Questions? Call Us! 800-533-5392

Showroom's By Appointment Only 303-798-7918

Stroller Depot

Destination Disneyland: 12 Tips for Your Family Trip

Happiest place on earth?  Well, okay, I get it.  Now if forced to choose between the beaches of Hawaii or Anaheim, you will find me enjoying the sand and surf.  But after watching my kids have a great time at Disneyland, I have to agree it is the "happiest place on earth".  We had the opportunity to go again a couple of months ago and I loved watching my girls relax, smile and get a break from their usual activities.  And when you see the joy in the faces of your children it is easy to forget about the beaches of Hawaii.  By the way, Disneyland is only 45 minutes from the beach so schedule an extra day for a quick trip to the California sand. 

This last trip was our second to Disneyland in the last couple of years.  We learned a few things the last time that helped make this trip a smashing success so I thought I would pass on a little wisdom to those preparing to take that magical trip.  Call this your guide to happifying your experience in the "happiest place on earth".  Included are a couple of tips for saving some dollars.  Here are my 11 tips to make your next trip perfect.

  1. Use the 'ART' Bus System.  On our last trip we tried both the bus system and driving to the park.  Driving to the park proved much more difficult and made for longer walks.  Once you do get to your parking spot, you have to walk a distance to the shuttle, get in line for the shuttle and when it is your turn, they pack you in like sardines.  Forget about storage for your stroller or other large item.  You end up putting your stroller on your lap or between your legs if the stroller is small enough.  Instead use the Anaheim Resort Transit (ART) bus system.  The bus stops at most of the hotels in the area (check with your hotel before booking).  Usually there are not more than a few others at your hotel waiting to get on at any given time.  The buses come at very regular intervals and take you right to the front entrance of the park.  Your bus will be most crowded at the end of your day if you stay until the park closes.  But over the course of the week we spent, most of the time we had the bus almost all to ourselves (non-peak season) and only were packed in tight on one or two of the evening trips back to our hotel.  As of the winter of 2008, here are the prices for the bus passes...Kids 2 and under: Free; Kids 3 to 9: $1 for 1 day, $2 for 3 days or $4 for 5 days; Ages 9 and older: $3 for 1 day, $8 for 3 days or $12 for 5 days.  You can use the bus as many times as you would like during the day so if you have little ones, you can head back to the hotel for an afternoon nap and back to the park for more evening activities.
  2. Pack Your Own Lunches Now, I preface this recommendation that I am not one to normally pack my own lunch.  I also figure that we are on vacation and my wife and I spend enough time cooking and cleaning in the kitchen at home.  So when on vacation I was not inclined to go to the effort of preparing something in advance.  On our previous vacation we ate all of our meals in the park while the family we traveled with packed their own.  So we ended up overpaying for food that was mediocre and ended up standing in MORE lines (which I absolutely hate by the way).  On this trip, it was our kids that gave us the big approval.  The minute the kids were hungry, we simply pulled over to a nice shady spot, had a seat and passed out sandwiches.  The kids loved the food, no complaints were heard and we saved some money for the important stuff.  What's the important stuff you ask?  Churros, turkey legs and frozen lemonades!  No, I am serious.  Eat up on these Disneyland staples and don't feel bad about splurging on these delectables because you just saved a boat load on food.  Now, for dinner we usually left early enough to get a good dinner outside the park.  Anaheim is packed with choices so you are sure to find something your family can agree on.  Oh, one more tip...there are a couple of hotels that will do your shopping for you.  Just leave them a list and they will have your items ready when you get back to the hotel.
  3. Bring Your Own Water.  This recommendation could have been included with the lunches above but for me this was too important to be tucked away.  We stocked up before leaving on our trip at the dollar store and picked up some bottled water.  Once we went through the water, we filled the bottles up each night at our hotel and placed them in the refrigerator to keep them cool.  We went through approximately 10 bottles each day at the park.  They stayed nice and cool at the bottom of the stroller.  And with a price tag of $2.75 per bottle in the park that is a nice savings of $27.50 per day.  I mentioned earlier I am not normally inclined to pack my own lunch.  The truth is I am a bit too spendy and not the most frugal of individuals.  But having our own water and lunches made us feel better, kept us out of lines and gave us greater flexibility.
  4. Book with Breakfast Included and with Plenty of Room.  And make it a full service, hot buffet please.  Many of the hotels provide a complete breakfast when you book in a package deal.  On our last stay, breakfast would have run close to $90 per day for our family.  By booking in a package it was included at no charge.  Now the $90 might be a bit steep or a lot steep, but make no mistake this was an outstanding breakfast.  Fruits, hot cereal, cold cereal, eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, individually made omelets, cheeses, breads, pastries....sorry, I have to stop there.  I'm starting to get hungry.  My point is, start your day with a good, substantial breakfast and the kids won't start complaining about being hungry as you step into the park.  As far as space goes, there are a number of hotels that provide suites that provide an extra room and extra space.  You cannot have too much room if you are spending a week in Anaheim.
  5. Book Your Trip with Getaway Today for Extras (Disclaimer: We have no affiliation with Getaway Today so no hidden agenda.) From my experience Getaway Today must be mentioned as one of the tips to Disneyland success.  I am told they book more vacations to Southern California than any other company.  From my experience they have been great.  Both of my last trips were booked through their site (  Along with great customer service, their packages included the free breakfast.  By the way, I did ask our hotel on this last trip if breakfast was included for all of their guests.  They said absolutely not and that it depended on who you booked through.  I don't think every package booked through them includes breakfast.  I believe it depends on the hotel.  But call their customer service line to verify.  I have called several times and found their agents to be very friendly and knowledgeable.  In addition to breakfast they often have extra incentives.  On our last trip we received 5-day park passes for the price of a 3-day pass along with an extra early morning entry pass.  If deals are to be had, usually Getaway Today has it.
