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Planning a Trip to Disneyland


Taxi-John Wayne to Disneyland

June 2010

We'll be flying to D-Land this summer and will need a taxi from John Wayne Airport (SNA) to the hotel near Disneyland. Since there are 5 of us, including 2 kids in boosters, and a lot of luggage (traveling for 3 weeks right after the park) we always seem to need a minivan these days. Can you recommend a specific cab company to call in Anaheim to pre-arrange, or tell us your experience? Is it easy to find a mini-van cab at the airport? Do we need to call ahead, or not? Supershuttle charges per person, so a cab seems like a better deal(??) Thanks! Disney Bound


We used Zippy Shuttle from LAX and John Wayne to Disneyland for family of four with carseats- they were fantastic: super curteous, right on time, clean, least expensive, super responsive, all around great. Contact Ken at Zippy Shuttle - zippyshuttle.net - (877) 889- 4779 toll free Disney Mom
Don't write off SuperShuttle without calling them first. The last time I had a large group (10 years ago now), I found that for a large group with only one pickup/drop-off, they have a charter rate. I think it was $70 to get 5 of us from Oakland to SFO (again, 10 years ago). I don't know if they still do it, but you can give them a call. Carrie
Here's the notes I took from my last trip: Airport Transportation: Disneyland Resort Express. Direct non-stop service from LAX and Orange County Airports to the Anaheim Resort. Scheduled Service-no reservations required. Look for the BIG character wrapped BUS. Call: 1-800-828-6699 for rates. $32RT from LAX, $27 RT from OC 1/2 hr fr LAX, top from OC

I didn't actually use them because, sad to say, it turned out to be more cost-effective to rent a car for me. (which might be the case for you as well). But I'd bet you could google Disneyland Taxi and come up with something reasonable (that's how I got my taxi ride from Oakland to home!) janet


Disneyland during Spring Break?

March 2010

Our family might have an opportunity to go to Disneyland during Spring Break, but I am concerned/wondering about the crowds. We went in January a few years ago and it was amazing. No lines anywhere. Rode whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Rode even the most popular ones multiple times. I cannot imagine going when there are summer-like crowds and am definitely not willing to wait an hour or more for a ride. Has anyone been to Disneyland during Spring Break? What were the crowds like? --No crowds, please!


We went to Disneyland last year and it was awful. We took our kids out of school the third week of March thinking that we would avoid the crowds, but many schools have early spring breaks. I was really, really, disappointed. I don't care to pay lots of money to stand in line. Felt ripped off
To gauge how busy they expect it to be at Disneyland, look at the opening hours. When it's going to be really busy, they open at 8am and close at midnight. When it's not going to be so busy, they open at 9am and close at 8pm.

If you can't deal with crowds, don't go during Spring Break or any other time when school is out. They bring in more staff to accommodate the extra people, but everyone is still packed into the same small park and getting from one place to another or finding your group becomes very tiresome. Elaine


don't do it. the crowds are unbearable! anon
Disneyland will be crowded in the Spring. I'm sure you already know about the Fast Pass and the usual go early or stay late, but really, there is no avoiding the crowds at that time of year. anon
The very first time we went to Disneyland with our son was in the month of November, the weekend before Thanksgiving. The lines were short and we enjoyed every single ride. Really, we experienced the perfect visit! The next time we went, we (accidentally) booked a trip during spring break (our kids were 2 and 5 and our heads were not thinking in terms of school breaks yet).

Let me tell you that it was a waste of our time and money and I was so disappointed seeing the crowds everywhere (I mean crowds!). The kids didn't have fun waiting in long lines that took about 40-60 minutes per ride. They got tired of the crowds on the streets because it took long to get from one attraction to the next. The lines to get into the park, the time you wait to meet the Disney characters in person, the large number of people who wanted to see the parade, the lines to get drinks or food ... drove me crazy!

Thinking what a blast we had at our first visit, I can only recommend everybody to re-think visiting Disneyland during spring break! A Fan of the Mouse but not the crowds


Hello, My Husband and 5 year old went last year and it had long lines. They went mid week and it was summer like. They were only able to go on a few rides and that was splitting up forces to stand in line. The other family we went with will not go again during spring break or presidents weekend. If we want to go again we will just take our girl out of school in the winter. It was still fun but not again.
If you loved Disneyland in January, and you need it to be like that next time you go, don't even think about spring break. It's busy. I was there in January and it was as lovely a time as I've ever had there in terms of lack of crowds. I've also been there right around spring break and it's busy. You can do ok if you're willing to get out the door super-early for the busy rides, run around and do fastpasses,and do the less busy attractions during the busy times. Or wait in lines. ANd the weather will likely be great. But it won't be January. As kind of an indicator, if you bought annual passes you could use them on MLK birthday but not the whole week of spring break (I think the week after Easter). That's because they don't need your business then.

Disneyland Deals and Tips

August 2009

I haven't been to Disneyland in years. I'm lookind to take my family 2 adults and 4 kids to Disneyland right after shool starts. (I've been told right after school starts is when Disneyland is less crowded. When I looked a the admisson costs I had a heart attack, it's around $80. I've been seeing 5 day ticket packages which brings the cost of admission to $35. I'm wondering if anyone has recently been to Disneyland and can give me some advice on how to save money on admission and where to stay. Thanks


We just came back from Disneyland and had opted for the 1 day pass. Halfway through, we realized we should have bought the 2-day pass. Our 8 and 9 year old loved Disneyland of course. This was their 2nd trip and we still didn't get around to seeing all of the park. If you can swing the 2-day, that would be my suggestion. AAA members get a discount on tickets, but we were told that the discount is not given at the ticket counter, but at AAA instead. We thought this sounded odd because we've always been able to use our card at the time of purchase.
Yay for your family to get to go to Disneyland! It is one of my favorite places. There is so much advice to give but I will keep it as simple as I can.

1) There are a ton of sites on the web that can give you tips on traveling there and saving money. www.mouseplanet.com is a good one.

2)I like the travel agent www.getawaytoday.com for good package deals. Their prices include hotel, park admissions and all taxes. They charge a $20 booking fee but the first prices you see are basically what you get. Book online for a $10 booking fee credit (or mention that deal to a phone agent and they will give it to you as well).

3)Your park tickets will be the majority of the cost of your vacation. There is little you can do about this. Buy them before 8/23 when online ticket prices go up (ticket booth prices have already gone up and are always higher than online prices anyway). I have heard you can sometimes buy partially used park hopper tickets on ebay but I have also heard that there is a high potential for being scammed by that.

4)Try to save $$ on food and hotel to keep costs down(pack snacks,bring your own water bottles, eat outside the park). As far as hotels go, there are some great deals out there. The ones in walking distance to the park are more expensive but worth it to me as you have more flexibility and do not have to pay for parking or shuttles, which can add up. Getawaytoday has a great pdf map on their site that shows where the hotels are in relation to the park.

5) try to look at/buy a copy of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland befoe you go. I found it helpful when I first returned to Disneyland as an adult with kids. Have a great time! Jennifer


I just went to Disneyland, and last year also, I google tips for disneyland and I found a great website with a lot of advice. But to answer one of your questions, you need to get your tickets in AAA, get one of the package, and maybe if you don't use you can sell. I lost two days the first time and the last time 1 but it was better that buy the tickets per day. Stay in a Hotel across to Disney, and go really early, come back to your hotel around 3 and rest and swim and go back later and stay late when is less people. Also use the fast pass.
We go to Disneyland about once a year with our now 9 year olds. We have stayed at several different resorts including one of the Disney places.

Our favorite place to stay and I think it would work very well for your large family is Residence Inn Maingate (Anaheim). It's an easy walk to the park,(they also have a shuttle, it's extra $, but not expensive) they have large family suites with kitchens and a free continental breakfast. Having a kitchen with a refrigerator and microwave/stove will save you MAJOR $$ for snacks and/or meals. There are several close grocery stores, and the hotel has a grocery service as well.

As for time of year we have been in the fall, at the holidays and in the summer. By far the best time to go is either in the early fall or before the holidays and and after the Halloween decorations come down. For both these times weekdays are best.

Park Hopper tickets are the only way to go. Both parks are fun and older kids especially will enjoy California Adventure.

For meals in the park, we have found the food to be much better in California Adventure. Our favorite is the Boudin Bakery chilli/soup bowls. They are good, filling and reasonably priced. Cal. Adventure closes pretty early in off-season to be sure to notice the times.

Another tip is to check the Disneyland website for park hours and closed attractions so that you will not be disappointed if your favorite ride is closed during your stay. The park hours are dictated by the popularity of any particular time of year, so the days that the park stays open late are more popular (read crowded) times to go.

My last tip is to check the Los Angeles School District website and or Orange County school district website(s) to see if there are any random days off that are not holidays. We've heard of people who planned for an uncrowded day only to be surprised by crowds due to a ''teacher work day''.

Have Fun!!! love uncrowded Disneyland


Disneyland with a group of high school students

May 2009

A group of approximately 60 plus high school students with teacher and parents are planning to travel to Los Angeles and Disneyland in June 2010. We would like to get travel tips for transportation, food, and lodging. What were some creative alternatives that helped your group spend less, eat well and healthfully, survive heat, and have fun? We would like to hear your dos and don'ts, musts, and what to expect. Recommendations for places to eat and shop for food are also welcomed. Thanks! Denise


Just came back from Disneyland for the weekend. We stayed at Desert Palms which has suites, refrigerator in room, pool, hot tub, and free breakfast that included scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes, pancakes, danishes, oatmeal, juice, coffee, great deal especially for teens. However there are a lot of hotels within easy walking distance - some right across the street.

While there I made this list, because a lot of hotels will say they're walking distance and that can mean a lot of different things. Close hotels are: Desert Palms (Katella Blvd), and the following hotels on Harbor Blvd, right across from the main entrance to Disneyland: Desert Inn & Suites, Anaheim Inn (Best Western), Alpine Inn, Anaheim Plaza, Del Sol Inn, Park Vue Inn, Carousel. We had all our meals at Disneyland, so I can't help you there, except that I think the food at California Adventure is better than the food at Disneyland.

It also saves time if you buy your tickets on line. You can print them out on your home computer.

As for rides, you can use your park entry ticket to get a ''fastpass'' which allows you to skip big lines by giving you a time window in which to return. Use them carefully because you can only get one ''fastpass'' every 2 hours. Be sure everyone saves their ticket. You need a handstamp AND your ticket to re-enter the park. We got the park hopper tickets which allow you to go from Disneyland to California Adventure in the same day. Its fun and very easy. Sue


I've never gone with 60 kids, only 4, but here's what I recommend--Print out a map of the streets that border Disneyland, and find the hotels that are within easy walking distance of Disneyland's Main Gate (these are LONG blocks, but teenagers can walk farther than 3-year-olds, so you have lots of choices. I highly recommend staying on S. Harbor Blvd.) Go online and read reviews of the closest ones. Then start calling and seeing if they have special group rates or deals. Get rooms with refrigerators & microwaves (most have them).

Upon arrival, take groups of kids to Von's (like Safeway, a short drive down S. Harbor Blvd.), where they can buy fruit, ready-to-eat-veggies, instant oatmeal, cereal, milk, bread, cold-cuts, cheese, jam, peanut butter, yogurt...paper plates, and plastic utensils...so they can have snacks on hand and make sandwiches. Most of the hotels have free breakfast, and have little shops to buy snacks, drinks, etc. Disneyland food is expensive, and we've taken sandwiches in for our kids. They've never questioned it. Pizza places and other restaurants deliver to the hotels; that's fun and you don't have to take over an entire restaurant. If you want to eat out, call ahead to make sure they can accommodate you. There are lots of restaurants within walking distance. Go out to eat in smaller groups to make it easier.

The heat--do the outdoor activities in the cooler morning and evening hours. Do the indoor stuff or hit the pool during mid-day. Bring water to the park with you, and use it to douse your hats and shirts if it's hot! A wet shirt is a great way to keep cool. It's very kid-friendly there for kids of all ages. Be sure to watch the fireworks in the park at night! Have a great time! heidi


Disneyland Logistics


Split a Park Hopper pass with another family?

Nov 2009

The info in the archives is from 2005 on this subject so I thought I'd check. We are going to Disneyland for the first time in December. We are looking at splitting a Disneyland Parkhopper pass with another family who is going the week after us. Are the tickets transferrable or do they track who purchsed them? Fan of the Mouse


They track who purchased them, and they explicitly say that they are not to be shared among individuals. Its still worth it to go...!
I have had 100% success rate at splitting our Disneyland hopper passes and boy does it save money! I used Craigslist and the BPN to advertise. Altough a little unsure of Craigslist I did end up splitting the passes through Craigslist. In both cases I purchased the passes and the other family went first - we traded the tickets back upon their return then our family went. I was paid cash for their half and felt very comfortable they would return with the remaining days. I divided the pass by however many days and let the other people know how much per person, per day was their share. The first time we split the hoppers and decided not to use the last day of the passes I sold them at the entrance - no problems. There was no name or signature on the passes. We always purchase through AAA, comes with free parking, early entry etc. diane

Double stroller in Disneyland?

Oct 2008

We are headed down to Disneyland with our 18 month old and 3 year old for the first time. Can I bring my Phil & Ted's double stroller into the park or is it going to get swiped while we are on a ride?! I am already bringing it for the convenience in the airport and getting around the hotel area, etc. But should I leave it at the hotel for the Disneyland day and rent one of theirs? I read from a past post that it's kind of hard to get a double stroller there. Please help!! Can't afford to buy another double!


I've never been to Disneyland, but what about getting a bike lock and locking the stroller up to something while you are on the ride? Disneyland might have some prohibitions against that, though. bike lock?
I don't think it will get swiped. There are millions and millions of strollers all over Disneyland, parked and mostly unattended all over the place, the security is also pretty tight. When Disneyland is more crowded, however, it will be hard to manuever a double-stroller, especially if your 3 year old wants to get out. Have you talked to anyone who has taken kids the ages of yours to Disneyland? It might be more trouble than it is worth -- I recommend not taking kids there until they are 5, when they enjoy the rides more, have more stamina, don't need a stroller or tons of paraphenalia. -- been a few times
I can't really recall your exact query, but we took our stroller to Disneyland when our daughter was 3. People leave their strollers all over the place. I would say there is a much greater risk that someone will mistake your stroller for their own than that someone would steal your stroller. Tie a bright ribbon to it or attach a bright name tag. Contrary to what another post said, we thought Disneyland was fantastic with a 3-year-old. She loved it! I would never try to go there without a stroller. I think you said something about a double-stroller -- it may be worthwhile to buy two cheapo umbrella strollers instead. Disneyland veteran
Bring your stroller. It's totally worth it, it's a pain in the butt to rent one (you can't take it outside the bounds of the park), and it's not difficult to maneuver. Just practice obvious safety precautions (don't leave your purse or merchandise in the bottom) and you'll be fine. You'll be glad you have your own stroller and your kids will be more comfortable in their own stuff! Chris
I went to Disneyland recently with a 2 year old, a 4 year old and 6 year old. Although I did not see your original post by the responses I'd like to volunteer that no one will steal your stroller. People pay alot of money to get into Disneyland and are very middle class due to the high cost of tickets. The biggest problem for us was finding our stroller in the sea of strollers outside popular rides. I ended up tying a big red scarf on to the handles, not only to make it easier to see after getting off the ride some 45 minutes later, also so someone would not accidentally take the wrong stroller, which is the bigger risk.

Of course, you wouldn't do something ill advised like leaving a purse or an expensive camera/case in the stroller, so I am confident in saying stroller theft will not be a problem.

During peak attendance times, a double stroller will be very painful.....it will really slow you down navigating the substantial crowds getting from ride to ride. Do you have a friend who would loan you a ''Sit and Stroll'' or other narrow profile double?

Many, many people take children under age 5 to Disneyland. But like any other outing with that age group, you'll have to head back for naps, which makes a hotel either on property (one of the Disney properties) or at least one of the local hotels with a free shuttle very attractive or parking and reparking will make re-entry pretty miserable, if not impossible. Disney veteran


Disneyland Ages


Disneyland with a 2 and 4 year old

Oct 2007

I'm planning a day at disneyland in January of 2008 with my 2 and 4 year olds. I have only been there a couple of times and I remember that it involved a lot of walking and lines. Should I bring my double stroller - mostly I think only my two year-old will use it and I'll put stuff in it but it is pretty big and I'm wondering if it will be more trouble than it's worth. I can bring a back pack to carry my youngest but that really limits the amount of other stuff I can take for them. I think I will have another adult along to help out. Also I'm wondering if there is a specific part of the park we could aim for for that has lots of activities for this age group. disney-bound


My sister-in-law buys an annual pass to Disneyland every year and she's taught us a few things about how to do the park:

1) Definitely bring the stroller, or at least a single stroller. Disneyland is stroller friendly and there's stroller parking outside of every ride. It's a big park and kids get tired walking around, and you'll get tired carrying everything on your back.

2) It's hard to do everything in one day, so plan ahead. Is there one ride or area that you don't want to miss? Depending on how popular it is (the new Nemo submarine ride, for instance) you might want to get to the park as soon as it opens to get in line. Or, you can get one ''fastpass'' ticket for a ride that allows you priority entry at a certain time, but you can only get one fastpass at a time.

3) The California park is much quieter and has fewer lines than Disneyland.

4) Two areas that would be great for two and four year olds: Toon Town in Disneyland and A Bug's Life (or A Bug's Land? or something) in California Adventure. Toon Town is a bit like a cartoon jungle gym while Bug's has fun, mellow rides for little ones.

5) If you can, bring in food and water. It's really expensive inside the parks. The least expensive food I've found is a McDonald's near Paradise Pier in California Adventure.

6) The shows are really pretty cool -- fireworks, electic parades, 3-D shows. If you can schedule one in, it would be worth it. The California park closes at 9pm and then everyone heads over to DL to see the fireworks.

