Need planning help, please. Total newbie!


#1

I haven’t been to Disneyland since I was a child and this is likely to be our only trip there while our children are still children. I don’t know anything and I’m getting lost trying to figure out themeparks and abbreviations and all sorts of stuff. Please help!

I’m still open to advice (and lots of it), but I think I’ve decided on something like this.
[B]Sunday May 20[/B]: Arrive and get checked in. Swim. Get settled, groceries, whatever I need.
[B]M-Th[/B]: Me and the kids at the park. I need to figure out what we want to see (I don’t even know what’s there) and when we’ll do each.
[B]Fr[/B]i: Daddy and the grandparents join us for a birthday celebration. Take it easy day. Get in what we can, planned around a couple must-do activities.
[B]Sat[/B]: (Expected to be busy b/c of Memorial Day weekend) Fast-paced day so Daddy can get in whatever he wants. We can sit out and take a break while he does some rides if needed since we’ll have done 5 days already.

Now that I know this is probably the plan, what do I do next? Choose a hotel? Choose a park pass? Something else?


#2

First, welcome to Mousebuzz. You found the perfect site since we all love to offer our suggestions and we have fun while doing it. Stuffy folks end up leaving after awhile.
I’ve never been to DL, but many here have. They will chime in soon.
One great source of information is to sign into AllEars.Net - The Unofficial Disney Vacation Planning Guide - Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line. Read through the many sections about DL and planning for your trip. And if you have any ??? just come back here to MB and ask away. Someone will have the answer.


#3

It is definitely time to choose a hotel. First: on-site or off-site? On-site will be more expensive, but has perks. There are off-site hotels that are just as close to the parks.

It also sounds to me as if buying The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland would be your best first step.

How old are your kids? I think during that week is going to be a great time to go.

How familiar are you with Anaheim/Southern California? Will you have a car? “Getting groceries” sounds like it’s an easy thing… but may not be as easy as it sounds, especially if you’re not used to the area.

We can offer a lot of help… just need some more details.

And again? Get the Unofficial Guide!


#4

Just a quick note- Allears.net is fantastic for Disney World, but tends to be a bit out-of-date and not as thorough for Disneyland. Still worth looking at, but don’t depend on it too much.


#5

Andrea is a professional Disneyland guide - she’s amazing! Listen to her and Peppertink and a few other on here who go there often. I just wanted to take a minute to welcome you to Mousebuzz!


#6

Welcome to MB. I know you willl find all the help you need here!


#7

Welcome to Mousebuzz! As Dana said Andrea and Peppertink are both full of DL knowledge. They helped me plan my trip to DL last September and they were right on the money with all of their tips and suggestions.


#8

Oh my! Hello! :minnie:

I found this forum last night but had to wait for my account to be approved before I could post. In the mean time, I posted at another forum where one person answered me. Now I come back here and have so many welcomes! I am relieved and so happy to have found you!

OK. I’ll go down the list. Get the book. OK! I’ll work on that tomorrow. Is it short?

On-site or off-site hotel. I have no clue! My husband says the on-site are 25% off right now which he thinks makes them comparable to off-site hotels. What is a normal price range? The kinds of perks we’re talking about?

How old are your kids? 11 and 2.
The 11yo has anxiety. Doesn’t do well with suspense (including long waits and foreboding music) or with surprises. Prefers docile rides, non-ride experiences, and other things that are predictable.
The 2yo has sensory processing disorder. Loves surprises, adventure, and constant activity. I’m most worried about waiting in lines and balancing their very different needs on my own.

How familiar are you with Anaheim/Southern California? Not at all.

Will you have a car? We haven’t decided yet if we’ll fly or drive. The cost of the rest is going to be a major factor.


#9

[QUOTE=MommaMouse;1108572]Oh my! Hello! :minnie:

I found this forum last night but had to wait for my account to be approved before I could post. In the mean time, I posted at another forum where one person answered me. Now I come back here and have so many welcomes! I am relieved and so happy to have found you![/QUOTE]

I found this site seven years ago, trying to improve my time at the parks. The members here have a wealth of information…

Every time I went to Disneyland, I used Priceline. I stayed at the hotels listed on my page here for $50.00 or less a night. Availability is going to be your biggest issue. Memorial Day is a zoo. However, if you book soon enough, you can enjoy a room at the Hyatt or Hilton for a fraction of what you would normally pay. BUT. If you are willing to pay less for a two star hotel, your problems in finding a room are decreased. If you have a rental car, I have found that neighboring cities are only minutes away with just as comfortable hotel rooms.

[QUOTE=MommaMouse;1108572]
How old are your kids? 11 and 2.
The 11yo has anxiety. Doesn’t do well with suspense (including long waits and foreboding music) or with surprises. Prefers docile rides, non-ride experiences, and other things that are predictable.
The 2yo has sensory processing disorder. Loves surprises, adventure, and constant activity. I’m most worried about waiting in lines and balancing their very different needs on my own…[/QUOTE]

I think if you stick with Fantasyland and Toontown, you will actually have a good time. You can most likely avoid Indiana Jones, Star Tours and Space Mountain, which are going to be uber busy that weekend. Tom Sawyer’s Island (now named the “Pirate’s Lair”) is also a low key place to go visit that probably won’t be as crowded as other parts of the park.

