Are you planning a Disneyland trip this year? We are currently planning excitedly for a summer trip. Since I know it’s during the busy season and sure to be crowded, we are planning ahead so that we can maximize our fun and not be stressed about the crowds. We typically visit Disneyland about once a year since we have family in the area so we’ve gone many times over the years. Here’s my best tips so you can beat the Disneyland crowds too.
We have a blended family of nine so when we go to Disneyland together, we need a lot of space without spending a lot. Sometimes we take half the group, but even then we need a room that sleeps 6. We have stayed in several hotels over the years and have found these to be our favorite hotels for large families.
1. Stanford Inn and Suites. We stayed here last April with four kids. It’s a great price, especially compared to other hotels that sleep six. Plus, there’s free parking and free wi-fi. It’s clean, nicely furnished, has lots of room, and has a good breakfast. Probably the best part is the Two Bath Kids Suite. There are two queens in the main room and a connecting bedroom with a door that has a bunk bed and its own bathroom.
These were not wimpy little kids bunk beds. Adults probably wouldn’t fit on them, but my slim 16 and 10 year old daughters fit fine and they loved having their own space. There is a small table with two chairs, a tv, and a dresser in here. The bathrooms have the counter/sink area in a separate space from the toilet which makes getting ready for the day a breeze, especially with two bathrooms. The breakfast here was great, especially compared to many other “continental” hotel breakfasts we’ve had. They had batter to make your own blueberry or regular waffles, hot scrambled eggs and sausage or bacon. They also had cereals, milk, juice, coffee, yogurts, bread, fruit and muffins. Although this hotel is not walking distance to Disneyland, the price and amenities were worth it to us to stay a couple miles away. We drove our car a few blocks down the road to the Toy Story parking lot and caught the shuttle there. The bus dropped us off right outside the Disneyland esplanade. During one of our Disneyland days, my toddler needed to head back to the hotel earlier than the rest of us, so my husband took the shuttle with him and the stroller and walked back to the hotel from the Toy Story parking lot. It was about a 10 min walk so potentially you could just walk to the Toy Story shuttle from the hotel and save the parking fee. Another option is to take the ART shuttle. http://rideart.org/
Last April we visited Disneyland Resort with a wheelchair for the first time. My daughter had a serious long-term illness and wasn’t able to walk for long periods of time. We were worried that because we were going to be at Disneyland during spring break, we would have a hard time riding very many rides, especially with the disability assistance policy changes. However, we found that we were able to ride everything we wanted to with a little smart planning.
Tips for Navigating Disneyland with a Wheelchair
1. Ride the popular attractions first thing in the day. The number one key to beating the crowds is to arrive at least 30 minutes before opening so you have plenty of time to get through security, then get in line (look for a short line in the middle), to be through the gates at opening time.
2. If you have a wheelchair or ECV, you don’t need to get Disneyland Disability Access Service (DAS) unless you have other special needs. The cast member will see the wheelchair and accommodate you based on that alone. Many of the attractions lines can accommodate wheelchairs so you will be expected to get in those lines with the wheelchair. Some cannot fit an ECV but have a wheelchair for you to use in line. A lot of rides have alternate handicap entrances. See below for a list of rides and what types of handicap entrances they have.
Disneyland is a lot of fun with a baby or toddler. Seeing their eyes light up when they see the castle, ride Dumbo or Peter Pan, or take the train around the park is such a memorable experience. Over the past 16 years, I’ve been to Disneyland with a baby or toddler nearly a dozen times. Our most recent visit was just four months ago. I’ve taken babies as young as 3 months old. These tips will help you prepare so that you can maximize your happy memories and minimize the melt downs.