Sunday, February 22, 2009

Disneyland Dos and Don'ts

So I've been promising details on our Disneyland Trip O' Fun for the last couple of weeks, and since I am trying to turn over a new blogging leaf, I now present to you: 'The Dos and Don'ts of Disneyland" by the Despains.

1. DO invest in, or borrow, a portable DVD player if you decide to make the 10 hour drive. So, so, so worth it. It made this car trip a total breeze compared to the Jackson Hole Debacle of '07 (Remind me to tell you all about THAT trip sometime.)

2. DON'T go on Peter Pan as your very first ride with young children. And when you go on rides that are in the dark, DO make sure that your kids take off their sunglasses--especially if they are afraid of the dark. KidA was so freaked out by the Peter Pan ride, he refused to go an anything else for the next hour--even Dumbo.

3. DO consider the fact that Disney loves to scare kids. Almost every ride in the park has a "scary" part to it--usually involving a moment when the ride goes completely pitch black. If your kids are very afraid of the dark, DO buy them something that glows in the dark, or lights up, so they will still have fun. We bought the boys mini lightsaber keychains that also provided entertainment for all involved while we waited in line.

4. DO go early to the park, and if you have any opportunity to get Magic Morning or Morning Madness passes (these allow you into parts of Disneyland or Toon Town an hour early), DO get them. You'll go on more rides in the first two hours than the whole rest of day. We did the kids' favorite rides 4 to 5 times in a row each morning with absolutely no wait. (Note: we also went at the end of January, so this perfect off-season timing also contributed to how short the lines were.)

5. If you have a gluten allergy, DO visit City Hall in Mainstreet USA (it's right in the first part of the park) and get a list of all the gluten-free foods you can eat in the park. I was actually surprised by how easy it was to stick to my allergy-dictated diet while we were there. We ate breakfast each morning in our hotel, brought our owns snacks (and, yes, you can bring your own snacks into the park, contrary to any notice that says you can't--you just can't pack in a cooler), and ate lunch and dinner at places in the park that had gluten free options for me.

6. DON'T expect the quality of your food to be the same as the price. Before we went to Disneyland, we kept hearing about how bad the food was there. It really isn't all that bad (or all that great), as long as you don't expect the price to reflect the quality. If you expect an $8.00 burger to only taste like a $2.00 burger, you won't be all that disappointed.

7. If you are walking through Downtown Disney, searching for a certain restaurant, when you ask multiple people for directions, DON'T forget to ask HOW FAR away the restaurant is. We ended up walking around in circles for an hour (without strollers for the kids), and by the time we found the restaurant, it wasn't even open. We ended up doubling back and eating at The Storyteller's Cafe instead. By the time we got there, the backs of my knees had been rubbed raw by the hem of my shorts.

8. If you have food allergies and don't mind dropping $30.00 for an adult plate of food, visit The Sotryteller's Cafe at the Grand Disneyland Hotel. I told the server about my allergies and she brought the chef right out to my table. We discussed my needs, and he came up with a menu for me. It was a bit pricey, but after a long, long walk, and a couple of days of eating burgers and gluten-free cereal bars, it was worth the money to eat a well-cooked steak and gluten-free pasta with pomodoro sauce.

9. DON'T take young children to the Honey I Shrunk the Audience show. Trust me, just don't do it. We only lasted 5 minutes before we ran out of there with two screaming children.

10. DO go to the Aladdin show in California Adventure. We hit this one afternoon just when it was getting hot outside. It was so nice to SIT for an hour in AIR CONDITIONING, and watch a fun show that the kids totally loved.

11. DO take your young kids (especially boys) on the Buzz Lightyear ride, and the Gadget Coaster. KidA rode Buzz Lightyear at least 16 times over the three days, and we rode the Gadget Coaster at least 8 times. Another favorite ride was the Toy Story one in California Adventure. We didn't discover this one until the end of our last day, and we all wished that we could have gone on it over and over again.

12. When driving home from California to Utah, and you're passing through Saint George and your entire family is asleep and you don't want to wake them by stopping for gas, so you decide to push on through to Cedar City, (because, hey, like there won't be another gas station between those two points that you can stop at just in case)--DON'T do it. STOP FOR GAS IN SAINT GEORGE. You will be shocked by the lack of gas stations between there and Cedar City. (Side note: I was the one who was guilty of this bad decision, not hubby who would have been much more sensible.)

13. DO promise your kids that you will go back to Disneyland when you sell your next book. It's totally worth it!


Brick said...

You forgot to add-- DO use the Disneyland strollers if you have kids and all you have are umbrella strollers. They are well worth the rental costs so you are not toting around your water, snacks, and jackets on your back,or having your strollers tip over every time a child gets up.

In fact it's probably worth renting one for all your junk even if you don't have kids :).

Rachie said...

Sounds fun! I'd kill for some nice California weather right about now.

As for the DVD player, I would consider it a necessity for me on a 10-hour car trip. Oy! Whenever I fly (even if it's only a 4-hour trip) I always bring two handheld games, books and/or magazines, my iPod (loaded with more music than I could listen to in a week and about two weeks' worth of uploaded DVDs), snacks, and so on and so forth. Your boys are probably more patient travelers than I am. : /

Alyosha said...

Your trips came just in time! I'm going tomorrow, in an effort to walk the baby out of me. (Only 11 days left!)

And I wish I'd read your tip about the dark rides before I went in December. My two-year-old kept talking about the scary pirates for weeks.

Bree Biesinger Despain said...

Wow, 11 days?! I'll watch the news tomorrow night to find out if some lady gave birth on the It's a Small World ride. That would make for an interesting birth story.

Alyosha said...

I know, right? My last one was 11 days early too, and we barely made it to the hospital in time with him, so it's entirely possible. Luckily, my husband's work is only 8 minutes away (he's not coming with us), and the hospital is only 20 minutes away, so hopefully the poor people at Disneyland won't have to put up with an unexpected delivery.

Bree Biesinger Despain said...

Maybe they'd give your baby some type of honorary Disney princess for life award. They could make her their new mascot like that library that found that kitten in its book return box. How cool would it be to put Disneyland every form that ask for location of birth?

Michelle said...

I actually think Peter Pan is one of the less scary rides. It is Mr. Toad's (where you actually get a chance to arrive in HELL!) and Snow White (where a nice old lady turns into a scary witch and you fall down a cliff...If I remember correctly)that are the most terrifying. I never got the point of scaring kids away from a place that is dependent on children to want to go there to be profitable. Well, maybe what they lack in non-frightening rides they make up for it in delicious food!

Bree Biesinger Despain said...

Ah, yes, we learned our lesson with the Peter Pan ride, and avoided Snow White and Mr. Toad altogether. The fact that the one ride is called Snow White's SCARY Adventures was the tip off that we shouldn't even attempt it.