Disneyland Resort Vacation Tips

Hey mamas,

Last week we had a fabulous and magical Disney vacay.  You know how it goes, you put in a ton of hours pounding the pavement in the parks all in the name of making lifelong memories.  It’s rewarding hard work.  Anyway, I thought I would pass along some tips and tricks I picked up to help you get the most out of your Disneyland Resort vacation.

You have to start spreading the magic at home.  My kids (like most of the free world) are obsessed with all things Frozen.  When Julissa Ortiz from Good Day Sacramento was here last week she gave me  a great idea!


I wrote a letter to my son from Olaf.  His was penned with the same orange as his carrot nose.

elsa letter

And one for my daughter from Elsa.  This letter was covered in glittering snow.  I put both letters in envelopes and put them in the freezer for a few hours.  The kids loved that they got letters from their fave characters and that they were ice cold.  I mean, look at those faces.  Such joy!


When we got on the plane the flight attendant asked of the kiddos wanted to check out the cockpit and meet one of the pilots.  This pilot was so nice and super awesome.  He asked Lyla if she wanted to sit in the seat.  Then he asked her to speak into the cabin speaker microphone and say, “I’m going to Disneyland!”.  So fun!  The flight attendant told me that any passenger can ask to peek into the cockpit.  They try to accommodate all requests.


We were so lucky to stay at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.  It truly is a beautiful hotel with many amenities and perks that made our vacation a little easier.


Like when you are checking in, your kids can watch classic Disney shows in the adorable little chairs.


 And an amazing pool area with wading pools, water slides, hot tubs, and food and drinks.  Plus they have an awesome viewing deck for the World of Color and you have early access to the parks on designated days with the magic mornings.


Magic mornings are great if you don’t like standing in lines like these two.


Fast Pass + Rider Swap = Awesome

If you use your magic morning in California Adventure correctly you can run in, get a Fast Pass for World of Color, then get a fast pass for Radiator Spring Racers in Cars Land.  This is a really popular ride right now.  The wait time was over 60 minutes most of the time for most of the days.  You don’t have to have the magic morning privilege to get a fast pass, but they only allow so many fast passes for each ride and they do sell out.  Also, they tell you what time to come back to access your fast pass, so the earlier you get it the earlier you can ride.

My son is not tall enough to ride this ride, but my husband and I both wanted to be able to enjoy it with my daughter as well as my in-laws.  So, we took advantage of something called Rider Swap.  When the first of your group goes to use their fast pass to get on the ride tell them you need a rider swap because of your other child (if they are not tall enough or if they are too scared).  They will give the riding passenger a laniard.  When they are done with their ride, they meet you and you can swap parents.  Or in our case my in-laws stayed with Brady while my husband and I took our daughter on the ride.


While in visiting with Elsa, I got a hot tip.  Elsa is with child.


Maybe the sequel can explain this?

elsa meet and greet

This meet and greet was made possible by magic morning and a very determined Mimi (my mother-in-law).  Otherwise the wait was 4-6 hours to meet Anna and/or Elsa.  She ran straight to get in line at 8am so that Lyla would get the opportunity to meet these famous sisters.  Disneyland does not guarantee who will be available to meet.  They only guarantee that one of them will be available.  It’s a gamble.  The first time it was only Anna.  The second time, it was the sisters.  Lyla lists this meet and greet as her favorite part of the trip.  Special thanks to Mimi who stood inline for a few hours twice just to make her dreams come true.


Speaking of dreams coming true….She was too short to ride Goofy’s Sky School roller coaster last time.  She was finally tall enough and super excited.  Then she completely freaked out!

This was too funny not to share, she did recover though.


Don’t forget, you are totally allowed to bring in your own food and drinks to both parks.  Just no glass.  Here Brady is enjoying the breakfast we brought.


On the Storybook Land Canal Ride in Disneyland, you can ask for your kids to sit “criss-cross apple sauce” on the front of the boat.  It’s the best view of the ride.


Terrible picture of my daughter, I know.  But when you ride on the Jungle Cruise, ask them to give you a map at the end.  If they have some available, you’ll get to take one home.  It’s a fun and free souvenir.

If you’re waiting in line and someone in your group has an emergency and needs to leave the line for a bit, you can ask a cast member for help.  They will help you get out of the line fast and they can help you get back to your family if they are still in line.  In our case, the cast member took me to the front of the line and told me to wait there with my daughter until the rest of our party came through.  Awesome.

hidden mickey

We had the best time looking for hidden Mickey’s all over the park.  You can download the app or buy the book.  When you are in Disneyland, California Adventure, or any of the Disney hotels it tells you where to look to find them.  My daughter was really great at this.  My father-in-law downloaded the app.  We were asking him how many mickeys would be on any ride while we were waiting in line for a ride.  It was fun for all.


Don’t forget that alcohol is available for purchase in California Adventure, but not in Disneyland.  Disneyland only sells alcohol if you eat at Club 33.

CA adventure

The World of Color is one of our most favorite things about going to Disneyland Resort.  It’s a 28 minute show that takes place in Paradise Bay in California Adventure nightly using water, lights, and fire all set to Disney music.  I literally cry every time I watch the show.  I’m not kidding.  You’ll want to get a Fast Pass first thing in the morning to get into the reserved area of the viewing pavilion.  Then get to your designated area early to stake out a spot.  We bring our double stroller and a large blanket to take up enough space for all 7 of us.  You can also purchase some dining packages for other reserved seating option.  There are no chairs.  It’s a sit and wait then stand and watch kinda thing.  Another perk to staying at the Grand Californian is that they have a viewing area on the 6th floor.  The view is a little off-set so you can’t see all the images being displayed on the water, but it is a fun and different view.  They turn the lights down on the deck and change the music on the deck.  The day we were there, the deck wasn’t crowded and we didn’t have to get there early.


Lyla is wearing a “Glow with the Show” ear hat.  They change colors to respond to the World of Color show.  They work with the World of Color, Mad T Party, Luigi’s Flying Tires, and the Fun Wheel Challenge.  If you go anytime soon, you will see these everywhere.

That’s all for today!  Tomorrow I’ll have another Disneyland post.  That one will be about how to cool down when it’s hot in Disneyland.



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