Meet the Sullivans: Disneyland 60th Anniversary Trip Recap

July 21, 2015

Disneyland 60th Anniversary Trip Recap

It's been over a month since our Disneyland trip and I'm just now getting around to recapping it! Time is just flying by these days!

About a month before our trip we were trying to figure out where to take our little family on vacation this summer. Keith had take a week off at the beginning of June and the date was quickly approaching. We were having the hardest time deciding where to go, which I now know is because we both wanted to take another Disneyland trip, but felt like we shouldn't because we had just gone in December...

Anyway I digress.

We toyed around with the idea again one morning about a month ago and decided that if Owen had reached 40 inches tall (the height required to ride some of the bigger rides)  we would just book the trip, and if he hadn't we'd drop the idea and go somewhere else. Well, we measured him and low and behold he was exactly 40 inches! So we went ahead and just booked the trip! Really no that much different from letting a magic 8 ball decide your fate, right?

We also knew this would likely be our last trip down there as a family of 3! 

For Owen's first two trips we booked in advance and scheduled our trips around when there would be less crowds (you can find calendars online that will tell you when the park is busiest), but for this trip we had no choice of when we wanted to go. We knew if would be crowded this time of year, but also that the park would be open longer, from 8am to 12am each day we were there, giving us lots of time to battle the crowds and make it to everything we wanted to see and do.

*Booking last minute also gave us slim pickings when it came to choosing a hotel. We knew we wanted to be a short walk from the parks, and none of the hotels we've stayed at before had any availabilities, so we went with the Fairfield Inn Anaheim Resort.

We bought 4-day park hoppers, our usual since we've been taking Owen. We knew we'd really only use the tickets for 3 1/2 days since we'd be arriving on Tuesday and leaving on Saturday morning, but it was the perfect amount of time to allow us to fit everything in and not feel rushed. *We used our Disney Chase credit card which allows us to earn point and use points.We arrived around 1pm on Tuesday and since our room wouldn't be ready until close to 4 o'clock, we valet parked our car, checked-in to the hotel and checked our bags with the bellhop before heading into the park.

We didn't have much time to pack up our stroller before they took our car, but luckily I've done it a few times before so I knew all he many things we would want to have with us. Anyone interested in seeing a list of what I pack in the stroller for Disneyland in separate post?

When we arrived in the park we immediately got a FastPass for Star Tours. The height limit is 40 inches and we were a little worried about him not quite meeting it and being turned away, but luckily he was fine this time. While we waited for our FastPass time to come around we rode Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters in Tomorrowland and then ventured over to Bear Country for lunch at Hungry Bear. After lunch we still had a little time left so we waited in line for Whinnie the Pooh, which ended up closing while we were in line. I think Disneyland is having some problems with riders using selfies sticks and setting off ride sensors, thus creating a safety alert and shutting the ride down for a while. We had just enough time to grab a FastPass for Splash Mountain before running back over to Star Tours.

Don't worry I won't detail every moment, I just wanted to give you an idea of how we manage the FastPasses and coordinate etc. since I know that's something I worried about before we took O for his first trip.

The weather was super hot and humid the first day, but cooled to a much more manageable temperature for the remainder of our trip.

This guy was much more into dictating our direction and ride choices this time around! He knew when we were nearby his favorites and insisted on riding them!

In the park we spend so much time in the crowds, getting from attraction to attraction and waiting in line that it's really nice to schedule in some "free time". The Redwood Creek Challenge area was a fun place to let Owen run around and roam free.

Tom Sawyer Island is another spot that is really fun to explore together and let the kids run wild. The caves can be a maze and there are some tight squeezes, but Owen loved the adventure. Let me tell you, Keith and I had to do some serious teamwork to head him off at certain tunnel exits and chase him down.

The carousel is one of his (and our!) favorites! Have you ever spotted the hidden Mickey on the attraction? It's a set of three blue jewels on one of the horse's hind side that makes the shape of Mickey's head. Also, I can't help but think of Saving Mr. Banks whenever we ride it!

We made sure to see the new parade in Disneyland, Paint the Night. The spots to watch the parade fill up really fast in the summer, so we got there 2 hours before it started to secure a spot. I couldn't believe how seriously some people took it. There were almost no spaces left when we got there at 6:45 for the 8:50pm show. We passed them time by having dinner and taking Owen on rides or into stores while one of us held down the spot.

The parade was definitely worth all the waiting though, as was watching it through Owen's eyes. Watching him smile and wave at Buzz and Mickey Mouse like they are his best buddies makes my heart explode! The millions of lights and colors, and the music are absolutely amazing!

Ah, the Tiki Room! Another place to guarantee some cool AC and a nice spot to sit for a bit. We tried to take advantage of the "secret" line for Dole Whips inside the waiting area, but it was super long. No win!

