[Part 2] Disneyland Vacation Planning:
What You Need to Know Before Going to the Happiest Place on Earth
(If you missed Part 1 of our Disneyland vacation planning post including pro-packing tips, how to hack the long lines, get loads of freebies, and more, click here).
Let's get one thing straight: there are two different theme parks that are a part of the Disneyland area, and they are located side by side one another in Southern California.
Disneyland Park is Walt Disney's original theme park, which includes everything from Main Street, U.S.A., Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Mickey’s Toontown and of course the famous castle. This park is a classic if you have never been before, and a must see for the little ones.
Disneyland California Adventure Park kind of acts like Disneyland's awesome older sister. This park is able to create feelings of nostalgia and childhood, while taking Disney to the next level. The fun boardwalk creates a more mature feeling (especially since you can purchase a drink), while still maintaining a friendly vibe with your favorite movie characters having a presence. Today, there are 8 different lands in the park dedicated to characters from your favorite recent movies.
Save money & learn how the ticket system works
Knowing the difference between a 1-Park Per Day ticket, a multi-day ticket, and a Park Hopper ticket can certainly save you some extra cash for Minnie ears. Read below to find out the different ticket types during a Disney trip.
① Any child 0-3 years old can enter for free. Adult ticket prices apply to kids 10 years old and above. Children's tickets (age 3-9) are slightly cheaper. You can purchase your tickets here or using the official Disneyland app.
② 1-Park Per Day Tickets get you into one park - either Disneyland Park or California Adventure - on the day of your visit. This is your best option if you're only staying for a short time.
③ Multi-Day Tickets get you in one park on one day and another park the following day. You have 13 days to use this ticket from the first day you enter a park. This is a better option if you're planning on doing other things aside from going to Disneyland, or want to stay two days.
④ Park Hopper Tickets are a bit more pricey, but they allow you to hop from one park to the another on the same day. This is a better option if you have favorite rides located in both parks, or aren't sure which park you'll love the most.
⑤ If you're visiting for more than three days, consider getting three- to five-day tickets. These are also available in 1-Park Per Day and Park Hopper options.
⑥ If you're at Disneyland multiple times in a year, consider getting an Annual Passport. At the very least, all of them offer free parking.
You can also get discounts on your tickets if you're a resident of Southern California, if you're an AAA and CSAA member, or if you're a member of the military. You can even get a discount simply by being Canadian!
Apps, apps, and away!
Having trouble locating a ride? How about keeping track of your FASTPASS tickets? Wouldn't you love to know how long a line is before you get there? You’ll want to download these helpful Disney trip planner (and time saving) apps onto your phone pronto:
① Official Disneyland Resort App (FREE | Android & iOS). This app can do it all - check wait times, buy park tickets, locate rides via GPS-enabled maps, and monitor FASTPASS return times among others.
② RideMax ($14.95 for 90-day subscription | Android & iOS). When you subscribe it can help you create a personalized time-efficient itinerary based on the attractions you want to visit. This will save you loads of time!
④ Family Locator (FREE | Android & iOS). The GPS feature lets you know exactly where everyone is in real time. You can upgrade to the premium version if you want to use it after your Disneyland visit.
Just keep in mind, that the park-wide guest wifi service is still in the testing phase, so these apps' are still dependent on your data service in the area.
Apps to keep the kids entertained in line::
Keeping a peaceful mind at Disneyland. Say what?
We can share all Disneyland planning tips we have so you can enjoy your trip, but we all know that the only hack a parent really needs is how to keep a peace of mind. Here are some tips on what to do in emergency situations.
Prepare your kids for “getting lost”:
① Pre-trip, prepare your children for the possibility that they might get separated from you in the park. For younger kids, it's better if you role play what they should do next in case that happens.
② Print a map, marking a specific location - preferably where there are adults that can help them, like the child care centers or concierge - where they should go to in case they get separated from you.
③ Use a temporary tattoo to write your phone number on your child, or have them wear a lanyard with all your important contact info.
④ You can also have a button made with your contact information on it, which you can pin on their clothing or backpack.
⑤ Dress them in brightly colored or distinct clothing which you can spot a mile away in a crowd.
⑥ If they have a mobile phone with them, download the family tracker app, so you can quickly locate them via GPS.
In case they need medical help:
Although there are locations inside the park offering first aid, it doesn't hurt (no pun intended) to put together your own first aid kit using a Small Packing Cube. You can also include asthma medication, an inhaler, allergy medication, motion sickness patches, Band-Aids, etc.
In case they require special assistance:
Disneyland's website has a pretty comprehensive guide on the services they offer for guests that require special assistance, including suggested attractions that are safe to ride as per your child's condition.
Plan and Pack Like a Pro.
Disneyland is a mission - and the only way to survive it is with careful planning and strategic packing.
Stage 1: Planning
Include your kids in the planning stage of your trip. Ask their opinion for which attractions, events, and rides they want to see! Involving them at this stage in the process will give them a sense of ownership about the plan. Because it was their idea after all, right? *wink, wink*
This is also a good time to sort out all the little things, like questions about why they won’t be able to ride Space Mountain just yet. Explain how there is an age limit (and height restriction) but give them hope by telling them when they are all grown up they will be back! Trust us, you'd rather have this conversation now than while you're already in the park, and a tantrum is approaching.
Here’s a helpful pre-trip planning checklist:
① Measure your kids' heights and check this list for which rides they make the cut for. Some rides have specific height requirements.
② Make reservations (and we're not kidding) months in advance for any restaurants (mostly for nice places) at the park and at the hotel. And, if your plans include a character dining experience, best to book that early too.
③ Download the park's map (print or screenshot on your phone) and mark all the important locations using different colors. Label all the rides you're planning to go on that day, where the bathrooms are, charging stations, first aid stations, baby care centers, police, etc. Create one map for each day, if you're planning multiple visits during your stay, to pace your day.
Stage 2: Packing
One organizing trick used by seasoned jetsetters is packing cubes. Here’s why:
✌ Prevents over packing & saves space. Traveling with kids means you will most likely return with some unnecessary souvenirs.
✌ Organizes items into separate cubes (and different colors if you order multiple colors).
✌ They get you through TSA faster (and with less embarrassment). EzPacking’s 4-piece Starter Set uses a clear (see through) material, so security can instantly see what's inside your bag - 100% TSA Compliant! On a similar note, the clear cubes make it easier for you to keep tabs of what’s inside each cube when you arrive to your destination.
✌ They help separate kids into different colored cubes. You can assign one color to each of your kids, and have them share a suitcase. Or you can assign one color to tops and blouses, one color to pants and shorts, one color to snack items, etc.
✌ Use a Medium Cube to prepare a Disney Daily Essentials kit. This kit will have all the items that you'll reach for during your day at the park, such as: chargers, tissues, lip balm, snacks, reading glasses, poncho, hat, sunglasses, sweater, etc.
For more packing tips, read this packing guide from Disney experts!
Fact: Things will go wrong.
If you're traveling with kids, this goes without saying. But it doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact you can use, what may seem like an unfortunate situation, as an opportunity to teach your kids valuable life lessons.
You can show them how to be creative problem solvers. Or how to exercise patience when faced with frustrating situations. Or simply how to appreciate the magic of being together at the happiest place on Earth.
If you found this post useful, there's more good stuff in our Disneyland guide series Part 1, which you can check out here.
Meanwhile, you can click here to download our FREE Disneyland Family Packing List!
Safe travels! Here we come Disneyland!
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