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Disney Travel

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

A visit to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (BBB) is a must for little girls who are desperate to be a “princess” for a day. There are BBBs in Disneyland, Walt Disney World and also select Disney cruises. Our boat, the Fantasy, had the BBB located on deck five – a quiet space filled with tulle, glitter and tiny little girls with their faces alight with joy.

Bibbity Bobbity Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

The BBB is a gorgeous experience for girls aged 3-12. Reservations are required to guarantee a spot at the boutique. When you book your spot, you can choose the type of package you would like for your daughter. Packages start from the “Crown Package” at $64.95 for hair, face decals, nail polish, shimmery make up, tiara, Mickey Mouse hair clip, BBB sash and a drawstring bag. See end of post for full details of pricing and packages.

Bibbity Bobbity Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

Cheese already had a beautiful dress she loved so we took her dress and chose the Crown Package. Our fairy godmother in training let Cheese over to a chair and proceeded to do her hair in her select style of a princess bun (there are several other options available).

Bibbity Bobbity Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

Once the hair was up in the perfect princess bun, light make up was applied, tiara and hair clip slipped in, kiddie nail polish liberally brushed on, and, after many layers of hair gel to keep the wispy bits looking sleek, a hearty coating of “pixie dust” (AKA glitter) was applied, followed by a proclamation of “Bibbity, Bobbity Boo!” and a dramatic reveal in the mirror.

Bibbity Bobbity Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

Each guest takes home the drawstring bag plus the make up, nail polish and face decals. I really liked how clean and hygienic the boutique was, with each make up, nail polish and face decal set being brand new and sealed for each guest.

Bibbity Bobbity Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

When I saw the prices for the experiences I wasn’t sure how a 45 minutes “make over” could be worth the money. It comes down to the beautiful fairy godmothers in training, who guide the girls through the experience, tell them stories, get to know them, and make them laugh and feel special. My daughter was in heaven, not just with the make over, which she adored, but also the attention she received from the wonderful staff in the boutique.

Bibbity Bobbity Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

The bun stayed in for the next two days until we went swimming and it needed to come out. It was a devastating moment when we had to take the hair down, which surprised me as she isn’t usually attached to hair dos.

Bibbity Bobbity Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

The BBB was a highlight of our cruise, and I will absolutely take her to enjoy the experience again at with Disneyland or WDW and hope that we enjoy the same wonderful time together.

FULL PACKAGE LIST
All prices in USD.

Crown Package
Price $64.95
This regal package includes hairstyling, a face gem, shimmering makeup, nail polish, a princess sash and cinch sack.
Hairstyle Choices: Disney Diva or Fairy-Tale Princess

Under the Sea Package
Price: $99.95
Plucky young adventurers can become little mermaids with the Under the Sea Package, which includes a 2-piece swimsuit and “mermaid tail” wrap. A floral hair clip, necklace and nail polish complete the look.

Please note this swimsuit is currently only available in 2 sizes: large/10-12 and extra-large/14.

Castle Package
Price: $199.95
Your little princess will be a vision to behold with hairstyling, shimmering makeup, nail polish, a face gem, princess sash and cinch sack. She’ll also receive a crown, a wand and her choice of costume!
Hairstyle Choices: Disney Diva or Fairy-Tale Princess
Costume Choices: Princess Minnie, Tinker Bell, Anna, Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Elsa, Jasmine, Rapunzel, Snow White and Tiana

Royal Knight Package
Price: $19.95
Young Guests who select the Royal Knight Package will be bestowed with heroic hairstyling of gel and confetti as well as a mighty sword and shield!

Disney Frozen Package
Price: $194.95
Is your little one free-spirited and fun-loving like Anna or regal and reserved like Elsa? The Disney Frozen Package provides a fun, movie-inspired makeover where kids can become their favorite character from the wildly popular Disney animated hit. The Disney Frozen package includes your choice of the Anna hairstyling with Anna costume or Elsa hairstyling with Elsa costume, plus shimmering makeup, face gem, nail polish, a princess sash, a princess tote and a huggable Olaf plush.

