Monday, May 30, 2016

Top 10 Tips for Disneyland

Top 10 ways to make Disneyland worth every penny   www.wayupnorthincali.blogspot.com

On Friday, my sons had finally saved up enough money to buy a video game they really wanted. On our way home, my older son was telling his younger brother all about the game. What levels there were, who the best characters are, and how the game should be played. He was oddly specific with incredible details.  It peeked my interest, because he had never played this game before. To be sure I asked him if he had played at a friend's house. No? Huh. How could he know all this? (YouTube...if you must know.) After listening for a few minutes I tuned him out, because I didn't need to know any of it, and it was just...too much. His little brother on the other hand, soaked in his every word.

As I was driving I had a very strange realization that he sounded just like me when I get started on one of my favorite topics: Disneyland. Oh. My. Goodness. Is that what I really sound like?  The other day I was talking with some friends and one asked me if I went to Disneyland over Spring Break. I said that I would have loved to but my budget couldn't afford a 4th trip to Disneyland in a year. The other friend sitting next to us, said, "Four?! Uhh...Whitney...do you have a secret Disney obsession?" I didn't admit it out loud then, but in my mind I said, "Yes, Yes I do."

We have a whole lot of Geeky-ness in our home. My husband loves comic books (I'm sure a post on comic con will come this summer) and anything science fiction, #1 can't get enough of video games and manga art, and I have a unhealthy enthusiasm for Disneyland. I enjoy most things Disney, but it's Disneyland that is the center of my fascination. I already talked about why I love Disneyland and think it's worth the money in THIS post, so I won't go into that now. But in my fanatical fandom, I have done a tiny bit (ok..a ridiculous amount) of research on the subject of Disneyland. I'm here to give you my Top 10 ways to make your Disneyland trip worth every penny. And some of them might surprise you.


Top 10 ways to make Disneyland worth every penny.   www.wayupnorthincali.blogspot.com
Blurry picture alert. 

DISCLAIMER: This is not the list I wanted when I first starting doing research on Disneyland. I wanted people to tell me the best way to see and do as much as possible. I wanted to know the best places to eat and all the secrets on how to save money and still have a good trip. I needed to know which Dole Whip line was the shortest and where the best parade spot was. But once I had done that, I realized, this was the list I really needed. This is the list that would set my mind at ease and allow me to enjoy my trip even though it was going to cost me a small fortune. So for all you Type A travelers (that's me!) who need to plan every last detail, this is the list you should read last of all. When all your research is done, come back and read this one, right before you go.

1. Set a budget, and then stop worrying. This one is exactly what it sounds like. Look at your personal budget, and then plan a trip that fits into that budget. If that means you have to stay at the Super 8 instead of the Disneyland Hotel or you have to bring lunch into the park instead of eating at the Blue Bayou, then accept it, and own it. I have yet to stay at the Disneyland Hotel or eat at the Blue Bayou, they don't fit into my budget. Enjoy your trip regardless of your budget! It's Disneyland after all!

2. Have an idea of what you're getting into.  For all you Type A travel planners I mentioned earlier, you can probably skip this one. But for all you laid back, take life as it comes travelers (oh how I envy you...), please don't expect that you can just walk into Disneyland without doing some research and not leave feeling as though somehow you missed something. (Don't blame me if you are in the que waiting for FOREVER asking yourself "How are all those people passing us in line? Do they have some kind of special pass that lets them skip the line?" Why yes, yes, they do. And you can too.) You can have a good day at Disneyland without planning one thing. But you can have an AMAZING day at Disneyland with just a little bit of research. If you don't know what the words FastPass, Rider Switch, Rope Drop, Park Hopper, Que, PhotoPass+, World of Color, Paint The Night, Magic Morning and On Property, all mean in relation to Disneyland, you need to click on over to DLR Prep School  or Touring Plans and get a quick education. A little knowledge can go a long way in helping you feel like you got your money's worth out of your trip!

3. As my favorite Moustalgia podcasters would say: Manage your expectations. Disneyland is crowded. There isn't really a slow time anymore. There are slow-er times, but gone are the days when the park was empty on a Tuesday in February. There are going to be pluses and minuses to going to D-Land based on the time of year. If you are going in the summer months or over a holiday when kids are out of school, you need to brace yourself for the crowds and expect long lines, but the park will be open early and close late. If you are going in the "off season" then expect the park to open late and close early, but the lines will be shorter. 


Top 10 ways to make Disneyland worth every penny   www.wayupnorthincali.blogspot.com


4. Learn who Walt Disney was. We all know the brand "Disney", but do we know who Walt Disney was? Why did he build Disneyland when he already had a successful animation studio? I always like to know a little history about any place I travel to. Disneyland is no different. No need to go crazy and spend tons of time on it, but trust me on this one, it will enhance your Disneyland experience. Not sure where to even begin finding out about the man so many called "Uncle Walt"? Waltdisney.org is the site started by the Disney family (not the company) and is all about his life. If you live in Northern California or might be traveling to San Francisco in the near future, be sure to stop in at the Walt Disney Family MuseumD23.com is the official Disney fan site. It has some good info. This one is however put on by out by the Disney company, so it sometimes reads like a big advertisement...because that's exactly what it is. But they also keep the fans happy with little bits of history now and then. If you want more, there are many books like THIS ONE (amazon link) on Walt's life and I enjoy the history given on Mousetalgia, an unofficial Disneyland podcast.


