18 April 2008

Six Steps to Maximize your Disneyland Trip (for those who have never been and don't want to go)

I did not go as a child. I did not want to go as an adult. The whole thought of taking my children there and listening to them complain as we waited in long lines for very short thrills all the while having people try to sell me noisy, cheap, plastic replicas of things did not sound appealing at all. Candace had very fond memories of going to Disneyland as a child and as a teenager. Candace has been planning a Disneyland trip for quite a few years and I have been reluctantly agreeing to go...sometime.

The time finally came. I could not prevent it any longer. I am writing this as Candace drives the current leg of our 12 hour drive back home from a great week at Disneyland. It took quite a while (years) for me to overcome my prejudice. I never got to the point where I really wanted to go to Disneyland, but I did decide not to hate the trip before I went. Not quite a open mind, but not completely closed. Here is my first step for maximizing your Disneyland trip. Keep and open mind. It might be fun.

FastPass, ChildPass, Disneyland guide books, planning schedules, hours of the day, days of the week, months of the year. You can find all sorts of statistical analysis determining the most effective way to traverse the paths leading from one ride to another. Decrease walking, Increase riding. As far as I could tell from talking to everyone that had already been to Disneyland, that was the key to having fun at Disneyland. I beg to differ. We walked all over Disneyland, saw all sorts of things, rode most of the rides (most only once). We just walked from place to place. Not in a hurry at all. Most of the rides were not too busy anyway. We didn't wait over 15-20 minutes for any rides. If it was too long a line we might get a FastPass, or we might just go to a different ride or play area. There is lots to see. We were there for three days and probably did not see a quarter of the park. Since the point is not to see everything and do everything, it is to have fun together as a family, we didn't even try to see everything. We just had fun where ever we were. So this is my second step to maximize your Disneyland trip. Don't try to see everything or do everything. Just move at the speed your family can have fun going.

Annmarie's favorite ride was the bus. She loved riding the bus to and from Disneyland. She cried when she saw the bus drive away one morning before we were ready to go. As we tried to hurry to get ready so we would not miss the bus, everything went crazy. Everyone started yelling at each other to call the elevator up, and to get their shoes, and to comb the last head of hair. The tension increased dramatically in a matter of moments. Instead of continuing this we all stopped, came back in the room, slowed down, and finished getting the ready at our own speed. This is the point that the bus drove off and our youngest started crying because we missed the bus ride. Here is my third hint on maximizing your Disneyland trip. The buses come every 30 minutes or so. Don't run to their schedule. Catch the one that is available after you are ready to go. The waiting time is less than many of the rides. If you are really that concerned about it though, rent a hotel in the park.

The best ride I went on was the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride. On this ride to sit in a little tea cup that spins around with the pull of a joy stick. There are also two laser guns that you use to shoot at the evil Zurg's minions. If I had been alone on this ride it would not have been that great, but I rode this with Christian. Seeing his wide eyes and excitement at shooting the bad guys made this the best ride ever. Christian was too small to enjoy most of the rides, but this was just his thing and he reveled in it. Yes, we even bought him his own cheep plastic astro blaster that lights up and makes noise. My fourth step to maximize your Disneyland trip is to enjoy your children. Even if Disneyland is not that exciting to you, your children can be.

I learned one very important thing on this trip. While we were having breakfast one morning our waiter brought us some Orange Juice. He brought cups with lids for the children. Then the magic happened. He grabbed a straw and pulled off one end of the wrapper then stabbed the straw into the cup. Cannon promptly told him that he left half of the straw wrapper on the straw. It was great! Now I know how to easily get the wrapper off of a straw. The fifth point...you can enjoy things that are not in the park as well.

Now for the sixth and last point. Disneyland is a business. It is going to take a lot of your money. Expect it. Accept it. It is OK to spend a lot of money very quickly every once in a while. The tickets cost $60 per person. Each meal in the park is going to cost $6-7 per person. There is also the cost of travel and lodging. In the end it is going to cost a few thousand dollars to make a trip to Disneyland. Don't begrudge the cost or it will ruin the entire trip. Disneyland is providing a service that you are paying for. You may be paying an excessive price, but you made the decision to do it and it is OK. Have fun at Disneyland!

The trip really was fun. It was a little stressful trying to keep track of the kids all the time with so much going on in every direction. There was a fair amount of whining from the kids...and the adults. But overall it was very fun.  Here is a slideshow of our trip.


Stephen said...

You and DisneyLand sounds like me and Utah! :o) I had to do a bit of changing, but now I want to go!

Jay said...

Looks like you've Masted the Disney experience on the first time. Congratulations for a Disney veteran.

Candace said...

One correction... it was $755 for all the tickets (2 adult and 3 children 5 day park hopper Bonus Tickets for the price of 3 days).

The Jones family sure have a few quirky prejudices about places they've never been or lived in... it's a good thing they've softened with the years or maybe it's the help of spouses and children. :)

Thank you honey for making it a very wonderful family memory! You are super. Love, Candace