Welcome to The Disneyland® Guide for Families (Unofficial). You don't have to be part of a family to use this reference guide. By all means, anyone is welcome to use it. Just find what is useful for you and your situation.

This blog began it's life as a manuscript for a book that was never published, so there is a ton of content here. The bulk of the information that is only occasionally updated is listed under the "Chapters", and will probably be where you spend most of your time. The "home" page has additions that are more like comments on current events related to the Disneyland® Resort, or just fun things that I continue to find.

I love to hear from people who have used the information contained in this blog. Please let me know if you have found the information helpful, and if there is something else you think I should talk about, let me know!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Best Trip Ever to Disneyland Resort with my Autistic Children

Our family’s previous trip to Disneyland had been a little disheartening for me, but this last trip was great!  So, I really want to share what worked to help our children on the Autism Spectrum feel comfortable and truly make the most of our visit to Disneyland Resort.  I should mention that this trip was just as the resort was starting to test out the new Disability Access Service, but had not started issuing the cards that have the guest’s photograph.  In our situation, we had the old Guest Assistance Pass, but honestly we didn’t use it that much.  The biggest reason we didn’t need the pass was because of the time of year that we went.  We went the second week of September.  For my children on the Spectrum, it was the ideal time to attend Disneyland Resort.  It was a time of much lower attendance rates, and the lower “crowd pressure” made a huge difference.  The other reason we didn’t use the pass as much was because our children were older, and understood the concept of taking turns and waiting in line better. 

One memorable time that we did use the pass was on the Matterhorn.  We really appreciated the way the Cast Members handled our needs.  They gave us a return time, and when we did return we were asked to wait for a few minutes in the alternate entrance.  I don’t like the idea of just walking up to an attraction with my pass and then walking straight onto a ride, bypassing all of the other guests that have been waiting in line, and I don’t want to teach my children that they are somehow too special to wait their turn.  The way it was handled made it so that waiting our turn was a bearable experience, and I appreciated the thought that has gone into the new system. 

Another thing that made our trip so fantastic was consciously paying attention to our boys' concerns.  Our older son has a really excellent memory, so even though it had been 2 years since our last visit, he was still reluctant to enter buildings.  The first building I took him into was a restaurant at a slow time of the day.  As we first walked through the doors, he stopped and said “whoa.”  I immediately stopped and talked to him about what we were doing and what he could expect when we entered the next set of doors.  I was also able to promise the reward of milk, which may be what actually got him in the building.  However, when he was able to see that what I had described was real, and the interior of the building was non-threatening, he was able to relax about entering other buildings throughout the resort.  He was even able to ride “Soarin’ over California” a couple of times.  That was huge step for him, compared to our last trip and the rewards of the ride made it worth riding again.

Our younger son, is very adventurous, but didn’t like to ride by himself.  We learned this by riding the Matterhorn, where he had to sit in a seat by himself.  He wasn’t fond of that, and we didn’t make him do it again.  I have learned my lesson, and did my best to not push my children into too many stressful situations.  If there was something that was upsetting to them, i.e. sitting by himself, being in the dark, we didn’t repeat that even on another attraction.  When we did encounter a stressful situation, we would counteract that by spending some time doing something that was familiar and comforting.  For my boys it was riding their favorite rides, usually multiple times in a row.

That brings me to “Favorite Rides”.  “Gadget’s Go Coaster” is featured on a video game we have and both boys were excited to ride it as their first rollercoaster.  That excitement turned into a bit of an obsession.  I lost track of the number of times we rode, but it was at least 15.  The movement was something that was really comforting to my boys.  We found that their favorite rides tended to involve deep, strong movements.  Things that spin in a circle were a huge hit: Astro Orbiter, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, both carousels, and the Mad Tea Party.  Strong movements especially in an outdoor setting were also very well received: Gadget’s Go Coaster, Goofy’s Sky School, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, the zip line at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail and the Jumping Jellyfish.  We discovered our younger son really likes being high up in the air, because he insisted on riding Mickey’s Fun Wheel. I was nervous, but we all went and both boys enjoyed the ride.  Like I mentioned earlier, my younger son is adventurous and his complete favorite ride was Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, probably because he was controlling the movement of the ride vehicle. Which brings me to Autopia; what child doesn’t love to drive their own car?  Mine are no exception.  Our older son really surprised us with his love for Soarin’ Over California, there was a building that we had to walk into, there was a line that we had to wait in, and then we went up in the air; all stressful things.  He loved it.  We didn’t get to ride it as much as he wanted, mostly because his brother was too short to ride, and Aaron got tired of us leaving him with the Grandparents.  There were plenty more attractions that we enjoyed, the above were the SUPER favorites, the ones we had to ride more than once or twice.  (Can I mention here how much we loved going in early September?)

