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Disneyland September 19th - 26th

Chehalis, Washington
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Disneyland September 19th - 26th

I grew up in So Cal and went to Disneyland quite a bit during my childhood and as a young adult, but it has been about 14 years since I've been and I know a lot has changed.

We will be in California during this time and plan on hitting Disneyland two weekdays during this week. I've heard of that Ride Max software. Is that really necessary for this time of year? I'm assuming with school starting the park won't be horribly crowded, especially on a weekday. I keep reading that early September is best, but will this late in September be much different?

For those of you with toddlers what is your best strategy as far as what section of the park to start your day or what attractions should be seen first before the park gets too busy. How do you go about getting reservations for a for a character breakfast or dinner?

Any must see/do things when taking a toddler to Disney?

Yucaipa, California
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1. Re: Disneyland September 19th - 26th

Taking into consideration how you have described your past, it shouldn’t be necessary for you to use Ridemax. You probably have a good understanding of Disneyland and what your likes and dislikes are there. You will just need to familiarize yourself with the newer park and Downtown Disney. I think the Fast Pass program wasn’t in effect in 1996, which was probably the year you were last at DL. Even if it was, I remember in the beginning many of us didn’t get the hang of it. So just learn how to use the Fast Pass system and you will do great. There is also something called Single Rider Pass for a couple of rides in DL and a handful of rides in DCA as well as a Child Swap Program for the rides, both will work well together for you. It’s just a matter of learning about these and how to use them, then using some good planning.

Disneyland Park itself really hasn’t changed that much. Just some of the attractions are different. Like Buzz Lightyear in place of the Circle Vision Theater (American the Beautiful), and Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in place of Country Bear Jamboree, Rocket Jets are on the ground and changed into the Astro Orbiter, People Mover is not longer in operation, subs are now Finding Nemo themed. Captain EO is actually coming back, but for how long I don’t know. And Mr. Lincoln just reopened. The Disney Gallery that was above Pirates – with that great view of the river - was turned into a VIP suite and the gallery is now in Main Street. Of course, Pirates got some “enhancements”, but is for the large part, the same. The Golden Horseshoe has a new show. The Mexican Restaurant is much better themed and nicer, but I miss the old days when they used to have mariachis singing there. (Back in the 80’s.) I might have left something out, but the thing is the park is basically the same.

One big change, though, is that every September the Haunted Mansion is closed down for two or three weeks to get a holiday “overlay” and when it reopens it has a different theme, the Nightmare Before Christmas theme. The attraction will have different music and storyline then and is called Haunted Holiday. It goes down the day after Labor Day and re-opens on the first day of the Halloween celebration called Halloween Time, which is celebrated in both parks. I’m not sure of the date that Halloween Time begins this year, but someone else will likely let you know. If you are lucky, you will be here during that time. If not, the Haunted Mansion will be closed. Some say the Haunted Holiday is nicer for kids than Haunted Mansion. Also, if you visit falls during Halloween Time there will be special Halloween fireworks.

The beginning of September is not better than the end for crowds or weather. Of course, the few days before Labor Day all rides should be up and running (except maybe Star Tours, which will be getting “enhanced” this year). Attendance has been picking up in late September since Disneyland Resort started the Halloween Time celebration, but it’s not that bad.

Yucaipa, California
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2. Re: Disneyland September 19th - 26th

Here is a website with information on Child Swap and Single Rider. It needs to be updated to reflect that Indiana Jones is one of the Single Rider attractions.

disneymouselinks.com/disneyland-single-rider…

Here is a TripAdvisor article that tells how to use the Fast Pass System.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g29092-c3632/Anaheim:…

Yucaipa, California
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3. Re: Disneyland September 19th - 26th

I just took a look at your profile and noticed in a Trip Report on another forum you mention you have two teenagers. Will you clarify for those who may want to advise on what to do with the toddler if you will have your teens with you too? That may make it easier.

Chehalis, Washington
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4. Re: Disneyland September 19th - 26th

Thanks Redlands for your responses. I have two older teens but one will be away at college and the other in his junior year of high school and he actually doesn't want to go on this vacation with us. We left the baby with the grandparents when we went to Hawaii a few weeks ago so we're going to gear this vacation towards him.

Kind of sad to hear that People Mover and Country Bear Jamboree are gone. I remember back when you neeeded tickets for individual rides. Oh well.

We are very excited about this vacation and thanks so much for the links and the info. Our toddler will be 23 months old when we go to Disneyland. I appreciate any help I can get! Thanks!

