Disney Tips |We Got the FUNK

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Disney Tips

Our Disneyland vacation was wonderful and as of late I have been getting asked constantly about travel tips for traveling to the "Happiest Place on Earth."  I originally typed this all out for a friend of mine, but have since edited it a bit to meet the needs of everyone.

First and foremost, Jason and I are Chase Disney Rewards card holders which earns us Disney dollars based on how much we spend as well as discounts when we book through the Disney Travel Company (DTC).  The two trips to Disney that Jason and I have made have been booked through the DTC and have included the park hopper ticket options, Disney hotels and dining plans as well as car rental.  This does save us money and gets us some extra perks as well (This go around we got free pins and lanyards, free ride photos, cooler bags as well as 10-20% off at the stores and restaurants in the park).  I highly recommend this credit card if you plan on being a Disney frequent...and we do!  We are already planning a trip back to Disneyland in 3 years, a Disney cruise to Alaska in a couple years and will be at Disney World when Emberlynn is 8 (or heck maybe even earlier!).  Also when you open the card many times they offer incentives, like Disney gift cards (we got $250.00 when we opened ours)!  What I loved is that between our trips, Jason and I use our card frequently and had a lot of Disney dollars spending money for the trip.  We actually didn't have to use any "real" money in the parks as we had enough for our entire trip and came home with quite a bit too!  So basically my first tip is to open up a card :)

Jason and I both have decided that when we return to Disney, we will not actually do the dining plan.  Both times we did not use it fully and probably would have spent less.  We did the math and only saved about $20.00 per person, but actually lost out because we did not use the entire plan.   To each their own, but the dining plans are just not for us. 

On our honeymoon in DisneyWorld, Jason and I stayed on Disney property and enjoyed the heck out of the Extra Magic Hours (times when only Disney Property guests are allowed into the parks).  For Disneyland we chose a "Good Neighbor" hotel and although we had one "extra magic hour day" it would have been MUCH nicer to have more, especially in the mornings when the day was going to quickly become hot.  Plus the access from the hotels into the parks is much closer.  So although it does save money to stay off property, the perks of being a Disney guest are worth it for the extra cost to our family. 

I always do a TON of research before I travel anywhere.  Disney is no exception and there are some very good things to check into before you book your trip.  First google busiest park weeks for the parks you are choosing.  Then, DO NOT book those weeks.  Try to go when the park is around 70% full or less.  It seems like 70% is a lot but there is a lot to do and 70% is relatively slow for Disney.  If you do want to go during a busy time (like Christmas because God knows that has to be AHHHmazing!) be prepared and prepare your children to wait in lines that can be up to 3 hours long!  Personally, these vacations are not exactly cheap and I can forgo seeing the parks during those Ahhhmazing times.  Call the DTC and get some prices, then call around to the good neighbor hotels as well as use the Disney website to figure out how to get your best deal.  Sometimes you can find cheaper deals online or by calling the hotel directly.  Just like any other trip, wath the airlines for deals.  My understanding and history has shown that booking on Tuesdays saves you the most money.  I am not sure entirely why this is, but fares are typically cheapest on Tuesdays...this does not mean you have to leave on a Tuesday and come back on one, that is just the day of the week to check for deals.  For travel dates, avoid weekends for traveling (although I rarely follow this rule myself).

Some basic tips for Disneyland specifically are: 
  1. Umbrella strollers are easier then the giant ones...they have stroller parking, but sometimes it is hard to find a "larger" spot to park. 
  2. Download the Mousewait application to your phone. It tells you line times so you don't have to walk the entire park to discover a 3 hour wait and also you can get on more rides this way.
  3. Don't try to do and see everything. Pick 4-5 things you must get done on your trip, the rest is bonus!  For us it was to meet Mickey Mouse, ride the Radiator Springs Racers, ride the Buzz Lightyear ride, see the parades, watch the fireworks and see World of Color.  We did all of that and TONS more
  4. Take advantage of the child swap option if you have little ones. Basically you wait in line only one time, you tell the cast member at the front of the ride that you would like to do the child swap and your family goes on while one waits back with the littlest member that cannot ride (due to height restrictions, then when they come back you get a fast pass to go right back on again.  Bonus: your older kids get to ride the ride 2x!  Now we didn't actually use this, but I watched many people use this option and love it.  I will tell you that tons of the rides are baby friendly.  We took Emberlynn on most of what we rode.  If it doesn't have height restrictions, the baby is good to go!
  5. Do a character dining experience to meet the main characters that you want to (have to make reservations through Disney).  They have tons of these, they are not cheap, but MUCH easier to eat and meet the characters instead of waiting for hours in the heat. 
  6. Bring snacks...inevitably you will be in line when your oldest children decide they've had enough...a sugary snack usually got us through. 
  7. If you plan on seeing the fireworks or the world of color go into the parks later...those are LONG days! (both are awesome but the World of Color is ahhhmazing!)
  8. Get fast passes for the World of Color and arrive about an hour prior to the show to get even better seats.
  9. If you plan on riding the Cars Land ride (Radiator Springs Racers) the fast passes are gone by 11 each day so head there first. (Fast passes are free but you can only get one at a time)  Also, the height requirement is 40'' and they are super cautious about this.  They check heights 3 different times and not all the rulers are exactly 40''.
  10. Everything is within walking distance...we rented a car because we flew into LAX but its not necessary unless you plan on going to the ocean.  I am not joking when I tell you that Disneyland and Disney's California adventure are literally across a common area.
Last, kids under 2 are free.  They did not check birth certificates or anything to verify Eyan's age.  I am just leaving it at if they can still pass for 2 and you don't mind saving money with a little lie, go for it.