Since I had our previous trip on my mind, we had only purchased three day passes for my husband and older son, while our younger son and I had 4 day passes.  I expected Ian and Dad would need some time off.  I was wrong.  Fortunately, they were able to go to the ticket booth with their three day passes and extend them to include a fourth day.  They had to be present for the cast member to be able to do that; I couldn’t go and extend the passes for them.  So keep that in mind if you decide to try that out for yourself.

We still had a couple of trouble spots, neither boy could stand the idea of watching World of Color, and we left early from that. Also, our younger son’s obsession with the color green became a problem when we couldn’t ride in the green tea cup.  As a result of his temper tantrum, we exited the Mad Tea Party attraction without riding.  We went and had some lunch, rode the Mark Twain Riverboat, which has a calming effect on my boys, and discussed his behavior before we went on any more of his favorite attractions.  I had broken one of my rules and had let the little one get overly stimulated and hungry.  Since it only happened the one time, I still feel very successful. 

Like the title says, this was our best trip yet!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Autistic Children and Disneyland Resort

I’ve put off writing this post because I am NOT an expert on autism.  I am the parent of two children who have been diagnosed with autism, but I have no formal training regarding the disorder.  However, I do know a lot about Disneyland, and I would like to share our family’s experiences at this delightful place.

I should mention at the very start that I never thought that I would one day need to say to my four year old “It’s alright Honey; you don’t have to go to Disneyland today you can stay in the hotel.”   But on our last trip, I had to do exactly that.  Disneyland is an overwhelming place, and if they just need a break, let them have it.  As parents of autistic children we have to walk a fine line between giving them a little push because we know they’ll enjoy a certain new experience, and letting them have the order and peace that they crave.  Our son, Ian, was four on our last trip and had been to Disneyland Resort twice before, once at 7 months (he rode everything and loved it) and again at 2 years (certain rides became stressful), this last trip was very stressful for him, and he got to the point where he couldn’t enter buildings or even open air areas that had a patio covering.  It’s very easy to look back and wish to have changed things.  But every trip is so different (age difference alone) that it’s impossible to know ahead of time where all the trouble spots will be.  My goal is to talk about things that have helped our family and others and that might make your autistic child’s visit to Disneyland Resort less stressful and more fun.

Many of the basic things that will be helpful are covered in the body of this blog, but I’m going to mention here some things that are very specific to my autistic children.  Please keep in mind that all autistic children are as different from each other as any non-autistic child is different from another, and you may be surprised at what your autistic child is stressed or comforted by in the unfamiliar world of Disneyland Resort.

To illustrate this point, I’d like to use an example.  Our oldest son, Ian, is fairly independent and likes to walk beside the grocery cart at the store.  He’s not much of a stroller person either.  In a conversation with another parent of autistic children, she mentioned that her autistic children were very comforted by staying in their strollers.  The stroller became a “safe place” for them and they were able to feel comforted in that space.  I did not think that bit of advice would be very helpful to us.  It turns out I was wrong.  After the second day in the parks, Ian would only leave the stroller reluctantly.  The fourth day he toured the park from the stroller while his Dad pushed him around, and would not leave its security. 

