Want advice on how to do Disney? Ask a Grandmother.
In Part 1 of a Grandmother’s Inside Secrets To Doing Disney Right, my Mom told how she planned the excursions for my son and niece. She helped you pick which hotels to stay at, what time of year to go, and what kind of package deal will get you the best bang. If you skipped those tips, click back before going forward.
Part 2 of the series will help you plan your day at Disneyland.
Here’s her piece:
Take it slow and easy would be my most important suggestion if travelling with younger grandchildren. Have an idea of the days plans, but be FLEXIBLE.
You won’t see it all, you just can’t do that and enjoy the wonder and excitement at the same time. It will all be new and thrilling for them.
Doing Disney 1 of 8
Okay, now that you've checked out Part 1 of the planning guide and figured out where and when to go to Disneyland, check out these onsite tips to help you get the most of your day, or two, or three.
Go Early, Return Later. 2 of 8
The parks open 30 minutes before the time published. Only Main Street is open but about 10 minutes or so after that early opening, the characters will begin to show up on the Town Square. A great start for day one. On the other days head in the direction of the area you want to visit. Even on the one day you have early entry the gates will open 30 minutes before that early entry time.
By early to mid afternoon it is time to head back to the hotel. Have a nap, read a book, play a game,go to the pool, have a relaxing early dinner. After dinner you are ready to head back for a couple of hours perhaps to see a show or the fireworks or revisit those favourite attractions.
Buy A Dollar Store Notebook 3 of 8
Buy an autograph book at the dollar store at home before you go . Even though our grandchildren were not particularly big fans of the characters before going they very quickly got into the excitement of getting and seeing their autographs. On site they are much more expensive than the ones you can find at home before you go.
Character Experiences 4 of 8
Character meals are an expensive proposition. Think $90 for breakfast or $140 for lunch for two adults and a child. Only you can decide the value of having Cinderella tell your granddaughter how lovely she is or Mickey listen intently as your grandson explains over and over that he is a Jedi warrior.
In my experience, the events are well organized and the food good and well presented. These should be booked ahead by calling Disney Dining but are only paid for at the venue. If you have decided to have this experience, this is a part of the planning they should be a part of - let them choose one of the several on offer.
Fast Pass 5 of 8
Learn about the Fast Pass System before you go. It is not complicated but reading and understanding the rules beforehand will eliminate another stressor. These passes allow you to go to the front of the line at the more popular rides. As an example, the newest ride in Carsland has up to three hour waits but with our fast pass we waited only 20 minutes!
Mickey’s House 6 of 8
Toon Town opens at 11:00 so if you are at the Toon Town entrance (beside It's A Small World) then and you head right to Mickey's House you might just be the first one Mickey welcomes into his home. We were!
Food 7 of 8
Food, for us, started with breakfast at the hotel, usually in our room and dinner at the hotel work best. Take some snacks and plenty of water to the park. The options to purchase food and meals are extensive and run the gamut from pure junk food to healthy. If you want specific food experiences research well beforehand and map them out.
I prefer the "this is only three days eat what you want" approach. We had no food struggles with our picky eater. Yes he had ice cream for lunch! We snacked when we were hungry or tired wherever we happened to be, sometimes apple slices and carrots and sometimes ice cream!
Evening Shows And Fireworks 8 of 8
Evening Shows and Fireworks need a strategy with young ones. There are lots of hints online as to the best vantage points to avoid dipping into your pocket for possible front row seat.
As an example snag a spot on the bridge near the entrance to Pirates of the Carribean and you can see Fantasmic all in a front row "seat" for free. The trick is you need to snag your place 90 minutes before the show. This is where that second grandparent comes in handy he holds our prime spot and the others go off on some rides. No 6 year old asking "how much longer?"