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When we went: We took a family trip to Disneyland August 26-30th. We were in the parks Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and the parks were fabulous and not crowded at all. These were the lowest crowds we have ever experienced. If your kids don’t start school until September like ours, I highly recommend the last week in August (you will probably want to avoid the Friday-Monday of Labor Day weekend though). The weather was great, crowds were low and the hours were good too. I think this will be our new time to head to Disneyland every year, it’s great because the kids won’t miss any school (which is getting harder now that we have older kids).
How we got there: We love, love, love to fly Jetblue for several reasons. There is more leg room, TV’s in each of the seats, one checked bag is FREE and full-size snacks and drinks!! If you fly to Disneyland you have several airports to choose to fly into and I highly recommend flying into Long Beach. The airports is super small and getting to your gate is easy. Also getting to and from the airport is a breeze, I love that the rental car area is just a walk across the street. It’s way more convenient then flying to LAX. You will love it! (If you plan on taking a shuttle instead of a rental car, this airport may not be for you).
What we experienced: Here’s a peek at some of the fun we had on our trip. This is the first family vacation we took where we were missing a child. Our 2nd son is serving a mission in Paris, France for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He is by far our BIGGEST Disney fan. We posed by Club 33 so we could send this photo to him.
My daughter and I have never been on Tower of Terror. We are chickens! Her brother (the one that is on the mission) gave her his iPod on the condition that she would go on Tower of Terror next time she was at the Disney Parks. She was brave and she did it. Her mother was not so brave and stayed on the ground.
Our youngest got to experience a few things that he wasn’t tall enough for before (he is extremely small for his age):
- California Screamin’ (He loved it)
- Indiana Jones (He hated it)
- Silly Symphony Swings (he was thrilled to sit in his own chair this time and not have to sit in one of the double ones)
My “hick” sons getting down on Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. We had no wait on this ride at all, I was really surprised! Nice farmer tans!
Where we ate: I am a planner!! It really is a MUST for our family, we have too many people in our family that can’t make decisions so it’s best if I just plan out our meals. If you want to check out the meals we had planned for each day you can check it out HERE. It is seriously a life saver! We had one day where we didn’t have any meals planned out (I though we could go with the flow…we couldn’t).
Here are some of our park faves:
Flo’s V8 Cafe (California Adventure) – Seriously THE BEST place to eat a quick service meal at California Adventure (in my opinion). Don’t miss it!
Steakhouse 55 (Disneyland Hotel) – My husband and I have eaten breakfast here several times and we have love it. Unfortunately, this time around the service was very slow and our youngest was cranky so it didn’t make for the best meal. I can still recommend this place, the good far out weighs the bad.
Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta (California Adventure) – This is another great option in California Adventure. There is a great greek restaurant next door too, which is where I usually eat while everyone else in my family has pizza or pasta.
Tortilla Joe’s (Downtown Disney) – You can get a coupon for $30 off a meal at Tortilla Joe’s (or any of the Pantina group restaurants) by signing up for their birthday club. We didn’t use a coupon this time around, but it’s a great restaurant so we paid full price.
Storyteller’s Cafe (Grand Californian) – We love to eat here for lunch! Choosing a nice restaurant for lunch instead of dinner is a great way to save a little money. Their lunch prices are usually cheaper than the dinner costs. It also makes for a nice (air conditioned) break in the afternoon. My son loves the “make your own pizza” that is found on the kids meal. Plus, they bring our warm yummy bread and corn muffins to your table.
Plaza Inn Minnie & Friends Character Breakfast (Disneyland) – I usually like to do our character meals on days we don’t head to the park so we don’t waste valuable park time, but we have wanted to try this restaurant for awhile now. We were so glad we did, we had such a great experience. Plus, the cost here was cheaper than it is at the popular Goofy’s Kitchen.
We had a magical experience after our breakfast at Plaza Inn. We walked outside and Peter Pan was rounding up a bunch of kids to go spy on Captain Hook (Captain Hook was one of the characters at the breakfast). The kids had so much fun running around the restaurant and peeking in the windows with Peter Pan. There was even a little boy dressed up like Peter Pan, it was as if he had met his hero. Cutest. Thing. Ever!
Where we Stayed: We decided to splurge and stay at the Disneyland hotel this time. We ended up having to rent 2 rooms because our family of 6 wouldn’t fit into one room. I seriously LOVE the rooms at the Disneyland hotel. The rooms are bright, a good size and just plain magical. Out of the 3 Disney hotels these are by far my favorite rooms. I once again booked our trip through Get Away Today and saved money over buying directly from Disney. When booking a trip, make sure you check the prices at Get Away Today you may be surprised how much you can save.
