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The anticipation and excitement were noticeable as we made our way to Disneyland in Anaheim as we had been planning this trip for months. As a family of Disney enthusiasts, we had visited various Disney themed vacations, but we always wanted to visit Disneyland in California. We knew that this trip would be an unforgettable experience for our family and we were ready to immerse ourselves in the magical world of Disney once again. With our bags packed and our tickets in hand, we couldn’t wait to make new memories and share in the joy and wonder of Disneyland with our children.
During our 5-day trip to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park, we had an incredible experience that we are thrilled to share with you. From the moment we stepped into the parks, we were immediately transported to a world of magic and wonder. The attention to detail in every aspect of the parks was truly remarkable. We spent our days exploring each corner of the parks, riding thrilling attractions, and indulging in delicious food and treats. We hope that our insights and tips will be helpful to anyone planning a trip to these incredible parks in the future.
We booked our Disney tickets with a travel agent who is a local mommy and Disney expert, Steph from Glow With Me – Magical Adventures. She can find you a Disney package or she can help book your Disney tickets at no additional cost. By using a Disney Specialist, we were able to gain access to her Disneyland guide, which included insider tips, expectations, and recommendations. Additionally, being able to ask her questions as a Disneyland first-timer was extremely helpful!
Genie+ is an additional service that Disneyland offers to guests for an extra cost. It allows guests to access the Lightning Lane, for shorter wait times for select attractions throughout the park. To use Genie+, you use the Disneyland App to make a reservation for an eligble ride and you’ll be given a one-hour return window. When you arrive during that time, you’ll be able to enjoy the ride with a shorter wait time. This was so helpful for us during our 5 days as the wait time for most of the rides with the Genie+ was less than 15 minutes, compared to the normal 40+ minutes wait time.
In addition to shorter wait times, Genie+ also includes the Disney PhotoPass service. This allows guests to capture memories of their visit to the theme park with professional-quality photographs taken by Disney photographers. The photos can be accessed through the Disneyland app and shared with friends and family. The PhotoPass service is a great way to document your visit to Disneyland and create lasting memories. We actually used the PhotoPass a lot as there were so many photographers throughout the Disney parks. This was a wonderful way to capture our family vacation. With Genie+ and PhotoPass, you can enjoy a more seamless and personalized experience at the Happiest Place on Earth.
Disneyland’s Individual Lightning Lane is different from the Lighting Lanes included with Genie+. There are three rides (Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Radiator Springs Racers) that you can use the Individual Lightning Lane for. You can purchase a maximum of 2 Individual Lightning Lane’s per day, through the Disneyland app. The cost varies depending on the attraction, with Rise of the Resistance always being the most expensive. I saw the prices ranging from $15 to $25 per person, per ride. If you decide to purchase the Individual Lightning Lane, you will receive a specific time to go on the rides. Similar to the standard Lightning Lanes included with Genie+, you will be able to enjoy that ride with a shorter wait time.
The Disneyland App is a really helpful app that can help you with planning your day while at both parks. Some of the features of the Disneyland App include:
I was actually surprised at how often I used the Disneyland App throughout the day. It is a convenient tool that can help you plan your park visit and make the most of your time. I would recommend downloading the app a few months before to make restaurants reservations and to learn how to use the App. The Disneyland App is available for both iPhone and Android users.
Disney restaurant reservations usually opens up 60 days in advance at 6am PST. Many popular restaurants at Disney parks can fill up quickly, so booking early can increase your chances of getting a reservation at the restaurant and time of your choice. We really wanted to go to Oga’s Cantina At Galaxy’s Edge and Blue Bayou Restaurant, so we woke up early in the morning to make our reservations to get them.
While there were a lot of hotel options in and around Disneyland, we booked Howard Johnson by Wyndham Anaheim Hotel & Water Playground, which is a 10 minute walk to Disneyland. The hotel features a fun-filled water playground, complete with water slides, splash pad, hot tub and pool. With comfortable rooms, convenient amenities, and a prime location, Howard Johnson by Wyndham Anaheim Hotel & Water Playground was perfect for our Disney stay.
