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Old 09-05-2012, 01:59 PM   #16
hollyshoffbrau
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*Stroller - We have a 2 1/2yr old and a 1 yr old so we will be doing a double stroller that way if dd wants to walk she can or ride in the stroller she can.

*Nap breaks- Since our kiddos are little we build this in. It gives us a break and they hopefully recharge too.

*Breakfast in room before park opens- Our kiddos are early birds so by eating most breakfasts in our hotel we can hit the parks full and happy.

*If breakfast at parks then a character meal- That way we get to get the autographs while eating and plenty of pics!

*Touring plan for kids- The first time we went with our dd was when she was 1. The touring plan helped sooooooo much.

*List of rides the kiddos can go on- Printed out a list of rides/attractions we could do w/our young kids so we knew what areas to hit. Tiki room was a HUGE hit so was Billie Hill and the hillbillies.

*Allow several days to enjoy the magic- We always felt rushed rushed rushed when we had only 1 or 2 days when we went as adults w/out kiddos and esp when we had kiddos in tow. Now we plan 3 or more days at the park so we don't feel like we have to be there from opening to closing and running from one ride to the next.. (the kiddos have aged me!)

*Stay w/in walking distance and bring good walking shoes! -For us this makes going back to the hotel soooo much easier in the middle of the day.

*Backpack check...sunscreen check...sunglasses..check- For everyone.

*Character meals is going to be our tradition- We are going to try to do this at least once per trip.
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Old 09-05-2012, 02:58 PM   #17
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Number one piece of advice - BE THERE WHEN THE PARK OPENS!!!!! (or earlier if you have early morning entry). You can do almost everything your little ones will want to do within the first 90 minutes of park opening. Then you can have Mickey ice cream, churros, see the movies on Mainstreet, ride the train around DL, etc. when the rest of the crowds start showing up.

Remember that Toontown opens an hour after the park opens, so hit that when it opens too.

Go back and have a mid-day nap and return in the late afternoon or early evening. BUT GET FAST PASSES BEFORE YOU LEAVE!!! That way, you will be able to ride a couple of things when you get back in the evening. (Note - most little kids love Autopia. That line is horrible. I wold suggest getting a Fast Pass for that before you leave the park and ride it when you return in the evening.)

One thing we found this last trip was that DL is deserted in the morning now since everyone goes to CarsLand at DCA. That totally worked for us!

Also, there is storytelling by the princesses in one of the shops in the Castle. It's free, and intimate. The princess telling the story takes a lot of time with each child. It really is a nice experience.

There is never a long line for the Pooh ride in Critter Country. We spend a lot of time there in the early evenings and just ride it over and over again until we've had our fill.

Last piece of advice, make sure to rest. DL will always be there and you can do more "next time". My DS is always sad when we have to leave DL. I always tell him, "We'll be back".

Have fun!

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Old 09-05-2012, 03:17 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Escape2Disney View Post
Mid-day breaks really add to the enjoyment! - By leaving the park at around 1 or 2 and returning around 5 or 6, we avoid the largest concentration of crowds in the parks. We take that time to hang out at the hotel, take naps, or whatever else we can do. When we return to the parks we are more rested and ready to stay late.

Brace Yourself! Meltdowns Do Happen! - It always catches me off guard. Sensory overload can get to adults and children alike. By acknowledging it's a possibility, we have learned to take a break, have a talk, or do whatever we need to so as not to have an emotional mess on our hands.
I could not agree with these more! DS was 6 when we took him for the first time and he crashed hard after lunch and napped 3 out of 4 days we were there! The second trip he was 6 1/2 and he napped 2 out of 4 days. On the days he didn't nap, we still had a quiet hour and a half at the hotel and it made for a much more pleasant rest of the day.

A few more things I could add:

Pack a small backpack to take into the park, remember things like a small tube of sunscreen, lipbalm and blister bandaids.

I'm not sure why, but I found the water in DL tasted really odd, even the filtered water. Oddly enough, the ice water you can get free from the restaurants and counter service didn't taste gross so I made sure to get a few glasses whenever we stopped for food and I used the glasses to refill our water bottles.

Since you are traveling with kids, expect things to not go to plan and be prepared to roll with it.