Celebration Package
Price: $124.95
Every day is worth celebrating on the Disney Magic and young guests can get in the fun with the Disney Cruise Line exclusive Celebration Package a perfect choice for a Sail-Away Celebration! The Celebration Package includes the choice of a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique hair style, plus shimmering makeup, face gem, nail polish, princess tote and princess sash. The party transformation is then completed with an exclusive Disney Cruise Line Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique tutu and t-shirt.

Captain’s Package
Price: $119.95
The Disney Cruise Line exclusive package includes the Disney Cruise Line Sailor Mickey costume, Captain Mickey hat and Captain Mickey plush.

Hawaii Disney-style: Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Back in 2012 my family and I met for Christmas in Hawaii, specifically the Ko Olina resort area. We rented an apartment on the beach, in a complex right along the waterfront from a brand new resort that was just opening to the public. The resort was Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, and it was still under construction. Nevertheless, we were extremely impressed with the facilities of the hotel, even half finished – so impressed that we planned to fly back for a holiday when our daughter was old enough to make use of the pools and activities, at age 4.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

We returned recently to Hawaii and made good on our promise to stay at Aulani. The hotel sits on 21 oceanfront acres, between gorgeous mountains and the quiet Kohola Lagoon. It’s about a 30-45 minute drive out of Waikiki – close enough to drive back in if you want to go shopping or exploring, and far enough away to be removed from the crowds in that main tourist area.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Aulani is a big resort, with 351 hotel rooms, including 16 suites, 481 Disney Vacation Club units, 2 restaurants, 3 lounges and several quick-service dining venues. It also features a spa, fitness centre, Aunty’s Beach House kids club, Painted Sky teen spa, pools, waterslides, water play areas and more. It’s the kind of place you can stay at for a week and never need to leave the resort. I never used to be a “resort” person, but now I have a small child, a place where the whole family can enjoy themselves effortlessly is the perfect place for us to take a holiday.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

“Aulani” means “messenger of a chief” in Hawaiian – and really sets the tone for the resort. While it is, indeed, a “Disney” resort, the emphasis is firstly on being Hawaiian, with a touch of Disney. Around the resort you will see about 90% Hawaiian decorations and design vs 10% Disney – mostly small motifs and the occasional nod to Mickey Mouse.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

The resort was intentionally designed to reflect Hawaiian traditions, and also offers guests many Hawaiian-inspired experiences, such as fireside storytelling, the Starlit Hui—an evening celebration of Hawaiian traditions and Disney storytelling, Hawaiian activities and crafts, including hula and lei-making classes.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Select Disney characters show up all over the resort – mostly Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Goofy, with the occasional appearance by Stitch, Chip & Dale and Duffy (Mickey’s bear). Mickey-themed ice creams, pretzels, and other snacks are available in all the snack bars, and Disney-themed activities are run alongside the traditional Hawaiian ones.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Upon entering the resort, we were presented with traditional Hawaiian leis and necklaces, which really set the tone for our trip. Hawaiian – with a touch of Disney.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

We stayed in an ocean view suite, which had a queen bed and fold out couch, plus a microwave, bar fridge and sink. It was a small room, but since we didn’t plan on spending much time in it, it was fine for our purposes. The view from our balcony was spectacular.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

The hotel as free wifi throughout it, which I really appreciated.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Aulani is absolutely the most family-friendly hotel I have ever stayed at. A combination of their facilities plus activities and friendly staff make it the perfect place for an extended (or brief!) family holiday.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

The resort features several pools varying in depth. Several of them are very shallow, plus an infinity pool and adult-only pools. Little kids can also enjoy two water play areas with fountains – one for young toddlers/babies, and one for kids under 42 inches tall (122cm).

