Disney parks might bill themselves as the happiest places on Earth, but I wouldn’t say bringing the entire family to one of these destinations is exactly easy.
The lines! The prices! The pressure to make sure everyone in your party is smiling at every moment! These issues are enough to drive an honest mom or dad to drink. Maybe that’s why they don’t sell booze in the main parks.
In any event, we Villanos just returned from three days at Disneyland. All of us had fun—especially my toddler, who has been talking about the trip non-stop since we returned. Over the course of the weekend, we learned some valuable tips that will make our next visit (currently slated for November) even better. Here are the five that top our list.
Do your homework
Before your trip, check out the Disney Parks blog for up-to-the-minute information about what’s happening in the parks during your visit, and what to expect down the road (the new Cars Land exhibit at Disney California Adventure, for instance, opens June 15). Once you’ve walked through the turnstiles, check out the MouseWait app, which offers real-time updates on wait-times for certain rides. Die-hard Disney fans swear by it (and we found it to be pretty accurate most of the time).
Make dinner reservations
Especially during prime times, restaurants in and around the parks can get packed. To avoid being eating chicken nuggets at every meal, it pays to make reservations (as far in advance as possible) before you go. The easiest option is to work through Disney Dining at 714.781.DINE. Agents on the other end of this line book rezzies for most restaurants in the parks and Downtown Disney.
A churro here, some sodas there, and before you know it, you’ve dropped $40 or $50 on snacks inside the parks. Bringing treats is cheaper and can save you serious time on line. We packed in a bunch of stuff and Disney Public Relations Manager Paul Garcia confirmed that the parks are “not restrictive” when it comes to goodies from the outside world. Garcia noted that parks even offer lockers where families can stash coolers so they don’t have to lug them around.
Be your own EMT
Sure, Disney parks have their own fire, police and emergency services crews, but for less-serious injuries (say, when your three-year-old skins a knee chasing ducks around a pavilion, then skins the other knee chasing bubbles from the $16.95 bubble gun that Daddy bought), the best first line of defense is you. Bring a small packet with band-aids, gauze pads and some Neosporin. Odds are even money you’ll tap into this makeshift first-aid kit at least once.
I hate to sound like a shill for the Mouse, but it really does pay to stay at one of the Disney resorts. In addition to these perks, it’s just more convenient to be within (short) walking distance to all of the action. Staying close also eliminates the need to rent a car. Both Disneyland and Disneyworld offer busses that pick up passengers at major local airports and drop them at all of the on-site resorts. In California, we used a car service (AmericanEagle Transportation, 714/992-1240); they brought us car seats at no additional charge and were early for both pick-ups.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to remind y’all to keep tabs on your valuable stuff. Powerwoman, caught up in the happiness, left her cell phone in the cup holder of our parked stroller and emerged from Peter Pan to find it missing. Even at Disney, it seems, dregs will be dregs. I only hope a child vomited on the thief later that day.