Saturday, January 24, 2015

What you NEED to know about Planning a trip to DISNEYLAND

According to my kids and husband, they think I am weird because I have no desire to go to Disneyland. I am not a hater at all, I just think there are other awesome things to do with that kind of money. Anyway, 5 against 1, the odds were totally against me and now we are adding a trip to Disneyland for our family  USA trip in May, so they can tick it off their bucket lists. I have to say here, that my kids are super lucky. I didn't go on an aeroplane until I was 16 and I paid for my own ticket. The trip was interstate to see family, so while I loved it, it was nothing as amazing as the USA. The first time I actually went to America was with my sister and I was pregnant with baby number 3 and that was in fact the first time I had ever needed a passport. I think I was 26 or something like that. My kids have had their passports for almost 4 years and they have been to Bali, New Caledonia, and now America.

So once we decided we were going to America, I decided to research and by this I mean, Pinterest and Blogs. I find so much cool and useful information about other people's experiences on these sites before I venture to Google. There are heaps of blogs written by parents who frequent Disneyland or do a tonne of research and share their tips for free.  We are a family of 2 adults and 4 kids aged 14, 12, 9, and 6.   These are the things I have discovered and are paying them forward to you.

1. Disney Forecast Crowd Calendar - I totally wish I knew about this site before we booked our flights. Two days earlier would have meant that it was very likely Disneyland would be a ghost town and we had better chances of getting on heaps more rides. I am sure Disneyland is always busy to some extent, but how awesome would it be to go when there are heaps less people there and getting on rides is easier. I have heard horrible stories of people waiting in line for up to 3 hours just for one ride! Anyway, this link will come in super handy for many of you I am sure.

2. Cost for food inside the park  - This site is super helpful, as it gives you are run down on what food outlets and restaurants offer and where they are in the park. The reviews are a helpful guide and if you like to plan where you want to eat, so that it not an issue on the day, this is a good way of going about it. I think it's also good to plan how much you are willing to spend on food. We haven't decided exactly what we want to do yet, but I really want to try a Dole whip. I see these yummy pineapple whippies all over Pinterest and they look so good!  The other thing I want to mention about the food, is that its not that badly priced. Most American blogs will have you think it's super expensive, but coming from Australia, a kids meal priced at $6.50USD at a fun park is fairly reasonable.  I have also prepped my kids and will continue to do so, that we are going to be sharing a lot of food and treats, especially at Disneyland. This way we can try a number of things but not be purchasing 4 or 5 lots of one thing, only to find out that they don't like it and hubby and I are chowing down on 4  lots of donuts or something less desirable!!  I really don't like when that happens.  This blog has lots of other helpful tips and guides, so be sure to pin it on your Pinterest Board!

3. There are no discount tickets to Disneyland - well this isn't entirely true, you can get some sort of discount at this site, but I am not sure if its only for USA residents. Discounts are very minimal and it usually only counts on multi day passes with the park hopper included.  We have no interest in paying for the park hopper option. Park Hopper basically means that you can switch from Californian Adventure Park to Disneyland or vice versa, on the same day. However, if you get a 2 day pass or more, you can spend one day at one park then the next day at the other. You can also get a 'Magic Morning" with a 3 day or more pass. This allows you (once) to enter the park 1 hour before the rest of the public can enter. So if the park opens at 11am, the Magic Morning starts at 10am (this is an example only).

From what I understand, Disney has a very tight hold on the ticket prices. If you get a discount at all its by as little as $10USD or so, and I have discovered, if its from a legitimate site, you should purchase it. I suppose if you think about, $10USD per ticket is a savings you can spend inside the park on food.  If you come across people selling tickets on Ebay don't purchase them. Any tickets being sold at a huge discount must be questioned and never purchased.  From what I read, a little while ago, people were purchasing 5 day park tickets and were selling the remaining unused days online. To stop this from happening, its my understanding that Disneyland now takes photos of people with their multi-day passes as they
enter the park, and they also ask for photo identification to confirm the name matches on the ticket. It's also helpful to purchase your tickets on the Disney Website and not at the gates. Disney actually encourages people to do this. I think its similar to the Cinema lines. If you have online tickets, you have a admission line just for you and its suppose to be quicker than waiting to purchase the tickets at the gates.

4. Tips, Secrets and Helpful Apps -  I'm not sure about all the tips you will find on this link. Some are a bit lame, but the one about the Waiting time App, is worth me sharing it. How cool, is that?

5. Accommodation  - staying at any of the hotels on the Disney Resort premises, are always going to be crazy ridiculous.  The longer you stay, though the better value it is. Well, the longer you stay in any hotel near and around Disneyland is the same. Fourth, fifth and sixth nights generally speaking are free. However the cost for staying onsite with our family was going to be just under $5000USD with tickets included. Off site it ranges from $1800USD up to $3000USD including tickets for 3 nights. Those savings can be spend elsewhere. The main thing that affects the price, other than star rating, is the distance to Disneyland itself. The further away, the more affordable the accommodation becomes.  When we book accommodation where possible, we book a family suite. This is more affordable and heaps more conveniant as we are all together. We are planning to stay at the Hyatt Hotel Suites which is about 3km walk to Disneyland. That is doable with our kids at their age. Some hotels have free shuttle services and others charge a small fee, I have seen some hotels charge $5USD. We don't have breakfast included in our accommodation, but if you can score a deal including breakfast (usually American style continental buffet breakfast) then that is a bonus.  If you have a car and are considering parking, keep in mind that parking costs $17USD per day at Disneyland. There are some other slightly cheaper options, but you are again, outside of the park and keep in mind there will be walking involved.

I think I have covered the initial basic steps in planning a Disneyland trip. I will add more as I find them. Other than what I have shared, the best advise really comes from people who have been there, so Pinterest and Blogs I think are the best way to go. We have also been watching clips on YouTube of people sharing their experiences on rides. This was great, because I have a basic plan on what rides  get the busiest and which ones are fun, but less popular etc and which ones are really awesome.  I hope I have helped you some. If you have any tips to share, please do so in the comments or if you have written a blog post of your own, share it in the comments. I would love to read it.


Fairlie said...

I was like you...a bit m'eh about Disney parks, but was outvoted by the family and we've now been to Disneyland in Anaheim and more recently, Disneyworld in Orlando (I do have a few posts about them on my blog - see the pulldown menus for LA and Orlando). Both times we stayed off-site and IMHO you are totally doing the right thing by making that choice. The extra dollars can be put into other stuff and, quite frankly, at the end of each day I was happy to get away from the Disney-theming of EVERYTHING for a bit of normality in the hotel! Despite being the theme-park-grinch, I have to begrudgingly admit, there were moments where I enjoyed both of our Disney I'm sure you will too! (Found you via #FYBF)

Toby said...

So you guys headed to Disneyland sometime soon?

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