We just got back from a week away with our kids at Disneyland. It was such a healing, helpful, fun experience for our family! It’s been a hard few years, so we were excited to take some time together to just have FUN! So many of you had questions while we were there, so I wanted to take some time and gather the info all in one place as a reference for when you decide it’s a good time to take your family!
It might be “The Happiest Place on Earth,” but that doesn’t mean it comes without some financial-planning, a dash of organization, and just a sprinkle of stress! I’ve learned that the more planning you put into it, the more enjoyable the experience will be.
We are still in the middle of a pandemic, and I respect everyone’s individualized approach to how they are choosing to live. With the precautions we have taken, and the antibodies we have acquired, we felt that it was a reasonable time to take this vacation with our children. Our mental and emotional health were needing some recharging. If this doesn’t seem like a good time to visit a Disney park, save these tips for the future!
These are some of the incredible tips and resources that I’ve picked up over the years that will ensure you have a smooth, memorable vacation.
BEFORE YOU GO:
- Save up
- For a 3 day trip, budget about $500 – $750 per person. This number includes hotel, tickets, food, and travel.
- Purchase tickets and reserve hotel
- The simplest and most cost-effective way to do this is booking with Get Away Today. You can customize your experience, compare prices, and purchase your tickets and hotel stay all in one place. You will also have the opportunity to add on the Genie+ pass to each ticket, which I will talk about more below! I’ve had a few friends that couldn’t add on the Genie+ pass until they arrive at the park, so don’t panic if the option isn’t available to you right away.
- You also have the option to add insurance to your reservations, so you will get refunded if you get sick, have delayed travel, etc. I highly recommend getting insurance in the current state of the world!
- Download the Disneyland app
- You can view maps, wait times for rides, order food ahead at select dining locations, make dining reservations, find out where characters will be, and use the free planning tool. I cannot emphasize enough how helpful this tool is!
- Register for Disability Access Service (if applicable)
- I’ve never personally used this accommodation, but several of my friends said it was especially helpful for kids with Autism, ADHD, etc- I’ve included all of the info HERE.
WHAT TO BRING IN THE PARK:
- Reliable backpack for supplies
- My Freshly Picked City Pack is my go-to. Lightweight and roomy is what you want to aim for.
- Water bottles
- All skin is different, and requires specific spfs/ingredients. My family loves the Tubby Todd stick sunblock. It’s a lot less messy and quicker for application time.
- Hand Sanitizer
- I used Tubby Todd’s spray sanitizer everytime we got off a ride. It’s faster and takes up less space than most gel sanitizers.
INCREASED SAFETY MEASURES:
- Dress everyone in the same color
- This makes counting/spotting your kids a lot easier when you’re on the move. Neon colors are awesome, especially for younger kiddos. We love the Walmart $4 boys solid tees! Mabel wears them too.
- For this trip we got everyone in the family these matching Mickey Tees, as well as matching Amazon Essentials sweatshirts for chillier days.
- GPS watches
- We had so much peace of mind knowing our four children had their Gabb Wireless watches on during our trip. I could access their location from my phone in case they wandered off–which amazingly didn’t happen this time! You can use my code ASHLEYROSE for a discount!
- Rehearse your phone number with your kids
- Go over what to do if you get lost
- Tell them to find the nearest Disneyland employee (they are everywhere!)
- Tell them to look for a family and ask them for help
- Have a waiting destination for when you get off of a ride
- Take a picture of each kid each morning (just learned this awesome tip!)
- This way you can show an employee a picture of them in their current outfit. They will announce your child’s description everywhere.
WAYS TO SAVE $$:
- Don’t do park hopper tickets
- We like to go to Disneyland on days 1 & 3, and California Adventure on day 2.
- If you have a rewards credit card, save up skymiles!
- Prepay for tickets and hotel through Get Away Today
- Instead of renting a car and paying to park, take an Uber
- Going from the airport to the hotel cost us $60 both ways. That was for a car large enough for 6 people.
- Food hacks
- Split meals as a family. The portions are typically pretty large, and no one wants to be overly full running around a theme park all day!
- Eat breakfast at the hotel
- Bring small snacks in backpack
- Do a grocery delivery order to the hotel. We get breakfast foods and snacks. This is especially helpful if you don’t have a car.
GOT A BABY? DISNEY MAKES IT EASY:
- Disneyland and California Adventure both have baby centers with changing tables, nursing rooms, formula available, toddler sized toilets, and so much more! I’ve included all of the info HERE.
- They also offer the Rider Switch Service, so parents can take turns on rides if they have an ineligible rider. Click HERE to learn how to use this accommodation.
CURRENT HEALTH MEASURES (as of 1/19/22):
- Masks are required indoors and on rides
- No proof of vaccination or negative test required to enter the parks
- You can read all of the details HERE
THE GENIE+ PASS:
- You can read all about the Genie+ Pass HERE
- Basically it allows you to make a reservation at an attraction
- You avoid the long line and go straight to the lightning lane
- You can use it once per specific ride, per day
- Once you have scanned into the ride you are about to go on, you are able to book the next reservation
- Like previously stated, this feature is an add-on and costs $20 per person, per day
- A few attractions, namely the Star Wars Rise of the Resistance, Cars, and Spiderman, require an additional fee to make a reservation
- Star Wars costs an additional $20 per person, whereas the other two will range between $7-$20, depending on the crowd
- Decide if the extra cost is worth it for your family! We’ve waited in lines in the past, but avoiding a 2.5 hr line, and only waiting 10 minutes to get on Star Wars was definitely worth it for us this year.
ADDITIONAL PRO TIPS:
- Enjoy every minute, but don’t be afraid to take breaks!
- Whether finding a nice bench, cooling off on Pirates of the Caribbean, or even heading back to the hotel, listen to your body and take all of the breaks you need.
- The 3-day recommendation
- Anything less doesn’t feel like enough, anything more and you will be WORN OUT!
- Bring your army of self-care supplies because your feet will hurt! Ha
- Excedrin, Deep Blue, and my go-to heating pad
What are your best Disney Park tips??