I’m so excited to share our Disneyland recap with all of you today! I hinted to Justin that I wanted to go on a family trip to Disneyland for my 40th birthday and was shocked to find out (on Christmas Day!) that he decided to reach out and had planned the most EPIC trip to Disneyland for us!! I was SO excited to go and experience this magical place with our little family!
To be honest, I really didn’t have a hankering to go to Disneyland UNTIL we had kids but what I didn’t know then is just how much I would LOVE it. Honestly, I had the most incredible time (I could cry just thinking about it as I type this blog!) and it’s true when they say Disneyland is the most magical place ON EARTH. Disneyland Resort in California has 100+ Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel attractions spread across TWO incredible Theme Parks: Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park!
I was AMAZED at how polite everyone is from the guests to each and every single Cast Member. Everyone was so nice and respectful and always going above and beyond. Even though there are a ton of people in one area, everyone is so patient and excited!
It wasn’t just the people in Disneyland that blew me away … it was also the DETAILS. The details are mind-blowing. They are everywhere … every single little detail has been thought of and executed. For example, when we were standing in line for one of our favourite rides (more on this later!), Peter Pan’s Flight, I was looking around, soaking everything in and I happened to look up at Snow White’s Scary Adventure Ride and noticed this window … as I was watched the curtain of the window opened and there was The Evil Witch opening up and closing the curtains!!
Since I noticed that little detail I made sure I was off my phone and that the entire family was present in the moment! We were chatting with other people in line and we were ALWAYS on the lookout for more fun details as we waited in line for the rides! I honestly think they add these little extra details for this reason! I’m a creative kid at heart so I was BOUNCING off the walls! I kept saying to all of the cast members “I hope people notice and appreciate all of these little details!” … LOL! I was just a wee bit excited!
No matter where we went the details did not go unnoticed … there are so many different areas and themes throughout the park and it will BLOW YOUR MIND when you enter them … they literally thought of EVERYTHING. From the bathrooms to the food courts, everything is on theme! I felt like I was transported to a completely different world that was free of worry and anxiety, I was so enthralled and excited about everything around me that only positive thoughts and memories filled my brain!
Needless to say, Disneyland Resort EXCEEDED my expectations (so much so that I CRIED when we met Minnie Mouse! LOL!). I would LOVE to go back again when both kids are old enough to remember ALL of the pure magic and also so that they are both tall enough to try out even more rides! If anyone out there is planning a trip to Disneyland, I thought it would be fun to share our tips with you along with a list of our favourite rides!
Our Favourite Tips
1. Book your hotel on the property
I would definitely suggest staying in one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels (Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disneyland Hotel & Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel) as you are basically a 5-minute walk from the theme park this way and you can pop back to the hotel if need be to lay the kiddo’s down for a nap! To be honest, though, we napped the kids in the stroller when we were walking around! We made sure to bring our Bugaboo with the skateboard and seat attachment so we could swap them out if one of the kids was tired! However, one day we did bring them back to the hotel and they napped for about 2.5-3 hours!
Also, Disneyland Resort is located in Anaheim (not Los Angeles) and is approximately 45 minutes from LAX Airport so it’s an easy trek right from the airport directly to your hotel there and back!
2. Download the Disneyland App
I recommend downloading the Disneyland App and learning as MUCH as you can prior to your first day! The app allows you to do so much such as check wait times, locate your favourite characters, and even pre-order food!! We didn’t sit down and eat much with the kids because as soon as we stopped to sit down they were both taking off in different directions so instead, I ordered our meals ahead of time through the app and they would be ready for us once we got there!
While we tried to eat mainly plant-based when we were there we found that since we were eating on the go 99.9% of the time, we ate quite a few churros and turkey dogs! I also made sure to bring our Munchie Mugs for the kids and I filled them up with snacks every day so we were constantly snacking on the go! If you are looking for the best places to get vegan food in Disneyland, make sure to check out the Happiest Vegan on Earth’s blog post that lists her faves, here!
Food Tip: Try the Ronto Wrap from Ronto Roasters at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge because not only is it vegan but it is also MIND-BLOWING DELICIOUS!!!
Also, if you have the app, I suggest to take advantage of the Disney FASTPASS service and spend less time waiting in line for popular attractions and entertainment. Plus, the new MaxPass is a digital tool that allows you to book FASTPASS on your smartphone. They are a bit of an investment so make sure to get them early to get the best bang for your buck!
3. Plan the night before
There is so much to see and do in Disneyland that you’ll want to plan your days the night before. In addition to all of the rides, there are also fireworks shows, parades, Broadway-style musicals (you can catch Frozen-live at the Hyperion!), Character Meet & Greets, Mickey-shaped foods, and SO MUCH MORE! You can access all of the park hours, entertainment schedules and more via the app!
4. Look out for all of the details
As I mentioned above, I would try to stay off your phone as MUCH as possible while you’re there because there are SOOOOOO many little details surrounding you! Keep your eyes peeled and stay in the moment as much as you can!
5. Eat the churros!
I don’t think I need to say much more than this. Their churros are amazing … I’m pretty sure we ate them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner one day … LOL!
6. Get to the park early and start exploring from the back of the park to the front
This is one of my favourite Disneyland hacks! Try to get to the park as early as possible and start making your way through the park from BACK TO FRONT! So many people start at the front and work their way back but if you do it backwards the lines tend to less busy and once you’ve made your way through – you are at the front of the park!
7. Bring your own water bottles and stay hydrated
We brought our own water bottles with us so we could stay hydrated throughout the day (considering how much walking you do in a day!!) and it also helps with the waste component as well!
8. Wear comfy shoes
Speaking of walking … I would HIGHLY suggest packing a few pairs of comfy shoes! I brought three different pairs of comfy sneakers and I wore a different pair each day so my feet didn’t get too sore! In one day we walked around 20k steps! It helps burn off those churros! LOL!
While we couldn’t go one some of the rides because of Leo’s height (he’s just short of 38 inches and there are some rides that have a 40-inch height restriction!) we still found there were endless rides for both Leo and Annie to go on! So, no need to worry if your kiddos aren’t 40 inches tall, you can still find plenty of great rides for everyone!
One other thing for the parents to note, you can’t bring your stroller in the lineups so I would recommend bringing a small bag or a fanny pack to carry your valuables with you! We parked our stroller in the stroller parking area (there are LOTS of them!) and we were never worried about anything going missing, we left our stroller and a few items there for sometimes over an hour and I never felt worried about it!
Speaking of strollers, the only thing I wish I would have brought with us was our Bugaboo double stroller! We had heard that double strollers weren’t allowed in Disneyland but it turns out they just have a max-width when it comes to double strollers so we totally could have brought ours! Had we brought our double stroller both kids could have napped at the same time and we could have stayed out later and gone for dinner but since we didn’t have this we had to go back early to give them a break.
If you have kids 5 and under I would recommend finding a double stroller that fits within the width requirements as the park doesn’t really close until midnight and there is so much fun to be had! Justin and I argued that this would have changed everything and I have to admit, I was right and he was wrong! LOL!!!
Our Favourite Rides
Peter Pan’s Flight
Hands down our favourite ride!
Luigi’s Rollickin Roadsters
Leo was over the moon!
Radiator Springs Racers
I would suggest booking this ride first thing in the morning because it’s so popular! Even if you book it in the morning you might not get on the ride until the evening!
We wanted to go on this ride as a family but found out that Leo was just an inch too short so Justin went on it alone and when he got off he was RAVING about it and told me I had to try it! I went on it later that evening and it was MIND BLOWING!! Soooo good!
It’s A Small World
A staple Disneyland ride!
Mad Tea Party
Aka the Teacup ride which we went on about 5 times!
Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
Brought back so many memories!
Guardians of the Galaxy
I went on this alone and it was AMAZING! This is a ride for taller kids or adults! Also, make sure to book this one first thing in the morning!
For taller kids or adults only! I went on this by myself, I was SCREAM LAUGHING the entire time! It was so exhilarating and so scary fun!
Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue
This was when we realized Annie is “Boo” … LOL!
Indiana Jones Adventure
For taller kids or adults only!
The Jungle Cruise
The kids loved seeing all of the animals along this fun cruise!
