OK, I admit it, I got a little teary-eyed while riding “It’s a Small World” on a recent trip to Disneyland.
Even a mid-30s, worldly-wise adult can get nostalgic while watching her 5-year-old stare with open-mouthed amazement at the animated children singing the familiar song. It is the same wonder I felt when I was 5.
The Magic Kingdom is just that … magical.
Each summer, Inland Northwest residents are among those from around the nation who journey to Disneyland, leaving behind the cares of today as they venture into the worlds of tomorrow, yesteryear and fantasy.
Since a family vacation to Disneyland is no small feat, here are some tips for a memorable trip:
Try to get to Disneyland 30-minutes prior to the scheduled opening (call 714-999-4565 for hours of operation). Park officials are known for arbitrarily opening the gates early and those extra minutes will help visitors take advantage of fewer lines on the more popular attractions.
Disneyland guests should wear comfortable shoes and light clothing. Rather than a shoulder bag, consider a belt purse (fanny pack) filled with sunglasses, sunscreen, a disposable camera and a bottle of water.
Light Magic is the newest Disney extravaganza with several evening performances, depending on the time of year. The street show is impressive, with more than 100 entertainers and 30 Disney characters singing and dancing. If you plan to see it, stake out your seat at least 45 minutes before show time. The crowds can be daunting, especially in summer.
Strollers are available to rent for $6 a day at the park entrance. Since visiting Disneyland requires extensive walking, a stroller is a good option for a toddler or preschooler. If you bring your own, remember umbrella strollers are easier to maneuver through crowds than the heavier single or double strollers.
Disney policy is rigid about the height requirements established for many rides. Set your child’s expectations that they may be too short to ride some attractions.
Kids must be at least 40 inches tall and 3 years old to ride Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Star Tours. They must be 46 inches tall for the Indiana Jones Adventure. To drive the Autopia cars by themselves, children must be at least 7 years old and 52 inches tall.
The best way to see Mickey Mouse is to visit Mickey’s House in ToonTown. After meandering through his whimsical cottage, guests are ushered into Mickey’s “film studio” in the back. It’s worth the wait as children get a semi-private meeting with Mickey for a couple of minutes for photos and autographs.
If you need lodging, consider the Disneyland Hotel. Savvy shoppers can find packages which include Disneyland passports for each family member, making it a competitive option with other area hotels.
Disneyland Hotel guests receive the bonus of being conveniently located within the Magic Kingdom. A short monorail ride takes them directly into Tomorrowland, bypassing the crowds at the park entrance. Hotel guests are eligible for early admission into the park, which gives them access to attractions an hour or more before the general public. Parents with tired children will enjoy the ease of riding back to the hotel for afternoon naps or a swim in one of three pools.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
MEMO: The Family Track offers notes and information for families. Write to Lynn Gibson, Features Department, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210-1615, or fax (509) 459-5098.
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