We have been going to Disneyland on a regular basis since 1998 on personal trips and taking tour groups of 20-30 kids. You cant do DL & CA in one day (not even 5) if you plan to see all the shows attractions and parades. There are a few things you must do however if you want to make it a little more magical.........hope they make it a better stay for you !!
1. Have Breakfast in the park: forget the other character dining experiences like goofys kitchen, story tellers and ariels grotto, they are all over priced, foods not worth the $$ and the character experiences are not that great.....The BEST by far is Breakfast with Minnie & Friends in the park. Make sure you book with Disney dining....although if you drop by the plaza towards the end of breakfast time, you can often get seated at a cheaper rate. Character experience is great - more characters that you can poke a stick at and they interact well with all the kids and adults. Buffet Food is good for the price.
2. Magic Morning: if you have a park hopper (3 day or more) then you should make sure you spend the magic morning in fantasy land - before all the rides fill up with little kids...hit peter pan first. Get there at least 1.5hrs before regular opening time.
3. Halloween Nights(if you are there then): these are well worth the extra money....basically they throw everyone out of the park that does not have a Halloween ticket and then you have the park with about a 10th of the people normally in it. Free trick-or-treating, and more candy than you can possibly eat....remember to say Please and Thankyou ...the cast members will throw in more candy at the stations....HOWEVER this is also a good time to go on rides (as they are almost empty) if you are not into the candy stuff...PARTY...well there are several dance parties...make sure you spend some time talking to the cast members... they will often look after you with some tips....
4. Shows and Parades: how many times have i heard someone say – “i didn’t really like DL “ ??? then i find out that they didn’t go to any shows, didn’t look into the shops & parlours, didn’t talk to people, just wandered around and looked at the rides. You MUST make the time to see the shows and parades. There are quite a few, Fantasmic, the street parades (in DL & CA) fireworks at the castle and just after fantasmic – stay seated ! also ones like the light show in pixie hollow(there are 5 of them at different times) also in frontierland show at big thunder ranch and the saloon etc....not to mention CA shows like Word of Color, Alladin and the dance parties, (mad hatters, etc) pixar parade, check your guide each day.
5. Mickeys Toontown Morning Madness: you get this as part of a vacation package room/ticket deal with DL resort. However you can also get it through AAA and Costco travel. While the show is a bit ordinary – mainly for little kids (for the Disney dedicated it is still a must do) it is however a fantastic meet and greet for characters – especially Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto & Daisy.
6. Pre-Christmas in the Park(if you are there then): it is worth it just to go see the lights. But the other little touches around the park are really magical. Kids can meet Santa and Mrs Clause in the workshop and reindeer...which is a great little experience.
7.Go on Everything: people with pre-conceptions about DL usually don’t enjoy it as much. Its OK to act like a child in DL....no one else will notice or care – there are plenty of us there doing the same thing !! The rides are all fun and interesting in their own way....ONE tip – go on outdoor rides at daytime AND night time – it adds a real new experience to things.
8. Photo Pass Service: Take lots of Photos...Use the Photopass service – you get the great family shots, and the photos are unlimited number. Just ask any DL photographer for a photopass and you can collect the shots later on CD or download them for a fixed fee.(which is cheaper than paying for them...you can even get the shots from rides put on the pass if you ask..Also there are plenty of photo ops in the park. Getting into the spirit of your photo will make them that much better and they will be some of the best souvenirs you will have once it is all over.
9. Take Time: Look into every door: we were amazed at how many little things go un-noticed by the regular visitor. My tips is stick your head in to every door/window you can...Disney puts little surprises everywhere and you can see a lot of things others don’t.
10. Stay Until Closing: it is a magical thing to just sit in front of the railway station – looking down main street and watch the park closing.....we have been the last to leave the park many times and it is quite a unique experience to walk out of Disneyland...the last to leave.
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