Because I had spoken to this other mother previously, I recognized the signs of stroller dependency early and first thing on the second day we stopped by “City Hall” and got a guest assistance pass that specified that Ian and his party (see “City Hall”) could wait in line in a less crowded area (which translated to waiting in the handicapped entrances), and that he could stay in the stroller like it was a wheel chair.  Those are two different stamps that can be placed on the guest assistance pass; handicapped entrance and stroller as a wheel chair.  One thing I haven’t covered in the “City Hall section of the blog is that the cast member at the guest services desk will need to see the person receiving the guest assistance pass.  My husband waited with the kids outside by the handicapped ramp while I waited in line, so that I could just stick my head out the exit door and they were able to enter without having to wait in the crowed main line. The cast member visited with Ian a little, asking his name and age, which she only received partial answers to, but it was enough for them.  You also need to make sure that you tell the cast member the number of people in your party (up to six) and the length of your stay, so that you only need to get the one pass, and you don’t have to return the next morning.  If you receive your pass in Disneyland Park, it can be used in California Adventure Park as well and vice versa.

In the “hind-sight-is-20/20” category, I wouldn’t have taken Ian on any of the indoor/dark rides.  I would’ve stuck to all the outdoor stuff, which he was doing quite well with at first.  Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride followed by Alice in Wonderland (both dark rides) did us in though.  Up until then Ian was doing well riding the rides.  He happily rode on the Astro Orbiter, Dumbo, the Teacups and King Arthur’s Carousel.  I was even able to take him and little brother by myself on a couple of rides, something I wouldn’t have tried later in the week.

We also learned that his noise dampening headphones were a comfort item that, as time went on, he wore more and more often.   By the last couple of days he was wearing them almost constantly.  There is a lot of background noise in the resort that most of us can just tune out, but autistic people with a hearing sensitivity can be very overwhelmed by all of it.  I worked hard to introduce many of the sounds of the park to Ian ahead of time.  I used “The Audio History of Disneyland”, a Disneyland sing along DVD, and the Vacation Planning DVD to introduce him to the sights and sounds we would encounter.  I’m not sure if it helped or not, but I believe in helping things look and sound familiar to him as much as I can.

As the week progressed, Ian became more and more distressed when entering the park through the front gates especially at the rush of opening.  I think next time we may try using the Monorail stop that is in Downtown Disney to enter the park.  You use your park pass to enter the Monorail depot just as you would going through the front gates, but it is much less dramatic with fewer people.  The Monorail will then drop you off in Tomorrowland.  I don’t believe that the Monorail is running for a Magic Morning entry, but those are quieter times and if your autistic child hasn’t learned to distrust the front entrance it may be an easier process.

Ian loves Mickey, but entering Mickey’s house was just too stressful.  The Grandparents went through the house and stood in line to wait our turn, then when they got up to the head of the line they explained the situation to the cast member who assigned groups to the various photograph booths.  We were assigned our own session with Mickey and they allowed Ian to enter through the exit which, while still stressful, made it possible for him to meet and interact with Mickey, which was a highlight of the trip for him.

One thing we did do right was be flexible.  At one point we were going to leave the park to go have a meal with family, but as we were standing in the town square area Ian looked around at the relatively sparse number of people and said “Let’s go back to Disneyland!”  All of us astonished adults looked at each other and said “Okay!” and back in we went. 

For our next trip we are planning our days a little differently.  The plan is to attend Disneyland for a couple of days, and then take a day off.  We’ll probably go to the beach or hang out at the pool.  There is also the possibility that Ian and Dad will go have a day off and Mom and Little Brother will go back to the park on their own.  That has the benefit of giving the brothers a break from each other, which as they get older is becoming more of a need.

This next little bit falls into the category of secondhand stories.  I have heard of both of these situations in Disneyland Park.  The first is about a young man who was very uncomfortable with the disproportionate head to body ratio of cast members in full costume.  Because this was a known issue the adults with this teen were able to have him turn away when they spotted full-bodied costumes coming in their direction.  As long as he didn’t have to see the character he was able to keep his mental balance. The second situation was not handled as successfully as the first.  This occurred on the Jungle Cruise with a large group of people in a confined situation.  A woman with a severe mental disability became overwhelmed, likely with the physical closeness of unknown people and the unfamiliar noises, and had to be physically restrained by the other people on the boat.  These were just other visitors to the park and were not trained in handling this sort of situation, but really they had no choice because she had become a danger to others on the boat by hitting and kicking, even at small children.  This was reported on an online discussion board.  The comments on the discussion board lamented the fact that the people with this poor woman did not know that they could request (probably through City Hall) the ability to ride the attraction alone.  If your autistic person has violent reactions to sitting too close to strangers, you will want to discuss this with the cast members at City Hall.  We don’t have this issue so I don’t know what kind of stamp would be on the guest assistance pass, but I’m pretty sure they won’t just tell you that you shouldn’t have come.  They will try hard to work something out to suit whatever your situation is; you just need to fully explain.