[QUOTE=MommaMouse;1108572]O

How familiar are you with Anaheim/Southern California? Not at all.[/QUOTE]

The nice thing about Anaheim is that it really is close to everything. All the hotels are within walking distance, or have convenient shuttles.

[QUOTE=MommaMouse;1108572]
Will you have a car? We haven’t decided yet if we’ll fly or drive. The cost of the rest is going to be a major factor.[/QUOTE]

Driving has its advantages (see staying at the Marriott Fullerton or the Buena Vista Holiday Inn) that are only minutes on the freeway from the park. But even if you fly, there are a number of cheap rental cars (see priceline again) that allow you to be flexible. And flexibility is key. :pirate:


#10

MommaMouse, I sent you a PM regarding our experience touring with a son with special needs.

The book may look long, but it is divided into manageable sections and I spent 5 minutes paging through the table of contents and then only read the sections I really needed. Of course, then I got hooked and needed to read the whole book through just in case there was a tidbit of information I might want to know. I agree that this book will be very helpful in your planning.

You might also want to peruse the Trip Reports area here on Mousebuzz for trips on Disneyland. I’ve never been there but have been intrigued by the Trip Reports (TRs) written about this park.

I’m not sure what the perks are of staying at a Disneyland Resort, but at WDW, we find the perks well worth it. Extra Magic hours (EMH) allow you to be in the park earlier than the rest of the public, making lines shorter during that time. You can utilize their transportation to and from the parks, which we felt was a bonus. If the same perks abound for Disneyland, you might find it is worth it. Someone with actual experience there will come along soon to answer that question for you, I am sure.

Welcome to Mousebuzz (MB)!


#11

Just wanted to welcome you to Mousebuzz! Enjoy your planning.


#12

MommaMouse, the title of your thread probably got a LOT of Mousebuzzers jumping at the chance to give you good advice! YAY!

Welcome to Mousebuzz!


#13

[QUOTE=MommaMouse;1108572]Oh my! Hello! :minnie:

I found this forum last night but had to wait for my account to be approved before I could post. In the mean time, I posted at another forum where one person answered me. Now I come back here and have so many welcomes! I am relieved and so happy to have found you!

OK. I’ll go down the list. Get the book. OK! I’ll work on that tomorrow. Is it short?

On-site or off-site hotel. I have no clue! My husband says the on-site are 25% off right now which he thinks makes them comparable to off-site hotels. What is a normal price range? The kinds of perks we’re talking about?

How old are your kids? 11 and 2.
The 11yo has anxiety. Doesn’t do well with suspense (including long waits and foreboding music) or with surprises. Prefers docile rides, non-ride experiences, and other things that are predictable.
The 2yo has sensory processing disorder. Loves surprises, adventure, and constant activity. I’m most worried about waiting in lines and balancing their very different needs on my own.

How familiar are you with Anaheim/Southern California? Not at all.

Will you have a car? We haven’t decided yet if we’ll fly or drive. The cost of the rest is going to be a major factor.[/QUOTE]

Hey, my kids are 11 and 3!

Okay, let’s start at the beginning.

If you husband is under the impression that on-site at 25% off is equal to offsite, BOOK NOW. :biggrin:

Actually, it’s still a bit pricier.

I love staying on-site, I really feel like I never have to leave the magic. The Disneyland Hotel is the farthest walk among the Disney hotels, but it’s my favorite. The pool is also a lot of fun, with a cool waterslide.

The Grand Californian is VERY pricey. But it’s close, and extremely convenient for afternoon breaks.

Your other option is to pick a “Good Neighbor” hotel. There’s a thread here full of lots of opinions on them. None of them will be as “Kid Fun” as the Disneyland Hotel, but they’re still nice, still have pools.

The biggest perk for staying at the Disney hotels is Early Entry privileges on days that start with “S” or “T”. You get into Disneyland an hour early. This is a fantastic time to do Fantasyland, and the only time you’ll find short (ish) lines at Peter Pan and Dumbo.

If you book a package through Walt Disney Travel Company (that would include doing it at Disneyland.com) you also get a voucher for “Morning Madness” at Toontown. Toontown opens later than the rest of the park in general, but with this voucher you’ll get in early, get some time with the characters, enjoy it in a less crowded atmosphere.

Here’s what I’m thinking for you: It sounds like Fantasyland might be a big focus for your family. You have a lot of days, mid-week, at a time when the crowds will still be manageable. Early Entry isn’t going to be the must-have that it might be under other circumstances. (Also: you can get a ticket with ONE early entry day from several sources- go to Mousesavers.com for the list.)

