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Disneyland! Where dreams are made of…(Christmas Edition)

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Alright folks, it’s due time for a new update and what better way than with a post about the happiest place on earth!  We’ve been wanting to go to Disneyland with the kids for quite some time now and finally made the trek down to LA!  (Or really Anaheim) We really wanted to see Disneyland during the holidays bc we heard that the whole park gets into the holiday spirit and it did not disappoint!  The park is beautifully decorated everywhere and we had such an amazing time at Disneyland and can’t wait to go back!  We are even thinking about getting a season pass!  Ha!  This was our family’s first trip to Disneyland and the kiddos are only 2 and 1 so this post will be geared mainly for parents and family’s with young kids!  If that’s you, read on!!

Note to friends: Was advised to just fly down as opposed to driving down bc parents need to make sure they have all the energy they can have while at Disney!  After making the trip down I couldn’t agree more!  Spend the extra $$ if you can, and screw renting a car too!  Fly down to Orange County and take the Disneyland express service to the hotel!  Super convenient and one less thing to worry about!

We planned for a long weekend down in LA and flew out Thursday AM. The goal was to get a park hopper on Friday and then just a one park ticket for Saturday thinking this would be cheaper. Turns out though that  buying them separately like that didn’t make sense economically (would have been about $100 more expensive) you are better off just buying he park hopper for two days at about $120 each day and give yourself the convenience of two parks!  Yea!!

Day 1:

We got in around 2 and hopped onto the Disneyland Resort Express shuttle to the Disneyland Hotel where we booked a 3 Night stay. The shuttle comes about every hour at the 30 minute mark so if you really wanted to try and plan to optimize time, plan your flight against the pickup times.  The cost is pretty reasonable and we got the round trip tickets so I believe it was about $70 bucks for two adults.

With respect to the hotels, get ready to put up more than a pretty penny though, the hotels around Disneyland are not cheap!!  You are basically paying for a five star resorts but really not getting the full five star shabang when staying there. I mean it’s nice and all, but not $500-$1000 a night nice!  The biggest thing you do get though is convenience and that, I will say, makes it a bit more palatable after thinking about it.  (More about this later). But here are a few photos of the lobby while checking in, they did a nice job of updating it to look a bit more modern and the lobby had TV’s playing so the kids could be distracted while parents check in.

We did hear great things about the Disneyland Hotel though and how kid friendly it would be, and it did live up to expectations.  The best thing about the rooms were the headboards. They all lit up with a flip of the switch and played melodies. ​AWESOME ​​

 

After checking into the hotel we waited for our friends to arrive and the plan was to head for dinner at the Grand California Hotel and then hit up Downtown Disney to walk and peruse the shops!

Make reservations for food! If you have a big group or want to go to specific places for lunch/dinner make reservations .  It’s super easy to do with the app!  I would say for the most part that while at the parks, having lunch reservations is great when you have little ones bc you know what to expect, but dinner reservations are not necessary bc that one is harder to plan around with all the parades and rides you want to hit up!

We went to Storytellers Cafe for dinner on the first night and overall would say it was pretty good!  It’s pretty much buffet style but the food was tasty and they even had a carving station that had prime rib and pork belly!    They of course also had a kids section where they had chicken tenders and mac’n cheese which was also pretty tasty!  The cafe is right in the Grand California Hotel right by the entrance to  California Adventure so really only about a 7-8 min walk from the Disneyland Hotel.

We had heard that there are really three tiers of hotel classes at Disneyland. The lowest tier is the Paradise Pier Hotel. Then you have Disneyland Hotel, and the highest tier is the Grand California. I guess if I had to compare this to a chain out there I would say that Paradise Pier is likely the Sheraton, while Disneyland Hotel is like the Westin, and then the Grand California is like your W.  The Grand California is the newest resort with a very earthy/woodsy feel to it. Everything kinda makes you feel like you are in a massive cabin with wood everywhere!  It had a big atrium with a massive Christmas tree when you entered it and connected directly from downtown Disney.

Here’s a map of the whole area around Disneyland.  All of the resorts and parks are within walking distance it’s really amazing how much things have changed since we went as kids!  Very convenient and family friendly!

After dinner we headed out to downtown Disney to check out the shops. It was really festive out there and they had Christmas lights everywhere. We ended up stopping at this maker riderz shop where you can build your own cars (Lightening McQueen/ Mater) which was pretty neat. Of course we got suckered into it and yes, they are really expensive!  (But so cool 😎) The boys had a good time picking out their rides and soon after that we headed back to the hotel as we had a big day ahead of us!  Disneyland here we come!

Day 2

Rise and shine!   We decided to go all out and do the character breakfast since there was an opening around 7AM.  It was a bold and ambitious move but figured we might as well right?!  It was definitely early though and the kids usually are not up yet, but we ended up all making it!   The place we went to was called Goofy’s Kitchen and it’s right in the Disneyland Hotel (by the front entrance area).  Of course, the main character there is Goofy!  I thought the kids were all going to be scared of the characters throughout Disneyland but surprisingly none of them were.  Throughout breakfast a bunch of characters come out and do this little walk through and dance for a bit.  Then the characters would pretty much walk around the whole time and mingle with all the kids eating breakfast.  It was really fun and a “must do” I would say going forward.  It’s great b/c its much more of an intimate setting with the characters and they have time to warm up to them.  The food was also surprisingly not bad!  The Mickey waffles were probably my favorite and they had this whole schmorgesboard of dessert for everyone!  We even took some to go!