Like I mentioned earlier, I am no expert on autism.  I am just a Mom learning by experience, but hopefully my experiences will help you just as the experiences of other Mom’s have helped me.  I’ve saved my best advice for last.  Look at your child and pay attention to them.  As soon as you start to see the signs of distress, find a way to help them feel safe.  Have the strength of will to stop what you are in the middle of and see things through their eyes.  You will do more than help your autistic child have a fun trip, they will learn to trust you more, and that is priceless.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Going to the Disneyland Resort While Pregnant

Normally, the thought of walking for miles, flying in an airplane, and sitting in things that bounce me around, while I’m Pregnant, is horrifying to me. I’m an older mom, and I don’t care what anyone says, it gets harder the older you are. When I say “older”, I was 41 when our second was born. Plus, I’m a wimp. Add in having a hard time sleeping (at least at night), and a general overall chubbiness that I had from before I was pregnant, and you may wonder what I was thinking when we did a Disneyland Resort vacation while I was 4 months pregnant.  Oh, The depths of my obsession with Disneyland truly come to light.

Okay, honestly, it wasn’t bad at all. The key being that I was FOUR months pregnant. If you are going to go to Disneyland while you are pregnant, I suggest shooting for your second trimester. Oh, that wonderful second trimester when you have a renewed sense of energy and a whole lot less morning sickness.

That being said, here are some suggestions that have helped others and me while attending the Disneyland Resort while in all stages of pregnancy:

1. Wear comfy clothes and shoes. I think you should do this even when you aren’t pregnant, but it’s even more important while pregnant. Plan for your feet and ankles to swell. Mine didn’t, but you never know, and shoes that are too tight are miserable.
2. Bring a change of clothes in case morning/motion sickness gets the better of you.
3. Do a little research ahead of time to see what attractions you should not ride while pregnant. (See the list below)
4. Have a convenient place to go take a nap in the middle of the day. If you’re staying in a hotel, try to make it close to the park, so that it’s easy and not very time consuming to go and take a nap when you need it. We borrowed my sister’s hotel room which was very close to the resort
5. Stop by a bathroom whenever one is close by. It’s not a good thing to really really need a restroom, and not have one available, for instance while you are in line for an attraction. I like to wear sanitary pads just as a precaution, plus it’s nice to be able to change that out during the course of the day.
6. Remember to drink lots of water.
7. Remember to eat small, frequent meals and snacks.
8. Sit down and put your feet up whenever you get the chance.
9. If you get to feeling woozy or overly tired, get a wheel chair and let someone push you.

It used to be that if there were a height requirement, Disneyland Resort would suggest, “Expectant mothers should not ride.” BUT that is no longer true. There are a few exceptions to that rule, Soarin’ Over California, Jumping Jellyfish, and Silly Symphony Swings all have a height requirement, but the Resort no longer posts a warning against expectant mothers riding. So here is the current list of attractions that the Disneyland Resort suggests that expectant moms avoid:

Gadget’s Go Coaster
Matterhorn Bobsleds
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Space Mountain
Splash Mountain
Star Tours
Indiana Jones Adventure
Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘em Buggies
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Grizzly River Run
Rock Wall & Zip Line in Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
California Screamin’
Mulholland Madness

You might also want to evaluate your sensitivity to motion. What I’m thinking of are rides that spin, like: Mad Tea Party, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Flicks Flyers, Francis’ Lady Bug Spin, Astro Orbiter, Golden Zephyr, and Mickey’s Fun Wheel. Your ability to ride these attractions without mishap may be related to the time of day, and how recently you have eaten. I’m not saying don’t go on any of these rides, I’m just saying think about it, and evaluate yourself realistically at that moment. All of that being said, I went on Francis’ Lady Bug Spin and Flicks Flyers while 4 months pregnant with absolutely no unwanted side effects, so you’ll probably be just fine too. If you aren’t fine, well, you’ve got a change of clothes, and trust me you aren’t the first person to puke on the ride.

