Disney California Adventure Tips for Little Ones

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Okay, mamas – get ready for my Disney-theme follow-up – this one is all about my tips for visiting Disney California Adventure, a fabulous park that has LOTS of toddler-friendly, fun rides and activities. In case you missed my last post, here are my top 10 tips for visiting Disneyland with toddlers.

Here they are in no particular order…I hope these tips and tricks for visiting Disney California Adventure (or DCA) in Disney lingo!

Don’t Miss These Rides!

1.  “A bug’s land” is a great area for toddlers.  The rides are similar to “Fantasyland” at Disneyland – the Francis’ Ladybug Boogie is like the teacups, the Flik’s Flyers are like Dumbo, and so forth.  My munchkins love this area, and can easily spend awhile here.

Bonus?  There is a small splash pad to let the kids cool off on hot days, so make sure to pack a swimsuit, towels, sunscreen, etc. if you plan on getting wet

Note to mamas – the bug’s It’s Tough to be a Bug “live show” can be scary for little ones – it’s a cute show, but is “underground” and the majority of it is in the dark with…well…bugs.

2.  Cars LandA super fun “land” that tends to be one of the busiest places in the park to visit since its grand opening.  A word of advice – if you know that the Cars “Radiator Springs Racers” ride is really important to you and your kids, go straight to the FastPass line, like first thing when you enter the park (walk straight in, pass the Carthay Circle Restaurant on your left, and it is tucked in on the left). The ride is pretty awesome, but is typically a 90-minute+ wait.  FastPass is the only way to go, but they run out quickly.

I also have to give a shout-out to Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.  Super cute ride, cute music and cute things to look at in line.

Note to mamas– most of the line is covered – important in warm weather!

If you can, try to be walking along the Cars Land “main drag” at dusk…they light up the streets and play music like they do in the movie (you know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen the movie 83 times, like I have).  Super cool and super cute.

3.  Take a ride with the Little MermaidI have never waited more than 10 minutes for this ride (usually five minutes!).  It is air conditioned, adorable, and my kiddos want to go on it multiple times.  Works for me!

Note to mamas – if your kids are uncomfortable in the dark, this ride is not for you.  I wouldn’t consider it scary at all, but you are “under the sea,” and there are pockets of darkness in between the singing and character displays.

4.  Love Toy Story?  My kids do.  The 4-D “Toy Story Mania!” is a must, but always has really long lines…with no FastPass option.  So if you know you want to do this, head over after you pick up your Cars Land “Radiator Springs Racers” FastPass and try to avoid the crowds.

Need a Break?

5.  Disney Junior – Live on Stage.  THE show to be at, according to my kids.  Yes, mamas.  There is an actual “live” show that  features Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First – interactive, air conditioned, and lots of room to squeeze in people (you sit on the floor…lots of room and I’ve never actually been turned away from a show…there always seems to be enough places to sit).  This show is so cute…and such a fun way to get off your feet, cool off, and enjoy seeing your kids go nuts over their favorite Disney Junior characters!

6.  The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.  This is a cute play area next to the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa and is a GREAT place to let your kids run around and burn off some excited energy.  There is an obstacle course for the kids, caves to walk through, slides for little ones, a “zip line” for older kiddos, and even a chance to earn a “Wilderness Explorer badge,” by searching for clues (on a guided map).

Note to mamas – no strollers allowed, they must be parked outside of this area.

7.  The Grand Californian Hotel and Spa has cute little rocking chairs with fun, black and white Disney cartoons on televisions in their lobby, if you and your kids need a break to cool off.  You can enter from the DCA park, but remember – make sure to get your hand stamped for re-entry!  Also, the entrance to DCA from the hotel is reserved for hotel guests, so beware that you may have to re-enter the park from the main entrance if you plan to return.

Rumbly in our Tumblies

8.  We took our daughter to Ariel’s Grotto for a “princess lunch” on her birthday (they also do breakfast).  Oh.my.word.  This was SUCH a cool experience for both of my kids.  The food is fabulous (several courses from a fixed menu), the atmosphere is beautiful and Ariel and her princess friends are announced to the room, enter, and actually walk to each table to chat with you and take as many pictures as you want.

