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Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

A must-visit in Monterey, California, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a non-profit public aquarium that is located on the site of a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row. The aquarium opened to the public in 1984, and now houses more than 35,000 creatures, with over 550 species in 34 major galleries.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

The Monterey Bay Aquarium aims to inspire conservation of the ocean. There is a strong focus with all the exhibits on conservation, including information on how we as individuals can modify our choices to be more environmentally friendly.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

The aquarium has a variety of tours where visitors can go behind the scenes and learn more about the work they do. We did the family tour, which was advertised as being suitable for kids under 8, but we found it to be more suitable for kids aged around 6-10 as there was a lot of talking and asking of questions.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

The tour was an extra $15 on top of general admission and lasted half an hour. The tour took us behind the scenes of the aquarium where the kids were able to see how it runs and learn about some of its inhabitants. There were plenty of hands-on elements involved, and the 30 minutes was a good amount of time to hold short attention spans. The kids loved holding the hermit crab and hearing how the animators of the movie Finding Dory visited to the aquarium and based the scenes on it.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

The aquarium is large and has a lot inside to see and do. It’s very easy to spend an entire day here, particularly with kids as the kids’ education and play stations are extremely well designed and plentiful.

Highlight exhibits include

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

The Kelp Forest
At 28 feet tall, the Kelp Forest is one of the tallest aquarium exhibits in the world. We enjoyed watching the swarms of sardines, leopard sharks and wolf-eels weaving through the swaying kelp, just like in the wild.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Sea Otters
The spirited sea otters are all rescued animals that are no longer able to survive in the wild.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Penguins and Splash Zone
A fave with families, there are over 45 interactive exhibits in English and Spanish in this area to explore. African penguins and clownfish can be found in this area, as well as telescopes to look out over the bay and spot sea lions or wild otters.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Open Sea
This is the the aquarium’s largest exhibit. it includes several types of luminous jelly fish plus a 90-foot window that feels like being under the ocean, with tuna, sharks, sardines swarming in mesmerising schools, and sea turtles floating by.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA
Hours: Daily, 9:30am-6pm
montereybayaquarium.org

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Best Things To Do In San Francisco With Kids

The Best Things To Do In San Francisco With Kids #sanfrancisco
San Francisco is a town with many faces and a long, fascinating history. Originally a Spanish mission and pueblo, it joined the United States in 1846, and became a thriving city with the Gold Rush in 1848. San Francisco is known for its diversity and tolerance. While it’s no longer the hippy city famous for the 1967 “Summer of Love”, it’s still a place where activism is part of the culture, particularly gay and women’s rights. Walking the streets of San Francisco is a stroll back through time to historic moments in history that gained media attention worldwide.

Today, San Francisco is also a hotbed for the tech industry, so it’s not surprising that the city boasts numerous science and cultural centres both in the city and outlying suburbs. When visiting San Francisco with kids, you’ll be spoiled for choice with activities everyone will enjoy. From incredible museums and kid-friendly galleries to lush parks and innovative playgrounds, San Francisco is a city that welcomes families with open arms.

The Best Things To Do In San Francisco With Kids

Downtown San Francisco
The heart of San Francisco, Downtown/Union Square is the busiest part of town. Filled with restaurants, shops and hotels the constant stream of people in the area makes downtown an assault on the senses (and the wallet!).

Union Square, San Francisco

Union Square
A busy plaza that was set aside for public use by the city’s first mayor in 1849, Union Square is in the heart of the shopping district of San Francisco. We love the public art and kids adore the Disney Store (39 Stockton St, San Francisco) where upstairs they can watch Disney videos and colour in and the Lego Store (Westfield San Francisco Centre, 865 Market St C41, San Francisco) which has various Lego stations set up for free play.

Geary, Powell, Post and Stockton Streets

SF MOMA, San Francisco

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
Give kids an early education in modern art at SFMOMA. Head to level five to explore the Oculus bridge, sculpture garden, kid-friendly cafe and eye-popping Pop Art. Our fave was
Richard Serra’s Sequence sculpture on Floor 1 in the Atrium, which is kind of like a labyrinth. Best of all it’s free to enter off the street and explore. Kids under 18 are free to enter the SFMOMA.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
151 3rd St, San Francisco
sfmoma.org

Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

Yerba Buena Gardens
An oasis in the heart of busy downtown San Francisco, Yerba Buena Gardens is a place to find culture and green space. Galleries, museums and cafes frame landscaped lawns with a stunning waterfall at the back, a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During the warmer months, free performances are held in the park.

Children's Creativity Museum, Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

Also housed in the park are the Children’s Garden, play circle and Children’s Creativity Museum, an ice skating rink, bowling and the historic Leroy King Carousel, built in 1906.

Children's Garden, Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

The Children’s Garden, located on the top of the Moscone Center, features a sand play area, water play, several climbing structures and slides.

Yerba Buena Gardens
750 Howard St, San Francisco

yerbabuenagardens.com

Children's Creativity Museum, San Francisco

Children’s Creativity Museum
Children’s Creativity Museum is a hands-on, multimedia arts and technology museum for kids of all ages. Little kids will enjoy the lower level, filled with hands-on activities that including building, shaping and dressing up. Older kids will enjoy the singing studio, animation studio, tech lab where they can program robots, and the innovation lab that encourages curious minds to solve problems. It’s impossible to leave the museum without taking a ride on the Leroy King Carousel outside.
Read more about our experience here.

Children’s Creativity Museum
221 Fourth St. San Francisco, CA
creativity.org

Lombard St, San Francisco

Lombard Street
This topsy-turvey street is like something out of a Dr Seuss book. Lombard Street is famous for a steep, one-block section with eight hairpin turns past beautiful Victorian mansions. Be warned, kids will want to bolt down at high speed.

