Thinking of planning a trip to the best place on earth? I say do it! Not sure where to start? I’ve compiled a list of everything to get you started on planning your Disneyland family vacation. View more Disneyland articles here.
The first step is to plan when you will be visiting Disneyland. Pay close attention to the dates. You’ll want to avoid, if possible, long holidays, spring break and busy holiday seasons. If you do have to travel at these times, don’t stress. You can still have a magical trip.
Check the crowd calendars- although Disneyland will always be its own kind of crazy, it’s always good to have an idea of how packed it’ll be.
Booking your trip through a travel agent is a great idea and no extra cost to you. They offer a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all things Disneyland, handle everything so the stress is off you and truly make the planning experience enjoyable. (Check out Vacations by Jackie: Fairy Tale Concierge for help planning your trip)
Decide if you want MaxPass. (Read more about MaxPass here.) I highly recommend getting this, although expensive. You’ll want to purchase before you go while booking your tickets so that you lock in the current price. Also then it’s done and doesn’t need to be included in your budget for the actual trip, more on that below.
Decide where you want to stay. Disneyland hotels are an awesome way to keep the magic going throughout your entire trip but they can be expensive. Another option is a Good Neighbor Hotel. There are many wonderful hotels within walking distance of Disneyland. Be sure to read the reviews and pick the one that best fits your families needs. Tip: If you choose a Good Neighbor Hotel through Disney you can still book your package through them and get all those benefits. (Check out our family favorite here)
Create a budget for your trip. I create three, all listed below.
Download the Disneyland Mobile App. Read more here on why this app is amazing.
Let your family and friends know that you are going to Disneyland! This is great if you would like to ask them for Disneyland gift cards for birthdays and holidays. These can be used to pay for your trip and while you're at the park.
Buy things ahead of time. Figure out what exactly you need for your trip, this includes summer clothes, swim, souvenirs, travel toiletries, sunscreen, flight snacks and more. Buying these items a couple of months ahead of time will cut down on the big price shock right before your trip. Plus you can get started on the packing fun early! Don't forget to stock up on those Disney gift cards.
Join Disneyland Facebook groups. My favorite is the Disneyland Planning group but you can find many others. These groups are great to search your questions, ask questions and get helpful tips from other people just like you. This was a savor when planning our first trips.
Plan if you’ll need a stroller or not. I always recommend taking a stroller. Disneyland days are so long and exhausting for us adults, it’s even more tiring for our little ones. A stroller is a perfect way to let their little feet get some rest, a quick nap and to store your sweatshirts, water and store purchases. If you don’t feel like you need a stroller outside the parks consider renting one. Disneyland has stroller rentals, as well as City Stroller Rentals.
Plan your groceries! Having groceries delivered to your hotel the day you arrive is something you should absolutely consider. Get your park snacks, quick breakfast items and anything you don’t want to take on your flight. (Think extra diapers, wipes, swim diapers, cups, utensils, paper plates, etc.) You can place your order three days before usually and most hotels will accept the delivery and hold if you aren’t there.
Book your dining 60 days before. This is something you absolutely want to do if you are doing a character dining or priority viewing for shows.
Check the weather before you go. Fingers crossed for sunshine for you but be aware that it does rain in California. Plan your outfits accordingly. I always suggest a light sweatshirt for early mornings and late nights. Don’t forget those comfortable walking shoes!
Be aware that it does rain in California! And that’s okay. Don’t let this ruin your trip. Check out ponchos here.
Plan how you’ll get to Disneyland. This is an important step. You can find information on getting to Disneyland here. (Tip: We use the Disneyland Resort Express. We’ve never had an issue. Just note it does take more time than usual to get to hotel and back to airport.)
Get your Disneyland planning video here. This is really cool! If you don’t use it for planning it’s still a fun way to get everyone excited to go. (As if you need another reason!)
Look over the current fireworks, parade and show schedule here to plan for your trip. You’ll find location and times plus you can filter to find exactly what you are looking for. (Tip: The schedule only goes out about forty days, so be sure to check back.)
Plan out what events and tours you want to do. Find information on that here.
Get a special journal or planner, just for your trip! Have the kiddos help decorate the front in all things Disney. This is a great place to store all information, notes, to do lists and all things for your upcoming trip. I personally love writing on paper but there are many options for apps as well. Tip: It's always fun to get the kids their own journal to document their trip.
Be sure to call your hotel and double check reservations ahead of time. Be sure they have you down for the correct dates. Our last trip our hotel had us Sunday to Saturday, when we were arriving on Saturday. How terrible would that have been to show up Saturday with no reservation?
Double check your shuttle, pick up information. Do you know where to meet your shuttle? What documents do you need? Knowing this ahead of time will minimize stress, especially with tired kiddos.
Get ready to meet your favorite Disney characters! Who are you most excited to see? What about your kiddos? Do you know that you can find where they will be and when ahead of time? That’s what the Disneyland Mobile App is for. Map out when to see your favorite characters, create a reminder in your phone or add to your phone calendar. This way you aren’t missing out on those beloved Disney characters and your kid will think you are the best!
Buy your Disneyland pins before you go. This will save money! Then you’ll be ready to trade with cast members.
Plan your outfits. Okay so maybe you don’t have to plan exactly what you are going to wear but have an idea of what to wear and what not to wear. Be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes for everyone. A lightweight sweater is a must. Wear clothes that you will be comfortable in and be sure to check Disneyland’s website for what you can’t wear.
Research and plan ahead of time on how you’ll keep your kiddos safe. What happens if someone walks off? Where will you meet? Bracelets or temporary tattoos are great to put your information should your child lose you. Now this most likely won’t happen, so don’t panic. But it’s better to be safe than sorry. And please know being prepared, having a meeting place and the fact that cast members are trained in this, will be so helpful in the event that this does happen.
If you are driving, know where to park. Remember you’ll have to pay for parking at Disneyland. Driving to hotel but walking into park? Be sure to check with your hotel about parking fees. Most do not have free parking as an option.
Remember Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens May 31, 2019. It’s anticipated to be incredibly busy, if you choose to go close to this time be aware of this. Research and plan.
Looking for more Disneyland planning tips? Check out our Disneyland Guide and other Disneyland fun here.
Enjoy your trip and happy planning!
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