Seattle
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5. Re: Disneyland September 19th - 26th

I was at DL this same week last year and the crowds were really not bad, but it seems recently that there really is no 'off season' any more (unfortunately). Parking at the parks was AWFUL, do you know where you are staying yet? I would try for somewhere that has a shuttle or is walking distance. Try to get to hte parks first thing in the morning, grab a fast pass for whatever your favorite big ride is, then head directly to Fantasy Land. It gets very crowded after noon, but if you get there first thing you can usually get on most of the rides without waiting in much line.

Chehalis, Washington
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6. Re: Disneyland September 19th - 26th

Unfortunately we're not staying near Disneyland. We're going to be staying in Carlsbad which will not be a fun drive to and from the park for those two days. I have heard the parking can be a nightmare there. We plan on getting there before the park opens. How much earlier than Disneyland does the main parking lot open? I've been trying to talk my husband into getting a room for two nights by the park so we don't have to hassle with the driving.

portland, oregon
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7. Re: Disneyland September 19th - 26th

Are you going to visit Legoland while in Carlsbad? My boys LOVED Legoland more than Disneyland! What I liked about Legoland is there are park-like play areas for the kids which is a nice break from standing in line for rides. Our first trip to Legoland my youngest was about 2 -1/2 and he definitely did better at Legoland than Disneyland. Not to discourage you from going to Disneyland because we had fun there too, but I've talked to many people who either haven't heard of Legoland or who have heard that it's not worth a visit. We took Amtrak from Anaheim to Oceanside then took a cab to Carlsbad. It was a lovely train ride along the ocean. Oh, we also went to a fun cafe called Playwerx in Carlsbad which has an awesome indoor play structure for kids.

Now, about RideMax. I used RideMax for our last trip to Disneyland and I loved it! It's not very expensive to get the shorter option (90 day subscription for $14.95). Besides the touring schedule, they have tons of Tips and Tricks. I tend to completely geek out when planning trips and go overboard on gathering information. If you have a more laid-back traveling style and wouldn't mind if you missed a few rides, then it may not be worth it to use it. If you absolutely must go on some of the rides that are very popular like Peter Pan, Finding Nemo Subs, Toy Story the Mania, etc. and if you enjoy Tip & Tricks-type info, then you may enjoy using this software. I thought it was fun and plan to use it for our next trip. It was a little stressful at first to stay on schedule, but when we did it was amazing how well it worked. We walked past Small World, with a line that looked like it was over an hour long, went to Toon Town per the schedule, and when we came back to Small World we walked right on!

Yucaipa, California
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8. Re: Disneyland September 19th - 26th

>>>>How much earlier than Disneyland does the main parking lot open?<<<<

The main parking lot is Mickey and Friends and is on Ball Rd., just west of Harbor Blvd. The first signs you see on Ball Rd. for Mickey and Friends will say Theme Parks Only. I believe it opens at least a half an hour before DL does and if it is a Magic Morning it will open even earlier. It is a multi-level parking lot and, most of the time, the parking attendants direct where you go (as in the old parking lot). If you are arriving early in the day you should not have any problem parking. Your drive should be about an hour. That’s about the same as mine (except I would need to go on a weekend day to make that kind of time on the 91 freeway). I usually try to leave home around 7 a.m. and don’t make it out of the driveway until 7:30. I’m usually in the parking lot by 8:30 and have no problem parking. (That’s even with a quick pit stop at a nearby coffee shop.) From Mickey and Friends you take an escalator or the elevator next to it to the tram stop, board, and exit in Downtown Disney near the entrance to the central plaza between the two parks called the Esplanade. The Esplanade is where the front part of the old parking lot was. Tip – If you get in one of the front seats on the tram you will not have as far to walk, although it may be tempting to look for shorter lines further down the waiting area. Before entering the Esplanade, there is a security/bag check. I usually keep my bag pretty organized in the morning to make the process go faster. If you are not buying your tickets on line, you will see the ticket booths straight ahead and slightly to your right as you exit the security check. So, with all the steps that I have mentioned before you get to the turnstiles, figure on it taking about a half an hour from the time you park your car to the time you enter the park.

If you were planning on leaving the park and driving somewhere, then returning, you would run into a problem with parking, but I don’t see what you would do that. If you need to take a break there are places in DL Park and quite possibly DCA too, or you could exit and go to a restaurant in Downtown Disney if you want. You can even go to the lobby in the Grand Californian Hotel from Downtown Disney and chill out there for a while. The best place for families with small child to take a break seems to be one of the tables at the Hungry Bear Restaurant on the lower level. There you can sit and watch the boats and ducks on the river and there is a large restroom if needed.

