If you follow us on Instagram, then you know we just got back from one of our favorite Disneyland Vacations. Yup, it’s summer break so we’re going on as many family vacations as humanly possible. But don’t we live in LA? I got a lot of questions asking this when I mentioned that we had decided to spend two days down in Anaheim. We do, but we live about 50 miles from Disneyland. And in LA traffic, it can be a two hour drive. So, when we had the chance to stay walking distance to the park…..we jumped at it. After two full (super hot) days at Disneyland……I wanted to share a couple of our favorite tips and tricks for Disney travel. Whether you are visiting as a family staycation because you’re a local like us or visiting from out of town……these tips will help a ton!
This was our first time staying at a hotel near Disneyland, and now I can’t IMAGINE doing it any other way. We stayed for one night at the Hilton Anaheim…..and it was an amazing experience. Walking distance to Disneyland, and it was PERFECT for family vacations. Lydia absolutely loved the hotel. The rooms are stunning, and their pool area? Perfect for morning or afternoon breaks from Disneyland. They have one of the coolest kiddie pools I’ve ever seen!
Where to Eat:
We ate both at the Park and at the Hilton Anaheim during our stay. The hotel has a Starbucks (thank goodness), so we grabbed breakfast and lattes before heading over on Day 2. It was PERFECT, we walked into the park caffinated and ready to enjoy the day. When in the park, we ate at a few favorite spots.
We tried Ariel’s Grotto for the first time in California Adventure (I’ll talk more about that below).
We ate at the Red Rose Taverne in Fantasyland that opened when Beauty and the Beast released, it was a ton of fun and looks JUST like the tavern that Gaston frequents (and the food was good).
Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante in Frontierland is one of our usual favorites. It’s inexpensive, the food is good, and they have GREAT kids meals. Plus, it doesn’t tend to get as crowded.
Where to Visit:
This was our first trip (even though we are annual passholders and go a LOT) where we spent a significant amount of time in California Adventure. I have to say, we were missing out! For toddlers or early preschoolers, there are a TON of fun places to see in both parks.
California Adventure Favorites: All of Carsland (Luigi’s Rollickin Roadsters is really fun, so is Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree), Flik’s Flyers in “A Bug’s Land”, and the Animation Academy.
Disneyland Favorites: It’s a Small World, Dumbo, Mad Tea Party, Peter Pan’s Flight, the Sleeping Beauty Castle
Must See Shows and Parades:
Pixar Parade: the Pixar Parade in California Adventure is ADORABLE, and perfect for Cars 3 fans (plus it squirts water on the crowd….a total bonus on a hot day)!
Mickey’s Soundsational Parade: The perfect parade to see all the Disney classic characters. This parade is filled with princesses and all the cartoon characters we grew up watching. Be sure to snag a spot on Main Street about 45 minutes early!
Mickey and the Magical Map: This show is Disneyland with a toddler GOLD. It’s shaded, about 30 minutes long, and the perfect way to get busy kiddos to sit and rest. They’ll see tons of their favorite characters, and you’ll get a break.
Main Street Electrical Parade (until August 20th): This classic is a MUST see, I saw it as a kid and loved taking Lydia back to see the sparkling lights! I swear, it hasn’t changed a bit.
How to Beat the Lines:
Character Dining: The lines that drive me personally the most crazy? The LONG LONG LONG lines to meet the characters. An hour line for a two minute meet and greet? But how can you skip it? Lydia LOVES meeting characters, so we found the perfect solution. Character dining. On Lydia’s birthday, we had breakfast at the Plaza Inn on Main Street. We got to sit, relax and meet Mickey plus a ton of his friends. This last trip, we ate lunch at Ariel’s Grotto. Lydia met FIVE princesses. The benefits of character dining? They come to your table. Yup, no wait. The meals are a little pricey (it was about $120 for all three of us to eat at Ariel’s Grotto) but worth every penny.
Get there Early: The later the day, the longer the lines. Honestly? Get there as close to opening as possible. And head straight to your top priority ride or character.
Use the App: The Disneyland official app shows waits on rides and where characters are currently located.
How to Beat the Heat:
Animation Academy: The animation academy in California Adventure is air conditioned, and relaxing. Perfect for breaks on hot days!
Princess Dot Puddle Park: This splash pad in California Adventure is the BEST thing for young kids (or boiling hot parents). Be sure to pack a change of clothes and sandals!
Do you have any Disney Vacations planned? Be sure to check out our favorite spots in the park AND the Hilton Anaheim for a great trip to the Happiest Place on Earth!