I know you’ve all been dying to hear about our recent trip to Disneyland. Sorry to keep you waiting, but this past week was insane! I swear, it felt like we tried to pack an entire summer into 8 days. We hit up Disneyland, the San Diego Zoo, had my sister and her family over for game night and went to my moms for a family BBQ and swimming. Not to mention dance classes, preschool and work too! I don’t know how I survived, but I think still being on a Disney high helped.
Sunday night my husband went and got Audrey from her mom and brought her home. I was busying packing the backpack for the “Super Fun Day!” we had planned for the kids. We didn’t let on at all about going to Disneyland because we knew they wouldn’t sleep and would be too excited to get any rest. In the morning, I woke up at 5am. Yes, you read that right. We wanted to be on the road by 6am to miss heavy traffic, get there early enough to get breakfast outside the park, and miss the long lines around 10 when the park was officially open.
We hit up Denny’s in Anaheim about an hour before the park opened, giving us more than enough time to eat, park and grab our tickets. I hadn’t been to Disneyland in about 8 years, so even though this trip was for the kids, I think I was the most excited. I am a HUGE Disney nerd, and can’t help myself when I go to Disneyland. Being able to take the girls there and share with them my excitement, knowledge and true love for the park was a dream come true.
We got inside a bit early, so we headed over to City Hall. If you’re a first timer, celebrating something special, having a birthday or newlyweds you can get a free button commemorating the occasion! We had to score Abbey a “1st Visit!” button. The entire day cast members were wishing her a very happy and magical first visit to Disneyland! She was in heaven!
Audrey really wanted to ride Pirates of the Caribbean first, so we waited in line just outside Adventureland for the park to officially open. I heard a lot of people complaining “Why would they let us in early, just to have us wait inside?”. I’m no expert, but I assume it’s to keep ticket lines and entrance lines lower. Instead of having 5000 people waiting to get in at 10am, there are only 500-1000 people waiting in the various areas outside the different lands. It keeps lines and traffic low, so it’s a good thing! Plus Main Street USA is open, so this is a great time to shop before things sell out, or lines get too busy at the end of the day. If you end up buying too much to carry around all day, grab a locker and stash it until you leave.
When the clock struck 10, we found our way to the ride entrance and walked right onto the ride. No waiting, no lines. Abbey was less than enthused with the ride because it had “downs” and she was scared of them. She did however like the fire and the singing.
We made our way through New Orleans Square toward the Haunted Mansion and stopped to let the kids get some beads from the brass band. You’d be surprised what fun freebies you can find when you talk to the cast members around the park! When we walked past the Haunted Mansion we saw it was closed for refurbishment for The Nightmare Before Christmas ride, so we headed to Splash Mountain. If Abbey didn’t like the “downs” in Pirates, she was not going to be happy about this one.
I know you probably think I am the worst parent ever, dragging my kid on all the “scary rides” but she’s a pretty tough and brave kid, and I knew she could handle it. She may act like she’s scared, but I know her pretty well, and she loves a good thrill.
Sometimes you need to thrust children into those situations so they can see for themselves it’s no big deal. She did freak out a little bit on the big splash near the end, and her on ride photo proved it, but she enjoyed 90% of the ride and was over it by the time we got off the ride. She even said she might want to go on it again later. Clearly I am having the most fun in this photo.
We visited Tigger and Pooh Bear at his thinking spot, got some pictures and autographs and headed over to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. This was one of Abbey’s favorite rides, and Charlie and I loved the AC it provided. The day so far was proving to be a perfect day with decently low attendance, short lines, and beautiful weather. If you’re looking for a similar day, Monday-Thursday during the school year is the best time to go. Avoid busy holiday weekends and school breaks when everyone is out of school.
I grabbed the girls shirts and Abbey’s autograph book at the Disney Store a few days before our trip. I wanted to avoid the “Can we get souvenirs?!” begging, so I had them ready to go before we even entered the park. I find that the Disney Store is less crowded and better stocked, and often times things are on deep discount. I got the shirts for $10 each vs $25+ at the parks. It also saves you a lot of time staying out of the gift shops thus freeing up more time to ride rides and catch shows. I will say that there are a lot of things you can find at World of Disney outside the park that neither the parks nor Disney Store carry, so stopping by there on your way out might be a good bet if you’re looking for Tsum Tsum’s or any hard to find pin sets.
On our way to Frontierland we stopped and got to meet Princess Jasmine and Aladdin! Abbey snagged their autographs in her book and we snapped this picture. I love that her little autograph book is a cheap way to have fun in the park. It has an area on the left for a photo and an area on the right for an autograph. We had a great time meeting lots of characters and snapping pictures for her book to go along with the signatures. It’s just an extra fun addition to the trip and makes waiting in lines or walking around a little less boring.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was less than a 10 minute wait and let me tell you that the “Goat Trick” actually works! When you’re climbing the hill in the middle of the ride, and the rocks are littered with rattlesnakes and tortoises, to your right at the peak, is a Billy Goat. Crane your neck to make eye contact with him the entire time the track dips and turns and you’ll get a really great little rush that’s totally worth it.