5. Make a flexible plan. Like I said, I love to plan things out. But I have learned over the years to not plan to rigidly. Use your plan as a guide, but be willing to deviate from your plan if you happen across the Dapper Dans singing on Main Street or Indiana Jones is shut down when you try to ride it. Don't sweat it! Move on and enjoy the next adventure in your day. Leave room in your plan to grab a Dole Whip and sit and soak in the atmosphere every now and then.  On the other hand, don't just wonder aimlessly either. That's where your flexible plan will come in handy. It kills me every time I see a group of people all standing around trying to figure out what to do next. 


Top 10 ways to make Disneyland worth every penny   www.wayupnorthincali.blogspot.com


6. Your kids don't know what they are missing. This especially applies when your children are young. If they don't climb up into Tarzan's Treehouse or ride Winnie The Pooh, they won't know the difference. As long as they are having a good time, don't push it by trying to do everything. In other words...


7. Don't try and do it all.  If you think you can do all of Disneyland (and/or Disney California Adventure {DCA}), in one day, you are setting yourself up to be severely disappointed. Forget it. It cannot be done. Period. Can you have fun in only one day at Disneyland and DCA? Absolutely, just don't plan on seeing and doing everything. In fact, I'm not sure you can do it all in three days. "Getting your money's worth" isn't just about how many attractions can you cram into your trip. So do a little research.  Find out what your "must do" items are and save the rest for your next trip.


8. Make sure you can survive being on your feet for 8-12 hours. This is not a joke. You will walk, and walk and walk some more. And then when you're not walking, you're standing. Standing in line for a ride, standing in line for a Dole Whip, standing while waiting for the parade, standing while watching World of Color. If you're kids are even remotely young, get a stroller, because they won't survive. But you will need to. Of course planning breaks into your day for shows, meals and such will help, but if you're not prepared for all that standing and walking your joints will hurt and you may have a hard time rolling out of bed and doing it all again the next day. And for heaven's sake, people, wear supportive shoes. (Have you seen the episode of Modern Family where they go to Disneyland and Gloria wears high heals? If not, you should. Hilarious.) If you have a physical disability or an elderly family member with you, Disney is really great about accommodating those people, but you need to plan ahead and do your research. Call Disneyland and ask what their policies are. We have rented wheelchairs for elderly grandparents and that has worked out great.



Top 10 ways to make Disneyland worth every penny   www.wayupnorthincali.blogspot.com

9. Don't be afraid to have fun.  My husband is a pretty reserved and quiet guy, but every time we go to Disneyland he ends up losing his voice.  No...it's not from yelling at the kids...it's from screaming for joy on the thrill rides! Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Tower of Terror, Screamin', Big Thunder, Radiator Springs Racers...it doesn't matter which one...you can always hear him hollering above everyone else. Every picture is the same: hands stretched high in the air and his mouth wide open, smiling. Forget you're an adult for the day, put on your Mickey ears and HAVE FUN!


Top 10 ways to make Disneyland worth every penny   www.wayupnorthincali.blogspot.com
Yep...this one is blurry too.

10. Buy souvenirs that are practical. In the moment, standing in World of Disney store, that Donald Duck hat with his mouth as the bill and his body hanging down the back like a tail, will seem like the best investment EVER. There is something strange about the "magic" of Disneyland, somehow, you NEED everything. I am here to remind you, that those diamond studded Minnie ears are not allowed under your employer's dress code. I know what your'e thinking...I just told you to put on some Mickey ears and act like a kid. I still am. But just make sure you choose your souvenirs wisely. If you know you're going to be back to Disneyland again in the near future and you're going to dress up as a blinged out Minnie Mouse for Halloween, then those ears may very well be a good investment. My favorite souvenirs are ones that I continue to use after I get home. Some of my well used items are a Mickey apron, Mickey cookie cutter, deck of playing cards, Disneyland cup with straw and a key chain. I use these things often and they make me smile and remind me of our trip when we do. I also try to steer my children to things I know they will play with when they get home. Every child will beg for one of those $20 spinning light up toys, but most will never play with it again at home.

Well, that's it. Actually it's not...there are so many ways to save money and make the most of your Disneyland trip. What are your favorite tips for getting the most out of your Disneyland or Disney World trip?

7 comments:

  1. #6!!!! On our first trip this let us relax and have a good time. My only ride goal was to get my son on Racers (which we did) and the rest of the time we let them guide us. They had a ball and it was fairly chill for us- win-win!!!!

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    1. I so agree! I always ask the kids their one must do thing and we focus on those and then the rest is a bonus.

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  2. Our boys (8 & 10) were afraid of all the big rides, i.e. all the fun ones. We made bingo cards for them with a different ride in each square and promised them souvenirs/special Disney snacks if they filled lines or blackouts. It worked to get them on everything and they are happy roller-coaster-riders now. Thanks for the great article!

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    1. In D-world we asked our kids which parks were their favorites - their answers depended on if we had allowed them a Dole Whip that day. My advice is to budget for a little something extra each day. $5 per person per day for a treat made a difference for our family.

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    2. These are great tips Gabe! I know there are a lot of kids who are apprehensive about the thrill rides. Bingo is a great idea. Yes, we always budget for special treats. Disneyland has some great snacks, treats and meals! We love the Dole Whips and we always stop in the candy store on the way out of the park at night. I hope to do another post soon with more specific tips, and these will be a perfect addition to that post!

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  3. Wonderful blog! One other tip I thought of was letting the official photographers take your picture whenever you see them, because at each spot where a Disney photographer is located, they have fun and original shots they will take. They will also snap the same shot with your camera, and that's the money saver! A professional taking fun poses on your own camera...you can't beat that!

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    1. I love that tip! Great money saver!

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