Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tips about Vacationing at the Happiest Place on Earth ~ Disneyland

Let the story of the memories (and 10-useful tips) begin...

Here in Spokane the winters beautiful, but by February they are a little to l-o-n-g!  So when Alaska Airlines had their Disneyland vacation specials, it only made sense to pack a back and visit our old pal Mickey.  On the way to the airport, we were only happy to leave the big thick falling snow behind and adventure to a warmer, happier climate!

Zackie got to experience his 1st airplane ride...
now airplanes sightings are a lot more fun!

It had been over 30 years since the last time I had been to Disneyland...so as you can imagine, many things have changed...for example...there's two parks now!!  Who knew???  Not me...geez, I hope I'm not the only one on earth!  Luckily, our amazing travel agent,  Debby Droukas at Focus on Travel, knows her stuff.  We stayed at the amazing Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and had a room just outside the California Adventure Park.  This park is amazing with color and character.  

Much like Disneyland, the California Adventure Park is based on many of the Disney movies we've come love...CarsBugs LifeMonsters Inc. and even the Muppets.  But then there are the amazing attractions like the a vintage Disney Boardwalk...Paradise Pier.  This was my favorite area, a step back in time with amazing colors, games and rides...oh and food!

(above) Ariel's Grotto at Night

The Beer Truck...a Happy place for Grant and I after a FULL day with excited kiddos!

Yummy Mexican food!!  
Did I mention I used to live in Cucamonga...a little taste of my old home

I'll show a little more on another day...so here's a few tips before some sneak peaks of Disneyland...

(Fine Print Disclosure - so these are lessons we learned on our trip...this is not expert advise...
basically I'm still a novice (2-time visitor in 40 years!) but I think these tips are important to still share)

#1 Best days are by far Monday through Thursday, OK on Friday
...unless you like crowds and long lines, then the weekends would be fun

#2 Before you get to the Hotel...stop buy a store and pick up supplies.  Our hotel room had a refrigerator and we at least saved over $100 on supplies such a water, beer, snacks and Bailey's for morning coffee (hey, it's an adult vacation too!)

#3 Character Meals...Go for the Premium packages...much better bang for the buck and actually only a few dollars more than the standard character meals. There are two Premium Meal locations Ariel's Grotto (at Paradise Pier) and Goofy's Kitchen (at Disneyland Hotel).  WARNING: The character dining at the California Grand Hotel was packed and not as good of food or service...sorry Chip and Dale :(

This is the reaction to a princess entering the room...

A good time for little boys too!...

#4 If you stay at the property hotels, especially Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, consider dining off campus to save money and experience a much better value.  The meals at the Hotel were completely over-priced with poor service.  It was so disappointing to find that everyone was so nice on the property except for the food service staff...kind-of-a-bummer.  But we quickly go over it when we enjoyed all the spoils of Beautiful Downtown Disney, which had amazing restaurants and happiness!

Grant's 'happy place' restaurant

#5 Exercise the FastPass option.  We didn't "get-it" until day 3...duhhh...Fast Pass is a great way to avoid some time in the line...check out it here to find out more.

#6  Disney's PhotoPass Rocks!!  When I tell you that I took over 2,300 pictures in 6 days...you may think I have Paparazzi in my blood...I think I do too!!  With the PhotoPass Option, Disney Staff rovering photographers take pics of you with characters and then those photos can be purchased within 30-days for $14.99 each jpeg or print.  These photographers are also REALLY nice about taking a photo for you too.  Thank you Disney!  

#7 Have your amazing travel agent set your family up with a Mickey's ToonTown Morning Madness.  This was a great way to get into this area in advance of the crowds and give us plenty of one-on-one time with the characters. 

Minnie's can spot a 6-year old friend... 

#8 - a HUGE benefit of staying at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa was the 1-hour early access  we had before the general public was admitted.  It is not offered every day...we had this benefit on both Thursday and Saturday only...an hour goes by real fast but it is amazing to feel as though you have the park to yourself, even if it's for a short time.  Other property hotels offer this service too...so ask an amazing travel agent.

#9 Make sure you get yourself a park hopper pass for both parks, Disneyland and California Adventure Park, that way you have flexiblity to not miss any attraction and you can hop back and forth between the two parks.  And another bonus is if you need to rent a stroller, they can be used at both parks easily.

#10 so the last tip is... GO TO DISNEYLAND as soon as you can...no really!!  I had NO IDEA how much fun it can be!!!  I got my Mickey shirt (the kids too), Grant wore the latern necklace and even bought the silly, over-priced pins and we acted like tourists for 6 days and acted like kids even longer.  We can't get the trip out of our heads, or our hearts...everyday we say "I wish we were still at Disneyland!"...It truly is the Happiest Place on Earth!!

Sea of people on a Saturday morning...WOW!!!

Star Struck! 

Thanks Mickey for the great time!!


  1. So so fun!! Great tips...makes me want to go back now!!!-)

  2. This looks AMAZING! I am so glad you posted this first had look...from someone who has never been to Disneyland! Someday...
    Love, Jennifer

  3. Looks like you had a great time! We went a couple of years ago and are waiting for the day we can go back! Truly the happiest place on earth!