Park Passes for Disneyland® Resort
There are several options for buying tickets to the parks and they are all listed on the Disneyland.com website. Almost every hotel and even RV parks offer to sell you park passes, but I’ve never really seen anyone have a better deal than just buying them on-line from the Disneyland.com website. (Unless you are a resident of the state of California, and they have great deals in the local grocery stores. BUT you will have to show proof of residency.) Purchasing a multi-day pass is less expensive per day than purchasing single day passes. The price can drop as much as $25 per day when you purchase multi-day passes. Another perk of the multi-day pass, is with 3 or more days, you get one early park admission day. You will have to check with the park when you get there to see which days early park admission is available. Admission prices do occasionally vary based on the time of year you go, it’s another bonus for going during the off-season. A great thing about buying park passes on-line, is that you can print a voucher on your printer and just take it straight to the entry gate, where they will give you a real park pass. No waiting at will-call or the ticket booths. You just have to be careful not to let your voucher be lost or stolen, it can be redeemed by anyone, and once redeemed, that voucher (even reprinted) is no longer valid.
Dressing Comfortably while attending Disneyland® Resort
One of your highest priorities while at the parks for both your kids and yourself should be the ability to be comfortable. It can be a long, exhausting day and blisters, chaffing, or sunburn can make the night and next day miserable. Be sure to pack clothes and shoes that are extremely comfortable. Don’t worry about fashion. Face it; you’re going to look like a tourist. Clothing should suit the weather, which is usually sunny and warm in southern California. A t-shirt, shorts or pants, comfortable shoes, with a back up sweatshirt and rain gear is perfect almost year round.
Shoes should be suitable for a long day’s hike in the sunshine. Shoes shouldn’t rub or be too small or too large. If you want your kids to have new shoes for Disneyland®, let them start breaking them in a couple of months ahead of time. Shoes that are hot, heavy, high heeled, too small or floppy will be uncomfortable after walking in them for an hour or two, no matter how old you are. Comfortable, broken in (not down) shoes are one of best things you can wear. Many little girls come to the park in their princess-costume best, the little plastic dress-up shoes are cute, but unless you want to carry your 5 year old everywhere, I’d bring a pair of back up shoes for when the dressy ones become unbearable. Even a mule-style tennis shoe can be uncomfortable if it tends to slip on your foot while walking. If you are in doubt, take an hour-long walk in the shoes you are considering taking and pay attention to how your feet feel. Multiply any little twinge by a 10-hour day in the park and you’ll know if your shoes are Disney-worthy. Think about keeping feet from being sunburned. No matter what kind of shoes are being worn, socks are a good idea. Socks are good not only to help protect against sunburn, but to protect feet from blisters or chaffing if grit gets inside the shoe.
A hat will keep the sun from burning your face, ears and the part in your hair. If it has a full brim, a hat will also protect the back of your neck. However when you are riding a roller coaster a hat will blow off, so hats that can be folded to stuff into a pocket just before boarding can be a good compromise. Ball caps can be turned around so that the brim doesn’t catch the wind and blow off.
Clothing should fit correctly, be lightweight, easy to layer, easy to apply sun block around, and should cover areas not usually exposed to sun. Don’t put a tank top on a child that wears sleeves the rest of the year. It will be almost impossible to keep those little shoulders from getting burned. Some families have matching t-shirts of a bright or unusual color, for their children on each day, just so that it is easier to keep track of everyone. It’s easier to look across a crowd and spot that one missing lime green t-shirt than to pick your child out of a sea of white t-shirts. Cargo pants or shorts are a convenient way to carry cameras and cash. You’re less likely to forget your valuables dangling from the stroller, if you can tuck them into a pocket.
It does rain occasionally in Southern California. It doesn’t hurt to pack rain jackets or ponchos for everyone. Plus you can wear your rain gear on Splash Mountain and not get quite as wet.
A dress or skirt at Disneyland® will be, at best, awkward. Don’t wear clothes that shouldn’t get wet, have ice cream dripped on them, or that you can’t sit down on the sidewalk to watch a parade in. Like your feet, you and your children’s clothes are going to take some abuse. If you have a child that loves to wear skirts, a pair of shorts underneath will preserve modesty.
Disneyland® with little kids means a lot of bending and squatting for the adults. You might want to try on the clothes you are taking while moving yourself in various positions and have someone check to see if you are showing anything that you would prefer to have covered up or at least coated in sun block.
