We returned home from our Disneyland trip on Friday. Having taken the weekend to recover, I’m now ready to share the highlights and the lowlights of the trip. Here’s how it went.
- Our hotel was awesome. We stayed at the Howard Johnson Anaheim, in a kids suite. The children had their own room with a bunk bed, which they adored. The hotel was close to Disneyland, affordable, and had a fabulous water park. Our room also had a microwave and fridge, so that we could keep snacks and breakfast food on hand.
- The flight was totally fine. We had one thirty minute flight and one two and a half hour flight, with just one connection. Other than having to run to make our connection on the way home, the airplane trips were largely uneventful. I would totally take my kids on a plane again – although I don’t know if I’m ready to brave a longer flight yet.
- The food at Disneyland was way better than I expected. Yes, it was expensive – we paid around $40 for lunch. However, for that we got pretty good food, including lots of fruits and veggies. The restaurants mostly used real dishes and cutlery, as well. And since we dined cafeteria-style, there were no waits to speak of. Plus, there were lots of great kids’ options.
- We bought the PhotoPass+, and got lots of great photos, including many shots of our whole family. The photographers were friendly and good with the kids. We didn’t get it together to buy it two weeks before our trip, so we had to buy it on-site, but I feel that it was worth the $100.
- My kids had a fabulous time – especially my daughter Hannah. At eight years old, she was the perfect age to really get into all the parades and rides and shows. Jacob was a little bit young for some of the stuff, but he still really enjoyed himself for the most part. They were both really sad when it was time to come home.
- As I said, my son Jacob was a little bit too young. Disneyland doesn’t go halfway on pretty much anything. The over-the-top experience was too much for a four-year-old who can’t really distinguish between reality and fantasy yet. He was completely terrified when Darth Vader and Darth Maul appeared during the Jedi Training Academy show, and he sobbed his way through the Finding Nemo submarine ride.
- The character line-ups were tedious and boring, and I had a hard time justifying standing in line for up to 45 minutes to meet a princess. My kids, on the other hand, wanted to stand in every line to meet every character. I can understand why meeting Tinkerbell was a big deal for them, but this was definitely not my favourite part of the trip.
- There were so many people, it was just plain overwhelming. Yes, it’s to be expected, and yes, I expected it. But it still doesn’t make it fun to battle throngs of people in order to find a spot on the sidewalk to watch a parade. I was on high alert pretty much the whole trip, trying to keep tabs on my kids. Luckily we didn’t lose anyone, but it could easily happen with all those people.
- The over-the-top commercialism is excessive. You’re constantly confronted with opportunities to buy something, whether it’s food or balloons or gift shops that you have to walk through at the end of a ride. We let our kids each buy one souvenir, but we still spent lots of time wandering around stores as they debated on what item to bring home with them. Disneyland is all about spending money.
In the end, we did our best to take our time, and we didn’t try to see everything when we were at Disneyland. We enjoyed both parks – Disney California Adventure is pretty cool – and tried to stick with what we knew our kids would enjoy. Sometimes we guessed wrong, as with Finding Nemo, but on the whole it went pretty well. I would even consider going back again – but not for a few years, at least. Next time I go I’d like my kids to be a little older. That way we can go on some of the rides that I like. Plus, hopefully the whole experience won’t be as overwhelming for them.
Really, though, what’s a vacation post without photos? Here are some of the shots from our trip: