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Sunny Travels: Disneyland Fun – It’s a Jungle Out There

by kelly / April, 12 2017 01:30

Photo of Disneyland Park - Sleeping Beauty's Castle, Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse

This past weekend we took a whirlwind trip to Disneyland in sunny California. We packed our sunscreen, excitement and energy to make the trek to this magical place. It was tiring and at times overcrowded but worth the trip - we all felt like giddy little kids again! Below are some highlights and small tips & tricks I learned from my experience.

Get Into the Parks Early With Magic Mornings

We went to Disneyland during one of the busiest times – spring break! - and met up with my sister’s family including her three kids. It timed well with my oldest niece’s performance at Disneyland with her middle school band. Check out her band performing a classic Disney tune below – impressive for middle schoolers.

It was packed but there’s still a way to beat the crowd in my opinion. The keys are Magic Mornings and late nights.

Magic Mornings come with a valid 3+ day ticket and give you access to one early admission to Disneyland Park one full hour before it opens to the general public (right now Disneyland Park opens at 8am). They are available Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday.

We took advantage of this and got to the park around 7:30am Saturday morning. I guess we got a little spoiled getting in 3 rides before 9am – Star Tours, Big Thunder Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean! From then on my nieces kept saying “Why are the lines so long…”.

Photo of Disneyland Park front gate with Mickey Mouse grass

If you stay at Disneyland Resort Hotel – you can get into either park (Disneyland Park or California Adventure) one-hour early everyday. We stayed elsewhere but it’s good to know for the future.

Avoid Peak Times

If you can make it out of bed, the mornings are generally less busy. It seems like the majority of people start to hit the parks around 10am and the peak time at the parks seem to be mid-afternoon. In fact, I overheard one park employee say they are busiest from 3pm to 8pm. I thought it started to slow down around 6pm but who am I to argue.

One strategy which has worked for Will’s family in the past: go in the morning, then midday head back to the hotel to rest & swim and then come back to the parks after 6pm. You can avoid the busiest times and the heat this way. Disneyland is open until midnight and clears out after the first Electrical Light Parade ends around 9pm. Of course if you have little kiddos this might not work because of bedtime. I think we’ll try this strategy if we get to go again.

Photo of Disneyland Park Electrical Parade

It also seemed like less people were in California Adventure than in Disneyland. So another strategy might be to do California Adventure in the afternoon.

Dinner Reservations are Key

After a long day at the park, you’re tired and hungry. Yes even though it seemed like our entire crew endlessly snacked during the day we were still hungry by 7pm. I think because we walked so much we burned a lot of calories throughout the day.

Luckily I made dinner reservations for two nights online via the Disney web site – make sure to do this well in advance of your trip. It was really Will’s genius idea to do so – he’s a secret Disneyland expert. It’s good we made them because it seemed like every restaurant at night was booked. We saw numerous people get turned away at both evenings.

For Saturday night I made a reservation at the Carnation Cafe in Disneyland Park. I luckily timed the reservation with the Electrical Parade as the restaurant is right on Main Street. Our reservation was at 7:30pm and the Electrical Parade starts at 8:30pm. We were seated outside, make sure to bring a jacket, and we could see the whole parade right from our dinner table! On Sunday night I made a reservation at Wine Country Trattoria in California Adventure. I think if I had timed our reservation correctly we could have seen the World of Color light show from the restaurant. However, the light show doesn’t start until 9:45pm, which is a bit late for my family. It turned out to be a good decision, by our second day everyone was too tired for a late meal.

Photo of Disney California Adventure Paradise Pier

Prepare for Hot & Cold Weather

It turns out Southern California weather in spring can vary. In the mornings and evenings it was chilly in the upper 50s/lows 60s but by midday it was sunny and hot in the 70s. So bring layers that you can take on and off. Also don’t forget to reapply the sunscreen!

Our Favorite Rides

We had a wide range of ages and opinions on the trip! I’m also pregnant so I could only go on a few rides. My favorite was Soarin’ Around the World at California Adventure. We went on that twice.

My 75 year old dad also came on the trip and his request was It’s A Small World in Disneyland Park which our whole clan of 8 did together and enjoyed. My 10 year-old niece was tall enough to go on California Screamin’ at California Adventure (the big roller coaster) for the first time and that was her favorite. Will’s favorite was Big Thunder Mountain because he has a love for trains. All my nieces and Will loved Splash Mountain as well – they went on it three times!

More Sunny Travels

I had a fantastic time running around the parks pregnant and all. I love spending time with my family and Disneyland really does offer something for everyone. Hope you found my tips helpful as well.

For even more tips and tricks on traveling to sunny places check out our Sunny Travel series.

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