In less than two weeks (eek!) we will be leaving for what is becoming our annual trip to Disneyland, and I couldn't be more excited! Really, Freddy will tell you that I bring it up everyday, and he's probably getting slightly annoyed with me (#sorrynotsorry). We went around the same time last year to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary, as well as Disneyland's Diamond Celebration. We had such an amazing time and were pleasantly surprised at the lack of crowds, so we decided to book another trip this year to celebrate our anniversary and spend some time in Southern California! We have been going to the parks for several years, and I had an annual pass while in college, so we've learned a few tips over the years from trial and error, which is what I am sharing with you today to help you plan your next trip to the happiest place on earth!
1. Plan Ahead
As with any vacation you are taking, it's super important to plan out all the details ahead of time. For example, check the weather about 10 days in advance so you can prep your outfits and shop for any last minute essentials you might need, like a rain jacket or new walking shoes. The last thing you'll want to worry about is realizing that you forgot to pack something while you're standing in line at security and have to make a pit stop as soon as you arrive at LAX. You'll also want to bring any items that you intend to put in your backpack for the parks, like hand sanitizer (a must!), reusable water bottles (there are water fountains throughout the park, which is a great money saver), and a pair of dry socks, because Splash Mountain.
2. Dining at the Parks
Eating your way through Disneyland can be one of the most magical experiences of your vacation. It can also be one of the most expensive. It's so easy to get carried away when walking past the countless churro carts, hot dog stands, and smelling the alluring scent of freshly-made waffle cones on Main Street. In our past experiences, we have learned to save some money by sharing a meal, or skipping one entirely, while still enjoying all the tasty treats the parks have to offer. Let me explain...
Last year we booked a character breakfast at the Storyteller's Cafe at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and it was one of the best decisions we had made! Not only was the "character" part of this experience just plain adorable, but we were able to fuel up on a big breakfast to get us energized for the big day ahead. This kept us full for most of the day, allowing us to skip a true lunch, but instead eat some snacks such as pineapple spears, chips, or yes, a churro. Some of the portions at certain dining locations can be rather large as well, so sharing a plate could be an option, too!
Some of our favorite dining locations that we keep coming back to are Rancho del Zocalo (Disneyland), Hungry Bear Restaurant (Disneyland), Pacific Wharf Cafe (California Adventure), and Storyteller's Cafe.
3. Shows & FastPass
In addition to all of the amazing attractions, dining and shopping experiences at the parks, there are some wonderful shows and parades that you can enjoy as well. You can find a full list of entertainment options here, and determine the time(s) of which shows/parades you want to see so that you can plan your day accordingly. One of our favorites is World of Color at DCA, which you can reserve a "spot" for ahead of time at the FastPass distribution center located at Grizzly River Run. The earlier you get your FastPass, the more likely you are to get a better zone, which determines the view you will have during this standing room only show. Side note: They are bringing back the ORIGINAL World of Color show starting Sept. 6th, which I can hardly contain my excitement about!! There is also a new live Frozen show at the Hyperion Theatre at DCA, which we are so excited to see! They have added a FastPass feature to this as well, so that you can reserve a seat inside the theatre, rather than waiting in line prior to the show.
FastPass is a great feature that allows you to skip the long lines on your favorite attractions, so that you can enjoy them that much sooner! Keep in mind that you can only obtain one FastPass at a time (this excludes priority seating FastPasses, such as the World of Color show), so make sure you time all of your passes accordingly. Freddy and I love Radiator Springs Racers at DCA, so we always book it over to the FastPass distribution center first thing because we know the lines can creep up to 90 min long on some days. I will also probably be booking as many FastPasses as I can for the Tower of Terror, since this will most likely be my last time riding it until it's final drop day in January (it's been really hard to come to terms with this...I'm heartbroken).
Planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort is such an exciting process, but it can also become stressful, so don't sweat the small stuff, and have fun! At the end of the day, you're there to make magical memories and enjoy time with loved ones. Everything will work itself out. And remember, "when there's a smile in your heart, there's no better time to start!"
Have a question that I didn't answer in this post? Ask away in the comment box and I will gladly answer it! Happy planning!