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Kids who are confident swimmers (or confident with floaties) can snorkel in the man-made tub/mini reef. And then there is also the beach! A shallow, gentle lagoon that is perfect for kids.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

My daughter’s favourite water play was the tube slide and the Waikolohe Stream, or lazy river, which wasn’t so lazy as she jumped in and out of the tubes and swam the majority of the river with the current.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

When the sun wore us out, there were plenty of indoor activities to keep us occupied, with the favourite being the Disney Animation drawing and painting class.

Parents wanting time to themselves can drop kids aged 3-12 off at the free kids club. We decided not to use the kids club on this occasion, but I did take a look and it was incredibly clean and full of great activities for kids. Tweens and teens are catered for too, with a special club for them, too.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Every morning the daily ‘IWA is released – a sheet filled with activities for families to do together, kids to do on their own in the kids club, or for adults, like “sunrise yoga”. The activities were incredibly popular, so in order to secure a spot at the events with limited numbers, it’s suggested that you line up either at 7:45am for the family activities or 7:30am for the kids club ones, particularly on weekends when they are the most popular. We missed out on the activities we wanted at first as I didn’t realise the registration system, and had to wake my jet lagged self up early the next morning to get in the queue to lock in our spots for the animation drawing class and ukulele class.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

The animation drawing class was my favourite activity during our stay. the first part of the class was spent learning to draw a Disney character on paper, and the second involved painting an animation cell. It was really fun and inclusive of all abilities.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Cheese really enjoyed the “Menehune Adventure Trail” which was a particularly clever scavenger hunt around the resort using an interactive tablet. I wasn’t prepared for the resort to interact back with us on the hunt – we woke the volcano, caused streams to erupt, set fire to lamps and spooked the tiny kids in the toddler water play area when we set off loud noises and a water jet pattern. Cheese was delighted with the magic we found on the resort.

If you need some down time in your room, guests are invited to pick up a few free DVD rentals – all Disney of course – or a board game.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

The last highlight for our family on the trip was the character breakfast with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy. At $32 per adult and $18 per child over age 3, it’s a pricey breakfast. The food was pretty good – the fresh omelette station produced delicious food, and the fruit was incredible, but it still came to over $100 for breakfast for the three of us, with only Minnie and Goofy in the dining room (Mickey stayed outside for photos).

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Minnie was a sweetheart, coming to see us several times and really making an effort to interact with our enthralled daughter, but Goofy was a tough one to catch. It took us a while to flag him down as he bolted past our table, and even then we had a few seconds to try and get a photo before he bolted off again. It would have been nice for the cost to have additional characters like Stitch, Donald Duck and Chip and Dale since we knew they were on the resort.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

The only down side to our stay was the food. We found the resort food limited and expensive. The two main restaurants were either an expensive buffet at Makahiki ($49.99 per adult) or the “fine dining” option, Ama Ama, which was way out of our budget for daily dining.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Being a vegetarian made it even worse – there was pretty much only pizza or a single veggie burger that I was able to eat. Even the salads mostly had meat in them!

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

We ate several of our meals off the resort at the little shopping complex across the road where we found a cafe and restaurant with additional choices (particularly for this vegetarian!), as well as an ABC Market where we bought basic groceries like yoghurts, fruit, cereal and so on so we didn’t need to eat every meal in a restaurant. (See the pic above for an example of a meal we found at the cafe across the road).

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Our stay at Aulani just what we needed it to be – a relaxing time for us to bond as a family. Hawaii has always been a special place for us, with my husband and I travelling the islands during our honeymoon, and also bringing Cheese here when she was a toddler. It’s still a very special, wonderful island that we love deeply. Aulani lived up to our very high expectations as the perfect family getaway. We can’t wait to return. Aloha!

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me
aulani

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me
aulani

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
92-1185 Ali’inui Dr, Kapolei, HI 96707

Disney Summer Frozen Garden Party

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

A few months ago, I entered a competition to win tickets to a Disney Summer Frozen Garden Party in Sydney. I didn’t think much of it again, until, amazingly, I received an email letting me know that I’d won two tickets to the party. What good luck!