7) My brother taught me this: put a piece of paper with your name and phone number on it in your kid's pocket. DL is really crowded and it's easy for kids and parents to get separated.

8) The Buzz Lightyear ride in Tomorrowland is also good for younger kids -- and adults like it too.

You'll have a great time! Have fun... jodi


Hurray for Disneyland! I went several times last year due to a season pass. I would say definitely skip the backpack. The double stroller should be fine, especially if you are not going on a peak day (after Thanksgiving, Christmastime; check their website). You will have to park it (lots of places) and take the kids out to wait in lines anyway. They can rest or nap in it when you go place to place, a must if you plan to stay all day. If you're still not sure, you can just bring a single stroller and then rent another one there if you decide you need one (if you have another adult helping out). The only places where the stroller might be cumbersome are some stores and restaurants, but I think they all can accommodate it.

The best spot for children's rides is Fantasyland. However, my daughter at age 2 enjoyed all the rides that didn't have a height requirement, even Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion (might be scary for some kids). Don't forget the rides on Main Street (old cars, horse-drawn carriage) and the railroad if your kids like that; less waiting there, too. Again, check out the website - lots of information there - and the park map.

I've heard some people mock Disneyland, saying, ''Why are people there so happy/nice all the time?!'' Well, that is the best thing about it! Disneyland is extremely child-friendly. If you are holding a tray of food and trying to push a stroller at the same time, just ask someone for help. If you have another adult, even better to save a table and leave the kids there while the other adult orders.

A few more tips: Skip California Adventure (unless you're there for several days). As for Disneyland, there is a nice children's room at the end of Main Street for miniature toilets, changing tables, eating area w/microwaves, etc. Disneyland doesn't allow you to bring your own meals but allow children's snacks - they've never questioned our lunchbox. Get there EARLY (even an hour or more before opening, if you can) because you have to jump through lots of hoops just to get in (line in parking lot, line for tram, line for security check). It sounds bad, but after you're in, it's great. Granted, I've never gone at a super-busy time and am generally patient with lines if I know to expect them. Food is not very good and is expensive; some restaurants have better selection/quality than others. Try Plaza Inn or specialty carts. Have a great time! Wish we were going, too. I Love Disneyland


Double stroller is essential for 2- and 4-year-old if you're the only adult, and if there are 2 or more adults, then a double or two jogger strollers or other very smooth-riding strollers are a must. We went this spring with 2, 2.5, and 5-year-old, a Graco Metrolite, and a MacClaren and were shocked that 5-year-old was EXHAUSTED from all the walking so we rented a THIRD stroller since we had not brought a double. Double would have been easier even with all the adults we had. Also, my lousy Graco really bothered my wrists after a couple of hours. The single strollers they rent there are joggers and are very smooth. They don't rent doubles. Rental of a double can be arranged, but must be done well in advance. Tried same day or day before through our hotel, and no dice. Annie
We just came back from Disneyland and had so much fun (with a 3 yo). You can rent strollers there for the day (or multiple days) for $10 a day which is worth it if you are flying down there so you don't have to lug your own stroller around (and they're kind of like jog strollers and can store stuff underneath). We also timed it so that we were there on a Thursday and so the lines weren't bad at all - if there were any lines at all. We really only had to wait in one line that was pretty long and that was for the new Nemo Submarine ride (which was worth it) but it still moved pretty quickly. I would suggest making sure you have snacks and/or small little entertainment things (e.g. small pad of paper and crayons) if you do hit a long line. If you can, I would plan your trip for during the week versus the weekend (or at least try to get a Thursday in there so you can do the more popular rides then before the weekend (including Friday) crowds hit. On the Disneyland website, there is a section with recommendations about what rides are most suitable for little kids. Some rides you can get a fast pass for (it's only available for a few rides though) so you just come at a designated time. We loved the Nemo ride, Its a Small World, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh Ride and Alice in Wonderland but I felt like overall, the park was very friendly to younger ones without relegating you to one section of the park...have fun! anon
I'm a huge Disney fan and visit the park on a regular basis. I have taken my daughter to Hong Kong Disneyland when she was 17 months old and we just celebrated her second birthday at Disneyland in July.

If your kids won't be sitting in the stroller, I'd recommend not taking it. Depending on the time of the year when you go, trying to push a stroller through the crowd will be far slower than walking.

There are plenty of rides that your 2 and 4 year olds will enjoy. Everything in Fantasy Land will work. Although my 2 year old did not like the dark rides (Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White...) However, Dumbo, the Carousel, Storybook Land (boat ride), Casey Jr.'s circus train were all hits with her. Then there's Toon town where they can meet Mickey, Minnie inside their respective houses. The characters will also hang out at various sites throughout the park, marked on the map. You'll always find Mickey on Main Street. Winnie the Pooh ride is over in Frontierland next to Splash Mountain. You can find the princesses next to the castle. Fantasmic is one show not to be missed when it is scheduled (evenings, worth staying up for, my 2 year old did not blink once through the 9pm show).

California Adventure has It's a Bug's Life play area for kids. The fountain is a great hit with kids during the summer. There's Heimlick's train. And lots of opportunities to meet the characters. This park has fewer rides overall for young kids. Your 4 year old might like Turtle Talk in the backlot.

As for supplies, they do have lockers inside the park if you need to stow some stuff. I would recommend bringing as little as possible to make it easier to get on rides. If you make purchases through out the park have your packages sent to your hotel if you are staying on the Disney property or have it sent to the front gate to be picked up when you leave the park. Give them 2 hours to transport your package to the front or hotel.

If you are going in the next couple of months, the Haunted Mansion will be decorated for Holloween and It's a Small World will have Christmas decorations. Feel free to e-mail me with more questions. One happy Disney fan. Crystal


Hi Disneyland-bound,

I recommend just taking a single stroller as a double may be too bulky to lug around (although the park is very stroller friendly).

There is plenty to do for that age group (Toon Town, Fantasy Land, etc).

If you can, it also helps very much to stay in a hotel close to the park such as the Grand Californian or Disneyland Hotel. Then you can leave the park for nap time and easily return later. Have Fun!


We just got back from our first trip to Disneyland with my 4YO and 2 YO. I'd put it off this long with my first one b/c I just wasn't up for the challenge of it all. You'll be happy to know it was FAR easier than I ever could've imagined! Yes, bring the stroller! There are many stroller parking areas and the park employees will help you park it (ie. we were able to keep the baby in the stroller through the entire line for Nemo, and then they parked it for us when we reached the front).

My best advice is to invest $15 in purchasing the RideMax software (www.ridemax.com). Based on historical data from the park, this program allows you to choose which rides you want to go on (and does provide some age recommendations), at what pace you will be exploring the park (slow v. fast), and what day you are going on. It will produce an itinerary for you of what rides to go on when, and how long you can expect to wait in line. I can't tell you how accurate it was: we gt off one ride, looked at our schedule, saw ''Peter Pan ride @ 10:07'', we'd look at our watch, see it was 10:07 and that we were right next to Peter Pan. Scary! We're not big planners by nature, but this took such a burden off of figuring out what to do next and managing our expectations that we were able to have fun. If you are considering staying at a Disneyland hotel, the benefit is you get Early Entry depending on what day of the week you are going. We went on an Early Entry day, and got in line at 7:20 as recommended by RideMax, and were first in line at our gate for the 8:00 opening. Withink 5 minutes, there were probably 50 families behind us.

As for parts of the park, ToonTown is great for little ones - there are even play structures for the kids. It is close to Small World, which is always fun with kids, and close to some new Princess/Fairyland area(my older one is a boy, so we didn't go in, but if your older is a girl, she might like it). We went on a few rides in Fantasyland; Dumbo is there and the carousel. My older was periodically scared as some Fantasyland rides (Peter Pan, Snow White, Pinocchio) as they get very dark and the rides are jerky. We pretty much skipped FrontierLand, but ''Critter Country'' is close by with the Pooh bear ride. The Jungle Cruise is a must; we missed Tom Sawyer's island which is our one regret. Unless you do have another adult with you, you'll probably want to skip the Buzz Lightyear ride (I think it's probably too stimulating for an infant) and you'll want to do Nemo first (longest lines). We didn't do any rollercoaster rides, but did do Pirates (a little scary for the 4YO; 2YO ! was unfazed) and we had to leave the Haunted Mansion. Lots of info; but check out Ridemax - it's a great help! Have fun! disney convert


I went to Disneyland with my husband, 1 yr old and 4 yr old this May for 3 days, had a great time but it's tons of work. First off, get the book ''Disneyland and S. Cal with Kids''. LOTS of good advice on what to do, bring, etc. I brought 2 strollers but the double would have been fine, we were never separated. Just make sure you have a sun shade on your stroller. My 4 yr old rode in the stroller EVERYWHERE. Forget the backpack, too cumbersome. take it slow and rest. Plan your day in advance, bring food and water with you. Spend lots of time in Fantasyland. Prepare the kids that although they won't get to do EVERYTHING, you can always go back. Email me if you want to talk more! love the mouse
We've done Disneyland every year since my now five year old was 6mos old and his older brother was 3yo... this last trip (5yo and 8yo) was the first time we didn't use strollers. It is a lot of walking. We are big on going in early, leaving in the afternoon, going back in the evening and staying late so we always took two strollers so the boys could doze in the strollers on the way out. (Even when our oldest was 7 we used the stroller for this purpose!) One time we took our double umbrella stroller. It was harder to maneuver with the crowds in summer, but doable. If there will be two adults, I recommend using two (cheap) umbrella strollers so that you can get around better. This is not as much of an issue if you are travelling at a non peak time of year.

Areas that are best for little ones: Fantasyland... hands down. You can't beat Dumbo. Toontown also has some toddler/smaller kid fun areas. If you get the parkhopper tickets I recommend the Its a Bug Life area of California adventure as well. One nice thing about Disneyland... if your kids are into carrousels and it isn't a busy time of year they won't make you get off after the ride. (I think we went 6 rounds without getting back in line...) There is a princess meet and greet area near the Small World ride that has tables with coloring which is a nice, mellow break from the hubbub.

Also... if you walk all the way around to critter country, across from splash mountain where the country bears jamboree used to be is the winnie the pooh ride. My five yo can spend all day on that ride. It is a ''dark ride'' like Alice and PeterPan and takes you through the events of the movie... it is one of my favorite rides too.

If your kids really want to meet charachters we have found the all you can eat breakfast buffet at the Plaza Inn (inside Disneyland) to be an expensive, but fun, meal (it is hard to mess up breakfast.) The characters come right up to the table to talk to the kids. My kids like it, but some kids do get freaked out by the characters being alive.

The Finding Nemo ride should by all rights be a great ride for small ones... very gentle, not scary, mellow music. BUT the line is prohibitively long (or was all summer) here are my suggestions for Nemo. 1. If it is a non early entry day get in line early so you can be one of the first people in the park and head straight to Nemo. The ride will have an hour long wait within 15 minutes of park openning. 2.If you stay in a Disney hotel or buy your ticket through AAA you will have the opportunity to get in early (1 hr before park opening... only on 1 day for AAA,) on an early entry day you want to go in early and head straight to the Nemo ride again. 3.The other way you can get on with a relatively short line is to get in line just before the park closes as Disney doesnt' shut the ride down on the people in line at closing.

The #1 best thing about Nemo is that because everyone is heading there first, you can walk on to almost every ride in the park with almost no line for the first hour or two each day... even Peter Pan which has traditionally had a 45 minute wait all day long.

That is probably more than enough info... have fun. Disneyland is IMO very kid friendly and not too hard to figure out. Some kids do get freaked out by all the stimuli. Rose


Disneyland Food


Non-chain type restaurants?

March 2010

Is it possible to visit Disneyland and stay nearby in a hotel that isn't surrounded by chain stores and restaurants? I could tolerate a chain hotel, but is it possible to just even find nearby restaurants with nice dark, leafy, green salads or interesting vegetarian choices on the menu? Some healthy, organic choices?

Or am I fooling myself into thinking that I could find a nice hotel close to Disneyland that either has nice food or is close to a nice restaurant that isn't a chain?

I'm just not into that kind of stuff and have gotten too used to the Brk-Oak-SF tasty restaurant and quick bite scene. I know I sound like a snob, but I just feel like the choices at TGIFs & what not are just not my style.

We're heading down there mostly because some overseas relatives are going to be visiting the U.S. and Orange County-Santa Ana area. We thought we'd take our 6 year old daughter to Disneyland while we're there. Now we're all thinking we'll stay in a hotel near Disneyland. From what I hear, however, most of the choices are across the street from malls, PF Changs, Best Buys, etc.

Any thoughts/suggestions? Afraid of So Cal


OK, I'm a food snob also. It comes out whenever I get away from the Bay Area... Anyway, I was in Disneyland last year and stumbled across a McCormicks in an upscale mall right next to Disneyland. You can probably google it to figure out where it is because I am not sure of an address. We stayed at a Doubletree near Disneyland last year. It was a 'suite' hotel, or at least the room we stayed in was a suite, i.e. bedroom and living room which is a little nicer for spreading out and having some privacy.

One issue, fyi, is transportation to the park. Last year we tried to drive to Disneyland and park. It took forever to get into the parking lot. On another trip, we stayed at a hilton hotel a little far away from the park and tried taking the shuttle bus that picks up at various hotels in the area. It was crowded and slow, and I was only offered a seat because I was trying to keep my balance and hold onto a sleeping 3 year old (nightmare). If I could afford it, I would stay at one of the Disney properties to avoid the transportation issues. Otherwise, we stayed one time at the Sheraton which provides it's own shuttle to Disney. I found it dated and a little smelly (musty) and would ony go back there because of the convenience of the shuttle to Disneyland. But hey, you don't really end up spending much time in your hotel room anyway... yes, I try to go to Disney once a year


Sorry to say that So Cal is pretty much that - chain stores and strip malls. I grew up in OC and still have family and friends all over So Cal that we visit regularly. You can always order a salad and most places will have vegetarian burgers, but you are not going to get the kind of food there that you do here. Prepare your body for a bit of a shock. Newport Beach has a wonderful place called Mother's that serves vegetarian fare. It's about 15-20 minutes from Anaheim. Really close to the beach if you want to get some beach time in. Newport is pretty kid friendly - Balboa Island is very SoCal, but also very easy with kids. be afraid, be very afraid :)
Believe it or not, your best bet in Anaheim for non-chain restaurants and hotels is at Disneyland or Downtown Disney. Unless you want to stay at one of the gorgeous OC beaches and drive into Disneyland, it's best at Disneyland. Yes, it's all man-made, but at least it is nicely landscaped, while the rest of Anaheim is concrete and strip malls. None of the Disneyland hotels (Grand Californian, Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier) are chains, but they are all pricier than the chains surrounding Disney.

Your best bet for food is in Downtown Disney or on property. There are chains (like RainForest Cafe) but you can get very good salads at Storyteller's Cafe in the Grand, and terrific sandwiches on artisanal bread (you can also pick up a loaf or muffins) at La Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney. Catal/Uva also has terrific Mediterranean small plates, lots of vegie options.

They sell lots of fruit in the park itself now (again, pricey, it's worth a grocery store run for snacks), and there are some decent Mexican places too. Guest services is VERY helpful with dietary needs -- they will give you a list of vegie options, gluten-free options, etc. -- and most of the sit-down places will make stuff to order. A lot of families with food allergic kids love Disney for this reason. I'm not saying it's Bay Area food -- it's not -- but it's good for a theme park. And the food IN the parks or Downtown Disney is definitely better than in Anaheim.

And if you really want to splurge and treat your out-of- town relatives to a Bay Area type meal, go to Napa Rose in the Grand California. The chef is from Auberge in Napa, and all the waiters are sommeliers. It's one of the best restaurants in So. Cal. and it has an exhibition kitchen where you can sit at the chef's counter, talk to them, and watch them cook. Check out Disney restaurants from one of the guideboooks and hopefully you'll find something that works.

Remember in the summer you will want to make reservations for the restaurants in the hotels or on property (called Priority seating or something like that) - - you can make them 60 days in advance. Berkeley Mom


This is a tough one...you have to realize that Disneyland is in the middle of what is really not a very nice neighborhood. It is not an affluent area and local patronage does not support the type of foodie culture that it sounds like you want. The 'nicer' restaurants cater to tourists and are mostly chain restaurants. Now some are very nice chains: Morton's & Ruth's Chris steakhouses (sorry, I gathered that you were a vegetarian, but these are examples), Roy's Restaurant (hawaiian fusion), etc.

We usually stay at the Residence Inn Anaheim Maingate (yes a chain hotel), which is an all-suite hotel which can be very cost-effective for large groups. The rooms have a full kitchen, which allows you eat some meals (if you want) and organize your own snacks. The hotel serves a pretty nice buffet breakfast. It's about a mile from the park, so walkable. It used to be pretty isolated, but now you walk past a mall on the way to the park (sorry).

Downtown Disney has a bunch of restaurants, many not chain restaurants and some are very good, especially Catal. The other option would be to find an are that suits your tastes, but put up with a longer drive to Disneyland. It might be logistically difficult, though, if you want to maximize your time at the park. Carrie


Best recipe for DL success is to chill a bit, and see what you find. You certainly can find hotels that aren't surrounded by chains, and they'll probably even be cheaper. The reason all the hotels are surrounded by those types of restaurants is that people are coming from all over and they tend to flock to places that are familar and quick. Now, if you're looking for more diverse or upscale selections, you might want to try going to Little Saigon for Vietnamese food-not far, and very good (check yelp or chowhound), or check yelp/chowhound for other options (can't remember off the top of my head), or go down to Newport Beach--Roys, for example, is very yummy and quite pricey, but there are other options in between--or just not go. It is Orange County, by the way. It's not Berkeley. I will also mention, however, a couple of options that might also work for you that are a little more convenient.

In Disneyland itself, there's an upscale restaurant or two. One is dark and quiet and overlooks the quiet, interior portion of the Pirates of the Caribbean. I've never been there but hear it's nice. Another is near there and is more upscale and requires other advance reservations.