Grocery Delivery while visiting Disneyland® Resort
It’s nice to know that there are some things you don’t have to worry about getting into the suitcase, especially with new restrictions and extra charges for checked baggage now days. There are local grocery stores that will take an order online and let you schedule a delivery to your hotel room. We ordered baby food, milk, diapers and other bulky food items that we didn’t want to squeeze into a suitcase. I just called the hotel’s front desk ahead of time to make sure they would work with the grocery deliveryman. Even for a low budget hotel, they were very accommodating. Since we didn’t have our room number at the time I made the order, in the special instructions part of the online order form I was able to let the store know it was a delivery to a hotel and to check at the front desk for our room number. Often when you sign up for a grocery delivery the first delivery is free. But if you don’t get that offer, having groceries delivered to your room only a few hours after your arrival may be worth the delivery charge. We used the Vons.com website. There aren’t any Vons grocery stores where I live, but Safeway is a member of the same corporate family, and I was able to use my existing Safeway Club card to sign up for delivery service from Vons online.
Suggestions on what to take into the Parks of Disneyland® Resort
Items that are marked with a * are good items to carry with you at all times, and not store in a locker.
Changes of clothing for both you and your kids (Maybe just a clean t-shirt and undergarments for adults, but go the whole nine yards for little kids, including socks and underwear)
Jackets or sweatshirts
Plastic bags to put wet or yucky clothes into
A mini first aid kit for scratches and blisters, and pain reliever for Mom and Dad
*Fully charged cell phones (one per adult and responsible child is ideal)
*Camera with lots of film or digital memory (Disposable cameras are a great compromise for children who want to take their own pictures, but who may not be responsible enough to carry a more expensive camera.)
*Lip balm with sun block
*Money, credit/debit cards
*Autograph books and pens (for whomever wants them)
*Small pack of tissue
*Any medications that need to be taken during the day
*Long line entertainment
*A waterproof envelope of some kind, maybe on a lanyard to hold park passes and FASTPASSES®
If you have an infant add:
*Wipes (Actually, you’ll use baby wipes even if you don’t have a child in diapers)
*Changing pad (can be just a receiving blanket)
*Baby food and formula
*Utensils to feed the above with; including bottle, spare liners, and nipples
*Baby acetaminophen or other infant medication, in case of teething or a sudden fever
This may seem like a lot of cargo to carry around and it really can be, but there are ways to lighten the load. If you’ve brought a substantial meal for your family, leave it in a locker outside Disneyland® park by the picnic area next to the newsstand, that way it is conveniently located when it’s time for lunch or dinner. If you have a stroller that has cargo space, use it to carry your bulky items like spare clothes, diaper bags, and jackets. If you don’t have a stroller, a locker inside the park is a great way to stash items that you don’t need to carry with you at all times. If you don’t have an infant, the items that you’ll want to carry with you (the above items that are marked with a *) will fit in a fanny pack, or cargo pockets. If you have an infant and you aren’t using a stroller, you can use a bag that can be carried over the shoulder. Backpacks are very popular, but have to be removed for most rides. At the very least they’ll need to be flipped around and worn on the front of the body, which is awkward. A backpack is great for getting items that you will stash in a locker into the park, but clear bags that will go through the security check easily really are best for carrying those sorts of items through security. You’ll have to decide which is best for you, based on your circumstances.
Autograph books are available in the park gift shops, but acquiring one ahead of time will save a trip to the gift shop, and probably save you some money as well. You don’t have to use a Disney autograph book. Any notebook will do. The characters often do not have their own pens to sign autographs with, and if you have one that is big around, it will be easier for them to use.
Cell phones are a great way to keep in touch with various members of your party in the parks. It makes splitting up and getting your group back together again a realistic possibility. The ability to split up and get back together is really handy in any group of four or more.
If your child has a copy of your cell phone number on them and they get lost, finding them again is easier and faster. You may even allow older children to carry a cell phone with them, if it can be carried easily and the child is responsible. Just remember to turn cell phones off or on vibrate for shows where ringing or talking would be disruptive to others.
Routine Outside the Parks
I recommend having a small family meeting each night to discuss the plans for the next day, even if you and your spouse are the only attendees that are awake. At the family meeting you can talk about tomorrow’s schedule, what to do if someone gets lost, and expected behavior, both while traveling to the parks and in the parks themselves. You can also take the time to find out what each child liked doing best that day, it may surprise you which things stand out in your children’s minds as highlights of the trip.
