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What’s New at LEGOLAND California?

Find out What's New at LEGOLAND California, including the innovative NINJAGO World

I was able to take my little guy for the day a few months ago and we were able to play in the park together and experienced the newest film, ‘The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure’. However since baby girl has arrived, I’ve not been able to visit again. My mother-in-law was happy to take my son to LEGOLAND recently and they enjoyed the theme park and water parks on their visit. The new NINJAGO World area was all he could talk about and I can’t wait to experience it myself soon!

So what’s new at LEGOLAND California?

Find out What's New at LEGOLAND California, including the innovative NINJAGO World

CA.(Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Legoland California)

NINJAGO World

NINJAGO The Ride uses “cutting-edge Maestro hand gesture technology”. This enables guests to throw fire balls, shock waves, ice and lightning to defeat villains during the ride, collecting points along the way. Their scores are displayed when the quest is completed. Special effects like heat, smoke and wind are incorporated, giving guests an interactive 4D experience. My four-year old delightfully reenacted his hand gestures for me when he came home!

This ride is the center of NINJAGO World. In addition there are 22 new LEGO models, a retail outlet and and a dining option, Ninja Kitchen. LEGOLAND chefs serve up Asian street food like pork belly sandwiches on steamed Bao Buns with crispy pork belly, lemongrass chicken or baked sweet chili tofu.

Two 4D Films

My son and I were able to attend the red carpet premiere of ‘The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure’, the fast-paced story of Emmet, Wyldstyle and friends from the popular feature-length movie. My son and I loved the humor and silly special effects (you will get wet!)

‘LEGO NEXO KNIGHTS: The Book of Creativity’ is  the newest film that combines LEGO Nexo Knights in a 4D world of wind, water and smoke! This new 12 minute film was created especially for LEGOLAND Parks and LEGOLAND Discovery Center and is a way for children to interact with the NEXO KNIGHTS world. Guests can go on a quest of their own to discover six shields hidden across the Resort to unlock exclusive ‘power ups’ for the LEGO® NEXO KNIGHTS Merlok 2.0 mobile app. I’m sure my kids would love this one too!

I recommend Park Savers for purchasing discount LEGOLAND California tickets (affiliate link)

We received complimentary passes to experience NINJAGO World at LEGOLAND California. All thoughts and opinions as an official LEGOLAND Blogger are my own.

Legoland Blogger

LEGOLAND California – A New Adventure is Here!

LEGOLAND California is Perfect for Preschoolers

Lots of new things going on at LEGOLAND California this year which makes it the best time to plan your SoCal visit! We’ve always loved LEGOLAND for the ability to entertain everyone from a toddler who wants to drive his own car to the grown-up who is fascinated by the Star Wars MiniLand exhibits.

Ninjago World rides are being assembled as we speak, the LEGOLAND water parks will reopen for the warm weather season in March and there is a fun new show, The LEGO® Movie™ 4D -A New Adventure!

As a new Official LEGOLAND Blogger, my preschooler and I were recently treated to a special event in honor of the new 4D film being shown exclusively at LEGOLAND. What a special evening, complete with character meet n’ greets, a red carpet and fun foods. And don’t you know, 3-D glasses make everything awesome!

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The film was fantastic too; really cool special 4-D effects, fast paced and humor interjected throughout. It’s under 15 minutes long, so anyone 3+ would love it!

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Be sure to check out my newest post at TravelingMom about this Park, LEGOLAND California – a Delightful Amusement Park for Preschoolers.

Legoland Blogger

 

Must-Do Disneyland- Perfect Itinerary for First Timers

As a first time Disneyland visitor, you’ll want to get the best feel of what makes the Park “tick” and where its heartbeat lies. These recommended attractions are classic Disney and will completely immerse you in the magic! For anyone visiting Disneyland for the very first time, this is what I’d call the definitive list of “must-do Disneyland” attractions. After you’ve experienced these things, everything else is just gravy!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Purchasing through the links helps me in a small financial way, thank

What are the must-do Disneyland attractions for first time visitors? See my one-day itinerary of must-do Disney in California!

Must-Do Disneyland List of Attractions

You’ve never been to Disneyland before? Here’s my must-do Disneyland attractions for a first time visitor. These items will give you a great feel of the park and allow room for plenty of magic. It’s not everything of course because you’d need a lifetime to experience it all but these are the essentials that are do-able for a visitor’s first Disneyland day!

What are the must-do Disneyland attractions for first time visitors? See my one-day itinerary of must-do Disney in California!

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Start Your Day on Main Street U.S.A

When you enter Disneyland Park you’ll pass through the tunnels (there’s one on each side of the entrance) and be deposited into the hub. Follow Main Street U.S.A towards Sleeping Beauty Castle and the various Lands will branch out from here.

Disneyland Railroad

Hop aboard on Main Street U.S.A. and take the grand circle tour around the Park, a total of 1.2 miles. Not to be missed is Primeval World, a large diorama that takes you back to the prehistoric times and features dinosaurs and volcanoes!

Purchase Your Tickets Ahead of Time at a Discount with Park Savers!

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Main Street Vehicles

No thrill rides here, just a good ol’ fashioned ride down Main Street U.S.A. to get you in the mood of the Park . Hop aboard a horse-drawn car, jitney, fire engine or omnibus. Our travels have always included a chat with the drivers, who are knowledgeable about Disneyland facts.

What are the must-do Disneyland attractions for first time visitors? See my one-day itinerary of must-do Disney in California!

The Mad Hatter

It’s the place to find a hat for every occasion! What better way to show your #DisneySide than with a pair of Mouse Ears that reflects your personality? We bought my son’s Pluto hat here which he’s continued to wear on nearly ever Disneyland trip for the past 6 years.

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids

Silhouette Studio

Get into the vintage Victorian vibe by having the artists hand cut your silhouette out of paper for the perfect souvenir. I have my silhouette from when I was about four years old, curly ponytail and all!

Carnation Cafe

Serving up classic American comfort food, this is where Walt used to eat. In fact they still serve his favorite chili. We sat outside on the patio and ate dinner here one evening and it was relaxing and sweet under the striped umbrellas.


Plaza Inn

Walk by during lunch or dinner and it will be hard to resist the urge to go in and order yourself a big plate of fried chicken! Perfectly crispy, this is a large dish that we share. The ornate Victorian designs inside, especially the beautiful stained-glass ceiling are best appreciated in the daytime. Breakfast is also served here, as the fun buffet, Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park.

Fantasyland

Head straight across the drawbridge and into the most whimsical Land in the entire Park! There’s a lot packed in to this small area but these are the 6 essential attractions.

What are the must-do Disneyland attractions for first time visitors? See my one-day itinerary of must-do Disney in California!

This lovely statue is just in front of the entrance to the Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through at Disneyland

Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough

The story behind the iconic castle comes to life with three-dimensional displays. The attraction is beautiful done but it’s awesome enough on its own just to be inside the actual castle!