Earlier I mentioned that you should shoot for your second trimester as the best time to attend the Disneyland Resort while pregnant. When you have been planning your family’s vacation for months in advance, you may not be able to hit that middle trimester. It’s okay. Women in all stages of pregnancy go to Disneyland. There have even been babies born there, not that you want that to happen. Pay close attention to your body, and if you are in the parks and not feeling well or if you feel like something isn’t right, go to first aid and explain your situation. They will have a place for you to rest a little, and will help you get rehydrated as needed. Also, if needed, they will help in getting you to a hospital.

Don’t balk at a Disneyland Resort Vacation just because you are pregnant. You may have to take it a little easier than other times, and there will be attractions that you skip, but there is so much to do, see, and enjoy at the parks that you won’t feel like you are missing out. I didn’t realize how many attractions I didn’t go on until I started making the above lists. I had a great time, and you can too.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

World of Color Viewing Tips by Disney Parks Blog

First of all, if you aren't familiar with it, let me explain what "World of Color" is.  World of Color is the new night-time spectacular show at the Disneyland Resort.  It is shown on the lagoon in Disney's California Adventure Park.  Using the latest technology to project images onto a 19,000 square foot screen of water droplets accompanied by dancing fountains, light show, sound and fire, this promises to be outstanding. 
This is a topic I've been very anxious to cover, and the Disney Parks Blog has revealed some options for viewing that haven't been available for Fantasmic!, the night-time show on Disneyland Park's Rivers of America.  I'm sure there will be more specific tips to come after it opens and people have a chance to see it in person, but since World of Color is just opening, things are bound to be packed and the Fastpass seating, picnic seating, or preferred reserved dinning seating options may be the way to go.  Read the Disney Parks Blog post here.  I still have a number of questions, such as "where is the very best place to watch the show from?"  and  "Is there a difference between the earlier show and the later show?"  From what I've read, it also means that we can add another restaurant to the list that accepts reserved seating on the (714) 781-DINE reservation line; Ariel's Grotto, which also offers "table service" of alcohol.  World of Color opens June 11th, in Disney's California Adventure Park.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Free Disneyland Resort Mobile Website

With all the advertisements for Mobile Magic as a mobile application I thought I would do some research. Since I don’t have a mobile device I don’t have anywhere to download it, BUT I did discover something for us cheapo-s called “Mobile Website”. It’s free, as opposed to Mobile Magic, which is about $10 for 180 days, and works on any browser-enabled mobile phone. In fact it even works on my desktop and is accessed at

Here is what I discovered about the free Mobile Website. It covers both parks of the Disneyland Resort, but choosing between Disneyland park and Disney’s California Adventure park is the first choice you get to make on the home page.

Information is available regarding: Attractions, Dining, Park Hours, Character Meet & Greets, Entertainment Schedules, Transportation, Guest Services, and the Weather.

Attractions can be browsed by: Land, Wait Time, FASTPASS Availability, Features, Type, Recommended Ages, and Height Requirement. Land is obvious, what rides are in which land. Wait time comes in “see now”, “moderate”, and “high demand”. Since “The Enchanted Tiki Room” came up as “high demand” and “Finding Nemo” came up as “moderate” while I was browsing, I tend to doubt the accuracy of those prognostications, but they were constantly changing those wait times while I browsed, so at least they’re trying. FASTPASS availability was either “unavailable”, “limited availability” or “available”; no current return times were listed. Features tells you which rides are FASTPASS, Wheelchair Accessible, Wheelchair Transfer Required, and allow Rider Switch. Type is a selection of categories that make it easier for you to choose rides based on your group’s interests. Recommended Ages sorts attractions by pre-schoolers, kids, pre-teens & teens, and all ages. Height Requirement is a little deceiving. It lists various heights, but it only lists the rides that have that as the requirement. For example: Autopia has a 32” height requirement, and say your child meets the 40” height requirement. If you look under 40” it will not list Autopia, even though your child that is 40” could ride it. It will only list the rides that have 40” as their height requirement, not the 32” or 35” required attractions. There is also an attraction summary available for each ride which includes all of the above information as well as a synopsis and guest polices regarding disability access, etc.

