I have to admit out loud that at 43 years old, I’ve never been on a Disneyland Vacation ….until NOW. I guess I never saw the point until recently. And what a treat it was! Especially having the chance to see the world through the eyes of a three and half year old. It literally makes life more rich and magical. Before embarking on this trip, I engaged in several months of research from reading great mom blogs to listening to many veteran mom friends sharing their stories. After extensive research and planning, I was finally able to create the perfect Disneyland vacation for my family. Being the perfectionist that I am, however, I had to just surrender and stop the continuous research and hope that I had put together the perfect trip.
I’m happy to say, I did.
Here’s how it looked.
First off, we aren’t very into crowds which can be difficult to avoid especially at Disneyland. However, I found two places that provided information on which days are peak and which ones were not. Click here or here respectively to get the information. This simple but very helpful tool really helped us enjoy the trip without the tremendous amount of people filtering into the park. We were there Wednesday through Friday, but as a piece of advice, I would recommend to only go during the weekdays if you want to avoid a crowd. When we went on Friday, there was a noticeably large influx of people which increased our wait times for rides and events.
Another recommendation I have that made our trip that much more memorable was the location of where we were staying. I made sure to book our room at the Disneyland Resort so that we could “stay in the Disney bubble” and this was key to having the perfect trip. I’ll share more on it later.
On our first day, we woke up and hit the road to our first stop, the Bippity, Boppity Boutique. This place is a must! Stella could choose which Disney princess she wanted to be and then poof, her fairy godmother would turn her into it! She chose to be Belle. Her fairy godmother then did her hair, makeup and nails and turned her into a princess right before our very eyes. Complete with a tiara and beauty pageant sash. (P.S. they also have an experience for the boys where they make them into a Knight). The entire experience was about 40 minutes but definitely one of the most magical moments during the entire trip. Much like how my clients feel after they have a new wardrobe and look, Stella was mesmerized by herself and her princess transformation. She was instantly walking and holding herself just like a princess. We even had strangers ask to have their picture taken with her. It was very funny and I’m sure by now she is an internet sensation.
After that we had to go visit some of her favorite princesses at the Royal Hall where Cinderella, Snow White and Ariel were waiting for our arrival. We also caught a glimpse of Merida along the way.
One thing that was very helpful to navigate this amazing park was the apps. I downloaded both the Disneyland and Magic Guide apps. They were great to tell us things like how long the lines were at the various rides and where the characters were and at what times. I referenced them often!
After lunch at one of the parks gourmet restaurants (just kidding it’s mostly pizza, burgers and fries), it was time to relax. I found that this was the key to having a successful trip. Even if your kids no longer nap, I highly recommend going back to the hotel to decompress and relax. This was one of the best rituals we created everyday during the trip. Stella was so overstimulated by everything there was to do and see that this was a great time to relax and take a two hour power nap. I must say that Ken and I appreciated it as well. Once we got up, it was time to have dinner and return for some more fun.
We loved the Paint The Night Parade and fireworks show that happened every night. They truly had me be inspired by what Walt Disney created so many years ago. It was magical. Everything from the electric light show to the music and all of the amazing characters.
On our second day, we went to California Adventure. We started our day with a royal welcome from Elsa, Anna and of course Olaf. This was the perfect way to start our second day. I recommend getting there right when the park opens as it’s a cool ceremony before they unrope the street to Hollywood. We then spent the day doing a lot of fun rides in A Bug’s Land.
After such a fun and full morning, we were ready and excited for lunchtime. I have to say it was probably the second best thing we did. We went to Ariel’s Grotto (you must make reservations in advance) and had lunch with 5 of the princesses. Not only was the food good but you could relax with a nice glass of wine (a commodity that you will not find in Disneyland) while each princess comes to your table and shares a tender hug and photo with your little one. It was very hard to choose but I am pretty sure that Cinderella won as best princess here. Or was it Belle? Hard to say as we also met Ariel, Tianna, and Rapunzel.
Given we have a three and a half year old little girl, it’s all about the princesses and other characters like Mickey, Minnie, etc.
After our afternoon nap, we came back to the park for dinner and then went to see the amazing World of Color show. I highly recommend getting your fast pass to the show upon your entry into the park in the morning. This will ensure you get a great seat. The best seats are near the bridge but you’ll love it anywhere you are. Neil Patrick Harris is a fabulous host in this inspiring tribute to Walt Disney and everything he has created. So make sure to go if you find yourself at California Adventures.
I won’t lie, if you do the parades and light shows you will be up past 10 o’clock at night but I do feel with a nap it’s totally worth it. With that being said, now you can see why staying on property is so important because you can go back and forth with little effort.
On our third and last day, we were free to just explore Disneyland and go on rides as we had already met all of the princesses, oh, except the elusive Sleeping Beauty. (Another reason the app was so valuable as we finally found her). I’m not sure if it was because she was the last princess to see or if she is Stella’s new favorite princess but they hugged for several minutes and it was precious. All of the characters were sweet, beautiful and a lot of fun to talk to.
After several hours of rides and lunch, it was time for Mickey’s Soundsational Parade at 4:30. Stella and I loved this and were in the front row waving at all of the princesses and of course Mickey and his friends.
This was definitely a magical family vacation and a lot of fun to see Stella’s eyes light up and engage with her favorite characters. I highly recommend this trip but to do it stress free like we did.
I hope our tips are helpful to you. If you have more, leave them in the comments section.
All photos are property of The Style Studio by KB and cannot be used without permission.