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Tips For The Best Disneyland Vacation
The Tips... Disneyland
It is important to start with a plan. Whether you are planning a day trip or a week long stay. Planning ahead gives the opportunity to do as mush as possible in the time given.
How many days are you going for? There are discounts and free days for buying a package deal. The package deal can include tickets, accommodations (hotel), and even air fair. I recommend finding the best deal on the tickets. Purchase them in advance to avoid the ticket lines at the park. When you arrive at the park with your tickets in hand you can go straight to the park entrances and avoid the ticket lines and in most cases get a better deal.
Note, If you live in the LA area or frequent the area several times a year and plan on going to Disneyland often the Annual Pass is a better deal. Park Hopper tickets are recommended for all purchases. They get you into both parks throughout the day, as many times as you want to "hop" parks.
Where will you be staying? There are several options.
The Disneyland Resort Hotels are on the Disneyland property. They offer convenience and ease when walking into the parks. The Grand Californian, the spendiest of the 3 options, has it's own entrance into the California Adventure Park. *My family has stayed at the Disneyland Hotel, the mid priced of the 3 options, Although it was nice being so close to everything and getting some VIP treatment it was almost double the price of the good neighbor hotel we had stayed at 2 years before.
The Good Neighbor Hotel Options. There are currently, January 2014, 41 Good Neighbor Hotels that affiliate with Disneyland. They are all within walking distance from the parks, some are a bit of a jaunt and do offer free and paid shuttles. I recommend finding one that is very close so you do not have to depend on the shuttle service schedules. Some of the perks of the good neighbor hotels are free breakfast, most are very Disney friendly with gift shops offering souvenirs that are much less than the gifts in the parks, saving you more money. The Disneyland site promotes these hotels and allows you to purchase Disney vacation packages that include the Good Neighbor Hotels.
Airbnb, This is a Vacation rental website where both businesses and private parties rent out rooms, houses and the like to others. Check it out here https://www.airbnb.com/ . I have never used this service.There are feedback ratings for guests and hosts to help you chose a reputable place to stay. There are several vacation homes in the Disneyland area on this site.
Resort or Timeshare Stays. If you own a timeshare or resort membership you can stay at one of the Resorts in the area. We own a resort membership and have stayed at the Dolphin Resort down the street from Disneyland. It was a 2 bedroom with a full kitchen. So we saved because we got a huge discount on the room plus we did some meals in the room and saved there too.
Once you are in the park
So you have checked in, tickets in hand, ready to enter the park/parks.
Security... Since 9/11 there are security teams checking bags when you enter the parks from any direction. They will want to see in your bags, purses, fannypacks, kid's backpacks, diaper bags etc... The best thing to do when going through these check points is to have your bags unzipped and ready. They require you to take the bag off of your person and placed on a table for the security officer. This is an inconvenience but it is for our safety so be nice and prepared to make the happiest place on earth a happy place.
The entrance. Since you already have your tickets you can go straight to the entrance lines. These can be long so be patient. Have your tickets ready when it is your turn. The attendant takes your ticket and passes it through the computer. This records you are in the park and that you have used a day on your ticket. Note* When leaving either park you will get a florescent hand stamp that will allow you back into the parks so you will only use the ticket once a day.
You are in, now what?
Get out your map, if you don't have one ask an entrance attendant for one. Start mapping out your day. You may have already done this in the hotel room or even from home. On the website there is information on open and closed times for each park, what rides are under renovations so you can plan your daily schedule around these. For example if California Adventure park is staying open late, plan your day around that. Maybe starting out at Disneyland in the morning, going back to the room for some lunch and nap time for the younger kids and then back to California Adventure for the evening.
Strollers and Wheelchairs
If you have little ones even as old as 5 or 6 you may want to opt for the stroller rental. The benefits are that you can put your stuff, snacks, sweatshirts and diaper bags in the stroller basket and leave it all in a stroller parking when on a ride or attraction. Keeping money and personal stuff on your person in a fanny pack or pocket. You can opt to bring your own stroller too, If you are riding a shuttle you will be required to fold up the stroller on the shuttle. I recommend to rent if riding a shuttle.
Wheel chairs can be rented. If you have a person that has a hard time walking or has an injury renting a wheel chair will help them navigate the park. There is no special requirements to rent a wheelchair and you can use the stroller parking.
Have fun and stay cool. Bring water bottles, sunscreen, hats, sweatshirts if the weather is cool or is staying after dark. Remember this is the Happiest Place On Earth so be patient with one another.