We went to Disneyland for 10-days with my Dad’s side of the family. It was so awesome, and I’m excited to share our dream Disneyland trip with you.
But we didn’t just have a couple of family members with us, we had a whole crew – 15 people to be exact!
Yep, that’s right. Four cousins, two Aunts, two Uncles, a boyfriend, and Nan and Pop (Grand Parents) and us. As you could probably tell, we didn’t get everything done. So Savannah and I have an excuse to go back!
I am going to start off my Disneyland tips for the main Disneyland Park.
Our first day was magical. Well it is the Happiest Place on Earth! I was so excited. Who wouldn’t be though?
What I recommend to do first is to go on the Disneyland Railroad (an authentic steam-powered train) that takes 18-minutes to go around the entire park, stopping at different lands along the way.
So instead of walking everywhere, you can just take the train!
It wasn’t just a boring old train ride. On the train you go through tunnels that have displays in them. One was even the Grand Canyon! Another one was dinosaurs.
We did a full loop around the park and then stopped off at New Orleans Square. We wanted to do a full loop first, so we could see all the lands and get excited about what we’d experience at Disneyland.
When you first walk into the park, make sure to look out for the Fire Dept. When you find it, look up to the second level. In the window there is a light – that was Walt Disney’s apartment.
While the park was being built, he wanted t0 stay and watch over the construction. When the park opened he watched his guests pour into the park.
The light is always left on to keep his spirit within the park.
Now to the fun stuff!
Park Hopper Ticket
In case you’re wondering, “10 days! That’s crazy!” Well Australians and Kiwis can get a 10-day Disneyland Resort Park Hopper Ticket.
Honestly, it’s great. If you have a big group like us and we still didn’t get everything done in both parks, you might need it.
You can go in of a morning one day, come back at night to watch the fireworks or Paint the Night Parade, and you can have rest days. Then you won’t be rushing and exhausted the whole trip.
So if you Aussies and kiwis are coming over to visit Disneyland, get the 10-day pass!
We recommend park hopper tickets so you can hop between Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park:
On our first day, we were getting ready to go into the park, but the lady at the ticket booth wouldn’t let us in because we didn’t have printed tickets, we had them on mom’s phone.
So mom had to hurry all the way to the Disneyland® Hotel and print the tickets out. 20 minutes later she was back and we went in the park.
So don’t risk not having your tickets printed is all I’m saying.
Now we talk about the awesome Disney FASTPASS. Now I love the FASTPASS in Disney because guess what, THEY ARE FREEEE!
Yes, you heard me right. Free. Here is how it works:
So say you want a FASTPASS for The IncrediCoaster in Disney California Adventure® Park, you go to the ride, and there will be an area with machines that give you the FASTPASS.
All you have to do is put your park ticket in the machine and out pops the FASTPASS with your time to return and enjoy the ride.
It’s the same system for both parks, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. But some rides don’t do fast passes so be sure to check.
And you can only get another FASTPASS an hour after the first one you got, or the time on the ticket.
Make sure you are getting the right one, because once mom got one for the Toy Story ride instead of Incredicoaster (the Fastpass machines are in the same area)!
Also, when you actually get the FASTPASS, you don’t use it. You use your park ticket. The actual FASTPASS ticket only tells you the time your FASTPASS is. It’s a little confusing, I know.
Get there early if you want to get a FASTPASS for the Fantasmic! Night Show or a busy ride like the Cars Ride. They will run out! (and if you want to get fast passes for Fantasmic, make sure your whole group is with you!
We made a mistake and only Dad, Mom, and I went to get fast passes for EVERYONE in our group for Fantasmic whilst the others were back at our accommodation.
But we found out the whole group has to be in the park because otherwise it won’t work. So we just got the dinner package instead – so make sure your whole group is with you!
Themed Lands at Disneyland
There are currently eight lands inside Disneyland:
- Critter Country
- Main Street, U.S.A.
- Mickey’s Toontown
- New Orleans Square
Coming soon: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge ( Summer 2019)
So as you can see, there is a lot of lands, which means lots of rides. And don’t forget the parades and shows.
Also you meet characters, and have to visit all the stores. You just have to. So yeah, there is LOTS to do. In little time.
My favorite lands are Tomorrowland, New Orleans Square, FantasyLand, and Critter Country. So we will focus on those lands, mostly.
Tomorrowland has a futuristic theme with a mix of rides that relate to what life will be like in years to come. Which is pretty awesome.
This is one of my favorite lands because it has my second favorite ride in it, Space Mountain.
Rides inside this land:
- Astro Orbitor -fly around and around in a rocket, and you can control how high you go.
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters – shoot aliens to win points, and defeat Emperor Zurg!
