Wednesday, March 22, 2006

10 Disneyland, lessons learned...

Disneyland is an exhausting experience. Unless you spring for the $55 electric scooter rental (at Disneyland there's only 1 class of stroller rental by 2 kinds of wheelchairs! They really do their best to take care of the infirm (and the extraordinarily lazy and obese)) you'll be walking and standing virtually the entire say. Here's 10 random tips to enjoying your time in the park:

1. Stay in the park. We didn't. Our reward, carrying our 2 year old on our shoulder for 2 hours at a time while she napped. If you have kids that should nap and you'd like part of your group to be able to break away for a siesta in the afternoon, the on property hotels are really the only option to do this. Everything else is too far. Period.
2. Live the suite life. You'll be spending enough time with your brood during the day, there's no reason to sleep with them at night. So if you're already disregarding rule #1, make sure to follow rule #2. Extended stay hotels like Residence Inn by Marriott are popping up, complete with kids bedrooms and king sized beds for mom and dad. Added bonus -- these hotels are newer.
3. Avoid ART. If you stay offsite you will be bombarded with pitches about the convenience of Anaheim Resort Transportation Disney shuttle busses. To discourage you from driving, passes will be "included" with your hotel. If riding a crowded bus packed with folded strollers, other people's exhausted and occasionally crying children (in addition to your own), and frustrated parents that runs on an inconsistent schedule and virtually guarantees 90 minutes of your day wasted coming and going to travel a distance of 1 mile -- by all means go for it. Otherwise, see #1 or do what we finally wised up and did and drive to the parking lot and park in Disneyland's enormous parking garage -- I think it's the size of the State of Rhode Island -- for $10.
4. Pre-souvenir. In Las Vegas, every attraction leads to a casino. At Disneyland, attractions lead to gift shops, mostly charging MSRP. Shop the Disney outlet online...pop gifts out of your bag at key moments. You'll be a hero. This is not unlike tailgating before the big game. (I'm NOT smart enough to think of that on my own, that's all GSully.) Bonus: Resist the call of Disney apparel. By your third day, you will think that it is perfectly appropriate to buy and wear something with some sort of Disney thing on it. Don't. It isn't, and the feeling quickly goes away when you get home. Partial exemption granted for elementary school teachers.

Search for Disneyland on ebay.

5. 1 on 1 rules. If your kids aren't independent, and I'll use the "can responsibly walk themselves to the restrooms and back to you unescorted" definition here, you probably will not enjoy yourself as a parent unless you have a ratio of 1 adult per child.
6. Don't skimp on meals. Eating in the parks? Find a place to sit in the shade and be served. The Princess Lunch at Ariel's Grotto in California Adventure made us all feel like royalty. We got to relax, sit in the shade, be served and recharge. Contrast that to the fast food outlets where you will wait in one line, order and pay, wait in another line, claim food, battle crowds for table, and choke down bland, warmish food.
7. Study up. Our second and third days in the parks were more enjoyable because of the familiarity we had developed the first day. As much as it seems like you shouldn't have to prep for a vacation, a basic understanding of where to find strollers, rest rooms and food as well as the rides will reduce your stress and increase your comfort.
8. Let your kids drive. You don't always know what they will enjoy and why. We spent 2 days saying no to Dumbo's Flying Elephants because the line was long and the ride was something that we could do at Kennywood. It was on all 3 kids' Top 5.
9. Fastpass. It seems obvious that not waiting in line is better than waiting in line, but someone is still waiting 90 minutes to ride Space Mountain. It isn't me and it shouldn't be you.
10. Don't forget your cellphones. My march statement will have 100 calls between March 13-16 of 1 minute or less. I just called to say "Where are you? Okay, stay there. I'm on my way."


At 1:08 AM, Anonymous Carol F said...

This blog has decided about five things for us and our upcoming vacation (in three days) to Disneyland with three kids 5, 4, and 2. Thank you for being funny and direct!!!!

At 8:33 AM, Blogger Sully said...

Thanks, Carol. Have fun and let us know how it goes. I hope my tips are as applicable in May as in March. (I'm a little nervous about cars on weekends.)


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