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A trip to Disneyland, the happiest place on earth

A trip to Disneyland, the happiest place on earth

A trip to Disneyland, the happiest place on earth
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By Sonal Sarin  May 7, 2018 10:58:17 AM IST (Updated)

The mention of the word “Disneyland” brings about cherubic smiles and sloppy hugs and kisses in every household. It is truly an exhilarating experience for the senses, one that promises to be etched in your memory forever.

Are you planning a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth this year? The mention of the word “Disneyland” brings about cherubic smiles and sloppy hugs and kisses in every household. It is truly an exhilarating experience for the senses, one that promises to be etched in your memory forever. But as you navigate through two theme parks with kids in wonderland, it becomes easy to lose sight of fun and become caught up in overwhelming crowds. We decided to visit Disneyland (in Los Angeles) with our 6-year old son and 3-year old daughter and had a great time. Read on for top 7 tips for a  fantastic experience.

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 1. Dates for the trip
The dates for the trip are as important as the rides for Disneyland. We went for two days - one for each park.
  • Try to go on weekdays. Wednesdays turn out the best and avoid long weekends at all cost.
  • Check out the crowd predictions as well as the annual pass holders blackout dates and plan your dates accordingly.
  • July and August are the hottest months in LA - you don’t want to be standing in the queues with cranky kids in the blistering heat. In the same strand, watch out for January - the wettest month in LA. If you do go during these times, arm yourselves accordingly.
  • 2. Maximise time inside the park
    Predictably, the kids will have an adrenaline rush - they will be excited, happy and maybe not even tired. We wanted to maximise this energy by staying inside the park for as long as we could.
    • We decided to stay in the Disneyland Resort hotels inside the park. While they come at a premium, they gave us access to the coveted Magic Morning, a one-hour early entry into the parks available ONLY to the resort guests. These hotels are also themed on Disney and organise Dining opportunities with the characters making it fully immersive experience.
    • Staying in the resort gives you the option of catching a cat nap and heading back again to the park - refreshed!
    • We got our ROI on the magic morning with the Radiator Springs ride - we did it before the park opened to public. The average wait time for this ride is crazy 2-3 hours !!
    • Reaching the gates of the resort half an hour before the magic morning begins, is really helpful. The entrance is the first place where one encounters the long queue - reaching early will give you a jumpstart. Kids had no problem getting up early - thanks to the excitement.
    • 3. Have a game plan
      A quick search showed the rides, maps as well as the height requirement for each ride. We did this research well in advance and given that my boy and girl wanted to do very different things, we planned our park strategy. While I am not saying that things needs to be planned to the last minute, keep in mind there are over 50 attractions and that doesn’t even include the shows, parade and restroom breaks that will come your way.
      • I downloaded a Disney app that showed me wait-times for different rides, where the characters were and where the photographers were standing. I started using it a week in advance to see general patterns on wait-time and used it to guide my ride-order decision.
      • If your trip hinges on a certain ride, be sure to check out the ride schedule in advance to know if it will be working.
      • Sometimes,Disney staggers the rides when the park opens to manage the crowds.
      • We took the photopass. There are a gazillion photographers spread across the park, next to all attractions and characters. Having everyone together in the photograph and a professional click made it worth it. At park closing, we just handed in our pass to customer service and they gave us a CD with all our snaps.
      • 4. Fastpass + Riderswitch+ Singlerider = Heaven
        To ensure that the adults don’t miss out on the fun, Disney offers Riderswitch . It allows the non-rider to wait with a supervising adult at the front of the queue while the remainder party enjoys the ride. Then adults simply switch roles. My daughter did not make the height cut at some attractions and this facility really helped. As the boys went to queue up for the roller-coasters, I would quickly get my daughter to do a kiddie ride and coordinate to meet at the front of the queue for the rider switch.
        For the most popular rides, Disney issues Fastpass, issued through kiosks located through out the park. The Fastpass books a time for you at the ride. Each rider needs their own fastpass. You need to show up at the ride at the time mentioned on the fastpass and go straight thru. It is a great way to plan your day in the park. You can book the fastpass on mobile thru Maxpass facility as well.
        Also, most top rides have a separate line for single riders! Using the early entry, fastpass & riderswitch, the kids ended up doing the most coveted rides multiple times over.
        5. Pace yourself
        The energies will fluctuate through the day. We planned our rides in a manner that after every 1.5 hour we were grabbing a drink, fruits or munchies. There are enough small performances and characters walking about to allow for short breaks from the sensory explosion. I would highly recommend grabbing a fastpass before lunch so that right-after you could do a ride and get back in the swing of things. Looking thru the maps and mobile app will give you a good idea to plan a break.
        6.Must pack
        Do carry water in bottle for the park as it is quite expensive inside. Portable phone battery is highly recommended too. Wet wipes come in handy too. If you have a toddler, I would highly recommend a stroller. Do take note that there are strollers available for hire inside the park too. The parks also have childcare areas where one could feed infants and heat up food.
        7. Must do rides and experiences
        It is hard to pick with all rides offering something different, gazillion bands playing all across the park and all fairies and princesses walking by.We loved the Tomorrowland. The kids also loved the boat ride of ‘It’s a small world‘. Older kids would like the Pirates of Caribbean and Indiana Jones as well - however, my small kids got a bit scared! Fantasyland is perfect for toddlers but gets very crowded around mid morning. We felt that the Disney shows were probably our best experience - specially Star Wars show where kids got Jedi training and had a fight sequence with Darth Vader.
        In California Adventure Park -The Cars Land wins hands down. The Radiator Springs car race appeals to all kids alike and is a fun roller-coaster. California Screamin sets the tone for the Paradise Pier section and is a must do rollercoaster for older kids and adults. The Frozen show is conducted like a Broadway musical and was the perfect rest break for the kids.
        We went in bracing for impact :), expecting tired cranky kids, unmanageable lines etc. But the planning made a big difference and ensured that we all had a great time. The voice over for each ride reverberates in my ears and is probably what sums up the trip for me “Be sure to wear your seatbelts, hold on, here we gooo!”
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