5 (More) Reasons to Visit Disneyland This Winter

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!

disneyland family travelOur 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:

Anna and Elsa Frozen at Disneyland1) 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.

Anna and Elsa at Disneyland

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!

Meeting Thor at Disneyland2) 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.

Captain America at Disneyland

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.

That, my friends, is a three-year-old after a full day of travel, at our first night at Downtown Disney. It’s true that kids find a reserve of energy you didn’t know they had when at Disneyland!

Uva Street Fries Downtown DisneyBeyond 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?

tableside guacamole at tortilla jo's downtown disneyAnother 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.

The Lego Store at Downtown DisneyDowntown 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!

Cars Land Disneyland4) 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.

mater's junkyard jamboreeDon’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).

disneyland rides5) 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…)




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  • I have always dreamed of going to Disney World ever since i was small. Unfortunately to take my boys there from Newfoundland would just cost WAY to much money for me. 🙁 Ahhh there is always hope right?
    Looks beautiful!!

    • There’s always hope – keep an eye on flights for sure (also, do you have a rewards credit card? That helps with our flights!)

  • this looks like sooo much fun! i have always wanted to go but have never been yet. as soon as my children get a little bit older we will be going for sure. im a kid at heart so it would be so a blast

  • We are talking about going to florida this Christmas, not totally positive if we will go or not, I like a white Christmas but after last year and the never ending cold it is much easier to convince me lol. We haven’t been to Disney… yet 🙂

    • We’ve been to Florida in December (Disney World) and it was amazing – especially considering I’m in Saskatchewan where it’s cold November 1st – March 31 (or longer!)

  • No winter plans for us other than keeping warm and waiting for spring. I have never been to Disney World so have no idea where I would head to first. It does look like such a fun place to go. Maybe someday.

  • We are taking a cruise in January so no Disney this winter. When we do visit we head for Main Street, USA first to take in the daily parade. The kids love to dance to the music and get so excited to see their favourite Disney characters.

  • This year we are staying put and enjoying a Canadian Christmas! When we do make it to Disney I know Anna and Elsa’s Ice Palace will be top of our list! Thanks!

  • I would love to take my Mum and daughter to Disneyland in California. My Mum’s sister lives there and I also have 2 cousins that live there too. Patrick works with one of the major movie studios and Michael is with Voice of America…so no hotels 🙂 My Mum is leaving on the 2nd of December for a visit to celebrate my Aunt’s 90th Birthday! I have been twice and Sara has been at least 4 times.

  • I always regret not getting to Disney with my girls when they were younger. The dancing video is adorable.

  • I think it would be super fun to go……this winter we have a lot on our plate….but hopefully next winter!!! 🙂 🙂

  • Many, many years ago when I was only 16….many many many years ago…. I went to Disneyland with my parents. Even then it was wonderful, magical and all those describable words. The one recommendation I would make for parents of older children is this, bring a friend along of the same age. I know I would have loved to have a friend to giggle and laugh with. But wow, a trip that I still have great memories of.

  • My parents took me for my 16th biryhday & ive dreamed about going back. My daughter will be 3 in January but i think i would like to take her when shes a bit older. For now though, im wanting to take my husband there. Just him & i. Hes never been and i think it would be awesome to go and just be able to go on rides, see things we want to see and just be young again. 🙂

  • Looks like you guys had an amazing time! We are saving up and will be going there next year!!! My son would love to go to Cars land!!! And my daughter would love Anna and Elsa!! How neat is that!!! I can’t wait to bring them there

  • I have wanted to take my kids to Disney ever since my daughter was a toddler. We had tickets to go this week and my husband had a heart attack and some procedures done and was hospitalized for 4 days. We are hoping to go next year, this was the only vacation we had planned for this year and we had to cancel but at least my husband is ok!

    • So sorry to hear that! Sometimes life makes other plans for us – so glad to hear he’s OK! There will always be next year.

  • We’ve never been before 🙁 I want to go while my kids are young and before it ends up being on a “bucket list”.

  • We don’t have any travel plans this winter because last December/January we went to Hawaii, followed by Disneyland in February and Palm Springs in March – it was a busy year for travel for us, as was the year before. This year we are going to Palm Springs again in the spring, but staying home for winter. Of course I would love to go back to Disneyland (I love it!), but we will probably wait a few more years until our youngest is old enough to remember it. When we were there the lines to meet Elsa and Anna were 3-4 hours long, with no standby line option, so we skipped that – but that is probably where we would head first on our next trip, assuming the lines were not that long.

  • Disneyland — a favorite vacation destination for the young and the old. It has something for everyone.

  • I have always wished I could go there and see it one day, but that will never happen, but I enjoy reading your’s and the other bloggers posts of the great time they had there, everyone looked liked they had a blast and yes superhero’s are

  • No plans this winter to travel. We had gone as a family a couple of times. That was many years ago. I love to go back to take the grandkids.

  • I am planning a vacation to Florida in February.Unfortunately, Disneyland is not on the travel list for this year. I visited Disneyland as a kid and I loved the roller coaster. It looks like you guys had a wonderful vacation.

  • This year we are staying put and enjoying a Newfoundland Christmas with mummers and all.Someday maybe we may visit Disneyland

  • This year we have not made definite plans but probably Vegas for a few days and I really want to go somewhere warm midwinter. We have been to Disneyland and Disney World which we really enjoyed and the kids loved it. My choice would be Splash Mountain as I love the idea of you might get wet.

  • I’ve only ever been to Disney World…. our youngest is one but I can’t wait to go when he’s a little older. We have three boys and I know they’ll love it. They would especially love the Cars attraction.

  • I have never been disney and would love to take the kids! Will have to save up and take them and your tips will surely help too!

  • We have no plans to go anywhere this winter other than locally or day trips. We have never been to Disneyland/world but sure would love to!

  • I live in the US, and I’ve never been to Disneyworld or Disneyland =( I really want to go. Looks like you had so much fun, and that food looks delicious!

  • We’ve talked about Disneyland or Disneyworld for awhile and our little guy is getting old enough for him to really have fun. Sooooo looking forward to taking him! While Thor is very attractive 🙂 I’m an old schooler so I would run first to Mickey for a picture!

  • Cars Land is new for me – never knew it existed. It would be the first place my little guy would want us to go.

  • I’m trying to convince my husband that we should go away for Christmas… I wonder if mentioning Disneyland would help sway him. ..He’s never even been on a roller coaster 🙁

  • I didn’t even get to your question and my answer was going to be “I want to visit Disney this winter so that I can pose with Thor”, like hello!!! 🙂

  • Disney is awesome 🙂 I haven’t been to Disneyland since I was 9 years old. But would love to go again.

  • No big plans for the winter yet….just winging it. One of these years we’ll get to Disneyland tho…..and yes, I will look for Thor 😉

  • Love your Disney posts!! We are waiting till my son is a little older before we go.. I can’t wait.. ive never been myself!!

  • I am getting married next summer so we do not have any big plans other than saving all winter! I love Disney and would love to go back though!

  • What an experience! Disneyland is a great place…fun for the kids and adults. They definitely have everything covered.