What is new: Disneyland is celebrating 60 years with their Diamond Celebration and the park is decked out with new decor, new food, new merchandise, new parades and fireworks shows. It is awesome!! I loved all the special touches and experiences.
New things we experienced: I mentioned that there were at 10 things we have never done at Disneyland and I am happy to report that we crossed a few of these things off our list. Sadly, I still didn’t get to eat a Monte Cristo. I’m not sure why I can never make this happen. Here is what we did do:
Watch a parade from beginning to end – We totally lucked out with this one! We got to the parade route just before it was about to start and they opened up a whole new area near It’s a Small World so we were able to have front row seats for the entire Paint the Night parade without waiting more than 5 minutes. The parade was amazing and I am so glad we watched it.
We saw “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” – We all really liked this one and some of us even teared up a bit. It’s emotional and patriotic. I recognized the Two Brother’s song because it is the same one they use at Epcot in The American Adventure show (which I also love and tear up at too).
Ride the Storybook Land Canal Boats – We finally got the ride the canal boats. Not sure I feel like I’ll have to do it again, but I was glad we crossed it off our list.
Eat a Disneyland Corn Dog – My husband and boys finally ate a Disneyland corn dog.
Ride in the Wheel House on the Mark Twain Riverboat – My son and daughter even did something new that wasn’t on our list, they rode in the Wheel House on the Mark Twain riverboat. If you want to do this too, you will want to be at front of the line to get on the riverboat and ask the cast member at the front if you can ride in the Wheel House. It took my son and daughter 3 times to get in, people kept beating them to it, so they made sure they were first in line and they finally got in. They got to climb up the ladder to where the wheel was they also were able to ring the bell, pull the whistle horn and sign the guest book. They also got a certificate at the end of the trip.
Meet Characters: One of the favorite things my kids love to do is get photos with the characters. My 3 youngest love it more than the others. When I say 3 youngest, I don’t necessarily mean young. My 18 year old son waited in line to see Anna & Elsa. They had a great conversation and he almost did something crazy…like as Anna to marry him.
Where we ate: We tend to stick with our favorite restaurants and here are the places we ate this time around.
- Flo’s V8 Cafe (California Adventure) – Our favorite meal in both parks. They recently changes the menu a little but it’s still just as good.
- Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta (California Adventure) – This always works well for our entire family. Great options for kids meals here. I usually eat next door at the Paradise Garden Grill which I enjoy.
- Plaza Inn (Disneyland) – We finally had their chicken meal for lunch and it was really good. It is also HUGE, so we shared a meal between 2 people.
- Storyteller’s Cafe (Grand Californian Hotel) – We always head here for a nice sit down lunch. If you want a sit down meal I recommend making lunch your sit down meal, it gives you a nice midday break and the prices at lunch are usually cheaper than dinner.
- Tortilla Jo’s (Downtown Disney) – This is a nice mexican sit down restaurant. If you prefer you can get a quick-serve meal at the taqueria next door. If you have a birthday close to when you travel I recommend signing up for the Pantina restaurant birthday club, you will receive a coupon for $30 off a meal at a Pantina restaurant (there are several in Downtown Disney)
- Earl of Sandwich (Downtown Disney) – This is at the farthest end of Downtown Disney so you might miss it if you down walk through the entire area. They serve great sandwiches. We highly recommend this one.
When we went: Last year we went the last week of August and we loved it so much we did it again. The weather was HOT, but crowds were super low. We visited the parks Monday-Thursday. We try our best to avoid Fridays and weekends. See that photo above, that shows how many people we saw when we walked in to the park. Nice, huh?
How we got there: We usually fly JetBlue into the Long Beach airport but we had some credits from a cancelled trip through Alaska Airlines so we booked with them instead and this time we flew into John Wayne (SNA) which we loved! We love the smaller airports, they are so convenient, they are closer to Disneyland and the car rentals are on-site. If you fly to Disneyland remember there are 4 airports that are close to Disneyland: John Wayne (SNA), Long Beach (LGB), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Ontario International Airport. You’ll have much better chance of finding a cheaper flight if you check all the airports
Tickets: We saved money on tickets by purchasing them through Get Away Today. Since my husband has an annual pass, we only needed to buy 6 tickets for our family. I will be sharing in the future about why we chose to buy an annual pass for one member of our family and how it has saved us money.
Where we stayed: This time around we stayed at the Ramada Maingate at the Park in a 3 bedroom family suite. I love that there is a great option for larger families within walking distance of the park. We were able to save an extra 15% off the rate because of my husbands annual pass. I was surprised by the short walk to the entrance of the park. I can highly recommend this hotel, especially for those with larger families.
If you are looking for a hotel near Disneyland, here is a list of all the places we have stayed that I can recommend:
- Best Western Park Place Inn – Just across the crosswalk from the entrance. Staff is super friendly and room were nice.
- Fairfield Inn – Nice rooms and easy walk to the park.
- Ramada Maingate – Newly remodeled rooms and nice 2 & 3 bedroom suites for larger families. Very close walk to main entrance of park.
- Staybridge Suites – We love the size of the room (great for larger families), free breakfast was really nice and some dinners a couple nights of the week too. Only drawback is you have to ride a shuttle or drive to the park.
- Candy Cane Inn – Nice rooms (a little on the small side), nice shuttle to take you to the parks.
- Disneyland Hotel – My personal fave of all the Disneyland hotels
- Grand Californian Hotel & Spa – Location can’t be beat! Rooms were small and on the dark side for the high price tag though. Nice to stay here once if possible though.
- Paradise Pier Hotel – I love the bright & sunny feel of these rooms.
Here are some more Disney posts that might interest you:
- Easy Way to Earn Disney Gift Cards for your Vacation – I turn Target FREE Target gift cards I earn into Disney Gift Cards
- Save Money when Dining at Disney – See how my husband and I were able to eat for 2 days and spend less than $30 out of pocket.
- Figure out when is the best time for you and your family to visit a Disney Park.
- See how I took a pocket photo album and turned it into a Disney Autograph Book
- Check out the details of our trip to Disneyland last year.