Disneyland Tips Part Two


More Notes on Eating

  • Ruby’s Diner is one stop north on the I5 and has some amazing shakes and burgers. I ordered the skinny plate, which comes with a breast of chicken that tasted freshly plucked from the freezer and thrown into the microwave. Go for the burger instead. Sign up for their e-club and you’ll get a free shake. They have car hop service as well as a total space-case waitress on roller skates. They offer “fit” burgers and gluten-free choices as well.
  • IHOP is right across the street from the park and kids can eat free after 4 pm, with the purchase of an adult meal. You can find IHOP coupons in your Sunday paper too. Don’t expect this place to be super cheap.
  • A friend warned me to steer clear of Captain Kid’s Buffet and I did. I wouldn’t try it if I were you either.
  • Mimi’s Cafe is in between HoJo’s and the Fairfield Inn. Sign up for free meals on their site as well. Lots of food, pretty good service.
  • Eating in Downtown Disney will  be pricey, but there are lots of coupons and deals if you research online ahead of time.
  • Target is a couple of miles from the park and a great place to grab a case of water, Lara Bars or whatever you want to stock up on. Be sure to check where the new Target is located, it moved! It’s now on Euclid St.
  • Double check restaraunt.com for updates. They were selling gift certificates for House of Blues, I don’t think they still are, but it is worth checking out. There are always codes for Restaurant.com, just do a little googling. There are burger & Mexican eateries galore, just search 1 or 5 miles out of the zip code 92802.
  • The Golden Horseshoe Saloon has gigantic ice cream sundaes and root beer floats. Good place for parents to sit and laugh at the show, while kids get their sugar on.
  • California Adventures has a really good smoothie shop in the Hollywood Backlot section. They cost about $6 a drink, but they are perfect for getting some fruit down your kid’s throats There are also fatty mocha smoothies too. Dieters beware.
  • Across from the smoothie stand is a hot dog cart that offers tasty dogs.
We saw lots of characters around the smoothie shop, including Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. He told me he wouldn’t sign an autograph if I didn’t buy him a smoothie. Well, he mimed it.
The full service restaurants are slow. They offer some tasty food, but don’t bring impatient kids there. Our mistake.
Cool Spots to Seek Out
Across from the smoothie (still in the backlot) is a theater which houses, Turtle Talk with Crush, Animation Academy, Sorcerer’s Workshop and Character Close-up. These four different attractions are all placed on the outskirts of a large (really large) open room that plays scenes from some of Disney’s best films. The open theater allows food and strollers and gives both parents a place to sit and relax and kids some room to dance and run around.
Older kids can learn to draw Disney style at the Animation Academy and little ones can be amazed by Crush, the interactive turtle. Check it out, dude.

Notes on Rides for Little Guys
  • I know that Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlasters and Toy Story Midway Mania are HUGE hits with the kids. I just wanted to throw in a couple warnings. If you have a toddler that has not ridden either of these, keep these notes in mind;
-AstroBlasters is loud and overwhelming. It can be fun if you can get your toddler into the whole shooting the bad guy aspect, otherwise it might be a recipe for tears.
-Toy Story spins quickly and requires 3D glasses. I put Max on my lap and still felt like he could have flown out of the car!
  • Remember your audience. If your kid hasn’t seen the movie and the ride isn’t super toddler friendly, it might end up as a lot of time wasted in line. Thinking mostly of Alice in Wonderland here.
  • Don’t forget to make time for attractions where kids can run and get energy out. Waiting in line all day can create one antsy kid. Think, Tarzan’s Treehouse (all those stairs to climb), Tom Sawyer’s Island or best of all, the Redwood Trail at California Adventure. The trail is now called Wilderness Camp and hinges itself on the movie, Up. I guess no one really cared about Brother Bear.
  • The Bug’s Life 3D show is loud and intense, be warned.
  • Bring pennies to toss into the wells while waiting for The Tikki Room. Bring money for some Dole Whips while you are at it!
  • Bring little things that light up, but don’t pull them out until it’s dark. Kids seem to be amazed by colored light. Ahh, 10 seconds of relaxation for you. The princesses were totally impressed with Dallas’ finger lights. The whole audience was wearing them on The Voice this week. Very cool.

Other Tips

Before you go, plan which parades and shows are must see events. It’s easy to say, “We’ll make sure to see that tomorrow.” We totally missed the Pixar parade, which I am sure my boys would have loved. We tried to do naps around 2, which meant we’d go from naps to dinner and then back to the park. Going to the park at 6 is late enough to miss the characters and put you back in line for a ride during the night time parades. Next time, I’ll do naps earlier. Most characters call it a night at 5 pm.

Bring more wet wipes than you think you’ll need.

Be prepared for your kids to want to wear costumes. Bring fun stuff if you don’t plan to buy it at Disney. Also, pack another outfit and pair of shoes to keep in your stroller or locker. No one wants to be the mom with a daughter shuffling with blistered, princess high heeled feet.

If You are Driving from the Bay Area

You have more stopping options than you think! Get going onto I5 before you make any stops, you’ll want some road under your belt. Here are kid friendly stops we have found useful.

1. Split Pea Anderson’s has really large bathrooms that are fairly nice. (At least the women’s). There is also a penny crushing machine!

2. If you can’t wait that long, Patterson has a Starbucks on the way down.

3. The next most logical stop is Harris Ranch in Coalinga. Hopefully you have remembered to hit the button on your a/c that uses the air that’s already inside the car. This is a little further than stinky cow land. They have nice restrooms and a gift shop complete with good coffee, homemade beef jerky, chocolate and magazines.

4. Other than gas stations, you’ll want to push on until the foot of the Grapevine. If you park in the lot between the Mexican restaurant and hotel, you’ll find a large(ish), shaded strip of grass. Best place to kick a ball around and have a quick picnic.

5. Once you see Magic Mountain, you can exit if you need to find another restroom. We snuck into the potties at the Embassy Suites, right off of Newell. Super nice. (They have a Starbucks there too).

6. If you are headed down when traffic may be an issue, you may want to exit in Santa Clarita and hit up Ralph’s. Grab a sandwich, if you hit LA traffic, the last leg of your trip won’t be super fun. Chances are, you are gonna hit traffic. Next time, we will leave super early on a Sunday. We left Danville at 7:10 and hit plenty, plenty, plenty of traffic in LA.

That’s all I can think of for now. Happy travels!

2 thoughts on “Disneyland Tips Part Two”

  1. Just another helpful hint. While Target is a couple of miles south on Harbor, Safeway/Von’s is just a short drive North on Harbor and then a quick left. That is always our first stop before checking in. We stock up on fresh fruit, cheese snacks, water and sometimes quick breakfast options. It’s much better to pay $7 for 3 lbs of red grapes rather than $5 for a small bag inside the park!! The Von’s will also deliver to hotel rooms with their grocery delivery service. I have pre-ordered a few days before our trip to ensure that we get the right time frame for delivery. They will even leave it at the front desk if the hotel allows it! Happy Trails everyone!

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