Lombard Street, San Francisco

sftodo.com

Painted Ladies, San Francisco

The Painted Ladies
This postcard-perfect row of houses is located on Steiner Street, across from Alamo Square park. While this particular row of houses is known as the “Painted Ladies”, the term actually refers to any set of Victorian or Edwardian houses that use three or more colours to show off the detailing of their architectural design. Over 48,000 houses were built in this stye between 1849 and 1915, with the famous seven constructed between 1892 and 1896.

Alamo Square, across the street from the Painted Ladies is prime viewing position as well as the perfect location for a picnic. It also has a gated playground that will occupy kids.

Painted Ladies
710 to 720 Steiner St, San Francisco

Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

Fisherman’s Wharf 
This is considered the “touristy” part of town, but I think it’s worth a visit as it’s right next to the aquarium and has a few fun things for kids to see.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me Visit the California sea lions at Pier 39, where several hundred sea lions like to doze in the sun (be warned, they smell and are very loud!).

Eat at Boudin’s Bakery, home of the most delicious sourdough bread. This is their flagship location.

Ghiradelli Square, San Francisco

Dine and shop at Ghirardelli Square. Formerly headquarters of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, the factory was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and is now a retail and restaurant complex. On the lower floors of the Clock Tower you’ll find the Ghirardelli chocolate shop.

Fisherman’s Wharf
fishermanswharf.org

Aquarium by the Bay, San Francisco

Aquarium of the Bay
This little aquarium has over 20,000 marine animals to visit. With a focus on conservation, kids will learn a lot about taking care of our water and the animals within, while getting up close to exotic and local aquatic life. Highlights include 300 feet of crystal clear tunnels with marine animals from San Francisco Bay and nearby waters and Touch the Bay, featuring touch pools with sharks, rays and sea stars. Our fave exhibit was the feisty river otters. It’s a small aquarium and we were in and out in under an hour.

Aquarium of the Bay
2 Beach St, San Francisco, CA
aquariumofthebay.org

Alcatraz via christineknight.me

Alcatraz Island
A very popular day trip, Alcatraz Island is located 1.5 miles offshore from San Francisco. A visit to Alcatraz offers a close-up look at the site of the first lighthouse and US built fort on the West Coast as well as the infamous federal jail.

As well as being steeped in history, the Rock is also home to tide pools, bird colonies and stunning views of San Francisco Bay. Wear very comfortable shoes, bring a light jacket no matter how warm the day begins, and be sure to book your tickets well in advance.

Buy tickets for the cruise across to Alcatraz online.
Ferries depart from Alcatraz Landing at Pier 33.

Alcatraz Island
nps.gov/alca

Embarcadero
The Embarcadero is the eastern waterfront of San Francisco.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Cupid’s Span
Kids absolutely love this sculpture by artist Coosje van Bruggen on the Embarcadero along San Francisco Bay. The art work was inspired by San Francisco’s reputation as the home port of Eros.

Exploratorium science museum, San Francisco

The Exploratorium
More than a museum, the Exploratorium is a hands-on laboratory designed to help visitors learn about the world through science, art, and human experience. A heavy focus on science will engage curious minds for hours. The Exploratorium is divided into six main galleries, with each one focused on a different area of exploration. Our favourite exhibits included a hurricane maker, spiral drawing creation and light play. Be prepared to spend the whole day tinkering, exploring and learning about how the world works.

The Exploratorium
Pier 15, The Embarcadero & Green St., San Francisco
exploratorium.edu

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Golden Gate Park
You could easily spend a week just exploring everything Golden Gate Park has to offer. This 1,017 acre urban park is open to the public for free (however there is an entrance cost for some of the attractions). Be sure to check out the American bison who have happily lived in the park since the 1890s.

Other attractions of note include Golden Gate Park Aquarium, Strawberry Hill (where you’ll find a waterfall and gorgeous views), Koret Children’s Quarter with its new and improved playground, Japanese Tea Garden, Carousel, windmill and tulips and the California Academy of Science.

Golden Gate Park
goldengatepark.com

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Japanese Tea Garden
The oldest public Japanese garden in the United States is a fun place to explore. Kids can discover giant koi carp in ponds, climb the steep drum bridge and search for serenity at the zen garden.

Japanese Tea Garden
75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco
japaneseteagardensf.com

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Koret Children’s Quarter Playground
In the southeast corner of Golden Gate Park you’ll find a fantastic playground filled with climbing structures for all ages, a sand pit, slide and sea-themed structures for bringing imaginations to life. The playground opened in 1888 as the Sharon Quarters for Children, and is thought to have been the nation’s first public playground. It was a groundbreaking idea for the time, to have an area dedicated to children’s play.

The playground was renovated and reopened in 2007 as the Koret Children’s Quarter with new features including the climbing wall shaped like waves and a rope climbing structure. The historic concrete slide remains as a remnant of the original playground.

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Also located in the Koret Children’s Quarter is the Herschell-Spillman Carousel, the last of three carousels to be housed near this location. It was built in 1914 and, after operating at amusement parks in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, was installed in Golden Gate park in 1940. The carousel features 62 colourful animals including a camel, dragon, cat, ostrich, horses, dogs and roosters.

Koret Children’s Quarter Playground
Martin Luther King, Jr and Bowling Green Dr, San Francisco

De Young Museum, San Francisco

de Young Fine Arts Museum
Kids will love running around the sculpture garden which is free for the public to enter and the extremely kid-friendly cafe. The museum, located in Golden Gate Park, also offers families hands-on art making activities designed by the Museums’ artist-in-residence.

de Young Fine Arts Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco
https://deyoung.famsf.org

California Academy of Science, San Francisco

California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is a natural history museum in that is among the largest museums of natural history in the world, housing over 26 million specimens – 40,000 of them live. Inside the one building is an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and rainforest – all under one living roof (literally – the roof is alive!).