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

Cheese chose her Anna Frozen Fever outfit after I persuaded her that it was too hot for anything else and promised I’d even do her hair like Anna’s. One YouTube tutorial later and a hairdo that kind-of passed for Anna’s we were walking into Kurzon Hall with the blaring Frozen soundtrack welcoming us.

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

Kurzon Hall in Sydney, where the party was held, kind of resembles a castle, making it the perfect choice for a royal garden party. While summer in Sydney can be anywhere from around 20 degree days to 40, the party day was a particularly scorchingly one, with temps of almost 40dC. It was one of the hottest summer days we’d had – quite ironic to be going a Frozen party in such mad heat!

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

Thankfully the Disney team were well prepared for the heat, with parasols at the entrance, umbrellas covering most of the seating, paper fans dispersed to guests, and free gelato.

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

As we chose a table for our special afternoon tea, a hostess greeted us and brought us a giant picnic basket full of delicious goodies. The generous serving could have fed another two of us! We received a vegetarian basket, with quiches, a wrap, a vege roll, brownies, fairy bread, a Frozen cupcake, blue lollies, juices, apples and bananas.

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

The party had a tight schedule of events that kids could choose to participate in: face painting, horse and carriage ride and meeting Anna, Elsa and Kristoff. In between these events the kids were free to play a variety of old fashioned games like giant naughts and crosses, Jenga and Connect Four. I have to say here, a huge props to the very professional Frozen crew who were decked out in winter costumes and barely looked like they were sweating.

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

I had thought the highlight event would be meeting the Frozen crew, who looked almost identical to the cast from the movie but then I looked down at the schedule of events and saw that the gorgeous Aussie singer, Ricki-Lee was scheduled to sing a selection of Disney songs. WHAAAAAAAT?!

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

Sure enough, Ricki-Lee turned up and, in sweltering conditions, put on an amazing show. She really has such a gorgeous voice, but, even more than that, she looked like she truly loved the songs, and engaging with the kids. The kids – oh my, they were in heaven. It was like a real life princess from a Disney movie was singing to them. They just couldn’t believe their eyes.

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

Ricki-Lee sang a few Frozen faves (Do You Want To Build A Snowman? and Let It Go) as well as other well-loved Disney songs, such as Beauty And The Beast, Part Of Your World and A Whole New World. Without a doubt, she made Cheese’s day by putting the microphone in front of her during one song so they could sing the song together. For a kid whose dream right now is to be a performer like Katy Perry, it was the most amazing gift to be given.

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

At the end of the party, we were sent home with a gorgeous present – a Disney snowflake necklace – as if all the amazing entertainment wasn’t enough of a gift! A huge thank you to Disney for putting on the Frozen Summer Garden Party. We really had the best afternoon – one that I don’t think my daughter and I are likely to ever forget.

I highly suggest keeping your eye out for future competitions like this, as, you never know, you might win tickets to the next one!

9 Reasons To Take Little Kids To Disneyland

9 Reasons To Take Little Kids To Disneyland via christineknight.me

I often see people asking in forums about the right age to take their kids to Disneyland. I honestly don’t think there is a “right” age. There are easier ages than some, but never a “right” age. Disneyland is one of those amazing places that has something for everyone from babies to oldies (as long as they’re the type that love Disney, that is!).

I’ve been to Disneyland with my toddler, and next year will go back to Disneyland with my preschooler, so I’m right in this age bracket right now. If you’re weighing up whether or not to take a Disney trip, here is my 2 cents worth on why taking your toddler or preschooler to Disneyland is the best idea ever.

