, open to the skylight top. It is sort of a Disney type mix of Rococo/ Mexico/Italy/Hawaii, but it works! The staff is great (many of them), it is new and well run. A great place for the family.

From: Andrea (6/98)

It looks as though I will be taking my 7 year old boy to Dizy - I mean - Disneyland sometime soon and need support and suggestions for this trek. When I was a kid I imagined that being in Disneyland was about as close as one could get to experiencing what it is like in Heaven. As an adult I imagine that it is more like Hell. Any suggestions or support for how to make this enjoyable would be greatly appreciated. People do tell me that it is alot of fun. I am ready to go beyond a reasonable budget to make the adventure less stressful. I don't mean that I would consider helicoptering in ( I know they must have a Mickey copter that lands at the heliport in the Apocalypse Now theme ride --- please excuse my sarcasm. It is just that I feel that our society is Disney infested. Hey, I'm anti junk food but Ronald Mc Donald at least does some good with him money. Has Michael Eisner ever........ OK , I'll stop. Obviously, I need support here guys) but I hear that the Disneyland Hotel is very convenient and you can go back and forth with ease to avoid melt down. Help!

Earlier recommendations

From: See-Ming (6/98)

Dear Andrea,

While I am not thrilled with the way Disney squeezes every cent they can from you, I do enjoy Disney and have been a Disney fan most of my life. We have been annual pass holders for years and my husband and I recently, as in two weeks ago, visited Disneyland (DL) with our 2 1/4 year daughter. It can be a hectic place, but if you plan your trip, it shouldn't wipe you out. I just gave the following advice to my sister who is visiting DL with her two kids next week.

Disneyland is undergoing major construction and is not as easily accessible as it used to be. You definitely want to stay at a hotel near the Park that offers free transportation to and from the Park (my friend who went this morning said it took 20 minutes to get from the off-ramp to the hotel), but you may not need to spend mucho bucks to stay at the DL hotel as the really convenient feature, the monorail, is closed Monday -Friday until 6:00p due to the street construction below it. There is a shuttle between the Park and the DL hotel and Pan Pacific Hotel (also owned by Disney) every 20-30 minutes. You should check out the other hotels in the area since you will have to take a shuttle to and from the Park anyway.

I think the best way to enjoy the Park is to not *expect* to go on every ride and to not feel like you have to squeeze in every ride because you paid a ton of money to get into the Park. You can purchase a 5-day Flex pass for the price of a 2-day pass at any Disney Store (you cannot purchase this pass at the gate): price is $68/adult and $51/child (3-11) here at UCSF; I think it costs $75/adult at the Disney Stores. This includes the Early Entry feature which allows admission to the Park 1 hour before the regular hours (take advantage of this!!). There is an attractions board at the end of Main Street, near the Carnation food area, which lists the attractions and the waiting times for the rides.

The best times to go on rides is early in the morning and late in the evening. The most popular rides currently are Astro Orbiter, Rocket Rods, Indiana Jones, Honey I Shrunk the Audience, Star Tours and Splash Mountain. Of course, the perennial favorites like Dumbo, Jungle Cruise, Space Mountain, Matter Horn, and Thunder RR also attract long lines. Plan to go on 2 or 3 popular rides as early as possible to avoid waiting in long lines. The lines are also quite short an hour or so before the Park closes. *OR* pick a morning, and visit the popular-but-not-new rides like Pirates of the Carribean, Haunted Mansion, Small World, Mr. Toad, etc. first thing -- we did this and *walked* on the first 4-5 rides. Watch out for the lines in Tomorrowland as that section of the Park just reopened 5/22 and the lines are incredible! Visit the Disney site: and check out the rides. You can get an idea of what rides you want to go on and an idea of the Park layout before you get there.

When the lines are long and you're feeling a little tired, have lunch outside the Park, play in the water areas -- they just opened a new water area in Tomorrowland that children love (but bring extra clothes or have them wear swim clothes underneath), visit the new Innoventions area (I personally like this a lot and it's air-conditioned!) in Tomorrowland, see the shows in the afternoon (Disneyland Presents Animazement - The Musical is great), go on rides with short(er) lines like the Carousel, Pinocchio, Snow White ...

There is just something about the magic of Disneyland that brings joy to every child. I hope you have a great time.

From: Donna (7/98)

My husband and I took our 5 year old daughter to Disneyland just this past May. We purchased one of those Magic Kingdom Club packages (available through UC Visitors Center) which included hotel and Disneyland passes (also has airfare if needed). If you have the time, I highly suggest getting the 5-day passport for Disneyland. It's very tiring trying to see all of Disneyland in one day. We also stayed at a very reasonable and clean hotel, Park Inn International, which is right across the street from the main entrance to Disneyland....about a ten minute walk. We often took breaks throughout the day and headed to the hotel for a swim and rest.