You can read our full review of the hotel here: Family Friendly Hotel by Disneyland: Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel
The best part of having the hotel being nearby was being able to go walk back to our rooms for a midday break. After an early morning start, a midday nap was nice and we would usually head back in the evening and stay until closing. If you’re looking into staying at the hotel, feel free to use our “Corp Code: 1000022077” for 15% off.
Here is the link to our IG video of the hotel: Click Here
It’s always better to be prepared for unexpected weather and comfortable shoes are a must for all the walking. We walked more than 20,000 steps daily. I brought our Vessi shoes and that was great, especially during the two days where it rained. Surprisingly, when we went, it was quite cold – especially at night. I was glad we brought pants and jackets. It does rain at times, so bringing a poncho is a great way to make sure you’ll stay dry. We got ours from Amazon, but you can buy them at the park though it’s more expensive. Bringing extra socks is also a smart move for those water rides. If you do not want to carry everything, Disney has lockers for you to rent. We carried everything in our backpack, but lockers is an option if you don’t want to worry about carrying everything at all times.
Disney has free wifi, but we noticed the wifi at Disney California Adventure Park was a bit spotty. Luckily, before going to Disney, we got a SIM Card from T-Mobile for $50 which includes unlimited data for the month. We also brought our own phone chargers, but you can purchase portable phone chargers, called Fuel Rods, at Disney for around $30. You can swap empty Fuel Rods for free – use the app search feature to find the kiosks around the parks. I was surprised at how much I used my phone throughout our day at Disney, so having the phone charger was useful.
Park Hopper is an add-on option that allows guests to visit both Disneyland and Disneyland Adventure Park on the same day. You can switch between the two parks and explore all the attractions, shows, and dining options available. Park hopping is available after 11am.
To make the most of a Park Hopper experience at Disneyland, it’s important to plan your day ahead of time. You need to make a park reservation for the park that you plan to visit first. Arrive early, in time for park opening at your starting park. Then, prioritize the attractions, shows, and dining options that you want to experience in each park, making sure to leave enough time to hop between the parks. As we were at Disney for 5 days, we knew we wanted to take advantage of the Park Hopper. Surprisingly, we hopped between the two parks quite a lot. They’re quite close to each other, so it wasn’t too bad walking to and from the parks. My kids are also older, so they were fine with walking. Overall, a Park Hopper offers a great opportunity to explore both parks and can be a fun way to make the most of your time. As a bonus, park hopping allows you to make the most of your Genie+ purchase, as you can book Lightning Lanes in both parks!
Weeks before going to the Disney parks, I familiarized myself with the map and outlined what I wanted to accomplish for each day. Breaking up the park into themed lands and listing the rides in each land was a useful strategy in planning our day and navigating through the park more efficiently. By familiarizing myself with the map beforehand, I felt more confident and relaxed during our trip. I hope you find this list helpful. We used this as a guide to check off each ride and to figure out where the rides we wanted to go were located.
Disneyland – *Genie+ Rides / LL: Lightning Lane
|Tomorrowland (6 rides)||Fantasyland (10 rides)||Mickey’s Toon Town (3 Rides)|
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters*
Finding Nemo Submarine
|Peter Pan’s Flight|
Snow White’s Enchanted Wish
It’s a Small World*
Mad Tea Party
Alice in Wonderland
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Casey Jr. Circus Train
Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
|Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (LL)|
Chip ’N’ Dale’s Gadget coaster
Roger Rabbit’s Car toon Spin*
|Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (2 Rides)||Adventureland (4 Rides)||Frontier Land (3 rides)|
|Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run*|
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (LL)
– Closes at 9pm
|Indiana Jones* |
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
|Big Thunder Mountain Railroad*|
Mark Twain Riverboat
Sailing Ship Columbia
|Critter Country (3 Rides)||New Orleans Square (2 Rides)||Main Street USA (1 Ride)|
|The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh|
Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes
|Pirates of the Caribbean*|
|Disneyland Railroad – 4 stops|
Main Street, U.S.A.
