We visited Disneyland just before Christmas, which is the reason for my recent Disneyland posts including why you should visit Disneyland before your child hits 5, and why you would want to stay on Disney property (versus near the park). On our first trip to Disneyland in 2007, my daughters were 1.5 and 3.5 years old and it was magical, simply unforgettable.
Being there this past December for the fourth time reminded me of all the most special things I love about being at Disneyland and I want to point out the top six things I recommend for your FIRST family trip to Disneyland (in order of importance):
Book at least one character meal
Goofy’s Kitchen (in the Disneyland Hotel) is fantastic for breakfast, you will see a handful of characters and enjoy a fabulous breakfast buffet (above). If you have a little princess, don’t miss booking a meal at Ariel’s Grotto (in California Adventure Park)(below). Your family will be greeted by each Princess individually, have a photo (and autograph) opportunity with each, and enjoy a (seated) meal at the same time. It’s pricey and requires advance reservations (book when you book your trip) but very worthwhile. Wating in line at the park to meet the princesses usually takes hours (yes, hours).
Buy an Autograph book (as soon as you enter the park)
The small gift kiosks throughout the park sell autograph books. Pick one up and either bring or buy a pen. Carry it with you throughout both parks (and especially character meals) and ask each character for an autograph as you’re getting their photo. The book becomes a photo album at home when you slide the character photos in beside the corresponding autograph and becomes a treasured souvenir for years to come.
Watch the Parades
Each day in Disneyland and in California Adventure Park, there are two parade times. I recommend finding a good spot on a sidewalk about 20-30 minutes prior to its start time and settling in. Their parades are worthy of your valuable time at the park.
Hang out in Downtown Disney
Downtown Disney is the walking street just outside the Disneyland and California Adventure parks, bordering the Disney property hotels. It contains restuarants, shops, street vendors and entertainers, even big-brand boutiques like Lego and Sephora, and the monorail too. Don’t miss the Beignets (french donuts) at Jazz Kitchen Express (shown) or dinner at the Rainforest Cafe (always book ahead or prepare for a long wait).
Stay at a Disneyland property
If you can swing it (it’s slightly more pricey than staying nearby), book the Paradise Pier ($), Disneyland Hotel ($$), or Grand Californian ($$$). Staying on property definitely feels more special and magical. It makes you feel like you are staying INSIDE Disneyland instead of it just being a park or amusement park down the street. There are many benefits as well, perks even! Read my recent post on why to stay on-property. I say if you can manage the extra cost, for your first experience at Disneyland, book one of these hotels.Visit the Silhouette shop on Main Street (inside Disneyland)
Your child(ren) will sit down in the studio and an artist looks at their profile and cuts out a piece of black paper while looking at them. The whole process takes about 15 minutes and there is usually no wait. More information (and a video) can be found here.
* This is not a sponsored post.