Disneyland Do’s and Don’ts: What’s YOUR Disneyland Advice?

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Vintage image of Jessica holding Mickey and Minnie dolls.

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I grew up as a Disneyland girl. My dad was — and still is — a kid when it came to Mickey, Donald, and roller coasters. His excitement about a day at “the Happiest Place on Earth” was contagious. And we were raring to go whenever he said so. We lived about an hour’s drive away and made a trip every year. This was back in the days of E-tickets, so that tells you how old I am. There were no such things as Speed Passes or early entrance times.

Although Disneyland was a regular experience of my childhood, my children have never been. Yes, it’s true. For awhile the excuse was that they were too young, then we lived too far away, then we were in debt. Well, the excuse-making is over. Our kids are aged 12, 9, 7, 5, 3, and 1. We live an hour away. And the debt is gone.

It’s time.

But, before we go, I thought I would put out a call for help. The last time Fish and I went to Disneyland was 1996. We were newlyweds – no children. We have no clue how to do Disneyland. That’s where YOU come in! I know a lot of you have great wisdom as to best tackle such a monumental event. And the rest of you are clueless along with me.

So, this week is the FishMama Two Day Disney Extravaganza:

Tomorrow I’ll have Mr Linky up for you to share your Disney posts (Disneyland, Disneyworld, EuroDisney, Disney HongKong, DisneyTokyo). I think it would be so fun to tour the parks with you!

Today tell me your Do’s and Don’ts about Disneyland. What would you do? What would you avoid?

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  1. It’s free to use a Disney travel agent (like me) and if you purchase a package and a better deal comes out- your agent will get it applied to your price! I’ve been able to take off $1000 for a client. And they’ll know lots of tips and tricks!

  2. I discovered you on a list of one of the “tweeters” I follow, so I decided to drop by. Glad I did ‘cuz we’re going to Orlando later this year and we have no idea what we’re getting into. LOL! Housing is scheduled but that’s it.

    I went to Disney (CA) when I was 5. I obviously don’t remember that, although I do remember “It’s a Small World”. I went to Disney (FL) when I was 10 and don’t even remember that (except that I remember seeing the “skeleton” of the Spaceship Earth at Epcott). I remember MANY other things about that trip to FL though.

    My kids will be 16, 11, and 7 when we go. I wonder what they will remember?

  3. Only been to Land twice but been to World many, many times. My tips would be: bring own stroller, pack your own food (only limits are no glass and no alcohol), get there 20min before park opening, set a souvenier/treat limit in advance, become an expert on FastPass and ParentSwap and have fun! The “Unofficial Guide” is a good book as are the websites at http://www.allears.net and http://www.mousesavers.com. There is also a discussion forum at http://www.disboards.com, it is more World focused but they do have a subforum on Land.

  4. I have enjoyed reading all of the advice here! We go to Disneyland every year (pretty much) and have lots of advice…

    The message boards at http://www.mouseplanet.com and http://www.miceage.com have been invaluable to me. I can’t remember which one, but one of them has a primer for how to use the Disneyland fastpass system to your greatest advantage. The advice is wonderful!

    My suggestion is to look at the schedules online on the DL site before you go and plan out your days with parades and shows. Almost everything takes twice or three times as long as you think it will–take the fireworks or parades for example–people start finding seats and saving their spots for hours ahead of time, so if you want a good spot you might want to scope out when the best time to have someone in your party wait for them. Trying to do all of the parades, shows, etc in the same day isn’t possible, so either choose which ones you want to do, or plan one or two for each day to ensure you get to the ones you want to go to. Some of them are also dark on certain days, so it’s good to check ahead in case you really want to see the Pixar parade the one day it isn’t operating.

    I also do this with food–we have restaurants we love inside of DL–Cafe Orleans has these awesome garlic fries and Mickey beignets, etc. so I make a plan for where we’re going to eat and make reservations ahead of time. There’s nothing worse than having it be mealtime and trying to figure out where you’re going to eat when everyone is tired and cranky and hungry.