My personal favorite in the park is the salad that you can get at the Plaza Cafe at the top of Main St in DL. It's quite filling, and if you skip the cheese, it's relatively healthy and comes with bread on the side. And it's cheap.

Another option that I was pleasantly surprised by was Mimi's, which is on Harbor Blvd just a block north of the park entrance. I had an inexpensive, reasonable, healthy & tasty dinner that included a good salad, and it was quiet and not at all DL- like.

Of course, w/ a 6-yr old, I'd recommend you bite the bullet and do the character dinner at the DL Hotel, and you can just fill up at the salad bar. Your guests would enjoy it too. And for a quick bite in the parks that is NOT healthy but IS delicious, try the hand-dipped corn dogs at the red wagon near the plaza cafe, or the place at Cal Adventure (can't remember the name). THere are also some good salads in Cal Adventure-one at the bread place, and a chinese chicken salad at the place near there (right next to the bread & tortilla factories.)

Lower your expectations, take a deep breath, remember it's temporary, and focus on your kid and your guests, and you'll have agreat time.


I was looking at the responces with interest because I haven't been to Anaheim in years and wanted current tips myself. I also like nice, well recommended places to feel absolutely safe when taking my kids but by the responces, I have to add this perspective: There are tons of cheaper than Motel 6, one of, places along Katella and Brookhurst Avenues. They are all pretty much fine I think.

The only name I absolutely know at least was OK 5 years ago, is The Pater Pan Motel..a lot of these places don't have a strong internet presence and you can still telephone around for rates. (remember the phone book?)

OK, for food, they don't call Anaheim 'Little Saigon' for nothing! There are tons of absolutely fantastic restaurants all over the area. A short (1 mile radius) drive out any street away from Disney proper will expose a huge variety of South Asian and Palestinian markets, shops, and restaurants. Did I mention Mex? Fabulous Liquado stands....anyway, the particulars come and go but Anaheim is funky!

Drive around a bit and enjoy the topiary garden shops over by the Chrystal Palace! Yes Disney goes green, Amazing! Great!

And what about Knotts Berry Farm? Kitch lives Y'all! Check out the Bowling Alley on Brookhurst!


Disneyland Food on the Cheap?

June 2007

Hi- We are heading to D-Land in two weeks (me, hubby, 3.5 year old boy and 13 year old girl). Airline, hotel, transportation and tickets are all taken care of. Now, I am wondering about places to eat while we are there. Our breakfast is included in our hotel, but where can we eat for lunch and dinner that won't run us 50+ bucks at each meal? I am a Disney veteran many times over, but I have never been with my son, hubby and sister, and I want to find decent food near the hotels that won't require a small loan and that will appeal to the finicky teenager and preschool contingency. Any ideas? I checked the archives and other than the ''bring in your own snacks'' I didn't see much as far as cost savings once you are there. I want to have fun but don't want to owe Mickey my second born. Thanks for any suggestions! deniene


There are a lot of different options for food obviously. Here are some of the things we have done to plan eating.

Within the parks: There are a variety of different food options within each park that range in price. Check out the following website to see prices and menus for the various dining locations inside the parks.

http://www.allearsnet.com/dlr/tp/dl/dl_rest.htm

You can call Disneyland in advance and make reservations at many of the dining locations that offer table service. We do this for one meal per trip... usually a character meal. The breakfast buffet at the Plaza Inn is a little expensive, but is all you can eat (good for teens) and has MANY characters who come to see you at the table (good for little ones).

Outside the Park, but on Disney property: There are many places to eat in the Downtown Disney area. These are not necessarily any cheaper than in the park, but do have a different ''taste''.

One way we balance the meals is to eat a breakfast item purchased in the park over in tomorrowland (cheapest meal of the day) at around eleven and then have an early dinner at the Rain Forrest Cafe at around four. (You cannot reserve Rain Forest Cafe in advance through Disneyland, but they will give you the phone number so you can call yourself. If you don't have a reservation be prepared to wait unless you are eating at 2 or 3 in the afternoon.)That may not be what you had in mind, but I find dinner in Disneyland to be the least pleasant so I always try to find a place to eat outside of the park if possible.

Off Property Food Along S. Harbor Blvd. there are MANY places to eat including but not limited to IHOP, Denny's, Tony Roma, Mimi's Cafe, and McDonalds. Also, the Tropicana Hotel on S.Harbor has a mini market that sells bread, fruit, milk and cereal, etc. The prices are inflated, but cheaper than in the park.

We've had good luck ordering pizza to our hotel room. (We don't stay in Disney hotels, so I don't know how they feel about that.) In fact the hotels we've stayed in have usually got a list of delivery places in the room that include more than just pizza.

I know you said you were flying down, I don't know if you are planning on renting a car. If you are, ask directions to the local grocery store and pick up food there. When we do this I pick up sandwich stuff but flip the meals... we eat hot food in the park for lunch (cheaper prices at some locations) and sandwiches in the room for dinner before we go back to the park after our afternoon swim/naps.

Have fun... we're going down later in the summer and just can't wait! Rose


Driving Time from D-land to Legoland?

May 2007

We will be in Disneyland for a couple of days and would like to drive our kids to Legoland for the day. Mapquest tells me it should take 1 hour (164 miles), but it doesn't take into account LA traffic. Any input from someone that is more familiar with the area? Thanks!


We flew into Long Beach last year and drove to San Diego, and it was just an hour or two, including a brief stop at the beach on the way. That was mid-day on a weekday. And Legoland is a good bit north of San Diego, so closer to LA. Unless you're trying to do it at rush hour, I think the 1 hour estimate is pretty accurate. I-5 All the Way
Disneyland to Legoland isn't LA, it's mostly Orange County. This is an important distinction, because Orange County has carpool lanes, which it sounds like you will qualify for (2 parents +kids, right?). So it won't be as bad as you are probably imagining. The carpool lanes will disappear when you go from Orange to San Diego County, though, but at that point commute traffic should be less of an issue. Carrie
Traffic betw Anaheim and Carlsband is pretty heavy, I'd give yourself at least 90 minutes. Fortunately, Legoland, which I think is a great park, is not far from the freeway. Try to be there when it opens and start at the far end of the park -- we always start at the Dragon, which is a roller coaster. Typically there's congestion and lines at the rides and attractions near the Legoland entrance. Good luck and have fun.

Disneyland with a 4-year-old + baby

April 2007

Tax refund! My husband and I are planning a roadtrip to Disneyland with our 4 year old son and 12 month old daughter. We're planning on going in May for a few days, I liked the look of one of the 3 day Disneyland resort packages, but would like some helpful advice from parents who have made the trip before I book. We want to go in comfort, but not too over the top. Does anyone have advice on # of days to spend in the park, where to stay, gear to bring, food, events to not miss, and anything else you'd like to share? Thanks! Mousebound


We've been to Disneyland tons of times. And we took our three year old last fall. There is a great guide book called Dineyland with Kids. It's the best. It has schedules, tips, secrets. I basically followed what the book suggested and we had the best time ever. The best tip is to break up your day by staying at a near by hotel. Since small children get overstimulated fast there, you should go early in the morning when it opens. Stay until about 11:30am. Then head back to your hotel for lunch (cheaper that way), naps, play in the pool. This way you also avoid the hottest part of the day. Then around 4:00pm, you go back to the park. Have dinner there and watch the parade until 8:30pm. Then go back to the hotel and put the kids in bed. Then you two take turns going down to the hot tub. After trying out lots of different hotels there, we found our favorite to be Candy Cane Inn. It's next door to the entrance so it's easy to walk to the park, but you still feel like you have left the insanity of the park when you are there. It has lots of beautiful vegetation and plants, and the rooms are clean. For a deluxe room you get continental breakfast delivered to your room every morning and free video rentals (great for the kids). Also, always take a stroller to the park so you can stow all your stuff. Have fun. Chiara
I visited Disneyland in June last year with my 10 mos. old baby, and my brother's 4 children, 10,9,5 & 3. I was pleasantly surprised how many rides my 10 mos old could go on (while sitting on my lap). I was also happy that she expressed curiosity, but no fear of the rides. It may be a different story with your 4 year old on some of the more adult rides (such as haunted mansion). My strongest advise is, save the Peter Pan, Mr. Toad's wild ride, etc (can't think which ''kingdom'' they are in) for early evening. By this time, the other parents will be exhausted and gone and you can practically walk on to the rides with no wait. Take advantage of the set ticket times you can pick up at many rides (Buzz Lightyear for example)which will also save you waiting in line. Go a little later in the day instead of showing up when the park opens so your 4 year old can last into early evening when it will be quieter, less crowded, and you can see a nightime parade. My 10 mos old just took a nap in her aunt's arms instead of us leaving the park for ''nap time'', but be also just planned one day in Disneyland. anon
I have an almost 3 year old daughter, and we took her to Disneyland at 16 months, 23 months, and soon again at almost 3. I usually do multi-day trips to Disneyland even when it's only adults. With kids, I definitely think that multiple shorter, lower-pressure days is better. I think a 3-day parkhopper is a great choice.

I highly recommend focusing on shows and parades while you are there. Even the 12-month old can enjoy these. You can get a schedule on-line. Things not to miss: the Bug's Life ride area in the California Adventure park is great for little kids. Playhouse Disney and Turtle Talk with Crush would be great for your 4 year old, and probably with your 1 year old as well. Disney characters can be very intimidating up close; my daughter was totally excited from a distance but panicked when they got up close. That said, we did do a character breakfast at the Plaza Inn in Disneyland and had a good time. My daughter followed Minnie Mouse around for quite a while (little stalker). At one, your youngest probably won't be afraid of some of the ''scary'' things at Disneyland (like Pirates of the Carribean: dark, skeletons, etc.), but your 4-yr-old might be. We did well with open air rides like the carousels, Casey Jr., Storybookland Canal Boats, Dumbo, etc. Not so great with the dark, scary Snow White and Pinocchio rides (or Peter Pan for that matter). Toon Town's interactive stuff (talking mailboxes, etc) are great for kids. The horse that pulls the trolley down main street was a big hit, as was the Disneyland band. So it's not necessarily the things you would think that will capture the kids' attention.

The last time we went we stayed at the Residence Inn Anaheim Maingate, which is a suite hotel with full kitchens. This gives you a room for the kids to nap (or go to bed early) while you hang out in the living area. Others swear by the convenience and comfortable beds of the Grand Californian, but we find it prohibitively expensive. Have fun! Carrie


Hi. We just went in March. 8 and 5 year old. Perfect ages. Your children are a bit young, as they won't be able to do the majority of the rides given height limits or fear/interest levels. But, if you're committed to doing the trip now, just know you probably have another one in your future!

MAJOR advice points:

Book through Disneyland.com. There are no discounts for their hotels (there are three) to be had outside of their site and you do get some savings on Super Shuttle and air travel if you choose.

Stay at a Disney property. The benefits are HUGE: Within walking distance to either California Adv. or DL. Also, on certain days of the week, as a DL property guest, you get ''early entry'' to DL and hour before the park opens to the general public. This is limited to Fantasy land, but it's perfect for younger children. The crowd difference is HUGE. You actually can SEE main street walking down. It does mean for early mornings, but you're probably already having those with an infant. It's nice to also be able to walk back to your hotel mid day for naps and pool time and then go back for an evening parade or fireworks. If you're driving, you won't need a car once you park.

The site also offers some ticket deals; we got a 3 day park hopper pass at ''the kids price!'' that was pretty good deal.

Check out RIDEMAX a web site not affiliated with DL. If you are limited to ''only'' rides suitable to small children, it may have less value for you. But we found the program totally worked, saved us TONS of ride line time (we rode everything in DL and never waited longer than 20 minutes). Totally worth the $12 or so it costs.

If you have any questions, email me! dhtchk


Going to Disneyland With a 3 y.o Girl

Feb 2007

My wife and I are taking our 3 yo daughter to Disneyland next month and are looking for any helpful advice/suggestions. Thanks David


We've been twice with 2 kids under five and both times we all had a great time. My best advice: get to the park EARLY!! Do any rides that might have long lines (like Jungle Cruise) first. Fortunately, a lot of the rides for younger kids aren't as popular so the lines are likely to not be so bad. But by 10:30 in the morning, even in the off season, Disneyland is jammed (even if the lines for particular rides are not long). Be prepared to go to California Adventure (which has some great rides for little ones) or back to your hotel during the day when Disneyland is too crowded. Be really conservative about rides that might frighten your daughter. A number of the really tame rides, like Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland, are quite dark and could be too much for her. If an adult wants to ride a ''big'' ride, definitely use the Fast Pass system. It will likely save you A LOT of time waiting on line. Finally, if like many people in the Bay Area you can imagine returning to Disneyland one or more times in the future, don't worry about ''doing everything''. Go at your daughter's pace and remember you can always come back and do more, and do bigger rides, as she gets older. anon
We brought our son to Disneyland for his 3rd birthday. We stayed at the California Adventure Hotel. Is was great because you can walk easily into and out of the park, no waiting for shuttles. So napping was easy. You can good rates on Expedia. They also let you in the park an hour earlier and you can get a lot of rides in during that hour. Visit all the ones that typically have a line. I suggest you read the schedules the night before and plan your day a little. This way you can see some of the parades. I also suggest you don't take a hungry or tired child into the Disney shopping area. If you can, avoid it as much as possible(we had a melt down there). Our son had a blast and so did we. Good luck and have fun. Mom of a 3 1/2 year old
I wouldn't take your 3 year old to Disneyland at all. In my opinion she is way too young and would be scared by a lot of what's there. It really isn't designed for little kids, even though it seems that way. I love Disneyland with all my heart, grew up down there, but didn't take my kids til they were 6 and 8 and I felt that was perfect.

I would however take her to Legoland, near Carlsbad. You can stay near the beach and have a grand ol' time. You can spend at least two days at Legoland, plus you could take the train down to San Diego, or go to the S.D. Zoo, etc.

Anyway if you insist on going to Disneyland I highly recommend the book ''Unofficial Guide to Disneyland'' and follow exactly what he says in there. We followed it to the letter, went off season, and never waited more than 5 minutes in any line. Anon


Disneyland while pregnant?

August 2006

We have the opportunity to take our 3 year old son to Disneyland with some of my family members at the end of August. I'm going to be around 31 weeks pregnant, and I know that means there are several rides I won't be able to go on. That's fine, because I figure a 3 year old is gonna wanna take it kinda mellow and slow throughout the day. I'm wondering if anyone else has done Disneyland while pregnant (particularly if past the 6 month mark), and if you had any survival tips? Also, were there any rides you went on that in hindsight you might not recommend to a pregnant woman? (ie: I read online somewhere that the Peter Pan ride has a 'bump' at the end when you land - I couldn't tell if the person was overreacting or if I was being naive). - Thanks very much!
Planning to spend a lot of time at Small World


I went to Disneyland with my two children and husband when I was 38 weeks pregnant and I didn't have any trouble. Disneyland is so geared toward children that there are always places to sit down, always places to get food easily, always a bathroom nearby. I didn't have any problems at all. My kids too didn't want to ride fast rides but they went on the cars, peter pan ( I don't remember any bump), the merry go round, storybook boats and train, mostly they just wanted to be there, see the characters and soak in the atmostphere. There are all the buses, carriages, cars etc on main street too. There are just a few rides that they don't let you go on while pregnant, you can see a list online. It is such a great place to go when you kids are little. done Disneyland
I did Disneyland when I was about 6 months pregnant. I think that unless you have had problems with the pregnancy or your Dr. advises otherwise, you can do virtually everything a 3-year-old is allowed to do at Disneyland (a few exceptions are that if he's 35 inches tall he can do Gadget's Go-Coaster and the Matterhorn, and you can't). Roger Rabbit and the teacups are spinny but the spin is under your control. The ''bump'' on Peter Pan sounds like an unnecessary worry--unless you've been confined to bed rest, you get bumps at least that big in your day-to-day activities. Carrie
I am a DL season passholder and a nurse-midwife. There is plenty for you to do in both Disneyland and California Adventure. Be sure to get a Parkhopper Pass so you can go into both parks. Peter Pan will be fine. The signage is clear at the rides that you should avoid, but your little one would not be able to go on those either. Indiana Jones, Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Spash Mountain, Mr Toad's Wild Ride are the turbulent rides in DL. California Screamin', Tower of Terror, Mullholland Madness, the Grizzley River Run- there are a couple more in Calif Adventure to avoid. It sounds like a lot but there are many rides and attractions for little ones that are safe for you. Go to Bug's Life! You both will love it.

Stay hydrated! 8 to 10 glasses when it's not hot, more when it is, or you may have an increase in the normal (4 times an hour) contractions. Take frequent breaks in cool spots. August can be very hot in the park. A good plan is to leave the park midday when it is most obnoxiously crowded and the temp is highest. Head back to your hotel and take a nap (this is very easy if you stay at one of the 3 hotels on site). Also, take advantage of Fast Passes when possible- they give you a window of time to return to a ride and enter through a little-to-no waiting line. A related tip: if you miss the time window, you can still use the Fast Pass anytime the rest of the day. Pick the passes up as you are permitted throughout the morning (you pick up one at a time, can not pick up another until the beginning of the time window has been reached for the last pass picked up). Use them when it cools again later in the day. Unfortunately, there are few little people/pregnancy OK rides with Fast Passes. Enter the park ASAP in the morning for smallest crowds and cooler weather. Buy your tickets in advance to skip the ticket purchase lines- the DL hotels (if a guest), grocery stores (gift card racks) and AAA (discounted rates). Pace yourself and stay cool by taking advantage of inside attractions, parades and shows, and you will have a great time. Enjoy! Kathy


I'm 7 months pregnant and just returned from a trip to Disneyland with my 4 year old daughter. There were a number of rides that I couldn't go on, but they were the same ones that my daughter couldn't ride on. My husband took her on the few rides I couldn't do, but she could (like the bumper cars). Peter Pan and the Pirates rides were fine for all of us, though the latter was scary for our daughter. We mostly spent our time in Fantasyland. I recommend you try and get to the parks as close to opening time (8am) as possible, go back to your hotel in the afternoon for rest, naps and/or swims, and then return to the park for the evening stuff. We avoided any meltdowns (child and adults), long lines and the hottest part of the day and were well-rested enough to stay up late. Being pregnant made me less tolerant of the heat, so if the heat gets to you, try to hit some ''cool'' shows, like the ''Enchanted Tiki Room.'' Another big plus was staying at a hotel within easy walking distance from the main entrance, so you don't have to deal with parking, trams, etc. It doesn't have to be one of the expensive Disney resort hotels; there are many on Harbor Blvd, just outside of the main entrance. Have fun! Cindy
Hi, I haven't been there pregnant; we went last spring with our then 5 & 3 year olds, and 6-month old. I would recommend you buy a book called ''Disneyland and Southern California With Kids''. It's put out by Fodor's, and I found it SOOOO helpful in deciding which rides, and which general areas would best suit our family, and our needs for mellow rides, places to hang out, etc.