Peter Pan’s Flight

Arguably the best Disneyland dark ride, this attraction recently received a facelift for Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration. All the beautiful details remain, like flying over a miniature London and tiny Neverland with twinkling lights above and below.

What are the must-do Disneyland attractions for first time visitors? See my one-day itinerary of must-do Disney in California!

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

If an elephant can fly, then what can YOU do? Music played on an authentic fairground organ built in 1915 accompanies your flight! Little ones direct the flight with a knob that makes Dumbo rise and dip in the air.

Mad Tea Party

Go ahead, spin it if you dare! Though motion sickness prevents me from ever stepping foot in a teacup again, this is still one my favorite areas in the entire Park. From the festive lanterns hanging over head to the bright colors and patterns of the twirling teacups, this is one bright spot in Disneyland that can’t be missed!

What are the must-do Disneyland attractions for first time visitors? See my one-day itinerary of must-do Disney in California!

Photo credit: Jeff Holz

Storybook Land Canal Boats

At times overlooked because of the gentle, slow pace this tour of fairy tale lands has always been one of my favorites. Your guided boat with glide past the Seven Dwarves cottage, the royal city of Agrabah from Aladdin, King Triton’s underwater oasis from The Little Mermaid and newly added, the land of Arendelle from Frozen.

What are the must-do Disneyland attractions for first time visitors? See my one-day itinerary of must-do Disney in California!

The castle from Cinderella (look closely and you’ll see the pumpkin carriage on the path!)

“it’s a small world”

If pressured to choose a favorite attraction, I’d have to say that this one is it. It’s happy and colorful and carries a message that simply uplifts your heart. Curmudgeons give this one a bad rap because, well the song by the Sherman brothers is slightly catchy. I love the addition of classic Disney characters throughout the attraction, they are fun to spot throughout.

What are the must-do Disneyland attractions for first time visitors? See my one-day itinerary of must-do Disney in California!

“it’s a small world” is a must at Disneyland (be sure to watch the clock for the show!)

Tomorrowland

Disneyland Monorail

Get the aerial lay-of-the-Land and take the 2.5 mile Monorail route. Jump on in Tomorrowland, pass through Disney’s California Adventure and hop off and on at Downtown Disney, if you wish (you’ll need a valid ticket to get back inside the Park!)

Space Mountain

The fastest coaster in Disneyland Park and it’s also completely indoors and in almost total darkness! Lots of sharp twists and turns, this one will make you feel like you’re riding a rocket through the stars.

Autopia

Though you’re only driving about 7 miles per hour, you’ll feel the freedom of the open road! This attraction dates back to opening day in 1955, before there was a center guide rail keeping your car on the road. I love the little bridges, lush landscaping and “off road” section. Being tall enough to drive your own Autopia vehicle is a rite of passage!

What are the must-do Disneyland attractions for first time visitors? See my one-day itinerary of must-do Disney in California!

Frontierland

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

When this first opened, my parents literally dragged my brother and I to get on the ride! We were scared of what looked like a runaway train. Of course, we’ve come to love the “Wildest Ride in the Wilderness” and new additions to the attraction make it better than ever. It’s my favorite Disneyland Mountain!

What are the must-do Disneyland attractions for first time visitors? See my one-day itinerary of must-do Disney in California!

Mark Twain Riverboat

The tour will take you around the Rivers of America. Coast past Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer’s Island where you can spot frontier fun along the way. The ride features a narration by an actor reading as the author Mark Twain, whom this paddle wheel steam engine riverboat is named after.

What are the must-do Disneyland attractions for first time visitors? See my one-day itinerary of must-do Disney in California!

Golden Horseshoe

Order up a sundae with the works and enjoy a silly show in what is one of the original buildings from 1955. I still miss Billy Hill & the Hillbillies, who headlined here for years but the Laughing Stock Co. gang will give you a giggle. It’s a nice place to take an ice cream break. Sit back and imagine when Walt Disney himself was sitting in the upper right reserved box.

What are the must-do Disneyland attractions for first time visitors? See my one-day itinerary of must-do Disney in California!

Lunch and a show at Disneyland’s The Golden Horseshoe (they have huge sundaes, too!)

Adventureland

The Enchanted Tiki Room

Let’s all sing like the birdies sing! 200+ Audio-animatronics perform before your eyes in this tropical paradise. The show is lively, the music is charming and you may find yourself singing along (go ahead, everyone else will be singing too!). And you can have Dole Whips inside from the Tiki Juice Bar…enough said! Psst…there’s also a hidden bathroom here if you need to go (and it’s never busy!)

What are the must-do Disneyland attractions for first time visitors? See my one-day itinerary of must-do Disney in California!

Jungle Cruise

Another 1955 original, this one evolved over the years from a serious African jungle tour into a slightly silly romp through the rain forest, complete with jokes from the skippers. Each skipper puts their own spin on the tour along with incorporating classic gags from year’s past.

New Orleans Square

French Market Restaurant

The New Orleans Square feeling is alive here! After choosing your meal in the buffet line, take a seat outside to enjoy the Dixieland Band. The meatloaf and mashed potatoes are divine and my son can’t miss the corn chowder in a bread bowl. It’s my favorite dining spot. Treat yourself to Mickey Mouse shaped beignets and a mint julep from the Mint Julep Bar for dessert!

What are the must-do Disneyland attractions for first time visitors? See my one-day itinerary of must-do Disney in California!

Pirates of the Caribbean

Truly one of the best amusement park rides, the detail and special effects are incredible. New additions based on the movies have been added to enhance the story line. Floating through the foggy battle scene, you will feel completely transported…it gives me goosebumps every time!

Haunted Mansion

I was in my 20s before I actually rode through this attraction with my eyes open!! Appropriately spooky, the Haunted Mansion has just the right amount of fright and fun (but you’ll only catch the humor if you have your eyes open!) From around mid-September to early-January you can see the Haunted Mansion Holiday version (inspired by Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas).

What are the must-do Disneyland attractions for first time visitors? See my one-day itinerary of must-do Disney in California!

The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, done over Nightmare Before Christmas-style.

When Night Falls

Fireworks Spectacular

Okay, so you’ve seen fireworks before. But if you haven’t seen them at Disneyland before! And this show is not to be missed! Over the years we’ve watched the shows in the sky from where ever we were in the Park. I’ve even sat outside the Park on the esplanade to watch. But absolutely nothing beats watching them from the center of Main Street. I cried, seriously. It’s the perfect way to close out a Disney day!

Did I miss including your favorites? Tell me in the comments what rides and attractions are “can’t miss” in your book!


Avoid the Disneyland Meltdown! – List of Quiet Spots in the Parks

Top tips on avoiding the Disneyland Meltdown including quiet spots in the park and helpful advice.

Think that the Disneyland “meltdown” is unavoidable? You can potentially avoid the Disneyland meltdown, with just a little pre-planning, these tried-and-tested tips and some visits to the quiet areas throughout the Disneyland Parks.

