Thursday, April 23, 2015

CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE:  Lurker Racquel writes:
Hi thing throwers! I am a long time lurker and I remember a while back you had some advice for Disney World. Well my 3 1/2 year old daughter, husband, and I are leaving in 3 days and I was wondering if the group had any strong thoughts about the place now. 
We live in New Mexico, so are closer to Disneyland. Also of note, my veteran husband has PTSD and it gets worse with large crowds (especially crowds of kids). Any tips?
My advice: At that age, focus on the princesses and character greetings, based on the schedule you'll receive at the entrance.  (Be sure to check in at City Hall for her "first time visitor" button and special greeting.)  In terms of rides, go for the basics: Small World, Tea Cups, Peter Pan, Snow White.  Spend more time at Disneyland than California Adventure. Learn to love the railroad. As far as the crowds issue, just go as early in the day as you can.


  1. Jenn C6:23 PM

    I adore the CA parks, much more than Florida (I lived in CA as a kid, so my childhood memories have put a rose colored tint on everything). They are a lot more manageable with small children. We went last summer with a 7yo (girl) and a 2.5yo (boy).

    My guess is that Fantasyland is where you'll most likely spend the most time, and unfortunately, they haven't improved on the Dumbo line in Anaheim. And be warned that some rides close during fireworks/parade time. But the teacups at night are lovely, and the Storybook Canal is one of our family's favorite rides.

    We really loved the Bug's Life area over in California Adventure--there is a little splash park and the rides are small-kid-friendly. Toy Story Midway Mania is in CA Adventure, under the roller coaster. No Fast Pass, but the lines are not as crazy as the WDW line for it. We've never waited more than 30 minutes (and this was over Labor Day weekend, high crowd days). We also spent a lot of time in Carsland--and I think your kiddo may be too short to ride Radiator Springs Racers but you grownups need to single rider your way on to that ride. The theming and the ride is just perfect.

    In general, I found the food to be better in California (Pacific Wharf in CA, the corn dog carts in both parks, Flo's in Carsland, and the cafe in Fantasyland in DL are my favorites). I have read that because they have more local visitors and b/c it's easier to go off-resort, they've had to up their dining game compared to the parks in Orlando.

    If you have a Frozen-obsessed child like I do, one of the salons in the Downtown Disney area has become a Frozen makeover salon, so look into an appt there if you are into that sort of thing.

  2. I am so super impressed by Disney's guide for people with cognitive disabilities that I like to share it whenever I can: The best part is the guide to attractions (several pages in) that lets you know about aspects that could be upsetting, like darkness, loud noises, etc. It might be of use for your husband, depending on the particulars of his PTSD.

  3. Andrew11:17 AM

    I was just at Disneyland earlier this week. (I'd last been to Disney World when I was around 10 and won't be going back until I have a child in the appropriate age range.) Get to the park as early as you can. Get a smartphone app to monitor ride wait times, because they vary. No matter what, there are going to be crowds and crowds of children. Fortunately, most of the crowds are waiting in lines. (The bulk of the Disney theme park experience is dealing with lines, whether waiting in them or running around to get Fastpasses to avoid them.) This was a weekday in Paril, so I can't imagine what a peak season crowd is like.

  4. My only pieces of advice are (1) when my niece went to Disney World at approximately the same age, Dumbo was what made the biggest impression, leading to her asking for quite some time "ride elephants today?", (2) I got scared around your daughter's age on the Pirates ride, and (3) given your description of your husband, I would stay away from Small World. Huge lines to get in, all of which are covered and therefore louder than some other lines, and the ride itself seems like it could be problematic. The last time I went on it, we got stuck for, I don't know, 10 minutes or so? I seriously thought about jumping overboard to escape that damn song.

  5. bellawilfer1:10 PM

    If she cares about meeting Elsa and Anna, make sure to head there FIRST - they run out of Fast Passes for that line very quickly. Have fun! I adore Disneyland, especially seeing it through a kid's eyes.

  6. Adam B.5:10 PM

    Lines for Small World at DL are all outdoors.

  7. Jenn.5:14 PM

    Not when I went---they were in a covered area.

  8. gretchen2:16 PM

    I just went to Disneyland with my 5 year old. In terms of rides, Fantasyland tends towards the scary. Peter Pan is closed right now, and Pinocchio, Mr. Toad, and Snow White are scary for young children. My daughter preferred Dumbo, the teacups, and the merry go round. Small World is great for kids. Toon Town is perfect for that age - we met Mickey and Minnie, rode Roger Rabbit and the little roller coaster in the back of the park (which is surprisingly fun!), and had a good time playing in the rest of the area. I also highly recommend Pirate's Lair, which is the island - you raft over there and the kids get to do a little "free play." Perfect, shady, and a great way to blow off steam. There's also a play area in California Adventure.
    One big recommendation: 1) Preview Fantasmic on YouTube (really helps with preparing kids for the explosions and drama!), and 2) get dining reservations for the show. If you book dinner at, for example, River Belle Terrace, you can eat whenever you like (for lunch or for dinner - our reservation was for an early dinner). You then get a fastpass for a reserved seat to view Fantasmic. It is SO much better than having to wait in line. You should do the same thing for World of Color in California Adventure.
    We really enjoyed all of the parades and shows. Mickey and the Magical Map is really fun, and the little "Frozen" show in Disneyland is great and funny for adults too.
    If your daughter is into the characters, consider a character meal. We did a breakfast at Paradise Pier. Food wasn't particularly great, but it gave her an enormous amount of time to hang out with the characters and she loved it. The beloved Minnie Mouse came over to our table, sat down, had a tea party with her, and just generally gave her all of this attention and my daughter was in heaven.
    The key to Disney happiness is really to plan ahead and maximize your mornings. Get to the park early, know exactly what you want to do, know the schedule for shows and parades, and when the rope drops, be ready to RUN to your desired ride. We usually bailed around 12 to go back to the hotel for a nap or swim, then came back around 4 for the parades, shows, dinner, and Fantasmic.
    Have a great time!