There are a lot of tips that you otherwise wouldn't know about, being a visitor to Disneyland--like they had well-equipped, quiet, peaceful nursing rooms for moms & babies. Have a wonderful time, and take it easy--I bet it will be hot! A tip: wear a hat, and get it wet every once in a while--it'll cool you down Heidi


Disneyland Logistics

April 2006

We are finally getting around to a Disneyland trip and would like some more specifics / any updates on the great info already posted on the web.
1. Does the Character breakfast allow us to meet Buzz Lightyear? If not, how can we arrange for breakfast with Buzz?
2. The Portofino Inn and the Fairfield Inn by Marriott are mentioned as being across the street from DL. Are there others, and are they actually across the street from the entrance? How long a walk is it with a 4.5 year old? (we can bring the stroller) Are they reasonably close to go back for an afternoon rest and then return? Do they have free shuttles or do we pay for those?
3. How are ways we can make it more affordable - in terms of food, etc.? We are planning our trip for june, and frankly the ''packages'' offered online are daunting in terms of price, so I am trying to put it together by ourselves so that we can have a reasonable price to save for.
4. Is it ridiculous to try and tack on a day trip to Legoland as well?
Thanks for your help! We want to go to ''Buzz's house'' but need to start saving now. Shahana


I look forward to hearing the answers you get as we're going for the first time next month with a five year old and a 1 1/2 year old. Along with all the good tips we'll get from folks here, I'd suggest a trip to your local AAA office - if you're a member. I hear they have a wealth of Disney info/discounts, etc. Haven't gone yet myself, so I'm not certain. -Disney bound
We spent 3 days in Disneyland in Feb. with our 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 year olds. We stayed at the Portofino Inn and Suites. It is not exactly across the street from the entrance, but it is kind of around the corner. It really isn't far-- it was about a 10 minute walk with the kids walking. A couple days we did walk back to the hotel for a swimming break in the late afternoon and then walked back to Disneyland in the evening, and our kids did fine. They walked all day all around the park too. We had no strollers with us, and we never needed one. Sometimes we had to give shoulder rides for the last couple of blocks on the last trip home. But it was amazing to me how much they walked without complaining! I know if we were hiking that same distance in a park, they wouldn't have it. They were so excited about the whole experience that they didn't even think about it. The hotel does offer shuttles-- they cost something, I'm not sure what. But we didn't use them at all. The hotel worked out nicely because there was a sliding door between their part of the room (which had bunk beds) and our part. So at night we could put them to bed and have our own space. The pool was not huge, but it was fine, and it felt great to rejuvenate there. One thing I would recommend if you're trying to save money (and be more health conscious) is to bring your own food into the park. Signs say you can't, but everyone does. Tammy
We just spent spring break at Disneyland. I will try to answer as many of your questions as I can.

1) Meeting Buzz- Buzz hangs out at Club Buzz which is in the restaurant closest to Autopia in Tomorrowland. We bought breakfast (French toast sticks and fruit and yogurt cups as well as other fastfood breakfast sandwiches were available) there two mornings and he was there pretty much full time. (I think he had a 10 minute break during the 45 minutes we were there.) He stands in the dance floor and kids line up to get autographs and photos.

2) Closest Motels - The closest two are the ParkVue Inn and the Best Western Park Inn and Suites. The second closest two are the Desert Inn & Suites and the Tropicana Inn. All of these are motels and are across S. Harbor Drive from Disneyland. Having walked the whole area we believe they are closer than the Disneyland Hotel.

3) We were in the Disney area from Monday afternoon through Saturday morning. We had a 4 day park hopper and were able to ride everything we wanted in CA Adventure once and Disneyland one to two times with long nap breaks as well as hours of sitting to get good viewing for the fireworks and parades. In addition we spent one day at Legoland. It was enough time to ride what we wanted, and we were only there from 10:30 to 4. Legoland is kind of like Bonfante Gardens... lost of rides for the 40 in set. There is a lot of Lego merchandise being sold all over, and the prices aren't discounted. Legoland is about 60 miles from Disneyland... that took us two hours of driving each way.

4)Cutting food costs - Here is what we did. I like to get in line 30-45 minutes before the park opens so that you get right on the rides during the first two hours when the park is the least crowded. I bring food from home for my kids to eat while they are waiting in line (fruit and muffins). At 10:30-11 we give them a meal, ie: split the breakfast item at Club Buzz... Ride a couple more rides and head back to the hotel. I give them a little snack we nap and do the pool, and then eat an early dinner around 4 at one of the restaurants outside of the park, (IHOP, Denny's, Tony Roma's, Mimi's Cafe are all in walking distance on S. Harboard. There are other more expensive but good restaurants in the Downtown Disney Mall... we did one dinner at the RainForest Cafe. I then brought in or bought a snack for them in the park (popcorn for the whole family to share) while we watched the parade or fireworks. It kept the cost down quite a bit.

5) Character dining - The all you can eat breakfast buffet at the Plaza Inn on main street is the best. We had about 10 characters stop by our table and visit with the kids, plus we got to eat so much we were all able to skip lunch. All of the princesses are supposed to be in Ariel's Grotto in CA Adventure this year, but we didn't go as we were not impressed with the fix-price-menu offered.

Hope that helps. Rose


We just took a trip to Disneyland with our 2.5 and 4.5 girls and had the same questions as you, which I wish I would have asked before I went. The Portofino and Fairfield are the closest and I would probably stay there next time. They would be close enough to come home for a rest mid-day. We stayed down the street at the Holiday Inn and it really was too far to walk for little legs and the shuttle was very inconvenient and adds up in cost. Although the two hotels you mention are across the street, it is still a long walk to the park entrance, especially after a long day at Disneyland, but the shuttles won't do you any good. We ended up renting strollers at Disneyland (they have great comfortable strollers that you don't have to worry about being taken or losing when you're on rides) and just carrying our kids on our shoulders to and from Disneyland. The other option would be to bring your own stroller, but I would make sure it's an old one that you wouldn't be sad to lose, just in case. Food is very expensive and not that great, so bringing your own is a good option. Also, take advantage of the Fast pass and the parent swap passes to get on the best rides. We had an awesome time and can't wait to go again. Have fun! loves Disneyland
We just took our kids to Disneyland a few months ago and here are my responses to some of your questions:

3) lowering costs: I brought groceries and bottled water from home! We had a refrig in our room so we had bagels and cream cheese or cereal for breakfast, and I made sandwiches and fruit to take for lunch every day. It was really a great thing to have a bag lunch because the food in the park is really expensive, junky, and you have to wait in long lines. 4) San Diego is not close, especially in traffic. It might be doable but it would be a LONG day, and many hours in the car.

You didn't specifically ask this, but we stayed in the Paradise Pier hotel (we got a package at AAA). At first I thought we should look for something cheaper outside the park complex, but I actually appreciated the following things about the Paradise Pier: a) hotel access to the CA Adventure Park. You can enter into a side of the park (through one of the other hotels) where lots of rides are and you can get there early, ride lots of rides and then see the other end of the park later.

b) I really liked being able to walk back to the hotel. It was so nice to NOT have to pack the kids back into a car after a long day at the park.

c) This sounds really silly, but at night we had a view of the CA Adventure park and it was really beautiful all lit up. After the kids were asleep and my husband and I were stuck in the dark hotel room, we opened the curtains and had the park lights as a background. Very nice. We could also see the Disneyland fireworks from the hotel balcony. Have fun! Did Disneyland and loved it


We just returned from Disneyland. 6 adults & 2 kids. Our daughter is 4 3/4 & our niece is 4. We purchased thru AAA, stayed at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott. The AAA brochure has many hotels & packages to choose from. We wanted to walk to the Disneyland (5 minute walk), heated pool, mini refrig without paying too much. The price included hotel & taxes, 3 day park hopper ticket, early entry to Toontown & Fantasyland. For my husband, daughter & myself $624. I believe April is considered off season.We would all stay at the Fairfield again. There are a couple hotels closer Carousel Inn, ParkVue. I suggest reading the reviews of the hotels on Hotel.com or like website.

You would think 8+ hours in the park you can see everything & then some, but with waiting in line, bathroom breaks & eating, we didn't get to do everything in both parks. We were pretty efficient using the FasPas & while kids were riding on one ride with parent & grandparents, another adult in another line. Except on the early entry days, you really wait about 1/2 hr to 40 min a ride.

Disneyland is great. You can rent a stroller or locker. You can bring in your own water, snacks, lunch to save some money. Downtown Disney has a lot of ''fancier'' restaurants.

Eventhough our walk was only 5 minutes from the park, if you go to Downtown Disney the walk is father. (where the Character Breakfast, shops and other restaurants are) after an 8 hr day in the park, adults & kids are exhausted.

Getting autographs from the different characters is great & the kids love it, but you can be in line a long time and sometimes they take a break right before you get there. Get a Time Schedule to see when they are going to be at their designated spot & have someone stand in line. All the stores there have autograph books. All in All we loved it. Ali


We've been to Disneyland twice - the first time we stayed ''on property'' and last month, we stayed at the Embassy Suites in Anaheim. It's about a 20 min. drive to the park, but there's a free shuttle that takes you right to the gate. When we stayed on property (much more expensive) it was a 20 min. WALK(easily) to get to the gate. Not only was the room at the E.S. much larger than the Disneyland Hotel (a true suite, with a door between the living room and bedroom), and MUCH less expensive, the E.S. including a free cooked-to-order breakfast & buffet (saving us at least $40) AND --- happy hour with free yes FREE cocktails, beer/wine, soda, and appetizers. Did I say there were FREE drinks? There's an indoor pool and the typical Embassy Suites atrium with koi pond, which included turtles and ducks. My son (7) reported that it was the nicest hotel he's ever stayed at. Only caveat- lots of families, and pretty noisy and chaotic (the atrium channels sound) although we had no trouble sleeping at night because the bedrooms are away from the hallway. Fran

Disneyland using RideMax software

April 2006

I am taking my 4-yr-old to Disneyland on Saturday in early May. I bought the RideMax software package online, which lets you input the rides you want, the day and hours you'll be there, and it gives you a realistic, supposedly well-planned itinerary for the rides we think we want to go on. Can anyone tell me if they have used RideMax and whether it was accurate and reduced waiting times? Any tips? Karen


I have used Ridemax the last three times I have gone to Disneyland and will never go without it again. When using the software my family has never had to wait in a line for longer than 20 minutes. I am not kidding.

We just got back from springbreak at Disneyland and used ridemax, again. This time I found that it wasn't as accurate with the wait times as it has been over the past two summers. I believe this is because the weather for the prior month was so bad that the stats weren't accurate. However, we were still able to stick to the schedule and moved only a few things around due to ride closures.

While it is possible to just punch in rides and go with the first schedule that comes up, I would definitely play with it until you get a configuration that you like with breaks in the best places. I have played with it a LOT and got so comfortable that I could get our family around off schedule when we showed up at the park a day early.

Here is the one warning... to make best use of Ridemax you need to be realistic about your start times. We always get in line 30- 45 minutes before the park opens to really maximize the number of rides we can get through before the park gets crowded. If you can't do that, you will need a totally different schedule. Print schedules with different start times if you aren't sure if you can make it in at openning.

OK, well here is a second warning. Make sure that everyone you are travelling with is willing to follow the schedule. My husband and kids have totally bought into it because they love the short lines. However, when we travel with other people they don't seem to ''get it'' and don't stick to the schedule as well which causes problems and means you have to skip over stuff to get back on schedule. Rose


Visiting for the 1st time, overwhelmed by the options

Dec 2005

I'm taking two girls, 8 and 11, to Disneyland in January. Being from the east coast (Disneyworld country), I've never been to Disneyland. I'm overwhelmed by the options and unsure of the best approach. Advice on what tickets to buy, where to stay, what to see, how to survive, tricks, tips, what not to miss, etc., etc., would be greatly appreciated. D.


I highly recommend you buy a book called ''Disneyland and Southern California With Kids''. It's put out by Fodors. We bought it, read it, and brought it along when we went this past April and it was a lifesaver. It gives you the lowdown on every section, ride and event at the park (as well as California Adventure), and the appropriate ages, scare-factors, etc. for each attraction. We stayed at the Howard Johnson's--a short walk to the park, and next to a terrific, family friendly restaurant. If you stay at the HoJo, ask for the 4th floor or higher, facing the park, so you can see the Disneyland fireworks at night from your room. I recommend a Park Hopper pass too--you can go back and forth between California Adventure and Disneyland. Have a great time!!! heidilee
It all depends on how much $$$ you have. Best accomodations: Grand California Hotel. You're ''in-park'', get on the rides earlier than anyone else, wonderful rooms, great food, etc. Second best: Disneyland Hotel. In-park also, a little less expensive, still feel immersed in Disneyland. More affordable: the Candy Cane Inn across the street. Cute, immaculately clean, shuttle to the park. Disneyland Veteran
before we went on our Disney trip, I read through several websites that offered tips for dealing with the crowds, the lines, and so on. Of the tips I read, the most useful were a) arrive *early* (at opening time), and b) walk directly to the back of the park, passing up everything you walk by, until you get to the very back. Start your fun there. This is because a) nearly everyone arrives either just before lunch or just after lunch, so if you're there first you'll miss a lot of the crowd, and b) nearly everyone starts with the rides and activities closest to the entrance, working their way back, so if you start early and at the back, no one else will have gotten that far back yet. That means there will be no lines or very short lines. Also, if you work your way from back to front, you'll find yourself already at the exit when you're done. That alone makes a world of difference. If you wind up at the front gate, it will be a lot easier to exit without your kids asking for on! e more thing, and another, and ano Good luck and have fun
We stayed at the Sheraton Anaheim. It is near disney, and they have a reliable (free) shuttle to and from the park so you don't have to worry about driving. Not the most exciting hotel (dated) but the disney properties were out of our budget. Belong to AAA? They usually sell tickets and hotel packages. Costco sometimes has Disney tickets also. anon
Where to stay depends on your budget. If you can afford it, you can't beat the location of the Grand Californian, with the Disneyland Hotel a close second. When I go on the cheap, though, I stay at the Ramada Saga Inn, which is easy walking distance to the park and very affordable, but pretty bare bones (it's fine if you plan to spend most of your time at the parks and your expectations aren't excessive).

I like the California Adventure Park as well as Disneyland, so I would recommend park hopper tickets for as many days as you have to stay (if you'll only be there one day, you'll probably only have time for one park).

My strategy is to get to the park when it opens, hit as many rides as possible before it gets crowded, then slow down and take in shows, parades and other more sedentary activities during the afternoon. Or, head back to the hotel and take a nap in preparation for the evening.

Don't miss: the fireworks, Fantasmic, the parade. Catch the Aladdin stage show in Cal. Adventure. The Muppet and Bug's Life theaters are fun in Cal. Adventure. Disneyland has a lot of the same stuff as Disneyworld, so much of it is probably familiar.

Lots of dining in Downtown Disney, but if you like Japanese, Yamabuki at the Paradise Pier Hotel was pretty fabulous. Carrie


There are many inexpensive hotels right near the entrance to the park (I found one through the AAA book) in fact many are suites. Then you can do without a car and walk to the entrance or take a bus. I've gone a few times for one day and just done Disneyland. I hear California adventures is mainly big rides which are better for teenagers. There's an excellent book that describes all the rides and attractions and gives you strategies for getting the most out of your time. I take one kid at a time because their interests are so different but yours are close in age so in may work better for you with both. I strongly recommend going on a week day so the lines aren't too bad. Last time I went we spent a day in Disneyland and a day at Universal Studios which I enjoyed even more than Disneyland. Fewer rides and more shows and virtual adventures. It's possilbe to get there on public transporation. The two times I've taken my son to Disneyland we start out when the park opens, spend about 4 or 5 hours, go back to the hotel to swim and chill out, and return to Disneyland in the evening for about 2-3 hours (see the parade, go on some more rides.) Have fun!! Have fun! Anon

Disneyland--bringing food in?

Nov 2005

I've read on the BPN website about folks brining their own food into Disneyland, but I've read on the Disneyland website that outside food is not allowed. I'm wondering, is this a new rule or just one that doesn't get enforced? Do they search your stuff? Can you not even bring in water bottles or snacks for a toddler? Kim


I took my children (ages 3 and 5) to Disneyland in June. We brought in milk in insulated bags, fruit, nuts, crackers etc. No one inspected our stroller. A friend, who goes there often with her 3-year-old does the same, and hasn't had any problems. Karen
You can most definitely bring your own water, which is a good thing if you don't want to pay $3 a bottle. We found the food to be disappointing, though better on the California Adventure side. Michael
It's confusing isn't it?

First, you can't bring hard-sided coolers in, nor hard ice (like Blue Ice). You can put them into lockers outside the gate, and once you pay for a locker, you can go in & out as much as you want during the day (which is nice). I was able to put 2 small coolers into one small locker (but it was a challenge). I think that was $5/day. You get (and keep!) a slip that gives you the locker # and the electronic ''combo.''