  6. Go with Another Family and Use Parent and Fast Passes.  If you are traveling with small children you will inevitably end up waiting a large portion of the time as others go on the rides.  Travel with another couple who has small children and take turns waiting outside the ride.  If you have 4 adults, you can wait 25% of the time instead of half the time.  Though not advertised well, Disneyland provides parent passes good for two people.  Ask the staff member at the beginning of the ride for a parent pass.  The first group has to go through the whole line and then the parent who waited can use the pass to go with one other person and move up in the line.  You will still have a wait when using the parent pass but the pass can save you up to 45 minutes in line.  Fast passes can be obtained at many of the rides.  Insert your park tickets and you receive tickets to come back at a later time.  When you return at your appointed time you get to enter in a different line and bypass much of the wait.  By the way, I recommend going with a family you like!
  7. Organize Your Belongings in Backpacks.  With those lunches you packed, water bottles, baby bottles, sunscreen, jackets, diapers, wipes and everything else it takes to be mobile, it can be a daunting task to move that family of yours.  Enlist the help of your children and put your stuff in small backpacks that will fit in the bottom of your stroller basket when you get through the entry to the park.  Don't just throw everything in the bottom of the stroller basket.  You will end up taking everything out to get inspected at the front gate of the park.  Plus getting on and off the buses will be impossible if you cannot easily fold your stroller.  We just picked up several cheap backpacks and had each of our children carry one on to the buss and through the entry gate of the park.  Once through, we put all of the backpacks in the stroller basket and we were on the move.  Don't leave valuables in your stroller! Duh!
  8. Know the Height Requirements for the Rides.  Expect a few tears to be shed when that younger child of yours can't get on to the Indiana Jones ride.  Many of the rides have minimum height requirements. (Subliminal: platform shoes).  That is weird, I feel like I need to go shopping for shoes.  Where did that come from?  Sorry, just a little distracted.  What was I saying?  Oh yeah, these height requirements range from 35" for rides like the Toontown Go Coaster and Matterhorn Bobsleds, to 40" for rides like Space Mountain, Star Tours, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, to 46" for the Indiana Jones Adventure ride (one of my favorites).  Autopia requires a height of 52" to drive but younger children can be passengers.  Anyway, a little understanding of what rides your children can go on may be helpful in advance.
  9. Look at the Show Schedule in Advance When my wife and I were dating she took me to see the Nutcracker.  After an hour and a half or so, the play finished.  I clapped in great excitement and tried to act like I had enjoyed the play, or ballet or whatever it is.  I picked up my coat and started to leave when my wife said, "you do know it is just intermission?"  I thought she was joking.  After all, it had been an hour and a half.  She wasn't joking.  I wasn't a real fan of shows.  She married me anyway.  Now that you understand I am not a huge "show" fan, I will say they put on some very worthwhile shows that are very entertaining for both the kids and adults.  Yeah, I liked em.  Don't miss "Alladin" in California's Adventure Park or the Disney Princess Fantasy Faire if you have kids that love princesses and princes (I have four girls; this show was a must).  The High School Musical show was another good one.  Make a point to see what is going on and take the time to go.  The crowds can be large, but the park does a good job getting everyone in the show.  Shows provide a good chance to get off your feet and out of the sun.  Or a chance for your little one to take a quick nap.
  10. Make a Stop at the Dollar Store for Treats.  Just a quick recommendation for saving some dollars along the way.  Do a little shopping before you leave at your local dollar store for treats, cookies, water and other necessities and avoid the high prices at those gas stations or hotel gift shops along the way.  For a fraction of the cost you can add those extras for lunches and those treats when the kids need a bit of sugar in their systems.
  11. Choose the Right Stroller.  Sorry but did you think I could really get through a list of Disneyland tips without bringing up strollers?  After all, I sell strollers for a living.  And having the right stroller makes all the difference.  We have one daughter who still needs a stroller but our older children (ages 6 and 8) still enjoy getting off their feet on occasion.  So I am partial to the stand on strollers made by Joovy and Baby Trend.  There are several models (Joovy CabooseJoovy Ultralight CabooseBaby Trend Sit-n-Stand and the Baby Trend Sit-n-Stand Plus) but each provides a traditional seat for your younger child and a seat and platform where your older child can sit or stand.  What is great about these models is your older child just hops on the back and away you go.  Keeping your kids enclosed in the stroller as you venture from ride to ride keeps you from having to constantly look to see if everyone is following as they should.  We have several videos that explain the differences and specifications of all these models.  Another great option if you are traveling by plane is the Sit'n'Stroll, which converts from a car seat to a stroller.  If you have two small children and need a lightweight double stroller the Combi Twin Savvy is a perfect option.  We have a number of other great choices depending on your specific needs with videos that detail features and benefits of each stroller.  But finding the right stroller for you is critical to making your Disneyland trip a success.
  12. Find the Restaurants where Kids Eat Free.  There are a number of restaurants near Disneyland where kids eat free on specific days or times of the day.  Choosing where you will eat each day will improve the quality of your choices without hurting your pocketbook.  We found a couple of good resources at the Kids Eat For and The Orange County Register to help you find the right place for you.


Well, that's it.  Hopefully these tips will help make your trip more relaxing and enjoyable and provide that much needed family time.  A little advance preparation will go along way as you plan for the perfect experience.  By the way, I think most of these tips are applicable to Disneyworld in Florida as well. 

Happify your family and head to the "happiest place on earth."  And don't forget about the churros, turkey legs and frozen lemonade.