So… if you can afford to stay on site, do it, but if not… you’re going to be fine. The best way to figure out the prices is to go to Disneyland.com and price out some packages. Make sure you click the link for Special offers to get the discounted rates. They also have a link for the Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels.

As for driving/flying: either option is perfectly viable. Do keep in mind that if you drive, you’ll be paying parking fees almost anywhere you stay.

Moving on… the Unofficial Guide will tell you a lot about each of the attractions, so you’ll know what’s going to work for your kids. After you’ve perused that, you can ask us some more specific questions.

As for the “waiting” problem… you’re going to have to wait. HOWEVER… you’ll do less waiting if you make it to the park WHEN IT OPENS. Lines tend to be very, very manageable until about 11:30.

Also, stop by City Hall and discuss what’s going on with your kids. They may be able to offer a guest assistance card (GAC), that, while it won’t keep you from having to wait, it may allow you to wait NOT in a long line but in a different area that might be more appropriate to your kids’ needs and more comfortable for all of you.

Anyway… as you make more decisions you’ll be able to ask more specific questions… so keep asking!


#14

Hello, hello! Thank you for the welcome! You guys are awesome!

I got the PM on special needs. Thanks! If anyone else has info about that, I’m finding almost none on Disneyland as it is all about WDW.

Hotel stuff is on hold until tonight when my husband can go over it with me.

I’m looking at planning. It looks like 3 of my nights will be grad nights–Wed, Thur, and Fri. If I’m there Mon-Thur by myself with the kids, Fri with everyone, and Sat focused on the grown-up stuff, will I want the Parkhopper or the Disneyland tickets? I’m thinking just DLR (woohoo, I’m already learning the lingo!).

We don’t even know the other parks and my kids don’t really know Disney characters so it isn’t like we’ll feel like we’re missing something. The younger child is 39" barefoot (maybe 40" between shoes and growing time?) if that makes a difference.

ETA: I saw your post after publishing mine, Andrea. Thanks! I’ll go do some more searching!


#15

My husband is picking up the book now! It looks like I probably need to choose between two big ticket conveniences.

Option 1: Drive two full days (~24 hours driving time, one overnight hotel stop) just me and the kids to get there. Then another 2 driving days to get home, too. If I do this, I have enough to do an on-site hotel and with that to get 3 magic mornings and the toontown morning included.

Option 2: Fly there just me and the kids. If I do this, I stay off site and have to arrange transportation and don’t get the MMs or toontown morning.

Those two options work out to be about the same cost. Keeping in mind the crowd size for that week, the three grad nights, the Memorial Day weekend and its MM that I could do with my husband while the kids have a sitter, and the convenience factors of both, what would you recommend?


#16

One note: You can still get ONE Magic Morning if you stay offsite- use this link for your tickets:

MouseSavers.com - Discounts on Disneyland Tickets & Passes

That said… it’s only a 6-day ticket.

I think it all depends on your patience/tolerance for driving. If that option strikes terror in your heart, don’t do it! I’m always going to vote for the perks and the on-site hotel (which one are you considering, by the way?), but that is quite a drive you’re considering.

That said, getting a two year old through the airport isn’t all that much fun, either, although the 11-year-old can be a big help. Arranging transportation to Disneyland is doable- there are several shuttle services.

But to clarify: Both options leave you the same amount of time at the parks?


#17

Hi and welcome,

We had our first trip this spring break with lots of help from Andrea. :wub:
If you are going to stay offsite Tripadvisor.com is a great place to go for reviews. That is how we found our hotel - Park Vue. We were very happy with the location. The pool was not a place to hang out - basically in the middle of the parking lot - so I would not choose that hotel for you. But I liked being able to read a see more pictures of the hotels.

I think you will have a great time. I hate to drive long distances so I would fly for sure. See if you can find an offsite hotel with a nice pool.

The park hoppers are nice, but not completely necessary. We used ours, but could have gotten by without it if it were a cost factor.


#18

Here are a few hotels to check out for price comparisons

Howard Johnson’s Anaheim - pool looks really fun
Hotel Menage Anaheim
Holiday Inn Anaheim


#19

The method of travel will not affect the dates we’re there.

I’m talking to my husband about the possibility of him riding back with us, which is the leg of the journey I’m really dreading.

He’s crunching hotel numbers and is telling me 6 nights even at Paradise Pier will be $256 a night. I thought I read that was in the $180 price range and that the Disneyland Hotel is in the $220 price range.

Is there a source that has better in-park rates?


#20

[QUOTE=MommaMouse;1108681]
He’s crunching hotel numbers and is telling me 6 nights even at Paradise Pier will be $256 a night. I thought I read that was in the $180 price range and that the Disneyland Hotel is in the $220 price range.

Is there a source that has better in-park rates?[/QUOTE]

In Park Rates are rarely discounted.

If you have an annual pass, that helps. The last time I got a quote from Disneyland was $150.00 for a night at the Gran Californian.

But you seriously ought to consider Priceline.com. $50.00 a night per room for the Hyatt is tough to beat. I use name your own price, it’s well worth the savings…