Archive for November, 2010

Halloween, Disneyland, Mickey Mouse

2009 October Disneyland Trip

Yay! We took a family trip to Disneyland in October.  We didn’t tell the kids . . . they thought that I was going away with friends, and that they were just going to see me off at the airport.  Unfortunately, the agent that checked our tickets at security said “Going to Los Angeles . . .  so you must be going to see Mickey Mouse!”.  Oh well, so much for the surprise of just dragging them onto the plane with us!

We spent 6 days down in Anaheim.  Wil’s cousins, Nina and Mike, Nina’s sister Linda and friend Aileen met us down there for a few days.  We all had so much fun!  Though we didn’t go anywhere other than Disneyland, we still didn’t manage to see everything.  A lot of it was spent lining up to go on rides, or to take pictures with various characters. 

It’s funny how kids are though, and how different siblings can be.  Bel is quite timid and doesn’t want to do anything event remotely scary or thrilling in any way.  Ori on the hand loves anything fast and scary.  So it made going on rides quite a challenge.  In the end, I told Bel that she HAD to try everything at least ONCE!  So under much duress, she finally went on Space Mountain (which she hated, but Ori went on 4-5 times), the Haunted Mansion (which she liked), Pirates of the Caribbean (which she liked) and Splash Mountain (which she loved and made us ride 7-8 times!). 

We actually ended up paying an extra US$120 to attend the Mickey Mouse Trick or Treat party at California Park one night.  It was fantastic and so worth the money.  The kids got a great kick out of trick or treating in the park (and I can’t believe how much candy they gave out), meeting some characters that they hadn’t seen yet, and playing various games.  This is something that is a “must-do” if you head down in October!

Some of my tips if anyone is going down to Disney:

If there is a special event going on that costs the extra $$, it may be well worth it.  Think of it this way…”will this be something the kids will love?”  and “the next time we come back, will they still get the same excitement/sense of awe that they got at this age?”

Halloween, Disneyland, Trick or Treating

Ori Trick-or-Treating in Disneyland

If possible, stay at a hotel that offers full breakfast in the morning.  At the hotel we stayed at, this option was available for an extra $20 per day, making it a cost of $5 per person.  Since we made sure the kids filled up on their protein (i.e. eggs) in the morning, they actually didn’t need a big lunch so had little snacks throughout the day instead which helped to save money.

Booking through BCAA or AAA for tickets may give “added value” if you need those options.  My cousin booked our park passes through AAA (and was only $5 more than the best online pricing I could find) which worked out great for them as they they were able to get parking for every day that we had park passes for.  So that saved a ton of money there.

If you live in Canada, it may be well worth the time and energy to leave from Bellingham, Washington rather than from Vancouver, BC.  Originally I got a quote from a Travel Agent for the “Kids Fly Free” program through Alaska Airlines for 2 adults and 2 children leaving from Vancouver —  $3160.00 CAD for airfare and Best Western accommodations for 6 nights before transportation and park passes.  I managed to find 4 airline tickets for Allegiant Airlines leaving out of Bellingham.  Cost of  was in the area of $900.oo USD for 4 people.

If you have the time and patience, it can be less expensive for you to plan your trip on your own.  I spent a few days on the internet and managed to book our entire trip for $2900.00 USD for 2 adults and 2 children.  The total cost included airfare from Bellingham to LA return for 4 passengers, transportation from LAX to the hotel and return, 6 nights accommodation at the Sheraton Hotel including a full breakfast buffet for 5 mornings (since we didn’t need it for the 6th morning) and 6 day park passes for 2 adults and 2 children. 

If you plan ahead, you can buy bottled water from the hotel vending machine or a corner store before heading into the Park.  Bringing your own snacks will also save you money.  Food and drinks can be expensive in the park. 

In terms of food, you can also save money if you take a moment to observe what each restaurant is serving — sometimes the portions are so big that it can be shared amongst 2-3 people!  For instance, in the Plaza restaurant, the portions are HUGE!  We bought 2 meals only and drinks for less than $30.00 USD and managed to feed the 4 of us.  Originally we had planned to buy the 2 adult meals and 2 kids meals until we saw the size of the food on the plates.  So in the end, we saved about $15-20 for that meal.

Disneyland, Face Painting

Bel with small face painting sitting with Daddy in Ferris WheelOri with her face painted

If you have kids (or am a kid at heart), consider getting their faces painted.  Yes, it can get expensive (I believe it ended up costing around $12-25 per child depending on what is getting done), but it is well worth the money.  The people doing this are incredibly patient and they offer free touch-ups all day long at any of their kiosks!

Face Painting, Disneyland

Ori with her face painted

Consider doing a theme meal.  It gives you (and the kids) a chance to get their pictures taken with at least 4-5 characters without too much of a line-up.  We went to the Princess dinner and had a great time.  When we arrived, the kids got to take their picture with Ariel in a special area.  Then they received paper crowns that they could decorate and wear.  While we were enjoying our 3 course dinner (which was quite good by the way), 4 different princess stopped by our table to talk to the girls and take pictures.  It was a really nice way to ensure that our kids got to take pictures with their favourites and to enjoy some unrushed quality time with them.  Though next time, I want to have breakfast with Lilo and Stitch or maybe Winnie-the-Pooh!  

Disneyland, Winnie the Pooh

Me and my favourite Bear


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