Oh, and enjoy!
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Old 09-05-2012, 05:59 PM   #19
rebeccadunham
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princess story telling

Quote:
Also, there is storytelling by the princesses in one of the shops in the Castle. It's free, and intimate. The princess telling the story takes a lot of time with each child. It really is a nice experience.
Can you tell me anything else about this? We're leaving Saturday for our first DL trip and I'm a little bummed that the princess area is closed. We're not planning on going to Ariel's, so this would be great for my 4 year old daughter. Any idea where I can find a time and exact place?
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Old 09-05-2012, 09:45 PM   #20
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My one piece of advice for first timers that I wish I knew would be to make ADR's when FH and I went for the first time a couple years ago we had no idea you had to do that and we ended up not being able to eat at a lot of good places because they were all booked up. Fast Passes would be my second piece of advice, they saved me a ton of annoyance and long lines!
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Old 09-07-2012, 05:40 PM   #21
rwu
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The thing my daughter kept talking about for days after her first visit to Disneyland? The little kid-sized toilets at the Baby Center!

Another tip along the same lines -- when my daughter was little, she hated the automatic flush toilets in the regular bathrooms. I'd either cover the sensor with my hand, or for longer -- umm -- sessions, I'd tuck toilet paper in the seat cover dispenser so it dangled down and covered the sensor until she was done.
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Old 09-07-2012, 07:39 PM   #22
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The number one thing I wish I knew is that what works for everyone else may not work for you.

It's okay to make a detailed plan of attack and then toss it out the window and just play it as you go.

It's fine to miss rope drop and stay till closing, the parks at night are fantastic!

And most importantly to relax. You are at the happiest place on earth so let the small things go and have a good time.
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Old 09-07-2012, 08:10 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by MaloCS View Post
...Maybe there's a week or two in the year where the out of state tourist can visit Disneyland without the onslaught of locals.
Crowds are crowds, no matter where they come from. It's just a fact that DL has many APs, most of whom are local. Just because that is different from the numbers at WDW doesn't make it bad or wrong. If it bothers you that much, next time check the DLR AP blockout calendar ahead of time to see when there will be fewer APs in the parks and plan your trip accordingly.
Look on the bright side, with so many local APs, the parks aren't usually crowded all day long. Local APs tend to drop by for a few hours, usually in the evening, ride a few rides or eat at a restaurant, then go back home. Vacation guests go in for MM/EE or rope drop and stay until closing. You thought the parks were very crowded, but the APs were dealing with the same crowds as you. As long as everyone plans accordingly, like learning about FPs (as you mentioned), and knows when to be flexible, there's no reason why APs and nonAPs can't enjoy their time at DLR.
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Old 09-08-2012, 09:35 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theluckyrabbit

Crowds are crowds, no matter where they come from. It's just a fact that DL has many APs, most of whom are local. Just because that is different from the numbers at WDW doesn't make it bad or wrong. If it bothers you that much, next time check the DLR AP blockout calendar ahead of time to see when there will be fewer APs in the parks and plan your trip accordingly.
Look on the bright side, with so many local APs, the parks aren't usually crowded all day long. Local APs tend to drop by for a few hours, usually in the evening, ride a few rides or eat at a restaurant, then go back home. Vacation guests go in for MM/EE or rope drop and stay until closing. You thought the parks were very crowded, but the APs were dealing with the same crowds as you. As long as everyone plans accordingly, like learning about FPs (as you mentioned), and knows when to be flexible, there's no reason why APs and nonAPs can't enjoy their time at DLR.
Don't be so sensitive. The fact is that Disneyland has become a predominantly 'locals only' park. I've been told that Southern Californians go to Disneyland like Coloradans go to the mall.

If you read my earlier post I clearly stated that I would rather ride a slide made out of razor blades then put my family through those obscene crowds that we experienced back in February, 2012. I saved my money for months and planned our vacation in what I thought was the off season. I as wrong. If I ever go back I will do my best to avoid the locals and more specifically, the Annual Pass holders. After all, I'm going to Disneyland to see Mickey Mouse, not Bob from Pasadena.
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Old 09-08-2012, 09:51 AM   #25
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Thanks to all for the great advice! Not a first timer, but haven't been in many years and first time with a kid. Looking forward to it!
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Old 09-08-2012, 10:48 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by MaloCS View Post
Don't be so sensitive. The fact is that Disneyland has become a predominantly 'locals only' park. I've been told that Southern Californians go to Disneyland like Coloradans go to the mall.