Second, you technically can't bring food into the parks. Really, though, we brought it in several times. I usually had it in a small zippered cooler bag (with a Ziploc of ice) in the basket of the stroller. Not an issue (and great to have a snack to head off the Uglies in your kid!).

Third, there are picnic tables at which to eat (kinda hidden to the left of the Disneyland entrance), but we enjoyed eating out on the plaza, people watching and planning the rest of our day. Hope this helps. Jennie


I've taken food into Disneyland (snackey stuff, not full meals...) and never had a problem. I grew up in OC, and my mom ALWAYS took in sandwhiches, although we usually finagled burgers, fries and churros out of her anyway. The last time I went was about a year ago, and I just took in a diaper bag which they peeked into and let me pass... We like to take the monorail to downtown disney to eat (more options for your $$) and stay really close, that way we can leave the park to rest. So you could always leave food in your room and catch a shuttle back to the hotel/motel to munch on it. Good Luck, and Have Fun! Sarah
I've been going to Disneyland for almost 30 years now. I've never ever had a problem bringing in food. I definitely don't think it would be a problem to bring kid-related snacks. They do check your bags now, but they're looking for dangerous items, not whether or not you're packing Goldfish. Have fun! karen
The no outside food rule at Disneyland has been around a long time (at least since my first visit in 1990). However, it is not vigorously enforced--particularly for something like toddler snacks. I think you would have to lay out a tablecloth and a full picnic spread before anyone would notice, much less call you on it. I always bring water bottles at the very least, and last time had lunch box full of bottles and snacks for baby, and had no problem at all. There is a picnic area located outside the entrance to the park, if you want to follow the letter of the law. Been there, done that
We went to Disneyland last Christmas with our 2 and 4 year old and brought all of their food in practically (there is very little food there that my kids are used to) We just carried in our little soft sided cooler pack filled with PBJ, fruit, sippy cups, snacks, sat on a bench whenever they needed some nourishment and didn't think twice about it. If there is a rule, it is definately not enforced. We really saved a ton of money that way, in fact, our Disney vacation was really reasonable as we didn't spend much beyond the admission ticket. The one big splurge was the character dinner at Califonria Adventure which was more for the characters as my kids didn't eat the meal. But the primary reason we brought the food was so we didn't have to wait in line, take a chance they wouldn't eat what we bought, and could feed them at a moments notice, it worked great. A healthier, less expensive vacation for all!
We were in Disneyland a month ago and it was no problem bringing food in. I brought a soft cooler that fit in my pack and even though they thoroughly check everything, they never once questioned the food or drinks. I brought plenty in - enough for lunch and snacks so it wasn't just a few items. Even with bringing food we still spent some money on treats, so Disneyland is definitely not losing out. If you have any other questions please feel free to email me. We had a great time in both California Adventure and Disneyland. marissa
We brought in sandwiches, chips, fruit and snacks for the kids in a soft-sided cooler. I don't remember anyone checking for anything other than cans or bottles. Of course we had diaper bags and lots of other gear, too. It was definitely worth it to avoid the outrageous food prices in the park, other than drinks. Alison

Disneyland with age 5 & under

Feb 2005

We're considering taking our 3 kids (5, 3 and will be 5 months) to Disneyland in May for the first time. We plan to stay at a hotel on or near the premises, and we're basically clueless about the whole trip. The older 2 kids are girls and really into the Disney Princesses; any advice on which areas to look for, what to avoid, etc.? We're thinking we'll be focusing on things other than the big rides...Thanks. Heidi


Our daughter at 3 1/2 (then) was not fully immersed in the Disney Princess obsession (as now). Several recommendations re Princess stuff: there was a Snow White musical and an Alladin show when we were there; the Princesses parade around with their handlers to give autographs and photos with child. You can buy a special Princess autograph book for the occasion. There are usually lines for this; there is a story time about the Princess stories in the gift shop in the Fantasyland castle - a nice respite on a hot day; Ariel's Grotto is a restaurant where Ariel is wheeled around by a handler. You get to meet other Disney characters wandering around, too. We stayed at the Portofino Suites Inn across the street. The great thing (and good for you with the 2 older girls) is that they have a separate room from the adult/main room divided with french doors that allows the girls to have bunk beds and their own table and chairs in their own section. I think you will have heaps of fun! Sharon
I suggest you spend a whole day at Disneyland, and then take your lovely family to the beach or the zoo for as much time as you have. Even if the girls are into the Princess stuff, Disneyland is rather commercial and the stimuli is almost overwhelming. Yes of course everybody does it and nobody dies from the stimuli. One day there can be presented as the norm. The beaches in the area are fabulous and while the water is cool to cold, the weather is warm! You might appreciate downtime with your children in a place that allows you to enjoy each other's company. Wish I had this advice years ago
We went to Disneyland last October with a 4 year old and a 5 year old. We had a great time. I would recommend staying somewhere nearby so you can walk to and from the park. We stayed at the Ramada maingate. It's not the snazziest place, but it was a 10 minute or so walk to the park and it worked out really well. One thing I would recommend, since your girls are really into the princesses, is to get an autograph book for the characters to sign. My son loved it. I took pictures of him with the characters and then put the pictures and the autographs in a small photo album. Another thing that my sister-in-law did that I thought was fabulous was, she bought some special pajamas (very ''Princessy'') for her daughter. When they checked into the hotel she put the pajamas on the bed with a note she had made (on beautiful vellum paper with gold writing). The note said the pajamas were from the ''princesses'' and that they were so excited she was able to visit them, etc. It was adorable and her daughter (8) absolutely loved it. Whenever she saw one of the princesses in the park, she would thank them for the note and pajamas and they went right along with it (''Oh, I'm so glad you got them, I hope they fit...''). You can also attend a ''character breakfast'' where all of the characters attend. We didn't do this because it was a bit pricey, and it might be too much for your young one, but check it out. One other word of advice, bring in your own food! It's so expensive to eat there. We brought our food/water in under the strollers, so that we only needed to buy ''fun'' snack foods. Have a wonderful time!! Nancy
We go about 2 x a year and just got back from DLand last month. I highly recommend the Fairfield Inn by Marriott. Really inexpensive, nice pool, newish. Ask for a room facing the pool, not the back part of the hotel though. It is across the street from the park and about a 5 minute walk. You can also catch the trolley that takes you to the front of the park. Buy park tickets at the front desk. Buy park hoppers to save money and get you into the CA Adventure park too. Another good hotel is the Howard Johnson, next to the Fairfield. I would allow 3 days to see everything and have time for the pool and naps. There are great restaurants in Dowtown Disney (outside the park) and near the hotel (Mimi's is good and kid friendly). If your girls are princess crazy, treat yourselves to a character bfast at the Disney Hotel's Goofy's Kitchen. Make a reservation. It is worth it. Hopefully you have nice weather but if you don't, the bright side is that there will be much shorter lines. We tend to go during the week rather than weekends to avoid the larger crowds. Have fun! Disney Fan
We went to Disneyland this past November with our 2 kids, ages 4 1/2 and 1 1/2. We had a GREAT time. We managed to stay 10 hours (we only went one day and wanted to maximize the day); the toddler slept in his stroller and in our arms for 2 naps (and had the best night's sleep of his life that night).

Here is my advice, based on our experiences. (We did not go to the California Adventure at all, just because time didn't permit):

- Get there early: the park really fills up as the day goes on. We got there when it opened.

- The princesses were the highlight of my 4 1/2 y.o. daughter's YEAR. Basically, different princesses appear hourly (every hour on the hour) around/near the Disneyland castle (Sleeping Beauty's Castle). They stand around to talk to children, pose for pictures, and sign autographs (children buy these autograph books for that purpose! Weird to me, but there you go. We actually didn't buy one, so my daughter just talked to each princess and posed for a picture that we took ourselves). They can also be found roaming around and talking to children, at seemingly random times. But the place to be for maximum princess time is Fantasy Land. We tried to return every hour, or every other hour.

- All the Fantasy land indoor rides (Peter Pan, Mr. Toad, etc), with the exception of the Carousel, were too dark and scary for my toddler (my daughter loved them).

- Our toddler loved: Small World, Tom Sawyer's Island (it's like a park), Winnie the Pooh ride, and everything in Toon Town. I find Toon Town exceedingly boring, but it is perfect for small children. It's toward the back of the park--past Small World. You might spend the majority of your time there!

- Our adventurous 4 1/2 yr old loved: Thunder Mountain, Pirate's of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, the rollercoaster in Toon Town, all the Fantasy Land rides, and pretty much everything we did. She is tall (45 inches) and was tall enough for pretty much every roller coaster, though both Matterhorn and Space Mountain were closed.

- We missed the light parade and fire works, because we left at 6:30 pm after a long and tiring day. However, I'm sure my kids would have loved the parade.

- Food is expensive in the park ($5 for a HOT DOG). I noticed many parents brought their own food--probably locals! We couldn't be botherred grocery shopping, making lunches, etc., but if you can, you might want to bring at least some food to offset the costs.

- You can rent a stroller (don't know if it costs $$ or not). I noticed people ran toward the stroller rental area after they entered the park--I guess the strollers go fast!

- For accommodations, we stayed at a very cheap Howard Johnson's across the street. I found it on the web. You can go to certain sites that show you cheap hotels and where they are in relation to Disneyland! I think our room rate was $79/night for a room with 2 double beds. We walked to and from the park, but it was just far enough away that we didn't want to return for naps. You will be doing a TON of walking just in the park, so even hotels right across the street can seem too far away for ''in and out'' experiences. Have fun! I love Disneyland more than my kids


Hi, I'm sure you'll get more knowledgeable answers, but I have a few tips. I just took my 5-year old and her 5-year old cousin to Disneyland recently, and this is my advice:
1. Let them get autograph books (and pens) and stalk the characters. This was the highlight of the whole thing for my kids. There are characters in Main Street at opening, at Toon Town throughout the day, etc. I think there's even a schedule. You wait in line for the autographs, and the kids get a little chat time with the character (if they speak).
2. Speaking of characters, consider a character breakfast. We all loved the one we went to, at the Grand Californian hotel. You reserve ahead of time (there's a special number somewhere), and the breakfast is more or less hotel-priced, but there are usually 4-6 characters going from table to table and spending some quality time with the kids. The Grand Californian breakfast is apparently unique (?), in that we could order a la carte or do the buffet, which cut down costs a bit (we spent under $35 including tip for breakfast for two kids and one adult - hotel prices). Each breakfast has its own cast of characters. You might want to consider the Princess breakfast, which is inside Disneyland on Main Street. The drawback to this is just that it makes you spend the emptiest hour of the day indoors, rather than out in the park, but it might be worth it for Princess fans.
3. Take a break in the afternoon.
4. Pack in healthy snacks - they didn't even blink at our sandwiches, fruit/veggies, and yogurt going in. It helped us maintain our stamina and avoid lines for meals (and save money!). Take it easy, and have fun! Nancy Humphrey
Regarding hotels, there are several that can claim to be ''across the street'' from Disneyland, but the more relevant question is: is the hotel close to the park entrance? Good luck and have fun! Anon
Congrats on your first trip to the ''Big D''. We're a huge Disney Fan Family and have been going for years. If the girls are into the Princess thing that's the best place on earth. They'll be out giving autographs all day long near the Wishing Well at Sleeping Beauty's Castle. They come and go all day long. You will have to wait in lines but the Princesses are lovely and will pose for pictures and give autographs. If you're aren't interested in the big rides Fantasy Land is the place to hang. There's the carousel and all the rids aimed at the younger set. Be sure to over on Tom Sawyer's Island in Frontier Land, there are caves to explore and rocking bridges to cross. Have a fabulous trip! Disney Fan

Disneyland Park Hopper Passes

Feb 2005

Has anyone split a Disneyland Park Hopper pass lately? I bought five day passes for our family when we went to Disneyland two years ago and split the cost with some other people. I'm just wondering if they are still loose about checking the passes. Technically I think you are supposed to sign the back of the pass but we didn't and they never checked. We want to go to Disneyland again this Spring Break. I think the only way we can affort it is if we go with the 5-day Park Hopper passes again and split them with another family. We are going the week of Marck 28. If you are interested in splitting the pass with us drop an email. (2 adults and 1 child) We plan on using two days so you could use three days the week of April 4th. Dawn


We visited Disneyland last March, with the 5 day passes. All of the grownups had to show ID (we used our driver's licences)to match the name on the pass. Barbara
Here's an idea for you: I have purchased and sold partial Disneyland Park Hopper Tickets on Ebay. I've not encountered any difficulties with park entry for either my family when I purchased used Park Hoppers with days left, or for the buyer of my used Park Hoppers. And I saved an incredible amount of money!! None of the tix were ever signed and no one ever checked. Check out Ebay...there are many, many Park Hoppers for sale-- both kids and adults tickets, for varying number of days. As long as there's enough time for you to get the tix (or many will offer to meet you at a convenient location to pass off the tix.)you're set. Good luck. Karen
We bought a 5 day park hopper for our trip to Disneyland in October of last year. We used 3 days and sold the other 2 days on E-bay. They did not check our signature and it all went fine! Have fun! Nancy
As early as last August we did ''split'' a Park Hopper pass and it worked just fine. In fact the family that had the second set of days went on to purchase an annual pass. Since they had the 5 day pass already the annual pass was much cheaper. I doubt they've changed their policy drastically in the past 6 months. Have a great time! disney fan

Disneyland between Xmas & New Year?

Oct 2003

We are considering taking our 3 and 6 year olds to Disneyland during winter break, between Christmas and the New Year. Has anyone done this trip at this time in recent years? I'm mostly concerned that it may be too crowded because of the winter holidays. Roemerfam


We went to Disneyland last Xmas/New Year holiday and it was great fun. We are used to going during the peak times (summer, holidays, etc.) as our kids are 12 and 16! It was just as crowded as in the summer. New Year's Eve was a blast, but we were stuck in such a crowd that we were unable to MOVE for hours. I certainly would NOT recommend it with 3 and 6 year olds! I would suggest that you rent one of Disneys' double strollers. (VERY REASONABLE!) They are like jogging strollers and large enough for a 6 year old. When our kids were younger, it gave me peace of mind to have physical control over them in crowds. I would also suggest that you arrive at the park early (1/2 hour before opening time) and stay only until late afternoon or early evening. It always seems to get more crowded after dark! If you are staying at a nearby motel, you should still be able to view the fireworks (in your jammies!) I would say that it is definitely do-able! ...And it is such a magical time of year! Hope this helps................ Marcia.... Disney Mom
We went to Disneyland last year between Christmas and New Year. This was our 5th trip to Disneyland (we have 2 kids ages 6 and 9) but our first time at this time of year and it was the most crowded I have ever seen it. They actually closed Disneyland one day around 1:00 pm and sent people to CA Adventure because Disneyland was too crowded (people could come back to Disneyland after the 5:00 pm parade when a lot of people left the park). I discovered that one reason it's so crowded at this time is because of the Rose Bowl. The teams playing in the Rose Bowl are usually from other states and the teams, their families, and fans do all the So. Cal sites. We were there for the Tournament of Roses parade and decided to visit Disneyland while we were there only to discover that everyone else had the same idea. If you're going to go plan to stay the week so you don't feel stressed about seeing everything at one time. love Disneyland
ITA that the first hour that Disneyland is open is the most productive. Go on the ''big ticket'' rides like Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain (our favorite, but probably too scary for a 4 year old - its a twisty roller coaster in the dark with spacy music and swirling ''galaxy'' lights). Also, many internet Disney packages will come with a ''free'' fast pass per ticket that can be used to ''jump the line'' without waiting for your time frame (fast pass can be obtained with your regular Disney ticket and gives you a window of time for entry into big ticket rides in which you can go in a separate entrance/line which is at most a 10 minute wait - unlike the regular lines that can be up to 1 1/2 HOURS! - but you can only get one fast pass at at time). If you think things through you can do alot in the first 3 hours. After that take a break - I found my kids (at 6) needed to back to the hotel and swim/maybe eat at the hotel or something and then could go back again in the evening for a short period of time. Disneyland is INTENSE! Two days are much better than one for that reason. Definitely take snacks such as fruit juice boxes, trail mix, crackers, etc. For eating out, you can find some better bargains in Downtown Disney (just outside the entrance of Disneyland off of the common area that also links Disneyland to California Adventures). I think one problem you will have is that the 8 year old will probably want to go on more of the exciting rides which may be too intense for your 4 year old. The Jungle Ride is corny but enjoyable for everyone (and doesn't usually have long lines)- the Tarzan tree house is one big CLIMB of stairs up a tree and something you might even let the kids do themselves (easily monitored egresses). Honey, I Shrunk the Kids doesn't usually have very long lines and relies upon 3-D glasses and special effects to make you think that animals are leaping off the screen to get you or that mice are crawling around your legs. Again, not sure about your 4 year old. Karen H.
I have a Disney season pass that is blocked out for the week between Christmas and New Years. Block out dates are exclusively for the most crowded days of the year. So, yes, I think it will be extremely crowded.

