Our Family Trip to Disneyland & Why We’ll Be Back

Our Family Trip to Disneyland & Why We’ll Be Back

600 500 Kristi Corder

If you’ve been following along for any amount of time, you know we are Disney addicts. We’ve been to Walt Disney World numerous times, have tons of Disney movies, know how to save money on paying for our Disney trips, know lots of Disney trivia, plan for our Disney World trips down to the minute, and now we’ve completed our family trip to Disneyland in California. Keep reading to hear all about our trip and why we’ll be back!

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In my chiropractic office, we talk Disney. People ask me for planning tips, I ask them about their trips when they return, everyone shares about their favorite rides and snacks, and from some, I hear about how laid back Disneyland is compared to Walt Disney World.

You see, I’ve been to Disneyland. Brent has been to Disneyland. But our kids had not until this year.

Neither one of us remembers very much about our visit to Disneyland as kids because we were so young. He remembers a train conductor’s hat he got, and I remember the darkness of Space Mountain, the eerie walls in Haunted Mansion, and the awesomeness of It’s a Small World. (It’s still my favorite ‘kiddie’ ride to this day!)

Despite being more addicted to Walt Disney World, I definitely wanted to get us over to Disneyland at some point. It just so happened that Disneyland was running a promo on 3-day tickets while we were in California boondocking at Joshua Tree National Park.


Planning Disneyland

Once I convinced Brent to let us go, the planner in me kicked into overdrive. We searched for RV parks near Disneyland to be sure there was availability. The kids and I began looking on Youtube and the Disneyland app to see what rides and attractions they have at each park. Then I spent some time on my favorite Disney planning websites researching food, fun, and more.

After a couple of days of planning and researching, we felt like it was a trip we wanted to make happen. Brent booked our campsite at Anaheim Harbor RV Park. I made the call to our Disney Travel Agent to get the tickets purchased. And I started getting our touring plan put together.

Day 1 – Disneyland Park

Disneyland Park

Brent was working half days on Thursday and Friday (only until 10 AM Pacific Time), so the kids and I set out to do early morning hours at Disneyland Park to get some of the ‘kiddie’ rides done before he joined us.

Well, that was a mistake!

Most of the rides that we wanted to get accomplished were either down or in Mickey’s Toontown area which was closed until 10 AM. I guess we could’ve stayed in bed a little longer.

Of those that were open, we managed to get on Dumbo, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, the Carousel, It’s a Small World, Mad Tea Party, and Peter Pan’s Flight.

I even caught a smile on the face of our child who hates getting her picture taken. Disney does it again!

Once Mickey’s Toontown opened, the kids spent some time at Goofy’s Playhouse, Donald’s Boat, Chip ‘n Dale’s Treehouse, Mickey’s House, and Minnie’s House. Then they rode Gadget’s Go Coaster a few times before Brent caught up with us.

Once we added Brent to the fun, we started knocking out the rides one by one. With the exception of Splash Mountain (which was down for refurbishment), Casey Jr. Circus Train (which never opened), and 3 or 4 of the rides and attractions which are also at Walt Disney World, we did everything at Disneyland Park in one day.

We ended the night at the Indiana Jones Adventure (which ended up being our favorite ride in Disneyland Park) followed by Dole Whip floats from The Tropical Hideaway.

In most of the Disneyland planning groups, people say to spend 2 days at Disneyland Park and then one day at Disney’s California Adventure. I figured since we got most everything done at Disneyland Park the first day, we would visit DCA the second day and then make our decision later for the third day.

Day 2 – Disney’s California Adventure

Disney's California Adventure

Since everyone says Disney’s California Adventure is easy to get through in a day, we decided to sleep in and wait until Brent was ready to go with us. Once he was ready, we set foot from our RV park and headed to California Adventure.

We started our day at the Monster’s, Inc. ride and then headed over to Animation Academy and Sorcerer’s Workshop.

I’m so sad that Walt Disney World decided to remove Animation Academy from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We had the best time drawing Disney characters at this attraction. We ended up doing this twice that day.

And everyone’s right, you CAN get DCA done in one day (less than one day in our instance)! Here’s a peek at our day:

By far, Incredicoaster was a favorite of mine, Brent, and Abi. And Guardian’s of the Galaxy really surprised us as well. It came in a close second. Peyton and Allison loved Radiator Springs Racers the most.

And any Disney evening has to end with a sweet treat! It’s Snow-Capped Lemon from the Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats stand was a little disappointing, but still worth trying once. It is a non-dairy lemon soft-serve dipped in white chocolate. The kids loved the Pixar Pier Frosty Parfait which was made of non-dairy lemon soft-serve and blue raspberry swirled together.

Day 3 – Disney’s California Adventure

We loved DCA so much that we decided to do this park a second day rather than go back to Disneyland Park. I guess we’re spoiled by Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park just didn’t compare. But Disney’s California Adventure was so much fun that we wanted more!

