Rediscover Disney with the whole family / ©Disney
May/June 2016

Find the Magic at Any Age

Discover why Disneyland is a fun escape for the whole family

BYDorothy F. Weiner
If you want a weekend getaway that the whole family can enjoy, check out Disneyland® Resort in Anaheim, California, especially if you haven’t been there in a while. There are rides and characters for the kiddos, shows and shopping for parents and grandparents, and the joy of creating special memories for the whole family. Plus, parents and grandparents can tackle Disneyland together, sharing caregiving duties both day and night. 
“The Happiest Place on Earth,” consists of two theme parks — the original Disneyland® Park dating to the 1950s and Disney California Adventure® Park built in 2001. Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect, including a few attractions that should be on your family’s don’t-miss list.
Main Attractions
If you go the classic ride route, you can relive the wonderment you felt riding It’s a Small World for the first time decades ago. Better still, you’ll enjoy seeing it through your little ones’ eyes as they experience it for the first time. The newer California Adventure offers contemporary attractions like Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story Midway Mania, which will thrill the kids because these are the Disney characters they likely know best.  
There is so much to see, it can be exhausting to rush through a park in one day. Explore the parks at your own pace by purchasing a multi-day pass, which you can get at a discount at any AAA Arizona office.
In both parks, use the FastPass® system, which assigns you a specific time to get on a ride instead of having to stand in line. You can’t reserve a second ride until you’ve used your first FastPass, so arrive early, head to a FastPass machine, and reserve the most in-demand ride first. 
Stay Close By
In addition to the Disney hotels, there are many modestly priced accommodations within walking distance of the parks. This makes it convenient if you’d like to head back to the room for naptime or downtime, to grab a quick bite, or just take a break to lounge at the hotel pool before taking a second pass at the parks. 
Disney at Night
Just outside the theme parks, the Downtown Disney® District is bustling with street performances, restaurants, and shopping. It’s a nice change of pace with the kids or a fun spot for adults-only cocktail hours and steak dinners. Grandparents can hang back at the hotel with the kids while parents have dinner, or parents can rest with the kids while their parents enjoy a night out. Another option: Take on attractions not suited for little ones, like California Adventure’s The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
For a magical way to end the day with the entire family, catch the 30-minute nighttime light show extravaganza, World of Color, at California Adventure. It takes place at Paradise Pier against the backdrop of Mickey’s Fun Wheel. Water shoots 200 feet into the air, creating the world’s largest “water screen,” onto which favorite Disney characters and scenes are projected. Now that’s magic!
DOROTHY F. WEINER is a travel writer based in St. Louis.
If You Go
Food with a view: Secure a spot to see World of Color in comfort by making dinner reservations at a restaurant along Paradise Pier. Instead of waiting for hours to get a standing spot, you’ll be enjoying the show at a table while sipping a margarita.
Best Times to Do Disneyland
Let’s face it, Disneyland® is a busy place. But, according AAA Travel experts, if you’re looking for a slightly slower pace, the least busy times to visit are: 
  • The first couple weeks in December
  • The day after Labor Day through mid-November (except for Columbus Day weekend)
  • The first full week of January until President’s Day
  • Mid-April through the third week of May
If your work schedule or your kids’ school holidays aren’t cooperating, here are a few suggestions for making the best of a busy theme park: 
  • Sundays are less busy than Saturdays, unless, of course, the following Monday is a holiday.
  • The park always is less crowded midweek. However, parades and other special activities may happen less frequently (or not at all) and rides are more likely to be closed for maintenance.
Learn More
Interested in booking a trip like this? Visit AAA.com or call your local AAA Travel agent toll-free at 1-888-870-9392.
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