9 Reasons To Take Little Kids To Disneyland via christineknight.me

  1. It’s magical!
    Anyone who says otherwise is a grinch. With young kids, Disneyland is all about the magic. Their favourite characters come to life, music playing seemingly out of nowhere, castles and fireworks. See? Magical!9 Reasons To Take Little Kids To Disneyland via christineknight.me
  2. Princesses abound
    Princess-haters, I don’t want to hear about it. Little girls outgrow their love of princesses very fast, so there is a small window of time that they are desperate to meet Aurora and Cinderella and co, and when they do, it’s the sweetest moment ever.
  3. You share every moment together
    Little kids are still at the age where they want to do everything with you, such as sit on your lap when you’re watching the parade, or hold your hand when you’re walking down Main Street. You really experience Disneyland together when your kids want to do everything with you.9 Reasons To Take Little Kids To Disneyland via christineknight.me
  4. The kiddie rides are more fun than you’d expect
    Some of the best rides are for littlies, and you can happily ride the tea cups till you feel ill when you have a little one with you. I love riding the carousel or Dumbo the Flying Elephant with my daughter perched on my lap – I’ll be sad next time we go and she’ll want to ride them solo.
  5. Relieving your own childhood
    If you went to Disneyland as a child, or a similar amusement park, this will bring back memories of a carefree time of childhood before you were worried about if something was too daggy or uncool to be seen doing.
  6. It’s the childhood you never had
    If your childhood was spent yearning for Disneyland like mine was, it’s a chance to experience the Disney magic at all ages, starting from the very beginning.9 Reasons To Take Little Kids To Disneyland via christineknight.me
  7. They still want to be in photos with you
    As my child gets older, the less she wants to be in photos I take, particularly with us. It’s so great going somewhere as photogenic as Disneyland with a kid who is either happy to smile or doesn’t notice the camera yet so you can capture their joy.
  8. Nap time = parent time
    When I went with my two-year-old, she fell asleep in the stroller at nap time and we wheeled her around Disneyland looking at things we were interested in that she was too young for, and also had a long lunch while she napped next to the table. Winning!
  9. They rock a pair of Mickey ears like a boss
    One of the best things about tiny kids is that you can dress them in anything and they don’t care. Pick out the crazy cutest disney-inspired outfit and matching headband and there’s your family Christmas card, done!

If you’re weighing up if your kids are too young for Disneyland or not, my advice is to just go!

Have you taken your kids to Disneyland or Walt Disney World? If so, how old were they?

Disney Into The Woods Movie Blu-ray Giveaway

Into The Woods Blu-ray #Giveaway via christineknight.me

I love a good movie night. If you do, too, then you’ll love this giveaway I’m running with Disney this week. FIVE readers will have the opportunity to win a blu-ray copy of the Disney movie Into The Woods. This giveaway is open to Australian residents only (sorry US peeps!).

Into The Woods Blu-ray #giveaway via christineknight.me

Into the Woods is a funny and warm musical that follows classic fairy tales with a twist – they’re all tied together by an original story about a baker and his wife. Some big names star (and sing!) including my personal favourite actresses Emily Blunt and Anna Kendrick. I really enjoyed the new additions to traditional tales, and the wonderful singing.

A big thanks to Disney for giving me FIVE copies of Into The Woods for this giveaway (RRP $49.95). To enter, fill in the form below and tell me what your favourite fairytale is.

Entry open to Australian residents only. The most creative answer will win. This is not a game of chance. Competition is open Friday May 22nd 2015 to 11:59pm Thursday May 28st 2015. For full terms and conditions click here.

Disney’s Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast

#TinkerBell and the NeverBeast  movie via christineknight.me

A few weeks ago Cheese and I attended a special screening of Disney’s Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast.

Cheese loves the Tinker Bell movies (and so do I!), so it was a lovely way to spend the morning together. The movie was really sweet, focusing on the fairy Faun rather than Tinker Bell and a creature she finds in the wild (the “NeverBeast” from the title). The Tinker Bell movies are so cleverly made. They appeal to kids with their bright, sassy characters and beautiful animation, and also to adults with their well-written female characters and heart-warming morals that underpin the stories.