I have some ideas on what to with your toddler in DL Park, but will post in a separate post.

Yucaipa, California
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9. Re: Disneyland September 19th - 26th

Because you haven't been to Disneyland in a while and you obviously loved going in the past, I totally recommend spending sometime in Main Street soaking up the atmosphere and memories on your first day.

Take your toddler to see the windows in the Emporium. Remember those scenes from Disney movies they used to have in the windows? Well, they still have them. They are just a little different.

It's possible that the Disneyland Marching Band may have a set in Town Square with Alice and the Matter Hatter in the morning, if not maybe they will have a Castle show and do that later. I will write about the Castle show further down.

Since you are making a fairly long drive, you might want to have breakfast at the Carnation Cafe or go into the Blue Ribbon Bakery for coffee and a danish or muffin. Sadly, Carnation Cafe lost their indoor seating and soda fountain area where ice cream was served. But the outside tables are still open and a popular place to have breakfast or lunch. Blue Ribbon is where the inside seating for Carnation Cafe used to be. That may have changed before your last visit, but I thought I'd mention it in case it hadn't. You will like Blue Ribbon Bakery. They have good stuff and it's just as nice around closing time as in the morning. Sunkist changed to Gibson Girl Ice Cream.

Another good thing to do for breakfast could be the character breakfast at the Plaza Inn, Minnie and Friends. See disney.com for details and possibly allears.net has information on the food there under DLR Dining.

A must do with a toddler or young child, in my opinion, is a ride on the Horse Drawn Trolley. So I suggest going to Town Square to take it up to Sleeping Beauty's Castle. Sit up front and talk to the driver about the horse's name and your child can pet the horse after you exit the trolley at the Castle.

The Disneyland Band's Castle show takes place some mornings around 10:30 or 11 a.m. Ask Disneyland Resorts guest relations (call ahead of time) or ask at the Information Wait Board at the end of Main Street near the entrance to Adventureland. If it is scheduled just show up about 20 minutes early and you should be able to get a good view. Castmembers have guests form a semi-circle in front of the Caste. The band comes marching and playing thrrough the Castle, then Mickey comes and joins them. A few minutes later more characters come through the Castle, across the drawbridge, and join in. After the performance there, the band marches down Main Street with Mickey and plays a song half way down and then also when they arrive at DL RR Station.

I don't think you need to worry about grabbing Fast Passes on your first day, since you want to concentrate on the little one and the rides that offer Fast Pass are not generally what you would think of for that purpose. However, since Disneyland Resort parks offer the Child Swap Pass, you may want to try it for something if it works out on the first day (no pressure, though) and then on your second day really see if you can get the Fast Passes. Now, for Indiana Jones and Splash Mt. you have the option of Single Rider Pass, which is easy to get (just walk up to a cast member outside and ask if they are handing them out that day). Both of those rides have family type rides next to them (Jungle Cruise and the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh), so one of you could actually go on the family ride with your child and the other on the more thrilling ride with Single Rider. If lines are reasonable on the family rides then maybe your child might like to right a second time with the other parent. So switching off like that would allow both of you to ride the thrilling ride without a wait. (Or the parent staying with the child could even just chill when the other parent is on the Single Rider ride.) Single Rider is way better than Fast Pass, with the exception that you are not riding with your hubby and vice-versa.

I think if the lines in Fantasyland are long on the first day, then on your second day you could head for that straight off. But you might try to see if you can do any of these on your first day: King Arthur's Carousel, Dumbo, Storybookland Canal Boats, Casey Jr. Train. Personally, I would not recommend Finding Nemo until your child is a bit older. It's cramped in the subs and hard to get in and out. Skipping that saves you some time, as that is a ride that is slow loading.

I would suggest choosing these rides/attractions on the first day for the pleasure of everyone in your family:

Horse Drawn Trolley

Enchaned Tiki Room

Jungle Cruise

Tarzan's Tree House

Mark Twain Steamboat

Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Pirates of the Caribbean

Golden Horseshoe Saloon - Billie Hill and the Hillbillies show (they are somewhat like the Country Bears only human)

Sleeping Beauty's Castle walk through

It's a Small World

Yucaipa, California
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10. Re: Disneyland September 19th - 26th

How could I forget the Disneyland Railroad? That's a must do for families. You may want to make sure you don't travel between Tomorrowland and Main Street, though. Some little ones get scared when they see the dinosaur diorama that is in the tunnel between the two stops.

Oh, and I meant to write Mad Hatter in the last post.

Edited: 24 January 2010, 14:50