Sunday, November 29, 2009

Santa Claus and Reindeer at Big Thunder Ranch Disneyland

Yes, the holidays are here and Big Thunder Ranch at Disneyland is a mandatory stop during the holidays.  If your kids haven't seen real reindeer up close and personal, be sure to make a stop in to Big Thunder Ranch (behind Big Thunder Railroad).  You'll also be able to stop in to get pictures with the Disneyland Santa Claus (our favorite in Southern California and the only Santa Claus we visit in our household!).  It's all free and if you time it right you won't have a long wait. 

You can bring your own camera or have a photo taken on the PhotoPass system.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Small World Holiday

I love Disneyland during the holidays.. Who am I kidding? I love Diseneyland pretty much any day of the year but especially during the holidays. I think my absolute favorite thing about Disneyland during the holidays is the tranformation of Small World to Small World Holiday. I absolutely love it and waited last year almost an hour to ride it.

If you are planning on heading to the parks during the next couple of weeks and you want to visit Small World Holiday,  I would either go very early or head towards the end of the day(about 45 minutes after fireworks). I personally love heading there at the end of the day, when it is alive with color, lights and a show every time the clock strikes 15,30,45 or the top of the hour.

Not only is Small World Holiday an incredible ride, it is one of the best spots to catch the firework show and watch the snow fall. Small World Holiday is definitely worth the wait!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey Time at Disneyland

What happens to the Presidentially pardoned turkeys?  Well, if you've walked through Big Thunder Ranch in Disneyland's Frontierland around Thanksgiving time in the past few years you know they now go to the Merriest Place on Earth - Disneyland!

I spoke with a Disneyland cast member at the ranch yesterday and she confirmed that the turkey is set to arrive today with their entourage (which could be considered the highest trained security team a turkey could ever dream to have).  It's been reported that the plane it arrives on is temporarily named "Turkey One".

Pop on over and say hi to "Courage" the official White House Turkey "pardoned" by President Obama earlier today!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finding Nemo Submarine Adventure

We've loved this ride since the first day it opened.  Scratch that, since before it was even announced it was going to be there.  I can remember when Finding Nemo first came out in theaters and was a smash hit, thinking that it would make the perfect ride in the (at the time) vacant lagoon in Tomorrowland at Disneyland.  We watched and waited in anticipation for the ride to be completed and yes, you may have guessed it - we waited in line for 3 1/2 hours on the opening day to be some of the first people to ride it.  Yes, then we went back a couple days later and waited another 3 hours.  The kids loved the ride that much.  It really is a cute ride, even after 3 1/2 hours of waiting in line.

It's great for families with kids of all ages (only thing to note is there is one short scene where the lights go out and there's a pretend electrical issue - this could scare some smaller children).  Be prepared to climb down the very narrow curved staircase to enter the boat.  There is also a non-moving special viewing area for handicapped guests.

The technology used is state of the art and is actually tough to figure out how they make certain effects work.  For those curious, there are silk screens with images/videos projected on to them to give the effect of the actual characters moving around and swimming with you under water blended with actual underwater scenes.

We've now been on this ride dozens of times since it opened, but one time that stands out in my mind as just really neat was the time that the fireworks were just beginning as we were loading in to the submarines.  It was a Disney Magic Moment.  Riding Finding Nemo at night time is also a different experience than during the day because in the beginning, the lagoon is lit up with colorful lights and it adds to the magic of the ride.  If you haven't been on the ride at night, try it, you'll see what I mean!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

One of our family favorite rides at Disneyland is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  You have to be over 40 inches tall to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the castmembers will check any children close to that height several times (use the Baby Switch passes if you have young children). We love this ride because it is a lot of fun and doesn’t have big drops. You mostly experience a lot of g-forces as you go down several sudden small drops then around the curves. You have one lap bar per row, so I always wrap my arm around Kyle (who is a little smaller) because during some of the sudden drops younger kids bounce up an inch or two. By wrapping my arm around him it solves the problem completely. Do remove any hats- I have seen quite a few almost blown away.  Good to note that one adult can sit with two children in one row.

Our biggest tip about this ride is to be sure to make use of the Fastpasses. You rarely have to wait more than an hour after picking up your Fastpass and in that time you can go ride another ride. Fastpasses are distributed throughout the day unlike Space Mountain. When you are about to enter the queue line to use your Fastpass- get another set of fastpasses. You can do this as soon as you are 1 minute in to your return time window. You’ll be able to get two rides in a very short time no matter how long the queue line is.