The Academy has plenty of hands-on exhibits and activities for kids to explore. Our favourites were the Shake House section of the Earthquake exhibit where kids can experience what it would feel like to be on top of an earthquake, the aquarium with its immersive glass tunnels, the dinosaur in the foyer, and the rainforest with live butterflies and birds.
Read more about our experience here.
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco
calacademy.org

The Mission
The centre of Latin culture in San Francisco, the Mission is an eclectic and hip neighbourhood in San Francisco. Mission Dolores, the oldest original intact mission in California and the oldest standing building in San Francisco, is located in the northwest of the area.

The Mission, San Francisco
Street Art

The Mission District is full of vibrant murals, particularly between 17th St. and 18th St., and Mission St. and Valencia St. Our fave was on the Women’s Building, a women-led non-profit arts and education community center at 18th Street.

Paxton Gates Curiosities, San Francisco

Paxton Gate Curiosities
A whimsical store where you’ll find a wide range of creative, educational and interactive toys, games and projects for children.

Paxton Gate Curiosities
766 Valencia St, San Francisco
paxtongate.com/curiosities

Bi-Rite Creamery, San Francisco
Bi-Rite Creamery
Delicious ice cream, hand-made in small batches in flavours such as the extremely popular salted caramel. Take your ice cream to go and eat it on the benches outside (there is an additional “eat in” tax if you stay inside!).

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th St, San Francisco
biritecreamery.com

Tartine Bakery, San Francisco

Tartine Bakery
A bakery famous for their pastries and cakes. There is often a long wait to buy treats, but on the day we went there was no queue at all.

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero St, San Francisco
tartinebakery.com

Mission Delores Park, San Francisco, USA
Mission Delores Park

This lush, 16-acre green park lies in the vibrant Mission District. Located two blocks south of Mission Dolores at the western edge of the Mission District. You’ll find sprawling lawns, shady trees, a soccer field, six tennis courts, one basketball court, a multi-use court, a playground, and two off-leash dog play areas.

Mission Delores Park, San Francisco, USA

Helen Diller Playground
The newly renovated Helen Diller Playground inside Mission Delores Park contains seperate play areas for preschoolers (kids aged 2-5) and school ages (kids aged 5-12), plus a sand garden, wooden climbing structure, shipwrecked boat, nets and stones for climbing and swings, plus a 45-foot long super slide. The park has bathrooms and water drinking fountains.

Mission Delores Park
Dolores St & 19th St, San Francisco

Mile Rock Beach, San Francisco

Coastal Trail to Sutra Baths
We started the trail at Lands End, behind the Legion of Honor Museum. The trail goes along the headland to Mile Rock Beach, Lands End Viewpoint and Labyrinth, to Sutro Baths.

Labrynth,Land's End, San Francisco

Part of a much longer trail, we found this section to be easy to do with a child in tow at about 2km in length in one direction, not including the detours to each look out, and included plenty for her to enjoy.

Sutro Baths, San Francisco

Take plenty of water for the trail, and enjoy a late lunch at the end of the trail at either the historic (and slightly pricier) Cliff House or Louis’ Cafe (a traditional American Diner).

Legion of Honor
100 34th Ave, San Francisco
legionofhonor.famsf.org

Sutro Baths
1004 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco
nps.gov

Marina District

Palace of Fine Arts
While the Palace of Fine Arts is actually home to art exhibitions, visitors also go to enjoy the beautiful structure (originally built in 1915), walkways and lagoon. The palace is iconic in San Francisco, and is a popular destination for family and wedding photos. Kids will particularly enjoy spotting the swans who live in the lagoons. Bonus: it’s free to walk around the grounds.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Palace of Fine Arts
3301 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA
palaceoffinearts.org

Crissy Field, San Francisco

San Francisco Beaches
You’ve got to be pretty tough to swim at the beach in San Francisco but they do have fantastic views of Golden Gate Bridge, and provide ample space for kids to run around on, splashing in the waves and digging in the sand. Dip tiny toes in the Pacific Ocean at Crissy Field, Baker Beach and China Beach, three beaches in San Francisco city.

Crissy Beach is the easiest to access: an 100-acre shoreline park and restored marshland along the Bay, you can reach it by strolling alone the shorelines from Fisherman’s Wharf.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Golden Gate Bridge
And lastly … don’t forget to check out Golden Gate Bridge. While the bridge can be seen from Alcatraz and various points on around San Francisco Bay, my favourite place to photograph it is Battery Spencer, on the Marin Headland just north of the bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

You can also get fantastic views from Crissy Field and any areas on the coast line in the marina and Presidio areas, and at Lands End.

If you have enough energy, hire bikes from Fisherman’s Wharf and bike over the bridge into Sausalito, then catch the ferry back to the wharf. We used Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals, who have plenty of options for kids including kids bikes, trailers, tag-a-longs and baby seats.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

How to get around
The Cable Car is fun but expensive ($7 per person a ride, $21 for a day pass) and limiting in the directions it goes in, as well as slow due to the wait for a ride. You can also use the Muni Public Transport System. We found it easiest to walk and use Uber. When requesting an Uber, it costs $10 extra to request a car seat for kids up to 48 lbs. or 52 inches.

San Francisco Cable Car

San Francisco Cable Cars
It’s a must to ride the last of the world’s manually operated cable cars. There are three San Francisco Cable Car lines, each going to a different location: the Powell-Hyde Line, the Powell-Mason Line and the California Line.

The Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason lines both begin at Market Street and stop at Union Square. The Powell-Hyde Line ends near Ghiradelli Square, and the Powell-Mason Line ends at Bay Street in Fisherman’s Wharf. The California Street Line runs east-west from Van Ness Avenue to the Financial District. Maps and stops here.