- Autopia – ride in a car that goes along a track.
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage – we didn’t do this because we got told it was boring, so I don’t know what happens.
- Space Mountain – a pitch black indoor roller coaster. It goes really fast, has sharp turns, and sudden drops. Definitely try to get up front for a better experience. When we were at Disney, the Halloween party was happening. (which we went to and it was awesome) So space mountain was Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy. It’s the same thing but ghosts come after you.
There are Star Wars attractions like Jedi training, Star Wars: The Adventures Continue. But we didn’t do that stuff because we don’t like Star Wars.
Also, the Disney Monorail (that you can get on at Downtown Disney® District) stops off at Tomorrowland.
Critter Country, (which is right next New Orleans Square) is the land of Brer Rabbit and his friends. This is my favorite land.
Even though it is one of the smallest, and only has two rides, it still is really fun because Critter Country has Splash Mountain!
While you are at Critter Country, you have to go on Splash Mountain. It is my favorite ride in Disneyland! Honestly it’s so fun, and if it’s a hot day, you can cool down by getting soaked!
Splash Mountain is a log ride and one of the best I’ve been on) and it takes you through the adventures of Brer Rabbit.
It was Savannah’s first ever log ride, and she loved it!
The drop at the end is pretty steep. But don’t worry, there are a couple of smaller drops during the ride to get you warmed up. I think we got more wet on the little drops than the big one!
Now, let’s talk about seating. (you’re welcome, now you are going to come to Splash Mountain all prepared.)
Obviously you sit in logs, which fit seven people. We only had to take two logs to fit our group, instead of twenty!
At the back of each log, there is a bigger seat that can fit one child and an adult, or two kids. Also you can choose to sit where ever you like on the log, so luckily I didn’t have to go at the front.
Another ride in Critter Country good for the little kids is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
To me, this ride was pretty boring, but our little cousin and Savannah loved it. And, you guessed it, it takes you through the many adventures of Winnie the Pooh!
Definitely take the younger kids who aren’t ready to do the bigger rides yet, or anybody, since it’s a slow ride.
The last attraction is Davy Crockett’s Explorer canoes.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do this experience, since we didn’t have time. But I’ve heard it’s cool because you paddle through The Rivers of America.
Also for a snack, lunch, or the cheapest dinner packages for Fantasmic (more about that later on) go to the Hungry Bear Restaurant.
New Orleans Square
This is the last land I will talk about in more detail, so yay!
New Orleans Square was one of my favorite lands (I have a lot of favorites) because:
- You can eat Mickey-Shaped beignets!
- You can say hello to the ghosts and ghouls in The Haunted Mansion!
- And, you usually see Tiana here, walking around and doing meet-and greets.
Yes, you heard me right. Mickey-Shaped beignets. It’s a thing. Whoop Whoop.
Now the classic Haunted Mansion, in all it’s spooky glory.
It was pretty cool, especially the stretching room. The Haunted Mansion was done up for Halloween and Christmas while we were there.
It was re-themed to The Nightmare Before Christmas. We only did this experience once because we all thought it was a bit boring. We heard the original version is better.
Meeting the characters from your favorite Disney movie, book, or show around the park is something we all want to do. The characters are so true to life (I mean fantasy life) and give you so much time and attention.
Even Mum was a bit smitten. (Be sure to speak to Gaston. He was hilarious – Mum)
Tips For Meeting Your Favorite Disney Character!
- Instead of just taking pictures with Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, you can get their autograph! You can buy autograph books in many stores around the parks, including Downtown Disney. All the kids in our group did it and it made our Disneyland experience that much better.
- Get the Disneyland app so you can see where your favorite characters might be. You’ll find the characters in the land their stories belong too. E.G. Captain Jack Sparrow can be found in Adventureland/New Orleans near the Pirates of Caribbean ride.
- Try a character breakfast, so you can see a lot of characters at once! And you don’t have to line up, you just wait for them to come to your table. We did the Minnie Mouse breakfast at Plaza Inn, and the buffet breakfast is good too.
- Look out for schedules, so you can get to the character you want to see before the lines get big.
- Go see the more popular characters first. You can’t get fast passes for them so best to do them before the lines get too big.
When we went to go meet the princesses, we got all dressed up. I was Jasmine, Savannah was Belle, and our cousin Brooklyn was Elena of Avalor.
It was fun to meet the princesses we were dressed up as!
While our parents where waiting in line with our autograph books ready, we watched the Rapunzel show, so we weren’t bored waiting in line.
That’s one good thing about The Royal Hall in Fantasyland. There is usually a show on.
In Toontown, we waited about an hour to meet Mickey inside his house. It was worth it though, because there was stuff you can interact with throughout the house.
