Disneyland Adventure Part 1: Game Plan

Wow, I feel like I fell head first into the realm of fairy tales. One moment I was skipping along meeting each princess, dinning with Mickey and then B A M, I was knocked out cold. Stunned speechless by the sheer cost of magic. Next thing I knew I was forcefully drug out by my feet, with my full battle cry on. I was bruised and battered, but I  was VICTORIOUS! (Crowd goes wild at my house! Thank you, thank you!)

I’d bogged through the wreckage of “what not to do’s”. Skimmed over the “what you should know before you go” blogs. Wrestled with sites offering “cheap hotels and air fare”, and yes, at times, I would run away laughing from their cheapest endeavors. Others I’d shout from the rooftops, “How dare they charge that!”

The price battle raged on. Screen after screen. Pamphlet laid upon coupon.

Finally, There it was, within my reach, the cheapest deal I’d ever seen.

Was it a compromise? You bet! But it was MINE for the taking!

I had emerged from the mighty battle, with my booking in hand, for I had won against the mighty over priced deal!

Banners flew high, trumpets sounded. Hear all hear all; Lily is pleased to announce (while being proud of her Mama) and is over the moon excited, that FINALLY we’re going to DISNEYLAND!

But…. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before the trumpets had sounded and I’d earned my war paint by capturing the ultimate Disneyland ‘bargain’. I had been overwhelmed and out priced. Exhausted and frankly grumpy, I Jumped from pin to pin, looking for ways to out smart the Sheriff of Nottingham.

I would however find, I’d constantly lose track of time as I’d get caught up marveling at the genius that is Disney. So many blissful afternoons were spent as a child watching Aladdin and Jasmine fall in love. While Hook battled Pan, we’d pretended we were Miss Bianca and Bernard rescuing the golden eagle. I had sat crying waiving goodbye to Willy, believing that just maybe he’d come back again. My sister and I had loved to sing with Belle, while dancing to the colors of the wind. Our Brother and I would cheer for number 53 while wondering what it would be like to meet Lightning McQueen. Hours we’d spend laughing with Woody while bonding with Flubber. Today my family and I sit captivated as Walt himself, would explain the inner workings of the films. As a family we’d gathered around the desktop and we’d tour the mega theme parks online, comparing one to another. Wondering out loud if this is what Walt had in mind when he first opened Disneyland on July 17th 1955. Had he envisioned creating the ultimate brand? A dazzling fairy tale land with world wide recognition. Chart topping sales and a cult like following for a group of animals? Cause if he did, well, Walt nailed it! His imagination has proved to be extraordinary, captivating, and awe inspiring. One man paving the way for the mega success that his company has grown into today, as his faithful team carries on. Creating a life size world where memories of our childhood can sing, dance and play.

There I am, fully emerged, wowed by all that is Disney. Day dreaming about the most magical place on earth. Dazzled by images of my own brilliant white pumpkin shaped carriage. Drawn by six gray stallions with ears twitching, pulling me closer and closer to my ultimate vacation. A single outstretched glittering vines swirled as it reached wide. Plucking open the door to the best hotels that Disneyland can offer. Complete with massages and facials. Before I knew what was going on, I had burst towards the carriage. Lunged for the open door. S M A C K! Out of nowhere, I lost my foot hold on reality. Missed that bottom, ultra thin, line on my check book, and face planted hard on the overstuffed premium, velvet sofa. I was left feeling like it was half past midnight, with only one shoe on.

Regardless of my brief lapse of judgement, my family was hooked on the dream of Disneyland. We’re going to need a game plan!

Over the next few days, you do what any devoted and determined parent would do. Creating boards, pinning away, sourcing magazines and bookmarking any article that mentions Disneyland on the cheap. As the thrill of seeking out bargain after bargain begins to ware off, so does the joy of exploring all that California has to offer. Instead it’s replaced by a rolling dollar sign with a constantly moving decimal point. Quickly you find, as did I, that you’re gonna need a plan! Preferably a detailed plan that includes a rather large savings account. Relax, at the end of the day, no matter how you start planning, a start at all, is a start in the right direction! But for those of you like me, who live on a detailed game plan, here it is.

