Every little kid's dream is to go to Disneyland. Well, almost every little kid. When we made the decision to take our girls to Disneyland we expected mass excitement. Let me set the scene for you...
Jonathon and I are sitting together on the lounge with the girls facing us. The sun is shining brightly, the birds are singing and we are both excited to tell the kids our news.
I start. "Girls,you know how we are going to America next week to visit Grammy and Grampa? Well Daddy has a surprise for you."
I turn to Jonathon with a look of exhilaration and nod to encourage him to go ahead.
He takes the girls hands and says "We are going to take you girls to Disneyland!"
The girls just stare at us. A cricket chirps. A tumbleweed rolls past.
Caitlin takes a breath to speak. "Can I please have something to eat? I'm hungry."
She walks off to the kitchen.
Yep. That's how it went.
I guess the fact that our kids aren't surrounded by anything Disney might affect the excitement we were anticipating.
Then came the actual trip. And although we had a good day, i wanted to share the parts about Disneyland that people don't usually talk about. Right now you are probably thinking "Well everybody loves Disneyland, right?" And yeah, sure they do, and if you want to hear the 1001 reasons why Disneyland is the best thing ever, and why you should get a Mickey tattoo on the small of your back, then just google Disneyland and check out one of the 50 million posts on exactly that. But for the other stuff, read on.
Disneyland fact number one: No matter how amazing the park is said to be, it is downright expensive. We bought four tickets for one day at Disneyland - two adults and two kids aged between 3 and 9. For a one day pass this can cost close to $500 for the day. I'm not kidding. And that doesn't include parking. If you want to make that pass extend to allow you into both parks (that is Disneyland and California Adventure) during that one day, the price goes up to closer to $700! Now while you may be one of those people who make money like that in your sleep, that may not be such a push for you but for most people this involves a lot of saving, maybe an extra part time job or perhaps selling a body part or two. Once you have bought these tickets, you can bring that price up even more by purchasing a MaxPass ($10 per person) which allows you to get on rides a little faster. Oh, and then add parking, food and drinks, snacks and any souvenirs you may want on the day.
Disneyland fact number two: the lines to get on the rides are loooong. Sure you can get a Fastpass which allows for a shorter wait time but a you may still have to wait a few hours before your Fastpass ride is available. And you can only get one Fastpass at a time. My girls who were 6 and 4 at the time of our Disneyland visit struggled with the long lines which is why I mention the lines in the first place, since the trip is about the kids. Because of the wait times other bloggers will share tips about "Disneyland hacks" and write things such as "Go in the off peak times". This basically translates to don't go in summer time, school holidays, weekends, Easter, Christmas, Halloween, Valentines Day, or any day ending in "Y". If you can do that you are guaranteed to minimise your wait times.
Disneyland fact number three: Some of the rides and attractions may be downright scary for small children. My children are quite sheltered. We don't watch a lot of TV, we monitor the things they do watch and we just allow them to be little kids with big imaginations. Although this is a really good thing (in my opinion), it also raised a few issues when we got to Disneyland. Firstly, everything is themed really well there (also a good thing). However, my kids struggled to decipher what was real and what was make believe. This meant that some of the rides frightened them quite badly. One ride had my four year old in tears because she thought her life was in danger, and another ride had her believing there was a monster after her. Although our plan had been to give the kids an amazing magical day at Disney, she had nightmares for a few nights as a repercussion.
After reading these points you may think I dislike Disneyland. Actually that couldn't be further from the truth. I actually love Disney and think the park is fun, magical and amazing. I just wanted to share a different view point on the park for parents who would like to hear both sides. Especially for people who have never been there. Hearing both the good and the bad allows you to plan for these things to have an even better trip.
So after sharing these things, I would basically say, prepare for the expense, plan for long lines and prepare your children for things that might be a bit scary. Remind them that it is make-believe. And most importantly, have a great time. I mean, how many people never get to visit the happiest place on earth?!
So what do you think? I'd love to hear your not-so-perfect thoughts about Disneyland. hare in the comments below or send me an email.