Monday, March 01, 2010

Disneyland Tips

So here, for Pmom and others' benefit are my own personal tips on Disneyland:

1.I love, love, love The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. There is a 2009 edition and it is not only informative, it is an entertaining read. I tried another guidebook afterward and threw it down in disgust; they weren't opinionated enough. I checked this out of the library and it told me how to get kids on the rides they want to ride: the Chuck-Bubba handoff, the Hail Mary Pass and the Dumbo-or-Die-in-a-Day touring plan for maximum parental sacrifice and maximum fun for kids under 8. (No, we didn't do it -- are we all about the kids?! I think not.) It also told you which gate to enter, rated the rides for scariness and wait time and hotels and restaurants too. It was Lois's recommendation and I second it.
2. Don't let your kids get lost. After four kids and five trips to Europe, I finally succumbed and bought Joss The Leash. I decided that I didn't want my kids to have memories of getting lost at Disneyland (and I didn't want to spend the whole day looking for them and filling out paperwork on Main Street). The Unofficial Guide had this fashionable suggestion:
Hazel's ID tag, artfully retouched by moi. So all the kids had these on in case we misplaced them. Laugh if you want, but none of our kids got lost and we ran into Dominic, who did. Cute kid, not crying, but not a lot of help either:
Us: What's your name?
Him: Dominic.
Us: What's your last name?
Him: Dominic.
Us: What's your mom's name?
Him: Mommy.
Rob stuck him up on his shoulders for better visibility and we found is mom in a minute or two. But we were still glad it wasn't one of ours.

3. Take raingear. It was supposed to rain two days of our visit and it only rained for the 2.5 minutes we took my dad on California Screamin'. Raingear was still wonderful for Grizzly Bear Run and Splash Mountain unless you're really trying to get wet.

4. Fastpasses are wonderful. If you have kids under the height requirement, you should also take advantage of "switching off". This works essentially like a fastpass only you don't have to wait for a time slot. Walk up to the staff member at the beginning of the line and tell them you'd like to switch off. They will give you a coupon good for two people. One parent waits in line with the tall-enough children. When they're out, the other parent uses the coupon and can take one person with them through the fastpass line.

5. Not my tip, but my friend Karen's: try RideMax software. This helps you plan a trip at Disneyland without spending all of it waiting in line. I thought it was a smartphone app, but I found the software at this website [Karen, what did you use?]. She says that she has a testimony of it, and I can believe it. We used a tip to get onto the submarine ride (which is terrifically slow) and those of us who didn't use it, didn't ride.

6. Take a break with shows. Our group loved Bill Hillie and the Hillbillies (Golden Horseshoe and you can eat while there), the Jedi Training Academy and the Enchanted Tiki Room. We wished that we'd seen Aladdin. You can plug in the dates you'll be there and find out what the schedule is for park opening times and for shows.

7. Plan some down time. Grandpa and Grandma graciously took Joss back to the hotel for naps, which was the greatest secret of his success. We had a trip to the hot tub one night and a family pillow fight the next.By day three, Sebastian was so tired from all the walking that I took the boys back to the hotel swimming pool. Even in the cool night air, they splashed and swam and did "waterbending" moves and were much happier than they would have been with more walking and rides. They needed to control the stimulation for a few hours.


Jessica said...

Yup, all good tips. The only one you didn't list that I would have is to carry small snacks and dole them out slowly in long lines, but as your children are still quite young, you probably do that all the time anyway. I actually write my phone number on my kids' arms with sharpie.

mary.katherine said...

I HATE the submarine ride. Hate. Passionately. I got a little claustrophobic and luckily got off before they shut the second door. I do love Disneyland though!!

Karen said...

RideMax is true. My sister actually has used the download for years. You plug in day of year, time of arrival and departure at the park, etc., and it spits out a magical itinerary. The creators have used science or possibly witchcraft, and it works. We only stood in 2 lines that were longer than 10 minutes in 3 days. They were for Matterhorn and Toy Story(at CA Adventure). And may I just say, RUN--don't walk to the Toy Story ride. I wish I had one in my back yard.

Karen said...

P.S. Most rides we walked right on, but noticed when exiting sudden long lines for the ride we just got off. RideMax voodoo?

Lois said...

I love "The Unofficial Guide" books. I read them for every place we go (and even places we don't -- just because they're so fun). Sounds like you had a wonderful trip!

Jennette said...

I wish I would have had these tips when we took our one-day trip last year. Unfortunately we did no research in advance and walked right up to the submarine ride as our first ride. After standing one hour in line for that dreadfully stupid ride, I already was hating the day. Turns out the rest of the day was much better. And also turns out the RideMax guy is my brother's former neighbor. It's a guy who lived in Springville and they loved Disneyland so much and went so often that he figured out how to do this as his day-job. Now they've moved to Florida so that he can develop something similar for DisneyWorld. I guess there's a career for everyone out there somewhere!

Pmom said...

Mary Ann,

I have a post up on my blog right now asking people for their Disneyland tips. May I put a link to this in my post?