Being pregnant in Disneyland wasn't a big deal at all. I had been a bit concerned that being in the park all day and being on my feet so much would be rough, but it wasn't really a problem, and my doctor had given me the OK to go on most of the rides. I didn't pass on too many, but when I did I just took the time to sit while I waited on Keith and Owen. The only rides I didn't go on with them were Autotopia and Thunder Mountain Railroad. I did Star Tours once just to witness Owen on it for the first time, but after that I passed on it because the motion made me feel queasy. We made sure to get back to the hotel for naps each day, which definitely helped.

Hard to believe my child actually requested we take this "family picture" (his words!) photo in the front of the park!

Owen was excited to be able o go on so many new-to-him rides on this trip. We took him on The Haunted Mansion on our last trip just once, but this time he wanted to go on it again and again. He was never scared on the ride, but he became a little obsessive about going on it, which I think was his fear manifesting itself, like he had to face his fear again and again. So, at one point we just pretended the ride was broken. Other than that he had no trouble on any of the "bigger" rides he was able to try like Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Soarin' Over California, Radiator Springs and Star Tours.

Very proud of his very first driver's license! Keith said he was quite the wild man on the ride and he was happy the cars were on tracks!

One of the rides he really wanted to go on, but couldn't yet, was the Matterhorn. He would insist he was tall enough for certain rides, and instead of dealing with a tantrum, we just let him be measured for the rides (like California Screamin' and Grizzly Rapid). When he was measured for Matterhorn the Cast Member was really patient and sweet with him and gave him this little ticket. It's essentially a FastPass for when he is tall enough to ride the ride. We thought that was a really sweet thing to do!

Just looking at this picture makes me want to take him back there right this second!

We had such a great trip and we're all looking forward to our next one already! There is nothing better than getting to spend uninterrupted quality time with my little family. It's true, family "vacations" aren't quite a vacation, they're usually leave me more tired than I was before, but the time memories we make are like GOLD.

A few Disneyland tips:

Rider Switch Pass. One some of the more popular rides (or maybe all of them, but we just noticed it on the bigger ones) you can get what is called a Rider Switch Pass (This is for when you want to go on a ride but not everyone in your party meets the height requirement (i.e. babies and toddlers). We just asked for one as we were about to get in line for the ride (it's the picture on the left). So Keith stayed back with Owen and I went along in the regular line. Before I got on the actual ride they have me the pass on the right, which is what I gave Keith when I got done. He walked up through the Fast Pass line and get right on the ride. 

Take advantage of your Magic Morning! If you buy a 3-day ticket you get one day of early admission (1 hour) into the Disneyland Park. They usually limit the areas you can go into, but it makes all the difference to be able to beat the crowds and get a few rides in before the park opens to the public.

Bring your own snacks and drinks. Now that we take Owen with us I always pack extra snacks, juice packs, waters and a few treats with us. A lot of people bring in soft mini-coolers for drinks too, which is really nice when it's hot. Having our own waters, etc. not only saved us money, but more importantly, time since we didn't have to stop or wait in line as often when we needed something.

eat breakfast at storytellers cafe and enter early through the entrance into the California Advenure park entrance inside the Grand Californian Hote, but remember to keep your receipt to show them at entry.  

Spots to go for some downtime in the parks: Imagination place in CA adeventure, tutrtle crush show, Aladain show, magical map, train around DL, tiki room (include dole whip back entrance line)


Christina Sotherden said...

I am so glad I stumbled upon this post today - I had the best time reading these tips! My husband and I area heading out to Santa Moncia/Beverly Hills in a couple weeks and have been debating doing a day trip over to Disneyland (we've been to Disney World many times as it's on the east coast but never out to Disnleyland) so this information was so helpful! Is the 60th year celebration going on all sumer or just for a couple weeks??

Colleen said...

I think the celebration lasts for months! Probably all the way to Halloween or Christmas at least! I actually remember the 50th lasting a whole year!

Sarah @ Foxy's Domestic Side said...

So happy that you had a great time at D-land! I wish my husband was more into it, so we could go more! But I think my son finally convinced him to take him just a father/son outing. So cute! I went to D-land when I was 20ish weeks pregnant and I thought I would be hurting too, but wasn't thankfully!

Laura Keenan said...

What an amazing Disney trip! I haven't been since I was about 9 years old! I want to take Liam so bad! Though I must say all the blog posts about "doing Disney" always make it sound so intimidating if you are not a pro!

Courtney B said...

We are planning a Disneyland trip for the end of the year and this is making me feel all kinds of giddy over taking Mia, ha ha! We can't WAIT! I love that you were able to do so much even with being pregnant, that's SO great! And I would love a post on what you take in the stroller!