I also suggest to first time Disneyland visitors, this book Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. Can't think of the authors name but I got my copy from Barnes and Noble. It's a great guide for parents and gives wonderful hints so your visit is less stressful. There is a section in the book where each ride is critiqued and rated for its fright factor for each age group.

From: Noah (7/98)

Took the kids (ages 4 & 6) to Disneyland to celebrate my graduation (yeah!) in May. Had a terrific time with a minimum of planning. Went on a weekday which made for somewhat lighter crowds. As I refuse to pay $2.50 for a small bottle of water, we carried in a backpack with a few water bottles in it. We also brought in some orange juice. This small effort saved us from having to buy sodas/water and hunt for drinking fountains. We also carried in some acceptable (acceptable to me, that is) treats like granola bars, fruit roll-ups, licorice, and a couple pieces of chocolate. I also brought in some cut-up apples. Thus we were able to snack while waiting in some of the longer lines. This saved time, gave us something to do while in line, and kept me from having fits about overpriced foods/snacks. The backpack was not a burden mostly because we hung it on the ancient, el-cheapo umbrella stroller that we brought from home. My daughter hasn't used it in quite awhile, but it made all the difference for us because it gave her a chance to sit while waiting in lines. She even napped in it in the Matterhorn line! (Strollers in general are not a burden because every other family there has one and there are huge parking areas outside of almost every ride.) Anyway, we had only one day and we went like crazy from noon until the park closing at midnight. (We nearly slept away the next day!) Our motel was the Best Western Park Place Inn which straddles the crosswalk that leads to the park entrance. I think only the shuttle buses can park closer than that motel. We couldn't have been closer if we tried to get the best Disney parking place. It was a blast and we have no regrets except that we couldn't have afforded to stay longer. I hope you have lots of fun and go with a positive attitude. (Just close your eyes to all of the gift shops attached to the ride exits!) Our kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves as did the two overgrown-kids they have for parents. As proof I can say that our 6-year-old only whined once during the entire day and that was because he thought we were walking too fast in the Swiss Family Robinson Tree house. I think it also helped that we kept the trip a secret until the last minute. This avoided the build-up that sometimes messes with kids' expectations. I guess it also gave us as parents a thrill to know we were surprising our kids with something they were going to love. (P.S. don't forget lightweight windbreakers if you plan to stay late into the night.)

Date: Fri, 4 Oct 1996 13:36:01 -0700
From: Laurie

Hi all, We recently took our two-year old to Disneyland, and checked out the information on the UCB parents website before our trip. We all (Grandma was there too) had a really great time watching the Lion King Parade, and we never would have gone to it without reading about it at the website. Thank you all for passing on your suggestions. I actually have a few suggestions (maybe these can be added to the site):

1) Get there when it opens, and call Disneyland to find out the exact hours before you go. We found out the night before we went that they were opening at 8am. The hours listed on Disney's website were 9-midnight, and weren't up-to-date. We did have to wait in line for our entrance ticket, but once we got in we had the rides to ourselves.

2) If there are lots of crowds, and the waits are overwhelming at the cool rides, go on the Jungle Cruise ride. The tourguides give a really silly talk, because the ride is so campy and outdated. We all enjoyed it much more than we expected to.

3) If your kid(s) likes to climb and run around, visit Tom Sawyer's Island.


OK, here's my Disneyland advice. 1. Find out what time it opens the day you're there and arrive at opening time. (Opening time varies; call) 2. Get a locker first thing. Right by the main entrance. You can stash jackets (it will get cool later) and other supplies and lockers may fill up by the afternoon so get one early. 3. Will your kid consider riding in a stroller? They are very handy by mid-day when they're tired and don't want to walk/stand anymore. Strollers are right by the main entrance too. 4. Plan out which 2 of the most popular rides you want most to see and go there first, or wait until after 9pm to go there. For example, Indiana Jones is new, and lines will be long, but the wait will be quicker in the morning. 5. My faves are Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted House and Star Wars. The first two are a lot of fun for nighttime. They all 3 had long lines last summer but not at night. 6. If you're staying at a motel with a pool, consider leaving the big D around noon to go swimming, eat lunch, maybe even TAKE A NAP. Then you can go back in the afternoon when it starts cooling off. Disneyland is really fun at night, and they're open till midnight, if the little one doesn't wear out. 7. Don't miss the night-time show, which people will start lining up for in an obvious way. The one last year was a totally cool laser show on the big pond in the middle. It's true that you can easily get on any ride while the shows are going on, but the show itself is better than getting a short wait for a popular ride. 8. food: I don't think there is a MacDonald's. There is plenty of kid-oriented food around and it does tend to be expensive, about what you'd expect. But I did find plain pasta for pretty cheap, hot dogs, stuff like that. Also I took in snacks in a backpack, which I ended up stashing in the locker. However, be forewarned that unless the snack is really good, your child will probably prefer one of the ever-present goody stands. By the way, from a mom's perspective on food, there was no beer anywhere to be had, I can tell you that. And it gets hot down there!