We purchased our tickets directly from within the Disneyland App and after breakfast off we went!  We decided to hit up CA Adventure first and walk through the park to take the kids to Cars land.

Download the App and check it out thoroughly before you head to the park.  It’s actually a pretty good App with my only complaint is that the networks at Disneyland suck b/c there are too many people there so the app doesn’t work half the time!  The best thing about the app though is that it will tell you approx wait times for all the of rides you want to go on.

Since both the boys loves Cars, we decided to hit up this area first.   See the map below where I attempted to highlight some of the areas that we hit up that looked good for young kids!

Honestly speaking, we really didn’t expect to go on too many rides so we really just went with the flow of things.  I can see how stressful things can get if you are really trying to optimize and hit up every single ride you can go on while at Disneyland/CA Adventures.  It’s a madhouse everywhere, everyday!

With the app you are able to get a sense of how long the lines would be at each place.  Luckily, since we were there around 9am the place was not crowded and we were able to hit up pretty much any ride we wanted.  We decided to go to Luigis for the first ride.  The ride is essentially cars hat are attached to the ground but move synchronously throughout the parking lot. Fun for kids for sure since the whole time it’s them moving to music :).


We then decided to hit up Maters junkyard!  This was a fun ride as the back part of the carts sway the opposite direction as the way you are spinning!  I think we actually ended up going on this ride twice cause we liked it so much!

After Maters junkyard we headed over to the main center area of CA adventure as we had lunch reservations nearby.  We stopped at a ride that was Monters themed next. 


After that, right next door was the Disney Junior Show, where we got to watch real life re-creations of some of the most popular shows on the Disney Junior channel.  They had the Micky Mouse clubhouse too which was probably our favorite part!  The show is pretty good actually and everyone pretty much sits on the floor.  During the show they use tons of props and there are a few surprises as well during the show 🙂


After the show we had lunch reservations at the Carthay Circle Ranch so we headed there next and grabbed some food! After lunch it was pretty much nap time for the kids, so we strolled them around nin their strollers until they fell asleep! For the next two hours we walked through both parks to check out all the rides we wanted to go on and prepare ourselves for the next day as well.

We walked through Toon town, which looked like a ton of fun for young kids.  And we also were able to scope out It’s a Small World too.

The lines were pretty long that day so we ended up heading back to CA adventure and play some midway games until the kids woke up!  You’ll have to look closely on the map, but right by Paradise Pier is a section of about 5 or 6 midway stalls where you can play against other folks and win some really good toys!  (We cleaned house pretty much 🙂 )

Right around midday, Grace’s cousin Jon and his wife Annie, came by to join us at Disneyland too!  They live in SoCal and have season passes so it was great to be able to see them while were down there!  We headed back to Disneyland after that to go check out the lights as we had heard so much about how magical Disneyland gets at night!  It did not disappoint! The main image on the post is Small World and below you can see Cinderella’s Castle as well lit up!

We decided to hit up a few more rides so headed over to Dumbo next!   The kids LOVED this ride.  It had a nob that you could control Dumbo going up and down and pretty much just spun around.  We ended up going on it 3 times that night b/c they had so much fun on it!

It started to get late so after a few more rides we decided to call it day as the kids were starting to get cranky!  As we headed back, we decided to be one of “THOSE FAMILIES that stopped smack in the middle of the walkway to take a final pic of the day in front of the massive Christmas Tree right in Main Street!  haha I don’t think people appreciated it really but OH WELL!

 

Day 3

On the third day, we decided to stay “mostly” at Disneyland, or at least that was the plan.  I woke up early with mei mei and while her brother was still sleeping with mama, I had a bit of a Daddy and Daughter day all to ourselves at CA Adventure.  Since mei mei, was pretty much too small to ride on any of the rides, the only place she had free reign at was the Bugs Life area in CA Adventure.  So off we went!

For the really young kids the Bug’s Life area has it all, they have a small bumper car area, but also a train, and a balloon ride!

On our way there, we also got to say hi to Mater!

On the way back from the rides, we stopped at Starbucks to get breakfast for the gang, brought it back to the room and then off we went to Disneyland!

As you can see from the map above, we didn’t make it very far in the park, pretty much didn’t even hit up the other half of the park!  It’s definitely hard to get around and everything in 2 days really with kids nap schedules and their sleeping schedules!   As I mentioned earlier though, don’t TRY and go on every ride there, it’s literally impossible. Just go with the flow and you will love and enjoy every second of it!  

Our first stop, It’s a Small World!  This ride was probably the only “must see” ride of the whole trip.  I remember going on this ride as a kid and it’s awesome now that I can take my own kids on this magical ride.    As with everything during Christmas, the whole inside of the ride was decked out in Christmas gear!  

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After small world we headed back to Main Street to check out one of the holiday parades and have lunch!  

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After the parade it was nap time again!  Since there wasn’t any particular ride that we wanted to go on next we decided to go get some more toys at the midway games!  Hahaha yes completely unnecessary, but it was fun!    We also decided to get some embroidered hats for the kids and in the meantime, pick up some hats for ourselves too!  The kids slept for quite some time and after the kids woke up it started to get late again. We grabbed dinner at the pier and then we decided to head back to Bugs land and of course ride Dumbo a few more times and then we called it a night!  Our magical vacation had ended but we’ll be back!  We do wish that we could have stayed another day there but we figured there will for sure be a next time! Until then! 

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