Here are ten things to consider when going to Disneyland:
1. Our two boys are over the age of 7 and therefore they could ride together without an adult or on their own. A child under 7 must be with someone older than 14. The boys rode Goofy's Sky School six times in a row!
2. Our 4-year-old daughter was just over 40" which allowed her to do all the rides she wanted to including Radiator Springs Racers, Jumpin' Jellyfish and Star Tours. Be aware of your kid's height when booking so you know what they will and will not be able to do.
3. You can bring your own food and drink into the park. We brought granola bars and crackers from home to keep the kids happy between meals. There are many food options there but if you are being budget conscious, an $8 bag of caramel popcorn might not be your thing. Note that there is a Starbucks at Disneyland (we usually have a Starbucks gift card or two we can use). If you are wanting a special character dining experience, reserve in advance as they fill up quickly. We did Ariel's Grotto at Disney California Adventure Park and it was worth it for Nya and I.
4. If rides are a priority to you and you don't enjoy waiting in lines, there is a lot that you can do about it. A Disneyland App is available with wait times but there is no wifi in the park so we did not use it. There is also a main board at the center with the current wait times that is updated frequently.
a. Arrive at security around 7:30 AM so you can be in the park by 7:45 AM. Usually your tickets will include a magic morning (if 3 days or more) which means you can arrive at 7 AM. Some rides like Peter Pan's Flight do not have fast passes available so you would need to do that early on.
b. Get a Fast Pass right away for whatever ride is most important to you. You bring your park tickets to the kiosk by the ride and get a time printed for when you can go in the "fast pass" lane (usually the wait time is about 10 minutes). The Fast Pass is good for one hour. Because we have a small child who couldn't go on the bigger rides, Gary would ride with the big kids first and get a "Rider Switch" pass from the cast member and then I could go on it right afterward with the kids in the fast pass lane.
c. Go on the water rides early to avoid line ups–just bring a coat or poncho! Because we were there at a cooler time of year there was no line up for Splash Mountain and Grizzly River Run. The kids did it twice in a row and would have kept going.
5. Consider where you will stay. We wanted affordable and practical and stayed at Staybridge Suites Anaheim Resort. The benefits for us were: separate bedroom, kitchen, pool, hot tub, wifi, free buffet breakfast (with a lot of variety) and dinner 5 days a week! It is 1.2 miles from the park so we took a shuttle each day which cost us $36 USD total for the three days. The shuttle was not as consistent as I would have liked (claimed it was every 20 minutes) but overall we enjoyed our stay there and it saved us money.
6. Comfy shoes and layers are a must! Although I am used to walking a lot, I don't normally spend my whole day walking on pavement–even in my running shoes my feet were sore. The park does cool down a lot in the morning and evenings so be prepared.
7. Strollers are awesome. Although Nya is 4 and could walk all day, it made so much sense for us to zip her around in a stroller; we didn't have to worry about her wandering or keeping up with us. Also, then you can store your extra sweaters/cameras/food in the stroller and you don't have to carry it.
8. If your kids are too young for the late fireworks (9:30 PM), there are earlier events for kids. From parades to Frozen to World of Color there are other options! We personally loved Paint the Night which is an electrical parade.
10. You can buy a photopass to have professional photos of you taken throughout the park. However, the Disney photographers will also utilize YOUR camera which is what we did. We got as many family photos as we could and did not get a photopass.
Right now Canadians can save 25% on their tickets if they are purchased by February 28th and used by January 13, 2018. You do need to bring your passports on the first day when you get your e-tickets transferred to park tickets so arrive early to optimize your time!
If you have any other tips to give, please share!