Saturday, February 22, 2014

Disneyland! The Who? What? Why? When? Where? How?

Everything you've ever wanted to know about Disneyland, and then some...

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Back to Back

My Top 10 Thoughts on Disneyland...

Size really does matter! 
It may be the one place on earth where half of an inch is an absolute deal breaker. 

We never really grow up!
It is perfectly acceptable for grown men and women to don mouse ears, gnaw on turkey legs like Neanderthals, and/or be caught singing their favorite Disney song out loud. “Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho” seems to be a park favorite. 

Santa, who?
For a child, seeing Santa Claus is about as good as it gets. I thought it impossible to rival such excitement. I was wrong. Watching a child spot Mickey Mouse walking down Main Street is every bit as magical.

It truly is the happiest place on earth! 
Things that normally make you crazy will go unnoticed. You can forgive much when you are happy. Unseasonable temperatures, inclement weather, long lines, sore feet, crying children, hunger, and fatigue are part of every visit, yet nobody seems to mind. 

You're not in Kansas, anymore! 
There is a huge difference between a theme park and an amusement park. It is in the little things. Even the bathrooms and popcorn kiosks are themed. The vision is nothing short of brilliant. 

You will catch yourself, probably more than once hoping to see Goofy or Donald Duck to appear like you did when you were a child. And your heart will flutter a little bit when you see them. 

As much as it pains me to watch my children grow up, there is something to be said for not having to participate in the stroller derby or ride the kiddie rides.

Some things just are!
Yep. There are times a churro is worth $4. 

You can’t lie about your age!
You can try, but it won’t work. Age is more than just a number at Disneyland. You will feel it. You will be reminded several times that you aren’t 21 anymore. 

I'm a believer!
There is a God . He created the Dole Whip.  
Whether it is your 1st or 71st trip,  Disneyland never disappoints. You will experience it in many ways, but never the same way twice.  As a child, your memories of the park will be larger than life. You will recall the days with fondness. As an adult, if you are so fortunate,  you will get to see Disneyland through the eyes of a child.  And that is what it is all about. There is nothing better.  It will rejuvenate your hope in the future.  You will be forever changed as you watch children discover the magical enchantment.  You will be exhausted trying to capture and enjoy every moment.  But never again in your life will you be so happy to be tired.    It is like nowhere else on earth.  If you ever get a chance to go, take it. 

Having just returned from the happiest place on earth, I wanted to compile a few lists for future reference. Since I wish I had known these things before my trip, I decided to publish them here so any of you planning trips may benefit.  Here are things I would definitely do again, some of the things I would not, and other fun little tidbits about Disneyland, shows you must see, and apps you may find helpful!


Do follow the Marching Band. Sometimes they ride the Carousel or the Mark Twain and it's something that you'll always remember.

Do ride Peter Pan first.  It does not offer a fast pass. GO first. It never has less than a 45 minute wait.

Do get a fast pass for the new CARS ride.  Be in line first thing in the morning.  The fast passes are gone withing an hour.  Without one, your wait could be over three hours.

Do yell  "Andy's coming!" in front of the Toy Story characters if you see them in the park.  They will stop whatever they are doing and freeze.  

Do go to City Hall first thing if you are celebrating a special occasion. You may can request a pin to wear that says: “Today’s my birthday” or “Happy Birthday to…” and also a pin that says “My fist visit”. We did this for my daughter (age 5) for her first visit and birthday and she got special privileges (first in line for the submarine ride, special seating, etc.) all day. 

Do make the time to look up at castle in the Snow White attraction. The Evil Queen appears in a window for only a few seconds every few minutes.

Indiana Jones: 
Do the opposite of what the sign says and pull the bamboo pole. There will be a loud booming noise and it will seem as though the ceiling is caving in. 
Do the opposite of what the sign says and pull the rope. It makes an unseen worker “fall” and voices will cry out from the well.

Do join Alice and the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland for a game of musical chairs. Everyday at around 2:30 pm at Coke Corner on Main Street, Alice and the Mad Hatter with an occasional surprise guest, show up for a fun game of Musical Chairs. This is not like any normal game of musical chair, the Mad Hatter tells you something to do whether you are hopping like a rabbit, pretending to be a pirate, or he may just make you chase down your chair.  Each round is accompanied by a pianist playing a musical selection to fit the Mad Hatter’s theme. This fun game is something kids will remember being able to play at Disneyland

Do approach the conductor at Main Street Station.  Ask if you can ride Tender on the Disneyland Railroad. Once the next train comes, you’ll be escorted past security to the front of the  where there is a special seat for two.

