Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Most Magical Place On Earth

Can you guess where I'm headed with this?

M I C K E Y M O U S E!!!

The kids and I need to get away. We need a distraction from life in general, where we can just focus on having FUN, and doing exciting things. We need something to look forward to.

Honestly, I was seriously considering going the Europe route. Barry and I always wanted to take the kids back when they were older. I'd love to do that now, but honestly, I don't think that the kids would enjoy it very much. And A being dragged around London and Paris and Germany at 4 years old? no thanks. That's a melt down waiting to happen. As much as I would love, love, LOVE to do that, I just can't right now. The kids wouldn't appreciate it as much as I would like them too, so that will be on hold for a few years. That way I can also ask my nomadic brother to come with us. I'll want to take the kids to all of our old haunts in Germany, see as much of England/Ireland/Scotland that we can, and also go to France and maybe even Prague. So you can see why that will be hard with all the kids, at this age especially.

So Disneyland it shall be. I can't go during May, because that's when the kids have their WASL testing. Our spring break isn't until the first week in April, but I'm thinking Disneyland will be too busy then. So my other options are between the 22nd and 26th of March, not including weekends (Early release week because of Conferences), and then the last week of March right before Spring Break, and then I would keep them out for two weeks. Anyone that's gone, when is a good time to go? I've always found Easter break to be easy too, which is when I went as a young kid and it was never too busy.

I am craving some time away. I just want to leave to be completely honest. I want a break. No, I don't want, I NEED a break. We just need to get away and have fun! Go to Disneyland, go to Disney's California Adventure, Knott's Berry Farm, do all that fun stuff.

So my task for you is me plan! Give me advice on the trip, EVERYTHING about Disneyland that you can. Money is not really an object, I'm not worried about that. I'm planning on splurging a bit anyway, as this will be a first plane trip vacation for the kids.

Any help you can give me would be much appreciated.


Connie said...

We've been to DL & WDW so many times and we never tire of it. With little ones the must-do things are:

Character Breakfast - time alone with each character and no lines of badly behaved children spoiling it for you. Skip the autograph books and bring a Disney t-shirt and colored markers and have the characters autograph the shirt - it's a wearable souvenir.

Lunch or Dinner at the Blue Bayoo Inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, it's the nicest restaurant at DL but it caters beautifully to kids and has a great kids' menu (you need Priority Seating - call a week ahead to arrange). The kids will love the "fireflies" and watching the people float by on the ride. Very dark inside with faux trees as well. Magical.

Disneyland Hotel If you're going during warm months, this is the place to stay. Fabulous Little Mermaid themed pool. Also on the monorail so better for little legs. An alternative is the Lodge which is inside California Adventures. Super nice and fab staff.

Cast Members I worked for Disney for 5 years and CMs can be your best asset. Especially the ones at the hotels. They usually LOVE Disney and can give you great insight on where to be for the fireworks, Fantasmic, etc. The park cast is usually overworked during peak season so not your best option.

Go Non-peak If You Can Yes, shorter hours, not as many big events, but the small-town feel is there with the horse-drawn vehicles and double decker buses running on Main Street. It's a give and take. Also check the schedule to be sure the rides you must-do are open and not being rehabbed.

Take Another Adult If you can swing it, bring along a parent, friend, teen, to help you out. Keeping track of the kids it made more difficult at DL because there's so much to draw the children's attention away from being safe. Paying for a local teen to go along and giving her/him time explore the park alone as part of the payment, will be worth every penny when he/she is with you and focused on your chidren's safety. It also lets you do the parent swap when you have little ones that are too small to ride a certain ride but an older child (or you) doesn't want to miss out.

If money really isn't an object :) Do the Disney Cruise instead. It was by far the best vacation we've ever taken - 7 days of amazing food, service, and fun.

Can you tell I love Disney? I had a full-time job and still found time to work for them for 5 years so we could go twice a year plus the cruise :)

So wish I was going with you! ENJOY every minute of the planning but plan to be spontaneous and prepare for meltdowns :)

Shalisa said...

If you want to skip driving, I recommend Disney World. They have water parks to choose from and a bus system that works wonderfully when you stay on property. They even have a nice family suite at the All Star Music that is a good option for your family size. If you stay at the Port Orleans Resort they have a handy trundle and people rave about the cabins at Fort Wilderness. For a big splurge, a monorail resort is handy. They also have a great meal plan at Disney World that makes life simpler. Pay up front and you get credits for counter service and sit down and snacks. Pick what kind of food fits your family better, quick counter service or all sit downs or a little of both. We find it makes our vacations less stressful. We also love Epcot's World Showcase because we love to travel, but aren't always able to get across the ocean - Disney World's version is more convenient and gives us just enough of a taste to satisfy us.

Can you tell I like Disney World? Well, I like Disneyland too. And since I went twice this last year I'll say - fly Alaska. I enjoy the nonstop flights. You'd think they should all be nonstop to Cali, but they aren't. Alaska has a great quick flight to Long Beach, and we love the airport there. It's small...I mean SMALL, so less hassle, no confusion. The rental car is across the street from the bag terminal, which is outside. It's great. I think JetBlue also offers a similar service.

We've come in in the middle of the day and late at night and either way works fine for the little ones. Just be sure that they know WHEN they get to go see Mickey if you're not going to see them right after landing. :)

I haven't stayed on property at Disneyland, but it's a great idea if you're not concerned about the cost. But if you like saving money, which I know you do - look into Costco's California City Pass which comes with a park hopper pass, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and Zoo tickets. The 3 day hopper pass can be upgraded at the parks if you want more days.

There are only a couple character meals at Disneyland, but do them. Do two. Your girls will LOVE Ariel's Grotto. A must do. The breakfast with Minnie is ok and the Woody's Roundup is ok, just go with whichever character or food you prefer. The entertainment at Woody's is good, but not better than the Diamond Horseshoe Revue.

If you've decided after all that Disneyworld could be the place...I have eaten at almost every restaurant in the parks and many of the resort restaurants and can give you very good family friendly memory making recommendations. There is also a very very good forum

Have a magical time :)

Thia said...

Sounds exciting! Will you tell the kids or keep it a surprise?

Leslie said...

If you're splurging, take the kids out of school for a week like in February (closer right?) -- they'll think that's SUPER COOL and it'll be almost empty, but still warm there.

May I suggest going to Orlando and doing Disney WORLD instead? We've been to both many times, but DisneyWorld always seemed must more magical .. it has the "real" castle there. Much more to do there with the seperate parks. Just an idea ... if you're flying anyway ... do DisneyWorld in Orlando and stay at a hotel inside Disney..

heidi said...

we live a couple of hours away from disneyland and always make sure to go during non-peak times. the best months we've found to go have been jan/feb and sept/oct. we went january of last year and the longest wait was 10 minutes for space mountain! its also usually quite warmish that time of year anyhow, so you don't have to worry about freezing your buns off.

goldeneyez said...

Make sure you tell them that it's your first time, or the kids first time. The CM's make a big deal out of it for the kids.

We rented a car and stayed off grounds farther away from Disneyland because our son has loud sounds and light issues. We stayed about a 15 minute drive away, but it was centralized to the beach, Knott's Berry farm and right next to a Target store.

Make sure you take things new to the kids to play with on the plane. I packed up a new backpack for my son and he had a blast finding all the new things in there. I have more ideas from the couple times we went, feel free to email me if you want all of it. I have quite a few lol