The moral of Tinker Bell and the legend of the NeverBeast is you can’t judge a book by its cover. Faun has to decide if she can to trust her own instincts and to go against all of her fairy friends to do what she believes is right. The message to be brave and follow your heart is a lovely lesson for little people to learn (and for big people to be reminded of). The movie was a touch scary for Cheese, but she still told me afterwards that she really enjoyed it.

#TinkerBell and the NeverBeast  movie via christineknight.me

After the movie, we were interviewed on camera to give our opinions. It was both of our first time being interviewed on camera (she was fine, I was nervous). What do you think of Cheese and my film debut?

#TinkerBell and the NeverBeast  movie via christineknight.me

How To Survive (And Enjoy) Disneyland USA With A Toddler

disneyland-5

Planning a trip to kiddy heaven, otherwise known as Disneyland?

Read all about one of our editor’s trip to Disneyland in California, with a 2.5 year old active toddler in tow! You’ll find helpful information, as well as useful tips and hints on how to escape with your sanity intact.

Have fun!

How To Survive (And Enjoy) Disneyland With A Toddler

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

We recently did the unthinkable — Disneyland with our 2.5 year old. And you know what? It was awesome. Hectic, crazy and overwhelming, but also totally magical. We had the benefit of the amazing Gina of In The Mouse House to book and organise the trip for us, and help us enjoy an easy and fun family vacation. We had so much fun that I wanted to share my top tips (a lot of these are thanks to Gina!) for getting the most out of Disneyland with a toddler.

1. Book a hotel near Disneyland. It does NOT have to be a Disney hotel. They are a lot pricier, and there are so many other budget but good quality hotels literally right across the road from the hotel entrance. We stayed at the Carousel Inn and Suites for a fraction of the cost and could not have been happier with our decision. Note: We did not use the pool, only because we didn’t have time in our schedule. If you’re traveling with older kids, choose a hotel like the Howard Johnson, which is a budget hotel with an amazing pirate ship playground in their pool.

2. Have a Disney vacation planner like Gina book the trip for you. Gina, as an authorised Disneyland travel agent, booked our hotel, park tickets, character dining (and could have booked more, like flights, if we’d needed it) at no cost to us. She also wrote us a day-by-day itinerary of how to best manage Disneyland with a toddler. For people who haven’t been before and have no knowledge of which rides are suitable and popular for different ages, this is an absolute must to take the stress out of each day.

3. Plan your time of year wisely. We went just before peak season, and every day the parks were absolutely jam packed with people by midday. Do not, unless you are totally insane, go during high season. Disneyland has a page on their site with details on the best times of year to go.

4. Plan each day. Our itinerary took the work out of it for me, and meant that we already knew which rides were suitable for our toddler, and in which order we should hit them up before the crows got too bad. E’s favorites were Cars Land in California Adventure Park (particularly the life-sized and moving Lightening McQueen and Mater) and Fantasyland in Disneyland. Her absolute favorite rides were the spinning tea cups and flying Dumbo. She wasn’t a fan of any ride that went through tunnels as she thought they were scary. High and fast spinning things, no problem.

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

5. Alternate lining up and riding with your partner. As the day went on and the crowds grew, there were huge lines for every ride. If your toddler is like mine, you’ll want to have one person lining up for the next ride while the other person is taking the child on the previous ride.

6. Arrive super early. You’ll enjoy the park the most even though it might be hard to fathom getting up that early for a theme park. How early? If you buy a three-day park pass, you get one “magic morning” included, where you get to enter the park an hour before the rest of the general public. The days we went, opening time was 8am, and magic hour was 7am. Before entering the park you need to go through security and line up in front of the turn styles, so arrive even earlier – at least 15 minutes if not half an hour earlier, especially for your magic morning hour. Seeing the park with almost no-one in it is eerie and peaceful at the same time. And yes, the only time in your parenting life you will refer to 7am as the “magical hour”.

