fun to do kids disneyland california   Travel for Kids
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Disneyland

Disneyland
Disneyland calls itself the "Happiest Place on Earth" and it really can be, if you plan it right. It's inconceivable to go to Southern California with kids and not visit Disneyland – kids just won't let you. Luckily, there's so much going on every day of the year and you'll find something for everyone in the family.
For parents, here's a chance to re-live your own memories of Disneyland – spin the tea cups at the Mad Tea Party, get in the driver's seat at Autopia, run around the cave at Tom Sawyer Island, hop on board the Jungle Cruise for a trip you'll never forget ...
travel tools disneyland

Standing in ticket lines for hours in the summer heat is no fun, especially for kids. (During the holidays and summer, the lines can stretch for some distance.) Order tickets online one week or more before you visit, and you can bypass long ticket lines, and go right in to Disneyland:

Disneyland tickets
family hotels disneyland

Planning to visit Disneyland, stay in a local hotel close to Disneyland. You can spend the morning at Disneyland, come back to your hotel and relax or take a nap in the afternoon, then go back to park in the evening, ready for more.

Here's our own Travel for Kids hand-picked list of family hotels in Anaheim, all styles and price ranges, within blocks of Disneyland:

Anaheim family hotels
Before you go
  What to wear – Disneyland is famous for good weather, maybe too good. In summer, all that excited running around under a sometimes blazing sun can be too much for little ones – wear hats or caps. Light tops and shorts are great, until it turns cool in the evening and then you'll want a jacket. No matter what the weather, you should take light jackets: kids can get splashed and if you're staying for the shows at night, evenings can be cool. And, you're going to do a lot of walking, so wear comfy shoes or sandals.
    What to bring Bring your digital cameras or video camera. Pack water, juice packs, snacks etc. for a quick (and inexpensive) break during the day. Freeze drinks the night before so they'll be cool when you get to them mid-day. Strollers are available for rent at the park, or you can bring your own.
While you're there
Arriving at Disneyland – Getting a multi-day pass and heading for Disneyland soon after arriving in Los Angeles? Disneyland can be exhausting, especially with summer heat and crowds.
      One trip got us to the Los Angeles airport at 4 pm., just in time for rush hour traffic. After being on a plane for 2 hours, in start-and-stop traffic for another hour, and dumping luggage at the hotel, we caved to demands of Disneyland now. The hotel shuttle dropped five grumpy faces at the gate, and it took an hour of Disney magic to get us in the mood.
      If you're staying at a local hotel, take time to jump in the pool and have something to drink. Head for the park when everyone's relaxed and ready to enjoy themselves.
At the Entrance –
    Daily Schedule and Park Map The most valuable things for planning a trip to Disneyland are the daily schedule and the park map. It really is impossible to do everything in one day in the park, but by planning a little, you can avoid both the stress of struggling to do too much and the disappointment of missing the things you really want most.
      Strollers Stop at Guest Services and rent a stroller. You won't have to haul your own and no matter how excited a kid is, Disneyland can be exhausting.
      Lock it up You can get a locker on Main Street where you can stow jackets, purchases, etc.
      Foreign language guidebooks You can purchase guidebooks in other languages at the City Hall.
      Disneyland Railroad A good way to get started? Take the Disneyland Railroad around the Park as soon as you get in, it'll give everyone a taste of the Park, and might be just the cool-down you need after a long trek to get there. Catch the train for a 1.5-mile run around the Park, through "the Grand Canyon" and "Primeval World."
Disneyland
Disneyland Park Start by looking at the map of Disneyland. It's laid out in different areas, each with its own theme, rides and performances. You might be able to cover the whole park, but don't even imagine you can do everything everywhere – in one day or three! Plan a general route through the park, and choose a few must-dos in each section. You can always change your mind if one thing looks better than another when you're there – but at least you'll have a livable schedule and you won't miss anything really special. (Before going, we let our kids each pick their own special "must do" in each area.)
    Main Street – As soon as you enter the gate, you're in a fantasy version of a middle-America small town main street circa 1900, complete with ice cream shops and old time movie theatre.
    For short trips down Main Street, ride a streetcar pulled by Belgian draft horses, a "horseless carriage" or an old style fire engine.
Disneyland
  Rides – Your schedule should include where and when to do the rides. Each area of the park has rides and attractions for both little kids and big ones. Little kids will enjoy Mickey's Toontown and Fantasyland. Star Tours and Indiana Jones Adventure are a hit with bigger kids.
    If you have kids of different ages or with different characters (one hates heights, the other craves excitement), you might want to pair up likely "ride partners," but do enjoy the park as a family: make sure to choose a few everyone will go on together For example, the Haunted Mansion is exciting for little ones, campy for the bigger kids, and almost everyone can handle Pirates of the Caribbean.
    Other attractions – Don't go nuts trying to go from one blockbuster ride to the next or timed activity, especially if you have small kids. Take a break.
      Sit on a bench on the bridge near Sleeping Beauty's Castle, take a ride on the King Arthur carousel, try to pull out the Sword in the Stone (Fantasyland). Run around Tom Sawyer Island and get lost in Injun Joe's cave or take a hand in the old fashioned shooting gallery (Frontierland), scale the heights to Tarzan's Treehouse or rest your feet in the wacky animatronic show in the Enchanted Tiki Room (Adventureland), let the kids climb on a big old fashioned fire engine (Main Street).
      Live shows and parades – Check out the daily schedule for the day(s) you'll be in the Park. Live entertainment changes often: parades, dance, light shows, etc. Use the daily schedule to help you plan rides and meals around the live entertainment. Crowds for parades are big, so get there early, a spot where little ones will have a good view, or plan on putting them on your shoulders.
      Fantasmic! really is fantastic, a lights, water, music, extravaganza that will leave little ones' mouths open (and maybe yours, too). Stake out your plot of grass or table early (an hour is about right) for a decent view. Planning a late dessert at a waterfront café works great.
      Live music Throughout the park, there's a wide variety of live music, from Dixieland jazz and brass bands at New Orleans Square, to bluegrass and steel drum bands, singing quartets, and dance bands. When you hear music playing, find a bench or cafe table, rest your feet, and enjoy.
Disneyland
    Photo with a Disney character Have your photo taken with your favorite Disney character Mickey, Minnie, Snow White, Goofy, Pooh, etc. Look for characters at Main Street Town Square, Fantasyland and Critter Country. An unforgettable souvenir.
Disney California Adventure Park – Right next door to Disneyland, California Adventure theme park has more rides, parades, live shows, play areas, and a spectacular fountain show, World of Color.
     

