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Trip Report - Disneyland With 3 & 5 Year Olds

Christchurch, New...
Level Contributor
119 posts
20 reviews
Trip Report - Disneyland With 3 & 5 Year Olds

Sorry this is a duplicate post as I accidentally put it in the Orange County Forum. **Since I appreciate everyone sharing their tips on here and I love reading trip reports, I thought I would pay back for those interested. My memory is not the greatest so there will e some gaps I think but feel free to ask questions. We left from Christchurch to Auckland (New Zealand) and then a 12 hour flight to LAX. There was myself, my daughter and son-in-law, and my two grandsons age 3 & 5. They have been to the theme parks in the Gold Coast Australia last year in preparation for this trip, to make sure they would be ok on rides. Master 5 threw up a bit just before landing and we assumed it was because it was quite a bumpy flight.

Sept 5. We arrived and caught the Disneyland Resort Express to our accommodation at the Castle Inn and Suites. We had asked for two rooms, the family suite with a separate bedroom for the parents and kids and a standard room for me. Well somehow we ended up with both rooms being family suites so that was a bonus. Nobody said we had been upgraded so I never said anything in case it was a mistake lol. It was a standard motel, not flash but comfortable and clean, all I ask really. The location was about a 10 minute walk to the Disneyland gates, so quite good but as we walked miles and miles each day and my feet gave me grief, I wished for the Carousel Inn which has now been demolished but was just directly across from the gates. Anyway we made our way to the new Pizza Press for dinner and the pizzas were as good as I remember. Then about 8pm we headed to the Disneyland gates to swap our 10 day vouchers for tickets to save time in the morning. Master 5 then promptly threw up on the ground by the ticket booth. Very embarrassing but the staff were excellent and assured us not to worry. He remained a bit off colour for the next couple of days but recovered quickly.

Thursday Sept 6: At last the day I had waited for - taking the boys to Disneyland for the first time. We had been advised to ask at the gate or any of the shops for a "first visit" badge (you have to call it a button apparently or they don't know what you mean) which was kindly given free to the boys and they were thrilled. The park was not open until 10am today. We hurried to Peter Pan first and it was still quite a wait in line but still worth it as it is a nice one to start the boys off on. We also did the Pirates of the Caribbean which they found a little scary the first time but still enjoyed. I can't remember the others that day, we took a break in the early afternoon and went for a late lunch at the ihop across the road. The food was ok, big portions as typical of the US and maybe not to my taste but the kids enjoyed it. Grandma would have liked a wine but it was not licensed :-). We went back to the motel for a sleep for the boys and then back to the park. Sometime today we watched the Pixar Parade which was ok but I like the old traditional Disney and did not know many of the Pixar characters. Crowds were not bad at all today.

Friday Sept 7: Time for Disney California Adventure and the long awaited Radiator springs racers. I had watched this a few times on Youtube and it looked good, but it was SO much better actually being on it. Really outstanding in all respects. I think the boys were a little frightened by the speed on the first ride but were keen to go again and we managed to ride it 3 times today by getting there for rope drop and then getting fast passes. We also watched the Frozen show which was brilliantly done and a great chance to rest our legs in the air conditioning. Every day we took snacks and sandwiches in for the boys which saved us heaps of money and the guys searching bags did not worry about it at all. The security is so much stricter than the last time I was here, be sure to arrive well before opening as there are huge queues for the bag searches and metal detectors. I didn't mind as I would rather we are all safe.

Saturday Sept 8: today we decided to try Soak City at Knotts Berry Farm as the boys love water parks. My daughter had rented a car (against my advice but it went ok) and my SIL tried to book the Soak City tickets online. Somehow things went awry and he never got confirmation that the tickets had gone through. The lovely guy on the window tried to sort it and when he had no luck he gave us free tickets which was superb customer service. Later my SIL realised that the payment had not gone through for the tickets so we effectively got a free day there. The kids had a good time there but I had asked a question on this forum about how Soak City compared to Wet & Wild on the Gold Coast. Well to answer my own question, it was not nearly as good as the Gold Coast, it did not have the variety of slides, and not a lot for the wee ones to do but still a good day out. We think the Health & Safety palaver is getting out of hand here, but it was unbelievable there. The little kids had to line up to climb the steps to the wee slides, with a lifeguard at the bottom and one at the top, and no more than one child going up the steps at a time. Oh well I guess they can be sued in the US. Afterwards we went to the Cheesecake factory in Anaheim for tea, now that was a good meal (and wine for Grandma lol) but once the bill was converted on my credit card it was NZ$285!! Ouch! And we didn't have much, but that's the exchange rate for you.