If you read my earlier post I clearly stated that I would rather ride a slide made out of razor blades then put my family through those obscene crowds that we experienced back in February, 2012. I saved my money for months and planned our vacation in what I thought was the off season. I as wrong. If I ever go back I will do my best to avoid the locals and more specifically, the Annual Pass holders. After all, I'm going to Disneyland to see Mickey Mouse, not Bob from Pasadena.
Sorry you thought I was being sensitive. I was simply trying to point out that 1) if you did your research (which I'm sure you did, since you're on this board to begin with), you know that there is no more real "off season" at DLR (especially with the opening of Cars Land). There may be some slower days or maybe a week or two, but those also come with ride refurbs or other construction and reduced show schedules. And, 2) Bob from Pasadena also came to see Mickey Mouse, not you. And he has to wait in the same lines and navigate the same crowds. One thing you should thank Bob for is that he can leave because of the long lines (and many APs do just this because they know they can visit another time) so that the non-APs can have better access to rides and shows. Disneyland Resort is for everyone, not just locals and not just out-of-towners. We're all there for the same magic!

Next trip, make sure to check the AP blockout calendar first, if it really is important to you.

Last edited by theluckyrabbit; 09-08-2012 at 10:55 AM.
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Old 09-08-2012, 11:20 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by MaloCS View Post
Don't be so sensitive. The fact is that Disneyland has become a predominantly 'locals only' park. I've been told that Southern Californians go to Disneyland like Coloradans go to the mall.

If you read my earlier post I clearly stated that I would rather ride a slide made out of razor blades then put my family through those obscene crowds that we experienced back in February, 2012. I saved my money for months and planned our vacation in what I thought was the off season. I as wrong. If I ever go back I will do my best to avoid the locals and more specifically, the Annual Pass holders. After all, I'm going to Disneyland to see Mickey Mouse, not Bob from Pasadena.
Well, I own a DL AP, and I live in NJ. (no NJ jokes please! ) I have 2 trips within a year, so it was good deal.

I have been to DL 4 times in the last few years, and never experienced crowds like you did on President's Day week (which would be a bad week, along with Easter week, and week between Christmas and NYE). I have no doubt it was awful. It may be because the lines at WDW are SO much worse, that DL seems like a cakewalk most of the time to me. But trying to go when the DL APs are blocked is a good idea, but that is mostly in the summer, when the tourists are there. Trying to go when school is in session is a good idea of course.

As for the sweet charm of DL, what can I say? I love it there. One thing is to slow down and enjoy the character interactions. At WDW, the guests quickly line up, and whip out the dreaded (time consuming, esp when 3 kids each have their own book)autograph books. At DL, god bless the AP holders, they are not as interested in this..... the characters OFTEN walk around with NO handlers (I always worry about them!). They do funny little games, dance around, keep moving. Sometimes they stop and play games with the guests too. It is OH SO COOL. I love it, not like WDW with the lines for each one.
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:53 PM   #28
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*be prepared for a few not so magical moments. My usually picture perfect girl decided to have a spoiled brat tantrum in the middle of DL. I got everything from thumbs up to nasty glares as she got a timeout also in the middle of the park.
Oh, thank you for pointing this out! My DD is usually pretty darn well behaved. She has her moments like any child, but, overall, especially when out in public, she has her "game face" on and is a virtual angel. She's 8 years old, so we're well beyond toddler tantrums.

In the middle of Innoventions (that's the name of that building, right?), in the House of the Future, a full-scale meltdown occurred--we're talking about 52lbs of kid, on the flopping on the floor like a fish outta water, screaming at the top of her lungs. I had multiple CMs coming up to me asking what was wrong, parents looking aghast at me, and a few understanding nods/smiles. Indeed, in the middle of Tomorrowland, we had a time out. It's the happiest place on earth. Sooooooo didn't expect hard times! But, with long days, sleeping in an unfamiliar place, schedules off, meal times earlier/later/different than normal... if your child is prone to tantruming when things don't go their way, beware that the happiest place on earth isn't always happy!

(And for those who can't imagine a child tantruming in the middle of DL, or, worse, glare if they see it happen, please stop to remember children don't always have "visual" challenges--you can't see the autism, you can't see the asperger's, you can't see the fact that my DD was a meth baby [she's adopted] and is dealing with the effects of it still. I'd hope none of our Disfamily would glare at a child having a rough time, but it's always worth the reminder!)

