Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Disneyland Part 1: Prepping and Planning

We just got back from spending a week at the happiest place on Earth! And it really is the happiest place, none of us were ready to come back to reality.  I wanted to share with you our experience, and not just our food experience, but everything, so if you ever go to Disneyland you have a few tips to help you on your way.

This post will be about the prepping and planning of the trip.

We used Get Away Today to book our hotel and tickets. I did shop around a bit and they really do offer the best package deal and they are a local company for us, so I'm all about supporting local companies when I can! My criteria for choosing a hotel was 1) free fridge in room, microwave would be a bonus, 2) free breakfast that we would be able to eat, 3) free shuttle service to Disneyland, 4) free parking for our car, no extra resort fees, etc., 5) a pool. We ended up going with the Wyndham Anaheim Garden Grove Hotel.  It had everything on our list (except the microwave) and it was situated across the street from a Target and next to a Red Robin, Joe's Crab Shack, Outback Steakhouse, Oggi's Pizza, Coco's Bakery and more.  So, I knew that when we were not at the park we had restaurant options within walking distance.

With our vacation package, we opted for the 5-day park hopper option for Disneyland. That seems like a lot of Disney, but going in July, with Friday being the actual 60th anniversary of Disneyland, there were a lot of people there! To be able to see everything and ride our favorites more than once, (sometimes 4 times) we needed those extra days.

To save money, we drove (we live in Northern Utah) to California. My sister lives in Southern Utah, so we split up our drive and spent the night at her house both going to California and also on our way home. She's awesome and made us dinner and breakfast while we were there, so that helped us save on food. (I also paid her with Franz gluten free bread and Flying Cauldron Butterbeers, so we were probably even).

In planning, we figured we could and would be spending ~$50 for each meal, and that was about right. I brought bread, peanut butter, honey, applesauce, etc. for times we didn't want to eat out and that worked out great. I also brought hamburger buns for when we were at restaurants that didn't offer gf buns and the kids wanted burgers, and muffins for days that the kids didn't want to eat the hotel breakfast.

I also brought snacks, like fruit snacks, applesauce, and Kind Granola Bars into the park with us everyday. A backpack is a must at Disneyland. And you don't need to get a locker, they allow your backpack with you on pretty much all the rides, the ones you can't have them, they have bins you can place them in on the side.

My backpack was packed with snacks, water bottles (which we refilled throughout the day, it was HOT!), wet wipes (for cleaning hands when you're not next to a bathroom and for when you eat turkey legs!), sunscreen, chap stick, essential oils, Excedrin, bandaids, moleskin, a foldable picnic blanket (for reserving spots at parades and for the beach), a comb (for when my hair got really crazy from the rides), an umbrella, and our autograph books for the boys.

I also had a crossbody smartphone purse that I used to carry my smartphone (of course), money, and our tickets and fastpasses...it made it extremely quick and easy to pull these out as needed with this little purse.

Also, we planned on letting the boys get a hat, a shirt, and a toy. We got a little soft there, and they ended up getting 2 toys, instead of one, and we got them a special 60th anniversary pin, since they both collect pins. Both my husband and I got 2 shirts and bless my hubby's heart, he got a pair of shorts...out of necessity. He ripped out the front of his shorts during the 3rd ride of our first day (I didn't think of carrying around an extra pair of shorts for him), so we forked out $50, so we wouldn't have to go back to the hotel to change. I'm telling you this, so you can plan for this type of expense. Shirts were $20+tax for the kids and ~$33+tax for adults, the hats were about $20-$25 each, toys were $11-$25 each (for the 4 toys we spent about $75), and the pins were $11 each. Plan to spend money on souvenirs and save for it, then it won't be a worry when you are there.

Also, get apps on your phone. I had Disneyland Wait Times and Mouse Wait for checking wait times for rides, and in the case of Mouse Wait, food lines, as well. For food help, I had Gluten Free Disney Dining and Find me Gluten Free.  Both of these were extremely helpful in guiding me to the restaurants we chose each day. Disney does take care of you, I promise, but some places are better equipped to take care of allergies than others.

Also, utilize the Fastpasses. I cannot stress this enough. We had days full of rides, instead of lines. I read this post and this post from DLR Prepschool before going to Disneyland and laid out our plan for each day before we got there.  A little obsessive compulsive, but my family thanked me, because we got to ride a lot of rides. If you are going to California Adventure, show up before the park opens. When they drop the rope and let you into the park, walk along the left side of Buena Vista Street and you will join the Fastpass line for the Radiator Springs Racers. It will seem like a long line, but you will be through it in 5 minutes. After that go straight to Toy Story Mania, that line gets long later in the day, but is fairly short first thing in the morning. At Disneyland, have one of your group grab your fastpasses for another ride, while the rest of the group gets in line for the Peter Pan ride...it gets crazy busy really fast and the craziness lasts all day long. Really DLR Prepschool has the great advice, so check out the above links and follow her advice.

Stay tuned for my posts on what we ate while in Disneyland!

This post was shared on Waste Not Want Not Wednesdays and Allergy Free Wednesdays.


  1. Wow, thanks for all the great info! We are planning a trip there so I pinned this so I can remember all the tips and apps to get.

    1. I'm so happy that it's helpful information. I just got my second post up, it's about eating in Disneyland: http://freelifeglutenfree.blogspot.com/2015/07/disneyland-part-2-food-in-park.html