Planning a trip to The Happiest Place on Earth can be intimidating for any parent. I've been there with my kids three or four times, and as a blogger have met enough of the behind-the-scenes folks to learn a few techy tricks.
1- Watch a few videos on YouTube. If you have an anxious child and want to prepare him or her for larger-than-life characters or rides, there is plenty of footage on YouTube to help you do that. Search for the name of the ride and the words “disneyland ride”. You'll find it. If you are thinking it's all fun and games at Disneyland, I encourage you to watch a video of Pinocchio's Daring Journey. It's freaking scary and I regretted pressuring my 7-year old son to ride it. This YouTube channel has high quality, if lengthy, videos of a number of rides.
2- Follow @DisneylandToday on Twitter. There are many Disney handles on Twitter, but this is the official one from within the park. Occasional tweets about hours and rides with short lines, plus a bunch of promotions of park features you might not know about.
You're sure to find adventure at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail! Share a photo of you earning your badges! pic.twitter.com/ap8C1Y83nb
— Disneyland Today (@DisneylandToday) February 20, 2016
Nothing to obsessively refresh, but nice to browse while you're waiting in line, and the word on the street is that if you tweet them with a question, you'll get a response.
3- Download a list of the food options. If you worry about picky eating, must stick to a certain diet, or just like to obsess about food before you go anywhere, here's a PDF (from 2013) detailing meal options with a focus on healthy, balanced choices. Look for the “Mickey Check” symbol to know which foods are approved for a select list of the healthiest choices. On my first visit as a parent, I was delighted by the sides of fruits and veggies that came with every entree. Take a peek at the menus.
4- Read a blog post or two. You're already reading one. Check. There are blogs galore dedicated to passing along Disneyland wisdom. If you do a google search, you might be instantly overwhelmed. Here's a useful post from one Bay Area mom blogger. Now you're good. For a full e-book worth of insider tips, check out Cam Bowman's 101 Disneyland Tips. I liked learning that you can get a “First-time” button to wear at City Hall if you stop by right when you enter the park.
5- Use an app.
People like DL Wait Times which focuses on the length of lines at each ride.
We liked having MouseWait, which is available for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone, Apple Watch, and Apple TV (?) because it also included a map of the park and restaurant info. If you like to plan ahead, you can also check showtimes online. Much to my surprise, my kids loved the parade more than anything else. In the future, we'll plan our whole day around it.
Also recommended is Magic Guide (pictured), an another app that has a companion Apple Watch experience so you can stay on top of wait times with a glance at your wrist.