Disneyland clueless needs experts, please!

breezygirlSeptember 30, 2012

Our family is heading to Disneyland in a few weeks on a trip paid for by DH's company, and I need help from you Disney experts. I've been to DL twice as an adult long before kids and am clueless about the ins and outs of place. Please help!

Our trip is Oct. 17-20. Our flights allow us time in the park the late afternoon of Thursday 17th and all day both Friday 18th and Saturday 19th. Our tickets provide access to both DL and California Adventure.

We have two kids. DS turned 7 last week and is timid about big, high rides and those that go upside down, etc. He's very smart and loves animals, cars, and science. DD will turn 3 right before DL. She loves pink and what she calls "princ-a-dresses" (princesses and fairies), but doesn't like fully costumed creatures. She trembles at the sight of the Easter bunny. Yikes! :)

DH booked the Howard Johnson hotel without consulting me (argh) and I'm disappointed they don't offer breakfast. It seems like it's close to the park, but is it really?

Right before school started, I tried to google around to find a good Disney message board but didn't find one I could decifer as a newbie without a special code book I seemed to lack. Can someone point me to a good site with basic info?

If you have some great insider tips to pass along, I'd love to hear them! Specifically:

1. Where to eat (We have a lunch booked at Club 33.)

2. Ride recommendations for either/both kids

3. Best time to do which activity or ride

4. From where/how to watch DL parade

5. From where/how to watch CA World of Color

6. Anything else important that I don't know to ask about!

I want to get the most out of this experience with the kids and leave with the fewest regrets for things I may have overlooked as we won't be able to afford a trip like this ourselves for years. Thanks in advance for your help!

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I would ask your question on the Anaheim forum on TripAdvisor

The World of Color show sounds like it might be similar to Fantasmic! in Disneyland, which to me is not to be missed.

When we took young kids to Disney we liked to get to the park as early as possible, then take a break mid day for swimming, naps, etc at the hotel before heading back for the nighttime shows/activities.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 6:38PM
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As a family, we visted Disney World, but as an adult I did visit Disney Land twice.
I would try now to get reservations for a Micky Mouse character breakfast.
As for the parades, I never found them to be a problem. Just line up early if you want to be in the front.
It's a Small World would be great for both your kids. I don't remember too much of DL but advise about getting there early but also starting from the opposite side first could help with lines. The last vis we did at DW they had speed passes. This cut down on waiting on long lines.
Look at the website. I am sure that will help you with specifics.
And, if ever you get the opportunity to go to Florida, Disney Land can not compare to how wonderful Disney World is!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 7:19PM
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It looks like your husband made a good pick on the hotel. I've linked it below for your review. I think your kids are pretty young for most of the rides. Here's a link to rides for young children at the parks and some other topics you might enjoy.

Here is a link that might be useful: Howard Johnson's

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 8:38PM
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California schools are in session that week, so it shouldn't be too crowded.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 8:49PM
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Did you try the Disboards?


Here is a link that might be useful: Mickey, Minnie and the Gang

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 1:17AM
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I also recommend the Disboards. It is an incredible wealth of information! The last time I visited DL was about 6 years ago and I used the Disboards then as well. We had a great trip!

Is it the Disboards that you were referring to that had too many acronyms? Please give it another look, they really aren't that hard to catch on to.

If you have ever been to WDW, DL is so much smaller by comparison. Not just land wise and park sizes, but hotels and restaurants, too. IIRC, there are only 2 DIsney hotels and just a handful of restaurants. So many of your choices will be non-Disney.

We stayed at the Embassy Suites closest to DL. It was fine, but 5 years later I can say it was nothing memorable. At the time, I remember being satisfied with my choice.

The only meal I remember at DL was at Blue Bayou (or something like that). It overlooked the boats entering the Pirates of the Caribbean and that was kind of neat.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 9:09AM
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I was just there in June, but my DL co-visitors were grown ups. I didn't get to CA, but I've heard that small boys ADORE it.

At DL, spend time in Fantasyland and the Future world...can't remember what it's called...they have a lot of young family friendly attractions at those sites.

We did have encounters with the characters (that was a highlight for us) but it's completely voluntary-they don't approach you, it's vice-versa, and you can get your photo taken with them by DL staff.

I would definitely NOT go to Pirates, Haunted Mansion or the Tiki Room! They're too scary for little ones. Tiki Room has a lot of the animated birds, etc and it gets dark, there is thunder/lighting.

There is a small village-type shopping center outside the two attractions that features a movie theater, restaurants, etc. We ate at the Rain Forest Cafe...I wasn't impressed for what we got for the cost.

Oh...yeah...be prepared...it's EXPENSIVE for food/drink.

Bring a camera, water and comfy shoes. Consider getting a stroller-the kids will wear out! Spend time in the shops on Main Street. They will start blocking off the street for the parade, so just stand near one of the roped off areas and you'll get a good close up view. As stated before, there are no real bad spots for the parades. Disney staff are SUPER helpful!

