Some tricks of the trade we learned along the way…
The autograph books range from $10-19 I think, but the kids got great use of them. All prices within the parks and Downtown Disney seemed to be exactly the same. FYI – they will take your picture when you arrive at any of the Character Dining’s, $32.99 when they approach your table to purchase.
You can create your very own mouse ear hat now. The Mad Hatter in the right corner once you enter Disneyland, by the roundabout, was a great place for hat selection. Pretty cool stuff they have now-a-days.
There is this SINGLE RIDER option on many of the key rides (ie. Indiana Jones and Screamin rollercoaster). You get a card pass from the attendant at the ride entrance and they will direct you to enter the ride thru the exit. You stand with your coloured card and when there are an odd number of riders, you score the seat. It worked perfectly for the rides the girls were not tall enough to go on. Dai would do the single rider thing and then I would go when he returned. Speedy and fun!
Have the kids nap late afternoon. By fluke, the girls slept 500-700 and were energized for a late night visit to the park. When Canada and US played their prelim match, the girls fell asleep waiting for a table at ESPN Zone. We get our table and they continue to sleep on the edge of the table. Freakin funny and perfect timing. Dai and I enjoyed dinner while watching the game, the girls woke in time to eat their dinner and once the game was over, we returned to Disneyland. The park was dying down about 8pm on Sunday, but rides remained open until 11pm and we took full advantage. No lines for the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Ride, and many more. The best was after our first round of Splash Mountain, Chardonae cheered ‘again, that was awesome’ and being there wasn’t a soul in line, the gal said stay seated and we were off for another round! Being so late, our girls would have normally faded, but the late nap made it a really enjoyable night all around.
Downtown Disney is a great place to eat and fun place to shop, they even have a theatre and live music! Open before and after parks close and is no charge. We highly recommend JAMBA JUICE (part way up on the left side) Healthy, tasty, affordable, and plenty of selection. The coffeeshop/cafe in the big silver train, near the entrance of California Adventure, had a yummy fruit parfait for $5. The StoryTeller’s Cafe in the Grand Californian Hotel was a fabulous place to have breakfast. They do offer lunch and dinner as well, but we only experienced a couple breakfasts. One pre-paid character breakfast and another day we chose from the menu and still experienced the characters. They have a great kids menu for 7.99 and the main meals include fresh juice for an average of 16.99. UVA Restaurant has an outdoor lounge/patio in the centre of Downtown Disney that has a happy hour 3-6pm, I think it was 1/2 price drinks.
Check out the Grand Californian Hotel. There is a private entrance into California Adventure, just past the Storyteller Cafe. No line up and they never checked if you were a guest of the hotel or not. Great place to escape from the chaos for a bit as well. There is a White Water Snack shop to the left once you’ve exited California Adventure into the Hotel. (private exit/entrance is by the Brother Bear park, between Soarin over California and the river ride)
Don’t rent a stroller; just take one that is left at the entrance/exit of the parks. Now was are fairly honest and fair people, but after we paid the $15, (no deposit or ID required), we had someone ‘borrow’ ours. Hence when I bought the stroller, the gal outlined where we could get a replacement, as they are often picked up at the park boundaries by staff throughout the day. So we learned to leave something in the stroller to defer people from choosing ours to replace the one that was ‘borrowed’ from them and to just grab one from the park exit shall ours go missing. FYI – they are pretty good stroller. Comfy for sitting or sleeping, storing a few things, and easy/sturdy to push.
MUST do the Submarine ride by Tomorrowland in Disney, worth the wait! We really enjoyed Soarin over California too. All of the princesses are in Fairyland, by the Small World ride. They usually have 3 at a time and rotate throughout the day. Wait in line and get to take pictures and autographs at the same time in an organized fashion. There’s a good snack bar right beside – kids power pack 5.99 (fishie crackers, apple slices, yogurt, mini water, and cheese string I think). Pixie Hollow was pretty cool, met Tinkerbell, and a couple other fairy friends in an organized fashion as well. Face painting ranges from $12-17 and the staff are not allowed to accept tips. The girls had a blast, but it washes off with water, so beware the rides you plant to go on that day. They do some pretty cool boy stuff too. Usually about 45minute wait, but the kids loved seeing and meeting them. Mickey is in his house in ToonTown all day, so you do guarantee to see him. Had no clue when we entered his house and then viola at the end.
The photo pass card works well. No obligation, but they do create some cool options you can purchase online when you get home. As well have your camera ready, as the staff take pictures of the entire family with your camera too, no charge.
We didn’t leave the grounds, but close by there is supposedly a 24hr grocer and a Target. A quick jaunt to grab snacks could safe some $ and time in line ups, though we were fairly pleased with what we found for food. The security at the gates were checking for weapons, etc. Never took food/drinks away.
Will add more if I think of anything…HOPE THIS HELPS!