  5. Just did Disneyland with my three and five year old in Jan. Definitely take your own stroller. We had traveled from Alabama and planned to rent a double stroller only to find there were only singles available at DL (WDW has double ones).

    If you have Photopass pictures taken, don’t bother standing in line at the park to view your pictures. You can view them online from home, and though a bit pricey, you can purchase a CD with as many pictures as you want plus a copyright release for around $50 (keep looking at the deals listed on the Photopass site; they change). I made all my edits (fancy borders, etc) and added the edited pictures to the disc before purchase. Again, it’s pricey, but this was a once in a lifetime trip with my husband’s entire family, and we wanted some professional shots to go with our candids. You can also pay for individual prints, but you’d get to $50 pretty quickly that way.

    Don’t forget to tell the ticket agents that it’s a first visit for your children. My children were given free “first visit” buttons. Truth is, I sorta wish I had gotten one myself! 🙂

  6. I found Mickey cameras for around $3.00 at Target that we brought for our Feb trip last month along with a $3.00 princess Belle wand that lights up (perfect for the parades). We surprised our daughter with them and was amazed at how much fun she had being a photographer like mommy!

  7. Oh my! I just looked at your photo and realized I have the exact same Mickey and Minnie mouse fabric dolls…..just got them out of the attic in fact for my little girl! 🙂 Too funny!

  8. if youre planning on parking in the structure- you will take a shuttle to the park entrance. Its great except for one thing- you have to fold your stroller up on the tram. So if youre like me and have food, jackets and beanies (It gets cold at night) you have to take it all out to collapse the stroller…… pack everything in reusable grocery bags so they can easily be slung over your shoulder on the tram and then stuffed in the under stroller baskets once you get to the entrance. Have fun :).

  9. I haven’t tried it yet, but my friend swears by the Ride Max software. She says she will never again do Disneyland without it.

  10. Some of the best advice I can give about Disneyland is to go early and/or stay late! If you’re there right when the park opens, you have a much better chance of shorter wait times in Fantasyland. And things basically clear out after the nighttime parade and fireworks show. So if your little ones can handle it, get there when the park opens and/or stay until it closes!

    Also, the baby care center is fantastic. It’s at the end of Main Street close to the Kodak photo center. They have kiddie sized toilets, really nice changing facilities, and will warm up your bottles/baby food etc for your little one.

    If you don’t set up a “This is your budget” or “You get one souvenir” policy, be prepared to spend money. Ditto with food. The churros and jalepeno cheese filled pretzels are to die for…but too much snacking adds up fast.

    Finally, use the fast passes and stroller switch system. Looks like some other people have already explained, and any Disney worker can explain it to you too, so I won’t. But use them! And remember they DON’T expire!

  11. I don’t know if anyone has commented about this but it was a tip that I read about when I was planning a trip to Disney with my brood. The toilets are automatic flush toilets and the tip was to bring the small post-it notes to place over the sensor. Unfortunately, I didn’t not take heed to this tip and was stuck with my hand covering the sensor while my 3 yr. old tried to potty, 4 times that day. It was not fun!!

    Anyways, I hope this helps!

  12. I’m sure you were planning this already, but start your day off in Fantasyland. It’s always quieter in the morning before the massive crowds have arrived. You won’t have to wait as long to ride all the kiddie rides and there is nothing worse than waiting hours to ride Dumbo!!! Once you have done everything in Fantasyland, you can spend the rest of your day touring the remainder of the park. But it is so nice to know that you have completed Fantasyland first!!

  13. I suggest buying a book or checking one out from the library. I think I used “The Unofficial Guide to Disney World With Kids.” It tells you where to eat, what time, where to sit for parades, cheap places to eat, what you can bring with you into the park, which rides are best for fast passes; what time of day is best to hit different rides, etc.

    Think about renting strollers. They are much bigger than yours and easier to maneuver.

