Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Disneyland Dos and Don'ts...what I learned

A few months ago I blogged about the anticipation of visiting Disneyland for the first time as a parent. Well, the big day came and went and much to my surprise we wound up staying until 7 PM, with everyone still composed and in fairly good spirits as we left the park. I left a wiser man than when I arrived, gathering some Disneyland Dos and Don'ts to share here on this blog.

Do- Go on a Thursday morning in January a few days after a holiday (when everyone else already went) on a day when it looks like it's going to rain but doesn't ever do anything more than spit. Park workers told us it was the slowest day of the year so far. I can't imagine lines on a normal day.

Don't- Try going to Toontown first thing. We were going to try to beat everyone to see Mickey, but it opened later than the other areas.

Do- Bring your own food. The stuff inside the park is about two times what it should regularly cost. Save the money for a treat at the end of the day.

Don't- Buy a bag of jelly beans without weighing them ($12/lb!)

Do- Ride the teacups. It was a great starter ride for our 3 year old son, for whom Disneyland had been the "Scariest place on Earth" up to that point. Also, I calculated that they can easily move over 50 people through the teacup ride at a time, so the line moves pretty fast.

Don't- Start spinning the wheel in the middle of the teacup or look at the other teacups until you near the end of the ride...unless you want to be sick.

Do- Ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds with your spouse in a double car. Make sure the male sits in front unless you are finished having children. Stop making out after about 15 seconds in the tunnel up the first climb unless you want to lose some teeth. This ride is bone-chilling not because of the architecture of the roller coaster, but because of how old and rickety it is.

Don't- Fall for the Autopia ride. It looks like cool go-karts, but you cannot really steer and you are limited to a low cruising speed. To make the car go you have to keep your foot all the way down on the pedal, which gets tiring. If a small kid is trying to drive in front of you, they will not have the strength to keep the pedal down, and you will not be able to get around them. This ride had one of the longest lines at Disneyland and a lot of it was in the path of gas fumes from the cars. Wish I would have braved the Finding Nemo line instead.

Do- Go on the Indiana Jones ride, but only on a slow day. If the lines were on the order of 1-2 hours, I would rather spend that time doing other things at Disneyland. The line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was pretty short and if you are into speed or drops that is better than Indiana Jones. Indy is just for special effects.

Don't- Ride on the deceptively benign-looking train that goes around the periphery of Disneyland if you have children who are scared of pitch dark tunnels and violent dinosaur dioramas. That was about the scariest thing we could have imagined for my son, but we had no idea the train would go through those kind of scenes. This scary stretch is between Tomorrowland and the main entrance.

Do- Get the Mickey ears. The kids kept them on all day (surprising) and looked cute in them. (Did I use the word "cute" again on this manly blog?)

Don't- Be afraid to park your stroller. Just make sure there are enough stains on it to render the stroller unattractive to thieves and easy to identify.

Do- Check out the Lego store in Downtown Disney. It has giant Lego sculptures (including R2D2) and about every Lego set you can think of. This is a good place to hit on the way out if you're staying in one of the hotels.

Don't- Think about the ticket price if you want to have a priceless experience.


abenlinz said...

Sounds like you learned a lot and had a good time. Thanks for sharing.

Just a Blogger said...

I'm getting ready for my second Disneyland trip here in about a month. Enjoyed reading your tips. We are trying for the slow day as well by going the first week in March. Hopefully it works out.

Josh said...

Great advise Sterling. I am looking forward to taking our little girl someday.