Note: the cable cars are NOT accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. If you bring a collapsable stroller, as the conductor if there is room before boarding – there may not be space to place it onboard.

Riders can board at the beginning/end of each route or anywhere along the routes where you see the brown and white stop sign. The cable cars are cash only – pay the conductor directly when you board, or buy a 1-day Visitor Passport before boarding if you’re planning to take more than three rides in a car ($7 per person for a single ride, $21 for a 1-Day Passport). More information on fares.

We found the cable cars to be fun but they’re so popular that it can be a long wait (30 minutes or longer) to get on board, so I would suggest taking a ride on one in one direction for the experience, but then catching an Uber back as they’re faster and cheaper, particularly if there are several people in your party. (an Uber from Fisherman’s Wharf to our hotel in downtown cost $15).

Exploratorium science museum, San Francisco

CityPASS
We used the San Francisco CityPASS to save money on visiting attractions. The $89 adult/$66 child pass (ages 5-11) includes Cable Car and Muni Bus Passport,entry to the California Academy of Sciences, Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure, Aquarium of the Bay and entry to either the Exploratorium or de Young Museum.

The regular pricing for adult entry to these is: Cable Car/Muni pass $32, California Academy of Science $35.95, Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure $31, Aquarium of the Bay $24.95, Exploratorium $29.95, de Young Museum $15 = $153.85. If you’re like me and want to see and do everything, this is a massive money saver.

You can also do what we did and substitute our Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure for tickets to Alcatraz. Read the instructions here carefully regarding purchasing your CityPASS if you want to do the same.
citypass.com

Sutro Baths, San Francisco

What to pack
San Francisco has unpredictable weather all year round. July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 14°C (57°F) and the coldest is January at 10°C (50°F). No matter what time of year you visit I recommend jeans, comfortable sneakers and several layers such as a tee, light sweater and jacket. Even in summer you will find yourself wearing a jacket and scarf. It can also get hot in summer, so be sure to pack light layers, sunscreen and a hat.

What to tip
While tipping isn’t mandatory it’s an intrenched part of American culture and is deemed extremely bad form not to tip. A 10% tip is the absolute minimum and usually indicates bad service. If you’ve received good service, 15% is the norm. Tip hotel porters $1 per bag carried and leave $2-$3 USD per day in your hotel room to tip service staff. I prefer to leave the money daily rather than a tip at the end as there are different staff who service the room each day.

The View, Marriott Marquais, San Francisco

Where to stay
We stayed at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis this time, located on Mission St, near Union Square. The location is fantastic for a stay in San Francisco; all the major shops, restaurants and amenities like grocery stores all a few blocks away. Be warned however about hidden charges at this hotel – $100 a week for internet and $15 per packaged delivered. We did enjoy The View bar and lounge inside the hotel is open from 4pm and has them most incredible views over the city, as well as being super kid-friendly.

San Francisco Marriott Marquis
780 Mission St, San Francisco
Find the best prices and book online.

Other popular places to stay include Fisherman’s Wharf, which I find too touristy and out of the way apart from a few attractions, and Nob Hill, which is nicer than downtown, but means a lot of walking up and down the steep hill it’s located on or catching a lot of cable cars.

Find, compare and book your hotel in San Francisco online.

Thank you to CityPASS for the complimentary passes to explore San Francisco. They are a genuine money saver and we will use them again in other cities we visit. This post contains affiliate links, which means if you book through my website I will receive a small commission from the vendor at no extra cost to you.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, USA

Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me
A must-see on a road trip through the Keys, the Marathon Turtle Hospital is a small, non-profit organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles.

Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me

The Turtle Hospital is home to over 50 sick and injured turtles who are undergoing various stages of treatment, rehabilitation, or have been deemed unsuitable to be released into the wild and so have become permanent residents.

Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me
In order to meet the turtles you must book in for a tour of the facilities. The tour lasts around 90 minutes and includes a presentation on the various turtle breeds and the threats they face in the wild, a tour of the hospital facilities, and, what everyone had been waiting for, meeting the turtle patients. The majority of the turtles end up in the hospital after bodily trauma (such as being hit by a propeller blade) or sickness such as infections or tumours.

Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me

Several of the turtles have what’s called “bubble butt” where an accident, such as a boating incident, has damaged their shell, letting air in underneath it, giving them the appearance of a “bubble butt”, which causes the turtle to float.

Turtles with bubble butt have weights affixed to them to help them balance out and give them the ability to swim underneath the water once more.

Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me

Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me
Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me

At the end of each program guests are invited to feed the permanent residents – not touch them, mind you, but throw their favourite pellets to them as they swim happily in the pool underneath.

Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me

Because they are a working hospital, you must be part of one of the guided educational programs in order to visit the turtles. Reservations are highly recommended.

The Turtle Hospital
2396 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL
Prices: Adults: $22, kids 4-12 years old: $11, under 4 free

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Meeting Anna and Elsa at Epcot’s Royal Sommerhus

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

The brand new Royal Sommerhus has opened at Epcot in Walt Disney World as a permanent home for the Anna and Elsa meet and greet.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

We visited the Royal Sommerhus five days after it opened, and perhaps because it hadn’t been advertised or promoted anywhere that we saw, it was really quiet, especially compared to the Mickey and Friends character meet and greet, which had a very long line and a 25 minute wait.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

Expecting a long line like we found in Disneyland on our last visit, we bolted to the Royal Sommerhus as soon as the gates opened, and found … a 10 minute wait at 9:15 am. We walked past the house several times during the day and the wait time was never over 10 minutes, making it officially the fastest place to meet Anna and Elsa out of Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Disney Cruises.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

The Royal Sommerhus is located between Mexico and Norway in the World Showcase section at Epcot in WDW, just before the new ride, Frozen Ever After. The house is set up to appear like Anna and Elsa’s home. The queue to meet the characters winds through the house, past their bookshelves, lounge, fireplace and staircase. The attention to detail is amazing.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

