We love Disneyland if you can't tell. My kids have been spoiled to land in, not one but, two families that love vacationing there. So we've traveled with big groups and small groups, grandparents and cousins, quick trips and longer trips, and have loved every minute of it. These are just a few of the tips we've learned along the way for Planning a Stress Free Disneyland Vacation:
1. Choose the "best" time-- I personally love traveling in the fall. School is back in and the crowds are thinner. My in-laws like traveling in mid-spring. I have a friend that swears by the week right after Thanksgiving. Whatever you do, avoid summer and Christmas, and be prepared for heavier crowds around school holidays.
2. Choose the "best" hotel-- We've never stayed on-site and yet we've had good experience with all the hotels we've stayed at. Look for hotels within the first couple of blocks as the blocks are loooooong. Other things we look for are continental breakfast, free parking, and shuttle service. At the end of a long night, shuttle service is pretty incredible. :-)
3. Consider a travel agent-- Travel agents can often find deals that the rest of us can't. Plus if you have a good agent, they'll keep an eye out for fluctuating prices and can get you a better deal as your vacation approaches.
4. Consider a dining experience-- Booking one or two Character Meals will ensure that you get to see several characters while you eat, maximizing your time. We've dined at Goofy's Kitchen and Minnie's Breakfast and loved every minute of it. It's a great way to see several characters and they come to you!
5. Book it-- Book those character meals several months ahead. As soon as your travel agent gives you the green light, book them to get the best possible times for your family. Be mindful of your child's schedule and your energy level. We booked one for the beginning (while we were fresh) and one for the end of our vacation (when we needed a chance to sit).
6. Keep trying-- If you're preferred times are booked, keep trying. Cancellations happen and you just might get into your time slot anyway. Also check into your meal a few hours ahead and see if there's been a cancellation that you can get into.
7. Rent a stroller-- Even if you have older elementary aged kids, you will not regret renting a stroller. Disneyland vacations can include some really long days and even older kids will get tired. Last time, we took our double stroller and even the 8 year old rode once in awhile.
8. Check the weather before packing-- Weather patterns change. We once went in January and found ourselves running to Target to get t-shirts and shorts. The weather had changed in the days leading up to our trip and I was caught unprepared.
9. Know the park schedule--Disneyland's park schedule is posted with hours, parades, fireworks and more. Planning a few of these things ahead of time will help you prioritize what you want to see and what you're willing to miss. It can help you plan what part of the park to enjoy throughout different parts of the day.
10. Be flexible-- While all this planning can help you enjoy a stress free vacation, you also have to remember to be flexible. Traveling with kids will keep you on your toes and being flexible is key. If someone needs a snack, veer from your plan. Everyone will have a better time with a full tummy. Flexibility is important in any vacation and will ensure that everyone has a more enjoyable experience.
What are your tips for Planning a Stress Free Disneyland Vacation?
For more Disney tips and tricks, check out our Disneyland tag. You'll find everything from ride info to bucket lists to ways to save money on food.