It was the best thing we could have done.
Since we were driving almost 2000 miles total, we broke our trip up into two travel days. First stop, Las Vegas.
The one thing I wanted to do in Vegas was see the Bellagio fountains. (One of my favorite movies is Ocean's 11.) They were beautiful to watch.
We kept our family's time on the strip very short, and headed to California the next day. Our children had never seen the ocean. It was really fun to watch their reactions.
Although we'd admonished them to just get their feet wet, soon Little Boy and Sis were soaked. I'd forgotten how sand gets EVERYWHERE. Oh well. It cleans up pretty quick once it is dry.
The next morning we were off to the Magic Kingdom.
As part of telling the kids where we were going, we gave them matching t-shirts. I just found simple white t- shirts which I freezer paper stenciled. The best part, most of the rides use black lights, so the shirts glowed. It also made things easier to spot our family if we split up for a "big kid" ride.
Dolly had one request...princesses. She was able to meet Rapunzel on our first day.
On the second day, I found something orange from our closets for everyone to wear. Again, it made it so much easier to find each other. I had a few comments on how coordinated we were!
We spent most of the second day at Disney California. The kids thought these jumping fountains were so fun.
The painted area at the "backlot" was impressive. I wish we could have been there for the new Cars attraction, but hopefully we can come back in a few more years.
My favorite rides were Soaring over California, Star Tours, and the Ferris Wheel. It was also fun to torture our kids and make them go to It's a Small World. I'm glad we had two days to take it all in.
That night we got our fast passes for The World of Color. Well worth the wait!
We just got back yesterday, and the laundry is a force to be reckoned with. :) If you're planning an impromptu visit to Disneyland, I found some great sites through pinterest that helped us plan our trip. My favorites were:
Over the Big Moon's Insider Tips to Disneyland
All Things Thrifty's Disneyland Tips
My best advice:
- Have a big breakfast, bring lots of snacks, and plan on a late lunch/early dinner to save money on food.
- Take advantage of package deals. Our trip included the hotel, buffet breakfast, and tickets into the park. Our hotel also had a shuttle service to and from the park for a reasonable fee...less than parking!
- Have a game plan. Be at the park before it opens. Using the first link I listed above, we went to popular rides first, and then worked our way around to other attractions. Evenings were also a great time to ride, as lines were short or nonexistent. We chose to go when crowds would be less, during the school year on a Monday and Tuesday.
- Wear good shoes and plan on lots of walking. By the end of the second day, we were all exhausted.
- To save on souvenirs, I made our kids shirts and little journals. Simple, and no whining about things they wanted at all those ubiquitous shops all over the park.
- Plan on doing laundry at least once (& bring some laundry detergent with you). We did have some mishaps along the way before we made it to Disneyland, and being able to get some clothes clean helped my peace of mind.
Things really went smoothly for us, and it was a much needed break. We'd been saving money to take our family to Disneyland "someday", but didn't think we'd ever be able to afford it. I'm so happy we found a way to make it happen, for less than we thought it would be!