With a 12-year old child on the Autism spectrum (as well as another 12-year old, a four-year old and a newborn), our family goal when going to amusement parks is to completely eliminate the dreaded “meltdown”. We’ve done pretty well with this plan!

Avoiding the Disneyland Meltdown

A quiet spot of seats at the entrance to bug’s land

Take it easy

Take the day at an easy pace and by adding in plenty of breaks. This might mean that you leave the Parks mid-day to recoup at the hotel for a swim or a nap. If you have kids that are prone to meltdown you need to go at their pace and not the schedule you have set for the day. You just can’t cram too much activity into the day because that is a recipe for meltdown.

Tired Legs

If your child gets cranky with excessive walking consider bringing your stroller or renting one at the Park. Even big kids (who don’t usually nap) might find they appreciate reserving their energy or will take a cat nap if they are able to ride in a stroller.

Feed me

Snacks and drinks should be kept at close hand. Pack a bag with healthy snacks (like nuts and fruit) and hand them out frequently to keep blood-sugars level.

Don’t Skip Naps

If your child always takes a nap mid-day, be sure to make a point of sticking to that schedule. If you don’t want to leave the Park, head for one of the quiet resting spots so they can sleep. Naps in an amusement park are never quite as refreshing as one in a bed though, so you might want to get them back to the hotel for a more restful sleep.

Be aware

There tends to be a build up of bad moods before the big meltdown occurs. Stopping and redirecting immediately if we see a change in attitude or if we sense that a meltdown is developing is crucial. There is no attempt to try and squeeze in “one more” event; We immediately head for one of these quiet spots at the Disneyland Resort for a little decompressing. These would also be great places to sit with a child who is sleeping in their stroller!

Spots to Rest and Recollect

How to Avoid the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown! - A List of Quiet Spots in the Parks {Saving Up for Disney}

DISNEYLAND

-Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island has many shaded areas to sit, relax and people-watch from across the Rivers of America.

-On the right hand side of Sleeping Beauty Castle is Snow White’s Grotto. The water-feature with the twirling fish is rather hypnotic! Toss some change into the Wishing Well.

-Our daughter wanted to meet Tinker Bell in Pixie Hollow. We requested an alternative waiting area (instead of the noisy line in the sun). We waited as long as everyone else (about 30 minutes that day) but were given a shaded area where she could spread out and not have the noise or crowd.

How to Avoid the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown! - A List of Quiet Spots in the Parks {Saving Up for Disney}

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

-The waiting areas at each Train Station have covered seating. Except for when the train pulls in, these are fairly quiet places to rest. The train is also a great distraction!

-At the exit to the Jungle Cruise, just outside of Aladdin’s Oasis is a quiet spot to sit and have a snack. I like to pick up a beef skewer from Bengal Barbeque and sit here to enjoy it.

-On the lower deck of the Hungry Bear Restaurant, tucked all the way in the back is a sweetly shaded resting spot overlooking the Rivers of America. It’s also where the ducks gather so toss them a few bread crumbs!

How to Avoid the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown! - A List of Quiet Spots in the Parks {Saving Up for Disney}

-Next to the entrance of Rancho Del Zocalo Restaurante is a covered walkway with tiled seating and a restroom nearby. It’s particularly pretty here in the evenings.

-Take a slow walk inside the coolness of Sleeping Beauty. If your child doesn’t like tight quarters or can’t handle the stairs, there is an accessible space to view the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough on a high-definition screen. It’s a quiet location with little trinkets on display.

-Take a trip around the Rivers of America on the Mark Twain Riverboat. Lots of benches in the shade and you’ll get a cool breeze across the water.

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Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

-Around the side of Harbour Galley is a quiet and shady dining area.

-Between “it’s a small world” and the Matterhorn (next to Edelweiss Snacks) is a quiet boat pier overlooking a lovely water feature. It has a covered awning and bench seating and is a perfect place to rest between rides.


DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE PARK

-In Hollywood Land, just outside of Monsters Inc. are benches under shade. Arrive before dark, when the very loud and rambunctious Mad T Party starts!

-Stop over at Sonoma Terrace for a snack in the covered patio that overlooks the Pier.

How to Avoid the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown! - A List of Quiet Spots in the Parks {Saving Up for Disney}

-The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail offers not only busy-body activities like rope swings and rock climbing walls but a few restful benches under the trees.

-Rest yourself on one of the benches around the covered promenade underneath the Silly Symphony Swings. You’ll get a nice overview of Paradise Pier (though this area isn’t exactly the most quiet it does not have much foot-traffic).

How to Avoid the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown! - A List of Quiet Spots in the Parks {Saving Up for Disney}

-In front of the Tower of Terror there are places to sit in the shade. Even better, in front of the shop by the exit of  the ride there is an out of the way bench. After a while, you won’t even notice the screams!

-Walk Grizzly Trail behind Grizzly River Run for a quiet and cool pace and perhaps a refreshing mist from the water ride!

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Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

-The umbrella-covered tables in Paradise Garden Grill are an out-of-the-way locale for lunch.

-There is a relatively quiet path between Cars Land and “a bug’s land”. It’s a peaceful walk and transition between Lands.

How to Avoid the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown! - A List of Quiet Spots in the Parks {Saving Up for Disney}

-Likewise, just as you pass under the rock formation in Cars Land into the Pacific Wharf area there is a quiet shady space. You can rest here against the guard rails but technically, there is no seating.


BEST LAID PLANS

Sometimes despite our best efforts our kids sometimes do have a mini-meltdown. Fortunately we’ve been able to avoid anything catastrophic at the Happiest Place on Earth but we live and learn through each situation.

Tips for avoiding the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown

The last time we had anyone in our group upset was because we didn’t plan our fireworks viewing area properly. When the lights went out and Guests rushed into our area to see the show, our daughter was pushed out of her spot and under a tree where she completely missed seeing Tinker Bell fly across the sky. She didn’t appreciate the tight quarters, the jostling or the blocked view. As you can see in the photo above she was very upset and had been crying. After the show, we were able to stay tight in our spot until the crowd cleared and we regrouped. After a rest she was ready for a few more rides before we ended our evening.

Having learned our lesson on that trip, we were able to choose a better fireworks location on our last visit where she had more space around her and an open view. Making your Disney day enjoyable is as much about doing your Park research as it is about knowing, listening and watching your child for potential break-down.

How to Avoid the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown! - A List of Quiet Spots in the Parks {Saving Up for Disney}

Keep in mind that if you have a special needs child, the DAS (Disability Access Service) is available. More about that program in my post, Disneyland’s Disability Access Service (DAS).

DAS- pin

I also recommend minimizing line waits by purchasing your park tickets ahead of time on Park Savers (affiliate link). You’ll also save yourself a few dollars.

Park Savers affiliate link

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Disneyland with a Toddler – Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Disneyland with a Toddler - Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day at the Happiest Place on Earth!

For some little ones, Disneyland is an enchanting place! They delight in the rides, the brights lights and color and the unique sounds throughout the Parks. For other kids, Disneyland can be an exhausting overload to the senses with large (sometimes frightening) characters, swift moving rides and too many things they are unaccustomed to. To be honest, I could be describing the same toddler – depending upon if they’ve napped or had a recent snack!

Here are my top 14 ways to have an enjoyable time at Disneyland with a toddler.

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

Have a Plan

Avoid traveling during “peak season” (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break, Summer) to minimize crowds and wait times. Aim for a trip mid-week, as a Wednesday is considerably less crowded than a Saturday. I recommend that you purchase your tickets ahead of time at Park Savers (affiliate link). You’ll save time at the gate in the morning & a few dollars off each ticket. Keep in mind that children under three do not require an admission ticket. Two-year olds and under receive free entry, hurrah!

Disneyland with a Toddler -Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day

Size them up!

Measure your child’s height so you can know ahead of time which rides have height restrictions.

Disneyland with a Toddler -Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day

A few inches too short for Soarin’ Over California.

Figure out before your trip which rides are a “must-do”

Just know ahead of time that you won’t be able to see or do everything. If you know that your toddler is going to love “it’s a small world” then make sure that happens. Just realize that it might happen more than once if it’s a ride they fall in love with and request you ride again and again! Read up on the rides on the Disneyland website to know what is most appropriate for your toddler. This interactive list from the Disneyland site shows which rides and attractions are well-loved by most toddlers.

Disneyland with a Toddler -Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day

Yee-haw! Swinging around at Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree

Bring what you can from home

You can purchase quite a bit inside the Parks but it’s going to come at a premium price. So make sure you pack enough diapers, wipes and snacks for your trip. Bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen for each member of the family. Check out this post on what to bring to Disneyland (and what to leave at home).

Disneyland with a Toddler -Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day

Wary of characters?

Some toddlers are frightened when they finally see their favorite characters in the Parks. After all they are used to seeing these guys tiny on the television screen or on the pages of a book! Now Mickey is larger than life and that could be very unnerving from some kids. First try looking at the characters from afar. Talk aloud with your toddler, noting how the other people are interacting and how friendly the character is. Only if your child is willing should you try to approach the character.

There is no point in pressuring your toddler to try and get their picture with Mickey if they are terrified and crying – this will only make them more tense for the rest of the day. Only book a character dining experience if your toddler is happy meeting different characters. Check out these posts about the Sure-Fire Ways to Meet Mickey (and other characters) and How to Encourage Shy Kids to Be Brave at Disney.

Disneyland with a Toddler -Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day

Breakfast with Pluto at Mickey’s Surf’s Up! at the Paradise Pier Hotel

Let them stretch their legs

Make sure to let little ones burn off excess energy by hitting one of the play areas in the Parks. At the Disneyland Resort, kids can climb up and down the stairs in Tarzan’s Treehouse. In Toontown, Goofy’s Playhouse has an indoor/outdoor play yard. On a hot day, toddlers can splash at Princess Dot Puddle Park in Disney California Adventure Park.

Disneyland with a Toddler -Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day

Sliding at Goofy’s Playhouse

Big and Little

It can be challenging to please everyone when you have a toddler and older children in your group. With two or more adults, you might consider splitting up during the day to make sure everyone gets their fair share of entertainment. On our last trip while the two big kids rode with my husband on Radiator Springs Racers, Dillon and I visited with Mater and Lightning McQueen. Consider taking advantage of the “Rider Switch” service that allow parents (and older siblings) to take turns riding certain rides that aren’t intended for small children, without standing in line over again. See a Cast Member at the entrance for a special pass. Be sure to read this TravelingMom post Tweens & Toddlers at Disney – What You Need to Make Everyone Happy.

Carsland at Disney's California Adventure

Take in the entertainment…but know your audience

Dillon adored Mickey’s Soundsational Parade on our last visit. He happily sat in his stroller and clapped and waved to the characters on the floats. It was adorable to see him enjoy himself so much. He also loves seeing his favorite characters in the Disney Junior Stage Show. Though I love Disney’s Aladdin:  A Musical Spectacular, I know that at only 2-years old Dillon’s probably not ready to sit through a 40-minute stage show. The show also has some dark elements that might frighten young children. Know your child and review the Disney Parks website entertainment sections before planning what shows to watch with your toddler.

Disneyland with a Toddler -Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day

Inside the Disney Junior: Live on Stage show

Nervous on rides?

When I took my now ten-year old to Disneyland for the first time he was only 15-months old and the unfamiliar motion of the rides made him tense. Again, there is no reason that children should be pressured to ride if they are scared. Read my article Helpful Tips for Calming Scared & Nervous Kids at Disney for more tips about making your children comfortable with trying new experiences in the Park.

Disneyland with a Toddler -Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day

No Nap!

If you have a little one with you, plan the day around your toddler’s schedule. I’d recommend hitting their favorites first thing in the morning. We like to get to Fantasyland first and circle this intimate area with our 2-year old just after the Park opens. From there we will stick to one Land at a time so there isn’t a lot of walking and criss-crossing the Park. Once nap time arrives, the adults or older children in our group take that time to hit a few of the thrill-rides. We choose to let our little guy nap in his stroller but I’ve found that stroller naps are never quite as long or as “effective” as a real nap. You may want to consider taking your toddler back to the hotel for a proper nap time.

Disneyland with a Toddler -Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day

Hunger = Crankiness

Bring with you plenty of healthy snacks from home for your toddler to nibble on throughout the day. You can bring in a sippy cup and request ice water from any counter service restaurant for free.

What to do at Disneyland when the temps soar!

Snack, stroller, sunglasses & sunhat…I’m ready for a Disneyland day!

Use a stroller, even if you don’t think you’re going to need one

Disney days can be long and toddler legs can only take so much walking! It’s also nice to have the storage basket underneath the stroller to hold diapers, snacks and souvenirs. I bring a lightweight blanket to drape over the stroller and use as a sunshield at nap time. At the end of the night your toddler may fall asleep and after a long day, the last thing you’ll want to do is carry your heavy kid back to the car or hotel! We live close by the Parks and always bring our own stroller. If you are traveling and don’t want to pack a stroller you can rent one at the Parks.

Disneyland with a Toddler -Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day

Napping on a pillow of cotton candy…only at Disneyland!

Map out the bathrooms

Especially important if your toddler is toilet-training, you won’t want to be in a Land without knowing where the closest potty is! Both men’s and women’s restrooms have diaper-changing areas (bring a cushioned, wipeable changing pad). We love to make a stop inside the Baby Care Center. They have teeny-tiny toilets and clean changing tables. You can also purchase extra diapers and wipes here if needed.

Disneyland with a Toddler -Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day

One of the most important things when bringing your toddler to Disneyland is to remember to “Go with the flow!” Make happy memories, take lots of pictures and simply have a great time. If you find yourself or your toddler getting stressed out, take a break. Go back to the hotel, go swimming, have a snack or simply take the Grand Circle Tour on the Disneyland Railroad around the Park.

