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Disneyland Here We Come

(originally posted on my personal blog 4-13-2007)

Key points if you are planning a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth.

* Buy The Book (and then study it): The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland

* You can never have enough food or changes of clothes or pairs of shoes on a trip to Disneyland. Luckily, there is a Target nearby.

* Los Angeles makes San Jose, with a population of nearly 1 million, seem like a quaint country village. In L.A., there are about 90 lanes of traffic and everyone drives over 80 miles per hour at all times (unless there’s a traffic jam, which is likely). Of course, Disneyland is not actually in Los Angeles, as you know. It’s south of L.A., in a much quieter, generic suburban town complete with all the chain restaurants a person can want. But you may have to drive through Los Angeles on your way.

* You really do need to get up at 6 AM and get to the park by the time it opens (or sooner, especially if you are renting a stroller or wheelchair). I know it’s your vacation, but you can sleep when you’re dead (or in the afternoon, during your break).

* Bring your own stroller. The Book seemed to imply you should rent a stroller and that would be better than bringing your own. It’s not. Bring yours! You’ll avoid standing in line a lot to rent the Disneyland stroller and you’ll have a way to transport your exhausted 4-year-old to the parking garage. Everything is very far apart in Disneyland.

* Speaking of which, your hotel may purport to be “across from Disneyland,” but look at a map. What isn’t across from Disneyland in Anaheim? Very little. Being across from Disneyland doesn’t mean it’s not a half-hour walk to the park.

* Don’t wing it. Any plan is better than no plan when approaching the Happiest Place on Earth. ANY plan! Your plan shouldn’t have times attached to it - just an order of operations.

* Everything in Disneyland is scary. Even rides that aren’t supposed to be scary are scary. For kids.

* If you lose one of your very pricey park-hopper tickets, don’t be afraid to ask Guest Relations to help you get a new one. Not that we’d know this from experience.

I have many more tips and anecdotes, but I will spare you. Possibly the best part of our trip was the last day. We didn’t have to get up early as we didn’t have any plans, and in fact slept until 9 AM. It was Easter Sunday and Dave had already driven his parents to LAX (at 4:30 AM - then he went back to sleep at the hotel with us). The maid woke us up by pounding on our door and we decided to get packed up and head to the Disneyland Hotel to see if we could get into a character breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen. I had no hope that we could get in, but our backup plan was the Rainforest Cafe, which is pretty awesome itself, and was taking walk-ins.

Long story short, we walked up to the check-in desk at Goofy’s Kitchen and apologetically muttered, “Um, we don’t have reservations.” We got a table within a half hour! And were visited by a number of characters. The food was fine, but the best part of the buffet was a kid-specific area, which was lower than the rest of the buffet, with kid-friendly foods, including peanut-butter pizza (which K loved and which J rejected loudly). After breakfast, we shopped for souvenirs, always my favorite part, and then headed home in the early afternoon.