Sunday 9 Sept: My feet were wanting a bit of a break so I looked after the kids while my daughter and SIL went to do a bit of shopping and went crazy at the Skechers outlet store. I let the kids have a swim in the pool and it was nice to relax a bit. Later in the day we went back to Disneyland and daughter & SIL did Space Mountain (and I'm sure we all did heaps more rides but it is a bit of a blur). The fireworks were only on the weekends so we watched the fireworks which were fabulous as always, and then back to the motel and bed. While I think about it, if you are travelling with small children, I do strongly recommend taking a stroller. It was a godsend for us even the 5 year old would fight to be able to sit in it, there is so much walking.

I will continue later, I better go and get some work done!

11 replies to this topic
Las Vegas, Nevada
Destination Expert
for Anaheim, St. George
Level Contributor
31,096 posts
94 reviews
1. Re: Trip Report - Disneyland With 3 & 5 Year Olds

Read your review in the Orange County forum. Thanks for writing a trip report, always nice to hear how peoples trips went. Sounds like you had a pretty nice time.

Sydney
Level Contributor
2,238 posts
22 reviews
2. Re: Trip Report - Disneyland With 3 & 5 Year Olds

Great trip report. Looking forward to reading more.

Los Angeles...
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
14,776 posts
121 reviews
3. Re: Trip Report - Disneyland With 3 & 5 Year Olds

Great trip report - although not cool to claim tickets were paid for and get "good customer service" and not make good on the purchase! Soak City is definitely not considered a state-of-the-art water park in SoCal either (Wolf Lodge is getting lots of reviews, the one at Six Flags Magic Mountain is good and then there's that one in San Dimas...)

Thanks so much for the perspective of the 3 and 5 year olds, though. Cheesecake Factory does add up quickly (but portions are huge, IMO). I agree with you about the extreme health and safety concerns, but there's no stopping it. Every corporation has multiple accountant/liability judges on staff.

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
33,388 posts
6,456 reviews
4. Re: Trip Report - Disneyland With 3 & 5 Year Olds

Wonderful family trip

Thanks for your trip report.

Christchurch, New...
Level Contributor
119 posts
20 reviews
5. Re: Trip Report - Disneyland With 3 & 5 Year Olds

LeBiscuit D - I assure you at the time we completely believed the tickets had been paid for. My SIL did it on his phone and it was saying they had been paid and this was shown to the guy at the counter. It was not until later that we realised it hadn't gone through for some reason. I was more commenting on how pleasant the customer service was to sort it out in the way they did.

Christchurch, New...
Level Contributor
119 posts
20 reviews
6. Re: Trip Report - Disneyland With 3 & 5 Year Olds

Monday Sept 10: I hadn't been keen to go to Legoland but my daughter and SIL were very keen and insistent that I join them. Of course it is aimed at the under 10s but there were still a few wee thrills for a Grandma. I must say we found the staff exceptional. They went out of their way to be friendly and make everyone feel special. It was nowhere near as crowded as Disneyland so I guess it is easier to take the extra time, however we really appreciated it. I was surprised how many rides there were, we went non stop from 10am until it closed at 5pm and probably missed a few. I don't think I would go again, but it was a very good day out for the little ones.

Tuesday 11 September: It was hard to get going today and we got to DCA later than intended so the Radiator Springs ride already had a 60 minute wait. We went to get fastpasses and then looked again thinking it might be a mistake but now it was 75 minutes! I have forgotten what rides we did on what days, but we loved Maters Junkyard Jamboree, Soaring Over The World and best of all Grizzly River Run. Now maybe I shouldn't admit it (please don't tell me off again LeBiscuit D) but Master 3 was about 1/2 an inch too short for this ride. We folded one of his socks inside each of his shoes and it was just enough to get him through. It was one of his favourite rides. One comment on DCA. I worry that it is losing its California theme. Originally every attraction and land was in keeping with the California theme, now we soar over the world instead of California, and Pixar and Marvel have taken over. They will need to change the name soon. After a break at the motel in the afternoon we went back to Disneyland and discovered Toon Town. I have never spent any time there when travelling as an adult, but with kids in tow it was a wee gem. We decided we better get a photo with Mickey and went to his house where I expected we would just line up and the kids could have a turn getting their photos. Instead it was a delightful little house to wander through and explore until eventually you were ushered through in small groups for what was like a private audience with Mickey. Just delightful.