Disneyland with a Toddler -Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day


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Disneyland with a Toddler -Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day

SoCal Guide – Legoland Brick or Treat Halloween Party

Legoland California Brick or Treat Halloween Party

Looking for a unique Halloween event where kids can wear their costumes, trick-or-treat in a safe environment, enjoy rides, shows and attractions and be surrounded by their favorite toy? It’s got to be the Legoland Brick or Treat Halloween Party!

It has been several years since I last took my boys to this event. The Brick or Treat party it was brand new in the three years that we attended so Legoland was still working out the kinks, so to speak. At the time, only a small portion of the park remained open, it was incredibly crowded and frankly, dealing with the crowds was not very fun.

I am so happy to see that as this event has grown so has the entertainment. A considerable amount of the park is open for the party so the crowd can spread out. Previous years featured only one (very busy!) trick-or-treat trail but now the locations have been scattered throughout the park, including into the Sea Life Aquarium. The party also ends with a bang: Fireworks close out the night at 9 pm!

Legoland California Brick or Treat Halloween Party

The Brick or Treat Halloween Party is a separate ticket event that includes live entertainment with dancing, costumed character meet-and-greets and special Lego Halloween models. There are themed costume contests for kids 12 and under (make sure to register when you arrive). Prizes include annual passes, Lego toys or a stay at the Legoland Hotel so it’s worth putting forth some effort into your costumes in the hopes of winning a great prize!

Legoland California Brick or Treat Halloween Party

Children can walk down the not-so-spooky Brick-or-Treat Trail or the other stations scattered throughout the park to collect a mix of healthy snacks along with sweets. They also hand out Lego goodies including a collector’s item Lego Brick, Lego Club Magazine, Lego Legends of Chima poster and Lego toys.

Guests can choose to purchase a ticket that allows all-day entry to Legoland California and the Sea Life Aquarium, along with an entry to that evening’s Brick-or-Treat event. Or you can choose another option that allows entry to theBrick-or-Treat event between the hours of 5-9 pm (entry allowed starting at 4 pm). Legoland Pass Members can add on a Brick-or-Treat event ticket for $15 per person.

Legoland California Brick or Treat Halloween Party

The West side closes at 5 pm but the rest of the park is open (only guests who have wristbands for the Brick or Treat event are permitted to remain in the park). Guests with event-only wristbands can enter the gates beginning at 4 pm.

Legoland California Brick or Treat Halloween Party

Check out the Event Guide for more details, as well as a map of the park. You’ll have a spooky good time!

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SoCal Guide – Sea World San Diego

Want to hold a sea star? Or get up-close and personal with sea turtles? Watch an orca whale leap from the water, see penguins dive into icy water or observe beluga whales below water? Want to meet a dolphin (and probably get splashed?) Then Sea World San Diego is the place for you!

Sea World San Diego Guide

As a San Diego native, my family and I have been going to Sea World for as long as I can remember. The park has changed quite a bit over the years but some things have remained constant throughout; Sea World San Diego has always been a unique experience, safe, clean and well-kept with offerings of education alongside the fun!

Sea World San Diego Guide

Start your planning with a park map and plot out your day. It is quite possible to see all of the exhibits in one day (if you aren’t lingering too long in any one place) however it might be a challenge to see all of the shows. Show times often overlap so I definitely recommend choosing your must-do and make sure you get to those shows early (at least 20 minutes, but 30 minutes is even better on busy days) for the best seat.

Remember to pay attention to the “soak zone” areas and protect your belongings; This includes your littlest ones…I was once drenched head-to-toe at the Shamu show on a chilly day, along with my very peeved six month old! Make sure to stop off at the Shamu Underwater Viewing area for an intimate look at the orcas swimming. They often come right up to the glass to say “hello”!

Sea World San Diego guide

Shamu’s One Ocean is a must-see. Even though trainers no longer join the orcas in the water, the show is still very exciting. Seeing enormous killer whales leap so effortlessly is a magnificent sight to see! Pet’s Rule animal show is one of our family favorites too. Sea Lions LIVE is fast paced, funny and very popular so make sure you get there early for a good seat!

Cuddly creatures at Sea World San Diego

Sea World has always been the place for unique interactions with marine life and now with the addition of many rides, Sea World San Diego is a place for mild and wild thrills as well! Manta is the newest coaster and afterwards you can visit the interactive manta ray exhibit. The rays flop right up next to the ledge and let you “pet” them!

Touch manta rays at Sea World San Diego

Journey to Atlantis is my kid’s favorite; they love that 60-foot drop! And my husband  likes it too…it’s a very refreshing splash on a hot day!

Journey to Atlantis - Sea World San Diego

Sesame Street Bay of Play is the place to let little ones burn off some energy. There are several rides (aimed at the younger set) along with ropes to climb, fun house mirrors, slides and carnival games (for extra coin). We even won a giant giraffe pillow on the ring toss last time!

There is a baby and toddler soft-play area as well. Elmo and friends make an appearance at scheduled times for photo opportunities with guests.  There is a water-play area here for hot days. The Sesame Street Bay of Play is a popular area that can get quite congested so we usually stop here first thing in the morning.

Sea World San Diego

Sea World San Diego

There are several places around the park where guests can interact with sea life. At Dolphin Point you can literally pet and feed a dolphin…and probably get wet, these guys are very playful and sometimes full of pranks!

Tide pools at Sea World San Diego

We have yet to see Explorer’s Reef but with four touch-pools it sounds like it will be another incredible interactive experience. These photos are my son through the years at the Tide Pools.

Interactive sea life at Sea World San Diego

One of the more amazing attractions is Shark Encounter. After viewing the sharks from above, guests journey through a tunnel that transports you right into the shark tank! As sharks float above and around you, you’ll be thrilled and terrified all at the same time!

Next door to Shark Encounter, be sure to visit Turtle Reef and see these gentle giants floating inside a floor-to-ceiling tank (and they are usually eating lettuce for lunch!)

Turtle Reef - Sea World San Diego

The Wild Arctic Flight Simulator ride takes guests on a fantastical journey that lands them on a glacier. Afterwards get close to real arctic animals like polar bear, walrus and beluga whales. This is one of my favorite areas of the park because you can view the belugas both above and below the water.

Polar bear at Sea World San Diego

Everyone enjoys the ice wall feature inside Wild Arctic! You can run your hands across it (some guests press a penny into the ice to make a hole). Across from the Wild Arctic area you can visit the Penguin Encounter which is my most favorite place. A long moving sidewalk takes you through the exhibit where you can view nearly 300 penguins in action. I love watching the penguins swimming so quickly underwater and then propelling themselves straight out to land on the rocks…I could watch that all day!!

Sea World San Diego

Sea World San Diego offers Premier Experiences that put guests right into the water with beluga whales, penguins or dolphins (for an additional fee). You can also get a more in-depth experience or a behind-the-scenes peek at marine life with one of several tours that Sea World offers.

The park has many great choices for dining including my favorite, Calypso Bay Smokehouse (it’s hard to resist when you smell the barbeque ribs and chicken!) Sea World offers a very reasonably priced All-Day Dining Deal for guests, which includes dining at four of their popular restaurants for the entire day you spend at the park.

