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Visiting DISNEYLAND California :: America's Best Family Vacation Destination

Tips for a successful visit to Disneyland, California - America's Best Family Vacation Destination

Disneyland , Anaheim Map

On This Page
(Click on a title or scroll down)

yellow arrow Enjoying (and surviving) Disneyland
yellow arrow When To Go?
yellow arrow Disney Souvenirs On A Shoestring
yellow arrow Beating The Crowds :: The Ten Golden Rules

ENJOYING (and surviving) DISNEYLAND, America's best family vacation destination

Is Disneyland truly the best family vacation destination?
Think about it - why would anyone in their right mind voluntarily brave endless queues, blazing heat, screaming children and tortuous rides? The point is, people do this all the time. Happily.

So, why?

While it's true that it would take endless research to get a credible
answer, the probable answer is really very simple. This is where it all began. The concepts and inspirations of the entire Disney extravaganza originated on this spot - and for most Disney purists, that is reason enough to justify a trip to California. Plus, there's plenty to do. As a matter of fact, Disneyland offers more action than Florida's Magic Kingdom. Disneyland offers unique themed 'lands' and several blockbuster attractions that can't be found in any other Disney park. But probably the most important reason for the people who come here is that Disneyland was built during Walt Disney's life time - and has, as such, that special Walt Disney touch of magic that brings out the joy of childhood in all of us.

When to go?

When is the best time of year for that perfect family vacation?

Four major considerations apply when you determining when to visit Disneyland: Peak periods, park operation times, special events and the weather

1. Peak Periods

Many people feel that Disneyland is the best family vacation destination. You will find the park is crowded much of the time, although the number of visitors to Southern California in general and to the Disneyland Resort complex in particular fluctuates greatly throughout the year.

As you would imagine, peak periods are during the holiday periods, particularly Thanksgiving, Christmas and school holiday periods. During these peak periods, Disney has a habit of adding shows, parades and other entertainment which thins out the lines somewhat, and seem to be intended as a kind of thank-you-for-coming -at-this-time gesture.

2. Park Operation Times

Disneyland operating hours fluctuate according to the anticipated crowds. This means that park hours will generally be shorter during off-peak seasons, and tend to open earlier and close later during the holiday season.

While the park is beautiful when lit up, it closes before dark when it's not busy season. Nighttime parades are also held only on Friday or Saturday nights or during the peak periods, something else that should be taken into account.

Guests staying at Disneyland Resort hotels are eligible for Early Entry to the parks. This can also be purchased separately if you are staying at one of the RV parks in the area.

3. Special Events

The park closes for Grad Night, typically several nights in late May and early June. The park reopens for local high school students who celebrate their graduation at the park.

Other special events, which may or may not be open to the public, take place during the year. Check the Disney schedule before you confirm your bookings.

4. Weather

Southern California's weather is fairly stable throughout the year. While temperatures can exceed 90 degrees (32O C), temperatures are more pleasant during the Spring and Autumn months.

Winter can be slightly cooler, especially at night, but in most cases you'll find the weather to be generally pleasant. It's always best to check the weather before you leave. Weather.com has a very reliable service.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is, there is no special time for that perfect family vacation. This does not meen that Disneyland is not the best family vacation destination!
If you're going with the kids, you're basically limited to school holidays - the peak periods. But if you are prepared to incur
a teacher's wrath, you will find that visits during Spring and Autumn enjoy the most pleasant weather and the smallest crowds. The downside is that these times are less suitable for kids and that opening times are shorter. And unless you're there over the weekend, you also run the risk of missing the spectacular evening shows.

Souvenirs on a Shoestring

You're in the midst of your dream vacation to Disneyland. You're having
the time of your life. You're in the midst of the perfect family vacation, in the heart of the best family vacation destination. But what about the folks back home?

While not everyone has the time, the desire or the budget to spend precious vacation time a stack of time shopping for souvenirs, you almost certainly have a list of friends and relatives you feel should get your attention.

Luckily, the Disney parks offer quite a large selection of decent items that are not too expensive.
The most efficient way to spend your time and money, is by making a list of all the people you would like to bring gifts for before you even head out to Disneyland. T
ake a moment to think about the people for whom you want to buy souvenirs. The easiest way to do this is to make alist so you don't inadvertently omit anyone. In addition to any family members who stay behind, consider close friends, close relatives who live nearby (whom you might see soon after you return), office coworkers, babysitters, housesitters, and so on. Don't forget to list members of your travel party (including yourself)!

We always find that the biggest time saver of them all is to do the shopping beforehand, in the comfort of home. You will find many possibilities on the web: Our favorites is The Disney Store (http://disneyshopping.go.com),

You can even order before you leave, and have your items waiting for you by the time you get home - saving you time and adding to the magic of Disneyland, truly the best family vacation destination!