With that said, Disneyland is always crowded and I've been on those overly crowded days. I still think it is worth going if you don't have another option and if you think you can handle the crowds. If you do go during the busy week, try getting there early, leave for the busy middle part of the day (Downtown Disney is fun and free!), and come back during the not as crowded evenings. Also, most of the more crowded rides have ''fast passes.'' Fast passes allow you to get time slotted for rides and makes the potentially hour-long lines into 10 minute ones. Have fun if you go! Karen


DON'T DO IT - We took my then 5.5 year old to disneyland for that week and regretted it the whole time. Twice while we were there they had to close the entrance to the park as it was ''at capacity''. You can just imagine what capacity is at disneyland. huge long lines, oceans of people - it was a disaster - go off season or during the week but not the week between christmas and new years - you will regret it!! never do it again
Two years ago we went to Disneyland between Christmas and New Year's. We did it as a surprise. On Christmas after all the family gatherings, we got in the car and told them we had to go on a long errand. Since it was evening, they fell asleep and woke up at Disneyland. That part was very special. It was, however, quite crowded. We figured out after the first day to go early when they first opened, stay until around lunch time, go back to the hotel, swim/nap/rest, and come back in the evening. That schedule worked really well. But from then on we've made a point of just taking the kids out of school and going then (sorry, teachers!). No lines! It's been better. Eden
It is a total mob scene in Disneyland between Christmas and New Years. That said, if you are willing to be in line at the entrance before they open in the morning, and hit Fantasyland immediately, you have a chance of getting on those rides before it becomes impossible. I'm serious about being there first thing in the morning. After you've done the rides, there's so much stuff to look at, it can be fun for the kids to sit in strollers and check out the scene, plus, Disneyland is all decorated that time of year. However, sometimes around parade times, there is a gridlock of people that can be scary for the kids and the adults. On the other hand, the week BEFORE Christmas (except for the day when employees can bring their guests -- you can call and check about that) is a rather nice time to go. The best days are rainy days, because the parks are relatively empty, but the rides still happen.Make sure you buy your passes at CSAA (if you're a member) before you go, so you don't have to wait in line to buy a ticket at D-Land. Many of the hotels nearby sell the tickets, too. A Disneyland Annual Pass Holder
Disneyland during this time is magical. Small World is decorated with lights, lights are in the trees, there are several Xmas parades a day, and the Haunted Mansion is done as Nightmare Before Christmas. However, the Thanksgiving and Xmas breaks are their busiest time. If you go, get there as early in the day as you can, get fast passes, etc. Although it's crowded, it is a magical time and worth experiencing. Jennifer Murov
Here's a website that shows which times of year are the busiest at Disneyland (including the week between xmas and new years) http://www.scottware.com.au/theme/feature/crowds.htm Elizabeth

Only One Day at Disneyland

Oct 2003

We are going to Disneyland for the first time with our 4 and 8 year old. I would love any thoughts and recommendations about spending a day there. We are planning only one day. Is that enough? Elyse


We are a Disneyland family so we go at least once a year. If possible get a map (program) before you go in. If you arrive the day before, you can get one at one of the information kiosks outside the parks. Check off rides and sights that you might want to do. Arrive at the park about half an hour before it opens. You will be able to do as much in the first hour as the rest of the day. Plan to have lunch at the Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland. They have a sit-down show at about 11 or 11:30 (check your program and arrive 1/2 hour before). This is a good time to rest, eat, and be entertained. 4- and 8-year-olds will enjoy Fantasyland and Toontown the most.

Other recommendations:

Jungle Cruise (Silly, but fun.)

Splash Mountain (One big drop, but great fun!)

Pirates of the Caribbean (A Disney classic!)

Autopia (Let the child drive, but have an adult in the car to push the gas pedal--it's really hard!)

Tom Sawyer Island is good for children that like to climb and explore.

''Honey, I Shrunk the Audience''--3D movie is OK, if your children are not overly sensitive. (My 12-yr-old does not like the special effects!)

Haunted Mansion--the same. My children were older than yours before they began to like this one.

Indiana Jones is one to go on early in the morning before the lines are too much, but it may be too ''Herky-Jerky'' and scary for your children, especially the 4-yr-old.

Winnie the Pooh ride was totally boring and because it is new, has a really long line. Get a fast pass if you must go on.

Take advantage of the ''Fast Passes''. Many of the big-ticket rides have this option. After going on a ride in the morning, if you all really like it and want to go again, you might want to get a ''fast pass''. This allows you to go on later, after a certain time, and bypass the long standby line. The down-side is unless you have a special unlimited park ticket, you can only get one fast pass at a time (per ticket) or until the posted time on the fast pass. If you have any specific questions, email me Marcia


I haven't done it yet with my own child (2nd on the way) but I remember my own experiences as a kid, adult, and with families with kids. One day did not seem like enough with the kids because they (especially the 4 year old) may get over-excited, over-tired, over-whelmed, etc...and need to have a break midway through, possibly for several hours. If you have two days you won't feel pressured to see it all in one day to get your money's worth. You'll feel more relaxed and be able to go at your kid's pace which may mean taking a break, leaving early, moving slower, spending 1/2 the day in one part, etc.... Also with two kids so far apart they will have different interests. The older one may feel resentful to have to waste part of his one day doing ''baby'' stuff but if you have two days he will be more relaxed about this too.

Oh yea, although the junk food is part of the experience I would take at least some provisions of your own if you can (check the rules) like water/juice, fruit, sliced cheese, etc... so you're not relient on the outragiously priced stuff for your every need.

Just my thoughts. I'll be interested to hear what the parents have to say who've been there since I'll be in a similar boat in several years (not so far away).


Road Trip to Disneyland

May 2003

hi i am a single mum of a 4 year old. he is going through some insecurities ( just realized he doesn`t have a dad-my husband left when i was pregnant) anyway i promised him a trip to disneyland. i was thinking of going by car from albany since the fares are so expensive but everyone thinks i`m crazy. any ideas on stopovers on route or where to stay on route to break the journey? i believe its about 6-7 hours and i feel i can do it, but i`ve lost my confidence a bit now, in case something goes wrong. single mum


In the Grapevine (when I-5 climbs steeply into the mountains between the Central Valley and Los Angeles) there is Fort Tejon State Park, which might be great to stop at to let your kid run around a bit. It was a Civil War era army fort, so might have some historical interest for you if you are into that sort of thing, plus there are picnic benches and lots of open space. Most of I-5 up until that point consists of farmland and roadside restaurants with bad food, so last time I drove that distance with my 2 year old, I was very happy to stop at the state park. Robin
Just go!! You will have the best time. We drove in march and it was great. It took about 7 hours and we stopped for a long lunch. The park will be crowded this time of the year so be forwarned. It is expensive so I suggest staying in one of the hotels that have little mini suites that have kitchens so you can eat in. Our son (3 1/2) had agreat time. Be careful with some of the rides. Our son was very traumatized by Snow whites scary adventure. He still talks about it. good luck! ncm
It is an fairly easy drive, about 410 miles. It takes about 7 hours, including stops at rest areas and a stop to eat. The key is to get on the road either in the early morning (best of all between 6 and 7 am) to get to LA before the afternoon rush hour (580 towards I-5 is not a problem in the morning), or around after 2 pm to avoid heavy afternoon traffic on 580 and get to LA after their rush hour. I-5 is an easy freeway to drive, it has several rest areas along the way, plenty of restaurants, so I guess everything depends on how long a trip your son can survive before he gets nuts from riding in a car.

Since Anaheim is on the southern side of LA, you could also take your son to Legoland which is less than 2 hours away, people say it is not a bad place for little kids. istratov


Go for it. We do it all the time, the last time was last month with my 3 year old and my 6 week old. I stop over in Bakersfield for the night, somewhere with a pool to hang out and burn off some of the calories he was storing sitting still. They another 2 1/2 hours and we are there, and in time for the openings usually. Bakersfield is about 4 hours away, so the big part I do in the morning, stop on the way for lunch at a stop with a playground (mcDonalds, etc) and then on the road til about 3, then hang at the pool til dark. It is a great adventure for all ages. Kristi
Check Southwest airfares. My husband and I are taking our 4.5 year old at the end of June. We are flying from Oakland and into Aneheim for $29.00 each way. If you drive, it is about a six hour trip. I have driven solo with my son a handful of times to visit a friend in LA and did not find it terrible. My son is a good traveler, so you need to take that into account. We took some fun car toys and stopped a couple of times along the way. We also did the Interstate 101 and US1 route which takes much longer but is beautiful...you can stop along the way and stay on the beach. tracy
I give you a lot of credit to tackle the trip to Disneyland with your son. We did the same road trip and stuck with Route 5. It has plenty of chain restaurants and rest stops to help break up the trip. To boost your confidence, I would bring the car in for servicing before the trip, have AAA road service (and they can help plan your trip) and a cell phone. If you leave in the morning, you'll do all the driving in daylight. And we got a bunch of books on tape from the library for our kids. Good luck. Anon
Take 101 and stop in San Luis Obisbo -- that's about the halfway point and there are some decent motels there, and a nice walkable downtown with restaurants. You can also take a break for a walk or lunch the next day in Santa Barbara. Then it's about a 1-1/2 hour drive to the west side of LA or 2 hours to Orange County. 101 is much nicer than 5, especially in hot weather, and there are places to stop along the way -- the down side is that depending on where you are going it takes an extra hour or so. I think you should consider the drive down as part of the vacation. However, you don't want to drive for a trip of less than 4 or 5 days; the ratio between driving time and being ''there'' is too great. Carol
I have a daughter who is almost three, and wev'e been driving down to L.A. several times a year since she was born. I don't like to fly, and I like to have my car when I'm visiting friends and family. Anyway, I use to worry a bit, but we always seem to manage just fine. Some trips were easier than others. I always chose going down the 5 because it is the quickest, but very boring. It all depends on how many stops you take and how fast you drive. When I use to go down the 5 without child, it took me on average about 51/2 - 6 hours at an average speed of 75 (One stop for a quick picnic lunch at a rest stop and bathroom, and maybe one more brief stop at a gas station for fuel and snacks a cold drink). With child it took anywhere between 6- 10 hours depending on what we did during those stops and how old she was. Lots of toys, books, snacks, and music for the drive is a must. Getting an early start always seems to work best. I did the trip alone with just my daughter three times and found the easiest trip to be the one where we stopped and stayed at a hotel half way down.This was great because it eliminated the need to get an earlier start, and made the trip more relaxing, but a bit more expensive. The nicest hotel that is right off the 5 at the half way point is Harris Ranch. Take the Coalinga exit. You can't miss it. It is a rather large two story complex surrounded by lots palm trees. They have a swimming pool with several jacuzzis, two restaurants, and a nice outdoor garden area with room to walk around. It was an experiment that I found to be successful. I would definitely do it again if I had the extra time. There are probably other decent hotels around there. If you are a AAA member just ask for their California hotel guide. I believe it is in the northern California book. Look up Coalinga, the town that Harris Ranch is listed under, or just look at a map and pick another town that is close to the half way point near the 5 and then look for hotels listed in that area.

An important note if you drive the 5. It can get extremely hot during the summer, so a car with working air conditioning is strongly advised. Also, it is important to make sure your car doesn't have problems with overheating, as this can be a real problem when trying to get over the Grapevine during three digit temperatures. Turn off air conditioning if you are not sure when going over it. Don't worry, most cars make it just fine. I've never had problems. You'll do just fine. Don't let your friends tell you that you are crazy. They probably never did it themselves. You'll have a good time. Just take your time, stop at a hotel half way, and relax. And have fun at Disneyland! 3loons


you might want to rethink flying only b/c fares on Southwest can be cheap. $29 each way from Oakland to Orange County (closest to Disneyland) You might also check out AAA website for vacation packages. if you fly, you could stay at a hotel that has shuttles to/from airport as well as to/from Disneyland. If you decided to drive, which really could be fun (but the price of gas = the air fair, no?) it depends in the route you take. If you go by way of 5, there is really nothing from here to there that sparks any interest--but it is much faster, cuts at least an hour off the trip. If you go 101, you could stop in many places. there are lots of beaches on the way--Pismo, San Luis, Santa Barbara is more than half way but gorgeous. Just check out a map, there's a lot along the way.....I wouldn't worry, it's a nice drive, it's only a matter of whether or not your kid likes being in the car. One suggestion, if you can drive at night, you might try that and he could sleep on the way, and no traffic for you. Finally, I know you promised Disneyland but have you thought of Knotts Berry Farm? We found it was much more kid (under 6) friendly, smaller--so less tiring, and bathrooms everywhere! not to mention less expensive. The characters at Knotts are the Peanuts (Charlie Brown and Snoopy, etc.) We took are then 4 year old there and she loved it....good luck. been there
We leave at 4.30am in the morning, drive until the kids wake up (usually 3 hours later) stop for breakfast (Denny's) then drive some more before we hit LA. It makes for a quicker trip - less traffic and less whining from the cheap seats AND less need for a stopover! anon
We just drove our daughters down to Disneyland for a long weekend. What worked well for us was leaving at about 6pm. We fed them dinner in the car, let them watch a video and read, then told them it was ''sleeptime''. They slept most of the way to LA! While I wouldn't recommend this for you alone, maybe a friend could travel along? The trip took us 5 hours since we didn't have to stop for them to stetch their legs and potty breaks (1 quick one for us!). It was great and very manageable with 2 drivers. Saved a lot of $$ in airfare, too! On the way, home, it took a bit longer, but we left with plenty of time and let them stop to play tag at a rest area once in a while. Good luck! Trish
My husband & I drove last year (in a civic hatchback) w/ our 3 & 5 year old (from Berk to Disneyland). We put them still sleeping in the car @3am & drove as fast as we could. They woke up when we gassed up ~6:30 or so. It is pretty much a wasteland all the way down but you could stop when they got the fidgets.

We had packed activities for them (books & drawing stuff & small plastic figures for them to do play activities). They did fine. We stayed inexpensively (~$75/day) within a few blocks on the strip across from Disneyland.

The best advice we got was to go as soon as it opened in the morning, go back to the hotel & rest during the day, and then go back in the evening until closing time. This way we avoided the crowds to some extent. Our young-uns got a chance to rest & swim which they need as a result of the over-stimulation.

Our kids still talk about it - it was a highlight of their young lives! Have fun & don't worry - it's very doable. Anonymous


I drove from Richmond to San Diego when my daughter was 21 mos old, and it was fine! It took 8 hours, but I did not opt for any significant stops. I left the house at 4 am to get a few hours of driving in with her asleep. I bought a tray that straps to her car seat to make eating and drawing easier and it kept her pretty busy (the One Step Ahead catalog has them). I also had some tapes of favorite music, as well as books on tape for me for when she was asleep. If you want to make a stop, you might want to consider driving down the coast instead of the I-5, as it's prettier and the stops would be more interesting. If you & he like camping, there's a lot of camping along the coast. I'm not sure if a road trip with a 4 yr old is easier or harder than with a 21 mo old, but I found she seemed to know we had a long way to go, so she might as well relax. You can do it! Good luck & have a great trip! alonn
It is 6 hours with minimum stops, light traffic, at 80 mph (speed limit is 75 mph on I-5), if you take I-580 to I-5. It is the flattest, straightest, most monotonous drive imaginable. I hope you have cruise control and air conditioning. That said, there are gas and food stops every half-hour to an hour from here to around Bakersfield. I recall a 2 hour gap somewhere between there and Valencia. We take an hour long restroom, fuel and meal break twice along the way, including breakfast at McDonald's and later a Happy Meal (with an entertaining new toy) lunch. Bring taped audio books and music (from the library?). Pack everything in the car the day before, save your energy for the road trip. Keep snacks and drinks within arms reach of your son so he can help himself. Use safety pins to attach a snack bag to his car seat cushion.

Disneyland has fireworks only on Fridays and weekends before 6/15, and every night after that in the summer. When school is out on weekends and the summer, the park is very crowded. So try to attend on a Friday before school is out. It means travelling on a weekday. To avoid commute hours along I-580 and in L.A., start out at dawn expecting to arrive around noon. By the way, they allow you to bring your own stroller, if you want to try and save on the rental. They have locker rentals and do airport-style security checks at the entrance. kim


It's an easy road trip to Anaheim--as long as your car is in good condition. And since you are a single woman travelling with a child, I'd make sure you have a cell phone with you, for safety. There's an In-and-Out Burger in Kettleman City which is always crowded so if you are driving at night, I'd stop there for a bathroom stop. It should take you about 7 hours -- but think about what time you'll be hitting LA. If you hit LA during rush hour, it will take you longer (potentially adding 2+ hours). I-5 Veteran
I am a single mama who just rediscovered the joy of a road trip! My three year old son and I just went on a week long road trip to southern California and we had a terrific time! In terms of places to stay, we used the Extendedstay America hotel chain - it's inexpensive (relatively speaking!)and the rooms have kitchenettes, so you don't have to eat out for every meal! They have a website, so you can check out all of their locations. As for stops along the way, just look at the map and pick a couple of pit stops a few hours apart, and be sure to leave at a time that works with your child's schedule...we left at about 11 a.m. drove for about 2 1/2 hours, stopped for lunch, ran around and played, then hopped back in the car for the rest of the drive...brought books, toys (not too many), but really just talked a lot and enjoyed the drive! Just remember to plan it out and be prepared and you will have a blast! have a fabulous trip!
Take your cell phone, make sure you have some sort of road service in case of emergency, and GO! Do you have a friend (with or without kid) who might like to go along? Did the trip when my daughter was 3 and we had a blast. Of course, she slept most of the ride. It's a boring drive, but if you're willing to stop at the likes of McDonald's, many of them have play areas. There's lot of stuff to do en route, but we preferred to just drive and get it over with. Driving Dad
I've drive to San Diego and back by myself with a 1 month old and 3 year old. I wouldn't do two again, but one child I would do! You can too! An easy rest stop or overnight stop is the Harris Ranch & Hotel. It's half way between Berkeley and LA. The hotel is beautiful and has a lovely swimming pool. It you're going this summer, it does get hot! If you don't want to break up the trip, just stop a couple of times and expect them to be a little long. You're not crazy, got for it! Anonymous
We have driven down to Disneyland at least once a year since our now 16-year-old was a couple of months old. (I know, we're ''spoilers'', but my husband and I love it even more than the kids!) We have stopped and stayed at Santa Nella (?) where the Anderson Pea Soup place is. I believe it is about half way there. We take a little TV/video combo to watch movies along the way. If you have a lap-top that plays DVDs that would also work. We usually stop at all of the rest-stops along I-5. They are spaced about an hour apart. Everyone gets out to stretch and use the facilities. When the kids were a little younger, we would play tag or ''keep the beach ball up'' type games to expend some energy. Have plenty of snacks and water in the car, but there are also tons of fast food options along the way. Be careful to time your trip so that you don't get into the LA basin at commute time. That is no fun! Also, once you get over the Grape Vine and into LA area there is really no stopping! Getting off of the freeway to find a restroom or food is really inconvenient (but not impossible.) Some people I know have started their trip in the middle of the night so that their kids sleep most of the way, but we haven't tried that. (I personally need MY sleep!) It is not a bad car trip and Disneyland is so fun! Just relax and you and your child will have a great time! Marcia
We have driven to Disneyland twice in the last year so I wanted to give you my thoughts on it. We took our 4 and 7-year old. Many people recommended waiting until 6 years old and I would recommend the same. I took our 4 year old because I wanted to take my 7 year old. There are fewer rides available to that age and it takes alot out of a kid walking/strolling, waiting in lines, etc. I discourage going in June, July, August because the heat is very hard on children. We first went in August and many children were miserable and therefore many parents were miserable (alot of money and little fun). Go after September (we went in late January). It is far more manageable and fun. When you do drive, leave really early in the morning and take I-5 down. There are a lot of little towns on the way with restaurants, etc. There are fairly inexpensive hotel/motels across the street from Disneyland. For a little more money you can get tickets to the California Theme Park (go if you are staying more than 2 days). It sounds like you made a promise to your child during this challenging time. If you feel like your child can manage the ride, etc. go for it. Otherwise, wait so that you really can have a great time. anon
There are plenty of things to see on the way down to Disneyland. I think the San Luis Obispo area is a great place to visit with kids.Stay in Paso Robles for cheaper motels though, and then you can drive in to SLO and Moro Bay. It's a good half way point as well. Also, We just moved to Albany (just from Oakland) and I have a 4 year old daughter. I was a single mom for 2 years.Write me if you want to meet at a playground or something. Jess Jessica
I did not see your original post, so excuse me if my post is off from your question.

