Nine Days at the Happiest Place on Earth
Days 1 & 2
We have just come back from the most amazing trip to Disneyland, California! My family and I, spent 11 days in Anaheim with 9 days at Disneyland and California Adventure. Here is how we spent each day, the rides we went on, shows we watched and the Disney food we ate.
As Australian (or New Zealand) residents we were able to get 10 day passes to Disneyland for only $13 more than the 5 day passes. For us this was the best and most cost effective way to go to Disneyland. It meant we didn’t have to try to pack everything into a few short days, and with small children we could take as many breaks as needed, or just visit for a morning or evening without feeling like we were missing out. It worked out perfectly for us and we would definitely love to do it again!
We booked our holiday in January this year, but had been planning it for a lot longer than that. This was our first trip overseas as a family, including our first long haul plane flight. During our planning we read heaps of articles on Pinterest and watched lots of vlogs on YouTube. My husband and I have been to Disneyland before we had children, so we were able to share our photos and experiences with them too. So before we left each of us made goals we wanted to achieve on our holiday.
Max (age 7): Go on the Haunted Mansion, the Millennium Falcon and get a Light Saber.
Zoë (age 5): Make Daddy eat a pickle, go on the Dumbo ride and get a Dumbo soft toy.
Greg (husband): Go on every ride at both Disneyland and California Adventure.
Me: Experience the magic of Disneyland through my children, and eat a marshmallow Tigger tail.
Find out all about our planning here.
It is also worth pointing out that we decided not to get a Maxpass. For us, a family of 4 it would have been an extra $60 usd or $88 aud a day for 9 days and for us it wasn’t worth it. If we had gone for just 3 days we may have had a different opinion, but for this holiday we had time on our hands, and for the most part we didn’t even need a fastpass. The only exception we made was on our first day. As we had some photopass photos taken, we purchased 1 maxpass so we could download the images.
Day One – Travel Day
The first day of our holiday began bright and early, at 6 a.m. Our suitcases were packed and with the excitement of Christmas morning we were ready to go. As it was a Sunday morning we had a good run to Melbourne. We left our car at Pink Elephant Airport Parking and were taken by their shuttle bus to the airport.
We arrived at the airport at 8.30 a.m. to discover our flight had been delayed until 5.30 p.m., meaning we would miss our connecting flight in Auckland. Luckily for us, Air New Zealand put us on a direct flight to LA with Virgin Australia. And after lots of stress, problems with passports and rushing around, we left Melbourne an hour earlier than planned at 11.30 a.m.
The flight itself went pretty smoothly, except for an overtired Zoë having an emotional moment about 10 hours into the flight. The flight was approximately 13.5 hours long and as it left around lunchtime my daughter found it very hard to fall asleep and get comfortable. I didn’t end up sleeping at all.
When we reached LA we managed to step out of the airport and straight onto our shuttle bus “The Disneyland Express.” The bus was a full sized bus with some amazing Pixar artwork on the sides. There was also a toilet on the bus. We had booked the bus through our travel agent and had already purchased the return tickets. Some other passengers paid for their trip once we got to the Disneyland Hotel. The drive to Anaheim from LAX took about 45 minutes and there was only 3 stops before we got to our hotel the Hyatt Regency Orange County. Unfortunately I didn’t get any airport or bus photos as the whole thing ended up being such a huge rush, we were just happy to get there without missing out on any of our holiday.
Once again we were really lucky when we arrived at the hotel to find that our room was ready for us. Check in time was 4 p.m. and we had arrived just after 11 a.m. Such a relief!
Our room at the Hyatt Regency was a Kid’s Suite. The suite had 2 separate rooms one with a king bed and the other with bunks. Both rooms had their own flatscreen TVs and as a family we had plenty of space to stretch out over our 10 night stay. Our room was located on the 8th floor of the North Tower and had huge windows with a view of the Disneyland fireworks. There was a bar fridge and microwave in the room too.
After we settled into our room we headed off to the Target across the street to get some supplies. Unlike Australian Target stores this one has supermarket and chemist sections and also sells alcohol. We grabbed some snacks, milk and cereal and went back to the hotel for a quick nap. By this point of the afternoon jetlag was quickly catching up with us. Greg put an alarm on his phones so we wouldn’t oversleep and had a nap for an hour.
On waking we went to explore the hotel taking a look at both pools and the games deck. Max and Greg had a quick game of tennis. Before we headed back inside and grabbed some dinner from the hotel’s deli to eat back in our room. It was an early night that night with some sleepy little people, our plans for tomorrow – Disneyland!