The meet and greet takes place at the end of the walk through the house, with seperate sections to meet each character.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

Anna was first when we visited, and then Elsa.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

Each character spoke with Cheese briefly and then posted for pictures, both for the Disney official photographer, and also for me. While there is no pressure to buy the photos and you can absolutely take your own, I like to take photos on my own camera and also have the photographer take a few, so at the end of the day if mine don’t work out I have a back up in the Disney photographer’s images so I always get a great pic.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

At the end of the meet and greet guests are ushered into the very well stocked gift shop, filled with Frozen merchandise.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Our time at Disneyland was magical! My almost five-year-old and I spent a wonderful day-and-a-half at the park and it just wasn’t enough time. While we loved pretty much everything about the experience, we had to have our favourite rides and experiences, right? Here they are, through a mix of photos from our last trip as well as our time at Disneyland in 2014:

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland ride: Mad Tea Party
So much fun we went on it over and over and over again.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Kind Arthur’s Carousel
It’s a gorgeous carousel and rarely has a queue.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Dumbo The Flying Elephant
This is just fun. Best to visit in the morning when the lines are short.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Character meet and greets
Ask at guest services for a schedule of character meet and greets so you’re always the first one there.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Tomorrow land: Jedi training: The Trials of the Temple
My daughter still talks about defeating Darth Vader. Read about our experience here.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Tomorrow land: Buzz Lightyear ride
We went on this ride so many times. My daughter loved the laser gun that you use to shoot targets.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Absolutely favourite of my daughter’s. Read about our experience here.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Mickey’s Toontown photo opps
While there are cool rides in Toontown, my daughter loved all of the pretend “toon” things she could climb on.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Cinderella’s castle
Enchanting – an absolute must to walk through.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Tomorrowland rides: Star Tours and Space Mountain
A bit scary for little ones perhaps, but we did them anyway and survived to tell the tale.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Frontierland: Jungle Cruise & Tarzan’s Tree House
Easy fun for little ones.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Minnie & Friends Character Breakfast at the Plaza Inn
The only place to meet characters like Winnie The Pooh, Chip & Dale and Eeyore. Book in advance.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Meet princesses at the Royal Hall
A must for any princess-lovers! Meet four princess in the one hall.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Must-see – Mickey’s Soundsational Parade
See all your fave Disney characters.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Meet Tinkerbell in Pixie Hollow
Walk through a replica of Pixie Hollow, meeting Tinkerbell and friends.

Get tips on planning the perfect Disneyland trip here.

What are your Disneyland highlights?

 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

The hot ticket at Disney California Adventure Park this year is the brand new stage show, Frozen – Live at the Hyperion.

The show is exactly what you would imagine it to be: a very closely followed adaptation of the movie Frozen, performed live on stage by excellent performers on some seriously stunning staging.

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The show is one hour in duration (the movie is 1 hr 49 minutes) and as a result there are small cuts in places – a few minor characters are either missing or have their parts shortened significantly, but the changes I noticed the most were to take away anything remotely “scary”.

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As a result, the show is billed as “suitable for all ages” – and I have to agree, it was extremely mild and even my scaredy cat Cheese who refuses to see the movie at the moment because she deems it “too scary”, didn’t find a single moment of the show anything other than thoroughly entertaining.

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As per all of Disney’s productions, Frozen – Live At The Hyperion is of the highest standard. I was particularly impressed with their Elsa, considering the difficulty of the song Let It Go, (which she nailed, by the way).

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

The set design for the show is incredibly impressive, particularly the scenes from the sisters’ childhood, where the props are made larger than usual to make the “child” Anna and Elsa really look small, even though they are played by adults.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

Even with the show significantly shortened from the original movie, it seemed a perfect length, with all the major songs and moments covered beautifully. It was also a great length for all of the small children in the audience, who were happily belting out the lyrics to each number and wiggling joyfully throughout the show.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

Tips on how to see the show:

 

As the show is so popular, I advise getting tickets using the Disney FASTPASS Service, which provides first-come, first-served tickets to same day Frozen – Live at the Hyperion shows.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me
Tickets are available when the park opens at the Disney FASTPASS Service machines located to the left of the Hyperion Theater. Tickets are distributed for the first show of the day via the machine until all the tickets run out. After the first show is sold out, tickets for the second show are made available, and so forth. Guests are not able to choose a specific time show.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

At the FASTPASS machine, insert your park admission ticket and you will be given a Disney FASTPASS ticket printed with your Frozen – Live at the Hyperion showtime and recommended arrival time. Pay attention to the suggested time and turn up as early as possible. My ticket suggested I arrive 40 minutes before the show started. We arrived 30 minutes before showtime and we were among the last people seated at the end of the queue.

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If you have a stroller with you, be very aware of where it is parked when you go into the show. Our stroller was taken from us and parked by a Disney cast member and we didn’t see where it was taken. As a result, at the end of the show it took us a very long time to search for our stroller among a sea of about a hundred or so.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

Get more information on Frozen – Live At The Hyperion and the latest show times here

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Meet Anna & Elsa at Disney California Adventure Park

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

The Frozen sisters have found a permanent home in California Adventure Park’s Hollywood Land. The meet and greet isn’t anywhere near as crazy popular as it was when we visited two years ago. Back then, if you didn’t get to the link as soon as the park opened you were in for an all-day wait.

This time, we did the rounds in the morning to get FastPasses for our fave rides and then came back to meet the sisters. Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome is located deep inside the Animation Academy within the Disney California Adventure Park.

From the outside, it’s unclear that this is even the place to meed the Frozen duo as there are no clear signs that say so.  We asked a helpful Disney cast member outside who confirmed that this was the place and pointed where to go.

