20 February 2008

disney 101

last night i had a dream i was at disneyland. or maybe it was just a buffet line at disneyland. anyway in my dream i was loading a plate with all sorts of goods including ginormous california strawberries as big as a loaf of bread, the nice disney buffet worker was slicing the strawberry as if it were pork roast. then i drizzled syrup and whipped cream and my huge strawberry slice on top of seriously fluffy, amazing pancakes. these pregnancy dreams have really gotten wild the past few weeks. i love them; it's my favorite side effect so far.

this dream might not be so far off, since a few ladies i love are taking their dear darlings to the Disneyland Park this week. so as i was blow drying my hair this morning, contemplating a strawberry as big as a rump roast, i thought maybe i should ask the question. what are your disneyland tips? how do you make it magical? what are your must-dos, must-sees, must-eats? and how do you avoid the not-so-magical meltdowns?

here are a few disneyland day trip tips i've learned along the way:

  • buy some mickey ears with your name embroidered on them. watch the old guy do it right before your very eyes. it's pure nostalgia.
  • another thing that recalls my childhood better than pulling out the photo albums is going on the Peter Pan ride. i promise you, if you went on it as a child, once you set sail in that little ship the scent will not only take you to neverneverland but back to your childhood as well. go on the Peter Pan ride first thing as you enter the park, the line will never be shorter.
  • go to toon town on the hour where the characters are roaming about. it lights up the place.
  • (but don't wait forever and ever in the mousehouse to meet mickey. he doesn't even talk. and your bonding moment only lasts two seconds. but at least i have the photo.)
  • get the taco salad at Rancho del Zocalo Mexican Restaurant in Frontierland.
  • get an ice cream cone at the cute parlor shop on Main Street.
  • go early, drink lots of water and take the train (for a rest) to get to the other side of the park. it might end up being your husband's favorite 'ride'.
  • stay for the fireworks and the parade.
  • have a snack while watching one of those musical theater shows.
  • in Tomorrowland there is a gigantic marble ball with water flowing around it which spins on an axis. if you or anyone you're with has unbelievable upper body strength, he should go up and stop the rolling ball with his unmatched powerful bicep force and make it start turning the other direction. the kids standing around will drop their jaws. it's pretty cute.
  • take lots of photos.
  • if your two year old little girl is dying to meet cinderella and only sleeping beauty is left standing, introduce your li'l darling to the 'pink cinderella'. she will buy it. because it is the happiest place on earth.
now your turn...


Petit Elefant said...

You must absolutely, positively buy a Churro. I don't care how much they cost, they taste better at Disneyland.

alyson. said...

you're so cute Marta. you really remember a lot about Disney. more than I probably did. I've never been to Disney Land, but in Disney World over on the East coast, here are a few of my favorite memories:
• getting a pretty purple parasol with my name painted on it in puffy paint - in Epcot.
• Minnie glasses. bright red with heart shaped lenses.
• overcoming my fear of roller coasters while screaming my little head off in Space Mountain.
• the visors that lit up with red, yellow, and green lights. I think they were a Magic Kingdom thing.

Anonymous said...

If you get there right when it opens run to the back corner of the park. Granted I haven't been in about 15 years, but we were able to get 2 or 3 rides on either space mountain or the train ride in the other back corner before having to wait in a line. Then we'd make our way back towards the front of the park in the opposite direction from the largest crowds.

Also, there was a restaurant called "King Stephan's Castle" inside Cinderella's castle. It was magical, and caused us to leave the park late when it was empty and all of the lights were twinkling on the trees. It was magical.

Ellen said...

...and when you're on the peter pan ride... lean forward and spread out your arms... and pretend you are wendy... flying to neverland.

hold hands with someone and skip from one ride to the next.

count how many times you see the abominable snowman on the matterhorn. you'll be surprised how often he pops up.

sing "zip-a-dee-doo-dah" at the top of your lungs... when going through that part on "splash mountain."

talk like a pirate while waiting in line at "pirates of the carribean." use lots of "arrrghs!"

Alicia said...

The spinning teacups are where it's at for me. And I'd probably revisit Space Mountain because even though I've since developed a fear of rollercoasters it was my first ride on a BIG one...
A tip - I've heard that if when waiting on line for tickets or something always go to the lines on the left b/c most people tend to go right as that's their dominant side... I haven't been to either Disney World or Disneyland in quite some time so I don't know if that's a guaranteed trick but I heard it from a veteran DW visitor so...