We took our 2-1/2 year old over Memorial Day weekend, and of course it was packed! But I get the impression it's always like that during the summer. One day we arrived at the gate at about 7:15; the park had opened at 7:00. But when we got to Dumbo, there was already a long line (not long compared to the lines for Indiana Jones, but long for a 2-year-old to be patient). There is no McDonald's within the park, but there is one on Harbor Blvd. right across from the entrance. The food within the park is pretty expensive for fast food, but not excessively so.

Have fun! My boy keeps talking about going back.

We took our 5.5 year old son in April and it was a great time. If you are going for just one day, get ahold of the map/brochure in advance (at your hotel or at the monorail station in the Disneyland Hotel -- you don't have to be a guest at the hotel to use the station). Pick out the things you want to do most so that you don't waste time in the a.m., when the kids are too excited to study the map. It's crowded even at 8 am, but zip off the the big wait rides early. With any luck, your son is too young/short for Indiana Jones and Splash Mountain, and waiting in a 2-hour line won't be an issue!

There are McDonald-like places all over D-land, more expensive, but not that bad. For a healthier item, the hamburger place in Bear Country makes a great tuna sandwich. We filled a backpack with snackss, and it kept the price of impulse food buying down. Don't miss the parades (the Lion King parade and the nighttime Electric Parade). The crowds are big, but it is easy to find a spot to see since the parade routes are so long you might have to sit on a curb for 30 mins., but it's a good time for a rest and a snack.

Hope you have a great time!

We took our kids 2 years ago with that Safeway program. We were in the park by 8:00 in the morning for breakfast with the characters along with at 500-1000 other people! No matter how early you go it will be crowded!

Yes the food was very expenisive. If my memeory serves me right I bought the kids a lunch box juice for 1.00. When ever we go to the movies or out for the day, I freeze the kids their own personal water bottle that I keep in my bag. I also pack them fruit snacks, jello etc. This worked well when we went to universal studios last month. The kids want to eat until dinner time. We bought them 1 drink & we took breaks...they pulled out a snack and enjoyed the freedom of having their own stuff. Since we were on the move & there was so much to see they worry about what was in there bag.

I also saw a women with lots of fruit in her bag! Hope this info is helpful!

I don't recall a McD's but would imagine the cost is the same. My advice is to get a package deal and stay at the Disneyland Hotel. I took my now 15 year old and 3 year old a couple of years ago and boy did it make things convenient. I could go back on the train with the baby when she got tired and the rest of the family could continue to enjoy the park. Food varied in prices so look around.

Disneyland is one of those places that costs money, plain and simple. Beyond the tickets for admission, it's real easy to spend $50-$100, even though the rides are free. Plan your day so that at least one meal (lunch or dinner) is eaten outside the park and you'll save dough. Also, try to buy your Disney souvenirs at a mall Disney store before you get there instead of at Disneyland, where they are much more expensive.

the food is expensive, I was in Disneyland recently but I didn't spot McDonalds in there, what we did, is packed some sandwiches, fruits, drinks ( I had a cooler in my van so I had cold drinks) and didn't spend so much money on junk food.

I do recomend to show up early, if you pick up the discount package from U-hall, you may pick some special packages and be able to have breakfast with the characters! : these packages include combinations of Universal studios tour, hotels, etc. Have fun!

I took my 13 and 16 year olds to Disneyland the end of June and don't remember seeing _anything_ not trademarked by Disney. Food is expensive there, especially with the two bottomless pits that I hang out with;-) It sounds like you are only planning on spending one day at Disneyland... we stumbled onto a great deal that took the pressure off of trying to do it all in one day. Local campgrounds (including KOA) and motels have a 5 day pass that sells for about the same price as a two day pass.... Plan on spending lots of time standing in line (my legs hurt by the 3rd day and my youngest kept stepping on my toes:( ), especially for the more exciting rides-none of which go upside down.