Just about every morning, my three-year old daughter Harper wakes up and says, “mommy, can we go to Disneyland today?”
Last week, I was able to answer that question with a resounding YES for three straight days. We were transported to a magical place, where all of your dreams (and many you didn’t even think were possible) come true.
There are few things in life that can capture a child’s attention today like things did when we were kids, back in the day. Or when my mom was a kid, when they rode dinosaurs to school (as I used to tell her!).
We went to see the circus last summer and Harper was sort of into it, but definitely not like I remember being as a child. And the seats were half-empty (for other reasons, I know, but still I am using this to make a point, remember?).
Disneyland is one of those few places that draws you into the world of possibility, where imaginations come to life, princesses and super heroes are real, Jedis roam around with light sabers, and every treat you can imagine is at your fingertips. Just stand for a moment on Main Street in Disneyland and watch the faces of people walking into the park, from babies to octogenarians, everyone has a huge smile on their face.
As I walk into Disneyland, the smells of churros and ice cream fill my senses, the bright lights, the whimsical designs and vibrant energy take over. It’s like you are transported to a galaxy far far away, a place where the old are young, the young are adventurous explorers, and almost everything is a possibility.
First Stop on the Disneyland Express
Our first stop is almost always It’s A Small World, or as Harper pronounces it, Small Wor-yorld. Interestingly, this was also my favorite ride as a child. I loved seeing the children dressed in clothing from around the world, envisioning what the world looks like for kids in other countries.
Plus what kid doesn’t like to go on a boat road with tons of lights and animated things to look at? My kids like this ride so much, they actually WATCH YouTube videos of the entire ride, which just so you know, clocks in at around 15 minutes from start to finish.
So naturally I captured the whole ride on video during the 2016 holidays!
It’s A Small World Wall
Next to It’s A Small World is the insta-famous wall baby-blue and white wall that is a must-visit to snap a picture (or 50!) with your mini(s). It’s directly across from the shop at the exit to the ride. The most popular place for pictures is in front of the white circular piece that Harper is standing in front of below.
To get the perfect snap: frame the picture that you want to have taken. Show the person you have nicely asked to snap your picture what you are looking for. Open the Camera on your phone, have it zoomed in exactly as you want, stand where you want the person to stand and ask them to take a burst. Because kids move. A lot!
King Arthur Carrousel
After It’s A Small World, we usually beeline over to the King Arthur Carrousel. The line is never too long, and we can almost always get on within three rides. Harper always picks the horse with a purple saddle like her favorite horse Minimum from Sophia the First. Strap them in first, with the belt as tight as you can make it. Then I hop onto the horse next to Harper. For younger kids you may want to stand next to them and hold them as they ride, but you must be standing in between two horses.
Fun story: on Grayson’s first trip to Disneyland when he was 13 months old, we were kicked off the Carrousel. Or rather, they stopped the entire ride early because he was crying from the motion of the horse going up and down and I didn’t know what to do. I felt so bad. So I jumped into the saddle behind him. Don’t do that when it’s moving!
I learned that Grayson was more sensitive to motion, and he preferred to sit in the seat that doesn’t move. For kids who have sensory processing issues or autism, or just don’t love motion, this is a great option for them! He now will go on the Carrousel!
Next up we usually ride the Carrousel again. Because it’s the Carrousel. Who doesn’t like carousels (besides Grayson? Okay lots of people. But Harper and I could ride them all day!).
Dumbo The Flying Elephant + Casey Junior Circus Train
From there we head to either head to Dumbo, the Flying Elephant or Casey Junior Circus
Train. Dumbo is one of our current favorite and Grayson just rode it for the first time ever at 5! He liked it so much he asked to go on it again right when he got off. Note that the line for Dumbo is often around 40-45 minutes and the line for Casey Junior is often 15-30 minutes. So you may want to bring snacks with you into the line. In my new post, I will be sharing the Insider Secrets to Disneyland like what to pack, so stay tuned for that next week!
Bubble Wands: The Real Pixie Dust Maker
You will soon notice a lot of bubbles floating around Disneyland. No, they are not a new form of pixie dust (or are they?), but they are your child’s new favorite toy, the bubble wand. Please note these play music, over and over, before purchasing them. Whatever you are a parent and can probably tune out most noise by now, right?
The bubble wand comes in an Ariel variety and a mickey mouse ears variety, currently in blue and red. Please note these change ALL OF THE TIME so if you want one, do not hesitate to get it! ALSO, bring a refill bubbles as your kid will likely have it on, most of the day.
Food is a big part of Disneyland. Our favorites are cotton candy, large popsicles and churros. The ice cream store on Main Street is also incredible, get a waffle cone!
Harper legitimately thinks she is a princess. Maybe it’s all of the princess dresses I buy her, or the shows she watches. Or maybe she is a mini princess?
Well your little girl can be turned into a real princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique where little girls get their choice of three hairstyles. Their hair is pulled back and glammed up, their makeup is done, their nails are painted, and they get a little sash. Harper kept saying how beautiful she felt and looked. Bonus, you learn how to (sort of) duplicate the look at home once you learn how to do it.
Your little man can be turned into a knight as well!
As you walk around the park, you will notice that about 1 of 3 little girls is dressed up as a Princess or other Disney Character. It is so adorable to see how delightful they look, floating around the park on cloud 9.
But there is another way to dress up that is more subtle, called Disney Bounding (and welcome to the world of the truly Disney obsessed!). Disney Bounding means you dress up as a character wearing “street clothes.” In the picture in front of the Small World Wall, Harper and I are twinning in purple dresses, channeling Sophia the First.
Here Harper is dressed up as Snow White, wearing June & January’s top, skirt and tights. We are somewhat J&J obsessed, as they make the softest basics that fit and wash very well. Their colors really pop and are even more beautiful in person!
And don’t miss the Disney collab with mini Melissa shoes – they have a new collection for Beauty & the Beast coming out on March 17 (my fave Disney movie EVER!).
Character Meet & Greets
My littles are character obsessed, but were very shy about meeting them in person until recently. So now we are all about the character meet and greets. You can meet them throughout the park, and at a few designated places.
Elsa & Anna – California Adventure in Hollywood Land.
Just announced – Summer of Heroes
Starting May 27 and running through Sept 10, Disneyland California Adventure inaugurates an ever-expanding universe of Super Hero stories. Guests in the park’s Hollywood Land will join some favorite Super Heroes for all-new, epic experiences for a limited time.
Beginning May 27 the new Guardians of the Galaxy–Mission: BREAKOUT attraction opens as well (not suitable for littler ones!)
Character meals are my favorite way to meet characters while at Disneyland. The food is fantastic, and the characters come to each table for talks, autograph signing, meet and greets and pictures.
There are two restaurants we have eaten at and love:
Reservations are HIGHLY recommended at both! You can do so on the Disneyland App (which I will talk about in my next post) or by calling the number on the site.
And that’s what makes Disneyland so magical for me and my kiddies.
If you are a So Cal Resident, now is a perfect time to visit the park with the special 3-Day Ticket Offer that averages out to less than $50 A DAY! Seriously it’s the best deal EVER
Be sure to check back next week for the Disneyland Preschooler Insider Tips!