Dining can be sorted by land, meals served, cuisine type, service type, price range, and priority seating. Land is obviously location, and can be pretty handy to look at to see what’s close. Meals served is Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, or snack. Cuisine means American food, Italian, Vegitarian, etc. Service type means is it Character dining, or quick service or casual dining. Nothing came up when I clicked on “priority seating”. The Blue Bayou came up under “View All Dining” and when I sorted by “land” but not anywhere else, it’s listed as “special and unique” dining.

Character section was logically sorted by Character. You are given that day’s availability times, and location. Although I noticed that all the fairies location was listed as “fantasyland” and not the specific “pixie hollow”.

Enertainment Schedules, Transportation, and Guest Services are all static information pages that give current information. The Weather page is accessed from the home page, and gives that day’s weather current weather and predicted high and lows as well as predicted temps at 8 am, 12 pm, 4 pm, and 8 pm, as well as weather for the next 5 days.

I thought this was a pretty useful little site considering it's free.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Guest Post: An Introduction to Pin Trading at Disneyland Resort

The following is a guest post from my dear friend Rod Fleck.  He and his family recently completed a trip to Disneyland Resort and the following is what they learned about pin trading.  I truely appreciate his contribution to this blog.  By the way, the picture is one of my pins, and "No" it's not available for trade.

This is not the ultimate Disney pin trading post. Rather, it’s some of the things we learned when we were at Disneyland and California Adventure earlier this year.

First, is the lead site for pin trading and traders. You name it and you can find it there. We didn’t know for example that at the Holiday Boulevard Disney Soda Fountain, you could have traded pins with those employees. If so, we may have started our pin trading a bit earlier.

Second, this is not something you have to do. Not something you need to do. It is something that can be a lot of fun to do, or in my case a bit of an obsession between rides, lines, and while walking about the park.

We started with a “starter set” we found at the Small World gift kiosk. The lanyard and two “Disneyland” pins were $15. We also saw that they had a great set of nine or ten Disney characters as babies n a packet set for $30. Now there were other starter sets with eight pins for $45. We were about three or four pins ahead with what we did. This may sound like a lot, but as you trade the pins “up” with Disney Cast members, you would be amazed at the collection you create and figure that each larger pin has a retail price of between $7 and $10 – you can see the value.

The rules are pretty simple: 1. Find a cast member with a lanyard or waste pouch with pins on it. 2. We found it was best to ask if we could look at their pins for a trade. 3. If you find a pin you would like, ask to trade one of your pins for the one you like. 4. You can make two trades with a cast member per day. 5. Pins you trade have to be the metal Disney pins. 6. Be sure to thank the cast member

Now a few things to note. First, if the cast member is wearing a teal lanyard, they will only trade with kids. This is a great way for the kids to find an awesome pin. We found these folks in and about Main Street usually. Also, there would usually be one or two teal lanyards on some of the cast members helping with the Character meet and greets. Second, look for the “management” cast members – we found them wearing the dark pants, longer coats, etc. They seemed to have some really unusual pins and I suspected it was due to the fact that they really aren’t out and about trading their pins. I got a great USA Olympics 2004 pin from one such manager -- sure it is one that allegedly retailed for $7, but to me I have a passion for the Olympics. The image is great and it was fun to get from the lead Security Manager trying to keep an eye on his staff and the crowds during the parade. Third, also realize that the folks making the park look so nice and clean usually have a pin lanyard or more likely the pin waist pouch. They really enjoyed making a trade. Also, we made sure to thank these folks for their continual effort to keep the park beautiful.

My kids and I felt a bit awkward trading our smaller pins right away for larger pins. So, we tended to trade up and make numerous trades. That was the fun of this in my eyes. We might have traded a Disney baby for a smaller character pin. Then saw another pin a bit larger that we traded the character pin for, etc. I think I made about four trades of pins before settling on the Olympic Mickey that I mentioned. Remember that with the cast members it is a pin for pin trade. Apparently, pin traders do meet ups within the different resorts and make trades that may be very, very different. We didn’t get into that! ;-) One of the kids got a great Cheetah Girls pin, but later found a much more “in fashion” Jonas Brothers pin that she traded up the Cheetah Girls for. She was happy and I suspect the next person to trade with that cast member may have walked away with a great Cheetah Girls pin to take home.