The Animation Academy has several experiences inside, just one of which is the Anna and Elsa Royal Welcome. it’s a huge space with Disney films playing all over the walls, which makes waiting to meet the sisters much more palatable. The queue wasn’t too bad – maybe 10 people before us, and we waited in total about 30 minutes to meet the pair.

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

Anna and Elsa share an Arandelle-themed room in the Animation Academy for meeting their royal guests. I really think the pair are best as a dual act – they play off each other, make witty jokes, and in general are so much fun when they’re experienced together.

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

The princess and queen really took their time talking to Cheese. They wanted to know all about her kingdom and commented on her beautiful hair.

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

After the meet and greet, with Frozen stars in our eyes, we head off to the new show, Frozen – Live that is now playing at the Hyperion Theatre next door. If you have an avid artist on your hands, drop by the Royal Academy (it’s tucked inside the Animation Academy) where a real-life artist is on hand to teach you how to sketch characters like Olaf and Marshmallow.

Get more information about Frozen experiences at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park here.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

British Virgin Islands: The Baths & Devil’s Bay On Virgin Gorda

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The beautiful Virgin Gorda, second-largest of the British Virgin islands, is a popular day trip for cruise ships stopping in Tortola. The “plump” shape of the island reminded Christopher Columbus of a reclining woman, or a “Fat Virgin,” which inspired the rather interesting name.

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Virgin Gorda has a population of around 3000 people, including celebrities like Morgan Freeman and Richard Branson. A glimpse at the pristine beauty of the island and it’s easy to see why. White sand beaches, crystal blue ocean and a slow way of life are draw cards for those wanting a relaxing vacation or a complete sea change.

A Tour of The Baths is a popular way to see one of the area’s must-see sights – The Baths. Many cruise ships, including the Disney Cruise Line’s 7-Night Eastern Caribbean include this as a port of call option for an additional fee.

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To get to The Baths from Tortola, the main port of call where cruise ships dock, it’s possible to go on the cheap and take the local ferry, but I would advise to just pay the bit extra to have the entire trip organised for you so there is zero stress involved. It’s quite a way from where the ferry lands on Virgin Gorda to The Baths and not much in the way of public or private transport options.

British Virgin Islands: The Baths & Devil's Bay On Virgin Gorda via christineknight.me

The half-day tour to Virgin Gorda begins with a scenic 40-minute cruise along the Sir Francis Drake Channel to Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda. Open-air safari buses await the cruise boat, ready to take its passengers on the short 20-minute drive through Spanish Town to an outlook over Savannah Bay for a photo stop.

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It’s only a short drive further to the Top of the Baths, where a local tour guide meets the group and leads us down to The Baths. The path is somewhat rocky but doesn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes, and is easy enough for my 4.5 year old to walk on her own.

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The spectacularly beautiful Baths lies at the bottom of the path. There are waves to swim, boulders to climb and beaches to laze on. Paradise.

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We journey further through narrow caves and water-filled grottos to find the pristine waters of Devil’s Bay on the other side.

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British Virgin Islands: The Baths & Devil's Bay On Virgin Gorda via christineknight.me

This stunning beach is perfect for families with its gentle waves and soft sand.

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The tour ends with a retracing of our steps. Back up to the car park, back on the safari buses, back onto the cruise boat, which speeds us back to our ship, just in time for lunch.

British Virgin Islands: The Baths & Devil's Bay On Virgin Gorda via christineknight.me

Tour To Virgin Gorda Tips
*Wear comfortable walking shoes as the path to The Baths is rough and uneven.
*Recommended age for the tour is 5 and up. Our 4.5 year old had no problem with the walk or the climb through the caves.
*Take plenty of drink bottles with water. Food from the ship is not allowed off the boat (such as fruit) so eat a hearty breakfast. We did take packaged crackers that we had taken aboard with us and were very grateful we did when our daughter badly needed food and there was nowhere to buy any.
*While our tour notes said a beverage (water, soda or fruit juice) is included, we were served the beverage on the cruise boat back to the ship at the very end of the tour, so taking lots of water is crucial.
*Additional food and drinks can be purchased at the Top of The Baths restaurant.
*Bathrooms/changing facilities and lockers are available at the beach; however, Guests are encouraged to wear a swimsuit underneath their clothes if wishing to swim at the beach as there are limited bathrooms and a long line to use them.
*Bring credit cards or cash for optional extras such as souvenirs.
*Pack a swim suit, sunscreen, sunglasses, additional clothing, hats, cameras, backpacks and towels.
*After swimming in the salty beach water you’ll want to rinse off – which was a problem when we visited as there was no running tap to use and we had to use the rest of our drinking water.

British Virgin Islands: The Baths & Devil's Bay On Virgin Gorda via christineknight.me

More info on the Tour to Virgin Gorda here

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

A Disney Cruise Port of Call: Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure

Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me Castaway Cay is a private island in the Bahamas reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise Line (DCL) guests on Bahamian and Caribbean cruises.

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Because the island is only used by guests debarking from the Disney boats, it’s possible to enjoy a fun-filled day without spending an extra cent.

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Many of the amenities on the island are FOC for DCL guests, such as tram transport to the different parts of the island, a full buffet lunch and beverage station, several gorgeous beaches, character meet and greets, child care for kids aged 3-12 at Scuttle’s Cove and the two water play areas, Pelican Plunge (more below) and Spring-a-leak, which we didn’t find on our day at Castaway Cove. Don’t have kids? Adults can enjoy Serenity Cove, the 18+ area on the island.

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There is so much to do on this island, particularly for families, that many guests say it’s their fave place to stop even on repeat cruises.

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Castaway Cay Stingray Adventure

On our Castaway Cay day we booked into the Castaway Cay Stingray Adventure, suitable for guests aged 5 and up. Despite Cheese being not quite 5, it was fine for her to join us.

