I’m so excited to share our Disneyland recap with all of you today! In 2020, weeks before the pandemic, Justin surprised me with tickets to Disneyland for my 40th birthday! This was Leo and Annie’s very first time at Disneyland and it was the most magical and amazing trip. The trip made me so happy and then shortly after the pandemic happened. While we were so lucky to not have been severely affected by the pandemic, our family loves to explore the world and I kept thinking of the most magical place on earth, Disneyland!
I’m so excited to share our Disneyland recap with you all today, after two trips with our small kiddos, I like to think that I’m a Disneyland pro at this point. From navigating the park, ride lines, and the food (and booze!), I’m sharing all of the tips and tricks we’ve learned to help you plan for your next trip!
In full transparency, this was not a paid trip, but Disneyland helped us with a portion of the trip. We are so grateful for our partnership with Disneyland because we just love Disneyland so much!
After our first visit to Disneyland with Leo and Annie, Justin and I wanted to bring back both sets of grandparents the next time we visited. So, this year, when we had the opportunity to visit again during Spring break, it made sense to combine both trips to Arizona and Disneyland, it was only a 4-hour drive to Disneyland from my parent’s place in Arizona. But, unfortunately, those dates didn’t work out with Justin’s parent’s schedule. It was sad that we wouldn’t have both sets of grandparents there as we dreamed of, but we decided that we would go with my parents this time and then Justin’s parents another time! That was until…
I was talking to Justin’s parents and they had a last-minute change-up in their schedule and I was thinking to myself wouldn’t this be cool to surprise Justin with his parents arriving at Disneyland? So, I asked Melissa and Paul if they would want to join us in Disneyland and surprise Justin! It was a lot of planning and I thought Justin might have picked up on the surprise, but it went off without a hitch and it was such a magical moment in the happiest place on earth.
Traveling with both sets of parents
When we went to Disneyland, we did something similar to what we did in Maui. If you love traveling with your parents and your partner’s parents this is a hack that we’ve learned. Bring one set of parents for the first part of the trip, have a little overlap where both sets of parents can be there, and then the second set of parents for the remainder of the trip. I always find the best part of the trip is when both of our parents are there at the same time, my mom and dad and Justin’s mom and dad get along so well and we always have such a good time together.
You can experience Disneyland in one of two ways; relaxing or sport mode, LOL! The first time we visited Disneyland Leo and Annie were just little babes, so we had a more relaxing experience that’s for sure. This time around, Leo was tall enough to go on almost every ride and he’s a little thrill-seeker like his mama, so we experienced the park in sport mode.
The most frequently asked questions
1. How do you navigate the park?
Our holy grail was the Disneyland Genie+ App, it’s about $20 dollars a day, but it was absolutely worth every penny! There are 2 different versions of the Genie App; The Disneyland Genie, which is a free planning service where you can plug in your interests for the day and it will give you itinerary recommendations based on wait time predictions. Or the Genie+ App, which includes lightning lanes … let me fill you in on that below!
What I love about the Genie+ App:
- Lightning Lanes: So, the Genie+ App is $20 a day per person, which will also include lightning lanes. I would suggest only using the Lightning Lanes for rides that typically have really long line-ups, any rides that have a 40-minute wait time or less, I would not recommend purchasing Lightning Lanes for! Keep in mind, you can only book a Lightning Lane every 2 hours, between Lightning Lanes we would eat, go to the bathroom, shop or ride any other rides with 40 min or less wait time! For more information on Lightning Lanes, click here!
- The Map: The app has a map which shows you where all of the rides are located and their wait times. Not to mention, it also shows you which rides are closets to you.
- Ordering Food: There is basically a Doordash/ Skip The Dishes portion of the app. It allows you to order food right in the app, plus when you arrive at the food stand, you can press “I’m Here” which will notify the kitchen to start making your food and it’s normally ready within 10 minutes!
- Making Reservations: If you want to sit down at one of the restaurants, the app will allow you to make a reservation at your desired restaurant. However, many of the restaurants book up ahead of time, so I would recommend making dinner reservations as soon as you book your trip.
- Photo Pass: After you go on a ride, the photo will automatically get added to the app, from there you can download them and purchase them if you want.
There are so many other things that you can do in the app, but these are just a few of my favourite things!
2. Where are you favourite places to eat in Disneyland?
Favourite sit-down restaurant: My favourite sit-down restaurant was hands down Wine Country Trattoria! If you can tell from the name, they serve Italian food and it was delicious. We sat out on the patio and it was just such a wonderful evening; great food, amazing drinks, and good company… what more can you ask for?!
Favourite food on the go: One of our most frequented stops for food on the go was, Ronto Roasters located in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge! The Ronto Roaster is available with pork or a vegan option! We tried both and hands down the meatless one was way better. I highly recommend doing a taste test!
Favourite food for everyone: If you are really picky when it comes to food, one of the best places to eat is Pacific Wharf Café! They have so many food options available and it’s a great place for everyone.
Favourite place to drink: Ok, so you can’t drink alcoholic beverages while walking around Disneyland, but you can drink over at the California Adventure Park! So typically we would start our day out at Disneyland and then at the end of the day head over to California Adventure park for beer and margaritas.
3. Where did you stay?
We stayed at the Disneyland Grand California, the great thing about staying at one of the Disneyland park hotels is that you can walk out your door and you are at the park. But you don’t have to stay at the park, there are lots of great hotels around the park that are also within walking distance!
4. What are your favourite rides?
Ok, our top favourite rides in no particular order were: Peter Pan, Space Mountain, Little Mermaid, Guardians of the Galaxy, Rise of the Resistance, Millennium Falcon, Incredicoaster, and Indiana Jones.
Yes, some of the rides are exhilarating, but what I love most about the rides at Disneyland is that they aren’t jolty, they are super smooth. Even if you’re not a roller coaster junkie like me, I still think you’ll like them. After every thrilling ride, it felt like I had gone through a therapy session. My all-time favourite ride was the Incredicoaster, I highly recommend it if you need a little a giggle and some happiness.
5. What should you wear?
Honestly, you can wear whatever you want, but since we were at the park pretty much all day, I tired my best to bring a few layers because it can be a little chilly at night. When it comes to shoes, just remember that at the end of the day your feet are going to hurt regardless of what you are wearing, I would recommend wearing shoes that don’t hurt your feet and are well broken in. The shoes I brought were my platform vans, my steven madden sandals, and my Teva’s.
6. What to pack for the park?
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!
But one thing I couldn’t live without at the park with kids under 7 was our Bugaboo Donkey stroller! We were so close to getting rid of it because the kids are older and able to walk, but I’m so glad we hung onto it and brought it with us to the park. The park is about 500 acres and you are walking anywhere from 15 to 20 km a day. This is hard on my body alone, but the stroller was perfect for them to sit in if they were tired, to have a snack, for a nap, or to escape the rain!
There you have it! If you have a trip planned to Disneyland in the near future make sure to save this blog and read my previous blog on our first Disneyland recap, along with my tips, tricks, and thoughts, here!
Next visit you’ll have to check out LaBrea Bakery at Disney. Very fresh!