You can also buy pins that you really like. We did that for a few of the rides for each of us, or for things like the Jedi Academy when our little ones got chosen for that. Also, there are “mystery pin” box sets you can purchase that contain two pins for $12. My son wanted a Mickey as a Jedi knight. He saw though the mystery Star Wars box and bought it – not only did he get a Jedi Mickey, we got a second pin that was Donald as Darth Maul – which we gave to his sister who had “defeated” Darth Maul earlier that day in the Jedi Academy. That was a pretty cool turn of events. Neither be rare in number, but both have a great story and memory (or two) attached to them. Therein lies the lure and enjoyment of this type of thing.

Pin trading can be a great way to entertain yourself within the crowds and a way to create your own very special souvenir. You need only invest as much time and money as you feel you want. is the official Disney site for pins and pin trading. It also shows the new pins that are available and the ones coming out for special events…Boy that Armed Forces Chip and Dale pin sure looks pretty nice. Hmhm…now where to find that one?? ;-) Maybe that one will have to be one Dad orders…. This has to be the ULTIMATE Disney pin site. Wow…this site is truly amazing. If you are an aspiring pin trader, or someone who gotten bitten by the trading bug really hard – this is the site for you.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Why Disneyland Resort instead of Walt Disney World?

I have encountered some confusion between Disneyland Resort (in California) and Walt Disney World (in Florida). Mostly it is expressed in the form of “Disneyland…that’s the one in California right?” While those would be fighting words with a lot of folks on the big fan sites, I just take it with a smile. “Yes, Disneyland is the one in California.”

There are however some significant differences, and while neither is bad, it’s nice to know what the differences are so that you are better able to decide which resort best suits your family’s preferences. And before we start, I must confess to a distinct Disneyland bias, which should only be expected, but I will try to present only the facts.

Walt Disney World

Disney World is located in the Orlando Florida area. The resort has 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and I don’t know how many hotels, including RV parking and camping. They have a Downtown Disney District, a Disney Boardwalk, the ESPN wide world of sports complex (the Atlanta Braves do spring training there), and 4 golf courses. Over all there are more attractions, more shows, more parades, and more attractions with height requirements than at Disneyland.


Disneyland is located in Anaheim California. The resort has two theme parks, three hotels, and a Downtown Disney District.

In comparison, Disneyland appears to come off the loser. However, Disneyland packs as much into one theme park as Disney World packs into two. The Magic Kingdom park, in Disney World (the largest and most attraction rich park in the resort), has 39 attractions. Compared to Disneyland Park’s total of 50 attractions, the Magic Kingdom seems a little empty. That was my impression of all of the parks at Disney World. None seemed to actually be full. I have the same feeling about California Adventure Park at Disneyland Resort, but that park is starting to fill. The second thing to think about is that there are more rides with height requirements at Disney World, which when combined with fewer rides per park, means there just may not be that much to do, for a family with younger children, in all of the Walt Disney World parks. Which means feeling like you’re done with a park after a relatively short day, but not having enough time to jump on a bus or tram and go to another park. Which brings me to my third point: Distance. At Disney World to travel from hotels to water parks or theme parks, you will HAVE to take a transport of some sort; your own vehicle, a shuttle bus, the Monorail, a ferry, something. And it doesn’t matter if you are switching theme parks or going to downtown Disney, things are just too far apart to walk. Disneyland Resort is the opposite. Most of the time, walking is the most efficient way to get around, because things are SO close. The first time we went to Disneyland Resort, I kept telling my husband “California Adventure is just across from Disneyland Park”. It wasn’t until we got there, and he saw that they are literally facing each other across an open plaza area that he understood what I was talking about. They’re really close. The resort’s hotels are closer than the parking structure. Even many of the non-Disney owned hotels are easily within walking distance.

So in conclusion, Disneyland Resort in California has a cozier feel, is easier to get around in, and has more to do for little ones in one place, than Walt Disney World in Florida. Plus, it’s Disneyland, the one that started it all. Am I sentimental and totally biased toward the place? You bettcha! But now maybe you can see why