Disneyland Tips for Families
With so much to see and do at Disneyland, it’s easy for a family to end up feeling rushed and pressured to “do it all,” which often results in a harried and unsatisfying visit. Different age groups within a family can also put some strain on deciding which attractions to visit, and if or when any downtime breaks are needed, and how those breaks are spent. A little advance planning and forethought can lay the foundation for a wonderful experience for all family members that will create cherished memories to last a lifetime.
A visit to Disneyland is an exciting prospect that holds the promise of fun, magic and dreams come true. When visiting the park as a family, a little planning and forethought will pave the way to make the visit enjoyable for all ages, and help turn a family’s Disney dream into reality.
Celebrating a birthday or other special occasion? Make City Hall on Main Street the first stop of the day. Quietly alert the Cast Member host at the desk that someone in your party is celebrating a special day and that you would like to receive a phone call in honor of the event. The host will quickly understand, and you can then, in regular voice, ask the host whether a call has come in for your guest. The Cast Member will present a special phone from behind the desk, and allow your guest to hear a surprise message from Mickey, Goofy, Donald or another famous Disney character, sending greetings and well wishes for your guest’s special day.
A Special Call for a Special Someone
To cap it off, the Cast Member will likely present your guest with either a button or sticker commemorating the celebration (if they don't offer it, go ahead and ask). There is no charge for this extra service!
Mickey's on the Phone!
Huh-hah! When this phone rings, Mickey's voice says, "Gee, I wonder who it is? . . . " and other fun phrases!
Sure, you can stand in line to meet Mickey at his house in Toontown, but it’s much more exciting to have the Disney characters come right up to you on their own. Character breakfasts, available at the Plaza Inn inside Disneyland and at four other locations within the Disneyland Resort, are a great way to enjoy a delicious meal while interacting with some beloved characters (and don't think this is just for little kids!). The characters come directly to your table to greet you and may engage in any kind of playful activity with those at your table. Characters may also interact with each other near your party, and you never know just what fun they may create for your family, as the characters often will tailor their interactions based on the age group(s) at the table. Be sure to keep a camera ready for those treasured photo opportunities!
After walking from attraction to attraction, there will be times when you’ll need a little break to refresh and recharge. This is particularly important when little ones are in tow, as over-stimulated kids can make for a long (read: unpleasant) day at the park. Thankfully, there are some good options for rest stops, and taking a breather doesn’t have to mean missing out on any of the Disneyland fun.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, located in Adventureland, provides an outdoor seating area on its patio. While relaxing there, order a tasty Dole Pineapple Whip, enjoy the pre-show performance by the various tiki gods, and learn about pineapple production in the Dole video presentation, The Flavor of Hawaii.
At the conclusion of the pre-show, guests are invited inside the Tiki Room, where rows of seating await to further extend relaxation time while the birdies sing and the flowers croon. The exterior pre-show plus the interior main show equals a total rest time of 26 minutes.
Tiki Delights at Home
During the day, this 18.5" tall tiki warrior charges by the power of the sun; at night, his fiery light shines forth from his torch and his eyes!
Despite the risk of earning an earworm for the remainder of the day from its repetitive theme song, many guests use the it’s a small world attraction as a resting opportunity. The recently refurbished ride offers comfortable seating in boats that gently glide through the waters on its journey celebrating worldwide peace. Guests get to celebrate ten minutes of welcomed rest.
If the grown-ups want to rest but the kids are still antsy, stop by the Big Thunder Mountain Ranch, located on the path between Frontierland and Fantasyland. The kids can interact with animals in the petting zoo and explore the walk-through barn while adults rest their tired dogies for a while. It’s a nice break from the rush and whirl of the thrill attractions. And, if tummies are grumbling, the Big Thunder Mountain Barbecue is right there with all-you-can-eat provisions.
Cookin' With Mickey
This non-stick cooker grills the image of Mickey Mouse right into both sides of two pocket sandwiches.
Speaking of mealtime, if your family includes a baby, there's a peaceful nursing station just off Main Street, next door to the Plaza Inn. The Baby Care Center offers comfortable, softly lit private rooms finished in turn of the previous century décor, providing a relaxing setting for mommy and baby to gently share some quiet nursing moments. The Cast Members in the center will warm bottles for you, bring you diapers, powder and other changing necessities. Formula, baby food and high chairs are also available in the center, as are baby changing stations and tiny toilets for toddlers.
There is no charge to nurse or feed in the center, and prices for any needed supplies you may not have on hand are reasonable.
Disney Family Fun
Splitting Up and Meeting Up
Families with children of various ages may wish to split up for part of the day, with younger children enjoying the delights of Fantasyland while older children take on the thrill rides elsewhere in the park. Eventually, parties will want to reunite, and most people want a meet-up spot that is centrally located and easy to find. A common choice is to meet at the hub, the circular center plaza in front of the castle at the end of Main Street. Because of its popularity for meet-ups, the hub tends to remain crowded most of the day, which is precisely why it may not be the best option to choose.
Consider instead other areas nearby the hub, such as Snow White’s Wishing Well on one side of the castle, or the roomier Carnation Plaza Gardens located at the opposite side of the castle. An excellent option that provides air conditioning and entertainment while you wait is the Main Street Cinema, where guests are treated to classic black-and-white Mickey Mouse cartoons. Waiting spots with seating include the wood slat benches and cement ledges next to the Alice In Wonderland attraction, just off of the hub. Here, guests can do some old-fashioned people watching and take in the sights and sounds of the park as a whole. Another great place to await your party is inside the Disneyland Story attraction, located within the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction building on Main Street. Relax on upholstered benches while learning about the history and future plans of Disneyland as presented through video, scale models and sketches of various park features.
The most helpful tip for families who have a limited time to enjoy Disneyland is to plan ahead. Prior to the trip, research the attractions, restaurants and activities to determine interests and priorities. Be sure to budget in resting time, and don’t be in such a rush as to overlook small but significant details (keep your eyes peeled for hidden Mickeys throughout the park!). Drink in the magic of Disneyland at a pace that works for the entire family, and you’ll come away with that very sense of delight that Walt himself wanted families to experience.
© M.S. Ross - All Rights Reserved
What successful strategies has your family employed to help little toddlers, kids and teens all enjoy a family visit to the Happiest Place on Earth? Did you include particular plans to ensure the adults in your party also had an enjoyable visit as well? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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