Wedsnesday sept 12: Today the rest of the family went to Universal Studios and I stayed behind as I have been there several times and was not that interested in going again. Also it would be a long drive for whoever ended up squashed in with the two car seats lol. I decided I better not just lie around all day and set off for a walk through Downtown Disney. However I had not yet had a ride on Guardians of the Galaxy and the temptation was too much. Tower of terror was one of my favourites. I quickly popped into DCA (oh the joy of the 10 day passes) and went to ask if there was a single rider line. I was told no by the middle aged lady on the fast pass queue so I said ok I will just get a fast pass. I was over at the fastpass machine when she came over to me and said some people had scanned more tickets than there were people so there was room to pop me through the fastpass line. I suspect she made this up as she probably felt sorry for me being on my own, but nevertheless it was more wonderful customer service. Having not seen the Guardians movie (and it wouldn't be my cup of tea anyway) I didn't follow the theme and really missed the beautiful theming of Tower of Terror. I found the ride more extreme as well, and didn't want to ride it again. Oh dear but I guess others enjoy it. Will continue later....

United States
Level Contributor
2,950 posts
143 reviews
7. Re: Trip Report - Disneyland With 3 & 5 Year Olds

Thanks! What fun to read your report. Did you eat in the parks? There is so much good food there I was shocked to hear you went to ihop. Yuck! Haha!

Christchurch, New...
Level Contributor
119 posts
20 reviews
8. Re: Trip Report - Disneyland With 3 & 5 Year Olds

Smartlabelprint no we didn’t really eat n the parks at all except the rest of the family tried a churro more out of curiousity and also a Dole whip after hearing all about those. We took lots of snacks for the kids as they seem to eat constantly. Somebody had told them to try ihop so we did but only once lol. I ate very little at all and combined with all the walking lost 7 pounds (quickly putting it back on now) as My feet were too sore to go looking for a meal. Mostly survived on salted peanuts lol. One night the family went to the Captain Jack Pirate Buffet or whatever it was called and they found that cheap but not too sure about the quality.

Sydney
Level Contributor
2,238 posts
22 reviews
9. Re: Trip Report - Disneyland With 3 & 5 Year Olds

Love reading your report. We love IHOP haha!

Christchurch, New...
Level Contributor
119 posts
20 reviews
10. Re: Trip Report - Disneyland With 3 & 5 Year Olds

Thursday Sept 13. By now the crowds were getting really big. Yesterday we planned to visit the Haunted Mansion but the queue stretched right out the gate we hurried there early in the day today. This has never been one of my favourites and I really didn't enjoy the Halloween makeover. I think this is just a cultural thing as Halloween is obviously a big deal in the US, in NZ most people ignore it although the retailers are starting to push trick or treating. If it is celebrated here it is only on the one day, I was surprised to see Disneyland celebrating it for 6 weeks or so. Anyway the american crowds were certainly enthusiastic and the decorations were clever but I would have preferred everything to be traditional Disney instead of all the characters in costume etc. Next time I will try to time our visit better. Anyway this was one attraction the boys didn't like, I think it was too scary for them. I only got to do Indiana Jones (my personal favourite ride) twice the whole time, today it broke down once but we got to use our passes later. Master 5 did it a couple of times too but I don't think he was very keen. Daughter & SIL and I did Guardians of the Galaxy once each today, my daughter found it too nauseating and refused to go again, I went to keep my SIL company (we had decided it was too much for the kids even though they both met the height requirement) but didn't really enjoy it.

Friday Sept 14: I can't remember what day it was that we were walking in Fantasyland and Peter Pan came running up and asked the kids to play hide & seek, along with quite a few other kids. What a magical time they had, and to be able to say they didn't just meet Peter Pan but played with him. An outstanding cast member. By this stage of the holiday Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was established as a family favourite ride. The first time the boys had been a little scared but now Master 3 would refuse to get out and demand "again!". We gave them a good afternoon nap and headed back to the park for Fantasmic. I had rushed to get fastpass tickets early in the morning and we ended up in a good position for the show. It was the best view we had ever had and such a great show. Master 5 in particular loved it. Master 3 was a bit scared of the dragon blowing flames but still enjoyed it. We dragged ourselves back to the motel completely exhausted, and knowing tomorrow was our last chance to use our early entry at 7am (we didn't plan that very well lol)

More later - we're nearly at the end I promise!

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