There you have it! I hope you found this blog helpful and that you’re now feeling inspired to take your little family for a magical experience!! If you have been to Disneyland before, PLEASE share your favourite tips, tricks, and rides, in the comments section below!
I LOVE this post and am happy to see you had such a wonderful time! If you loved Disneyland I would suggest going to Disneyworld next! I’ve been to both and think Disneyworld is 10x better! There’s double the theme parks (they also have water parks) and you would especially love Animal Kingdom!
What great recommendations! I went as a kid and cannot wait to go back with my kids one day, it seems like so much has changed!
Hi Jillian! Thank you for a great post about the original magic kingdom. It’s unlike any other place! <3 I would love to know from where you got the grey sweatshirts with the white heart/Mickey ears. Thanks!
What an amazing vacation! Love all things Disney. Where did you get your ears? Love how simple they are.
Just a note about tip #1, staying on property…only the Grand Californian is a five minute walk. The Disneyland Hotel is about 10min. And the Paradise Pier is around 15 min to the gate. Some of the good neighbor hotels across the street are closer. Also, if you fly into John Wayne airport instead of LAX it’s only about a 30 minute ride to Anaheim.
I agree with you. Disneyland is amazing. Once you walk through the gates. It’s like all your worries go away. A little tip I have is for people who can’t ride those crazy rides like Space Mountain or Icredicoaster. I spelled that wrong. I can’t go on those rides. So while your is in them. I take photos and just take my time taking it all in. Seeing little kids run up to Pluto or there favorite Disney princess. Or meet a complete stranger doing the same thing I’m doing.. You van also meet your favorite characters. Mine Eeyore. Or Donald Duck. Love your Blog love your family. I hope you have a vlog like you dif for your Maui 40th birthday trip. Much love to your family and to the pups Nacho and Peaches.
Can you please link some of your outfits? I love your leopard dress!!!
The leopard dress is from Zara! xoxo
Jillian! So happy to see how much fun you and your family had. I’ve been going to Disneyland since I was 8 and I am obsessed so I love seeing when others discover how magical it is. Next time you go, touch the apple outside Snow White’s Scary Adventures for another surprise! 🙂
You might want to change your food tip though – the ronto wrap is made with pork! The vegan one is the ronto-less garden wrap. Wouldn’t want anyone to blindly order and end up with something they can’t eat (although knowing Disney they would make it right immediately, they’re awesome like that).
We are booked to go to Disneyland in September with two kiddos, we can’t wait!! Did you use rider switch? That way one can wait with the kids and then you can swap without having to get back in line? We haven’t used it at Disney but it was so handy at universal.
Do you list anywhere where all your mickey/minnie shirts are from? Currently planning our Disney trip – would love to know! Thanks for all the great tips!
I don’t have a link, but we got them right in Disneyland! I hope that helps xoxo
We were there the same time you were jilly ! i have a 7, 5 and 1 year old ! but we still managed and had a great time.
tips:1. 1 day is NOT enough to enjoy disney especially if you have kids. So when you plan your vacation. Plan to have 3 days for disney. they have discounted 20% off tickets for canadians for 3 + day tickets.
2. it got chilly at night for us and some nights sweaters werent enough for the kids !
3. budget for $$$$$ lol. tickets, food everything is expensive and toys and merchandise are everywhere. Good luck trying to control your kids from wanting everything lol
4. disney app burns thru cell phone charge like crazy !! bring backup !
5. 100% max pass disney app !!!!
6. i recommend bringing a back pack to store all ur kids stuff. as jilly said, strollers need to be parked outside the rides and having a backpack to store valuables and not hurting ur back or shoulder with a purse is good.
7. everything else jilly said ! 🙂
We are booked! Kids are 5 and (almost) 8. It’s been on my mind for a while but your stories made me book!
We are booked! I have a 5 and almost 8 year old and I have been thinking about it for a while but your stories made me book!
You’re amazing! This is perfect timing I’m heading to Disney next week! Thank you!
Thanks for sharing! I loved following along on your stories! We’re planning a Disney trip in a couple years as our son is 2.5 so I want him to be taller. Also looking to stay on property and the Disneyland Hotel. Thanks for the great tips!! Hoping there are also gluten free food options as I am a celiac.
