Disneyland Holidaze

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Disneyland is one of my favorite places in the world. I realized that on our recent day at “the happiest place on Earth.” Even though I’ve only been four times in the last 17 years, I have wonderful memories of Disneyland.

We had such a great time as a family when we went in May, that we decided we would go again in the Fall. We planned it so that we could go during one of the slowest weeks of the year, yet still be able to enjoy the Holiday accents that Disneyland features in November and December.

During late Fall/early Winter, the Disneyland crew decorates the park with holiday decorations. There are special foods like tamales and gingerbread beignets that are only available at this time. A special fireworks show is offered every night as well as a Holiday parade, special Christmas light shows, and snow!

The weather was a balmy 70 degrees, so it was a little hard to imagine it as very Christmas-y, but the park was beautiful, nonetheless.

And I learned a few things on this second trip to Disneyland as a MOM.

Little girls will flock together.

My two girls are on the left in the blue shirts. They did not know the other three girls, but while we stood in line to meet TinkerBell, these five girls flocked together to show off their Disneyland pins. The other three girls were much older than mine, but they welcomed them into the fold.

Character lines are not worth the wait.

I’m sorry. Maybe your children have wonderful memories of waiting in line to meet a princess or TinkerBell, but I was stunned that we waited over an hour for a five minute visit with a fairy. Since we waited maybe 10 minutes to meet Pooh and Tigger back in May, I figured on a slow day, we’d get to meet Tink in short order. Not so. The boys took off on rides with FishPapa while the girls and I waited. And waited. And waited.

Perhaps my girls will look back on this day fondly, but for now, I just say, “Been there, done that.”

Ask to ride in the WheelHouse of the Mark Twain Riverboat.

Thanks to The 3 Disneyland Moms I found out that you can ride in the wheelhouse of the Mark Twain Riverboat. Four guests are allowed to ride up top, ride the bell, blow the whistle, and otherwise pretend to navigate the river steamboat. My brother and my three bigger boys had the chance to do this. So fun!

Ask next time that you’re at Disneyland to see if anyone has “claimed” the wheelhouse for the next ride.

Downtown Disney is the best game in town for Good Cheap Eats.

As per our “new” family tradition, we hop the monorail to Downtown Disney if we’re going to purchase a meal while at the park. Since this shopping district is open to the public, the prices are “normal.” Check out my review of Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express for more details on some good cheap eats – Disneyland style.

Taking an uncle (or aunt) is key.

Last time my sister was a wonderful help to us at Disneyland. Since she couldn’t come this time, my brother met us at the park and was a much appreciated third pair of adult eyes.

He is closer in age to FishBoy13 than he is to me, so the boys had a fantastic time with him. In fact, for a good part of the day, he took the four boys to “big rides” while FishPapa and I did small stuff with the girls.

OK, the Haunted Mansion with two preschoolers is not “small stuff,” nor is it recommended. Just saying.

Having my brother with us was so fun — and definitely earned him the Uncle of the Year award in my kids’ eyes.

Mickey-shaped Pretzels are a fun treat.

Believe it or not, Disneyland is full of Mickey-shaped treats. Too cute! We haven’t bought much to eat at the park, so we haven’t explored all the options. But, I’ve heard that there are ice creams, beignets, and other fun treats all in the shape of Mickey. FishPapa obviously couldn’t wait for me to take a picture. We bought one ($3.75) and split it four ways. Not exactly filling, but a fun treat.

A fanny pack full of treats will save your sanity.

The waist pouches filled with snacks were such a hit last time, that we dug them out to use again. FishBaby FishChick 2 got to use one this time. And use it she did. It only contained organic granola bars and fruit leathers, but she ate from the moment we got there for about two hours nonstop! And I think she still ate her lunch when we ate our picnic.

The bigger kids loved having their snacks on their person and nobody bugged his parents for something to eat.

A patient husband is priceless.

My husband does not have the same infatuation with the Magic Kingdom that I do. But, he bravely set forth with six kids and a hyper wife. He is one in a million. A patient husband is a must-have at Disneyland.

Toddlers will nap eventually.

This girl took her first “nap” at 8 am on our way to the park — and then she didn’t stop until night fall. In fact, she was the busiest, wildest girl I’ve ever seen. Might have been all those granola bars.