We just came back from Disney land yesterday. We took our 4 year-old son, and 6 month old baby. Since we did not know how our baby will be in a car trip, we decided to stay one night at Pismo Beach, near San Luis Obispo, then drove to Anaheim the next day. Both trip is around 200 ~ 230 miles, and it was managable for both kids. On the way back from Anaheim to the Bay Area, we took a chance, and drove I-5. We said that if kids could not bear with long drive, we just stop at a motel off the highway, and stay overnight. Well,, we left Disneyland area at 10 am. By 6pm we were eating dinner at Tachibana, Japanese restaurant on College Ave. Luckily our baby slept 3 hours and a half straight during a trip, and older one also napped for 1 hours and a half. We just kept going until kids finally became fussy. I know we were lucky that our kids slept in a car. We thought our little one could not bear with this long drive, but now we know it is sometimes possible.

About Disneyland, we took our days easy. We went there for 4 days from 10am to 2pm. My 4 year-old son enjoyed easy rides such as ''It's a small world'', ''Autopia'', Casey Jr. Circus Train'', ''King Arthur Carrousel'', ''Mad Tea Party'', and most of Mickey's Toontown attractions. He was a bit scared of new ''Winnie the Pooh and Friends'', ''Alice in Wonderland'', and any ride which goes inside of buildings. Actually most of such rides are dark and loud, which can be scary to little kids. I took my baby in a sling, and rode to most of attractions together. He had great time looking at people and being in my arm all the time. Afterall my sons enjoyed Disneyland, but I felt I could have been able to wait to go there until he reaches 6 years old. By then he will be able to enjoy more rides.

Dining there can be very costly. We bought healthy fruits and snacks here and brought them there, and it helped.

Last advice, if you are going to Disney's California Adventure, be warned for ''It's tough to be a bug'', 3D movie type entertaiment. It was way too scary for my son that we needed to get out of the theater immediately when a huge spider run toward us (visually) with a huge sound and a blast of air toward us. Too sensational for a little one. In fact, I am going to write a complainment to Disney. I do not understand why it is located in a ''district'' for small children. If you want to know more about our experience, e-mail me. Good luck! Mika


We drove to Disneyland from Richmond in November with our almost 4yo and 7mo sons. We left in the morning around 8am (bad timing for the commute, but we just didn't make it out of the house as early as planned. We were able to use the carpool lane though so it wasn't bad.) And were in Anaheim by 5pm... yup, just in time for the eveining commute down there. Despite the unfortunate timing, the trip was easy. We packed books and the magna doodle for car seat entertainment. We also brought all the sing-a-long CDs. The baby slept. The 4yo... well he ate and slept, which was good because it kept him happy. It rained the whole way down so rest breaks to burn off steam consisted mostly of jumping around puddles in parking lots.

I have noticed that a couple of posters felt that their kids were too young, small or overwhelmed by Disneyland. It is funny how different kids react. My son loved it. His cousin went a few months later... at around the same age, and didn't have as much fun. Some of it I think you can tell before you go though... my neice gets nightmares more easily so the rides will be scarier to her. My son was tall enough to ride every ride in the Disneyland park except Indiana Jones and Autotopia. He LOVED it all. We felt he was just the right age to really experience the park. Since we got there late his first experience of the park was the parade with all of the princesses and characters. He just stood with his mouth gaping in awe. We rode the train and Dumbo and Peter Pan that night... all very fun and non- threatening. He had seen all the movies that went with the scarier rides like Pinocchio and Snow White and while we were on them we just whispered reminders of all the happy, fairytale ending parts of the story to help him place the images. He wasn't frieghtened at all.

California Adventure was a little less fun. It was raining pretty bad the night we went, and there wasn't much we could do except over in bug land. (The park is more spread out but with the rain we weren't to up on exploring.) My son LOVED all of those rides though. He also really liked the Tough to be a Bug 3D movie and the 3D Muppet Movie (both were very simillar... the Honey I Shrunk the Audience movie in the Disneyland park was more of the same). He didn't keep the 3d glasses on the whole time, but really didn't seem to notice the physical tricks. He was small enough that the air and water jets didn't hit him in the face as they did me. He also loved getting to see the characters from the movies. I have to say that the thing he liked best at Adventure was the Electric Light Parade. We had found a seat right by the fence where the characters emerge (across the street from the Hollywood area) so he got a really great view of them all. It was really fun to see him enjoying it all.

The ride back we did all during the day as well. Both kids were so tired from the whole trip that they slept all the way from LA to Harris Ranch, (which really isn't half way in our opinion... it just seems that way because it takes so long to go through the Bay Area.) If you are looking for a good place to stop close to the middle I recommend Split Pea Andersons. They have a huge parking lot, as well as a huge front yard area where we could all stretch our legs. The restrooms were huge and clean. If you feel like stopping to eat the food is pretty good too.

It has been several months and recently he has started to ask when we can go again. He says he misses Mickey Mouse. I would love to go again while he is still young enough to be excited by the ''baby stuff'', but the baby is toddling now and won't be so good about sitting in the stroller as he was at 7 mos. Mom is missing Mickey too.


Taking teens to Disneyland

August 2002

I just had two friends bail on me for this trip we had planned for Disneyland with our kids. I have a 14 yo and a 10 yo --both girls--who are both EXTREMELY hormonal right now, and exhaust me with crying, nagging, whining, bickering, you name it, night and day. the only way I agreed to this trip was because my good buds were going to drive down with me, and one of them has a 16 yo daughter who's very mature and could influence/distract/amuse my girls (or at least shame them if they got too unruly). Now I'm looking at either flying or driving by myself with these two, and I feel like I do enough self-sacrificing already!! They've never been to Disneyland--I was planning on taking them 5 years ago with my mother and she died suddenly. I must admit I'm fearful with all the kidnappings and stuff on the news--how Stainer was stalking the one family-- two daughters and a mom, and switched to the Pelosi family. It starts to get to you! I also had to put this on a credit card--I've already charged $800, and one of my friends was going to get a limo to drive down in, saving us about $200-$300 in airfare or car rental. Now I have to add that to the tab, and my husband and I just refinanced to get out of debt and prepare for a long overdue divorce. I need to either decide to take them and plunk out the bucks and pluck up my courage and maybe spend five days of hormonal hell, or call the travel service and cancel TODAY before I rack up any more cancellation fees (I will already lose $50). Does anyone have any ideas? I'm stuck!! Does anyone want to drive to Disneyland? Distraught Single Mom


We just returned from a very successful and satisfying trip to Disneyland with our 10yr and 12.5 yr old daughters. They thoroughly enjoyed both parks (Disneyland and California Adventure) and I would recommend a park "hopper" pass, which allows you to bounce back and forth between parks. The twelve year old brought a friend and this can help to diffuse whiny or argumentative behaviors. Your girls are close enough in age that you should be able to stay together and go on the same rides together. The girls were in the park until closing every night. There are fireworks and shows every night. My usually late-sleeping daughters asked to be awakened by 8:30 so they wouldn't miss any time in the park.

You can save money by buying your park passes here at AAA. The 3-day passes are $25 cheaper at AAA than they were at the park or hotels in Anaheim.

The drive was long but do-able. You might want to consider flying if 8 hours in a car will put you all over the top. Please feel free to contact me directly if you want to ask more questions. I think your daughters are at a great age for this trip. Also, it will be something positive to remember about this summer, especially if a divorce is part of your summer plans. Wendy


To Distraught Mom about Disneyland plans: Simplify your life; take care of yourself first; CANCEL the trip - the aggravation you will have saved yourself will be well worth $50. Your daughters frankly don't sound like they need that expensive treat, can't or won't really appreciate it, and should learn the consequences of your friends bailing equals no trip. Don't agonize over this any longer. My opinion, Cassandra
Don't go!! Driving several hours and trying to keep track of two hormonal girls by yourself would make any sane person rethink why they were doing this. I can't imagine that they would meekly follow you around and it doesn't sound like you see them as ready to "solo" at Disneyland and just check in with you from time to time. Seems to me you may be trying to compensate for your divorce by giving the girls a special treat but it doesn't sound like their overall behavior warrants such a treat and if you're just getting out of debt, why spend all that money --- for a lousy, stressed out time at that? You seem to have more than enough on your plate. Let the $50 go. Karen
You poor thing! You seem completely stressed out. It also seems that you actually may not be able to afford this trip (or at least not be willing to pay for it) and that you don't look forward to it. Why not postpone it until your lives have stabilized a bit and you can really afford it? Could it be that the girls are less hormonal than upset by the divorce? Also after refinancing your house to get out of debt, does it make sense to start the credit card cycle all over again? From your description it sounds like exactly NOT the time to go with your girls to Disneyland. It also sounds like you need a shoulder to have a good cry on. Best wishes.
To Disneyland parent: Don't go! You and the girls need a low stress, low cost trip together. Go camping somewhere close and quiet and have a few laughs with each other. Remind the girls of all the positive aspects of themselves and you will all feel better. Been there.

Recommendations from 2002 and earlier

March 2002

We are planning our first trip to Disneyland this summer (July!), and would be very interested to hear any recommendations for places to stay (we are a family of four) that are near the park, and not quite as expensive as the Disneyland Hotel. I checked the web site, and all recommendations are for 1999 or prior. Has anyone been recently who has a hotel recommendation? Any other tips that might ease the way? Thank you! Claire


my last trip to orlando was in'91, we stayed at the Peabody hotel, nearby. it is sisters with a famous place in memphis or somewhere like that, and sports a huge neon duck on the roof. live ducks ceremoniously marched on a red carpet from the lobby, down the elevator, to the pool for the day, and back. very silly and fun. there is a classic diner as well. have a ball and wear your sun Block di
I am going to Disneyland next week (that's why the newsletter will be on vacation!) I'll report when I get back on specifics.

www.mouseplanet.com

has tons of great advice including a good section on hotels. We are staying at the Anaheim Marriot, because that's the place I got for $35 on Priceline. It's supposed to be three star, but who knows. Last time we were there we stayed at the Castle Inn and Suites directly across the street from Disneyland, and while it was a little run down, the kids liked the theme atmosphere, and I liked the microwave and fridge. There's a new deal called "passport" which allows you avoid lines (you still have to wait, but not in the line). Other news we needed to tell our kids ahead of time... Cinderella's Castle is being remodeled and Splash Mountain is closed. In any case, I'll know more when I get back and I'll no doubt be disney-ed to death and singing "It's a small world" to everyone I know. Myriam


If you can stand one more piece of advice on Disneyland, my sister and her family went there last year, and she said the ''Unofficial Guide to Disneyland'' book was absolutely terrific for making your visit fun and stress-free. Jennie
My just turned 7 year old and I are going on April 20. We got a package through Disneyland.com and chose one of their lower priced "Good Neighbor" hotels. Its the Red Roof Inn right across from the park - supposedly its been newly renovated so we'll see. What I liked about the Disneyland package is that with one step I booked airfare, airport shuttle, hotel, tickets, fast pass, extra goodies, etc. I think the whole package, 2 nites in hotel, airfare/shuttle, 3-day Disneyland/California Adventures pass, and goodies like a Breakfast with Mickey, arcade coupons, preferential seating at certain events, etc. cost $620 for the two of us. By the way, from April 15 thru I think September, Disneyland is offering a "buy 1 adult ticket - get 1 child's ticket free" promotion. Karen H.
We just returned from Disneyland with our three children (9, 5 1/2 and 20 months). We had a good time, though in the case of my five year old she may very well have had a better time renting a room at the Marriot in San Francisco (she *loved* the hotel!).

We stayed at the Anaheim Convention Marriot. We got the hotel via priceline, for $35 a night and it was really a good deal, in our opinion.We rented two rooms and got adjoining rooms on the bottom floor, on the same wing as the pool. The Marriot was *full* of families, most using priceline and I think we paid the least of anyone I heard. The hotel has a very prompt shuttle that runs every half hour to Disneyland, and you should definitely use it instead of driving your car to Disneyland... You end up walking a little less from the shuttle than the parking lot. The hotel had refrigerators which we made liberal use of... We brought cereal for breakfast, juice boxes, milk and some snacks so we didn't end up spending a huge amounts on low-impact meals. The pool was lovely, the hot tub great.

In terms of Disneyland, we got a three day ''Park Hopper'' pass which would have been less expensive had we gotten them through AAA. If you plan ahead, that's the best deal or the deal through U-Hall or many other benefits offices. FastPass works great, but you may end up getting a FastPass for five hours later for some of the big rides (Indiana Jones, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad) which may or may not work with little kids. We were there on some VERY busy days, and lines were interminable in most attractions. If you arrive EARLY (At opening) you will get more rides in the first hour and a half than you will for the next six hours. My toddler was afraid of any dark rides but liked most of the outside rides (Dumbo, the teacups and It's a small world), My five year old liked most of the rides she was able to go on, but we didn't try any of the really wild rides with her. My nine year old loved the big rides, but was a little crabby on the little kid rides. We got a guidebook called the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, which was mildly useful. In general, what it says is, arrive early and go on the big rides first. If you want to borrow this, let me know.

We found it worth it to go to a character breakfast so the girls could ''meet'' the characters. The one at Goofy's Kitchen was actually pretty good, though expensive. Book ahead or come early. Folks who arrived after 10 were told that there would be a two hour wait.

Disney's California Adventure is lousy for little kids with the exception of the ''pretend Yosemite'' playground, which the girls really liked. The flume ride was really fun for everyone. California Screaming is a big, bad roller coaster and very fun for those who love them. Soaring over California is just as amazing as everyone says. Use a fastpass for it, or go RIGHT in the morning. You only need a half a day for DCA, and it costs the same as a ticket to Disneyland(not worth it, in other words).

Leave the park for the middle of the day... the lines are SO long, and the kids will be happier... We were at the park from 8-11 (roughly) went back to the hotel from 11-4 or so, and went back for great fireworks and parades and a few rides. New annoyance I hadn't anticipated was teenagers renting wheelchairs so they'd get ''disabled'' access to the rides... They were very wild with them. We also went to Universal Studios. Great for older kids, but not toddlers or more reserved younger children. The studio ride was fun, and the Jurassic Park flume ride was really fun. They had a discount running with Coke, so if you brought a coke can in they'd discount the ticket $4 each.

We drove there and back. Total time back: 5 hours 45 minutes to our door in Oakland, but folks who don't drive with a professional commuter may want to budget more time based on a more reasonable 75 mph pace. Myriam


In the Wall Street Journal from Tuesday, April 9, on page D16, there is a section entitled ''Desktop Traveler /Conquering the Magic Kingdom.'' While the focus is mainly Disney World, the websites they list could be extremely helpful in planning your trip and probably include Disneyland, as well (that's my guess). Daphne

California Adventure

Aug 2001

I wanted to thank those who gave recommendations about Disneyland a few months back. I've since been there and wanted to give a strong recommendation for visiting the new "Disneyland Resort." Disney has added a whole new theme park to its Disneyland center (so now they call it Disneyland Resort) called California Adventure. We visited for three days over President's Weekend and we absolutely loved it. It wasn't too crowded (but once more people learn about the new park I bet this will change) and the rides, attractions, food and ambiance are wonderful. We stayed in a very nice and clean hotel literally steps from the entrances to both Disneyland and CA Adventure (closer even than the Disney hotels) called the Best Western Park Place. We made our reservations through AAA, but the prices would be the same directly through Disney's website. The Park Place is one of the "Good Neighbor" hotels affiliated with Disney but is considerably cheaper than the Disney hotels. We splurged on a mini-suite (2 queens and a pull-out couch), got three-day flex passes to the parks, a "character breakfast" in the Disneyland hotel (equal to $16.95/adult) - with two adults and a 2-yr-old for $550 for three days. It would have been cheaper if we'd gone with a smaller room. Compared to the $900-1100 it would have cost to stay in any of the Disney hotels for the same time it was quite a bargain. And since we spent the majority of our time in the park(s) it didn't really matter what kind of room we had, anyway. Disneyland is still Disneyland, more oriented toward the younger kids. CA Adventure is definitely more geared for older kids and adults, but there are still several attractions appropriate for youngsters. The Paradise Pier (sort of a copy of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, only better) is really fun, the restaurants are interesting with a range of prices. GREAT food, even at the lower end of price. Plus, the best part of both parks is Disney's relatively new FASTPASS system where you can go to any of the popular rides and get an assigned window of time to come back and get directly on the ride without waiting in line. You know what the return time will be before you get the reservation, so you can plan things out. We never waited in line for a ride more than 5-10 minutes - even Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, the new rollercoaster, etc. We simply had a wonderful time (so did my 9-year-old neice) and I recommend visiting soon before the summer crowds arrive!