Love Disney! And your style was on point! Lol. Wear did you get matching grey sweatshirts?
When you’re advising to “book” the rides, is that with this fastpass app? Going to Disney World in the Spring and trying to figure this out! 🙂
Yes!! You got it! xo
We go to Disneyland in a a couple weeks and I am just SOOOO excited! I have young kids too so it’s good to know what were your favourite rides, and we will definitely be bringing our double stroller. I was following you on Instagram and watched your stories when you were at Disney, and it looked like so much fun! We did Disneyworld last year it was amazing, we’ve got the Disney bug now! Thanks for sharing your adventures!
When we take our family to Disneyland we rent our strollers from a company called City Stroller Rentals. They deliver the strollers right to your hotel and pick them up from there too. And it’s quite reasonably priced. That way we don’t have to bring the grandchildren’s strollers with us on the trip:-)
Did you see Tinkerbell magically appear in one of the lanterns while waiting for the Peter Pan ride?!! So cool! We went to Disney right after you, so thanks for sharing so much in your stories!
Great post!! We consider ourselves a “Disney” family and I LOVE reading blogs and posts raving other people’s’ experiences especially first-timers.
Our last trip to the parks we decided to splurge and stay at a Disney hotel, Paradise Pier. As Jillian mentioned, the proximity can’t be beat staying on a Disney property. There is also one HUGE perk to this accommodation option – “Extra Magic Hour” , early admission option. This is an extra benefit for guests registered and staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel where they can arrive to either parks, Disneyland / Disney California Adventure (DCA) an hour before regular opening and enjoy a fair number of attractions before the crowds arrive. This is especially true foe DCA as they don’t normally do “Magic Morning” for regular park admission.
We stayed 5 nights and took advantage of the extra hour each morning of our park passes. DCA was the best because we never waited more than 15 mins for Radiator Springs Racers without FastPass and basically walked on Toy Story Midway Mania, California Screamin’ (Incredicoaster), and Tower of Terror which was closing at the end of the week we were there before it was changed to Guardian of the Galaxy.
We were also prompted to stay at a Disneyland Resort property and upgraded the accommodations to Club-Level (which is a whole other level of staying) by subscribing to Disneyland.com and agreeing to receiving promotions via e-mail. Club-level gave us access to the Beachcombers Club Lounge and concierge area. The lounge offers continental breakfast, self-serve snack bar all day, appetizer and drinks,, and desserts in the evening which is all complimentary to registered guests staying at the Club-Level. I Can’t tell you how much it saved on food costs.
Some great blogs on Club-Lavel at Paradise Pier:
Great tips Jillian! It was so nice to meet you in line on the Alice in Wonderland ride. You have a beautiful family!
Disneyland is the best! Running into you was a small highlight for me on our trip’ My daughter and I had churros first breakfast most days too!! And I totally agree with starting at the back! Especially California Adventure!
Some of the best tips I share are to use the single rider lines, if possible and to do the ride swap if you have kids so each adult can ride but your family only has to wait in line once! One of the best places on earth and I dream about the churros!!!
As soon as you enter and walk down Main Street, you’re in a different world and it just makes you smile! Such a happy place! We took our daughter at 18 months but I’m dying to take her back now at 5 1/2! It will blow her mind and she loves everything Disney! Glad you had an amazing time. Thanks for the tips.
We’ll be taking my daughter when she’s almost 3, was Leo scared on any of the rides?
I’ve booked our Disney vacation for May and I am loving those Disney tie dye shirts! I’m going to copy your lead and order them!
Hey Jillian. I’m loving the red tank and cardigan you are wearing in a a couple of the above pics (the cardi with pom poms). Wondering where you got both?
Looks like you guys had a great time….haven’t been in years and hope to get back there over the next few. Next time you’ll have to conquer Disneyworld! I went with the entire extended family two years ago and LOVED it (and hubs and I didn’t even make it to Epcot….apparently the fav among adults, especially foodies like myself). Bonus: so incredibly cheap to stay in the resorts surrounding Disney.
