Families on their way to Disneyland usually have a long list of things they must see and do while they are there with plans for the bigger, more obvious wants and desires during their visit. However, there are a lot of little things like ways to take care of unanticipated needs, ways to keep small children entertained and engaged in a highly stimulating environment and surprises that can help your family’s visit be a success. In this article you will find a mix of tips, tricks and surprises to help you create the perfect Disneyland experience. With a little knowhow almost anything is possible.
• Have Breakfast with the Disneyland Characters – Most kids have favorite Disney characters and little else matters as much as meeting their heroes. The problem is the chance of running into a specific character while walking around the park aren’t great. You can catch many of the Disney characters in the same place and have breakfast while you meet them. Character breakfasts are definitely the way to go if meeting the Disney characters are a must for your children. Plus there’s the advantage of not waiting in lines. Each character goes from table to table so all you have to do is sit comfortably while you eat breakfast and they’ll come to you. Your children can also dance with the characters during the Disney Character Dance Party before you leave. This option makes sure your kids see the characters first thing in the morning so you won’t have to search for the appropriate cast member all day long. Insider tip: Try breakfast at Disney’s Paradise Pier. This is the only restaurant where Mickey Mouse is guaranteed to make an appearance.
• Finding Favorite Characters in the Park – If you miss out on one of the character breakfasts, you will now be responsible for hunting down favorite characters while inside the park. This doesn’t have to be a nightmare of chasing just spotted characters around the park or learning one has retired for the day by the time you figure out where they are. Instead of spending much of the day keeping all eyes peeled for a specific character, use FindingMickey.com to pinpoint different character’s location throughout the day. You can then determine who you are closest to at any point in time and surprise your kids with an impromptu meet-up. They’ll be awestruck wondering how you seem to know exactly where each Disney character is located. The site has a lot of other useful information on dining, background, secrets of Disneyland, and locating all the hidden Mickey’s that are throughout the park.
• Bring in Your Families Old Stand-by Food and Drinks – Everyone likes novelty every once in a while, especially when visiting a theme park like Disneyland. Yet children get hungry often when expending energy from all the excitement of the day. This means not only meals but snacks and frequent drinks which can add up to a bundle. Children also are drawn to unique sounding foods they have never tried before like the Dole Whip Float and Zebra Dome even if they choose to skip the School Bread (it is vacation after all). While it all sounds great when they hear it for the first time, like everyone, children do best with familiar foods. Since Disneyland lets you bring in food and drinks, make sure to pack a supply of favorite snacks and drinks (including bottled water no matter what else your family craves) to limit stomach aches and indigestion throughout the day. Plan one special meal in the park and allow one small snack and drink from a kiosk but supply the rest of the food from what you pack yourself. Explain this to the children ahead of time so they don’t get too disappointed when you won’t buy them every food item at Disney. Try to save the snack for the afternoon as something to look forward too instead of buying it in the morning before lunch leaving them with no more “special” treats later in the day.
• Don’t Limit the Shopping Just to Avoid the Packages – Families often bring a lot of gear with them into the park especially when traveling with more than one child. Sometimes, this causes families to avoid shopping since they know they can only carry so much and don’t want to subject themselves to temptation. Go ahead and shop til you drop. You can ask the Disney Cast Members at the different shops to have your packages delivered to Will-Call. If you are staying in one of the Disneyland Resorts, you can even have them delivered to your room. Just make sure you have left complete information about where you will pick up your packages and include a cell phone and the phone number of where you are staying to make sure the right packages go to the right guests. There are thousands of guests that float through the gates every day and sometimes two people have the same name or orders get misplaced no matter how organized the salespeople are.
• Schedule Meals Around Parade Times – Parades are one of the most popular “must-see” attractions at Disneyland. This means it can be tough to find a great spot to watch from that’s not already overcrowded. Determine where you want to watch the parade from and get there early with your meal so your kids can have something to do before the parade starts. Try to do some of the more energy consuming activities right before, so your children will be ready for a rest and not fight the break from the rides. Bring games and books to keep them busy right up until the start time. This way you can get one of the primo viewing locations without the kids complaining about the wait.
• Gage Your Child’s Readiness for Rides beyond Height Restrictions – Height restrictions listed for many of the child rides are there for safety. While your child may be physically safe on a ride that doesn’t mean the ride won’t be too scary for them. For example, small children can go on the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion rides based on their height but may become scared during the rides. Only you can gauge if a ride is appropriate for your child. View clips of the child rides on the Internet before your trip or by ordering a free DVD from Disney so you can decide ahead of time which rides your child will enjoy and which ones are likely to be overwhelming for them. One overly scary ride can ruin a good portion of the day for small children who don’t yet regulate their emotions well.
These are just a few tips to help you have the best Disney family vacation ever. Make sure to do your research before your trip for other ideas, coupons, special opportunities for families, seasonal offerings, and ways to save on the whole experience. You can make even a repeat visit to Disneyland exciting with new encounters and adventures you didn’t know about before.
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