Have you ever heard of the “Goat Trick” on this ride? I’m not sure where it really started and I don’t think I actually ever heard of it anywhere before I figured it out, but the first time I heard a reference to “The Goat Trick”, there was no question I knew what it was! Now be very careful not to over think this one, it really is quite simple, just follow a few simple steps the next time you are on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and you’ll soon be sure to be in on the trick!

As you begin to climb hill number two (this is the long climb with the snakes and turtles on the left), position yourself comfortably in the left corner of the seat so you are at an angle looking out the right side of the train. Be sure to stare at the Billy Goat on the raised area on the right and look at it absolutely as long as you can, literally until you can’t see it anymore. You’ll end up really dizzy and disoriented by the end of the turn and it’s just lots of fun.

We highly recommend sitting in row 15 (or close to it), because the ride is more fun that way. Sitting too close to the front of the train, makes for a much less thrilling ride in our opinion. As you crest the hills you are left slowly going over them while the back of the train finishes the climb. You can ask a castmember to seat you at the back of the train, you may have to wait for the next train, but it only adds a couple minutes at the most. Well worth the wait if you ask my kids.

Have you tried the Goat Trick? Post a comment about it!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Picking Rides for Kids and Babies at Disneyland

Going to Disneyland is a magical experience for the whole family and not just the older kids. Juggling the wants of older kids to ride rides and babies is always tough. One of the questions that I am frequently asked is what rides are okay for babies. We started taking our kids well before their first birthdays, so I got pretty good at knowing what my boys were comfortable on. Be sure to read about the baby care centers here, they are a lifesaver when you're at the parks with babies!

Here’s a list of ones that I think are fine to take babies on…

Disneyland Railroad: Great for all ages. A great way to give the kids “down-time” and still ride a ride.

Small World: Great for all ages. Nothing scary at all.

Storybook Canal Boats: Great for all ages. Just plain cute.

Finding Nemo Submarines: Great for all ages. One small scene where the lights briefly go out and there’s a loud sound, but should be fine for most.

Alice in Wonderland: Great for all ages.

Tiki Room: Great for all ages.

Jungle Cruise: Great for all ages.

Winnie the Pooh: Great for all ages.

Casey Jr. Circus Train: Great for all ages.

Peter Pan: Great for all ages.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Mostly great for all ages. You know the temperament of your kids. Don’t take them on this if they are skittish or have a tendency to get spooked. There are two small drops, but as long as you are holding on to them, it’s fine. I’ve seen newborns sleep through the ride in their mother’s arms but I’ve also seen one year olds cry from the moment they got in the boat to the time they get out of the boat.

For when you want to tackle some of the "big" kid rides, be sure to read up on the Rider/Baby Switch program here


Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Merriest Place on Earth is back!!

I absolutely love the holidays and it is my absolute favorite time of the year at the Disneyland Resort. From now through Jan. 3, 2010, the holidays shine more brightly than ever at Disneyland. The holiday season is in full effect and this holiday season, you will be able to enjoy the return of special holiday versions of “it’s a small world” and Haunted Mansion, along with the beautiful holiday d├ęcor, “A Christmas Fantasy” parade and a nightly snowfall on Main Street.  California Adventure will also be celebrating the season with  beautiful decorations and the return of the Electrical Parade on Dec 18th.

I can't wait to head to the park tomorrow. I want to hear from you. Do you love the Resort during the holidays? What is your favorite thing about Merriest Place on Earth? Do you think it's too crowded? We would love to hear from you!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Winner of Disney Bucks!

I'm a little late, but better late than never. Thank you all for entering and for your wonderful suggestions and comments.

The winner of the Kids and Mice $50 Disney bucks is.....(selected by True Random Number Generator



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comment #19 which is... Erin said...

This sounds great! we just got passes so we can take our little one. i will join your facebook page too. I would love to hear about some of the more "hidden" aspects to the resort. things you might not know about just walking in and riding the rides.

Email me at with your info and stay tuned for another fun giveaway. I have two passes to Disneyland to giveaway! Details coming soon!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Disneyland MouseWait App for the iPhone

I’m the proud owner of an iPhone (and iPod Touch) and whenever I find an App that makes my life easier, I rave about it to anyone who will listen… but when it’s one that makes your day at Disneyland far more productive, well let’s just say it’s priceless! The best part is this one really is a free App and its called Disneyland MouseWait by (direct link to iTunes store here).

