My family and I recently returned from a three- and half-week trip to America. We had an incredible time traveling through California, with most of the holiday being spent in the snow. For the very end our time in USA, we wanted to do something fun for the children and spent three days at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. We stayed at the Hilton Anaheim and were absolutely spoilt by the location and facilities.
Disneyland is big and it’s a big deal! There’s a lot that I learnt both in the planning phase of our trip and being there, and I’m sharing all of that goodies here…
For our Disneyland holiday we chose to stay at the beautiful Hilton Anaheim, located just one mile (1.6km) from the Disneyland Resort. It is walking distance but you can also take advantage of the local shuttle bus, get a taxi, or use the hotel parking and drive yourself. The Hilton is a ‘Disney Good Neighbour’ hotel, and are able to help with advice, arrange shuttle services, and help you plan your day at Disneyland. The hotel features a huge outdoor pool, with two hot tubs and a child-friendly water play area with slide. In the warmer months, the Pool Bar & Grill is opening, serving up tropical cocktails, smoothies, and snacks. There is also a health club featuring a gym with the latest equipment, free-weights, and stretching room. As well as a spa. Downstairs the lobby has a magical vibe for afternoon nibbles or late night cocktails at Mix Lounge. Mix Restaurant, is where we enjoyed a breakfast of Mickey Mouse waffle and Swiss hot chocolates. Our room was incredibly comfortable and spacious, with two queen beds, a pull out couch, kitchen area and bathroom. It even had a view of Disneyland!
We visited the two Disney parks whilst staying in Anaheim; Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. Disneyland is the original theme park created by Walt Disney. It’s like this amazing fantasyland where families can have fun together and create unforgettable memories. A beautiful nostalgic place for parents to reminisce on their favourite Disney characters of past that their children adore now. Of course, there are so many new characters to explore too.
Tickets and getting the most out of your time at Disneyland
Firstly, you need to download the Disneyland app and familiarise yourself with it before heading to Disneyland. That and their website are full of information and suggestions for planning out your time there.
Buy your tickets online in advance, you will need to select the specific days you will visit the parks. Last year during the black Friday sales I saw that they were doing 20% off however I had already paid full price.
Disneyland California consists of two theme parks, as mentioned above, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. There are lots of different options available for tickets, from one day to multi day, and park hoppers. To get the most of your Disneyland experience and to make sure you get to enjoy all the elements of it, I suggest a three-day pass with two days at Disneyland and one day at Disney California Adventure Park.
I would also suggest buying the Disney Genie+ passes for your first day at Disneyland and your one day at Disney California Adventure Park, to allow access to the Lightening Lane. You can only purchase these passes once you are inside the park, they cost $25. You then use the Disneyland app on your phone to book in your rides. We found this a no brainer and wouldn’t have done Disneyland any other way. We barely waited in a line to ride and got so much out of our days. By purchasing the pass just for the first day you will be able to get all the parks most popular rides done. Then fill in the gaps on your second Disneyland day without needing the use of the passes (as not all rides are able to be fast laned, so save these for the second day when you don’t have the pass.) I would assign one person in your group to manage the fast passes and booking of the rides for the day.
For the rides that didn’t have a light lane passes we did wait a little longer but no more than 20 minutes for a ride, and most were only five or ten minutes. We found that the lines were very short at the start of the day, up until about 11am, and then started to build. So, get as much as you can done by that time, then enjoy some character experiences and lunch would be my recommendation.
The Disney Genie+ passes also allow you to have your pictures taken by any of the roaming photographer at no extra charge, and the photos are uploaded to your app for you.
If you travel as a family with children who don’t wait or can’t go on some of the bigger rides, I suggest doing what is called a ‘rider switch.’ So only one person lines up in the que and the other jumps straight on the ride when the first one comes off. They will also allow any accompanying child to go on the ride with each adult, so they get double the fun!
Be prepared for a couple of big days. We spent 12 hours at Disneyland on our first day, and similar on our day at Disney California Adventure Park. On our second visit to Disney, I would suggest a lighter day and then coming back into the park for any evening fireworks etc.
I wouldn’t suggest just doing one park as they are both fantastic and have a lot to offer all ages. However, if I could only do one day and really had to choose, I would do Disneyland for younger children up to age 6 and then California adventure park for 7 and over. It does depend though on if your child loves Disney characters as you’ll find more princesses and Minnie/Micky etc at Disneyland, then more of your superhero characters and Pixar rides at Disney California Adventure Park.
Note – there is also something called a Magic Band which we didn’t have but you can search information about it online.
Truth be told we really didn’t get to experience all the Disneyland has to offer when it come from food. However, we loved our lunch at Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta, the frozen margaritas from Rita’s were amazing, and the raspberry macaroons from Jolly Holiday Bakery were to die for. I’m would highly recommend getting on google and looking for specific food blogs for Disneyland written by people who have been there numerous times, as there is so much on offer.
One tip I have is that you can pre order your meals on the app so that the restaurants can have them ready for you and you save time.
At Disneyland my six-year-old daughter absolutely loved meeting Tinkerbelle at Pixie Hollow. She is generally there throughout the day and the wait time was very reasonable. You can also meet the Disney princesses at the Royal Hall however when we were there the wait time was quite long, and we found that by just hanging around the royal hall area at different times throughout the day, we could spot a princess or two. We met Cinderella, Ariel and Snow White.
At California Adventureland we spotted a lot of characters like Spider-Man and Ironman when we were walking around between rides.
At Disneyland –
Space Mountain – myself, my husband and 7-year-old son.
Star Wars Millennium Falcon – my 7-year-old.
Star Wars Rise the Resistance – my 7-year-old and husband.
Meeting characters – my six-year-old daughter.
Mad Hatters Tea Party – my two-year-old daughter.
At California adventure park –
Guardians of the Galaxy – myself and my seven-year-old son.
Incredicoaster – my husband and seven-year-old son.
Silly Symphony Swings – my six-year-old daughter.
Jessie’s Critter Carousel – my two-year-old daughter.
There are some fantastic add on experiences which you can enjoy when you are at Disneyland, and one of those is character dining. There are a few options to choose from whether it be Disney princess, Minnie Mouse, Micky or Goofy’s Kitchen. I read the reviews and chose the latter. I am so pleased I did as what we got was a delicious buffet lunch and a fun time. Basically, we ate lunch in a restaurant where the food was ‘prepared by the Disney characters.’ We got to meet them, dance, take photos and have fun with them. You can book these experiences online.
The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
The other add on experience which we booked in was at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique where our two little girls were transformed into Disney princesses. We were able to choose a package for the girls to enjoy, ours was called the Castle Package. The girls were able to pick their favourite Disney princess dress, hair style, makeup, nails and accessories. Then they spent time in the salon getting made up into a princess. We choose to do this first thing in the morning so the girls could wear their princess outfits at Disneyland all day. They had so much fun, and I was literally in tears over how special it was.
We had an absolutely incredible time staying at the Hilton Anaheim and visiting Disneyland. The whole experience exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait to go back one day.
Disclaimer – Thank you to the Hilton Anaheim for gifting our stay in exchange for promotion.