Cars Land is sure to be a hit with the whole family. At Radiator Springs kids can take the wheel of their own racers. Little kids will like the pint-size tractors in Mater's Junkyard Jamboree. Everyone will enjoy the Luigi's Flying Tires.

     

Paradise Pier is rides central – choose from King Triton's Carousel for little ones, or the Mickey's Fun Wheel (huge ferris wheel), to California Screamin', a roller coaster with a 107-foot drop and a 360-degree loop. One of the most fun rides on a hot day? The Grizzly River Run which takes you through "gold country" on a "white water raft."

     

Animation Academy is for kids who yearn to be an animator. There's 10 minute feature, then an artist will teach you how to draw Disney animation with a pencil and paper.

   

Around Disneyland – If you're going to spend a few days near Disneyland, check out the other local attractions.

  Tips for enjoying Disneyland
Disneyland
Meeting spot If you're splitting up to go on different rides, have a central meeting spot planned out: both the Walt and Mickey statue or the bridge in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle are good (check the map and you'll see why).
    Having a pre-planned meeting spot is also a good emergency plan for accidental separations. Disneyland has a pleasant Lost Children waiting room, and provides translators for major languages. Lost Children is on Main Street, next to the First Aid Center.

Lines and FASTPASS Get to the park early in the morning, and go on the popular rides first, to avoid lines later in the day. However, your bet best for popular rides is the free FASTPASS. Go to the ride, check the time for the next FASTPASS entry, insert your ticket, and out will come a FASTPASS ticket with a time stamped on it, e.g. 2:00pm. Go off, do other things, come back at 2:00pm and get in the FASTPASS line – you'll go on the ride without a long wait.

    Infants and toddlersThe Baby Center on Main Street is an oasis. There are pint-sized tables to feed toddlers, and comfortable rattan chairs for mothers to feed their infants. Have a toddler who's not quite potty trained? There are are small size toilets, just for them. You can also buy diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, etc.
   

Fun food

     

Disneyland does a good job of providing a big variety of places for meals and snacks, and everything is slanted towards pleasing young palates. Besides hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza, there's Mexican food, bar-b-que ribs and chicken, and pasta. Of course, there are snacks galore – ice cream and candy, popcorn, lemonade, sodas, fresh fruit juice. Stop at the fresh fruit cart on Main Street for fresh apples, oranges, etc.

 

Shopping

Disneyland
   

Stop at the Mad Hatter to get all kinds of hats, and your Mickey or Minnie Mouse ears. Disneyland characters are small and inexpensive, and special souvenir from Disneyland. Don't wait to do your shopping until the end of the day, that's when everyone does it and the lines are long. Tempted to buy a life size Mickey Mouse but don't want to lug him around all day? No problem, anything bought in Disneyland or California Adventure can be sent to the exit gate for collection on your way out.

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