Disneyland Vacation Recap + Tips

So I realize I am about 3 months late with his post, but better late than never eh? It sure has been a minute since I did any kind of a vacation re-cap, but this time I might actually have valuable information to share, so let’s go.

But first, a quick run down of our June vacation itinerary and the reasons behind the choices we made.

Tickets –

We decided to spend 2 days at Disneyland, and opted to go on a Tuesday and Wednesday (weekday crowds are supposedly better) and I researched blackout dates for season ticket holders (dates where they cannot use their passes). We went for the single park per day option instead of the park-hopper, rationalizing that, with kids it was probably unrealistic to think we could easily go back and fourth. We figured one full day at each park would be perfect, so we selected California Adventure for our first day and Disneyland for our second day. We also added on the Genie+ option which added an extra $20 per ticket per day. All in all, an extra $160 for all four of us. You can read all about the Genie+ pass here, but basically you can think of it as paying for fast passes (if you remember those). Genie+ means you can make a “reservation” for a ride and use the “lightening lane” (a.k.a fast pass lane) to bypass the standby line. The other big perk with Genie+ is that all the photos are included. This includes the ride photos (like Splash Mountain, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc.) and then any photos from the many Disney photographers that walk around. I will show some of these photos below. There are other perks, but those are the main ones at least for me.

Day 1 –

As I mentioned in a post I wrote before we left, we had planned on renting a stroller for Clara so her little legs would not have to carry her all over the park. We ended up abandoning this idea due to our park entrance strategy! We basically followed the guide from Mickeyvisit.com (cannot recommend this site enough) and knew that the best way to have a successful day at Disney is to start early. The crowds, wait times, and hot weather is at it’s best within the first hour – 1.5 hours. So getting to the park well before it opens is the best way to make this happen. The parks open at 8 am, and we were already through the main gates and situated in front of our chosen “land” for “rope drop”. These were all new-to-me terms that I was well versed on by the time we left.

I should also mention that we were able to wake up at the hour of 6:00 am for two reasons. We have little kids who wake up naturally at this time, and we stayed in Anaheim next to the parks. If you are traveling from far, or trying to drag teenagers out of bed, I realize that this does not make sense!

Following the guide, we distributed food once we were standing in line for the “rope drop” location to keep us busy. We also met and became friends with so many fun people around us. This was when we learned some of the most valuable information of all, such as:

  • How to use the Disneyland app, make lightening lane reservations, order food, etc.
  • What the height requirements for all the rides were (read more about that below)
  • What time all the night-time festivities began

It turned out that 40 inches seemed to be the make-or-break height requirement for several of the rides we wanted to take our adventurous little Clara on. Since we weren’t sure if she would make the cut (even with her Nikes on) some lovely parents next to us passed us a handful of extra raw sugar packets that they were stuffing in their kids shoes. We hesitantly took them, with confused looks on our faces. They explained to us that their son was mere millimeters away from the 40 inches so they were hoping that by stuffing the sugar packets under his foot, it would boost him up to the height he needed to go on his favorite rides. We laughed and threw them in the backpack, thinking we wouldn’t use them.

We followed this morning ride strategy from Mickeyvisit.com and headed directly to Cars Radiator Springs. We quickly realized that everyone else was headed this way as well, and we ended up waiting about 80 min to get on this ride! It was by far the longest wait we did the whole time we were there. It was definitely not the greatest, but at least it was about 70 degrees outside and our excitement definitely made the time pass.

We continued to follow the guide, riding Toy Story Midway Mania, Incredicoaster, Soarin, Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind, Pixar’s Pal-a-Round, and we attended the Disney Jr. Dance Party (which I would highly recommend if you have little ones). Then, all of my dreams came true when I got to ride The Little Mermaid with Clara. Watching her face light up and squeal with laughter…I MEAN. This is literally the pay-off you get for having kids, moments like that. Makes every hard thing so worth it.

We also happened upon the Sorcerer’s Workshop in the animation building. YOU GUYS. If you have kids, you MUST find this. Inside, there is a whole room that looks like the Beast’s library. It is SO cool, and they have little interactive stations. There is also a whole giant room where they play clips from Disney movies. The other bonus of this room is the fact that it is dark and has strong A.C, so there were several families in there with strollers letting their kids nap. How genius!

