"Take in the whole experience. If you just go from ride to ride, you will end up disappointed that you spent all that money on amusement park rides. Take time to see the shows."
He was a wealth of information and I listened very carefully. I'm so glad that I did! Enjoying the little things made the trip even better. One thing that I failed to mention in my last post is that good shoes are a must. Even my flip-flop wearing daughter opted for sensible shoes for the daily treks through the park!
When you arrive at the parks, your bags will be searched. I will say that this is a pretty smooth and quick process. You are just steps away from your final destination. You will quickly be impressed on how clean everything is kept, even with thousands of people roaming around.
FreebiesIf you are going into Disneyland, be sure and stop in the City Hall to request your 1st time visitor button. They also have buttons for birthdays, anniversaries, and other celebrations. I can't tell you how often I heard people greeted with "Happy Birthday" by a park employee. There are mailboxes all over Disneyland for you to drop your postcards in. Be sure to bring your own stamps because they can't be purchased in the park. I asked a City Hall worker if outgoing mail received a Disney postmark. She told me they do not, but that some of the workers in City Hall will put some sort of Disney stamp on your mail. She stated that not everyone will though. It didn't hurt to ask. I like to send postcards to my co-workers. Unfortunately, I didn't have any stamps so I brought their postcard home with me.
Pin TradingAs mentioned previously, pin trading is huge at Disneyland. Many workers wear lanyards or pouches covered with pins to trade. Pin traders are also located in specific areas in both parks so keep a lookout for those spots. There is a pin trading etiquette, so be sure to read the rules. Some pin traders only trade with children. Knott's Berry Farm also has pin traders and pins. You can purchase pins throughout the parks and really get into it. I personally thought it was fun. By the way, I'm still interested in finding a Sully pin.
PhotographsI love taking pictures and I took a lot of them. I am not a good photographer but for me, its about capturing memories. The parks know that this is true of a lot of people and photographer's abound. The cards pictured above where the Disney Park options. The photopass card is free and you just hand it to the photographer and they will link it to the photos they take. You then register the card and make purchases of the merchandise or prints you wish online. We didn't take many of those pictures and didn't purchase anything but it was good to have just in case there was that one unforgettable moment we wished to purchase. The attractions card was not free. The Disney parks have 5 rides where photos are taken at certain points. At the end of the rides, you can purchase these cards and have your photos linked to them or you can purchase photographs. The least expensive purchase option was $14.95 and the card was $50. The card provides you with the copyright release to print unlimited copies. These pictures were definite memory makers for us so we went with the card option. You can use it as many times as you ride the 5 featured rides in the time period allotted. There were also various photo options at Knott's Berry Farm, but we only purchased 1 photo, so a multi-use card was impractical for us to use there.
FastPassThe lines at the Disney Parks can be quite long. They have created an option to "cut in line" and that option is called a FastPass. Kiosks are located throughout the parks near some of the more popular attractions for you to obtain these FastPasses and they are cost free. You simply slide your ticket into the kiosk and a FastPass is generated. It will tell you when you are able to use it. Now don't think that you can just enter the park and get all your FastPasses and then start using them all. Each pass tells you the time period you have to wait before you can get another one. They are collected before you enter the ride. I was able to keep this one because Autopia wasn't working when our FastPass was valid. They stated they would honor any of them that were valid during the downtime. However, when the ride was up and running again, the line was short and we didn't have to use it. If you want one to put in a memory book you will most likely need to get one that you don't plan to use. This may be a great thing to grab near the end of the day. IMPORTANT - As we were entering California Adventures, the ticket checker informed us that we wanted to get our "World of Color" and Autopia FastPasses when we entered the park. They are the only FastPasses that were located a distance from the attractions, but they disappear early in the day. World of Color FastPasses do not lock you out of other FastPass options, but they are used for crowd control for the nightly show.
Souvenir ShoppingAs with any attraction, souvenirs abound and can be quite pricey. I read one blogger who said that you could purchase souvenirs outside of the park and that would save you some money. That is true. You can even get items at Walmart in Anaheim. However, there will likely be somethings that you really like that you want to purchase in the parks. My #1 advice is don't impulse buy. You will spend tons of money if you do. Look through the shops and decide what you really want and then get that. A word of caution here though is to figure out a way to remember where you originally saw that "gotta have" purchase. Some items are common and can be purchased anywhere. Others are specific to areas. For instance, my son decided the first day that we would save his hard earned money and purchase a fedora. It was only available near the Indiana Jones attraction. Also, we had planned to purchase my husband an item at Disneyland that we had seen in California Adventures thinking it was common enough that it would be available at both attractions. However, we could never find the particular item we wanted in Disneyland and he missed getting it. We will have to find it online or call them if we want it now.
Another piece of advice that I read was to wait until the end of the day so that you don't have to cart packages all over Disneyland. We followed that advice thinking it was a great idea. However, be prepared - the main shops are crowded and loud after the night shows finish as the parks begin to close. There is a huge store in Downtown Disney between the 2 parks where I purchased my mug after we left the park. It seemed like the mug was more expensive there but I'm not sure. Just some things to think about.
Final thoughtsI am so thankful that the Lord provided us with the opportunity to go on this fun vacation. As with anything you do, visiting Disneyland is about so much more than the things you see and the things you buy. It's about being with the ones you love. It's about creating lifelong memories. That's when little things become big.
Have a great day and remember to take some time to enjoy the little things today.