Monday, April 5, 2010

10 Tips for Disneyland

A lot of this might be common knowledge or tips I picked up from my co-worker, Mike, but it's still worth noting. In case anyone is curious.

1. Bring food. Although it is listed that no outside food is allowed in the park, the bag searchers have no problem with it. We mostly brought snacks and beverages, and even that saved us a lot of dough. Seriously, meals for a family of four of 2 adults, 2 kids without beverage is anywhere from 30-40 bucks. If you had to eat there like we did, skip on the sugary snack like Churros and Cotton Candy. They are expensive and do not fill you up.

2. Fast Pass Everything. It's not much of a secret, but a lot of people still don't know about it. Mike gave me a very helpful tip, which is Fast Passes do not expire if used on the same day. That saved a lot of trouble and you can even line them up after your time allows you to get an additional Fast Pass. I had 3 different rides lined up at one point. Do it whenever you get a chance, and you might have to walk back hours later to board the ride, but it's better than standing in line.

3. Set Time Limits. This only works if you have multiple days, but for the first four days we didn't line up for anything over half an hour. We would hit those either early or late in the day, when the lines were shorter. We hit the Nemo ride, which is usually a 50 minute wait, on our early admission day and it was far shorter. You'll save yourself a lot of grief.

4. Pins at City Hall. Unfortunately we didn't get ours till the last day, but it was nice for Cast Members to wish me "Happy Anniversary" when I was just passing by. By the way, we did celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary at Disneyland.

5. Souvenirs. This is relevant only when you have kids, but I decided on the first day to get a couple little things for the kids to tide them by, and the only other day to buy stuff was on the last day. So for the other three days, when they wanted stuff, we just said, "On the last day." That saved us a lot of begging. Also, we spent $40 and more on lunches and dinner so on the receipt was a coupon for 20% off the main store merchandise from 9am to noon, which we used on Friday. Saved us over 50 bucks that way. The other tip is that only buy things that you will use outside Disneyland. I saw so many people wearing Goofy hats and Mat Hatter hats that they will probably never use outside the park. Of course, this is a personal preference, but that's how I felt about it. I also only bought things that said "Disneyland".

6. Highjack people's memories. Haven't done this myself yet, but should work in theory. I didn't want to spent too much time snapping photos and stopping the whole family and missing out on the experiences, so most of my photos are meh. Also, I only had 2 hours on my Flip video, so I had to ration my video to just the kids' reactions and their participation, which meant I had to delete the parades and shows. Good part is that there are so many youtube videos and Flickr photos of the rides and shows that I'm just going to highjack them for my collection. There are way better photos and pretty good videos of the same experiences I had.

7. Single rider/Parent Swap/Handicap Access. The kids and wife don't like Indiana Jones? Well, I googled and indeed, the ride had single rider access so I got a pass, went in through the exit, and got on the ride in about 20 minutes compared to the 50 minutes for the line. I got stuck at the end of one family but it was awesome just getting to the front of the line.

8. Time Management. Sleep later. Wake up early or be ready to stay up late. Rest when you're waiting for a parade or a show to start, which is usually from a half hour to an hour for the major shows. Don't spend your day waiting in line. Look for a seat before eating. Eat off-schedule to avoid lines.

9. Supermarkets and McDonalds. Going back to the food thing, going to Supermarkets and picking up some muffins for breakfast or going to a late dinner at McDonald's saved us a lot of money. For the most part, we only ate one proper meal at Disneyland, and then dinner outside. Aside from saving a few bucks, you will also tire from rich D-land food fairly quickly if that's all you eat. The thing I was impressed with was that kid's meals were almost always complete, with some fruit and juice or milk alternative. The adults meals were shortchanged, but the kids got by fine.

10. Do your research. My big resource was Mike at work, but a lot of that information is also on a lot of Disneyland fan sites. I was surprised to how much I missed 10 years ago because I didn't do the research. Knowing more about opening times, parade times, and other info can save you a lot of time and maximize your vacation.

Disneyland 2010

Day three and our legs feel like alien appendages. They're sore, stiff and generally dog tired from the foot travel. The one saving grace and likely deciding factor about the time of year we return is that the weather has been pretty mild. The warmest days and coolest nights have been in a nice comfort zone. I remember our summer a decade ago when it was so unbearably hot it made waiting for anything ten times worst.


Seeing a lot of bad parenting here. People not minding manners, cutting or weaving just to get ahead, and last night there was a mom in line while the kids were elsewhere, then the kids just wiggled through swarms of people to cut in. The lines are structured so tightly that there isn't much room to do that anyway. On the flip side, there's a lot of good vacationers as well, people picking up dropped toys from strollers, some ladies letting our kids stand next to the curb after I unsuccessfully attempted to place a sixty pound boy on my shoulders. Most parents are empathetic.


On the first morning, I saw my co-worker at the ferris wheel. I didn't know she was taking her vacation either and for as to run into each other in the midst of thousands of people is pretty cool. After an hour, we ran into each other again. I guess it is a small world after all.

C'mon you had to see it coming.