    I made out a tentative ride schedule that followed the suggested times of day.

    If you call the park the morning of your arrival you might be able to find out what time the park opens. Opening time can change daily.

    http://www.allears.com is a helpful website.

    Check around for low-cost Disney shirts and since your family is large you might want to wear brightly, similar colored shirts so you can spot each other quickly.

    Good luck and God bless you for this undertaking 🙂

  14. We had a great time with our kids. Having a budget for them to choose something to buy is great–to keep an eye out for something they really like, and get it at the end.

    If you’re only an hour away, season passes might be fabulous–to avoid exhausting days, just go for a few hours early in the day, or late in the day. We did this at our local amusement park, and always had a relaxing day, knowing we’d be back again another day. And were able to avoid buying food, instead picnics.

    If doing long days–do pack little food items and lots of water; even though the signs say no food, I consider it a health matter to be able to give my starving kids some dried fruit or trail mix in a long line.

    And the “fast pass” system is really lovely. When we were in lines, my kids who normally fight, would do clapping games/songs…

    California Adventure is fun too, with some water features (they get wet) in an agricultural theme. Not as much to see or do, but enjoyable, and the main stage theatre show there is always FANTASTIC. Worth a long wait to be sure to see it.

    If you homeschool or have a flexible schedule, go when most families are not on vacation–the multitudes of strollers playing chicken down the walkways are a little scary. (Aggressive stroller drivers.)


  15. We loved our disneyland trip! One of my biggest tips is, and this is horrible, don’t worry about the money. I had a one year old and a six year old who loved ‘stuff’, and we just told him we would find something before we left. I usually stress about the $$ over having fun, but it really wasn’t that bad, and I enjoyed myself not constantly tallying up our spending.
    Also, I spent 100$ at big lots the week before we flew on a stroller with a rideon/sit on back by fisher price. It’s big but sturdy, and it is such a nice option b/c one of the older ones WILL get tired. Also I have a diaper bag that clips around the bars of the stroller, by skiphop i think. It made me feel very secure knowing all my kids, food, and money was in a tiny area!!! We lost dad there, but oh well!!! Just kidding!

  16. Thank you for this idea. I think I would have dismissed it as too bulky, but I’m seeing the wisdom of it.

  17. I agree with going to the dollar store and getting Disney items ahead of time! And if I had a daughter I would make sure I had a princess dress and did her hair and make-up special before going to the park.
    Disney is fun, but I never went as a child, so it wasn’t nostalgic for me.

  18. One more thing–instead of pins or something else that costed money, I made autograph books, and then later on I added the picture of each character with my kid the on the facing page from each autograph. Almost free souvenir, and satisfied the “collecting” urge.

  19. I agree with a lot of the other posts… but I wanted to add that I use a sharpie to write my cell number right onto my kids arms in plain view. I don’t put names or anything on them… but I think it’s important for the number to be in plain sight if they get lost… people might not remember to look for a phone number pinned to the inside of clothing… and if they get wet and you change them, you might forget to transfer the info! I also right the number on the inside of their arm so that my pictures are all “number free”. :o)

  20. Visit a dollar store to get

    1) princess gear (wand, crown, etc). The girls at Disneyland are all dressed up, and there’s a lot of pressure (from daughters) to buy $25+ items.

    2) glow sticks, glow bracelets, glow anything! The boys and girls will love these for the evening parades and you’ll save $5/kid!

    3) photo album to gather autographs & a sharpie. (The character will sign on the blank/empty photograph page. Once you’re home, you can simply print out the photos of the kiddo/character, slide into the autograph book, and viola! a complete kid friendly scrapbook).

    Use an ID necklace or safetypin ID info or sticker ID info onto the backs of the kiddos. In case ANYONE gets lost, there will be a phone number to call. Remind the kiddos if anyone gets lost, look for a MOM to help! “Because a mom will know what to do!” 🙂

    Wear matching colors (i.e. green shirts) for ease in recognizing those in your group AND great family photos!