Do bring your daughter's favorite princess dress and do let her wear it. She will be addressed by her princess name by all employees. Do attend the meet and greets with the princesses. I wasn't sure they would be worth the wait. I hesitated. I could not have been more wrong. They are well worth the wait. The lines are ridiculous. Prepare yourself. The interaction and personal attention given to each child is unbelievable. You will not want to miss them. Your children are not required to wait in the line with you. You can send them to ride other things with another adult while you wait. It is much more pleasant. I waited 3 hours for Elsa and Anna. I cursed the entire time. My girls were over the moon. Their reaction was priceless. I think if that was all we had done, it would have been worth the entire trip. 

Do see the LEGO store located in Downtown Disney. The LEGO displays are incredible. Ask the employees to tell you about the man hours spent creating every figure in the store.

Do call ahead for a reservation if you plan to dine at the Rain Forest Cafe Downtown Disney.

Do buy the Disney Photo Pass. Available online or at the park. It enables you to utilize all the professional photographers in the parks for your entire stay with an unlimited number of pictures.  You never have to find someone to take a picture of your group. They have great photograph locations set up.  They use fabulous cameras with proper lighting. You may edit the pictures after your trip and add Disney borders, etc.  It was worth every cent.  $109.  Batteries from phones die quickly taking photos.  Cameras get lost.    

Do look for LEGO Captain Jack Sparrow while riding on the Pirates of the Caribbean. He is standing in the scene above on top of a treasure chest.You can only really see it if you’re looking for it, and once you see it, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Do try to hit the secret $50,000  Hidden Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters Target In the second room of the ride where Zurg stands and turns (revealing and concealing targets with his cape), there is a small “Z” on his chest that does not look like the other targets. But it is a target, and it’s worth 50,000 points. This target can be very difficult to hit and it only registers about half of the time. 

Do attend Goofy's Kitchen Character Dining.  It is a bit of a splurge, but not only does it include your meal, but you get to meet Disney characters up close and personal.  It is inside the Disneyland Resort.   The characters make their way around to each table to sign autographs and pose for pictures.  If your child has a particular favorite, call ahead and plan accordingly.  Not all characters attend every meal.

Do ask to see the top of the Mark Twain Riverboat and meet the Captain.  You may also ask to steer the ship.  You need to know a specific phrase to ask in order to do this but you can in fact view the wheelhouse of the ship and if you are deemed worthy and shown how the ship is driven! You can also ask for a Mark Twain Pilot's Certificate and  sign the guest pilot log book.


Don't wait til the last day to buy your souvenirs. If you do purchase an item and something happens (heaven forbid), like a broken feather on your Peter Pan hat, they'll replace it, if you have the receipt. Pop your balloon? Show any balloon vendor and they'll give you a new one.

Don't wear a dress if you plan to ride Luigi's Flying Tires at California Adventure unless you plan to moon the entire park. -courtesy of  Heather Solomon! ( :

Don't forget to ask your Jungle Boat Skipper for a map of your cruise to take with you as a souvenir.

Don't take hats. You won't come home with them.  We lost several.

Don't wait until you get inside the park to remember you need autograph books.  They are ridiculously expensive in the gift shops, and realistically, they don't last.  They are fun for a week.  They rip. Kids lose interest.  Get them at Target before you leave.  Other souvenirs were unavoidable, they seem to be part of the trip. While not inexpensive, they were typically more reasonable than I had thought.  

Don't forget to try the Billy Goat trick while riding Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Once you get to the second hill (the one with the snakes), start looking for the Billy Goat, who should be raised up on your right. Stare the goat down and don’t take your eyes off of him. You’ll experience a dizzy, disorienting feeling that will make the ride even more exciting.

Don't wear uncomfortable shoes. It is miserable. You will walk and walk and walk. And Walk. Skechers Walk 2 $60 Famous Footwear and Kohl's also carry them. I was amazed at how comfortable these were. We had 5 day park hopper passes. We walked from sun up til sun down. Best shoe ever!

Don't forget your rain coats/ponchos. You will get wet on Grizzly Rapids. And by wet, I mean you will be soaked. . Make sure any electronic devices are properly covered.  

Fun Facts...

At the end of the Star Tours ride right when you are about to crash into a fuel truck there is a man that ducks and picks up a phone. That man is George Lucas!