There is also the unique dining option of eating alongside the orca tank at either Breakfast with Shamu or Dine with Shamu. Both are buffet-type meals with delicious sounding dishes on the menus.

Tide Pools at Sea World San Diego

Stop over at the Sea World San Diego website to learn more about their park, educational programs and both day and overnight camps for students and families. Sea World is a place to learn, discover and also have a lot of good family fun!

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SoCal Guide – Knott’s Berry Farm – History, Snoopy and High-speed Thrills!

Camp Snoopy at Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park California

As a kid I loved going to Knott’s Berry Farm!

Flying around on the Waveswinger. The bandit holdup on the Calico Railroad. Boysenberry everything! My Dad whooping it up on the Dragon Swing. The Ghost Town buildings. Getting splashed on the Timber Mountain Log Ride.

And not be missed: The biscuits and fried chicken at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant! After all, the restaurant is what started the whole place. If you don’t know the history behind Knott’s Berry Farm this is fascinating story (that precedes Disneyland). Did you know that all boysenberries in the world can trace their roots to Knott’s Berry Farm?

Knott's Berry Farm - Fiesta Village

As a kid I always felt like I was betraying my love of Disneyland by also loving Knott’s but I can appreciate now that these are actually two very different places. I can’t compare them any more than I could compare my children to each other, they each have a different feel.

Knott's Berry Farm

I had been to Knott’s Berry Farm often as a child and then only returned as an adult with my boys about 7 years ago. There were some quality control issues (unkept, dirty, etc) at the time as well as it being overrun by rowdy teenagers. But all of those former problems seemed to have improved greatly when my family and I went last summer. Knott’s was clean, the rides were all in good working order, employee attitudes seemed more upbeat and they had many new rides. Lots of new coasters have popped up around the park over the years. My young thrill-seekers love them but I find it to be somewhat disjointed. Hard to get into the feel of the place (Wild West/Boardwalk/Mexican Village) when coasters are whizzing overhead!

Knott's Berry Farm


GHOST TOWN

Knott’s Berry Farm started off as an “amusement park” when Mr. Knott brought in old buildings from actual abandoned towns. I think that the Ghost Town is much smaller than I remember but they have probably moved things out over time to make way for all the big coasters. We always make a stop at the Blacksmith and watch him making horseshoes, have a chat with Sad Eye Joe and pump water from the well. The Old School House is a favorite of mine… visions of Laura Ingalls Wilder dancing through my head!

Old School House - Knott's Berry Farm

Entertainment at Knott’s can be hit or miss. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Native American dancers. The Calico Saloon show we watched last time was energetic however the room was lacking in chairs (though there was plenty of space) and it was stifling hot and without air conditioning (terrible in August!). We watched the Fool’s Gold Stunt Show in an open-air theater that featured some very cool seating (inside covered wagons). The show was a bit corny but the young boys in the audience particularly liked it!

Knott's Berry Farm -Ghost Town

Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies (who formerly performed under the name Billy Hill and the Hillbillies at the Golden Horseshoe at Disneyland) are now performing at Knott’s. I can’t wait to see them again! They were always a must-see for me at Disneyland.

Knott's Berry Farm

I always thought the figures placed around Knott’s to be a quirky and interesting touch. We have taken tons of photos with these characters over the years. My mom has pictures of me at 3 years old sitting on the benches with these figures. As you can see my son and husband were really enjoying playing it up with these “ladies”.


CAMP SNOOPY

Camp Snoopy - Knott's Berry Farm

Camp Snoopy has had some recent remodeling and new rides added since we visited last year. When we return to Knott’s later this month, I’ll update with a review on these rides for little ones and the newly revamped area. Camp Snoopy is one of my favorite spots in Knott’s.

Knott's Berry Farm

My guy was delighted with the Rocky Mountain Trucking Company on our last visit as you can see!

Camp Snoopy - Knott's Berry Farm

I’m rather sad that the Log Peeler has been replaced with a new ride as it was a source of what looks to be sheer torture for my son about 7 years ago! This is one of my favorite pictures:

Camp Snoopy - Knott's Berry Farm


THRILL RIDES

THIS is my favorite picture, though:

Sidewider - Knott's Berry Farm

This photo of my son and stepdaughter riding the Sidewinder last year sits on my desk and never fails to put a smile on my face. She is looking ahead with such a huge smile and he is screaming and clinging on for dear life…it’s as if their normal personalities were “side-winded” and switched during the ride!

There is a picture of me on the Xcelerator from over 10 years ago that I will not be sharing. Let’s just say that my son’s about-to-die face is put to shame with my white-knuckled picture from Xcelerator!

Xcelerator at Knott's Berry Farm

My kids had no problem with the Xcelerator though, they wanted to ride it again! I’m not a roller coaster gal due to motion sickness issues so I’d much prefer to sit on the sidelines and take pictures. My kids and husband were all about the thrill rides!


 

Knott's Berry Farm - Calico Mine Train

Our last visit to Knott’s was a great combination of high-energy thrill rides and relaxing walks through the Ghost Town. And of course we ended the visit with a fried chicken and bisquit dinner at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant…With lots and lots of boysenberry preserves!

Have you ever been to Knott’s Berry Farm? What’s your favorite thing to do there?

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It’s Hot at Disneyland! What to Do When Temperatures Soar

How can you prepare if you know the weather is going to be really hot at Disneyland?  You’ll want to keep cool so you and your family won’t be cranky, tired and wiped out by the heat mid-day. Find out what you can see, eat and do to stay cool under the sun at Disneyland.

California summers are fun in the sun! What can guests see, eat and do when it's hot at Disneyland.

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What Can You Do When It’s Hot at Disneyland?

Sure, summer in California is usually warm and sunny. However even though summer may wind down that doesn’t mean the temperatures start to drop. In fact, here in California August, September and October are usually our warmest months of the year. There might be pumpkins on Main Street USA but the thermometer is still reading 100 degrees!

We’ve also been known to get 90 degree temperatures in February, when the rest of the country is blanketed in snow. Unlike the moist warmth in Orlando at Walt Disney World, our heat in California comes in from the desert so it’s a dry heat you might not have experienced before. After scorching under the hot sun all day you’ll be wishing for Elsa’s frosty touch!

Read on for my tips on what to do when it’s hot at Disneyland

California summers are fun in the sun! What can guests see, eat and do when it's hot at Disneyland.

Princess Dot Puddle Park at Disney California Adventure park

Seek the Shade Inside

  • Get toddlers out of the heat and inside the adorable Disney Junior – Live on Stage!
  • Take the Bakery Tour, Hosted by Boudin Bread. That’s about ten air conditioned minutes and you’ll get a snack!
  • Watch The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. A restful theater and cool air. Some guests admit they come here to take a brief nap.
  • I love the Enchanted Tiki Room and it’s especially refreshing on a hot day. Pick up a Dole Whip before going inside (you can snack during the show).