Okay, off my soapbox now.

For the OP, the things I wish I knew for my first trip:

No CM will blink at you bringing in plastic soda bottles (no glass bottles allowed). A 20oz soda is $3.25 at DL, or $1.59 at 7-11. Even cheaper if you have Von's deliver! Bring your own soda and water into the parks!

You may need to "learn to like" a Dole whip. My first time, I thought, "Meh." My second time, I though, "Mmmmm." My third time, I let DD have 2 bites, and inhaled the rest myself! (She doesn't care much for them. Yay for me!)

You can plan all you want, but you may not want those plans once you are in the park.

Bring 2 pairs of shoes, at least. You will appreciate being able to change them each day.

Some of the "use the ART" motels are a very reasonable walking distance. We stay at the Super 8, which is in the "ART suggested" area. It took us 12 minutes (not counting our 7-11 stops) to get to the park. Hey, that $4 ART pass could be a Dole Whip instead!

Don't miss Aladdin! Yes, the line-up can be a pain in the butt, but it is so worth it.

Use the lockers. Don't fight it. Just do it. It's so freeing not having a backpack to carry around. We did the carry-the-pack our first and second day, and on day 3, we did the locker, and never looked back!

As above, if you're child is sensitive to changes in routine, make sure to have a plan in place. 6 months out from our trip, I feel like I failed DD, because I didn't think to account for her needs--her needs to know when/where we're eating, when/where we're sleeping, and clear expectations. DL was a "free for all" for us at the beginning, and I wanted to be a kid as much as she did, which meant schedules were out the window. Not a good thing for a schedule-sensitive child!
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Old 09-08-2012, 06:18 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by MaloCS View Post
Don't be so sensitive. The fact is that Disneyland has become a predominantly 'locals only' park. I've been told that Southern Californians go to Disneyland like Coloradans go to the mall.

If you read my earlier post I clearly stated that I would rather ride a slide made out of razor blades then put my family through those obscene crowds that we experienced back in February, 2012. I saved my money for months and planned our vacation in what I thought was the off season. I as wrong. If I ever go back I will do my best to avoid the locals and more specifically, the Annual Pass holders. After all, I'm going to Disneyland to see Mickey Mouse, not Bob from Pasadena.
I can understand how you feel. I don't live in Cali but I'm an AP holder. Plus, I'm a teacher so my days off coincide with just about everyone else's. So, it is hard to plan. I've had to just endure bad crowds because it was the only time to go. I like to check the Anaheim Convention center schedule as well, since that is right by the park.

Having said that, I really think theluckyrabbit was making a suggestion to check the AP blackout calendar. It is a good tool to use to avoid those days when SC passholders are allowed in the park. There was no need to post "Dont be so sensitive". It was uncalled for. She was only trying to help.
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Old 09-08-2012, 09:12 PM   #30
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There are lots of great threads about 'Things you wish you knew' and 'Secrets of...' that are wonderful and offer *tons* of great advice (I've got the notes to prove it!) but we're going for the first time in December and I'm wanting to create the best, most magical experience possible, so am looking for tips specific to that.

If you could re-create your first trip, how would you do it? What did you do on your first trip that was awesome (create a tradition, etc...), what did you do that was not so awesome, what do you wish you did looking back?

DS is 5 and DD is 2 so everything we do will pretty much revolve around them
If you don't mind me saying so, that sentence there is the sentiment that is the undoing of many. Honestly, I am THANKFUL for what I didn't know before our first trip, which was a one day visit pre-cruise several years ago. We showed up at the gate (NOT at rope-drop I might add), bought non-hopper tickets and equipped with anticipation instead of expectation, wandered in and had what we all remember as The.Best.Day.Ever. Much better than the subsequent "commando" raid we made on WDW and last year's "I need to make this GREAT for everyone" extended family trip back to DL.

Please, please give yourself a break - I'll bet you already have much more information that you can possibly implement. Every new "must do" or "don't miss" is just another opportunity for disappointment if things don't go as planned.

DL is WONDERFUL; you can't help but have a fantastic time if you stay flexible, stay in the moment and don't allow yourself to obsess about how it "should" be going. The memories will make themselves!!

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