Last week we took Audrey to California for a short weekend getaway to Disneyland. Our lives have been so hectic and busy these last few months, from house hunting to packing and moving and doing it all while being pregnant has been quite tiring. We really needed a break and decided to spend some quality family time at the happiest place on earth! She is obsessed with Minnie Mouse and love all the characters from Mickey’s clubhouse so you can imagine her excitement when she saw all these characters walking around in real life! It was such a great experience and if you are wondering if bringing a 2.5 year old would be worth it, it definitely is! She may not remember, but I’m glad to have captured a lot of photos and videos for her to look back on when she’s older. Here is a short video of our trip highlighting most of the activities we did!
During this trip I learned a lot of planning tips and tricks from a Facebook group I joined and also through experience. So I thought I’d share those with you here:
After a lot of research and reading reviews, we decided to book a room at the Hyatt House Anaheim. It is a 17 minute walk from the hotel to the Disneyland entrance and they provide a free, gourmet breakfast every morning (the main reason we chose this hotel). The breakfast was awesome and served pancakes, waffles, french toast, various fruits, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, different kinds of cereal, juices and of course tea and coffee. For a “continental breakfast” the selection they offered was great! The rooms were clean, spacious and offered a separate living room area. I had asked for a room on the upper level and far away from the elevator, and I think they may have upgraded us because our room had a full kitchen with a stove top, microwave, plates, cutlery, dishwasher and refrigerator. It was awesome! Overall this hotel is amazing for the price, the breakfast and the cleanliness. I would highly recommend it!
Audrey LOVED the character dinner! We went to Goofy’s Kitchen (which is the only character dining restaurant available for dinner). Every 10-15mins or so the Characters would do a parade around the restaurant and in between sets, they were walking around to each table visiting the kids. The characters we saw were Goofy, Minnie, Pluto, Chip and Dale. They gave out autographs and took photos and it was an awesome time! The food selection was okay though. It was definitely catered towards kids and had a ton of options for the little ones, including pizza, mac n cheese, tacos, chicken strips, a whole lot of different desserts, salads, soups, ice cream and a small Asian food section, mashed potatoes and roast beef. At about $64USD per person, it was a bit steep but I would say it was worth it for the joy it brought my daughter. She was so happy seeing the characters and you can’t really put a price on that!
In my ideal, pre-travel, “fairytale” expectation we were going to be up at 6am, get ready, eat the free breakfast at the hotel and then be on our merry way to the gate 30 minutes before opening. Nope, that did not happen at all! Not even close. Every day we woke up late, took our sweet time eating breakfast and by the time we got to the main entrance, it was already 10am-10:30am. So be realistic with your expectations. As much as I would have loved to be there right when the door opened, I realized very quickly that it was just not realistic for us and especially for a young toddler.
Our hotel (The Hyatt House Anaheim) conveniently had a Walgreens beside it so we took advantage and stocked up on some snacks and water bottles that we could take inside Disneyland. If you are wondering, yes you are allowed to bring food and snacks and drinks inside the park. Our plan was to eat the free breakfast at the hotel, bring snacks and drinks and then eat lunch and dinner at the park. This plan worked pretty well. Audrey had her crackers, cookies, cheese and yogurt and it kept her going between meals.
I highly , highly recommend getting the PhotoPass! As a photographer I really like having memorable photos of my family as a keepsake. This was my daughter’s first trip to Disneyland so of course I had to have photos to remember it. Having the PhotoPass was a great way to get family pictures without me worrying about taking them myself and not being in the shot. The Disneyland photographers hang out at the picturesque places and some also walk around with the characters. They take as many photos as you like, then scan the Disneyland app on your phone and they are delivered within a couple minutes, if not instantly. It is probably the best purchase I made and highly recommend it. We had the MaxPass which included the PhotoPass, but I didn’t think the MaxPass was really worth it for us because there were only a few rides my daughter could go on and only about 2-3 of them had the MaxPass option. A lot of the other rides had height restrictions and because I was pregnant at the time and Jonas doesn’t like rides, we didn’t get to use the MaxPass to it’s full advantage.
Our toddler was covered for snacks, but for us, we took advantage of the Disneyland app and ordered our food ahead of time for lunch and for snacks. We had lunch at the Red Rose Taverne and the Hungry Bear Restaurant and ordered snacks at the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlour. It was great because if we were further away from the place we ordered it would be ready by the time we got there. Service at the Hungry Bear Restaurant was especially fast. We placed our order and literally got it in 5 minutes. Being able to do the mobile order just made our lives easier especially when having to deal with a toddler. We didn’t really have to wait long for food and that made us all very happy.