  21. OH i forgot about one of the best things worth the money…If you can afford it do the minnie and friends character breakfast! Its pricey but you see LOTS of characters and have LOTS of fun picture opportunities!
    That usually helps my kids not need to wait in line for every character they see along the street 🙂

  22. Hi I dont usually leave blog comments but since we have been doing disney for 6 years now with young children I have a few things that have seemed to help out many of my friends. My kids are almost 7, 6 and 4! We have been taking them since the first one was 2! I never felt anyone was to young we have always had a great time!
    The best part for us is my parents are annual pass holders so they always go and my mom is more than willing to hold little ones so us grown ups can have some fun too!
    I would definatly reccomend more than one day, espicially with kids! If you feel like you HAVE to fit everything in in one day it becomes stressfull and not fun!
    Take snacks, juice boxes, water bottles you can put all of this stuff under your stroller and it really saves on the munching budget!
    Fast passes are good if you use them right! When we go we usually head to fantasy land first (be there when the park opens) daddy runs over to space mountain with all the tickets and gets fast passes then meets us back at fantasy land. We always hit peter pan first that line is miserable later in the day… Fast passes have a good to use time and an end time…you do not have to use it by the time on the pass you just cant use it before! and you can get another fast pass after the experation time even if you have not used the first one yet! They dont tell you that but trust me we do it that way everytime! and we always use everyones tickets to get fast passes even if some dont plan on riding that way we have extras to ride again later if we want since the time doesnt REALLY expire 🙂
    The line at the princess fantasy fair in the back of the park is soooo not worth the wait there are usually only 3 or 4 princesses and they rush you through pretty quick, you can however watch the show and my little girls really like that
    A good time to hit some of the longer lines is during a parade lines are shorter then and also during fire works if you dont plan on sitting for them…if you do and want a good seat people start sitting for parades and fireworks up to 2 hours before they start…good time to sit with the little one in a stroller napping and let the bigger ones take turns with you and dad on different rides!
    When it comes to souvineers…we tell our kids they can get one thing on the last day of our visit so to be looking and deciding what they want! They have never complained and are always so happy to take something home!
    Im sure there is alot more but this is the longes comment ever so… have fun!
    We always go over christmas people think we are crazy i guess its one of the busiest times of the year, but we have hardly waited more than 20 minutes for a single ride…on occasion the lines may be a little longer but not on average! and remember whatever they say the wait is is usually 5-10 minutes more than the truth i think they think it makes you happier to wait less than you expected 🙂

    1. Great suggestions. Thank you. Fast Passes are a foreign concept to me, so I better study up!

  23. thriftyandthriving.com has an ongoing series of Disney as she plans a trip as well. Also happyhousewife had a series a while back. Both great sources of info.

    Have fun!

  24. Choose some sit down attractions to do throughout the day. When you enter the park you can find the schedule for shows and parades, and there are various attractions that just involve sitting down and watching (Tiki Room at Disney, Muppet Show at Cali Adventure for example). It’s a way of taking a break from walking, without taking a break from doing something fun.

    With the big age gap, you may want to split up at some points and take the younger and older kids on different rides. My parents used to do this, my father taking me and my older bro on Splash Mountain while little sis and bro hit up some of the Fantasy Land attractions with Mom. It kept everyone happy.

    Another tip from my parents: dole out pocket money at the beginning of the day, and have that be it. Then leave it up to the kids whether that will be spent on snacks or souveneirs or games. It’s a good lesson in money management, and it will curb the constant “can i get that?”

    Plan out meals ahead of time. Consider packing a lunch (there are lockers near the entrance to store it). There are plenty of places to get burgers or pizza, but if you want something less greasy, consider restaurants. If you want to go to one of the restaurants in the parks or Downtown Disney, make reservations. (I’m fond of the Wine Country Trattoria at California Adventure). Another option – New Orleans Square has some of the better park food, like clam chowder or gumbo.

    My last tip – come up with games you can play in line. Twenty questions, for example. Or there’s one where you choose a theme (e.g. animals) and each person has to name something following the theme using the last letter of whatever the previous person said (e.g. 1st person says cat, second person says turtle, third person says elephant, and so on).

    Have fun!

  25. DEFINITELY, BRING YOUR OWN LUNCHES… DON’T spend all your hard earned souvenir money on food! We pack our Munchin plenty of snacks & a lunch. Hubby & I nosh on hearty snacks (ie. beef jerky, granola bars, trail mix) to hold us over. We eat a good breakfast @ home or on the way & only choose one inexpensive meal to eat in the park (we like the buffet on Main St. or for a quick meal any of the spots that offer a kids meal… I get a kids meal too!). Freeze waters the night before & pack in the stroller, that brings me to the next one… BRING YOUR OWN STROLLER ! I’m sure like most of us your stroller is much comfier & cleaner than those rentals & half your kids are old enough that it would be a waste since they’ll just be getting out @ every ride.
    Finally, if your kids have decided they want to collect the trading pins throughout the park, by them online beforehand. A starter set is $30 in the park… Yikes! We got my daughter hers on Craiglist for $10 w/ pins. Ebay has quite a few, just give yourself time to find a deal.
    I hope these budget friendly tips help your family have a good time & have money to burn. Next time I can tell you how we visit SeaWorld & only spend $20 ALL DAY for a family of 3. That includes lunch, popcorn during the Shamu show & each of our fav. treats (a Churro for our 4 yr. old, & frozen lemonade for us).

    1. These are my thought exactly. It feels so much better to have healthy cheaper food along with you. We told each of our children that they could pick one treat to buy as a snack in the park, and it worked great!

      Have you checked into the So. CA “Give a Day, Get a Day” promotion? Volunteer a day and get a free day in the park. Have fun!

  26. PACK SNACKS AND WATER!!!! They don’t care if you bring in outside food and the stroller is the perfect place for it all. We even went one evening after work and stopped off at Subway for some sandwiches and took 10 of them into the park (no hiding them either) and it was fine!

  27. I have not been to Disneyland since I was a child, but have made many trips to Disney World. Our kids are all spread out: 27, 17 and 10. The first trip was with a 12 year old and almost 3 year old. We always stay on site and use the bus shuttles. I always took a fold up umbrella stroller when the kids were young. These travel well on the bus and boats and are a necessity when the little ones get tired for awhile and just want to jump in to ride awhile. Also, I always add a backpack full of snacks and water bottles. The food does get old and the parks and snacks are high cost. I toss this in the stroller when we ride the rides. In all the years no one has bothered anything we have left on our stroller. (Obviously we didn’t leave any valuables!) Our daughter got an autograph book and has added to it each year. Remember to bring your own pen!
    The onsite hotels we have stayed at are the Caribbean Beach, Pop Century and the Yacht Club. The later only because of a conference my husband attended. We love Pop Century for the kids. We always do Park Hopper passes. We can hop from park to park during the day and avoid crowded rides. Utilize the park maps and plan your day a little bit. We take advantage of buying whole pizzas for dinner and stocking a fridge with milk, water bottles. I also pack a checked bag with granola bars and other snack items so we aren’t always buying expensive snacks at the park. Hope this helps! It truly is a magical place.

  28. Thank you for the opportunity to share our experiences about Disney. I had the best time reminiscing and going through pictures of our trip. It was almost as fun as the trip itself! I hope my post tomorrow gives you some insight and good information. I made sure to put a link back to your site. Thanks again!

  29. We go every other year when DH is traveling in CA. Me with 3 littles (now 9,8 and 3) by myself in DL – totally doable! LOVE the “unoffical Guide” books – have also used it for DW last August with grandparents in tow. Always stay at Embassy Suites in Garden City (closer to park entrance than Anaheim location) and is located on ART (Anaheim Resort Transit) bus line – cheap shuttle to park entrance. Bonus- ESuites has free made-to-order breakfasts each AM, free happy hour, and sleeps max of 6 people per room. We love that kids have own tv and parents have own room with tv. (I sound like I work for Hilton – i don’t) Just LOVE traveling to DL and DW w/ a frugal plan! DH thinks I’m nuts the way I overplan (meals, rides, souveniers, etc) but then loves when we are there relaxing. Also check out Disney Character Warehouse (about 15 min drive) for cheap souveniers. Have a great trip!

    1. @Ann M,

      We also love Embassy Suites. Sometimes we take too much for breakfast and bring some to DL. I also really like that there is a couch to sit on. When the kids are napping or already asleep, it’s nice to be able to still be an adult and stay up late. lol

  30. We just took our son and nieces and nephews to Disney World (6, 4, 22 months, 15 months). I was shocked, but we were allowed to take in food and drinks! Because we had two strollers we packed drinks, sandwiches, and snacks in soft coolers with ice. We didn’t have to battle lines to feed the kids. We did buy tons of ice cream though.

    We also took advantage of the fast pass. We were a group of 10 so we let the kids ride with one adult multiple times on the same ride.

  31. We took our 3 year old and 5 month old last year and my 3 year old LOVED the goofy rollercoaster. Another must is the Princess lunch in Norway. Amazing service and we got to see all the princesses and they gave us pictures of my daughter with Belle. The one thing we were really disappointed with was the Little Enstein lunch. Horrible.
    We went during the free dining plan- save us tons of money!!

  32. My favorite thing to do after going every year for 20 plus years is to bring a big water bottle for all of us, instead of buying drinks like soda or juice or even pay for water is to just scoop up the ice from the vendors and fill up the bottle at the water fountains. The vendors don’t mind at all and its free, especially if its very hot and you need water all day and its good for you. And also do it while you are sitting forever waiting for the parade to start, park by a vendor and you will never loose your seat or leave your kids unattended.

  33. My daughter is 4. She’s already been to Disney World twice and is going for the 3rd time in just a few weeks.

    DO consider renting a double stroller from the park. Even if you want to bring your own for the littlest one, the older kids will often crash as the day goes on. The park strollers have enough space for even the older kids to crash and take a little nap.

    DO consider one of the interactive tours. Disney World has the Family Magic Tour which is part scavenger hunt and part mystery.

    DON’T allow the souvenirs to get the best of you. Either set a limit for each child, or (like someone else suggested) buy disney souvenirs from the Disney store beforehand. You can keep them hidden until you arrive in the park and then give them to the kids. They will be so excited to have something new and disney themed that they won’t care it was purchased in advance.

    DO invest in autograph books for the kids (either buy at the park or in advance). There’s usually a long line to visit the characters, but its a fun activity for the kids.

    DO consider the character meals (reservations usually required). Most of the ones I have been to are all-you-can-eat (either buffet or family style dining). The price tag can sometimes be high, but the food is excellent and it will certainly give everyone enough to eat. The characters are a blast too!

    DO buy a squirt bottle with a fan attachment on the front. I’ve been told you can buy these at Wal-Mart. You can also get them at the park though its more expensive.

    I ended up with a lot of DO’s and very little DON’Ts 🙂 Have a great time!

    1. @janet,

      Wow really? We live about 40 minutes from DL and just this year got passes. We took my son for the first time for his 2nd b-day. My daughter was just 6 months old. And YES there are TONS to do with little kids. We had a blast. Actually my son was tall enough for matterhorn so that was the first ride we went on. 🙂

      I guess maybe it depends on the temperment of the child. My children (now 4 and 3) have always done awesome.

  34. last piece of advice, time indoor rides, shows and browsing the shops during the hottest part of the day.

