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Sam Dobson Writes: Tips For Surviving Disneyland As An Adult

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tips For Surviving Disneyland As An Adult

Yesterday we took an impromptu trip to Disneyland with another couple, one of Blake's besties and his lovely girlfriend. We haven't been in a few years so it felt long overdue. Added bonus, the parks are all decked out for Halloween! We had a blast, but it was a long day and I'm paying for it today. All the walking, the screaming, and bad-for-me food caught up to me fast. No joke, I sat down any moment I could in the last two lines, my voice started getting raspy, and my stomach started feeling heavy on the ride home. Sure enough, this morning I woke up with no voice, sore feet and lower back, and an upset tummy. 

What does this mean? It means I'm getting old and no longer are the days when I could run around a theme park all day and night, eating whatever I want and screaming as loud as I can without any repercussions the next day. I've been blessed with a working Disney family which means I've been to The Magic Kingdom more times than most kids could ever dream of. Now that I've grown up, I've taken up the offer less and less overtime and now I remember why. Clearly, the next time I decide to venture out to Disneyland I'll have to be better prepared. Here are a few tips for surviving Disneyland as an adult. 

1. Plan your timing wisely. 

When I was in middle school and dragged along a few of my closest friends to the most magical place on earth, we would plan to go as early as our parents would take us. We wanted to soak up every minute of Disney fun, so naturally we'd stay until close. That's a long day. Now that we've slowed down a bit, it makes sense to decide on the time of day is important to your experience. Can't miss that firework show? Consider starting your Disney trip late morning or early afternoon to ensure you won't tire before the sky gets lit up. If you prefer sunshine to enjoy those water rides, get an early start. Yesterday we walked through the front gates at just after 11am and had thought it was a possibility we'd stay until the park closed at midnight. In reality, the only reason we stuck around long enough to see the fireworks at 9pm was because we were stuck in line for the last ride of the night. 

2. Wear comfortable shoes. 

I know this may seem like a no-brainer but I've recently found this out the hard way. I've done entire Disney days no problem in a pair of Rainbow sandals many of times with no problem. Yesterday I wore knock-off Van style tennis shoes and my feet were killing me about half way through the day. I started putting my weight along the outer edges of my feet and sitting down on anything I could while waiting in line. I've even had some discomfort today, what the heck!? I guess it's not so fashion-friendly running shoes next time. Trust me, it's easier to focus on the fun when you're feet don't feel like they are about to fall off. 

3. Bring snacks. 

Yes, this is a necessity even for adults without little ankle-biters in tow. Every time I forget to bring a few little things to munch on, I always regret it. My hubby gets "hangry", anger caused by hunger, if he goes too long without food. Aside from keeping my beast fed, it's super handy to have some snacks stowed away. This time I thought I had us covered as I insisted on stopping by Starbucks for a coffee and breakfast sandwich on our way to the park. The lines were long enough that we quickly found ourselves hungry but going from ride to ride. We finally had to consciously make the decision to stop and get food. We ended up needing to stop on our way home between 10 and 11pm for food because we pretty much didn't eat the rest of the day. Bottom line, pack a few granola bars or some trail mix. Your stomach will thank you for it. 

4. Don't forget the alcohol. 

Unless you are a member of the highly exclusive (and expensive) Club 33, you won't be able to find a drop of alcohol in Disneyland. You can, however, pop across the way to California Adventure if what you crave is a refreshing adult drink. Head over to the Pacific Wharf for your choice of half a dozen or so craft beers or a frozen margarita. I'd opt for beer as the margaritas are pre-mixed and quite sugary. If you fancy yourself a wine-o, not to worry, there are a few places you can satisfy your thirst. Grab a glass at Mendocino Terrace, indulge in dinner and a bottle at Wine Country Trattoria, or visit the Sonoma Terrace for a tasting. If you crave something a little stronger, you'll have to head outside the parks to Downtown Disney. I don't recommend going too hard, it most likely won't go well. You could succumb to heat stroke or nausea. Plus, it's Disneyland for crying out loud. If all you want to do is get wasted, go to your local bar. 

5. Download a Disneyland app.

One of the most annoying nuisances at Disneyland is deciding which ride to go on next, making your way through the crowds to the other side of the park, and then discovering the ride in question is either temporarily closed or has a ridiculously long wait. Avoid frustrations like these by downloading an app that allows you to check wait times, show times, and other helpful information. Yesterday, we attempted to get in line for Indiana Jones three times before actually getting in line. It's the one ride Blake's friend, Martin, really wanted to go on and it was the one ride that persisted to break down throughout the day. Halfway through the day, Blake downloaded an app to monitor wait times and we were able to better decide which rides to wait for and when. We ended up getting in line for Indiana Jones upon re-opening after a temporary break down, thanks to the app. We only waited twenty minutes or so, which was a huge improvement over the daily average wait time of 60 plus minutes. There is a good variety of free apps to choose from including the following:
  • Disneyland Wait Times
  • Disneyland Lines from TouringPlans.com
  • Disneyland MouseWait

6. Bring entertainment for lines.

While you're at it, you might as well download some free game apps to keep you busy during long lines. Most days, you'll have an average wait time of 40 to 60 minutes (or longer) for those popular rides (Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion to name a few). Making small talk and getting to know your fellow Disney travelers is fun, don't get me wrong. After a whole day of waiting you start to get bored or just can't think of anything else to talk about. Keep the fun going while you're waiting in line with a game. Try Ellen's Heads Up game or Words With Friends. A game for the whole group is just the thing to keep your mind off the wait and before you know it you'll be flying through the air on your favorite roller coaster. 

What's your tip for an adult Disney day?  

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At October 27, 2014 at 2:06 PM , Anonymous Chris / What I Run Into said...

Great tips! I think they are valid for anyone visiting Disneyland... with or without kids! I remember when there was no alcohol anywhere... now it's in the Parks. I am old.

At October 27, 2014 at 2:55 PM , Anonymous Jane Saunders said...

Yes, great tips! I always have orthotics in my shoes so they always help on those long days of walking. Standing in line for the rides is actually a great time to network if you're an entrepreneur. Ask questions of the people around you. Get to know them and hopefully they'll reciprocate. You never know who you might meet.

At October 27, 2014 at 3:06 PM , Blogger OneTIPsy Chick said...

This is all very true! It took me awhile to figure this out the year we first got season passes!

At October 27, 2014 at 3:25 PM , Blogger Sam Ulmer-Dobson said...

Haha! Thanks Chris :)

At October 27, 2014 at 3:26 PM , Blogger Sam Ulmer-Dobson said...

Such a good point, Jane. I never thought of getting some networking done out of a Disney day but that makes total sense. Thanks for the tip!

At October 27, 2014 at 3:27 PM , Blogger Sam Ulmer-Dobson said...

Thanks for the read, One TIPsy Chick! I've been a regular visitor since I was a toddler and I'm still learning!


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