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We checked into Ray’s Stingray Hut straight off the boat and were given a very quick run down by the crew on how to put on our gear (lifejackets and snorkel equipment) and told the rules of how to handle the stingrays during the feeding, which was the first part of the adventure.

Into the water, we gathered around platforms thigh-deep in water and held pieces of slimy fish in our fingers for the stingrays to eat. While we waited for the rays to approach the platform a few of the more curious of the stingrays rubbed against our legs. Don’t worry – the stingrays here to not have stingers, making them completely harmless.

The stingrays caught the scent of food and slid themselves onto the platform to slurp up the food from our fingers, tickling out palms with their rubbery mouths. After the food supply ran out, we donned our snorkels and went for a swim to watch these amazing creatures underwater.

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See our Castaway Cay adventures in the video below at 1:42.

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Castaway Cay Beaches

The majority of people who visit Castaway Cay are content to just relax on the beach and paddle in the soft waves.

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We hired a water tube for some serious floating action. There are several beaches to enjoy, all marked clearly on the island’s map, so while the beaches are busy you’d never guess that a few thousand people were there all at the same time.

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The free tram makes it very easy to get between the beaches, and there are also plenty of shaded deck chairs available for lounging.

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Pelican Plunge

After the free buffet lunch we walked to the Pelican Plunge to check out the water play area.

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It looked a bit scary for our little one, so we contented ourselves with squirting the water guns over the side while watching people climb up and slide down the plunge adjacent.

disney-cruise-castway-cay-62 disney-cruise-castway-cay-58 Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me

Castaway Cay Tips
*No need to bring a towel – there are plenty of towels available on the island.
*Do bring sunscreen, hat, water shoes/thongs and a refillable water bottle to fill at the free beverage station.
*Head to the buffet either at the beginning or end of service when the queues are shorter.
*Bring some cash if you’re planning on shopping.
*There is occasionally sea lice in the water – you may want to buy some Sea Safe just incase. We didn’t have any problems with the sea lice.
*Head back to the ship early to ride the Aquaduck with zero queues!

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Get more info on Castaway Cay here.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Disneyland Planning Tips: How To have The Best Disneyland Holiday Ever

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Disneyland is magical for adults and kids alike. It’s such an incredibly designed place that keeps the magic of childhood well and truly alive, through rides, entertainment and live characters. Disneyland is also a place that requires a lot of planning to get the most out of. I hope my tips will help you plan your perfect Disneyland holiday.

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What age is best for Disneyland?
Honestly, any age! Disneyland caters to all ages from 0-100 as long as you love Disney. I’ve been as an adult without kids, with a 2 year old, and most recently with my almost 5-year-old. Each time is different but equally enjoyable.

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What time of year should we go?
Disneyland is gorgeous to visit all-year round. They have special seasonal events around Halloween and Christmas in particular, making these two times of year a really special time to visit. Check out the crowds at the time of year you’re considering visiting at this website – if you can visit during a slower time, I would suggest doing so. We have visited twice in June or July and both times it has been very hot and very busy.

Where should we stay?
There are so many choices! Disneyland have their own hotels that are on the park grounds and give you special benefits – the biggest two being early entry into the parks every day (an hour before general admission) and a special entry to Disney California Adventure Park through Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa so you’ll never have to line up. While the Disneyland hotels also offer other great features that carry the Disney magic to all areas of your stay, they are also the pricey accomodation option – so if you’re on a budget you’ll want to consider staying at a “good neighbor” hotel instead.

All the benefits of staying at a Disneyland hotel

We have stayed at two different “good neighbor” hotels, the Howard Johnson Hotel and Water Park, and the Carousel Inn and Suites. Both were half the price of the Disneyland hotels and had excellent locations – directly across the road from Disneyland, making our commute each morning a mere 5 minutes walk.

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How long should we stay for?
We have stayed for three days both times we visited, and this was the perfect amount for us. We spent one day each at Disneyland and California Adventure park, and one day hopping between the two. If you buy tickets for three or more consecutive days, you get a magic morning included, where you can enter Disneyland an hour early (7am!) on a designated day.

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What’s a “magic morning”?
Magic mornings are the days when you can enter the park at 7am instead of 8am, which is when the parks usually open. You need to have a 3+ day pass to be able to use a magic morning early entry. Magic mornings are held on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays. It’s recommended that you arrive an hour and a quarter before the regular park opening. We didn’t have magic mornings with our trip this time around, and we went to California Adventure park that day instead – which turned out to be a brilliant choice as the park was pretty much empty – everyone was at Disneyland using their magic morning!

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What tickets should we get?
You have a choice between single park passes, which allow you entry into one park per day, or “park hoppers” which let you go back and forth between the parks. If you buy multi day passes (which is the cheapest way to buy tickets), you will have to choose between the two types, you can’t mix and match. With older kids, I’d recommend park hoppers, particularly if you will be there three days. I found a full day at each park was perfect, plus that extra day to jump between the two and finish up a few things we missed or wanted to do again.

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I always advise buying tickets at least a few days in advance. While the queues have always been short to buy tickets when we’ve arrived, it just cuts out one extra step to get into the park. When you buy a ticket online you can choose an eTicket which you then present on your phone (or printed out) at the gates for entry.

More info on ticket types and prices

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What time of day should I arrive?
The parks open at 8am (with the exception of magic mornings when it opens at 7 if you have valid tickets). My best advice on getting the most out of a Disneyland day is to arrive well before the park opens. It can take quite a while to get through security, and also through the gates. When you use your tickets for the first time, you will have a photo taken and linked online to your pass, and you will need to sign the tickets they give you – all making the entry process that much longer.

We enjoyed the early mornings the most as there were the fewest people in the park, so lines were shorter.

