Disneyland is, naturally, a must-see destination for Canadian families. Faced with the prospect of yet another below-average temp winter, Canadians are starting to look for ideas for a winter escape. Here in Saskatchewan we have a February Break while the majority of the rest of Canada have either a March break, Easter break (or both!) so there’s plenty of opportunity to get away without disrupting the kid’s school schedule. On the other hand, I’m a huge supporter of education on the go, and don’t let school schedules dictate when we travel anyway, so if the price is right, we’re going!
While many head to the sun and surf of Mexico, others feel more comfortable with a US destination, and of course many opt for sunny California. From January until the end of March, temperatures in Anaheim are an average of 20 degrees – warm enough to enjoy capris and a t-shirt for the day yet not so hot that you’re sweating and uncomfortable! We visited Disneyland twice in the past in December and found the temps perfect!
Our last visit to Disneyland was in August, and if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you were treated to some shots of our fun along the way! There’s so much to say about Disneyland, and in case you’ve missed my past posts on one of my favorite places on the planet, here’s a quick cheat sheet of where to find those posts. We detailed the Cars Land grand opening, the Cars Land Red Carpet celebration, and why you shouldn’t wait until the kids are older to go to Disneyland, among our posts.
I know you don’t need them, I know you got this, but just in case there’s some debate, here are five (more) reasons to visit Disneyland this winter:
1) Anna and Elsa (duh.)
If you have a child, oh under 16 or so, in the house or even if you’ve been around a child under 16 in the past year or so, chances are you’re quite familiar with the phenomenon that is Frozen. If you have a young Frozen mega-fan in the house (I have 2!) and have heard Let It Go so many times that you’re humming it in the shower (whether you like it or not) then this is what you need to go to Disneyland for. Now.
You can find Anna and Elsa waiting between Pinocchio’s Daring Journey and Village Haus Restaurant – look for the little cottage with Olaf taking a snooze on top. A warning that – not surprisingly – the line is long, but you can lessen your wait time by using the virtual standby line (tickets are distributed at the location once the park opens, and you can then use your return-time ticket to come back on standby). You can also catch a float featuring Anna, Elsa and Olaf in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade!
2) Superheros (which means fun for mom too!)
OK, I’m just going to say it. Superheros are hot, so if your little ones can’t wait to see their favorite Marvel characters including Thor and Captain America, it’s probably in your best interest to get your kids to Innoventions in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park.
Meeting Thor at Disneyland is an experience more than a simple meet and greet. First, guests walk through a room filled with information and artifact’s about Thor’s home planet including items like the book of Yggdrasil, among others. Then, before you know what’s happening, you’re transported to the throne room of Odin—ruler of Asgard where Thor is waiting. Everyone gets a photo op with Thor, and like all Disney cast members, he was absolutely courteous and happy to take time out for each guest visiting.
Also in Innovations, guests can check out the amazing Iron Man Tech Presented by Stark Industries which features many of Iron Man’s suits. Then, there’s another big opportunity waiting just around the corner! Captain America is waiting, hopefully not being whisked away to save us all from the forces of evil, to greet you and spend a few minutes chatting.
3) Downtown Disney
After all the fun of a day full of rides and park entertainment, Downtown Disney is a welcome refuge for weary parents and hungry kids. I absolutely love Downtown Disney at Disneyland – it feels like coming home to a neighborhood party every night. I don’t find it too crowded and there’s always something going on to entertain us.
Beyond the night life at Downtown Disney, there are a few must-stop places for me and they involve food! Stop at Uva Bar at Downtown Disney and pop into the restaurant indoors (I find it more quiet and cooler than the bar outside). Uva Street Fries are a must when visiting! I mean, really, how can you not enjoy fries with pickled garlic and cheese curds?
Another must-stop restaurant at Downtown Disney is Tortilla Jo’s – pop in for the live music and house-made guacamole right at your table. Honestly the best guacamole I’ve had and and for $12.00, Tableside Guacamole is a great afternoon snack (though I can find any excuse to stop for it!) Note that you’ll likely get a visit from a balloon-animal-artist (is that the right title?) who works on tips, so if your little one wants an Anna or Elsa balloon creation (ours noted the requests have…ahem…ballooned in recent months!), ensure you have some cash on hand for this.
Downtown Disney isn’t all about the food (but almost). There are a few must-stop stores when visiting as well, including of course The Lego Store which is a massive display of Lego for purchase and displays that you can take pictures with. My kids know they can choose one Lego item to take home with us, though experience has taught us to unbox the Lego for the trip home to save space!
4) Cars Land
Being part of the Cars Land grand opening in June 2012 was an event I don’t think anyone in our family will forget (well, we’ll give our three year old a pass!) The huge crowds during that event continued on for months and months afterward. I heard reports from friends who visited Cars Land that the wait time for Radiator Springs Racers (undoubtedly one of California Adventure’s most popular attractions now) could be upwards of 2 hours. There had to be a strategy to get Fast Passes for the attraction, as they were gone early each day. My suggestion was to have dad make a run for Fast Passes as soon as the park opened in the morning, giving mom and the kids time to get ready – hey everyone has a job!
After visiting in August, I can confidently say that dad doesn’t have to dart out on his own anymore. While sauntering up to the Fast Pass location for Radiator Springs Racers at 3pm will undoubtedly get you nothing but a frown on your face (it will be closed by then), we learned that the demand wasn’t as high as it was even a year ago. Speaking with the friendly staff at the Radiator Springs Racers Fast Pass location (just outside Bugs Land, across from the waterfall if looking for landmarks), they shared that most days you can line up for a Fast Pass until closer to 11am, some days even until 2pm! Now, don’t take a risk and walk over at 1:30 on your last day using my advice – but definitely don’t freak out if it’s 9:30 and you’re just getting to the park. Another helpful tip? If you’re not staying at a Disneyland Hotel on site, aim to go to California Adventure on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday. These days are not Extra Magic Hours (where guests of on-site hotels get early access to the parks) so in other words, everyone is at the start line (totally added that pun) at the same time.
Don’t forget about Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (always a huge favorite with my girls) and Luigi’s Flying Tires while waiting for your turn at Radiator Springs Racers. All three attractions are fun for the family though note that Radiator Springs Racers does have a 40″ height requirement (my 3 year old was not tall enough for it).
5) Getting Away From It All
I realize #5 is a rather general statement but it was the best way I could find to describe my sentiment. Family travel is when the five of us in our family can collectively come together in the name of carefree fun (albeit with some rules because you know, super-control-freakazoid-mom here) and reconnect. Our travel to Disneyland was perfect timing at the end of a stressful summer where we moved 400km and before the beginning of a fall at a new school with new friends.
Disneyland is a place where everyone can be a kid (which means it’s perfectly OK to carry around a turkey leg or have a Dole Whip dripping on your shirt) and the kids can be kids. It’s also a place where a mom like me can scream in joy/fear, laugh until her sides hurt, and have her thriller-heart swell with pride when her 6 year old daughter asks to go on California Screamin’ for the first time – and then asks if she can go again!
I’ve always come home from Disneyland exhausted, but have never ever come home not feeling fulfilled – Disney is a vacation that will fill your cup and then some. There’s something for everyone in the family and every-fan as well. With a 3, 6, and 10 year old it can sometimes be hard to find even a weeknight restaurant that makes everyone happy, nevermind a vacation destination. Disney fits that bill every time. Beyond the parks, you also have amazing pools and activities at on site hotels and of course the beautiful beaches of So.Cal are nearby as well (more about that in a later post!)
What are your plans this winter? Is Disney on your list? What Disney destination would you run for first (it’s Thor right, mom? I knew it…)