Sunday, March 7, 2010

Disneyland Info

So while this trip is still fresh in my mind I decided to put together a list of information regarding all things Disneyland.  I did a good amount of research beforehand, and talked to lots of friends about their park experience.  It was great to go in armed with info.  Disneyland truly is overwhelming, and I think that if you don't go in with a plan it's inevitable you will waste alot of time deciding what to do next.  Here's a little bit of what I learned, hope it's helpful.

Transportation: We stayed at a timeshare condo that was about 3 city blocks away from the entrance to the park. Not too far, but far enough that walking with the kids everyday would really cut into our park energy. We opted for the ART (Anaheim Resort Transit)bus. The cost was $4.00 per day per adult, or $16.00 for a 5 day adult pass. We did the 5 day pass since we had five day park hopper passes. It was $16.00 for Jason, Parker, and myself. Paxton was free, 3 and under ride free with adult. And the girls, up to age 10 or 11 were $1.00 a day, or $4.00 for the four day pass. Doing this made transportation to the park a no brainer. To park in one of the park lots it is $14.00 a day. This lot is further away than where the ART drops you off and picks you up. Our bus stop was right outside the entrance to our hotel, and they even had a kiosk in the lobby to purchase the passes.

Food: Food inside the park is expensive, no doubt about it. While we were there we did pack a lot of food in, especially drinks. The drinks are really expensive. The park prefers you to not bring food into the park, but of the twenty or so different times we went in and out of the park no one ever said anything about our snacks. I had those little cinch sack back packs for mostly everyone. We used those to carry water, small little 12oz bottles of pop, frozen capri suns, crackers, bagels, string cheese, baby carrots, granola bars. With a nice size breakfast these kinds of snacks usually held us through till 1-2pm. Inside the park there are some things that are definitely worth shelling out the money for.  Here's the prices of things we bought.


Ice cream on Main Street- Huge Double Scoop dipped waffle cone $4.99-Yummy!
Churros-$3.50 (not the best deal, but they are so good.)
Big Thunder Ranch all You Can Eat Bar B Que - $20.00 a head. Maybe not the best deal for kids, but for just the adults it is by far the cheapest complete restaurant meal you'll find in the park.  Ribs, incredible roasted chicken, all the fixens.
Bottled coke and water- $3.75! Definitely bring your own!  I brought in those cute little 12oz diet coke bottles.
Pizza slice at the Pizza Port-$6.99 Thick super bready crust, a substantial slice.
Popcorn-$3.25 a necessity for little ones when waiting in long lines.

California Adventure:

Turkey Leg- $8.00 Huge, delicious, perfect.  My 11 year old got this for lunch, everyone he walked past said "Oh My, that's huge".
Corn Dog at the Farmer's Market- $5.50 Huge corn dog, comes in a basket with fries. A really good value.
Food outside the park:  We ate at Mc Donald's, Tony Roma's, and IHop (kids eat for free from 4-midnight).

Ride Max and Fast Passes-
There is a computer program called "Ride Max" that will put together a schedule for you based on the information (rides) you put into it. This service was offered free from our concierge desk at the hotel, and I think most hotels around the park offer this. The first two days at the park we opted to do our own thing. We spent a lot of time waiting in lines, and crisscrossing aimlessly around the park. The third day we decided to try the ride max out. We put in the rides we still needed to try out, and it generated a schedule for us based on wait times, start times, fast pass schedules. (More on Fast Pass later.) The schedule was really helpful in making certain that we used our time most efficiently, and had less line wait time.

Fast Pass:  Some of the more popular rides in the park offer two lines.  One is the standby line, that's the normal  walk up  and wait line.  The other is the Fast Pass line.  This line is given preference over the standby, and allows for significantly reduced wait time,  and sometimes none at all.  You can get two fast passes for different rides out at a time, these are connected to your ticket barcode.  Once your time is up on the fast passes you can pull more.  Each fastpass kiosk has the return time posted.  Say you went to space mountain at 1:00pm to pull a fast pass the return time might be something like between 2:30-3:30 for your redemption.   Since we had my mom with us her and I would typically wait in a ride line with the kids, while Jason would be the "runner".  He had all of our tickets tucked safely in his wallet, so he would run and get  fast passes for everyone while we took the kids on a little ride.  On our date night Jason and I pulled a fastpass for california screamin, we went and did some other rides, but still had 35 minutes until our fast passes were valid so we just waited in Standby and rode.  Once we were done with the ride we got off, wen't into the fastpass line and got to go on again immediately.  It was a blast.  For parents with little kids you can also use the "rider switch passes".  These allow you to wait in line as a family, then when one of you has to stay off the ride with the little one you can stay at the front of the line wait for your spouse and other kids to ride.  As soon as they are done the other parent stays with the little one, and you get to go on the ride no waiting.  Your allowed to bring one of the bigger kids to ride with you again, so one of the kids gets to go on twice.  Pretty sweet.

Just some other tips:
Set a spending limit:  For souvenirs inside the park I gave my kids a $20.00 limit.  We got that out of the way the first day, and they were so great about it.  They all found something inside that range (Phoebe was the only one who went over $5.00, no biggie) then they were done.  They didn't ask for another thing for the rest of the time.
Food inside the park:  I wasn't super set on this, just conscience really.  We really did good about eating a big breakfast at the condo, then packing in snacks.  I knew I didn't want to go over $50.00 a day on park food and we never did.  We never felt deprived, if we wanted something we went ahead and got it.
Go to City Hall:  Take the time to go to City Hall and get some buttons.  We went and got our "1st visit" buttons.  Then on our date night Jason and I went and got some "Anniversary" buttons.  They have "Celebrating" buttons for anything.  These are free, and a fun thing to collect.  Another souvenir idea is to purchase "Disney Dollars".  You can get these in different denominations as low as $1.00, that will be the cheapest keepsake you can buy in the park.
Take a time out:  My mom wanted to go into some shops on Main St and we didn't want to take the little ones in, so Jason and I took them to Micky's Theater.  It's just a little round room with six different screens playing classic micky cartoons.  We sat in there with the little kids for about half an hour.  It was a great time out for us and the kids.  Plus there was hardly anyone in there, a much needed break from the big crowds and the sun.

Hope this is helpful, just writing it down makes me want to go back again!  Three years won't be soon enough!