  • Soak in a glorious Broadway-like production at the Hyperion Theater. It’s a Frozen-themed show, how appropriately cool!
  • The underground cave of Bug’s Life Theater hosts a 3-D show It’s Tough to Be a Bug! Creepy and kooky (but cool!).
  • In the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough you can soak up the a/c and take as long as you like to admire the dioramas.
  • The Disney Animation Building hosts a variety of indoor activities that can take up the hottest part of the day.
California summers are fun in the sun! What can guests see, eat and do when it's hot at Disneyland.

Little Mermaid’s Underwater Adventure at Disney California Adventure park

Take a Ride

  • Hop aboard The Disneyland Railroad for an 18-minute grand circle tour. You’ll be shaded in the open train cars and get a great breeze as the train takes the trip around Disneyland.
  • Haunted Mansion offers a rest for weary souls with bone-chilling a/c. All thrills viewed from the comfort of your Doombuggy.
  • Take a long, cool walk in the shady queue for Indiana Jones Adventure.


  • “it’s a small world” – The happiest cruise that ever sailed. And it’s 15-minutes of lovely air-conditioning accompanied by music!
  • What could be more refreshing than going under the sea? The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Underwater Adventure.
  • A windy spin on the Silly Symphony Swings will cool off any sweat drops!
  • Yo-ho! 15-minutes of dark caverns and the swarthy Pirates of the Caribbean will have you rested and ready to take on the sun again.
California summers are fun in the sun! What can guests see, eat and do when it's hot at Disneyland.

Getting soaking wet on Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure park

Get Drenched

  • If you’re really looking for a soaking, try Grizzly River Run. Rarely does anyone escape without at least one article of clothing sopping wet.
  • Princess Dot Puddle Park is the perfect play space for a good drenching. Bring an extra change of clothes!
  • Splash Mountain includes 3 dips and a massive waterfall…you will get wet!
  • Take a swim break back at the pool mid-day. That’s definitely one of our family favorites.
California summers are fun in the sun! What can guests see, eat and do when it's hot at Disneyland.

Stay hydrated with bottled water that you bring into Disneyland park with you

What to Bring With You

Park Tickets. Purchase your tickets ahead of time on Park Savers. You’ll not only save a few dollars, you’ll avoid standing in a long line to buy tickets at the gate.

Park Savers affiliate link

Sunscreen. Always. SPF 30 and reapply often, especially if you are sweating.

Hat. Wear one to block direct sun off your face and the top of your head (I always tend to get a burned scalp when I forget my hat and wow, does that hurt!)

Sunglasses. Nothing like squinting into the sun all day to give you a headache.



Deodorant. If you find that you need to reapply mid-day when the weather is hot, do your queue-mates a favor and bring in deodorant!

Frozen bottles of water. Pour a little off the top before freezing them and pack them in your bag or soft-sided cooler.

Bandanna or a Chill Towel. So refreshing to rinse in the bathroom sink and wrap around your neck. Doing this will lower your body temperature several degrees.

Change of Shoes. In particular, it’s nice to have a pair of plastic flip-flops or sandals that you can change into before going on wet rides or in water-play areas.

California summers are fun in the sun! What can guests see, eat and do when it's hot at Disneyland.

Cool off with a refreshing mint julep in New Orleans Square, Disneyland Park

What to Buy in the Park to Keep Cool 

Parasol – Pop it open and you’ll be made in the shade! Sold at a cart in New Orleans Square. Price comes with handpainted name personalization and either hearts or flowers (additional designs offered for extra cost).

Mint Julep – Stick around New Orleans Square and pick up a mint julep (or two) . You can get them either at the Mint Julep Bar and sit in the shaded patio of French Market Restaurant or seek the cool comfort inside the Blue Bayou Restaurant.

Misting Fan – These are sold in kiosks throughout the park. This is a squirt bottle with an attached fan and strap to hang from your neck. On a hot day, it’s priceless!

Sundaes – Eat an ice cream sundae (big enough for two) and catch a show inside The Golden Horseshoe (my favorite is the mint chocolate chip!). With 8 toppings and 8 scoops of ice cream, the Earthquake from Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop will chill everyone in your group! And the classic Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor is the place for people watching…and waffle cone ice creams!

Change of Clothes – When the sweat is unbearable, seek shelter inside a shop and buy yourself a fresh new tee or tank. You’ll feel (and probably smell!) so much better.

California summers are fun in the sun! What can guests see, eat and do when it's hot at Disneyland.

Sunhat and sunglasses are a must when coming to Disneyland!

Things to Remember When It’s Hot

Water. Drink lots of water. You can always ask for free ice water at walk-up dining locations. I like to bring several empty bottles with me and keep them filled with water from the drinking fountains.

Stay out of the sun. As often as you can, keep in the shade. On busy days, a shady spot might be harder to come by. Seek out shady areas in out of the way spots.

Avoid High Noon. Get to the Parks early, leave mid-day when the sun is hottest and return to the Parks after a swim and a rest in your room. Or simply retreat to an indoor show or shopping when the sun is blazing.

Heat Illness. If the heat has you feeling sick, stop by First Aid at any time. Symptoms include dizziness, confusion, nausea and cramping.


With all these handy hot-weather tips, you’ll still be ready for fun long after the sun sets!

What are your favorite ways to spend the day when it’s hot at Disneyland? Share them in the comments!


What Else is There to Do at Disneyland?

You've gone on all the popular rides, so what else is there to do at Disneyland?

You’ve ridden everything from Pinocchio to Pirates of the Caribbean and eaten everything from cotton candy to corn dogs. What else is there to do at Disneyland? There are about a million other things to do at Disneyland besides rides and fair food. In addition to the basic stuff that is considered an “attraction” on the park map like parades, shows, fireworks, character meet & greets there are also so many other little things that make Disneyland a great place to spend your day.

What Else is There to Do at Disneyland?

Attractions-Disneyland 

  • Start off your morning riding one of the Main Street Vehicles down the center of the street. There is a fire engine, a car or the horse-drawn trolley. The drivers are helpful and friendly with tips and Disneyland trivia.
  • Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island is always a hit. However stay with your kids because if they go into one of the narrow cave tunnels they may come out on the other side of the island without you!

Pirate Island at Disneyland {Saving Up for Disney}

  • Sleeping Beauty’s Castle Walkthrough is a hidden gem…everyone rushes across the drawbridge to Fantasyland, forgetting to walk through the Castle itself! There are miniature scenes brought to life with special effects as you walk through the stairways, I love it.

What Else is there to do at Disneyland? {Saving Up for Disney}

  • Mark Twain Riverboat or the Sailing Ship Columbia take you on a gentle spin around the Rivers of America.
  • Disney Gallery features original artwork and models that were created as a precursor to many of the attractions in the parks.

