During the 5 weeks staying in Dana Point last summer, we surprised Reese and Maddix (and Paige!) with a trip to Disneyland.
I have never been a huge Disney person at all – the crowds, rides, expensive character stuff, just never was up my alley. BUT, having a little 4 year old who breathes and lives for princesses and knowing how it would literally blow her mind to see these princesses in real life and all the other characters, too, well…we just felt it was time. There really is something magical about Disneyland and I couldn’t wait to experience it with the kids.
The surprise went great, Russ made the most INCREDIBLE color-coded spreadsheet itinerary I could not be more proud of (I mean, it was DETAILED) and we were off on our Disney experience.
The 3 nights/4 days went so smoothly and it was so…just…EASY.
Because of the help and tips I received that made it so, I wanted to pass along what I felt were some of the key things that made for a, dare I say, effortless Disney trip ::
- Read up on Disney blogs. DLRPrepschool, girl you hooked us UP. If you are a beginner Disney-goer like me this site is your first stop. From booking Reese’s Bippity Boppity Boutique princess makeover, to knowing where to book lunch, to planning our itinerary and learning about stroller rentals, Disney blogs like hers and other IG accounts are where you can get all the real info you need.
- Stay on property. If you are considering staying on property at a Disneyland Resort hotel, I highly recommend it. Being able to just walk out and over to the park entrance each morning was golden. Our room at the Disneyland Hotel was great (I’m picky about hotel rooms) and being on the top floor we watched the fireworks at night from our balcony which was just right for us instead of fighting the crowds (they have a TV station that plays the music for the fireworks show.) I read and heard about people coming back to the hotel room to shower or nap or swim and I honestly didn’t think that would be us (I mean, we can swim or nap whenever, we need to maximize Disney time right?) but one of my favorite parts of the trip ended up being our time at the pool just hanging out and watching the girls have a blast there, too.
- Take advantage of Magic Morning. The parks open at 8am but if you have Magic Morning access you can get in at 7am. You can get access by either staying on the property or booking a character breakfast (there may be other ways but I’m not sure) and this was great for Russ and Maddix to run in and go to TOWN with all the rides before the crowds got there. Me on the other hand, I stayed back getting myself and the littles ready and then met up with the two “big kids” to go about the rest of the morning without having to stress about whether or not we could get into Space Mountain.
- Rent a stroller. I stressed out about what we were going to do about the stroller situation. Reese is 4 so she doesn’t use a stroller but I knew she wouldn’t be able to keep up walking in the parks. We don’t have a double stroller and didn’t have a second seat for our UppaBaby Vista. After reading reviews, we had City Stroller Rentals drop off a double jogger and IT WAS AMAZING. Their stringent cleaning and upkeep standards are high (they probably keep their strollers cleaner than I do) so I was super comfortable with it – and so were the kids. I’ve never used a jogger stroller before. Such a smooth ride.
- Use their technology. Download the Disneyland Park App and use the Photopass features. Look these up and it will tell you everything you need to know, but I’m here to say both are worth using.
And in case you were wondering, here were my favorite parts of Disneyland ::
- The Frozen Show at the Hyperion Theater. I CRIED. RUSS CRIED. Seriously.
- The Corn Dog Cart. The end.
- The Royal Faire. This is where you meet 3 princesses in succession with undivided attention for little princess while photographers snap candid and posed pics. Perfection.
- The lifeguards at The Disneyland Hotel. Russ made fun of me because of how obsessed I was with them but let me tell you, I have never seen a more well-trained and ON POINT group of staff members than these Disney lifeguards. In one kiddie pool they had 5 lifeguards 100% focused on one very small area each. When they redirected kids they did so with authority but in such a nice way. Then if they had to switch stations, they did so in a really efficient way with hand signals. On top of all that, one morning at 6am I looked down from our hotel window and saw all of them doing training exercises and practicing dragging and rescuing people out of the water. I don’t know anything about lifeguarding but this was the largest and most serious team I have ever seen. Leave it to Disney to put kids’ safety first, and it was clearly evident here that they truly took this job seriously.
- Riding with Paige on the carousel for her first time.
- The fireworks show. Again, I cried a bit here too.
So I guess now you can call me a Disney fan 🙂