A few weeks ago, we got back from the. most. magical trip to Disneyland and I cannot stop thinking about it! In fact, we had so much fun, that exactly 2 days upon returning…we booked a trip to Walt Disney World for October 2018!
A few things that made this trip extra special, was that Saige and I met Adam there after being away from him (visiting family and friends in Indiana and Ohio) for 3 weeks! We were thrilled to see him again but the most most extra magical part of the trip was that it was Saige’s 3rd Birthday!!! (Bonus, since she didn’t turn 3 until we were already there, her ticket was still free! Highly recommend doing this if you are thinking of taking your almost 3 year old to Disney)
This was our 2nd trip to Disneyland with Saige. The first time she was not even 2 yet and we were en route to our new home in Hawaii. I know some people say you shouldn’t take kids under the age of 5 or 3 or whatever but we honestly have had the best experience both times. Of course, Saige has been into all things Disney for a very long time (highly encouraged by Mama and Daddy of course) and even at 21 months old she recognized many characters and was very excited to meet them. Everything is so magical at this young age and I wouldn’t trade these memories for anything in the world. A couple other things that make Disney with toddlers easier is being flexible, taking the time to go back to your hotel for a nap, avoiding anything with crazy long lines, and having a few “sit-down” meals. Also, in my opinion, Disneyland is much easier than Disney World with very young children because it is soooo much smaller. It is much easier to get in the things that you really want to do, the 2 parks are right next to each other and you can walk there from your hotel (even if you are not staying in a Disneyland hotel)and the lines for rides are much shorter. That being said, we are very much looking forward to our big Disney World trip next year when Saige is 4!
I wanted to share a few things with ya’ll in case anyone is thinking of booking a trip to Disneyland. Including, where we stayed, where we ate, what we wore, and favorite tips and tricks! It’s kind of a lot of info so I’m going to break it up into a few posts. This one includes “where we stayed” and “where we ate”.
Where We Stayed
Since we were booking with our military discount (fellow military members and spouses, you have to take advantage of all the Disney discounts!) we first looked into the Disneyland hotels. They had availability (not always the case because the military rates book up super fast so if you are thinking of going, book your room as far in advance as possible, you can always change or cancel), but only for studio rooms and we reeeaally wanted a 1 bedroom suite since Saige still takes a pretty long afternoon nap and there is nothing worse than sitting in the dark completely silent for 2-3 hours. The Marriott Residence Inn always has an awesome military discount so we ended up booking there. It was a 1 bedroom suite with 2 double beds and a full kitchen and only a 10 minute walk from the park! They also offer free breakfast but since we did character breakfasts (more on that later) that didn’t matter as much to us. It was a nice, new hotel. Super clean and everyone was friendly. Also had a rooftop pool where they played Disney movies at night. Here is the link for them:
Where We Ate
Besides quick service, we made 4 reservations; Breakfast with Minnie and Friends at Plaza Inn, dinner at Wine Country Trattoria, breakfast at Ariel’s Grotto with Ariel and princesses, and Carthay Circle Restaurant.
We love to do Character breakfasts because it is such an easy way for Saige to meet tons of characters without waiting in long lines. Plaza Inn we did on the first day so we could see Minnie and get Saige excited (as if she needed any help). It is a buffet, but since Saige and Adam have dairy allergies, the chef came out and took our orders and brought us an entirely dairy free meal! Even dairy free Mickey waffles!! As for the characters we saw, of course there was Minnie and also, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Chip, Dale, and Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. The characters vary each time.
The first night we went to Wine Country Trattoria for Dinner. We did the package deal with the World of Color show so we had a 3 course prix fixe menu then a preferred viewing area to watch the show in California Adventure that evening. Honestly, I was less impressed with the food, BUT the viewing area was fabulous! We stood in the very front as close as you could get and it was the most magical show. Saige is still talking about it and how much she loved it. Last year she was a bit young and fell asleep during the show, but Adam and I still enjoyed it and loved having a preferred viewing area so you don’t have to fight the crowds or camp out forever.
The next morning we went back to California Adventure for breakfast in Ariel’s Grotto. The park wasn’t open yet at the time of our reservation but they let people with reservations in early. Just getting to walk though the park with zero crowds was an experience in itself! After meeting Ariel we sat at our table and ordered breakfast. They had an allergy menu for us here which made things very easy. The food here is sooo good. My favorite breakfast spot! The princesses are then introduced one at a time then make their way around to everyone’s table. This was Saige’s absolute favorite dining experience! We met Ariel, Cinderella, Tiana, Rapunzel, and Belle!
The last place we had a reservation for was Carthay Circle Restaurant. It is also in California Adventure and is built to look just like the theater where Snow White premiered in 1937. The theme is Hollywood’s Golden Era and it is absolutely stunning inside! This is by far my favorite restaurant at Disneyland. Between the rich history, 1930’s decor, and amazing food and wine, it has never disappointed! That night was also Saige’s 3rd birthday and because I had called ahead, they made her a dairy free birthday cake with Donald Duck (her favorite character) on top! This was an extra cost but sooooo worth it. I will never forget the look of pure joy and surprise on her face!
If you don’t want to do a whole dinner here, at least check out the lobby lounge. It is just as gorgeous and has an amazing cocktail list which includes Walt’s favorite drink and a list of Disney Family wines!
I also wanted to include a couple quick service places we ate at that I thought were fantastic. The French Market in New Orleans Square had an amazing (dairy free) gumbo in a bread bowl which we paired with mojitos and beignets. We sat right by the train tracks and waved to everyone going by. Also, a favorite that we have gone to every time we have been at Disneyland is Harbour Galley. They serve an amazing lobster roll and there are tables tucked back next to the water with a view of Tom Sawer’s Island. It’s so quiet and peaceful back there and makes for a nice break. We like to get a fast pass for Haunted Mansion (which is directly across from the restaurant) and eat our lunch while waiting.
I hope this info is helpful to someone! I will be back with another post on the rest of the details of our trip. If you have any questions about Disneyland please ask! I could honestly talk Disney all day if someone would listen!