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How do I plan a day at Disneyland?
My best advice is to plan to do all the rides first thing in the morning. As soon as the gates open, go straight to the rides you want to do the most that are the most popular rides, and either do the rides immediately, or get a FASTPASS (see more below) to return and do the ride later without having to line up to do so.

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We spent the first three hours just doing all of the rides, then took a break for lunch and spent the afternoons watching shows, meeting characters, shopping, eating ice cream, and watching the parades.

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Find out the height requirement for rides in advance and plan accordingly!

This site gives you the average wait time for each ride, so you can see which ones are the most popular.

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What is a FASTPASS?
A FASTPASS lets you skip the queue for the most popular rides at the park. Look for the FASTPASS Distribution sign near the entrance of an attraction, check the Return Time displayed on the sign, insert your Disneyland Resort admission ticket into the FASTPASS machine and take with you the FASTPASS ticket it spits out, printed with your return time. Then return to the ride during your time window at any time, show your FASTPASS ticket to the Cast Member at the entrance to the ride, and enjoy a minimal wait. Note: You can only have one FASTPASS at a time.

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Attractions that have FASTPASS
Entertainment that has FASTPASS

Find out more about FASTPASS!

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What are some tips for watching the parades?
The parades are incredibly popular, with people staking out their front row spots over 45 minutes before the parade begins. If you watch carefully around the park from an hour before the parades start, Disneyland staff will begin marking out the areas for crowd control. Grab a spot on a bench or on the gutter edge and either all sit with some snacks and wait, or leave one adult there while the rest of the family entertain themselves in other ways while you’re waiting.

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The parades wind their way from the back of the park to the front, so if the start time is 4:30pm, it will reach around the front of the park around 4:45-4:50pm.

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Can we take food and drink into the park?
Yes you can. Take a large refillable water bottle – you can refill with water at any drink station through out the parks. You can also ask for cups of ice water at any restaurant/fast food outlet. You are allowed to take whatever food and snacks you like into the park, which is a great way to cut down on costs. We didn’t take many snacks with us as we were staying at a very basic hotel with nowhere to keep food. We ate park food all day and didn’t find it overly expensive.

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Should I take a stroller?
If your child fits in one, absolutely yes. Many hours of walking will tired even older children. There is stroller parking at every ride, and every restaurant/facility is stroller-accessible. I also like having a stroller to put our stuff in, like water bottles and snacks, and the canopy provides much needed shade during the heat.

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Should I use the Disneyland photographers?
Personally, I always utilise the Disneyland photography service, called PhotoPass. For $39 a day you can download all of the images taken by the Disneyland photographers. The photographers are scattered around both parks all throughout the day and take some really great quality photos – with the entire family in them! I love that I can get out whole family in the same shot with zero effort, and I also like to leave my giant SLR camera at home and just take my point and shoot with me, knowing the Disneyland photographers will have their excellent cameras to snap portraits for me that save me lugging around my behemoth for the day.

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When getting your photo taken, you can either download the Disneyland app to your phone and present the app to the photographer and add the photos to your account, or the photographer will give you a small card with a bar code that you can then add into your account yourself later on.

You can take the cards to a Disneyland PhotoPass store to buy the images at the park, or log into the Disneyland PhotoPass website later to buy and download them.

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How do I keep on top of what’s happening during the day?
This trip I discovered the excellent (free) Disneyland app. It allowed me to see the wait times on every ride, has a map with a compass so you know where you are, and also shows what characters are where for meet and greets, where food outlets and bathrooms are, and times for entertainment such as shows and parades.

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How do I meet characters at Disneyland?
Characters roam around the parks all day. Some have designated spots and times that you can find either on the app or by asking at Guest Services inside the park. The core characters such as Minnie, Mickey and friends and the princesses have designated places where they can be found.

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Others simply roam and you have to be lucky to spot them, such as Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter, and Mary Poppins. If you want an easy way to meet lots of the characters all together, book in for a Character Breakfast. Our faves are Ariel’s Grotto, which has all of the princesses some around to each table, and Plaza Inn, which has Minnie Mouse, plus core Disney faves like Donald Duck, Hook and Chip & Dale, Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore.

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How do I meet the Disney princesses?
You can meet three princesses at any time of day at the Fantasy Faire inside Fantasyland, Disneyland. The princesses change regularly so you won’t know which ones will be there until you go inside.

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The princesses are in seperate rooms and you walk around to meet them one at a time. You can also happen upon princesses outside Cinderella’s Castle – we found Aurora this way. If you want to meet the majority of the princesses in one go, the only way is to book in for a character breakfast at Ariels Grotto. When we visited in 2014, met Ariel, Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora and Belle here. If you want to meet Jasmine, Merida or Tiana, look for them roaming around the park.

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What about Anna and Elsa?
The sisters are located inside the Animation Academy in California Adventure Park, and are the only princesses you meet together. We really enjoyed meeting Anna and Elsa – they have a great repartee together, making the sisters a really fun duo to chat with.

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Is there any thing else “Frozen”?
Yes, there is a fantastic new live “Frozen” show in the Hyperion Theatre in California Adventure Park. the show goes for an hour, and runs several times a day. You can get a FASTPASS to the show – tickets are distributed outside the theatre in Hollywood Lane.

Frozen - Live at the Hyperion Theater California Adventure Park

I would advise returning to line up for the show 40 minutes before start time to guarantee a decent seat. The show is excellent, and does a fantastic job of telling the Frozen story minus the scary bits.

More info on Frozen – Live at the Hyperion Theater

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What else should I know about that’s awesome at Disneyland?
My almost five-year old particularly enjoyed being turned into a princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and taking part in jedi training at the Trials of the Temple show.

Jedi training Disneyland via christineknight.me

Do you have any questions about how to plan the perfect Disneyland holiday?

Tips on the best things to do at Disneyland with little kids

How to survive (and enjoy!) Disneyland with a toddler

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!