My little girl was in heaven.  When we were there, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Cinderella, and Snow White were part of this experience (in addition to Ariel greeting each family as we walked down the staircase and into the dining room).  Make sure to call ahead for reservations (I would make them as far in advance as you can) – (714) 781-DINE or (714) 781-3463.  It’s a little pricey, but it is WORTH it!

9.  Disney California Adventure has lots of yummy places to eat, so you really can’t go wrong.  My personal favorite is the Pacific Wharf Cafe on the “Wharf” – they have great salads, fresh bread bowl soups, fruit, nice, plump sandwiches…yum! (Note to mamas – seating is outside on the wharf).

Keep an Eye Out for Characters

10.   On “Hollywood Lane,” we typically find the Disney Junior characters right outside of the Disney Junior – Live on Stage area.  Toy Story characters are usually on the Paradise Pier in the little gazebo across from the carousel.  We’ve seen Buzz Lightyear, Jesse the Cowgirl and Woody – super cute and rarely long lines.

Who else loves Disney California Adventure as much as my family does?  What tips and tricks do you have?  Please comment below and share your ideas!

 

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Halloween Time at Disneyland 2012

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We have taken our family to Halloween Time at Disneyland for years and it is absolute FAVORITE family events for a spooky good time! Now through October 31st, the park is decorated in boo-tiful Halloween decor and has lots of fun in store for the whole family. Here are some details about the Halloween festivities going on at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure this year.

The after-hours Mickey’s Halloween Party, a separate ticket event, has become an annual highlight of Halloween Time for trick-or-treating families and will take place in Disneyland Park  on 11 special nights. Tickets are available at www.Disneyland.com/Halloween.

Ticket includes:

~Admission to Disneyland Park up to 3 hours prior to the event’s start time.
~ Complimentary parking for one vehicle. Larger vehicles may require an additional fee.
~ Special trick-or-trick stations with candy and healthy goodies.
~ Halloween Screams fireworks spectacular.
~ Dance parties, and the chance to eat, drink and be (not so) scary throughout the park.
~ Access to nearly all the attractions, including the Halloween-themed Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and the Haunted Mansion Holiday.
~ Photo ops with popular Disney and Pixar Pals and Disney Villains.
~ Mickey’s Costume Party Cavalcade, a Halloween parade presented for Party Guests.
~ Save on tickets when you buy tickets in advance!
~ On select nights Annual Passholders save $18.
~No ticket required for Guests 2 and under.

Mickey’s Halloween Party invites children to wear their costumes (and adults too!) and trick-or-treat at the resort. Disneyland + costumes and trick or treating? Could it get more fun for the kids?!

And throughout the park during Halloween Time at Disneyland 2012, the fun gets even spookier this year, with the new Disney’s Halloween Time Carnival featuring “The Astounding Cauldron of Magic” at Big Thunder Ranch along with annual favorites like ranch animals, pumpkin carvers, Halloween decor and activities for little ones.

Ahoy matey! Got any pirate lovers in your house? At Pirates League in New Orleans Square, guests three and up can live out their pirate dreams and learn the ways of the seven seas by choosing one of three pirate transformation options: Jake and the Never Land Pirates, First Mate and Empress (for pirate princesses). Pirates League is for a limited time only this fall. For Pirates League Reservations call 714.781.7895.

But one of my very favorite things at Disneyland at Halloween Time has to be the Pumpkin Festival, where more than 300 pumpkins are on display on Main Street, U.S.A. Really gets you in the fall mood with all the festive decor!

At Disney California Adventure Park, “The Art of Frankenweenie,” a special exhibit in Disney Animation, Hollywood Lane, features some of the actual sets, props and puppets used to create the “Frankenweenie” film, Tim Burton’s new movie opening in theaters Oct. 5th. A special sneak peek of the movie will be on view September 14th – November 5th.

For spine-tingling fun, drop in at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, where a “supernatural” event happened on Halloween evening, 1939, forever haunting the building.

I can’t more highly recommend this event for the entire family, it is really (not) frightfully fun for the whole family!

[Photo credit: Disney]

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