We had lunch at the Pym Test Kitchen where E and I both ordered the famous Pymini Panini (found on TikTok of course). And it lived up to the hype – delish. David and I shared a hard-seltzer (3 cheers for alcohol at California Adventure!) and we headed back to the hotel for a nap.

We stayed at the Radisson Blu Anaheim which was one of the nicest hotels I have stayed at. Granted, I have not stayed at the Four Seasons, but you get me. It was brand new, had a gorgeous lobby, really cute gift shop, AMAZINGLY nice customer service, super duper clean, and there were 2 pools. One of the pools is on the rooftop, is gorgeous, and is adult-only (not like we got to partake in that, but I still thought it was badass). We rode the ART shuttle (Anaheim Resort Transportation) back to the hotel after a bit of negotiating with the driver. You see, they make the whole shuttle system seem pretty easy but we did not find that to be the case. We were told that shuttles come every 20 min, and also that you have to request them. It was confusing but eventually we got the hang of it.

We all took naps back at the hotel on the first day. Our room was amazing, had 2 queen beds and a set of bunk beds. The girls slept in the bunk beds and David and I decided that having our own beds was seriously amazing for this kind of a vacation. Plenty of room to collapse and no biggie if the girls wanted to crawl into bed with one of us.

After naps we headed back to the park, did some more rides and of course got snacks. David and I found it pretty easy to trade off and on, riding things with E while the other parent hung with Clara and went on another ride with her. One option we did not really take advantage of was the rider switch. Apparently you can get in line together, and one parent can stand off to the side with the little kid while the other parent rides the ride with the older kid and then the parent that was with the little kid can ride the ride without having to wait in the standby line again. Whew!

That night, we watched the laser lights show and it really was amazing! After it ended, Clara and I went back to the hotel while David and E stayed until the park closed at 10 pm.

Day 2 –

The next day it was very much a rinse-and-repeat situation only we were in Disneyland this time. We arrived to the park early and made sure we were in place for the “rope drop” so we could zoom over to one of my all-time favorite Disneyland rides, Peter Pan. We also had to get a Minnie Mouse cake pop.

Of course, as we approached Fantasyland we quickly realized the ride was not open. So we decided to hop around Fantasyland and do all the small rides like Snow White, Frog and Toad, Pinocchio, etc. Of course we had to stop by New Orleans square (my favorite) that morning for a beignet!

Then David and I took turns standing in line for Clara to meet the princesses in the royal hall. I ended up missing our time slot and she went in with David. She ended up meeting Anna, Ariel, and Cinderella and was absolutely over the moon. He got it all on video, but I was pretty disappointed to have missed it. Luckily, we ended up getting to meet Elsa by the wishing well right afterwards and it was SO magical. I think meeting the characters is maybe my favorite thing about Disneyland.

ALSO! We saw Gaston! We did not get to meet him, but as we walked by I said “Hi Gaston!” to which he replied “Bonjour! Have you seen my bride-to-be, Belle?” OH GASTON.

Then of course we visited the Bippidi Boppidi Boutique, which sadly did not offer the styling services. We let Clara pick something out and of course she chose the Rapunzel crown – MAJESTY!

E caught the Disneyland Loungefly bug and decided that was what she wanted. I think she chose one of the cutest ones!

The rest of the day was spent doing several of the more kid-friendly experiences.

Clara ended up LOVING the Autopia ride. I let her “drive” and she was cackling the entire time.

I was having the best time, as so much has changed since I was a kid. We also OF COURSE visited the Tiki Room, a Disneyland classic. And we got so many classic Disneyland treats, like the infamous turkey leg which E decided to tackle all on her own!

To close out the day, we did the Winnie the Pooh ride which I had never been on before and it was adorable. I did end up missing out on some of my faves like Space Mountain and the Matterhorn, but all-in-all the day was perfect.

The next day we hit up downtown Disney before heading back to Palm Springs. I would highly recommend doing this, so many fun things to see. I ended up getting thee most beautiful candle ever (pumpkin spice scented!).

Such a perfect trip to Disney and one that I will never forget!

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