And at the end we got to meet the one and only, Mickey Mouse. Mum was happy we met Minnie Mouse at the character breakfast because there was no way she was waiting for over an hour for her in her house.
We also saw Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Minnie and Pluto at Toontown. It is where they live after all!
Get Your Disney Merch!
An absolute must for your trip to Disneyland is to get Mouse ears. You just have too. It isn’t the same without rocking a pair of Minnie or Mickey ears.
Savannah and I got the Rose Gold ears. In my opinion, they are gorgeous. Anything Rose gold is gorgeous.
Mom got the Millennial Pink ears. They are pretty too. Dad just got boring black Mickey Ears.
I had my eyes on the Rose Gold backpack for the entire two weeks. It’s sooo pretty. But mom didn’t let me get it because it was too expensive (like $80!!)
She relented on the Rainbow Spirit Jerseys which Savannah and I now wear all the time.
Two stores I would recommend for Disney Merch, ears, autograph books, and more are:
Elias & Co. is my favorite store. It’s so big, and has lots of awesome stuff including walls of Rose Gold bags that I didn’t want to let go of.
For those who love group Disney T-Shirts that make a statement, check out these ideas.
Disneyland Shows, Parades, and Fireworks
Fantasmic! Light Show
This is what you have all been waiting for, the Fantasmic light show!
As I said before, we made a mistake with getting FASTPASSES for Fantasmic. Just remember, that your whole group has to be in the park for you to get fast passes for everyone.
Instead, we went online and got one of the cheapest dinner deals, a On-The-Go meal package from Hungry Bear Restaurant. For $35, you get a tasty and healthy dinner and reserved seating for the show.
The seats where pretty good, we were close to the front. Fantasmic is in New Orleans Square on the river.
The show was awesome, and I definitely recommend it. The lights and special effects where really good too. My favorite part was Maleficent as the dragon. That’s all the spoilers I’m giving you.
Watch our Fantasmic highlights in our video at the bottom of this blog post!
There are two shows of an evening. I recommend the first show. You can then hang around to watch the Fireworks over the castle over.
They have a few light displays happening on the river at the same time.
The Pixar Play Parade
Caution. You get wet!!
We saw the Pixar Play Parade twice, and it was so much fun! It was at Disneyland Park for Pixar Fest this year!
This parade features floats and characters from Pixar movies such as The Incredibles, Toy story and more. Another cool feature, the floats have jets that shoot water at you! We sat at the front and got pretty wet.
There is also cool themed music!
Finish your day with the Disneyland Fireworks
We watched the firework show called: Remember…Dreams come true!
This is an awesome firework show that goes for 16-minutes. Watch Tinkerbell fly over the castle, popular Disney characters share their “wishes”, and amazing fireworks.
But sadly daddy didn’t get any good photos worth sharing, lol. The music and fireworks are amazing and I definitely recommend it. The show takes place on select nights only.
And I will have a Halloween party fireworks blog post coming soon!
Stay at the Disneyland Hotel
We stayed at the Disneyland® Hotel for one night as guests of the hotel.
We spent the day hanging out at the pool, and going on all the water slides. Which was pretty fun. Except for one part when a kid peed in the main pool. Yummy. not.
The coolest thing about our hotel room, was that on a wall on top of the beds was the Castle, and if you flick a switch, the lights come on and music plays. That part was cool.
It was also fun to see characters in the lobby, out the front of the hotel, and around the pool area.
We danced with Goofy out the front of the hotel, and playing with kids around the pool. We also walked around the lobby with chip and dale, and met Minnie at her kitchen.
Accommodation near Disneyland, Anaheim
Staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel can be a very expensive way to experience Disneyland. To reduce your Disneyland costs, consider staying at a hotel near Disneyland.
You can find hotels within walking, or shuttle bus distance.
We also recommend renting a Disneyland vacation home. We rented one that slept 9 people and was only a 10 minute walk from Downtown Disney.
It was awesome and the best way to experience Disneyland with comfort, space and a cheaper price.
Here are a few of our Disneyland accommodation posts to help you decide:
- 15 Best hotels near Disneyland
- Hyatt Regency Orange County: A Disney Good Neighbor Hotel
- Why You Should Consider a Disneyland Vacation Rental vs. Hotel
- Check out these Disneyland accommodation and ticket packages
Bonus Disneyland Video
Press play below and discover the Disneyland magic at Disneyland and California Adventure Park!
More Travel Tips for Your Southern California Vacation:
- 10 Day Itinerary – Best Places to Visit in Southern California (beyond Disneyland)
- 20 fun things to do in Los Angeles with kids
- 16 Exciting Things to do in San Diego With Kids (This Place Is Me!)
- Tips for flying to Disneyland