Do something, especially on the first night before entering the park, to calm the over excitement many children feel at the thought of going to Disneyland®. For many children the excitement can cause sleeplessness or even feelings of anxiety. Reading several favorite books, or singing songs together before bedtime can be calming enough to encourage sleep. In extreme circumstances a father’s blessing may be called for.
A good breakfast (maybe more than your children would normally eat; they are burning a LOT of calories) and snacks for mid-morning make waiting for lunch bearable.
In the morning before leaving, a quick review of last night’s meeting will keep things fresh in a child’s mind. Especially review what each child should do if they become separated from the family. Talk about the day’s schedule; make sure to mention coming back to the hotel for a nap if that is part of your plan. Have everyone help put sun block on each other. Most importantly, have family prayer before leaving for the day.
Routine Inside the Parks
Part of your routine for inside the parks could be reviewing expected behavior and the day’s schedule while re-applying sun block and stopping for the bathroom (You’ve been doing such a good job holding Dad’s hand this morning, I’m so glad. Don’t forget to be nice while we’re standing in line to take our turn. We’re all going to be tired in 2 or 3 hours, it’ll sure be nice to have a swim in the pool at the hotel, and get a little nap. Then we can come back and go on the rides again.)
Even adults can lose track of time at Disneyland®. Set an alarm to remind you to take regular breaks if you need to. Breaks should include checking diapers, eating, applying sun block, visiting the bathroom, checking for blisters, and drinking water.
If you don’t have a great memory, make a short list of things to do on breaks, and when you want to do them. The following is an example:
After each ride or two: Drink water, check diapers (can be done as you move to the next ride). Every 2-4 hours: find a place where everyone can sit down, reapply sun block, mention how well children are doing at obeying the rules, remind children of the schedule, visit the bathroom, eat a snack, and check for blisters. You may not realize how often you change diapers at home and you may change a diaper every hour, which roughly translates to changing diapers after every couple of rides. For example, the Tiki Room show is about 18 minutes long, when you include 10 minutes in the enchanted garden, and a couple of minutes to load and unload the ride, an half hour is gone before you know it.
Often the middle of the day is the busiest and the hottest, which makes it a great time to go back to the hotel, get some lunch, swim in the pool, and of course get a nap. Even though going back to the hotel in the middle of the day may be disappointing, if a child hears the schedule, a melt down is less likely when exhaustion and hunger have set in and you are dragging them back to the hotel. If you have children who nap during the day, it’s a wise idea to book a hotel close to the resort so that taking a break in the middle of the day is easier. If your child that takes a nap is small enough to nap in a stroller, you may not need to return to the hotel, but you’ll need to bring a stroller comfortable enough to sleep in. The strollers available for rent in the park don’t lend themselves to sleeping. It’s really important to follow through on the promise to return after your break or your child’s resistance to taking a break will increase on the rest of the trip.
Most importantly, no matter what happens, use positive language. A child will adopt the attitude of the adults around them. If the adults are stressed and are using sharp words, the children will respond by crying and acting out, even if the stressed behavior and sharp words are not directed at them. The best way for the adults to not be stressed is for them to get the rest they need and to be prepared for the day ahead. If you have let your stress get to you and you have used sharp words to your spouse or your children, let go of both your stress and your pride and express love and gratitude to your spouse and children. Giving your spouse a hug and expressing love, in view of your children, will calm their nerves, and yours too. Remember, you are on vacation, so relax. It’s okay if you aren’t the first in line (who wants to stand in more lines anyway?), it’s okay if you’re late for the parade (another one will come along), and it’s okay if one of your children throws up all over you and themselves (you’re prepared, you have spare clothes for everyone).
Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy while visiting Disneyland® Resort
It can be difficult to keep the Sabbath day holy on vacation. However, not doing so can disrupt your family’s routine to the same degree that missing a nap or meal is disruptive. How your family keeps the Sabbath is up to you of course, but I have a few suggestions.
Go to church at a local ward. You can use the meetinghouse locator function (see “websites” under Useful Information) on the church website to find the building closest to your hotel. You will probably get several building options, and the meeting times of the wards that meet in those buildings. Pay attention to the language that is spoken in each ward. If your family doesn’t speak Samoan or Korean, you may not understand what everyone is saying.
Do family activities that don’t require admission tickets. There are city parks to enjoy or go for a picnic on the beach. There are several nearby beaches that are public access and are pleasant year round. You may choose not to swim, but a picnic, with a walk and beach combing, is a great way to enjoy each other’s company that doesn’t require spending money or strenuous activity.
