A place I NEVER had a desire to visit, even as a child, and I never wanted to take my kids there. Too much hype, too many people, just … too much!
Then a few months ago I had an unexpected opportunity to take my girls to LA to visit my brother and his wife. After joining my husband on his work trip in Vancouver I realised we were only a short flight from LA … I wasn’t going to say ‘no’ to that opportunity. My husband casually mentioned one night – “You could take the girls to Disneyland while you are there”. Honestly – I didn’t even know Disneyland was in/near LA!!!
And so, the seed was planted … I decided we would surprise the girls with a day trip to Disneyland with their Uncle and Auntie!
I asked for advice is some local Mum Facebook groups and it felt like EVERYONE was telling me one day was NOT enough and that I would have to be MEGA organised about what we wanted to see and so in a day. I couldn’t face the intensity of that so decided I was going to experience Disneyland in a way that felt good to me … I call it ‘go with the flow’ style.
I remember many, many, years ago when I first visited Paris the best piece I received about going to the Louvre was to choose a few things you really wanted to see, see them, and forget the rest even exists! The Louvre is so huge you could never see it all in a day and you would create loads of stress trying.
I figured that Disneyland was the same … my kids don’t know what is there so they won’t know what they missed out on seeing or doing. I chose to take each moment as it came and this approach worked wonderfully for us.
What did we actually do with the day?
Let’s clarify that when I say ‘day’ – we arrived at 8am and left at midnight! If we were doing a day in Disneyland we were going to stay as long as the kids wanted to …
One awesome tip I was given was to sign the kids up to Jedi Training as soon as we arrive as this is a first in best dressed activity and my kids would LOVE it. We signed them up for a time slot after lunch to give us half a day of other rides first.
My eldest fighting Darth Vader
This was a really great experience for all the girls. You never know which character is going to be in your show so the girls were really amazed when Darth Vader came to fight them!
We started out doing some rides in Tomorrowland as this was near the sign up for Jedi Training. We quickly worked out that although my almost 5 year old was tall enough for the scary roller coaster style rides they were just too much for her. So we adopted the approach of having her go with one adult to a suitable ride while the rest of group did something scary … then arranging a rough meeting time & place.
Rides that my 6 and 9 year old loved were:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Star Tours
Rides that my almost 5 year old loved were:
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
- Mad Tea Party
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
One of the things I loved about our ‘go with the flow style’ was the sense of surprise and the beautiful unexpected moments.
The most memorable part was the very end of the night, after the fireworks – the big girls were desperate for a go on Splash Mountain. The queues had been too long during the day but we were told you could often get on quickly if you went quickly after the fireworks (and it turned out to be true … they got two turns!).
Splash Mountain – action shot … my girls assure me they LOVED this ride!
I chose to take my youngest back to Tomorrowland for a turn on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster as I knew she would love it.
On the way there we passed the Mad Tea Party (spinning teacups) – there was hardly any line and they looked so beautiful under the coloured lanterns at night. Riding this with her was an absolute highlight for me.
Magical moment – late night Mad Tea Party with Miss 5
We managed two turns of Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster and then we went for a walk and happened to stumble across the Main Street Electrical parade about to start. A security guy let us sneak into a VIP area at the front as there were only two of us. We had an amazing view … could not have turned out better if we had actually planned to see the parade!
By the time we all stumbled towards the exit at midnight it was official … Disneyland had been a truly awesome and memorable experience and I am really glad we went.
Midnight strikes at Disneyland
Stroller Hire: we hired a stroller on arrival which was a saviour during the day. It allowed the younger girls to rest their legs when needed. I don’t think we would have made midnight without it.
Food & drinks: bring plenty of water and snacks and make sure you have some available when waiting in lines. We bought lunch at dinner there and I though prices were very reasonable and the food was better than I was expecting.
Fastpass: The Fastpass system is a great way to get on more rides with less lining up. Popular rides have a Fastpass ticket system where you are issued a ticket for a later time – then you get to go off and enjoy another ride, before returning to a Fastpass queue at the designated time. It makes more sense when you are there! Information about this is not easily found so just ask for assistance when you first arrive.
I know there are so many wonderful experiences, attractions and rides we didn’t see or do … but I really don’t mind at all. We had a wonderful day, without stress, and did SO MUCH.
What more could we want?