Thursday, March 15, 2012


I love Disneyland, I love Disney.  Every time my children turn 3 we take them to Disneyland.  I know that Disneyland can be intimidating to many families, and a lot of people wait until their children are older and "can enjoy it" before they go.  We decided not to do this, because Disneyland is magic, but the older you get, the less magical it becomes.  We wanted to take our kids when they didn't understand robotics, mechanics, or anything else that would make Disneyland less magical.  We started when my first child was turning 3 and we keep going each time a child turns 3.  If you do go for a birthday, make sure you go to Main Street Courthouse and get a button for your birthday person.

A birthday button will make the day!  Characters and cast members will say happy birthday, at restaurants they will give you special treatment, at the tortilla factory you will get a whole bag of yummy fresh tortillas!  Don't forget to get your birthday button, whether you are turning 3 or 100!

We just went to Disneyland in June 2011 for our third child's third birthday.  We saw our kids run on Tom Sawyer's island and search for the "lost treasure" and when they found the huge mounds of treasure, they tried to pry the coins out of the mounds.  As an adult I knew that it was a large mound of fake coins, treasure, and everything was a prop.  As children, they saw it as real.

Disneyland is not an ordinary amusement park, the rides take you into many beloved movies and stories.  Most of the rides are family friendly.  I am always surprised at how many rides that even babies can go on.  We also take advantage of Child Switch Passes so that we can go on the larger rides as well.  This allows the first adult to go on a ride while the other adult waits with the children that can not go on the ride.  The first adult must wait in the line, but the second adult will take their child switch pass and can bring another person with them to the front of the line and ride almost immediately.  We either use this, or fast passes to go on the bigger rides that the whole family is unable to go on together.

To maximize our Disney experience we try to get to the park as soon as it opens.  For the first couple of hours the lines are not that long, except on rides like Star Tours, Peter Pan, and Toy Story, but things like the Haunted Mansion and Indiana Jones have 5-15 minute wait times.  First thing we do is have someone run to Star Tours and get fast passes for everyone, while the rest of us go to Peter Pan and we meet there. We spend 2 hours trying to get to all the rides we like in Fantasyland, Critter Country, New Orleans Square, (in that order).  When the lines start getting

long we go to California Adventure.  When California Adventure gets too busy we do things like Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, Mark Twain's island, Toon Town, ride the canoes, ride the train around the park, stop for something to eat, go to Jedi Training Academy, or even leave to go take a nap, and take a break.  We may try to do a few rides with fast passes from the hours of 12pm to 4pm, but we mostly just enjoy other aspects of the park.  We eat an early dinner, and then after 6pm we go to the Princess Fantasy Faire, if you go during the parade the lines are almost non existent.  I have one daughter and 3 boys, so waiting in line for princesses is not high on the priority list.  If we go and are in and out no one complains.  Things start to get less crowded and around 8pm the lines start to disappear.  We like to go to Fantasyland late because you can ride all the rides with a minimal wait time.  We leave the park exhausted, and often our children fall asleep waiting for the trams, or in our arms or in the stroller.

If we have a 3 day park hopper we go every other day to Disneyland, and take a day in between to go to the beach, or to Universal Studios, or somewhere else.   If you have a 4 or 5 day park hopper, the second or third day is a good day to break the rules and sleep in, or by the 3rd day you will have what I refer to as Disneyland meltdown: over stimulated, full tantrum mode, unreasonable children who you won't want to admit are yours.  Of course I have only seen this in other people's children, because my children always act like angels.  They never try to cause harm to one another, or lay down in the middle of a road and start screaming, or try to physically hit cast members, or act in a way that makes me worried I will be kicked out of a Disney Park, not MY children.  But if YOUR children act like this, usually by the 3rd day, then make sure you have naps planned into the itinerary!  I have only seen this phenomenon when a family tries to go to Disneyland every day and not planned rest days into their vacation.  Which being the wonderful parents we are, we are much too wise to make this rookie mistake...more than once.

One of my favorite memories is sitting on the benches by Aladdin with 2 sleeping angels and watching my husband and 2 older children go on rides.  It is a good place to be with sleeping children and even better if you have a mint julep to drink and some Mickey Mouse shaped beignets to eat.  At first when I sat down with my two children I was disappointed that I was not riding rides, and then I realized how tired I was and when my husband offered to let me "take a turn" with the older kids, I turned him down.  I sat their people watching and listening to the Disney noise and relaxed.  I simply love Disneyland.

Some tips,

  1.  Fast passes are AWESOME, use them!   
  2. Fast pass at Indiana Jones is not worth it, either go early in the morning or late at night, the fast pass is not very fast for Indiana Jones
  3. Toon Town's fast passes are not connected to the rest of the park, so you can get a fast pass for Toon Town even when you have to wait to get another fast pass for the rest of the park 
  4. Try to plan what rides you want to go on before you get to the park, but be flexible once you get there 
  5. Try to not follow the crowd 
  6. The Mother's room on Main Street is incredible, if you have a baby who is too social to eat or nurse in public, this is a great place to go.  It also has all the supplies you might have forgotten.  
  7. If you want your child to get into Jedi Training, BE LOUD, be there cheer squad! 
  8. For World of Color try to be closest to the fence that faces the water 
  9. All the buses, fire trucks, cars that travel down main street are for everyone!  They are a lot of fun for the kids, but if you are trying to get to somewhere quickly you will probably move faster walking.


  1. Having now been to Disney World with children, this is a smart, smart post. And it made me laugh. You are awesome! And you are completely right about the magic. My older kids had fun at DW a few weeks ago, but my little ones LOVED it, and no matter how many times they saw something or rode something, it was still MAGIC.

  2. Thank You! I really want to go to Disney World, I have never been. I have been to Disneyland so many times, but have yet to go to Disney World. One Day! I think as a parent we really get to see the magic again, I love it!