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, I am a Disney freak. I grew up minutes from the park and went often (annual pass holder). Now that I'm in a different state, my friend and I make a special effort to go at least once a year. Some tips/advice/my favorite things:

- agree with the churro comment, a must-have. and also Rice Krispy treats from the park are SO much better than even homemade.
- pack Ziploc bags with you, in varying sizes, to wrap up the Rice Krispy treats, or other items you might get when you eat lunch/dinner out. For example, last year we ate at Cafe Orleans for lunch and ordered way too much food. We put the grapes and other fruit in Ziploc bags and had them for later, while standing in line waiting for a ride.
- make the dining reservations ahead of time. Worth the time to plan ahead.
- sadly, skip Blue Bayou. It's not the same, the prices are sky-high and you can get a monte cristo at Cafe Orleans.
- skip vanity and don't pack or wear brand-new shoes for this trip. Wear shoes that you KNOW you will be comfortable in no matter what. And pack an extra pair for the day--store them in a locker. The lockers are now accessible for the entire day rather than paying for each entry.
- Plot out what popular rides are your must-do and go get a Fastpass right away for those.
- Plan for quiet, "downtime"--time to just sit and eat a corndog or chocolate covered banana and people-watch while you try to process all the overstimulation.
- 2 words--Dole Whip. 3 words - Dole Whip Float. Go get one then go watch the show in the Tiki Room.
- the chimichangas are okay, but if you do get one go grab some salsa from the Mexican restaurant (grab a plastic cup by the water fountain) and dip it in that, yum!
- The Golden Horseshoe is open even when the shows aren't going on. Read: somewhat quiet, air-conditioned place with tons of tables to sit and enjoy the chimichanga mentioned above.
- don't stay at the Candy Cane Inn (bad experience)--the Howard Johnson is just as, if not more, comfortable and affordable. They also offer discounts if you use your "Entertainment Card" from those big "Entertainment Coupon Books".

Anonymous said...

I remembered a few more...sorry for being a comment hog-

- Main Street opens an hour earlier than the park, so go and if you haven't had breakfast, go grab something from the bakery, sit and people watch while you plan out your day. Maybe purchase something for later (another good reason for the Ziploc bags).
- If you do the Grizzly whitewater rafting ride in California Adventure, purchase an inexpensive, disposable poncho from the camping section at Target--they're like $.99 and folded up super tiny. Wear it for your ride, maybe go on the ride again to get your use out of it or offer it up to an unsuspecting and appreciative person in line. You might want to bring a pair of flip-flops to wear for this ride, too...
- Best kept secret for food at California Adventure? White Water Snackbar--SO much more than a snackbar offering burgers, hot dogs, nachos, sandwiches, salads, ice cream, yogurt, fruit. It's quiet, has great prices and one entree can easily feed 2-3 people. Also, you can use the re-entrance that's there, even though it says for hotel guests only.
- If you want to see the Electrical Parade (and who doesn't??) schedule your dinner reservation at the Wine Country Trattoria, ask for a seat outside on the patio close to the starting time of the parade. You'll have an unobstructed view of the whole thing while enjoying dinner.

Unknown said...

on the contrary, i DO recommend standing in line to meet micky. of course, i recommend doing it in the morning when it won't be hours long. because you've GOT to get that photo op!

the princesses are my favorite thing. they're adorable. i'd also stand in line all day for them.

we'll be there all next week and i'm beyond excited. going an adult is double the fun. you get to enjoy it for yourself - which is an outrageous amount - and on behalf of your kids, who are beside themselves. happiest place on earth, for real! i'll be checking back for everyone's tips before we hit the road...

{amy k.} said...

pack lots of water, sun screen and snacks! Don't forget the chapstick!

Alyssa said...

So much fun reading everyone's advice! My husband and I are taking our toddler to Disney World in April. I feel like I should be taking notes with all these suggestions in front of me. :)

KJ said...

Love the pineapple sherbet treats in Adventureland (or is that just a DisneyWORLD thing?) Love the carousel...still..over and over. Skip It's a Small World altogether. Way too long and a wee bit creepy. Meeting Mickey is critical for first timers. Parade is a must (with snacks), as are the fireworks. Have dinner at the italian restaurant at California Adventure, on the patio just before parade time and you'll have a front row seat. I still love to watch Tinkerbell zoom from the castle. I even interned at DisneyWORLD in college and I still love everything about both locations. Even though I know so many secrets!

Lindsey said...

Only go in May. After Spring Break, but before school gets out. Trust me.

Dansie Family said...

this actually got me excited to go next week. thanks. the kids still don't know they get to go, but they are in for a great surprise.

kelly said...

seeing as i go see mickey nearly every week, i got a tip or two to add. but first, hate to burst your bubble marta, but watching the old guy embroider your name on mickey ears isn't quite as exciting anymore. all they do is type your name into the computer & press go. i was so sad when i realized they had made the switch!

as for tips. fast passes are awesome! use them for sure. & you can have one in each park at the same time. so you might be doing some park hopping, but you can get alot done.

if you haven't yet, check out buzz light year. it is one our favorite rides!

for the wee ones, california adventure is awesome. the bug's land is full of tons of little rides & the the bug's life show is totally entertaining. while you are there don't forget to check out the aladdin play. it's like broadway at disneyland. and the redwood creek challenge trail - let the kids run wild there! (& don't forget the free tortillas & sourdough bread at the factory tours). pacific wharf cafe offers some great soups & my favorite salad - the sonoma chicken salad. but, if you're in the mood for a milk shake head over to sam andreas shakes.

hot dogs from the red cart on main street are super yummy as are the dole whips outside the tikki room (& they are pretty cheap too, as far as disney prices go.) if you're in the mood for chicken fingers or funnel cake stop by the stage door cafe (next to the golden horseshoe).

hmmm, that's all i can think of right now, although for those with babies & such you may or may not know there is a special baby place on main street where they provide places to nurse & change diapers in privacy. they also sell diapers & baby food in case you run out.