Step 1:

Talk with your family about their concerns, which will most likely revolve around the most important aspects of your trip. Such as cost, availability, travel times, and accommodations. It’s also a good idea to get the stress and worrying over with, that way the planning can proceed! Jot down your family’s top four or five concerns regarding your Disney vacation. Below is the list that we created.
Fred:

  • Amount of vacation time we needed off
  • Budget for the overall vacation
  • When would we go
  • Wants good weather while we were there, but not to warm

Lily:

  • Enough time to see the parts of Disneyland that interest her
  • Wants to avoid long lines and wants to avoid closed rides
  • Must have a swimming pool

Jenny:

  • Wants a minimal amount of time standing in line
  • Needs to have plenty of places to sit down or lean against, to have a break
  • Location
  • Transportation
  • Other things to do

 

Step 2:

Take the time to research and address each of your family’s concerns. Be as detailed in the answers as you can. Think of this as the first step to completing your family’s vacation blue print. I chose to dive in with the thought of food cost at the forefront as this was one of Fred’s concerns regarding the overall budgeting for the trip. Be detailed! Start by Listing out ideas of where you may want to eat that day. Are you a fan of Triple D? Or maybe a buffet guru? Maybe you prefer to take advantage of a cool local joint? Or is this weeks awesome coupon deal your driving force? I like to take the time to look into a restaurants online menu, focusing on a price point, children’s options, as well as online reviews and if reservations are needed. Because let’s face it, food ranks at the top of the list for expenses and is a great place to trim the fat when you need to.

A couple of questions to consider:

  • Complementary breakfast; if offered would you take advantage of this?
  • Would you prefer the option to cook in our own kitchen?
  • On vacations does your family tend to snack more or do you prefer sit down meals?

Once you have a pretty good handle on the dining portion, take the time to jot down your family’s basic ideas. Including a cost estimation chart.

Next plan out the adventures you will go on for that day. Start by looking into each possible activity’s website. Find out things like, how much is the entrance fee? Would your family really enjoy this activity, if so for how long? Hours of operation. A list of scheduled closure times. Look for an event calendar of upcoming shows with the schedule information. Remember to be detailed!

Consider things like, would there be any souvenirs that you’d want to buy while there? What would a good budget be for that? If you’re going to be shopping while on vacation, how are you planning on bringing your goodies home?

What’s your idea for getting around? Take some time and plan ahead for things like parking fee’s or mass transits passes and schedules.

Below is the final draft of our list. Keep in mind, we made four rough drafts before we settled on this one. 🙂

Fred:

  • Amount of vacation time needed off: 5 days from work, 8 days total.
  • Budget for the overall vacation: Goal $4,500.00/ Final ‘working’ budget of $5,500.00
  • When we want to go: March of 2018
  • Average Weather: Highs for March are 68, with a low of 46. 2.5 inches of rain total for the month are possible.

Lily:

  • Enough time to see the parts of the park that interest her: We agreed that 2 days in the park was enough. Seeing just 1 park per day.
  • Wants to avoid long lines: Based on crowd tracker sites, in would appear that March before or after spring break, saw fewer people on average.
  • Wants to avoid closed rides: We checked out, for free, sites like Touringplans.com, which provides an advanced notice list of rides closures and ending attractions. We plan to check the site often as our vacation draws closer.
  • Must have a swimming pool: Will do our best to find a place with a pool.

Jenny:

  • Wants a minimal amount of time standing in line: Avoid peak season times, Holidays and weekends!
  • Needs to have plenty of places to sit down or lean against, to have a break: Yes, according to Disneyland Parks website there are a lot of benches in the park as well as seating areas to eat.
  • Location: After a lot of thought, we decided on Days Inn in Buena Park, Ca. A short 13 minutes to Disneyland. Only 35 minutes to LAX and you could be in Santa Monica in a quick 45 minutes. Not only that but the location was prime for our needs. With a couple of fast food options close and a Starbucks, that while we wished was a Dutch Bro’s Coffee, we’d be happy to take what we could get. There were also a couple of grocery stores, a Denny’s and a movie theater. Oh yeah the hotel also has a swimming pool. So honestly it was really all we ask for.
  • Transportation: We enjoy being able to take in all of the sights an area has to offer, so we agreed that renting a small compact car would be our best option.
  • Other things to do while in California: Dolphin and Whale watching in Long Beach, Pirate’s Dinner Adventure in Buena Park, Hollywood Sign and Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, Venice Beach, Venice Canals, Venice Beach shopping in Venice Beach, Main Street and the Pier in Santa Monica, Star Echo Station in Culver City and the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum in Los Angeles.

Well, this is a good place to leave you, as we are also on this step. With my homework in hand, I’m eager to check back in with an up date and a path to step 3!

I’ll check back in soon!

Jenny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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