Oh Disneyland, the most magical place on Earth. It’s true. The smell of fresh dipped corn dogs & cotton candy, the magical Main Street full of life and family cheer, the beautiful Castle & magnificently manicured park, it gets me every time.
I’ve always loved Disney. I grew up watching every Disney movie in the book, read Disney books and can distinctively remember my parents surprising us one year with a trip to Disneyland. Us three kids hopped in our minivan, which at the time we thought was the coolest car ever. We rose early, “made our beds” in the van, and my dad handed us the map book (ya’ll remember those??) and told us to guess where we were going. We were all under twelve, so we had no idea what the 5 was or what direction we were going, but when we put it together that we were going to Disneyland for the first time, we screamed!
I fell in love with everything Disneyland had to offer and as I grew older I slowly transitioned my child thoughts to adult thoughts and couldn’t wait to one day have a beautiful family to bring here. Well, now here I am fifteen years later, with the man of my dreams by my side, a sweet baby boy and another on the way. Finally back in our home state of California, and now residing in North County San Diego, both Tyler and I were so excited to take advantage of the short trip to Disneyland. Jaxon was finally old enough and off we were on our first trip to Disney.
After our first trip to the park we decided to get become Annual Passholders. We are just a little over an hour away, and what with day tickets being so expensive, we went ahead and got the most bang for our buck and got the Annual Passes. And boy was it worth it. We’ve gone over five times in the last few months and learned more about the park experience with each visit. So having said that, I want to share with YOU on how to do Disneyland right! Especially you mamas. It can be brutal out there in the Wild Wild West of Disneyland, so here are some key tips on how to make the most out of your Disneyland experience.
1. WEAR COMFY SHOES
I can’t stress this enough, hence why it’s number one in my book. A day at the park usually is an entire day’s work. The amount of walking you do in one day will leave you sore for two or three (especially if you’re carrying kids, pushing a stroller, etc). I used to dress all cute, now it’s straight Lulu’s and Nike’s. If you have a Fitbit, Nike Fuel Band, etc I highly suggest taking advantage of that to see how many miles you walk, you’d be surprised!
2. PACK FOOD
Like all theme parks, food sometimes can be the most expensive part, especially when you’re feeding a big family. So what we do is bring a lunch pale full of sandwiches and snacks to get us through the day. Why spend $12 on a kids mac & cheese when you can make a PB & J at home for free? We usually pack snacks that will keep us energized for the long day like granola bars, sandwiches and full meals for the kid(s). We went from spending over $100 just on food and drink on our first visit to $30 our next trip (because mama was craving a corn dog and ice cream!). So yes, outside food and drink is permitted so be sure to take advantage.
3. DOWNLOAD THE DISNEYLAND MOBILE APP
You can download this app in the app store. Here you can avoid lines and buy tickets ahead of time, browse maps, find Disney characters, and my favorite, peep current wait times, and more. You can locate dining and look at menus- efficiency is key on big days like this! Here you can also purchase the MaxPass.
4. BRING WATER
As mentioned before, outside food and drink is permitted. I think we bring in at least 4-6 waters every time. Not only is hydration key to the big day in walking and burning all those calories, but mom and dad gotta keep their energy levels high! And again, who wants to spend $9 on a regular sized water bottle when they can bring one from home fo’ free?
5. MOMMY BAG 101
I bring my Mommy Bag everywhere with me. This was a joke and name my friends gave this bag I carried in my purse pre-children, ironically, for mostly Ty. It’s a very small bag I carry, maybe 4 inches, and inside has all the essentials one might need on the go- Advil, bandaids, eyedrops, inhaler, allergy medicine, Tums, hair ties, mints/gum, lighter, etc. You get the point. Pack whatever essentials you find necessary. You’d be surprise how often this comes in handy!
6. STROLLER EFFICIENCY
Moms, 1000% YES bring a stroller. Even if your kids are walking, bring it. Even if you think they’ll be fine, bring it. Your children will get tired and need a break from the walking. And not only is this great for the kids, but its great for parents too. The less I can carry the better, so I use my stroller to hold my baby bag, lunch pale and personal belongings. And remember, only bring the essentials! Anything else you might need you can buy there if you really need it. Less is more always in mom world.
7. KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR SECRET MICKEY’S
This part is so fun! Typically, a disguised three-circle head of Mickey Mouse, the Hidden Mickey has become a phenomenon among Disney fans and the Walt Disney Imagineers who design the theme parks. There are said to be over 1,000 Hidden Mickey’s in Disneyland, so keep an eye out!
8. BE AN EARLY BIRD
Disneyland opens at 8am on the reg, so we always try and get there around 9am. It starts to get hectic around 10:30 on so avoid the mess and get in early so you can thoroughly enjoy Main Street before it’s too hard to walk.
9. MAXIMIZE YOUR VISIT WITH MAXPASS
I just discovered this trick on my last trip to Disneyland and it’s AMAZING! If you’ve heard about FastPass then you know it gives you the ability to hold a spot in the Fast Pass line, usually cutting your wait time in half. However you have to sometimes walk across the park just to get a Fast Pass. With MaxPass, as soon as your mobile Disney FastPass barcode has been scanned at an attraction, you can immediately reserve another attraction via your phone. This allows you to plan out each ride and your day in the most efficient way! It’s $10 and worth every penny!
10. PICK THE BEST TIME TO VISIT
Let’s be real, Disneyland is ALWAYS packed. It’s absolutely wild. However you can save yourself a little trouble by a- getting in early, and b- using this crowd calendar right here that forecasts the day’s attendance based on previous years.
Comment below with any tips or tricks you have for family trips to Disneyland!
6 thoughts on “Disneyland 101”
Love love MaxPass.. it definitely saves your legs.. one too about waters too.. you might not need to even bring bottles with you as long as you have reusable ones (ie hydroflasks, etc.) a lot of the stores in Disneyland will either refill your bottle for you or give you a cup to refill it with. Some places that do this include Plaza Inn, Pizza Port, even in cali Adventures down that little bridge where Ghiradelli is at and all the other restraints there, etc… a lot of the places, you just walk up to and they just give you cups of water.. it’s pretty neat. Save that room in your momma purse!
PS, if you haven’t already checked it out, check out Kids Jr. Live for Jaxon in Cali Adventures (its by Animation Academy). It’s like a baby rave.. the cutest thing ever. My BF and I took our niece there and we were pretty surprised at how awesome it is.
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That’s such a great idea! I thought they had water stations.. even better! We will have to do that next time!
I loved this!!! Brought back so many memories of when my parents surprised us with our first trip to Disneyland. I love that Disney has continued to allow outside food, but sometimes I just can’t resist having a churro. How does your son handle being at the park all day? Do you bring anything from home to keep him calm or occupied while waiting in line?
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We always indulge in the churros. We get it “for Jaxon” haha! And we use the Max Pass so our wait time is generally under 15 minutes.. it’s so worth it!
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I agree with you, especially with bringing comfy shoes, bring food and be an early bird. Those three tips alone will save you time and avoid feet cramps lol I also like to pack women essentials like pads, an extra underwear and an extra pair of pants because Disneyland or Downtown Disney do not sell leggings or extra pants and the nursing station do not hand out pads, but the ones the restrooms have are not as comfortable.