I love that Disneyland now allows you to bring your own food and drink into the park because it ended up saving us a ton of money. The girls pigged out on some drinks and crackers we brought while we made our way through the rides in Fantasyland. Things that don’t need to be refrigerated are best. We packed apple sauce pouches, juice boxes, a few cokes (and got ice from restaurants), gold fish, granola bars and a few cookies. When drinks are $3.25 each, bringing in your own water bottle or drinks can save you a ton of money.
We hit up Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Peter Pan’s Flight (The longest line we stood in the entire day at 40 minutes! Avoid it or hit it up first thing in the morning.) Mister Toad’s Wild Ride and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Abbey loved all of them! Downloading the Disneyland App from the App Store was a LIFESAVER! It not only shows you the wait times for rides, but also character meet & greets, events, restrooms and food. We were able to plan our next rides, food and bathroom breaks in the lines of the previous rides. I cannot tell you how many times we used it throughout the day!
The day was getting warm, so we hopped on It’s A Small World. The song might be stuck in your head all day, but It’s A Small World is a great place to rest your feet and enjoy the air conditioning. The line moves really fast since each boat holds up to 20 people, and the ride itself is long and slow, making it the perfect place for pooped parents to gain a second wind.
I wore my brand new JORD watch, which I will say was a lifesaver for keeping the time. I know everyone has a phone in their pocket nowadays, but just being able to glance at my beautiful Maple and Rose Gold watch to check the time was so simple. Plus it’s just so pretty! We had barely been in the park 3 hours and had already hit up half of it.
I love the new It’s A Small World. It was fun looking for all of our favorite Disney Characters in the ride. It was sort of a fun game for us, and the kids had a great time.
Then it was off to Mickey’s ToonTown to ride Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin. The kids LOVED this ride! I am a little bummed that Disneyland has plans to remove Mickey’s ToonTown to make way for a Star Wars themed area, but I’m glad the kids got the chance to ride this ride before that happens. I checked the App while we were there and we got to meet Goofy and Mickey!
I think Abbey liked meeting Mickey the most out of anyone. She was so excited that Mickey gave her a hug. That’s part of the magic of Disneyland that I love, how every single cast member just goes above and beyond to make the guests feel magical. While we were waiting in line to meet Mickey, the cast member inside his movie barn was calling all the kids by the Disney characters on their shirts. She said hello to Abbey and called her “Princess Ariel” and I just felt the pure joy on Abbey’s face when she smiled and said “She thinks I am Princess Ariel, mom!”
We headed to the Matterhorn after Mickey’s ToonTown and surprisingly Abbey LOVED it. I knew making her go on the big kid rides would eventually pay off! We hit up Tomorrowland, grabbed a late lunch at Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port, rode Space Mountain (Audrey and Charlie’s favorite ride!), Star Tours, and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, saw a bit of the Parade on Main Street, then hopped onto the Disneyland Railroad to rest our very tired feet. The railroad is an excellent way to get around Disneyland, with stops on Main Street USA, New Orleans Square, Mickey’s ToonTown and Tomorrowland. You get a chance to see a few “behind the scenes” things as well as the Grand Canyon scenes. If you’re early or the train isn’t too busy, ask to sit in the Tender seat and grab a front row perspective of how the train operates!
We hopped off at Tomorrowland to ride Autopia, hopped back on and exited at New Orleans Square, back tracked a bit and rode The Jungle Cruise, grabbed a Dole Whip Float and sat again in the air conditioning at The Tiki Room, another great place to escape the heat and rest while another song enters your mind for the rest of the day.
Can you tell how tired our old people feet were?
It was almost 7pm, and we had almost done everything there was to do. We rode all the big rides (except Indiana Jones Adventure because Abbey was too short) and felt like we had the perfect Disneyland experience. I have honestly never heard so much pure joy come out of my husbands mouth on some of those rides. We sat down for a second and looked at each other and he knew what I was thinking.
We headed out of the park to the ticket booth and exchanged our one day Disneyland tickets for one year Southern California Annual Passports. The cast member helping us thought we were just the cutest little family and loved my email address. He thought “Mommy Like Whoa” was hilarious so he offered us a FastPass to ANY ride in either park. We had to go test out our new Passports, so we opted for Radiator Springs Racers in California Adventure and headed over there 30 minutes before the park closed.
I have to say that that ride was my ultimate favorite ride the entire day. Maybe because it was new to me and I had never been on it before, or maybe I was still elated about getting passes, but it was just amazing. Our entire day was fantastic and before we left for home, we headed into World of Disney and let the girls each pick out a Tsum Tsum for their collection and I grabbed a 60th Anniversay Pin for my collection. My husband is the best man on the face of the earth to put up with our Disney Crazy all day, and he deserves an award. On the way home, the girls passed out and Charlie started planning our next trip in November for Audrey’s 10th birthday.
I think I may have converted my husband into a Disney Nerd in less than 24 hours.
Best. Day. Ever.