Did you know that your olfactory sense is very closely related to your memory? When I smell moth balls, I am instantly transported to my great grandma's farm house in Nebraska. I can see the rhubarb growing beneath the kitchen window. There was a white wooden staircase leading from the side of the house to the backyard. I can see the clothes blowing on the clothing line outside in the hot, muggy wind. The house had four floors - basement, first floor, second floor, and the attic. The kids went to the attic to look through her treasures. This is where the moth balls were. I haven't been to that house in over twenty years, and yet the smell of moth balls makes it seem like I was there yesterday. The sense of smell is very powerful.
Therefore, Tip #1: before you leave on your trip, pick up a new air freshener for your car, and a matching scent air freshener for your hotel. Get a scent you don't normally use. If you use pumpkin in your house, your brain won't solely associate pumpkin with your vacation. Put your new air freshener in your car before you leave. And when you get to the hotel, set up your air freshener. Your brain will associate this smell with these experiences, and when you smell it again, you will be transported back to your fond family vacation memories. Wild, right?
Tip #2: Child carriers. Disneyland rents strollers for a very reasonable price. If your children don't normally use strollers, but are still too young to walk all day, renting a stroller each day won't break the bank. And, it's one less thing to purchase and/or pack. Another item I would bring is a carrier. If you are into babywearing, you will love this. If you haven't heard of babywearing, Google it. NOW. It is the most amazing concept ever for mommies. I borrowed an SCC (soft structured carrier) from my AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL girlfriend. Here are several options, and completely worth the investment, because you will use this after you return home. My favorite is the Boba. If you have a child that still naps, they will most likely snooze in this thing, allowing you to stay at the park for the entire day.
Bonus Tip: If you bring or rent a stroller, bring a bike lock. The first time I went to Disneyland, our stroller was stolen (or mistakenly taken). I was really upset, and determined to not let this happen again. We used the bike lock to secure the stroller to a post.
Tip #3: If you wish to partake in a special meal at the park (Blue Bayou or a character meal), only eat one meal per day at Disneyland. Their food is expensive, and some of the food is not that great. Each day, we had breakfast at the hotel in the morning, filled our insulated backpack with snacks (beef jerky, fruit, carrots, nuts, protein bars), and sandwiches. Bonus was that we could eat meals while waiting in line, so the kids were distracted! Most restaurants require a reservation - you will need to make these reservations well in advance of your trip. At least 30 days. I recommend making lunch the meal you have at a restaurant. Plan to have your reservation around 11-11:30 so that you are eating by noon. You will eat the most food during this meal, so your tummies will remain full for most of the afternoon. It is also a nice way to break up the walking and waiting in line.
Bonus Tip: If you have a dietary restriction, do not be afraid to mention it. My son and I are gluten free, and everywhere we went provided us with a separate menu. There were tons of gluten free options (including desserts and yummy bread rolls!). I dislike making a big deal of being gluten free because it is such a "fad" right now. Usually I just look for something that will work for me on the regular menu. But it is a real thing, and someone told me that Disneyland had great GF options. I was very happy to see my son scarf down his rolls and desserts, something he doesn't usually get to do when we eat out.
Root beer float with Mickey sprinkles!
Halloween decor was amazing!
Halloween Party bracelet.
Tip #5: This is a how to for the peek-a-boo rice game I made before the trip. I took a heavy duty plastic bag, and filled it half way with rice. Then I went around the house and found small items to add. This one included a clothes pin, a green wooden triangle block, a bracelet, a piece of candy, a lego, a toy apple, and I'm sure a few other things. Then I zipped it up and taped the top of the bag shut with washi tape. I asked the kids to find items based on color, size, shape. It was great entertainment for them!
Tip #6: Download the Disneyland app. This benefits you two ways. First, it's an instant map of the park, and it shows you exactly where you are in the park. Even though I did print the Disneyland map, and they hand them out like crazy in the park, the map is really busy and can be confusing when two children are running circles around you. Second, it tells you how long the wait is for rides!
Tip #7: Put your phone on battery save mode, and trade off phone usage. For example, I keep my phone on for the first half of the day (still with battery save on), and Mr. Perfect turns his off until the afternoon. Then we switch. This can save a lot of battery life. A long day at Disneyland using your camera, posting to Facebook, texting photos to your family, will drain your battery very quickly. There aren't a ton of places to charge your phone, nor is that how you want to spend your time at Disneyland! Here are more tips on how to prolong your battery life.
Finally, Tip #8: Make a book of your adventure! I love Blurb. Each year I make a photo book of our year for the grandparents. This year, our Disneyland photos will have their own separate book.
I hope these tips and the other information I have provided helps you have an organized and successful family vacation, either to Disneyland or elsewhere. Happy Organizing!!