The True North Parenting Blog

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Travel Series, By Kimberly Teichrow { part 1 }

Fun with the family on Thunder Mountain Railroad! March, 2011
When researching our family’s Disneyland adventure last year, I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of information online about how to plan our trip. I diligently made notes, bookmarked websites and tried in vain to procure a decent map of the parks in order to plan our attack. I managed to pick up a few trip-enhancing tips from my research – but in the end, the experience of having been through it was way more informative than simply reading about it. I’m hoping that by sharing our family’s experience, you’ll feel a bit less overwhelmed with planning your own family’s vacation – and be able to tailor to your own family’s personality.

We had so much fun in 2010 that we went again in 2011! When else are the kids going to have the Disney sparkle in their eyes – and want to hang out WITH mom and dad?

Check back to The Map over the next few weeks, and follow our family’s experience, including a selection of our favorite photographs! I'll cover lots of topics - all based on our family's experience.

Planning Ahead: “Where to Stay – location, location, location!”
Click on the graphic to view larger!
I had visited Disneyland several times growing up, but the general layout was still a bit fuzzy in my head – despite the satellite view maps I could view online. I wondered which option would be best, to splurge and stay at a Disney hotel (there are three, and I assumed close to the parks), stay at a “good neighbor” hotel (which are near the parks), or bargain hotel and use the Disney parking lots and trams or ART (Anaheim Resort Transit) to actually get to the parks.

I’ve made this graphic of the area around, and including Disneyland/California Adventure to give you a sense of how far you need to walk or drive or shuttle in order to get to the business of having fun in the parks. It is based off of a map, so it is generally to scale, and is intended to help give you a mental overview. What is important to understand is that in order to get into the parks, you have to get to the Plaza between Disneyland and California Adventure – indicated in white. There is an entrance from the Grand Californian as well, and can be taken into consideration if you are getting tickets for both parks.
The orange areas indicate two of the drop-off areas for the parking lot trams or transit buses. When it is busy – the crowds waiting for these shuttles can be significant.

Crossing Harbor Blvd. from our hotel.
For our family, I feel like there is a finite amount of energy we are capable of, before complete exhaustion or meltdowns (for both adults and kids!). When making our hotel decision, I decided that spending a portion of that energy on simply getting to the entrances or back again at the end of the day wasn’t worth the savings of bargain hotels. We chose the Park Vue Inn, indicated in a lovely teal on the map. You can see that in order to get to the park entrances, we walked just about as far as the folks riding the shuttles, and we didn’t have to wait for the shuttle to arrive, and wait for each stop in between the park and our stop. Also, taking a mid-day break wasn’t a huge ordeal as well – which saved us from having to pack around extra clothes for the evening. There are tons of hotels along Harbor Boulevard – a whole string of them… The Park Vue is one of the closest to the only crosswalk to get to the parks, and I have to say, that at the end of our day, I was thankful to not have to walk any farther than we did. As far as cost, I felt it was very competitive, and way less expensive than the Disney Resort Hotels. While staying on a Disney property would have been fun, there was plenty of entertainment at the parks, and our hotel room served as simply a bed, and a place to shower. Had we needed it, it would have also served as a pool-break during the mid-day crowds or heat. 

Where ever you decide to stay on your Disney holiday – be familiar with how to get to and from the park, and gauge your activities accordingly. If it takes a longer time to get back to your bed, and the kids get overtired easily – it might be smart to call it a day sooner, rather than later! While our boys are troopers, we did run into a couple of evenings where my husband had to carry our 80 pound “baby” part of the way home, and we were quite thankful it wasn’t that far away.

Up Next: Planning Ahead: “Wings or Wheels – how to get there”

Kimberly Teichrow, staff photographer for True North Parenting, lives in Bend, Oregon with her family. They love to take adventures, and Kimberly loves to capture them through her lens.

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