You can get real time waits for all the rides at Disneyland and California Adventure (as entered by other park guests). I love that it tells you what time the wait was posted at so you can make an estimate as to how accurate it still is (i.e. if a Parade has just ended you know a ton of people are going to be making their way to all the rides and will cause an increase in waits). I’ve used this App many times to plan out what rides have the shortest waits so when you head to next ride you don't find out the wait is too long (my husband hates waiting in line, let’s just say it was the boys and I that waited in line for 3 ½ hours on the day the Finding Nemo Submarines opened! I knew there was no way my husband would wait in that line…)

I’ve used this handy App many times trying to figure out how crowded the park is. We frequently head to Disneyland for dinner and a few rides).

One thing that sets this App apart from the other wait time Apps is that this one has far more features than I have seen on the others (I have several now). There are blackout date calendars, live chats and park hours. You can automatically post Facebook status updates, Tweets on Twitter and monitor real time discussions about the parks in a number of ways. You’ll just have to play around to find all the hidden jewels this App has to offer!

More information about the App can be found here.

The reliability of the App is dependent on guests entering accurate wait times, so the more people use the App – the better!

I’m anxious to hear if any of you are also using it!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pizza Port at Disneyland and Introduction to Katie!

I was more than a little excited when Aracely asked me to blog over here on Kids and Mice (you may recognize me from OCMomActivities). I think it’s because I’m about 95% obsessed with Disneyland (the other 5% of addiction goes to CoffeeBean & Tea Leaf). We are huge Disneyland fans around our house and go on average of once a week if not more! I’m a working wife and mom of two amazing boys (Brett is 7 and Kyle is 6). Over the years I’ve learned lots of fun tips and tricks about Disneyland and am thrilled to have the opportunity to share them with you! Enough about me - I’ll just dive right in…

The Pizza Port in Tomorrowland is one of our families’ favorite places to eat dinner. There are great options for the entire family at a reasonable cost and we love sitting in the outside eating area at the back (near the entrance to Space Mountain). They have a great selection of fresh salads, excellent pizza (by the slice or whole pizza) and super yummy pastas.

Brett and Kyle love getting the kids spaghetti (with sauce & meatballs on the side). Awhile ago they switched to using whole wheat pastas, which I love. Each plate comes with apple slices and carrot slices and a drink. They also have kid sized pizza and chicken & rice for toddlers. For the adults they have wonderful alfredo pasta, penne pasta and spaghetti.

I always get a fresh salad. My favorite one is posted below (Starfield of Greens), but they have caesar salads, oriental chicken salads and several other choices. As you can see it’s made with real salad greens and super sweet tomatoes and has an Italian Vinaigrette dressing. I love it!

My husband always orders the pizza, below is a picture of the BBQ chicken pizza that is so good! They also have Hawaiian pizza, pepperoni, cheese pizza and other favorites by the slice or whole. Be sure to grab some of the amazing focaccia bread & dipping sauce…

What I absolutely love about eating there is that we as a family of four can eat there for $25 (using the 15% AP discount)!

What’s your favorite thing to order at Pizza Port?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What to do when everything is too busy at Disneyland

Visiting Disneyland is always fun, except when it is super busy. I hate waiting in lines... well really, I don't know anyone that likes waiting in one. After many visits, I have discovered that I can  have fun with my kiddos, even on the busiest holidays.

  • One of the first things that I like to do on a busy day is catch a ride on the Disneyland Express.  It's the perfect place to people watch and you can get a pretty good idea of how truly busy the park is by riding it all the way around. We love riding the train and the kids and I like to point to the different attractions, hidden Mickey's, characters, etc.. 
  • Another favorite attraction on a busy day is to catch a show at the Tiki Room. Not only is this show timeless and fun,  it is the perfect place to rest and cool off  on a hot summer day.
  • I love having the kiddos enjoy the play areas in the park. Tom Sawyer's Island and Tarzan's Treehouse are perfect for  the older kids, while the play area in Toontown is a big hit with the little ones.
  • Head over to Tomorrowland and explore Innoventions. There are a variety of activities for the entire family to enjoy. You will find everything from Dance Dance Revolution Stations to building and viewing your own fireworks show.  
  • Take the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough. You will be able to enjoy the story of Sleeping Beauty, told by a series of illustrated storybook pages and 3D animation scenes. It's a must visit if you have a princess fan in the family! 
  • Sit back and enjoy Honey, I Shrunk the Audience 3D show. This air conditioned show is the perfect place to sit down and catch a breather.
There are so many other things to do on a busy day that I think I will write a second part to the post. I want to hear from you. What is your favorite thing to do at Disneyland  on a busy day?