I am making no bones about the fact that “the happiest place on earth” challenged us to make our own happiness. It was our 4th trip since D was born, and the first time out kids were really big enough to want to run the show. There were tears (some were mine) but if you ask our girls how it was, they will beam! I guess we did ok after all.
We like to think of ourselves as Disneyland Pros... my husband grew up in LA and came to the park all the time, plus I had been plenty of times prior to having our girls. This trip we capitalized on what we knew, and discovered some new tricks. Here are our greatest hits:
If at all possible, stay in a Disney Hotel
This is our big vacation of the year, and mama likes a good hotel, so we stay at the Grand Californian, but all of the Disneyland hotels are close and (more importantly) have pools. When the meltdowns started, we took the afternoon off! Jeff napped (best for preventing his meltdown) and the girls and I hung out at the pool.
Reusable water bottles are where it is at
A bottle of water cost a cool $3.49. Times four of us, all day long... I bought Disney themed water bottles at the Dollar Spot in Target, and saved is well over $100. Every Disney bathroom has a water fountain, and all the restaurants will give a cup of ice. (Plus- no guilt over throwing away dozens of plastic bottles.
Take advantage of late parade times
One of the best parts of taking big kids is that we can relax the meal schedule. We made late dinner reservations at Wine Country Trattoria on Pacific Warf. It meant a late afternoon snack to fill up the kids, but we had 8:30 reservations on the parade route for a 8:50 parade. Most families don’t want to eat that late, but if you can, do it! Kids had front row seats, and mama had a glass of wine. 😊
Gift Cards are the best budgeting tool
My kids aaaallllllwwwaaaayyyssss want something new. Every store is a chance to ask for a new baby Minnie Mouse or something or princess bibble wand. At the start of our trip, we gave each girl a gift card with a set amount. That was their spending money. Want Disney shaped crayons- you buy it. Stuffed Incredibles lovey- you buy it. Lunch is on me, but Mickey Mouse shaped lollipop- you buy it.
It is pretty amazing how carefully they spend money when it is their own.
This was a new one to us. I knew Disney pins were a huge thing, I just didn’t know they would be our thing. This also played into the budget factor. Our Cosco vacation package came with pins for each of us. Jeff & I didn’t need ours, so that left one extra for each of the girls. Here is the deal- almost any store has pins to trade if you ask. (Even the bell desk at our hotel had pins to trade!) additionally- any cast member with a lanyard will trade pins too. This meant new pins all the time, with just an initial investment (though they did each buy some pins alo g the way) Next time, I’ll buy an assorted lot of pins off eBay and give the girls a jump start!