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

7. Want to meet Anna and Elsa? They’re the current hot ticket, and we used our magic morning hour to arrive at the park at 6:30am and line up at the turn styles so that at 7am when the gates opened, were were able to walk (ok, run) to their “house” in Fantasyland and be first in line to meet them. Anna and Elsa were thankfully punctual and greeted guests from 7:05am, which meant that by 7:10am, we had met them and were on to the rides, while the queue behind us was already massive. Without a strategy like this, you will wait around two hours to meet Anna and Elsa.

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

8. Book character dining if your kid absolutely HAS to meet certain characters. We had dinner at Ariel’s Grotto and met all of the Disney princesses. We also breakfasted with Minnie and friends. It was such a wonderful experience for little E to meet her favourite characters in a setting like this — no lining up, just casual chatting and playing with the characters. It’s worth noting here that the character interactions were beyond my expectations. You expect the staff to be good with kids, but they were not just good, they were exceptional. E froze up each time she saw one of her favorites come to life, and every single character took the time to chat with her and draw her out of her shell by asking her cute questions about her outfit, or a toy she was holding. It was the best three days of her life thus far.

9. Eat early or late. The best times to eat at a Disney restaurant are before 11am or after 2pm. During the middle of the day they get quite busy. The food at all the restaurants is pretty average, so I would also suggest bringing your own food if possible.

10. Take a break during the day. After your early morning, get your hand stamped and leave for a break or nap during the middle of the day.

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

11. Make time for the parade. It’s magical for kids to see (Gina advised us that near the It’s A Small World ride was a great vantage point for the parade, and she was totally right!). Disney has just added a Frozen float to the parade, so if you didn’t get a chance to meet Anna and Elsa (or didn’t fancy the line/early morning) you can still see them in the parade.

12.  Use the “ride swap” for any rides you want to do that your kid is too small for. This means getting a fast pass when you get to the park (which tells you what time to return so you don’t have to line up), then, after you return during your time slot, one of you collects a ride swap from the attendants at the front of the queue and has the ride, while the other watches the child (our favorite was the Indiana Jones ride). Afterwards, the person who rides gives the ride swap pass to the other adult, who can then jump the queue. Yippee! Note: We tried to do to do this for the Star Tours ride, but when Alec got to the front and asked for the pass, they’d run out, so this is not a fool-proof plan.

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

13. Plan to spend one day at California Adventure Park and at least one at Disneyland. We didn’t do the park hopper tickets as we thought E was too little (and we were right! One park was enough per day for her.), but we did allow for two days in Disneyland so we could watch all the shows, take breaks, meet the characters, and not feel rushed. This was a great plan as we felt like we were able to see everything without rushing around like crazy.

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

14. Watch the shows! The calibre of the Disney performers is so high. Even the short musical performances are performed by extremely talented staff. Our particular favorites were the Aladdin mini show and the new Mickey and the Magical map show which featured several of the Disney princesses.

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

14. Get a PhotoPass when you enter a park. There are photographers all over the park who will take your photo with characters or in front of scenic points like the castle. Each time you’re getting a photo taken by one of the Disney photographers, if you give them your pass, all of your photos will be collected in the one place to buy at the end of your trip. They’re expensive, but if you use them a lot it’s worth the money to get your whole family in every picture.

15. Bring or hire a stroller. There’s a lot of walking and having the stroller gives kids a resting place throughout the day. You can park strollers out the front of the rides so no need to worry about where to leave it.

16. Feel the magic. The only way to really enjoy Disneyland is to ditch your usual cynicism and enjoy the best showmanship on the planet. Disney puts on a performance like absolutely no other — something even non-Disney-lovers like my husband can appreciate if they want to.

PS: Want help planning your Disneyland or Disneyworld adventure? Contact Gina via her website.