Beating the Crowds at Disneyland :: 10 Golden Rules

1. Buy your Disney tickets in advance.

Disney tickets can be obtained from many sources: From your hotel, from your travel agent when you're booking your trip, from your local Disney store and by arriving early and by purchasing them the night before you intend to visit the park.

The park is packed during peak periods, and you will likely find yourself waiting in line for over an hour just to get the tickets. If you arrive without tickets, try and get them at the downtown Disney monorail station. The lines there are almost always shorter, and you can grab the monorail for a ride into the park.

Many people purchase Annual Passes, mainly during the peak season. If you come at that time too, you may find yourself behind a whole load of folks trying to renew their passes. My advice: take advantage of the mail-in renewal plan and save yourself the time and hassle at the ticket booth.

2. Arrive Early
You will find that the earlier the time, the less people are there. This is true for all aspects of the park experience - shopping, rides and everything else. We always make a habit of getting an early breakfast and heading to the park as soon as possible. That way, we can hit the rides that are busiest later on in the day.

Shop in the morning, when stores are not so crowded, or later in the day. The best time for this is during a parade or fireworks display. You will find you're able to 'knock off' quite a few big attractions in the first hour or so, before the crowds get really bad.

3. Plan Your Day
You may think at some time during your stay, that Disneyland is not really the best family vacation destination. If you plan your stay, you will be able to optimize your time.

If you are coming for a short stay during a peak period, such as a holiday weekend, or any other time the park is full, you will not have time to see everything. Your best bet is to get copies of the park maps and let everyone in your party choose one or two attractions they simply can't miss. Then plan your time so you can take in all the important attractions, and take advantage of the 'Fastpass' too. This is a no-brainer, but it seems many people simply do not take advantage of this system. You still won't get to see everything, but everyone in your party will hopefully get to see their favorite attractions.

Another option, if there are enough adults in your group, is to split up into two or more parties according to interest, and to arrange to meet later at a predefined location. That way everybody will get to do what he or she loves most.

4. Take a Break
Late afternoon and evening parades and Fantasmic are almost always less crowded, and therefore much more enjoyable. But it can be a long day if you head out to the park early in the morning. So the best advice I can give you is - take a break. If you are staying close by, go back to your RV park and take a break in the pool or even a nap for at least a couple of hours. This is really very important. If you want to fully enjoy all the park
has to offer, you should be alert. Long days in the lines take there toll.

The break gives you a much needed change of pace from the frenzied activities in the parks, and allows you to literally cool off from the heat of the day.

You may think that a break is just a waste of precious time - but not so! You will enjoy your days much more and will be refreshed for evening and late night activities. And more, everyone in the group will be refreshed and therefore more pleasant to be with.

If you don't want to leave the park for a break, at least take a leisurely lunch in an air-conditioned restaurant. If the restaurant is on the park grounds, don't forget to get reservations for the time you want. Remember- you're on vacation. Vacations are relaxing, right? So take a break!

But don't forget to return after your break. The weather is much easier, for one thing, and the shortest lines are just before closing, for another. Especially at the parks that are open late.

5. Slower is Faster
Walk single-file through crowds. You'll find you get to your destination much faster.

6. Eat to Win
Eat a large breakfast that will keep you going for a while. Most park restaurants open for lunch at 11:00. They fill up pretty quickly, and at any time after 12:00 will probably be frenzied. They pass their peak periods at about 2:30, and you will find that the lowest periods are between 3:00 and 4:00. You can use this hour to cool off and relax a little, and to beat the crowds. While Disney does not allow you to bring food onto the grounds, you can bring in some small snacks such as granola bars or dried fruit and the like to keep your energy up during the day.

7. Relax

Consider bringing a small folding stool along with you. Several different types are available. My favorite is a walking cane has a seat that folds out. It is a souvenir of a trip to England long ago, used for watching Sunday cricket games on the village green. The cane doesn't way much and can be very helpful if you feel like resting your feet for a while when you're in line.

8. Arrive in Shape
Get into shape before you come. You will have much more stamina and be able to fare the crowds with a more affirmative perspective. Being in shape makes a tremendous difference on multi-day trips, as you will find your exhaustion gets compounded over time.

9. Be Prepared
Discuss the possibility of getting separated in the crowds with your children. Explain to them that cast members are rained to handle lost children, but make sure they have some identification on their person, including your cell phone number if you have one with you. If the members of your party are older, determine a location that can be a used as a rendezvous in the event you are split up.

10. Store Heavy Bags

Avoid large bags and backpacks in the park. The weight adds up and will take its toll by the end of the day. You can store them in the lockers available in and out of the park to avoid lugging them around with you all day. Rather use a fanny pack, photographers vest with multiple pockets or a small bag with a shoulder strap you can strap across your chest.

Follow these basic rules and you will see why Disneyland is America's best family vacation destination.

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