As many times as we’ve been to each theme park at Walt Disney World at their park openings, we’ve never been chosen as the family of the day. But day 3 at Disneyland Resort was our lucky day! Meet the family of the day at Disney’s California Adventure:

It was chilly and raining on and off all day while we were there, which made for our favorite kind of crowds: LOW! We were able to get on and off rides multiple times all day. I think we must have ridden Incredicoaster 6 times, Toy Story Midway Mania 3 times, and Radiator Springs Racers twice. And every time we made a FastPass reservation for Goofy’s Sky School, it rained and we would get an Anytime FastPass for any attraction we wanted to visit.

Here are some of our favorite pictures from day 2 at DCA:

The food here was AMAZING!

For breakfast, we ate at Flo’s V8 Cafe. I figure it’s kind of hard to mess up breakfast, but it was extra good. I had the Brioche French Toast which was delicious. Peyton had the kid’s meal waffles, and the rest of the crew had the American Breakfast.

Dinner was bread bowls at Pacific Wharf Cafe. I want to go back just to eat the bread bowls. I’m bummed I didn’t get a picture, but they are MUST EATS!!!

And we got our sweet treats for the day at Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff.

What an awesome experience on a rainy Saturday at DCA! We love Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, but I think DCA has won our hearts. While we will probably visit Disneyland Park again, we’ll definitely spend more time at DCA in the future.

Have you been to Disneyland? Leave a reply below and let us know which park is your favorite!

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  • I could not agree more. I love a good rainy day at Disney! How exciting to be the family of the day too!

  • yes, we enjoy Disneyland

  • I love Mickey waffles!!!!

  • Your photos are awesome and the details are fantastic! Great info for anyone wanting to visit!

  • Gosh disneyland in California is huge! We visited the one in Paris last year and we got through most rides and ended up going on one twice. Now I know I need to go to this one! I love the idea of the animation studio!

  • Having lived in Orlando for 10 years, we’ve been spoiled by Disney World and hard to do regular Disneyland, including Disney Paris. I’m sure it’s much more fun with kiddos though!

    • Lucky! Ha! Ha! I’d love to live near Disney World. Disneyland is fun too though, as I’m sure Disney Paris would be.

  • We have not been to Disneyland, yet. It looks like y’all had a great time!

  • You are definitely a Disney expert! I love all these tips and insider hack!

  • It surely was meant to be. I dream about the day I get to visit Disneyland for the first time!!

  • It’s been too long since I’ve been to Disneyland…and so many new attractions to experience. Will need to add it to my itinerary the next time in SoCal.

  • So first of all, I LOVE the Brioche French Toast. And California Adventure is super fun. I do want to ask you, how was your experience at the RV Park? We’ve considered, but never done it.

    • Lori,

      We had no issues at Anaheim Harbor RV Park. We are 39′ long and fit perfectly. I don’t know that I’d stay there with anything longer than a 39′ RV. I will say that the sewer hookup was at the very back of the RV, so be sure you have a long sewer hose if you stay there. Otherwise, it was great!

  • We’re WDW vets who went to Disneyland for the first time this past June. I fell in love! I still love WDW, but I would go to Disneyland again in a heartbeat. People ask me which one I liked better, and it’s a little like asking me which of my children is my favorite. I love them both. Oh, and now I want a Dole Whip.

    • Ha! Ha! Right. I feel ya. I always tell people I prefer Magic Kingdom over Disneyland park, but I prefer DCA over Hollywood Studios.

  • It all sounds amazing! I haven’t been to any of them and likely won’t now that my kids are older, so I love seeing it through the eyes of others. I have heard that Disney is highly addictive lol

  • Disney is an absolute magical wonderful place to go as a family.

  • We love Disneyland and DCA. We have been to Walt Disney World once but we live on the West Coast so California is more convenient. I didn’t know that Disney picked a family of the day. We had that experience at Universal Studios in Orlando. So fun and unique.

    • Yeah, I had no idea either. I knew they did it at Magic Kingdom at Disney World but I never knew they did it in California. Totally surprised me.

  • We use to go to Disneyland all the time but your right, we became spoiled by the magic kingdom too! I really like the cars ride.

    • Cars was such an amazing ride! Turning that corner to see the waterfall just like in the movie was spectacular!

  • Like you, we’ve been to Disney more times than I can count, however, none of us has ever been to Disneyland. I definitely want to go and now I’m super interested in DCA – thanks for sharing!

    • Yes, definitely go! Disneyland park can’t really compete with Magic Kingdom, but DCA was better than Hollywood Studios in my opinion.

  • As an east coast girl, I’ve never considered Disneyland, but now I want to go!

  • Oh I would love to visit Disneyland. We have been to Disney World in Orlando multiple times. I am going to keep everything you have written about in mind for our future trip.

  • How long were the lines? We would like to take our son once he turns one but I hesitate because of the crowds. We were thinking of skipping a full day and just going to Mickey’s very Merry Christmas party. Since ge is so young we wouldn’t be able to spend the entire day there anyway so we thought that would be a better use of time. We’ve never been to Disney despite the fact I used to live 15 minutes away. We have been to Disney Sea in Tokyo and it was amazing.

    • The lines weren’t bad at all…but we went in February. Just do some research before you go and it’ll make things a bit easier.

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