My kids were not all that impressed with the pool though. If you have smaller kids they probably will be thrilled. Most of my kids are teenagers and they found the watersides to be super slow and the pool didn’t get much deeper than 4 ft.
On of my boys has a “goofy” way of testing the service at hotels. He leaves a note for housekeeping asking them to draw a whale. This is what we found when we returned to the room. My youngest sons Chip & Dale had drawn a whale for us. It was kind of cute! Incidentally, when we stayed at the Grand Californian hotel, he didn’t receive a whale drawing. When we stayed at Best Western Park Place Inn he got an amazing drawing of a whale. It was awesome!
Do you have a Disney trip planned soon? If so make sure you check out some of my other Disney posts:
- Easy Way to Earn Disney Gift Cards for your Vacation – I turn Target FREE Target gift cards I earn into Disney Gift Cards
- Flo’s V8 Cafe – Our Favorite Place to Eat at Disney’a California Adventure
- 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
I see you have stayed at the Best Western Park Place Inn in the past. How did you like it? We are planning a Disneyland trip and saving up Best Western gift cards that we get from our credit card rewards to use on our trip to help pay for the cost of the hotel. Have you stayed at any of the other Best Westerns near the park? Are there any you would recommend over others? Any you don’t recommend?
@Jana Yes, we loved our stay at the Best Western Park Place Inn. The rooms were good size (they aren’t fancy, but you really aren’t in your room all the much.) The location was amazing and the customer service at the hotel was excellent!! The only downside is their hotel pool is extremely small. I have not stayed at any of the other Best Westerns, but we LOVE the Park Place Inn for it’s excellent location.
Thank you for sharing your tirp with us. My husband and i are going back in November for a quick tirp!!! I will be using your tip on using my target gift cards to get Disney gift cards!!! I can’t wait to try Flo’s dinner. love disney hotel!!!
Forgot to ask, how far is long beach from Disneyland? we usually fly into SNA-Jon Wayne airport
@ Emma Long Beach Airport is the same distance as John Wayne, about 14 miles from the Resort, and is the smallest (i.e. easiest to deal with) in the Los Angeles area. Depending on where you are flying from it’s one of the easiest ways to get to Disneyland. Although there is no direct bus service from the airport to the resort, depending on the number of people in your party it may be less expensive to rent a car in any case. Interestingly, if you take the main exit from the airport, which is East Wardlow Road, eventually it becomes Ball Road, which runs directly across the north edge of Disneyland itself. (copied and pasted this info from Wikitravel)
thank you!! I checked to see what a flight would cost compared to flying to John-wayne and it was 100.00 cheaper, for the weekend I am going there. first time to disney i was to scared to go on tower of Terror, went the second time and it is now one of my favorite rides
@Emma Great to hear it saved you some money! I really do love the convenience of the airport, plus it’s been newly remodeled and it’s nice. I’m not sure I can get past my fear of Tower of Terror…I’m not a fan of riding in regular elevators. : ) I am sure one of these days my family will talk me into it, especially since I am the only one who hasn’t ridden it now. Have a wonderful trip!
I will definitely use your dining tips next time we go! We ate two very mediocre meals at the ESPN zone. We did have a great fried chicken dinner at the Plaza Inn. It is huge and a very good value for the size of the portions.
We went in July, and it was packed, of course, but by using the fast pass and touring plans we didn’t find we waited much at all. There were a few popular rides w/o the fast pass option we had to wait about 30 minutes for, but most were 15 minutes or less. We also used our phones to check wait times.
I know not everyone loves to research trips, but I am a big nerd, and I think research and planning for Disney trips really pays off!
Thanks for the Jet Blue suggestion. We have always done Alaska. Our fav airport is John Wayne/SNA. It’s so close, and the folks are super friendly. If you don’t need a car otherwise, you can just shuttle to your hotel or take a taxi.
Thanks for doing this write up. I always LOVE your Disney tips and trip reports.
PS Just had to add that I had no idea Long Beach Airport was that close.
We are definitely checking that next time. I don’t know about you, but every time we go, we leave saying, “How soon can we come back??”
Oh how I love your Disney reports!! We are headed there for Halloween time and could not be more excited. Thank you so much for always sharing your trips.