There is a skeleton in Indiana Jones Adventure wearing Mickey Mouse ears. He’s almost impossible to spot unless the ride breaks down and you’re evacuated. 

Attractions don’t close when the parks close, meaning that you can get in a 90-minute line at 10:59 p.m. when the parks close at 11 p.m. and be in the park well past closing. This is a great way to experience rides with perpetually long lines, like Radiator Springs Racers, without wasting  time.

There’s just one real human skull left at Pirates of the Caribbean. When it first opened, there were human skeletons galore. Now, there’s only one remnant left of human remains — the skull and crossbones located over the bed in the Captain’s Quarters.

Disney characters are not allowed to break character while in costume in the park. EVER .They are also not allowed to use the word 'no', they may not sit down or point out a direction with a single finger, as it is considered rude.

If you happen to try on a hat in Mad Hatter’s gift shop, the Cheshire cat will grin back at you in the mirror.

Walt Disney had an apartment above the Main Street fire house which he used with his family regularly. After his death, the light in the window which used to signal his presence in the park was, and still is, left on at all times.” 

Hidden Mickeys are spread all over the park and there's at least one in every ride. There is an app for finding them. 

There are 12 rides/attractions with artificial smells.  Disney produces various scents to enhance your experience while at the park.  If you're riding Pirates of the Caribbean, you might unknowingly get a whiff of sea salt in the air. At Spaceship Earth, you'll smell barbecue as a diorama of Rome burns before your eyes. The Haunted Mansion smells musty and earthy, so you won't forget that there's a graveyard right outside the attraction. Soarin' Over California pumps a faint citrus smell at you as you fly over simulated orange groves. 

There are official US Mailboxes located throughout the park.  With an address and proper postage, Disney will mail them.   Unfortunately they aren't postmarked Main Street, USA any longer.  Postmarking reads Anaheim, California.  

Look for Esmeralda, the fortune teller just inside the Penny Arcade on Main Street.  She holds unique playing cards that are themed to the Haunted Mansion.

Pay attention to the Matterhorn.  Be sure to look up.  Mickey has been known to scale that mountain on occasion.  You never know, it just might be your lucky day. 

Inside Lincoln's theater sits the bench, where Walt Disney sat and envisioned Disneyland. 

Try and find the fire extinguishers.  Walt Disney required them all to be painted to blend in with their locations so they would not detract from the overall vision of Disneyland.  

All tea cups are not created equal. The purple cup "nauseates"quicker.  It spins faster than the others.

Shows to see...

Mickey's Magical Map! This show was recommended by several people.  It is spectacular. If you see any show, you will want to see this one. It is simply not an option.

Mickey's Soundsational Parade. Yes, please.  It takes place on Main Street every night.  It is worth finding a good spot.  Simply spectacular.  
"Tough to be a Bug" in Bug Land (California Adventure) is fantastic. Only Disney can make a black widow look cute. It was adorable.

Jedi Training. A family favorite. Your kids will thoroughly enjoy this one.

World of Color (California Adventure) If you want to be able to enjoy this show, you should get a fast pass for it.  We were in the back and we could not see anything.  They offer fast passes for optimal seating.  I would insist on getting one if you plan to watch.  


On the right side of Main Street, go into the alley where the ice cream stand is, and if you listen carefully, you can hear a dentist drilling his patient.

A voice pages “Egroeg Sacul” in the queue for Star Tours. This is George Lucas spelled backwards.

You can hear a voodoo lady above the restrooms near the New Orleans Square train station.

Near the New Orleans train station, you can hear the dot-dash-dot of a telegraph relaying in Morse code the opening lines of Disney’s speech at opening day of Disneyland.
Apps worth having...

Disneyland Ride Wait Time App 
It will give you the current wait time for any ride in the park.

Hidden Mickey Disneyland App
Helps you locate all the hidden Mickeys throughout the park.

What To Do While In Line Disneyland App
Various activities to engage in while waiting in line for rides/attractions


What's next? 
I think the only thing left to do is make it snow--



  1. It sounds like you had such a fun trip! I will definitely be checking back here next time we go to Disneyland!

    1. You will love it!!! Let me know when you go. I want to hear all about it! xo

  2. Great round-up of tips, thanks!! We are heading to Disneyland (from Australia) in September with my 6 year old son, last time I went was 25 years ago when I was 16! I can't WAIT to see it all again :)


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