New Orleans Square
Disneyland California Adventure Park
|Paradise Gardens Park (5 Rides)||Pixar Pier (5 rides)||Cars Land (3 rides)|
|The Little Mermaid|
Goofy’s Sky School*
Silly Symphony Swings
Jessie’s Critter Carousel
Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind
Toy Story Midway Mania!*
Pixar Pal-A-Round – Swinging
|Radiator Springs Racers (LL)|
Luigi’s Rollicking’ Roadsters
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
|Grizzly Peak (3 Rides)||Avengers Campus (2 rides)||Hollywood Land (1 Ride)|
|Soarin’ Around the World*|
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
Grizzly River Run*
Guardians of the Galaxy*
|Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue*|
As they always say, “the early bird gets the worm”. Arrive at the park early to beat the crowds and get a head start on your day. We noticed the first two hours have the least crowd, so we went on most of your rides during this time. Afterwards, we would start using our Genie+ to book our rides. I also took this time to take photos with the Disney’s PhotoPass, line up for Character autographs and grab food.
Another option for the afternoon is to walk back to the hotel for a midday break to recharge for the evening. We noticed that around 9:30pm, there were less crowds and less people in line for rides, so we would use the rest of the night lining up for rides. Most rides were usually less than 15 minutes wait.
Out of the three rides, our favourite was definitely Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. If you can only go on one of the rides, you can’t miss this one!
Some rides do offer single rider lines. If you’re willing to ride alone, single rider lines can save a lot of time. You need to be 7 years old to be a single rider – so make sure you check that your child is comfortable going on their own. I didn’t think my youngest was comfortable on her own, so I never used this option.
The shows at Disney are truly magical and we loved them all! To get the perfect spot, try to go to the shows half an hour before it starts.
Here’s our IG video of the Disney shows: Click Here
Disney Magic Bands are wristbands that serve as an all-in-one device for guests visiting Disney. We saw many stores selling Disney Magic Bands, but we skipped them this trip. You can use Magic Bands to scan into Lightning Lanes, and they are interactive at various statues around the parks, in Galaxy’s Edge, and they light up in coordination with the nightly shows. I saw many kids wearing them and I think they have a lot of fun features. You can definitely read more about it on the Disney website.
The food and drinks at Disney are expensive. We brought bottles of water and snacks, but even than, we still had to buy drinks at Disney. We did notice a pop and a Starbucks drink was about the same price, so we ended up buying Starbucks drinks to share. There are refillable water bottle stations throughout Disney. During our 5 days at Disney, we tried many food. Here are some of the must-try items:
These are just a few of the many delicious foods you can find at Disneyland. Be sure to try some of these iconic treats during your visit! You can also check out our IG post of the drinks & treats we tried: Click Here
There are so many things to buy at the Disney parks, it’s hard to resist! If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland and wondering what items to buy, here are a few suggestions:
Don’t forget to ask for a free pin! They have free “birthday” and “first time” Disney pins! You can usually get one from one of the shops. Here’s the link to the first item we bought at Disney: Click Here
I hope you find these tips helpful. After going to Disneyland, it truly wasn’t as overwhelming as I thought. Disneyland is truly magical place with many unforgettable experiences. From the moment you step through the gates, you are transported to a world of fantasy and wonder. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that Disneyland is often called the happiest place on earth. It’s a place where you can let go of your worries and immerse yourself in a world of pure joy and imagination. If you ever get the chance to visit Disneyland, don’t hesitate – it’s an experience you’ll treasure forever.
Special thanks to Steph from Glow With Me – Magical Adventures for taking the time to read this post and adding in her tips and tricks at Disney Park.