& i never bring a big bag. i bring a ziplock full of diapers & wipes that i stick in the basket under my stroller & i carry my wallet & camera in a little "wristlet" style purse. that way i don't have to drag a big bag around in addition to two kids & i never worry about people stealing stuff.

have fun!

Anonymous said...

kj, the pineapple sherbet (Dole Whips) is available at both Disneyland and Disney World. And Small World is closed for refurbishing (at least at Disneyland). But I don't think it's spooky, lol, I like it.

marta said...

oh my. i love all these disney tips! thank you. am having a case of major disneyland envy. will be saving these ideas for next time (maybe with my little one). those famous dole whips sound like a to die for dreamy creamy MUST have.

brooke said...

I also love the mexican restaurant in Fronteirland. My advice to people with kids is to pack a swimsuit and water sandals or flip flops for them for the day you go to California Adventure. They have a water area with sprinklers and fun wet stuff and the kids get drenched. I made the mistake of letting my son run through it in denim shorts and sneakers and it was a long rest of the day without a change of clothes. Also, a wheelchair is really the ticket to a magic day at Disneyland--your party can bypass all the lines--my mom had a hip replacement right before our trip--brilliant!

Heather said...

My sister-in-law lived right by Disneyland, so she knows ALL of the tricks, ESPECIALLY going with kids. She found these cool temporary tattoos that you can but with your phone # on it, so if the kids get lost they have your info tattooed onto their arm. Also, she knows all of the air-conditioned changing rooms and "baby areas". They have comfy chairs for nursing, and these rooms are also fully equipped with baby tylenol, wipes, food, and sunscreen just in case you. THAT sounds like a great trip to Disneyland with babies!

anna jo said...

don't start puking your guts out. that's all I gotta say.

amy said...

i'm a total advocate of a character tour only. if you are a huge roller coaster fan, disneyland is not the place for you. embrace the enchantment. and catch the magic..save it for later.

i'm with kelly, california adventure is amazing. i was against it at first because it feels a bit unauthentic and undisney. not so. it has so many FUN characters. ones you never thought to look for at d-land. the animation place is soooo fun. and the roller coasters are amazing too.

thanks for the fun post marta. looks like it pays to go out of the norm :)

Kristin said...

Disneyland is my absolute FAVORITE place on earth. Growing up I always wanted to eat in restaurant in the Pirates ride, so on my honeymoon that's exactly what we did. I loved it there, especially under the asian lanterns, with the low lights and just the smell of the ride. Thanks for the post and giving the sense of nostalgia right in my living room :)

Katie said...

Oh, petit elefant, I was going to say get a churro too. I LOVE them!

Whatever Dee-Dee wants said...

A big part of Disneyland is the food. Here is my list of must eats.
Bengal BBQ
Potato soup from Carnation café
Snicker doodles and sugar cookies from Pooh’s Corner store
If you have kids with you make sure to hit the Minnie and friends character breakfast. You get to see a lot of characters with out having to wait in line. (Same goes for Arial’s grotto over at California adventure)
You HAVE to get a bag of warm beignets in down town Disney

Keep in mind when riding rides at Disneyland, the staff is really accommodating. If you have a favorite spot (front, back, etc…) just ask they will give it to you. Once when it was slow, we asked if we could ride the tower or terror by ourselves. They let us. It was so much fun!

Amanda the Couch said...

yeah, i was going to mention that they don't have the cool old embroidery machines anymore, kinda sad.

make sure you hit the animation place in California Adventure. a lot of people discount California Adventure, but we've found that its a fabulous place to go during the day when Disneyland is at its height of capacity. it is so fun to explore each park for new things to do. if you hang out in the small plaza by the restrooms in the Backlot section of Calif. Adventure you will run in to lots of characters.

KJ said...

I loved California Adventure. Smaller crowds, shoert lines, good food. Soarin over California is a MUST, as is the super-fast roller coaster in the giant mickey ears. Tower of Terror is a MUST also. Oh I'm all Disney hungry now!

KYLe said...

Dole Whips next to the tikitikitikitiki room.

Unknown said...

I was at Disneyland on Friday and we walked RIGHT PAST Adam Sandler! It was so weird... it took me a minute to realize who it was. I have been there so many times and he was the first famous person I have ever seen there! I agree with all your tips. Lucky for me I have a season pass and go all the time, me and Noah love it!

Anonymous said...

I've been going to Disneyland since I was a kid and just found the little silhouette place on main street. The woman cuts your silhouette in about one minute. I asked how long the place has been there and she said it opened just a few months after the park opened in 1955! I never knew! (She also said that the shop was a lingerie shop when D-land first opened.) Crazy!

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