One of the most anticipated trips on our California vacation was hands down our day trip to the happiest place on earth, Disneyland. When planning our Cali trip, we weren’t sure if we wanted to take Em to Disneyland as we thought she may still be a little too young. We were going to wait until we had all of the kids and do a one time thing, but we couldn’t go to LA and not go to Disneyland. So we bit the bullet and decided to take Em. I’ve never been to either Disneyland or Disney World so I was secretly super excited as well.
We started to hype up Disneyland to Emma leading up to our LA trip. Obviously she didn’t know what Disneyland was but she is super into most of Disney movies, and of course all the Disney princesses. Whenever someone asked her where she was going, she would reply, “I’m going to Disneyland, I’m gonna see Mickey, Minnie, Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Jasmine…” and her list went on. We both got Minnie ears and all three of us got matching Mickey/Minnie mouse shirts to wear for the day. Em even had her Minnie Mouse backpack! We did a lot of research leading up to this trip, and when I say we, I really mean Steve ;D – where to eat, what to avoid, which rides to go on and in what order, and etc. We also downloaded the Disneyland Mobile App which is a must if you are planning your trip. It is fully loaded with all the attractions and restaurants including a map of the park and wait times. It was very useful for us especially when we needed to scope out the nearest restrooms. While doing our research, almost everyone said Disney products at the park were overpriced, go figure. We definitely didn’t want to overpay for Disney dolls, so we ended up ordering some princess dolls to take with us. We surprised her throughout the day by pulling one out every time she was behaving well. Let me tell ya, that worked like a charm and I highly recommend doing this!
We got to Disneyland around 10 AM, traffic wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be considering LA traffic is horrendous! We had a breakfast reservation at the Carnation Cafe, and of course had the infamous Mickey waffles! I highly suggest making a reservation. Even on a Tuesday, people without reservations were getting turned away. After breakfast, we made our way to the rides.
I was pleasantly surprised that there were quite a few rides for Emma’s age, 2.5 yo. Despite the long lines and waits, we rode a handful of rides – King Arthur Carrousel, Astro Orbiter, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Mad Tea Party, and Disneyland Monorail. We were sad that Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride was closed for refurbishment, but Emma loved all of the rides she was able to get on!
In addition to rides, the most anticipated event for Em was meeting the princesses and Mickey & Minnie. We sort of got lucky with Mickey’s House & Minnie’s House, because we got there right after their lunch hour. We met Minnie first which took about 30 mins of wait time. We almost had a meltdown because Em was way overdue for her nap (she just fought it and wouldn’t go down!), and she needed to go pee so I had to fight people out of the line to run to the bathroom. It was hysterical. But at last, we met Minnie Mouse and all things were good again. After Minnie, we went to Mickey’s House, and again, we were met with Mickey Mouse shortly. Emma was as giddy as she can be!
She must have known we were going to meet them and that’s why she was fighting her nap, because as soon as that was done, she knocked out. Literally, right as we reclined her stroller seat, she immediately fell asleep. She gave us a good 2 hours of rest. Believe me, we definitely needed those precious hours because our feet were on fire.
After her nap, we did a couple more rides and met the princesses at the Royal Hall. For whatever reason, I thought we were going to be meeting most of them, if not all. But there were only three – Belle, Snow White and Elena. I was kind of disappointed that she didn’t get to see the others… Maybe we just missed the memo on when they are in the park! Nevertheless, Em LOVED them! We also didn’t get to see Tinker Bell at Pixie Hollow, but that was our fault because it was too late by the time we got to Pixie Hollow. We’ll have to note these things for next time! But she loved Pixie Hollow and we got some great shots of her!
We debated staying through the fireworks at 9 PM or calling it a day, by this time we’ve been at the park almost 11 hours. But we decided to stick it out since Em took a late nap and she seemed to be in a good mood. We grabbed dinner at Alien Pizza Planet and killed some time in the gift shop before making our way to the fireworks. We were glad that we got to the fireworks area earlier (an hour earlier) because there were SO MANY people. Staff were roping off the streets, and it was already jam packed. We were so glad we decided to stay through the fireworks because it was AMAZING. To this day, Emma talks about the fireworks at Disneyland. There were lots of wow’s and ooooh’s from the little lady. 🙂
Well, that was our first Disneyland adventure folks! We survived 13 hours at the park. Steve and I were dead tired but it was all worth it when we saw our little girl’s face light up every 5 mins throughout the day. But I’m not going to lie, we will be waiting until all of our future kids are older than Em’s age to take the next Disney trip. ;P
To summarize my personal tips from above:
- Research the park, attractions and rides before the big day.
- Download the Disneyland Mobile App.
- Buy Disney products before the trip – way overpriced at the park.
- Make reservations at popular restaurants beforehand.
- Bring a lightweight reclining stroller for naps – you can also rent one at the park.
- Know the closing times for meeting Disney characters so you don’t miss them.
- If staying for fireworks, go to the area earlier than start time, at least 1 hour earlier.
- Check the weather for appropriate attire – this is a no brainer but LA got chilly in the morning and at night in March, so we layered clothes for the little one.
- Pack snacks, water and treats (for bribing ;D).
Hope you enjoyed this post and stay tuned for LA Part II, coming soon!