Enjoy your trip. Get plenty of rest, it can be a bit overwhelming and have a good time!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:41AM
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How fun! I love Disneyland and we go almost every year. Here are some things to consider:

1. Rides for your 7 yr old: Don't worry, nothing goes upside down. Check the height requirements online to see what he's tall enough for. I would skip the big fast ones like space mountain to start. My younger DD is sort of timid about rides and at that age the only faster ride we could get her on was the Thunder Mountain Railroad. It's fast, but in reality pretty tame as roller coasters go. Then she warmed up a little and we tried other things. She was okay w/Pirates (she is fine w/that one, but does NOT like the haunted mansion) so I still think that's worth a try--it's played more for laughs than it used to be. You can play spot Jack Sparrow. Kids this age love the Autopia cars (get a Fastpass for sure) and the Astroblasters in tomorrowland. The Indiana Jones ride is lots of fun, and not scary in terms of the ride aspects, but can be scary in terms of the "theme", as it seems you are in jeopardy. You mentioned he was timid about high fast rides--this isn't really, but it can be scary as a "story". DD is scared of Splash Mountain too, so I'd skip that one. And in Cal Adventure, the best ride of all (a must) is Soarin' Over California. Get the fastpass. I have not seen the new Carsland there, but I'm sure a 7 yr old boy would love it. Kid rides tend to have slow lines, though, so try those early while waiting for your fastpass return for Soarin'.

For your 3 yr old: Hang out in Fantasyland. Our favorites are Peter Pan, Dumbo, and It's a Small World. Steer clear of Snow White, which seems to scare everyone, in spite of it being a "kid" ride. Your son would also enjoy the Fantasyland rides. As was mentioned before, you can avoid the characters if you want, so no worries. Lots of young kids don't like them.

I have not spent much time in Toontown, but it might be worth a look as well. Another fun ride for young kids is the Nemo submarine one. That has a slow line, though.

Timing-wise, Fantasyland gets SLOW, so pick up a fastpass for something such as Autopia, then do Nemo, then head to Fantasy land. I agree w/others to leave the park for a rest in the afternoon, then go back at/after dinner.

Food: I think the Blue Bayou always looks so fun, but the one time we went it was disappointing. For regular kid-friendly food, we like the Hungry Bear restaurant. It always seems to have seats, and it's next to the river. We also like the French Market in New Orleans square. These are fast places--not full table service.

We don't always watch the parades (sacrilege, I know) so I have no advice for you there. We did see the World of Color and enjoyed it, but had to stand for the majority.

It looks like the Howard Johnson is about one-quarter mile north of the main park entrance, so a little walk, but not bad. I hope you have a lovely trip!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 11:07PM
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For California Disney Adventure, make sure you get there really early for the Carsland- they're always sold out. Went there twice this year, on a weekend, 11am and they're sold out:(. The Antz parade will be fun for your kids. The Hollywood Tower of Terror is sooooo much fun, but I'm not sure of the height requirement. CDA is much smaller than Disney, so less tiring.
Don't forget that airplane ride over California's best spots (I forgot the name of the ride)

Disney - Indiana jones, buzzlightyear astro blaster, it's a small world. They have fast pass on major rides, so definitely use that.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 4:11AM
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Ooopps! Sorry for the double post. I thought the first one didn't go through.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 4:13AM
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For decent viewing World of Color, you can either book a meal w/ a reserved viewing spot or brave the rush for a Fastpass. If you can afford it, I would do the meal. Lunch is not too bad: 28.99 for adults, and 18.99 for kids 3-9 YO. They also list a picnic meal for 15.99 per person that includes a reserved spot. I would call to make sure they still do that, as Disney is notrious for not updating their website.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 3:51PM
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Terriks--Thanks for the suggestion of the Anaheim travel forum. I've spent hours there now! Lots of great info. Your advice to tour, then rest and shower in the afternoon seems to be the consensus. Yes, from my reading, WOC seems to be like Fantasmic! I'd like to try to get the family to both. :)

Ellendi--I loved Small World as an adult and definetly plan to take the kids. I've never been to Florida. Maybe one day! Thanks.

Fun2BHere--I'll check out the travelmama link. HoJos seems to be well-rated. I just wish breakfast was included. I appreciate the help.

Chispa--That's good. I just read somewhere that Utah schools have UEA or something like that so I guess that means many Utahans will be joining us a DL.

ENMc--DIS boards was the one I referenced in my OP. The site is visually difficult for me to navigate with the all the lines, colors, moving images, etc. GW is more my speed, but I jumped in there anyway after your suggestion. I am learning SO MUCH there! I appreciate the suggestion.

Nicole--Yes, DIS boards was the one. I finally found an acronym key and, as I mentioned above, have discovered how much valuable info the board has. Blue Bayou seems to get good reviews. Thank you for your comments.

Pesky--Is Innoventions the name you were looking for? It sounds cool. I appreciate the heads up on "dark rides". I loved Pirates as an adult, but I think it will scare my 7 year old. Stroller!! I had forgotten to consider which one to bring--sit and stand (7y.o. would catch a break) or 3-wheeled jogging type stroller. Getting plenty of rest is always a problem for me. Thanks for the great tips!!

Kristine--You're a wealth of info! I think I'll show 7y.o. DS the youtube of TMRR and Pirates to see what he thinks. DH does NOT want to see him terrorized. The Indy ride will be down when we're there. Thanks for the heads up on Snow White. Yikes. Soarin' sounds great! I appreciate the advice on food and ride timing. Thank you!

Rich69--Thanks. I've heard the same about Carsland. VERY popular.

Straightlover--I found the WOC meal info on the DL website. We decided to order the picnic. I also found info on Mouseplanet about where and where not to stand. I appreciate the info.

Again, thanks to everyone for the tips!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 5:04PM
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