Thanks for your time : )
Disney is amazing!! If you are blown away at Disneyland with all the details,, and being so happy in the “Disney bubble” you should go to Disneyworld next time…takes much more planning but SO worth it. My husband and I have been so many times together it is our FAVOURITE place and we don’t even have kids yet. You can be completely submerged in the Disney bubble, and the details, size and endless things to do and see are NEXT LEVEL!!! Happiest place on earth! Enjoyed seeing all your Disney pics and posts! Gives us excitement and hope for when we eventually take young kids there!
It was so much fun watching your Instagram stories of your trip. Can you share where you guys got all your Disney gear? Thanks.
We got everything in Disneyland, sorry I don’t have any links to share. xoxo
love disneyland so much! glad you had a blast. I feel like the dole whips are a staple too. Also! Where is your cheetah print dress from?!?!! SOOOO cute!!
It’s from Zara!! xoxo
Im curious where did Jillian get the red sweater she is wearing in her disney land pic?
I got it from Jardines Domaine, but they are sold out! You can also find an assortment of colours on Chic Wish, here is the link: https://www.chicwish.com/catalogsearch/result/?f=knot+your+love+cardigan&q=your+love+cardigan. xoxo
Hey Jillian. Just wondering where your red tank and red Pom Pom sweater are from? Love them both 😊.
I got my red pom pom sweater from Jardines Domaine in Kamloops but you can find them online as well!
What luggage did you and justin bring to share with each of your kids? Thanks
I”m heading to DisneyLand at the end of this week with my husband and 4 year old- this was such a helpful read! And it makes me even more excited to go. Thanks so much!
Thanks for the tips. We have booked a trip for April . My two 5 year old granddaughters and 6 adults. I am so excited to go , can’t wait. So if you have more tips it is very much appreciated.. thank you so much.
So much fun!! What luggage did you and justin use to share with each child?
Love the recap — some great tips! Thanks! Can you share where you got your disney shirts? I love the mickey tie-dye!
Thanks for all these tips Jilly! Start at the back of the park – genius! Can’t wait to use your tips on our Disney trip 🙂 One question for you, how did you manage your sleeping arrangements with Annie and Leo in the hotel? My husband and I are going with our two daughters (2 & 10 months old) who both sleep in cribs at home. It should be interesting! haha
You need to do Disney World next!! We are from California but moved to Florida!! Both are amazing so you should give it a try. The best month to go is January…..it’s not hot at all!! It’s beautiful!! Now start scrapbooking that amazing trip!!
Love the photo with Lightning! Thec car was named after a family friend and great man, Glenn, who lost his life too soon. He’s still bringing happiness to others through Lightning.
Where did you get your leopard dress???
I saw all your Instagram stories and it made me want to book a trip right away. I think we are going to wait until our son is 5 (he’s 3.5 now) and our, soon to be, daughter is 1..5 (in my belly at the moment). Your trip looked amazing and I’d even go without kids! Do you recommend going in January or February? I hear that is the slowest time. I’m not a crowds person and would love to go when there are less people.
I cried when I saw Minnie Mouse too!
First and foremost, Jillian, you are so beautiful! 🙂
My Disney tips:
As someone who’s been to both Disneyland and Disney World, I have to say I much prefer the California park. It’s smaller/ and a lot less overwhelming.
We always stay across the street at a Goid Neighbor hotel. It’s just as close a walk as one on the property & much cheaper.
The best place to eat (atmosphere-wise) is The Blue Bayou, located inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Book early, because tables fill up very quickly.
The best treat, IMO, is the Dole Pineapple Whip. Sooooo good!!
We’ll be going for the 4 th year in a row this March and I couldn’t be more excited.
thank you for all the amazing tips! We are headed there in 10 days and I wondered about the bathroom situation. I have a new potty trainer who doesn’t dig the big public washrooms and was considering toting a potty seat around (so glamorous) to make him more comfortable. Can you let me know if there were smaller toilets or the general setup for little people?
We’re planning a trip to Disney World in February (as long as COVID is a thing of the past – fingers crossed) and this post was so helpful! We cannot wait! We don’t have kids, but my husband has never been and I want him to experience it as a kid himself before we start a family!