Inside Minnie's House {Saving up for Disney}

  • Mickey’s House & Minnie’s House are both fun walk-throughs and you get to meet your favorite mice! Donald’s Boat, Chip & Dale’s Treehouse and Goofy’s Playhouse are nice places for kids to run around (and plenty of sitting space for grown-ups in the shade!)
  • Enchanted Tiki Room is one of my favorite places. Don’t be shy…sing and whistle along with the songs. I promise you won’t be the only one! You can also eat inside, so be sure to grab a Dole Whip at the juice bar first!

Meeting Tink {Saving Up for Disney}

  • Pixie Hollow is where you can meet Tinkerbell and other fairy characters from the series. Swing by Fantasy Faire and you can meet your favorite Princesses there.
  • Put your change in the Frontierland Shootin’ Exposition and use an infrared rifle to shoot at the interactive targets. My dad always made it a point to spend a few quarters here on every trip!
  • Climb up high into Tarzan’s Treehouse. Sometimes Jane & Tarzan are at the bottom, greeting guests.

Attractions-Disneyland’s California Adventure 

  • Walk into the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop and receive a free chocolate sample.
What to do at Disneyland {Saving up for Disney}

The entrance to the Animation Studio…and they lived happily ever after!

  • From the moment you walk in the room of the Animation Studio and witness the floor to ceiling movie scenes being shown on the gigantic screens, you will be immersed in all-things animation. Watch the Zoetrope (over & over & over!) in the Character Close-up area, visit with Crush the turtle from Finding Nemo in an interactive show, take a drawing class from a Disney animator and draw a cartoon in the Sorcerer’s Workshop. Walk through the Beast’s library or karaoke with Ursula the Sea Witch. This is a great (air-conditioned) place to spend a hot afternoon.

Redwood Creek Challenge {Saving up for Disney}

  • My kids always love running around in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Do a little rock climbing, tire swinging and rope bridge walking. Stay with your kids because it’s an easy place to lose them!

Shows -Disneyland

  • The Jedi Training Academy Star Wars show in Tomorrowland is always great fun and even if your children aren’t chosen to participate, everyone still enjoys watching. My kids have been chosen and battled with Darth Vadar & Darth Maul! After their “training session” the kids received a certificate.

Battle with Darth Vadar! {Saving up for Disney}

  • Fantasmic is an amazing, bright, colorful (and loud!) show on the water. Get there early and find a place along the rail (you’d be surprised, some people camp out there very early to get a good viewing spot!). (currently on hiatus during construction)
  • The Golden Horseshoe is my favorite lunch spot because you can sit inside the air-conditioning, eat a nice meal and watch a show. Or skip lunch and go straight for the sundae!

Shows – California Adventure 

  • The Aladdin show is jaw-dropping fantastic and a definite don’t-miss. I can’t even tell you how many times we’ve watched this show, it’s incredible. (The curtain has closed on Aladdin and it’s soon to be replaced with a Frozen inspired show)
  • The Disney Jr. Show Live-on-Stage was a big hit with our kids. The shows are especially geared to preschoolers but the older ones liked it too. My son enjoyed jumping up and dancing and my daughter talked about the “gold doubloons” that fell from the sky for weeks!
Bugs Land {Saving up for Disney}

Stick Bug! In Bugs Land

  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug takes some thick skin (I still close my eyes and cringe at some of the scenes!) so be cautious taking skittish people into this one! My mom is afraid of spiders and won’t go near this one. Our daughter is on the spectrum and sensitive to loud noises and surprise elements so she doesn’t care for it either. Just keep that in mind and know your family because you wouldn’t want one negative experience prevent them from trying other shows/rides.
  • World of Color…WOW!!! It’s really extremely well done, appropriately full of color but beware…if you stand too close, you will get wet! We were in the second section and still got drizzled on.

And then what??

Just sit and watch.

  • There are so many great people-watching locations throughout the park. Sit on a bench or in the ice cream parlor along Main Street and watch the families rush by. Aladdin’s Oasis (a patio area in between the Tiki Room & the Jungle Cruise) is where we’ve stopped to eat a snack in the shade. Sit in the shade of trees in front of the New Orleans train station or sip a mint julep in New Orlean’s Square.

Catch an impromptu show!

  • Sometimes Mary Poppins dances with the band in front of the Castle or you can clap along with the Dapper Dans on Main Street.
What makes Disneyland so special? {Saving up for Disney}

Dancing with a Cast Member to the music of the Dapper Dans on Main St.

  • I’ve seen Alice and the Mad Hatter conducting a game of musical chairs near the ice cream parlor and have had a conversation with a moving & talking trashcan. One day there was a “beauty” contest in front of the Golden Horseshoe (that my stepson participated in).

What Else is there to Do at Disneyland? {Saving Up for Disney}

  • Some of these things are just luck, they aren’t featured on the park schedule so you’ll never know when they’ll pop up where you are.

{Saving Up for Disney}

Pose for pictures.

  • There is always something coming up and with great backdrops to pose with, take the opportunity for a great shot!

What Else is there to do at Disneyland? {Saving Up for Disney}

Shop! 

  • Or at least just go inside and see what fun things there are. We love The Mad Hatter’s Shop for obvious reasons.

Get wet!

  • Princess Dot Puddle Park at California Adventure has squirting fountains for getting really drenched if Splash Mountain didn’t do it for you already!

What Else is there to Do at Disneyland? {Saving Up for Disney}

Make friends with the locals.

  • If you arrive at the park first thing in the morning there are often many characters there for photo ops. However you can find them scattered throughout the park during the day in their respective “Lands” as well. Some of my favorite photos are of the kids meeting their favorite characters for the first time.

Meeting Minnie {Saving Up for Disney}

Look for Hidden Mickeys!

  • There are books about this subject or just set yourself free while walking through the park. My son randomly found this Hidden Mickey in a vent just under the stage inside The Golden Horseshoe!
What Else is there to do at Disneyland? {Saving Up for Disney}

Do YOU see the hidden Mickey?


Just wander around and explore.

  • There are so many gorgeous details in the buildings and in the designs of the gardens. Capture them on camera.
  • Instead of walking straight across the drawbridge and into Fantasyland through the Castle, try taking the path on the side. This path on the right will take you to Snow White’s Grotto with statues of the characters and her magical wishing well (where donations are given to children’s charities).
What makes Disneyland so special? {Saving up for Disney}

Snow White’s Grotto

  • Jump on the dance floor in Tomorrowland when the live bands play at night (I have so many fun memories of The Boy at 4 years old, doing “the robot”).
  • Touch the apple in front of the Snow White ride and hear the witch cackle.
  • You can also see the evil Queen peek out and close the curtains above the ride from one of the windows.

There are a wild amount of little details that set Disneyland apart from all other amusement parks. It’s what makes Disneyland so special to so many people around the world!


What Else is there to do at Disneyland after the Rides? {Saving up for Disney}

If you are interested in all the other little things that really make up the BIG picture of why Disneyland is “The Happiest Place on Earth”, read some of the forums or blogs online.

Mice Chat Why Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth to Me

Buzz Feed16 Awesome Hidden Gems You Must Experience at Disneyland 


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What Else is there to do at Disneyland? {Saving Up for Disney}