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A Grandmother's Inside Secrets To Doing Disney Right (Part 1: Planning)

Want some inside secrets to doing Disney?  Ask a Grandmother.

In our family, it is the Grandparents that are tasked with entertaining the kids at the happiest place on earth. It’s a rite of passage when you turn 6, and so I had my mom ghost/guest write a post with tips, tricks, and the inside skinny on navigating Disney with the kids.  When you’re in your 60s, you have lots of time for research, and little patience for standing around doing nothing.

Here’s part 1 of her tips:

It all began last year when we took our oldest grandchild to Disneyland. She was 6. We contemplated taking her cousin who was 5 at the same time but opted instead for one on one. Instead we made a promise that next year he could go. In retrospect I believe it was the best decision. Yes, they would have enjoyed each others company but having two adults for one child makes the trip so much more enjoyable for everyone. (Remember these are not our children and we are not as young as we were as parents…)

Before you go there are some critical decisions to make:

  • Planning Your Trip To Disney 1 of 8
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    From where to stay to what to see, click through these great insider tips from a Grandmother with experience.

  • When To Go 2 of 8
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    If you have flexibility consider spring (think April) the weather is perfect, warm enough for the hotel pool and cool enough to enjoy the park. Light jackets for early morning and evenings otherwise t shirts and shorts. To minimize crowds avoid the weeks around Easter. Spring breaks are so variable now among different school districts that is not an issue but Los Angeles area schools have many grad events in May and June so at those times there is the likelihood of hoards of unsupervised teens trolling the park.

    I also suggest checking what is happening at the Anaheim Convention Centre. If there are one or two large conventions happening at the time you are going, the area will be crowded - think restaurants, hotel pools, public transit, and Disney as well. It will also be difficult to find a hotel room at a discount. On the other hand the two years we have gone mid April the international robotic competition for high school students was there. A small, interesting and free attraction.

  • Where To Stay 3 of 8
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    First is the decision on site or off site. If you have an unrestricted budget consider on site but check carefully as on site is not necessarily "on site" and can still mean a considerable hike to the gate of Disneyland.

    For us a difference of $1500 for three days was too steep. There are many many budget accommodations within a very brief stroll to the gates . If you are looking for a bit more comfort consider the chain hotels that serve the convention centre - Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton etc. All the better if you have points to redeem or collect.

  • How Long 4 of 8
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    You need at least two days at the parks but personally I feel with young ones three shorter days is ideal. Booking a package has always given us a pay for 3 stay 4 nights at the hotel and with each adult meal purchased up to three children eat free.

  • Package or DIY? 5 of 8
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    For both of our trips I have found a package through an airline to be the most economical. One price for flights, hotel, and park tickets. I have compared the packages with the discount "mouse savers" agents and they have not been able to come close to what I have found with the airlines directly.

    It is also important not to look just at LAX but smaller airports in the surrounding area - we have chosen Orange County each time. Even at rush hour we were at our hotel in Anaheim in 30 minutes.

  • Transportation 6 of 8
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    If you are staying off site book Anaheim Resort Transit (ART) passes. This is the local tourist bus which offers superb service to the Disney Parks and several other attractions in the area. If purchased on line (3 day passes for two adults and one child were $22) and the tickets will be at your hotel on arrival. That gave us unlimited rides on the bus.

  • When And What Tickets To Buy 7 of 8
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    You will save a few dollars if you purchase your tickets ahead of time. Purchasing a three day park hopper pass gives you unlimited entry to both Disneyland and California Adventure Park (the home of the newly opened Cars Land) as many times as you want during the day. The three days do not need to be consecutive giving maximum flexibility. Buying a multi day park hopper pass also gives you entry on one day to one of the parks one hour before the park opens.

  • Gauge Their Interests 8 of 8
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    Get on the Disney web site and begin to talk to your grandchild about the experience. Our grandchildren do not live in the same city as we do so I used the images and descriptions on the site to get a feel for what each child had as priorities. Last year it was thrill rides and lunch with the princesses, this year it was anything Star Wars with the Jedi Training camp as the must see.

    This will also be a key place for you to get orientated to the parks before you go if several years have passed since your last visit.

     Check out Part 2 of the Grandmother's Guide To Doing Disney to help you when you get on site.

 

Check out Part 2 of the Grandmother’s Guide To Doing Disney to help you when you get on site.

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