Despite riding in the stroller with plenty of opportunity to snooze between rides, she never took advantage of it. After dinner, she did fall asleep as if someone flipped a switch and turned her off. It was amazing. And she’s getting heavy!

Naps on the go are better than not at all.

What lessons have YOU learned at amusement parks?

Disclosure: I entered Disneyland via a complimentary press pass. However, I was not required to post about my visit, nor was I compensated to print positive remarks. It truly is one of my happiest places on Earth.

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  1. So fun. We are planning a trip for Jan. This will be our second trip with kids, but we’ve been several other times. I love it.

    Thanks for the tip about the riverboat. We’ll be checking that one out.

    1. @Creative2xmom, You can also request to ride in the front car of the monorail with the driver, & usually your kids will receive ‘Monorail Driver’s Licenses’ as a free souvenier. Or request to sit in the Lilly Belle (if it’s on duty), Mrs. Disney’s personal rail car.

  2. We just 9 days in Disney World with a 17 month old while I’m 7 1/2 months pregnant! The biggest thing we learned and were able to do was to go to a park every other day- that way my son (and the rest of the family) could rest up and recouperate before another park day! Also, Disney is FABULOUS with food allergies and every restaurant/kiosk has a list of ingredients in every food they sell. This was great with our peanut/tree nut allergic son!

  3. I have to chuckle about waiting in line. We have been to Disney in FL, and after we came out of visiting the Princesses, my dd said, “Mommy, that was not the REAL Cinderella.” The real Cinderella is way prettier than her.”

    Bless Cindy’s heart…I think she was having a bad hair and make up day, but it was right before they were going home so,……lol

  4. The best tip I have for Disneyland or World is that you may redeem a Fastpass ANYTIME after the printed ‘Return Time’. We normally collect Fastpasses whenever possible then use them at night instead of waiting in line.

  5. Get to the park early. We are annual passholders so we go often. When we go for the day (as opposed to the afternoon/evening), we try to get there before the park opens. We have found that we can ride SOOOO much more in the first few hours than we can later in the day. I remember one day we rode 15 rides before lunch. 🙂

    Thanks for the link to the 3 moms. I will have to check out their site.

  6. I was anti character, but my mom and pregnant friend took my daughter to meet some characters while I rode a roller coaster and they must have hit it just right. They didn’t wait more than 5 minutes for anyone and my daughter loved it, even got autographs. I met up with them and even met a few more. By the end of the day she autographs from Minnie, Mickey, Daisy, Donald, Goofy, Chip and Dale, Rafiki (She was not a fan of him) Jimmeny Cricket, and Pocahontas! Wow! (Of course I think the lines were short because it started raining, and we were in florida, so it is a different set up. 🙂

  7. Hi! We just got back yesterday from 2 days at Disney (we went to the parks on Sunday/Monday)! It was our first time going as a family and first time during the holidays! It truly was MAGICAL! MY BEST TRIP TO DL – EVER! BTW DO get a pin at City Hall if you are celebrating anything – the Cast Members and princesses made my daughter feel special because she was wearing a 1st Time Pin! My kids are 2 & 4 yrs old and it was such an easy trip! I researched and felt very well prepared thanks to your site, 3 Disneyland moms, allears.net, themouseforless.com, mousepad! One thing for sure is check the weather! It was only 20% rain on Sunday and it did rain. It was a bummer because the fireworks and Fantasmic was cancelled- but I was prepared for the rain! Another tip to be true is to be there before the park opens. We were able to go on several rides before it got busy. Also, my little girl (almost 5) is a HUGE princess fan and so we did the Arial & Princesses Breakfast and it was worth it – she LOVED it and we didn’t have to wait in line and she got to meet 5 princesses while eating breakfast! PLUS they did a special mention for us because I mentioned to the Hostess that I was super excited because it was our first day @ DL and it was our first family trip to DL! They called us up front and Cinderella came out and went straight to my daughter – needless to say my daughter was ECSTATIC! 🙂 Oh and if you go during the holidays – you MUST watch the Castle Lighting ceremony! IT SNOWS on Main Street – I gotta admit, I cried a little it was SO beautiful! 🙂