Recommendations from 1999

June 1999

I got back Saturday from a week in Southern California (3 days at Disneyland, 2 days at Legoland, and a couple of "rest" days) with my husband, almost-3-year-old daughter, and just-turned-5 son. I saw a lot of people who brought their own strollers and a lot of rental ones. We carried both kids at Disneyland when they got tired (in arms or on shoulders) and ended up renting a double stroller for both of them when we went to Legoland. Disneyland does rent double strollers, and although they don't recline, if your kids are tired enough (as mine were) they'll probably sleep in *any* position!

As for the rides, my kids liked the merry-go-round, the Dumbo ride, and "It's a Small World" in Fantasyland. All the rides like Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland where you ride a car around in a dark place were too scary for my almost-3 year old. In fact, other than the merry-go-round their favorite place in the entire park was "Goofy's boat" -- a two-story stationery boat for climbing and make-believe that is in "Mickey's Toon Town". Even my 5 year old liked playing in the completely stationery model of a car next to the "Autopia race track" more than actually driving the moving car on the track!

Please note that this type of thing (which rides and activities your children will prefer) is so varied. My best friend's 5-year-old son loves wild rides and would be bored with rides like Dumbo. My kids thought the tram ride between the parking lot and the Disneyland entrance was fun!

One other note, I bought a copy of the "Unofficial Guide to Disneyland" from amazon.com and found it tremendously useful. This message is getting long, but I want to include what they said about strollers since that was your main concern: "Strollers: They are available for a modest rental fee just inside the main entrance and to the right. The rental covers the entire day. If you rent a stroller and later decide to go back to your hotel for lunch, a swim, or a nap, turn in your stroller but hang on to your rental receipt. When you return to the park later in the day, present your receipt. You will be issued another stroller without an additional charge.

Strollers at Disneyland are large, sturdy models with sun canopies and cargo baskets. We have seen families load as many as three children on one of these strollers at the same time. The rental procedure is fast and efficient. Likewise, returning the stroller is a breeze. Even in the evening when several hundred strollers are turned in following the laser and fireworks show, there is no wait and hassle.

For infants and toddlers the strollers are a must, but we have observed many sharp parents renting strollers for somewhat older children (up to age five or six years). The stroller prevents parents from having to carry children when they run out of steam and provides an easy, convenient way to carry water, snacks, diaper bags, etc."

They also mentioned that one of their readers brought a fancy $300 stroller of her own to Disneyland and just brought a bike lock to secure it while they were on rides. That may be an option for you if have an expensive stroller and are worried about theft, although I haven't heard that it's a problem. Also note, the double strollers for rent put both kids in side-by-side and they share one seatbeat over both their laps. Good luck and have fun!! Sharon


Kathy, June 1999

We just completed a 2 day trip 2 weeks ago with a 4 year old and an 11 month old. We were in the park for 7 hours the first day. We used an umbrella stroller for the 11 month old which I find to be the easiest to deal with in the park. They're small enough that you can actually stand in line with one, eg Dumbo was 45 minutes long, I kept the baby in the stroller all the way until the end and then just collapsed it and set it over the final railing before we got on the ride. The line areas are too narrow to fit a standard size stroller. The 4 year old did fine w/o a stroller. Whenever she was tired we would just carry the baby for awhile and let her ride. It seems like they get enough rest when they're actually on the rides to do OK walking between them. An umbrella stroller also collapses for easy riding on the train when you don't want to do a round trip or when taking the tram.


May 1999

We stayed at a wonderful hotel in Orange County last weekend, the Embassy Suites in Santa Ana, 7 miles from Disneyland and 5 from Newport Beach. Only $89. a night for 2 queen size beds and a separate living room with a fold out sofa bed. Two TV's, 3 sinks, a mini-kitchen with fridge and microwave, a full "hot" breakfast, pool and hot tub. The center of the hotel has an Atrium that goes up 10 floors, open to the skylight top. It is sort of a Disney type mix of Rococo/ Mexico/Italy/Hawaii, but it works! The staff is great (many of them), it is new and well run. A great place for the family.


From: Andrea (6/98)

It looks as though I will be taking my 7 year old boy to Dizy - I mean - Disneyland sometime soon and need support and suggestions for this trek. When I was a kid I imagined that being in Disneyland was about as close as one could get to experiencing what it is like in Heaven. As an adult I imagine that it is more like Hell. Any suggestions or support for how to make this enjoyable would be greatly appreciated. People do tell me that it is alot of fun. I am ready to go beyond a reasonable budget to make the adventure less stressful. I don't mean that I would consider helicoptering in ( I know they must have a Mickey copter that lands at the heliport in the Apocalypse Now theme ride --- please excuse my sarcasm. It is just that I feel that our society is Disney infested. Hey, I'm anti junk food but Ronald Mc Donald at least does some good with him money. Has Michael Eisner ever........ OK , I'll stop. Obviously, I need support here guys) but I hear that the Disneyland Hotel is very convenient and you can go back and forth with ease to avoid melt down. Help!


Earlier recommendations

From: See-Ming (6/98)

Dear Andrea,

While I am not thrilled with the way Disney squeezes every cent they can from you, I do enjoy Disney and have been a Disney fan most of my life. We have been annual pass holders for years and my husband and I recently, as in two weeks ago, visited Disneyland (DL) with our 2 1/4 year daughter. It can be a hectic place, but if you plan your trip, it shouldn't wipe you out. I just gave the following advice to my sister who is visiting DL with her two kids next week.

Disneyland is undergoing major construction and is not as easily accessible as it used to be. You definitely want to stay at a hotel near the Park that offers free transportation to and from the Park (my friend who went this morning said it took 20 minutes to get from the off-ramp to the hotel), but you may not need to spend mucho bucks to stay at the DL hotel as the really convenient feature, the monorail, is closed Monday -Friday until 6:00p due to the street construction below it. There is a shuttle between the Park and the DL hotel and Pan Pacific Hotel (also owned by Disney) every 20-30 minutes. You should check out the other hotels in the area since you will have to take a shuttle to and from the Park anyway.

I think the best way to enjoy the Park is to not *expect* to go on every ride and to not feel like you have to squeeze in every ride because you paid a ton of money to get into the Park. You can purchase a 5-day Flex pass for the price of a 2-day pass at any Disney Store (you cannot purchase this pass at the gate): price is $68/adult and $51/child (3-11) here at UCSF; I think it costs $75/adult at the Disney Stores. This includes the "Early Entry" feature which allows admission to the Park 1 hour before the regular hours (take advantage of this!!). There is an attractions board at the end of Main Street, near the Carnation food area, which lists the attractions and the waiting times for the rides.

The best times to go on rides is early in the morning and late in the evening. The most popular rides currently are Astro Orbiter, Rocket Rods, Indiana Jones, Honey I Shrunk the Audience, Star Tours and Splash Mountain. Of course, the perennial favorites like Dumbo, Jungle Cruise, Space Mountain, Matter Horn, and Thunder RR also attract long lines. Plan to go on 2 or 3 popular rides as early as possible to avoid waiting in long lines. The lines are also quite short an hour or so before the Park closes. *OR* pick a morning, and visit the popular-but-not-new rides like Pirates of the Carribean, Haunted Mansion, Small World, Mr. Toad, etc. first thing -- we did this and *walked* on the first 4-5 rides. Watch out for the lines in Tomorrowland as that section of the Park just reopened 5/22 and the lines are incredible! Visit the Disney site: http://www.disneyland.com/ and check out the rides. You can get an idea of what rides you want to go on and an idea of the Park layout before you get there.

When the lines are long and you're feeling a little tired, have lunch outside the Park, play in the water areas -- they just opened a new water area in Tomorrowland that children love (but bring extra clothes or have them wear swim clothes underneath), visit the new Innoventions area (I personally like this a lot and it's air-conditioned!) in Tomorrowland, see the shows in the afternoon (Disneyland Presents Animazement - The Musical is great), go on rides with short(er) lines like the Carousel, Pinocchio, Snow White ...

There is just something about the magic of Disneyland that brings joy to every child. I hope you have a great time.


From: Donna (7/98)

My husband and I took our 5 year old daughter to Disneyland just this past May. We purchased one of those Magic Kingdom Club packages (available through UC Visitors Center) which included hotel and Disneyland passes (also has airfare if needed). If you have the time, I highly suggest getting the 5-day passport for Disneyland. It's very tiring trying to see all of Disneyland in one day. We also stayed at a very reasonable and clean hotel, Park Inn International, which is right across the street from the main entrance to Disneyland....about a ten minute walk. We often took breaks throughout the day and headed to the hotel for a swim and rest.

I also suggest to first time Disneyland visitors, this book " Unofficial Guide to Disneyland". Can't think of the authors name but I got my copy from Barnes and Noble. It's a great guide for parents and gives wonderful hints so your visit is less stressful. There is a section in the book where each ride is critiqued and rated for its fright factor for each age group.


From: Noah (7/98)

Took the kids (ages 4 & 6) to Disneyland to celebrate my graduation (yeah!) in May. Had a terrific time with a minimum of planning. Went on a weekday which made for somewhat lighter crowds. As I refuse to pay $2.50 for a small bottle of water, we carried in a backpack with a few water bottles in it. We also brought in some orange juice. This small effort saved us from having to buy sodas/water and hunt for drinking fountains. We also carried in some acceptable (acceptable to me, that is) treats like granola bars, fruit roll-ups, licorice, and a couple pieces of chocolate. I also brought in some cut-up apples. Thus we were able to snack while waiting in some of the longer lines. This saved time, gave us something to do while in line, and kept me from having fits about overpriced foods/snacks. The backpack was not a burden mostly because we hung it on the ancient, el-cheapo umbrella stroller that we brought from home. My daughter hasn't used it in quite awhile, but it made all the difference for us because it gave her a chance to sit while waiting in lines. She even napped in it in the Matterhorn line! (Strollers in general are not a burden because every other family there has one and there are huge parking areas outside of almost every ride.) Anyway, we had only one day and we went like crazy from noon until the park closing at midnight. (We nearly slept away the next day!) Our motel was the Best Western Park Place Inn which straddles the crosswalk that leads to the park entrance. I think only the shuttle buses can park closer than that motel. We couldn't have been closer if we tried to get the best Disney parking place. It was a blast and we have no regrets except that we couldn't have afforded to stay longer. I hope you have lots of fun and go with a positive attitude. (Just close your eyes to all of the gift shops attached to the ride exits!) Our kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves as did the two overgrown-kids they have for parents. As proof I can say that our 6-year-old only whined once during the entire day and that was because he thought we were walking too fast in the Swiss Family Robinson Tree house. I think it also helped that we kept the trip a secret until the last minute. This avoided the "build-up" that sometimes messes with kids' expectations. I guess it also gave us as parents a thrill to know we were surprising our kids with something they were going to love. (P.S. don't forget lightweight windbreakers if you plan to stay late into the night.)


Date: Fri, 4 Oct 1996 13:36:01 -0700
From: Laurie

Hi all, We recently took our two-year old to Disneyland, and checked out the information on the UCB parents website before our trip. We all (Grandma was there too) had a really great time watching the Lion King Parade, and we never would have gone to it without reading about it at the website. Thank you all for passing on your suggestions. I actually have a few suggestions (maybe these can be added to the site):

1) Get there when it opens, and call Disneyland to find out the exact hours before you go. We found out the night before we went that they were opening at 8am. The hours listed on Disney's website were 9-midnight, and weren't up-to-date. We did have to wait in line for our entrance ticket, but once we got in we had the rides to ourselves.

2) If there are lots of crowds, and the waits are overwhelming at the cool rides, go on the Jungle Cruise ride. The tourguides give a really silly talk, because the ride is so campy and outdated. We all enjoyed it much more than we expected to.

3) If your kid(s) likes to climb and run around, visit Tom Sawyer's Island.

Laurie

OK, here's my Disneyland advice.

1. Find out what time it opens the day you're there and arrive at
opening time. (Opening time varies; call)

2. Get a locker first thing. Right by the main entrance. You can stash
jackets (it will get cool later) and other supplies and lockers may fill
up by the afternoon so get one early.

3. Will your kid consider riding in a stroller? They are very handy
by mid-day when they're tired and don't want to walk/stand anymore.
Strollers are right by the main entrance too.

4. Plan out which 2 of the most popular rides you want most to see and 
go there first, or wait until after 9pm to go there. 
For example, Indiana Jones is new, and lines will be long, but the
wait will be quicker in the morning.

5. My  faves are Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted House and Star Wars.
The first two are a lot of fun for nighttime. They all 3 had long lines
last summer but not at night.

6. If you're staying at a motel with a pool, consider leaving the big D
around noon to go swimming, eat lunch, maybe even TAKE A NAP. Then you 
can go back in the afternoon when it starts cooling off. Disneyland is 
really fun at night, and they're open till midnight, if the little one 
doesn't wear out.

7. Don't miss the night-time show, which people will start lining up
for in an obvious way. The one last year was a totally cool laser show
on the big pond in the middle. It's true that you can easily get on any
ride while the shows are going on, but the show itself is better than 
getting a short wait for a popular ride. 

8. food:
I don't think there is a MacDonald's. There is plenty of kid-oriented
food around and it does tend to be expensive, about what you'd expect.
But I did find plain pasta for pretty cheap, hot dogs, stuff like that.
Also I took in snacks in a backpack, which I ended up stashing in the
locker. However, be forewarned that unless the snack is really good,
your child will probably prefer one of the ever-present goody stands.

By the way, from a mom's perspective on food, there was no beer anywhere 
to be had, I can tell you that. And it gets hot down there!

We took our 2-1/2 year old over Memorial Day weekend, and of course it was packed! But I get the impression it's always like that during the summer. One day we arrived at the gate at about 7:15; the park had opened at 7:00. But when we got to Dumbo, there was already a long line (not long compared to the lines for Indiana Jones, but long for a 2-year-old to be patient). There is no McDonald's within the park, but there is one on Harbor Blvd. right across from the entrance. The food within the park is pretty expensive for "fast food," but not excessively so.

Have fun! My boy keeps talking about going back.


We took our 5.5 year old son in April and it was a great time. If you are going for just one day, get ahold of the map/brochure in advance (at your hotel or at the monorail station in the Disneyland Hotel -- you don't have to be a guest at the hotel to use the station). Pick out the things you want to do most so that you don't waste time in the a.m., when the kids are too excited to study the map. It's crowded even at 8 am, but zip off the the "big wait" rides early. With any luck, your son is too young/short for Indiana Jones and Splash Mountain, and waiting in a 2-hour line won't be an issue!

There are McDonald-like places all over D-land, more expensive, but not that bad. For a healthier item, the hamburger place in Bear Country makes a great tuna sandwich. We filled a backpack with snackss, and it kept the price of impulse food buying down. Don't miss the parades (the Lion King parade and the nighttime Electric Parade). The crowds are big, but it is easy to find a spot to see since the parade routes are so long you might have to sit on a curb for 30 mins., but it's a good time for a rest and a snack.

Hope you have a great time!


We took our kids 2 years ago with that Safeway program. We were in the park by 8:00 in the morning for breakfast with the characters along with at 500-1000 other people! No matter how early you go it will be crowded!

Yes the food was very expenisive. If my memeory serves me right I bought the kids a lunch box juice for 1.00. When ever we go to the movies or out for the day, I freeze the kids their own personal water bottle that I keep in my bag. I also pack them fruit snacks, jello etc. This worked well when we went to universal studios last month. The kids want to eat until dinner time. We bought them 1 drink & we took breaks...they pulled out a snack and enjoyed the freedom of having their own stuff. Since we were on the move & there was so much to see they worry about what was in there bag.

I also saw a women with lots of fruit in her bag! Hope this info is helpful!

I don't recall a McD's but would imagine the cost is the same. My advice is to get a package deal and stay at the Disneyland Hotel. I took my now 15 year old and 3 year old a couple of years ago and boy did it make things convenient. I could go back on the train with the baby when she got tired and the rest of the family could continue to enjoy the park. Food varied in prices so look around.


Disneyland is one of those places that costs money, plain and simple. Beyond the tickets for admission, it's real easy to spend $50-$100, even though the rides are free. Plan your day so that at least one meal (lunch or dinner) is eaten outside the park and you'll save dough. Also, try to buy your Disney souvenirs at a mall Disney store before you get there instead of at Disneyland, where they are much more expensive.
the food is expensive, I was in Disneyland recently but I didn't spot McDonalds in there, what we did, is packed some sandwiches, fruits, drinks ( I had a cooler in my van so I had cold drinks) and didn't spend so much money on "junk food".

I do recomend to show up early, if you pick up the discount package from U-hall, you may pick some special packages and be able to have breakfast with the characters! : these packages include combinations of Universal studios tour, hotels, etc. Have fun!


I took my 13 and 16 year olds to Disneyland the end of June and don't remember seeing _anything_ not trademarked by Disney. Food is expensive there, especially with the two bottomless pits that I hang out with;-) It sounds like you are only planning on spending one day at Disneyland... we stumbled onto a great deal that took the pressure off of trying to do it all in one day. Local campgrounds (including KOA) and motels have a 5 day pass that sells for about the same price as a two day pass.... Plan on spending lots of time standing in line (my legs hurt by the 3rd day and my youngest kept stepping on my toes:( ), especially for the more exciting rides-none of which go upside down.
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