  35. I love Disneyland. I’m not sure if you know how the Fast Pass system works, but you need to scan your ticket to get them and you can only have 1 fast pass per ticket at a time (you have to get one, use it on a ride, then you can get another). So look at the return times listed at the fast pass station before you get one. Also some big rides don’t have them, like the Matterhorn. Also, since fast passes are tied to your ticket it’s a good idea to have a central place where you can keep all your tickets and all your fast passes together so nothing get’s lost. That’s why those neck pouches for tickets are kind of cool but I’m sure you can think of another solution too.

    CA Adventure is pretty small and doesn’t need a whole day. So either get a park hopper so you can go back to Disneyland or spend your 2nd day when you’re tired there. There are some fun things for littler kids & Soaring over CA. There’s a list of the rides that have height requirements on the Disneyland website, it’s surprisingly few of them so your 1 year old can go on most rides (not Soaring, Matterhorn, Space Mountain–the obvious ones). At 1, my daughter went on almost everything.

    Have fun! I’m sad to have moved away from CA so it’s not so convenient, luckily the grandparents are still in San Diego, so we’re hoping to go back the next time we visit.

  36. southren ca residents usually are offered discounts (zip codes 90000-93599). CA residents get discounts for season passes. Costco, Von’s or Ralph’s store may also offer lower-priced passes (3 days for less than $99). Not sure when you get to use those 3 days but you need at least one day at Disney and one for CA Adventure, and one for the best of the 2 parks day. One day tix are cheaper on-line thru disney.

    Read the “Unofficial Guide to” books, they give good tips (borrow from the library). Bring your double stroller (your 5 year might even want to sit in it) and your single one too! If you are going as a couple, split up – one goes and grabs the fast passes, the other gets in line with the kids.

    My fav things to do are the parades and shows and Disney unique rides….b/c after all, a rollercoaster is a rollercoaster.

    Take camera with lots of extra memory cards and batteries. You will no doubt take lots of photos. Sun screen and waterbottles are key! As are packed snacks (you have a baby so stuffed your bag with snacks for all). Sometimes, candy can make the wait more bearable for the kids. Outside purchased autograph books – I’ve even taken colored paper, folded in half and stapled for autograph books – little kids really don’t care! Or make it a build up to the trip make a scrapbook craft event prior to going.

    So much more….haha….I’ve been to HK Disney over 20 time with my kids, Japan Disney (3 days) and Disneyland. Funny enough, we are waiting to go to Disney World! But that might be this year.

    1. Thanks for reminding me to buy another camera battery! It died on our weekend vacation and I was stuck. Also, great tip on the books from the library! TY

  37. Jessica, just go to allears.net or mousesavers.com – both of those sites have saved us thousands of dollars. Literally.

    Get park hopper tickets – they’re a bit more, but that way, you can walk between the two parks. We just did D’Land this September for the 1st time (I’ve been to WDW over 10 times now…), and it was definitely fun, but we were once again glad we got park hopper. You might want to look into SoCal resident tickets – it seems much more cost effective to me for someone in your situation than just buying a regular ticket. You pay a bit more up front, but if you and FishPapa decide to head out again at some point this year with the kids, it’s very cost effective.

    Mom’s Panel is also super helpful, and just make sure you take snacks and water – it helps save a few bucks because the food can add up when you have as many kiddos as you do (but seriously, they’ll be able to split meals….portions are HUGE!).

  38. Just returned from three days at DisneyLand and had a fantastic time!
    …And this from a Florida native who thought there was no way DisneyLAND could top DisneyWORLD.

    I stand corrected in many aspects… but think each park has its benefits.
    Can’t wait to link up and share my observations tomorrow. 🙂

    Get ready for fun, FishFamily!!!!

  39. Hi, If you go to Toni’s blog at http://www.TheHappyHousewife.com/category/disney, she did a 30 day series on Disney. They take their seven children every year and the tips were great. We are going this year and she had things for ages, food ideas, times that are best, everything you could think of. Hope this helps.

    1. I know Toni is the Disney expert. I’m waiting for a quiet time to browse her collection. Wondering how much overlap there is between Dland and Dworld.

  40. I live in OC and have been to Disneyland more times that I can count. If possible, avoid going Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. I know that is a lot of days but those are the busiest! The rides in Disney with the longest waits tend to always be Peter Pan, Dumbo and Nemo. So try to hit those first if you want to ride those. Take advantage of the baby “swap” where you get a pass and wait with the baby near the ride exit. Once your spouse comes off the ride, switch places with no waiting in line again! California Adventure is usually never very busy, so if Disneyland seems like a zoo, use your park hopper to walk on over to C.A. and enjoy that park. My favorite (for toddlers) is the Monester, Inc. ride – so cute! Have fun!

  41. DO go in the off-season. We went in the beginning of January (to DisneyWorld), and it was perfect–no lines, we did whatever we wanted, saw tons of characters (there were lines for those, but they were short). Those Disney mom’s guide type of books tell you when the least busy weeks of the year are. And at least as of a few years ago you could pack your own food in, which saves tons of money. Pack your own lunch and buy an ice cream cone for dessert and you’re good to go. We stayed off-site at a place with a full kitchen (a timeshare).

    Oh, and a few character meals are totally worth it.

  42. We took our two yearold in October to DW for Halloween. Hubby had a business trip in one of the hotels in Disney so part of the trip was paid fr other wise probably would have waited until our son was older.
    Anyway we used the Mom’s panel on the DIsney website for a ton of questions from sould we bring our own stroller to where is the best place to eat with a two year old. allears.net was another great source of info.
    I lovethe happiest place on earth and cannot wait to go back in 2 years!

  43. I can tell you about Disney World… we checked out books from the library to plan our trip. Our favorites are the “Unofficial Guide to” books which will give great cheap tips. We stayed on the resort in a Ft. Wilderness cabin which gave us room and a kitchen so we could eat breakfast and lunch there. It also made it possible for us to enter the park early before the crowds came. We would get up early and come back home by 11:00 for lunch and naps. Then we would get up later in the day and return when the crowds had died down.
    The 2nd time we went (with a young teen), they had late, late nights where you could get a wrist band to go in at 10:00 PM until 2:00 AM. Our young teen thought this was fabulous and it reduced the heat and the crowds. If you are just going for a day, try to limit the action… believe me, you will see a ton of screaming children whose parents are making them have “fun” because of the expense.

    To avoid buying the expensive souvenirs, we went to WalMart and got a Disney hat which our son then used to get autographs of all the characters. He did have some spending money of his own to use and we let him make the decisions of where to spend that but we did not give him any more money. Setting spending limits is very important as you will be blown away by all the “stuff”. And that is what it is… stuff. When you get home, you will wonder why you ever bought any of it. Look on eBay for some of it if you have to have it later. As for snacks, I think you can pack some basics (in the diaper bag) to take in… or buy a water for everyone then refill it in the bathroom. If you are just going for the day, pack a picnic lunch for your car.

  44. We just got back 2 days ago from 8 days at Disney World. Let me say, it should be called WALK Disney! We had 3 rides break down on us after waiting for 1 to 2 hours to ride them. We quickly tired of eating the same foods everyday (even at the resort). My kids did have a great time, but all in all they preferred hanging around the resort rather than the busy theme parks. This was a once in a lifetime experience that will not be repeated.

  45. Have you tried the RideMax software? We did it on our last trip, printed out a few different scenarios for each day and always finished early with shorter waits! It even tells you when to get FastPasses. My kids (6, 4, 2) would do the Matterhorn and Gadget’s Go-coaster over and over or Soarin’ California for the older two, so it’s nice to know the best times of day to do them with the software!

    I don’t have any posts to share- but try everything once, take turns with the “parent pass” while the other waits with the little ones and then plan to go back and let everyone do their favorites (a different day if possible)! And you may want to stick a sock in the heel of your 3 year old’s shoe if they are almost at that height level if they are more adventurous and can handle a little more excitement.