One thing one really has to appreciate is the amount of detail in the park design, but for me I'm really impressed at how they do crowd control. Parking itself is a thing of beauty, all the spots are escorted so the line moves smoothly in one direction, no spot hunting or hoarding required. Then everyone gathers on the tram and we're taken to the park. Very well organized. They keep the lines and crowd moving and keep people well informed so that they can micro-manage their own schedules.

The parking enters in one spot and exits in another, so you don't have that confusion as you would in a mall parking of being disoriented. Also the escalators go directly to the floor you need for the most part, so you have to take four flights to get to your floor.


When Heimlich, who is that German caterpillar from A Bug's Life gives riding instructions in his accent in Spanish, it amuses me.

Also, while I was pretending to eat the giant watermelon on the ride, the water that squirts on you does not taste like watermelon, just smells like it.


Our diet of over expensive fast food is killing my appetite. I honestly am dying for some instant noodles or something. I an tired of outside food and paying thirty plus dollars to feed a family of four. Seriously in a single day without buying any gifts or souveniors it averages about a hundred bucks just on food and parking. And we even bring our own snacks and drinks.


Soft sobbing.

That is Alex running into the spring stopper on the bathroom door, scaring himself, and then being upset about it.


The Ramada Limited is living up to it's name, having one of our worst hotel experiences ever. Last night after we turned in early for the night, we woke up to idiotic guests who were loud, chattering at full volume, and some even rattled and tried to open our room doors. I was pissed. But sure, that's not necessarily the hotel's fault, but let me tell you what is.

The TV that was magnetized and now shows a discolored picture on the sides, the old microwave that reeks, the fridge that doesn't work, the room that is musty and old, the garbage outside that is too small, the towels stuck under air conditioners to stop the leaks, and the toilet plunger in the front yard. That's the hotel's fault. Aside from the location, there is absolutely no redeeming factor to stay here again.


We've attempted to break them into rides with polarizing effect. They hate roller coasters, rides with big drops, dark or loud rides, or rides that seem ominous. They hated the Pirates of the Carribean, cringed through the kid coasters, but really enjoyed the kids rides. Alex started crying in anticipation of the Roger Rabbit ride, and we had to calm him down with Pocket God on my iPod. But afterward we went again right after with a fast pass. I was a little annoyed at first because I was sorta looking forward to the Indiana Jones ride and the Captain Eon show, as Elaine was for Splash Mountain, but that was all nixed. But I came to the resolution that all the kid rides they're on now will be unbearably boring to them when they're older, so it's just a matter of timing. They're be ready in a few years. When they retire the rides.


Getting a lot of blogging done waiting to meet the princesses. I think we've been here for close to 40 minutes. I'm not even positive Zoe is all all psyched to meet them. She gets shy around them and just deadpans her excitment.


Hahahaha. I'm in the single rider line at the Indiana Jones adventure. I just skipped about a fourty minute line. The wife and kids weren't too keen on this ride and rightfully so, so I have this opportunity to fill in an empty seat.

Finished the ride and I'm glad I went solo. The kids would've been miserable throughout and it is rather frightening. I had a big smile when I came off the ride though. Something nostalgic about it, you know, being a former adventurer and all.

In these seemingly alien conditions, I think the true personalities of the kids really come out. Alex is game for anything and but struggles with complex instructions, but genuinely has a good time regarding audience participation. He is still a little shy, especially when approaching princesses and being asked by his annoying father to bow to the princesses. Zoe is extremely reserved, often not even cracking a smile and avoiding eye contact. She shifts around when someone is talking to her, but is generally compliant. She would rather not participate, and hides her emotions behind a look of indifference.

Alex hasn't shown much interest in meeting characters, and Zoe only mentions it in passing, even if she's eager to meet them. Both got pulled to join a street fair and they seemed uncomfortable and slightly miserable. But I'm sure they were having fun.


The vacation was planned pretty well. Two days each for each park and now on the fifth day we're basically finishing up the rides we missed and repeating the ones we like. Zoe got her third Winnie the Pooh ride and it is precious because she's got this toothy smile on her face. I think Toy Story Mania and Buzz Lightyear is Alex's favorite, because of all the shooting. I admit they might be mine too. Ride plus videogame always equal win in my book.


Driving back to Redding, CA as our overnight stop and we're only 150 miles in and I'm exhausted. Hopefully some coffee and Dennys will wake me up a little more. I did call in to request for Monday off so that I can rest after the vacation and two days of driving but so far, the kids will be going to school the following day. I kinda feel bad for that. I need the day off just to reorient myself back to normal life. Get geeked out again.


Never drive to Disneyland from Washington. Unless you have three drivers. And any children you might were were suspended somehow. The drive there was so-so, but during the drive back we had rain throughout, some sun, and snow at Mt. Shasta. Heavy, sliding snow. Your back tends to get all cramped too.


An interesting footnote to this trip is that Disneyland experienced a slight delay when the earthquake in Mexico rattled Disneyland. We were literally driving away from natural disaster, even though there was no damage or injuries in Disneyland.