First California Disney Visit with 3yo – Filled with Fun Memories Hip Hip Hooray!!!

disney photo

Trip Summary:

Visit Dates: 3/24/2016 – 3/27/2016

Mode of Transport: Drive by Car from San Diego. (Left at 2p.m & reached the hotel at 5p.m. Ridiculous Traffic. Return journey on Sunday just took less than 1.30hrs)

Hotel: Disney Grand Californian & Spa. Woods-Courtyard View. Unless you plan to stay indoors I wouldn’t recommend any other upgrades with the room.

Booked: Jan 2016 (Paid partially in Jan & then the rest end of Feb)

Disney Pass: 3 day pass with Magic Morning & Park hopper. (Considering how huge each parks are I wouldn’t spend the extra cost for the park hopper especially when you have kids. Not worth the trouble of switching between the parks in a day.)

Disneyland or Adventure Park: Our preference is Adventure Park. There were more things for a 3yo in the Adventure Park & also the crowd wasn’t that bad compared to Disneyland.

Tips on the Hotel: 

  • Has Inside access to Adventure Park, Downtown Disney, Great Pool Area, Great Spa Services, Supervised Children Activity Center.
  • Self Parking lot is across the street sometimes its annoying.
  • Be sure to check the final bill to ensure you are not charged for Valet parking when you used Self Parking.
  • Breakfast Room Service was quite prompt. Expensive but maybe worth a splurge once.
  • Room Service was also kind enough to deliver our ordered Birthday cake earlier than the previously requested time because our kiddo was up & ready to celebrate his birthday early that day.
  • Plenty of options to keep kids engaged in the Hotel.
  • Hotel Check in & Check out was smooth.

Any suggestions for Alternate Hotel options within Disney: Paradise Pier Hotel. You get similar access but just some additional walk to get to Grand Californian but similar to walking to the Self Parking lot.

Mickey & Minnie’s House: Significant amount of Wait time here & also these are located all the way at the end of the Disneyland Park. Better to get your photo moments when they are at the entrance or around the Main Street Flag Pole area in the morning ( Mickey,Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald, Daisy — Everyone will be here in the morning. Expect bigger Queues for Mickey & Minnie for Photo opportunity)

Good Spots for Parade viewing in Disneyland Park: Main Street Flag Pole area near the entrance/exit or Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe.  If you end up staying late & are planning to get out of the park make sure you do it before the parade. Its crazy crowd during the parade & also lot of folks getting out after the fireworks as well.

Good Spot for Parade Viewing in Adventure Park: Lot of nice spots around Paradise Grill & Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta.

If you needed a break from Sun / break from heavy crowd: There is a small sitting area right opposite of Big Thunder Mountain Rail road (next to Sailing Ship Columbia). Its easy to walk pass this. There is also a lemonade/Coffee stand right next this nook.

Thoughts on Disneyland Park Rides:

Casey Jr. Circus Train – Not worth the significant wait time.

Chip n Dale Treehouse – Expected more but felt bummed.

Dumbo the Flying elephant – Worth the significant wait time.

Mad Tea Party – Fun & never too much wait time.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – Not too much wait time. Significant wait time to take pictures with Tigger though!!!

Pirates of the Caribbean – The Setup is awesome. Not too much wait time. Didn’t meet expectations. Kids may or may not like. For us it was an OK ride but the impressed with the set.

Tarzan’s Treehouse – Much better than Chip n Dale Treehouse.

Goofy’s Playhouse – Good spot for parents to take some rest. 🙂

It’s a small world – Fun & Colorful. Not too much wait time.

Thoughts on Adventure Park Rides:

Animation Academy: Pretty cool concept but our 3yo wasn’t ready for it.

Flik’s Flyers – Small wait time but fun.

Francis Lady Bug Boogie – Similar to Mad Tea Party but different shape & form. Small wait time.

Golden Zephyr – Family fun. Small wait time.

Heimlick’s Chew Chew Train -Small wait time. Kids enjoy.

Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree: Similar to Mad Tea Party but more fun & speed.

Mickey’s Fun Wheel: Swinging Gondola & Non-Swinging one. Significant Wait time for Swinging one. Swinging seemed fun. Haven’t seen such a thing anywhere else.

Princess Dot Puddle Park : Good rest spot for parents & kids to cool down.

Radiator Spring Racers : Awesome. Don’t miss it.

Toy Story Midway Mania: Fun for us. Our son didn’t enjoy as much as we thought he would. Worth a try even with some wait.

Tuck and Roll’s Drive em Buggies: Fun for the kids. Don’t expect it to be fast bummer car for adults. Small wait time.

Another Spot to Relax & Cool Down: There is a water fountain around King Triton’s Carousel.

Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome : 8a.m if your kid is a Frozen fan, you don’t want to miss out on this. No other place you will get to meet them. You can see them on the parades though.

Don’t miss out to see the Parades at both the parks & World of Colors.!!!

It turned out to be a excellent bday treat for our 3yo & we had fun with him as well. Don’t feel shy whenever you see a photopass opportunity. $39 for a single day photos maybe worth it when you want family moments on these occasions.



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