Day Two – Disneyland
After a slow start in the morning we headed down to the buffet breakfast. The buffet was free for Zoë as she is 5 years old and we paid Max’s age for him. There was all the normal buffet staples including an omelet station and Mickey Mouse pancakes! The setting was very relaxed and a nice way to start the day.
We bought tickets for the hotel shuttle bus to Disneyland and didn’t have long to wait until the bus arrived. It was a 10 minute trip from the hotel to Disneyland with pickups every half hour. So convenient! The shuttle bus was $6 for adults and $3 for children
When we arrived at Disneyland we converted our prepaid 10 day passes into real tickets. The ticket booth lady was extremely helpful, and even got us logged on to the park Wi-Fi.
Once we stepped through those magical gates we stopped for photos with a photopass photographer. He was so nice, even cleaning the smudges off Max’s sunglasses so they would look nicer in the photo!
We started our Disneyland adventure not by rushing around and trying to get on every ride possible but by just wandering around and taking everything in. All the sights and sounds, everything that makes Disneyland so magical.
We stopped by the Walt and Mickey statue and had another photopass photographer take our photos, including a special one of Max and Zoë with Mickey Mouse! They loved it! Max and Zoë also had a photopass photo at the Sword in the Stone in Fantasyland. So fun!
We ended up wandering though Fantasyland and Frontierland, stopping to check out Big Thunder Mountain Railway. Past the Rivers of America and New Orleans, where Max and Zoë stopped to listen to the Jazz band and have a little dance. Then on to Critter Country, where we went on our first ride, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It was such a cute little ride. We loved the ride vehicles shaped like beehives with tiny winged heffalumps attached. So cute!
As we left the ride we ended up joining the line to meet Tigger! Max was so excited, but Zoë felt more nervous and perhaps a little scared about meeting him. Tigger and his helper were beautiful and managed to coax a smile out of her, making her feel at ease. So much so, that when we turned the corner, we realised we had also queued up for Winnie the Pooh, and Zoë ran to meet him with open arms and a huge smile. It made for some beautiful photos.
Our next stop was Adventureland and Tarzan’s Treehouse. The kids loved climbing up into the treetops and seeing all of Disneyland spread out below them. Max was very excited to spot Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge from up there. They also enjoyed looking at the scenes, except for the cheetah (he was a bit scary), and the little playground at the base of the tree. Zoë even found Chip and Mrs. Potts.
The Jungle Cruise was our next ride, perfect for a hot afternoon, we even got a tiny bit wet. The animals were pretty impressive, Zoë loved the elephants the best and our tour guide was funny, in a dad joke kind of way.
We were off to Toon Town next with a stop at the Mad Hatters beside the Teacups on the way. Looking at the price of the headbands we decided to get the old school Mickey ears instead. I was excited about this as I always thought they were the more expensive choice. We even got the kid’s name embroidered on the back. A dream come true for me.
And as we were in the neighbourhood, we had to have a ride on the Mad Tea Party. My personal favourite. I just love the Teacups, it is such a pretty area and Alice in Wonderland was my first ever video growing up. It just makes me feel happy being there.
We then headed into Toon Town and our longest wait time of the day, 20 minutes. It was worth the wait though as the kids loved going on a real rollercoaster, Zoë’s first ever! The Gadget’s Go Coaster was followed by a trip through Chip ‘n Dale’s Treehouse, perfect for kids (a bit of a squeeze for adults), and very cute. We finished up our trip in Toon Town with a spin in Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. Oh, and we got to meet Goofy outside of his playhouse.
By this time we were starting to feel hungry. Our late breakfast had kept us going all day, but now it was time to try some Disneyland food. Next stop – the Galactic Grill in Tomorrowland, where we grabbed some cheeseburgers and fries for dinner. It was nice to stop and rest our feet for awhile too.
Throughout the day we had been checking the Disneyland app for ride times and during dinner we noticed the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and Autopia rides only had wait times of 5 and 10 minutes respectively. So that is where we headed next. The Astro Blasters was lots of fun and felt like we were in a video game, so cool! My companion on the ride was more into the spinning than shooting, but this made it even more fun. Max absolutely loved Autopia and it is one of his top 3 Disneyland rides. He loved being able to drive all by himself, with a bit of help from Dad.
Our last stop of the day was the Pirates of the Caribbean. This ride made top 3 for all of us. It is such an immersive experience, with a few little drops for a bit of a thrill. We loved it!
We then slowly made our way back through the park, looking at a few shops along the way. It was 9.30 p.m. when we arrived at our hotel. Our first day at Disneyland had been a great start to our 9 day adventure.
Highlights of the day included Autopia for Max, he just loved that ride and after an awkward start, Zoë was really happy she met Winnie the Pooh.
*All photos were taken by me (or by a photopass photographer) please ask my permission before using.