We have always wanted to go on a good, family-friendly vacation but it’s so hard to find the perfect trip when you have young kids! Kendall is 4 this year so we thought – what better age than FOUR to experience her first DISNEYLAND Adventure.
I want to share our experience with you as well as some tips and tricks we learned along the way! We spent a full FOUR days at Disney – which was a bit aggressive if you ask me but that being said – I have a lot of helpful info to share! What was worth it and what should have been a HARD pass – let’s get into this:
We flew into Los Angeles instead of John Wayne airport – it was much cheaper and easier to get tickets! $200/round trip per person! From the airport we took a Super Shuttle to the hotel – ended up about $15/per person instead of an $90 Uber trip – one way.
We stayed at Howard Johnson Hotel and Waterpark of Anaheim. I couldn’t say enough about this hotel! Not only is it an 8 min walk from the hotel to the main entrance of Disneyland but the Water Park on the hotel site is the perfect place for a day break from Disney. The hotel was about $150 per night which was a great price for it’s location and amenities. All surrounding hotels were $200+.
We ended up getting to the hotel a day before we had planned to visit Disneyland Park – so we laid out by the pool while Kendall, our 4 year old, ran around the water park and enjoyed the water slides. My husband and I watched from the hot tub and even played a little corn-hole off to the side! There are snacks and drinks (alcoholic or not) inside the market – next to lobby. If you’re looking to relax instead, there’s a bigger pool on the other side of the hotel with lounge chairs – a bit more peaceful!
Howard Johnson Hotel does not have room service but they DO have a cute little market down by the lobby with all sorts of goodies ranging from food to souvenirs! There’s also a sweet little cafe called Mimi’s– literally right across the street that was delicious!!
The walk from the hotel to Disneyland gives you multiple options for breakfast and coffee – there’s Mimi’s, Panera Bread, Mcdonald’s, a couple cute coffee shops, IHOP and more! These are also great lunch options if you’re trying to save a buck – just pop out of the Park and grab lunch!
To make the most of your time and experience, you MUST arrive at Disneyland before they open to get in line and be one of the first ones in the park! Disneyland opens at 8 am BUT California Adventures GATES open at 7:30. (Even though the rides don’t start until 8– if you have a Fast Pass/Max Pass – you can schedule your Fast Pass rides as soon as you enter the park!)
We rode the MOST rides between 8 and 10 am – every morning. Try to get on the most popular rides in the morning to cut your wait times;
California Adventures: Cars, Guardians of the Galaxy, Incredi-Coaster.
Disneyland: Peter Pan, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean.
*** If you’ve never been to Disneyland in Anaheim – something important to note: there are actually TWO parks – once you enter through security – to the left is California Adventures and to the right is Disneyland.
FAST PASS/MAX PASS – A MUST. This was probably our favorite and most worth it part of this entire experience. It’s only $15/day per person and saves you SO much time. It’s a given that you’ll wait in line while at Disneyland but this pass cuts your wait time by MORE than half. I don’t think we waited more than 10 min for a ride while using our Fast Pass – if that. If you choose to get a fast pass – look up a couple quick videos on how to use them on your PHONE – rather than printing them out at the park. It’s so much easier to schedule your Fast Pass and use your phone to scan it when you get to the ride – rather than finding a print station and shuffling your papers around in your purse/fanny pack!
STROLLERS – A MUST. If you have smaller children – you do A LOT of walking and I HIGHLY suggest renting a stroller to haul the kids and your goodies around in. They’re only $15/day and stroller “parking” is everywhere!
Disney Accessories/BAG TIPS: If you want a cute Disney backpack – I HIGHLY suggest looking at Claire’s – that cute little kids accessory store! We found the EXACT same rose-gold Disney backpack for $39.99 at Claire’s — at Disney, you’ll find it for $90 and even Amazon was $85! Load up on your Mickey ears and Disney items at Claire’s to save a buck!
Character Breakfast: Cute but expensive and maybe not worth it? $60+ per person. There are so many characters roaming around the park and if you have the MaxPass – most of the time, you’ll be able to get professional photos from the workers walking around with Nikon cameras! All the photos taken by them are linked to your Disneyland app and able to save to your phone.
DOWNTOWN DISNEY: If you arrive a day early like we did: this is the perfect place to check out food and souvenirs/gifts! The days you spend at the park are mostly packed with riding rides so save your souvenir buying for Downtown Disney – that way you don’t get stuck carrying your goodies around the park all day! They have a HUGE Disney store, a good little bar right in the center of Downtown Disney and great little snacking places like Wetzel Pretzel/Ice Cream all around.
All in all – it was an amazing trip full of memories and we will definitely be back but first – Legoland!
Thanks for reading,