Have a Family Home Evening in your hotel room. Part of your Family Home Evening can be a family journal writing activity; if you’ve already been to the park, everyone should have something to write about, and it will be a great way to remember your trip.
If you choose to go to Disneyland® Resort, you may want to go only to view a special show like Fantasmic! or a parade or the fireworks.
Whatever your family decides on, make an effort to make Sunday distinctive from the other days of your vacation and to especially remember the Savior. Overall, your vacation will be a better experience.
Strollers, the Big-Rigs of the Disneyland® Resort Parks
Strollers can be more of a hindrance than help in some cases. But, they can be really great when you do need them. The cons of bringing your own stroller are they can be difficult to get on and off of trams, trolleys or the monorail. All of these conveyances require that you fold strollers. If your kids are really excited they may not want to ride and you brought the stroller for nothing. It’s rare, but strollers are occasionally taken. The cons of a rented stroller are, they are not comfortable for napping and they all look the same. Which means it is more likely someone will grab your stroller by mistake, especially if cast members have consolidated the stroller parking.
The pros are if you bring your own stroller you control how much storage space on wheels you have. Your stroller is probably more comfortable to sleep in. It’s easier to find if stroller parking has been consolidated, and it’s less likely someone will take your stroller by accident. The pros of renting a stroller are, you don’t have to worry about getting yours into the park, and if it does get taken you just go back to stroller rental and explain what happened.
If the park is busy, stroller parking-areas may be created. As strollers come and go, cast members will consolidate the parking area. So don’t be surprised if you come back and find your stroller in a different place than where you parked it.
A common way to sightsee using the stroller is to drive your stroller to one of the lands, park it, and do everything you want to do in that land. Then load back into the stroller, go to the next land, and repeat the process.
Be very careful to pay attention to your driving when pushing a stroller. No one wants to get hit by a stroller while they are walking in the park. Resist the urge to use the stroller as a ram if you ever get caught in a large crowd. The people in front of you can’t go anywhere either. When pushing a stroller think of yourself as the “Big Rig” of the park. You should go a little slower that most of the traffic around you, but not too slow. People are going to cut in front of and around you and there’s not much you can do about it, because you are inherently more dangerous than the others around you.
I’ve never had anything stolen out of a stroller, but I usually only leave things like baby blankets, diapers, bottles, spare clothes, and snacks. Cameras, credit cards, cash and other valuables go into fanny packs or pockets. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to back your stroller up to whatever fence or railing you are parking at, and set the wheel brakes. A little deterrence goes a long way.
Remember, if you do decide not to bring your stroller with you and think you won't need one period, you always have the option of renting a stroller after you get there and it becomes apparent that you need one. It's better to go back to the front of the park, and rent a stroller in the middle of the day, than listen to your child whine and cry about all the walking for the entire afternoon and evening.
Controlling the "Mommy, I wants..." at the Disneyland® Resort
Both of the parks of Disneyland® Resort are a wonderland of things that children want to have. One of the most often repeated phrases in the park is; “Mommy, I want….”. If you spend any time sitting on a bench that is close to a sales booth or store you will hear that phrase repeated over and over again, you will also witness a meltdown or two when parents answer in the negative. One of the best ways to override the marketing is to discuss what souvenir shopping you are going to do ahead of time. You may give each child a budget or a limit of one item each, with a set time for when you will do your shopping. It’s wise to not go browsing through shops that you don’t intend to spend any money in, especially if your children are with you. We often do our shopping at the end of the day or even at the end of the trip, just so that we have a chance to see what is available and what we want most. It also means less stuff to carry around. Although, there is a great system in place for handling purchases (see ”package check services” on the resources inside the park page.) Really the very best way to help a child think about souvenir purchases, is to explain that the trip to Disneyland® is the real treat, and souvenirs aren’t needed for them to have a good time.
If a child sees something that they want to be their budgeted souvenir purchase, they may be concerned that they won’t be able to come back and purchase that item when the designated shopping time arrives. This is a pretty valid concern for a lot of children. It’s important to be trustworthy when it comes to fulfilling your promises. If you tell your child “we’ll come back and buy it later” then you really need to follow through and do that. It will make your child feel that what they want is important to you, and will increase their trust in you. If you really think your child will find something else that they like better, don’t just distract them. Tell them that there are other stores that you will be shopping in, and help them keep an open mind, but if they really do decide that this item is what they want, make sure you take them back and let them make their purchase.