14.9 #8653 (DL Qual #0

Feb 28, 2013 10:12 AM  Disneyland Talk Land
Hey everyone! I am new to this all so I was looking for some advice. My wife and I are planning a trip to Disneyland for March 19th - 22nd, 2013. We have 7 children with the oldest being 12 and the youngest are 1.5 year old twins. We have not been to Disneyland in 7-8 years (when we only had 3 children) so we were looking for good plans/ideas on how to tackle the parks with such a large group. Are we completely insane? I thought time would be great because it would not be crowded but then trying to find a hotel has been a nightmare so I am starting to get a little worried that it will be so crowded. I guess I am looking for advice on seeing everything with such a large group and some inexpensive dining options for our family. Do they still have the "parent swap" on the rides and if so, please remind me how they work? Can I bring in snacks/water bottles for the kids? What is the best time to get a seat/spot for World of Color and Fantasmic? As you can see, I have a lot of questions. We are super excited to do this but we are feeling a little underprepared. Thanks for all your assistance.

Yes bring food etc for the kids, just no glass containers. This saves a lot of money on snacks, purchase special snacks so they don't feel left out. Give each of the kids a dollar amount they can spend on a snack/souvenir. Go when park opens and you can ride most things in the first hour and then enjoy the rest of the day with fast passes. Get fp's for the older kids for Space Mountain/Splash and one of you can wait with the little ones at the tables on the backside of Pizza Port. If you want to split up send one parent to Fantasyland and the other to Tomorrowland to conquer a lot of attractions, then join up for the rest of the day. - ShariRenee  8577.7 #9 10:18AM
Oh and have a great time and post pics! - ShariRenee  8577.7 #9 10:19AM
Welcome! Doing DL with a big group is do-able. To answer your questions: Yes, they still have the parent swap for attractions, you can bring in your own food/drinks. For Fantasmic, for the 9pm show, 8:15 is a good time to start claiming a spot. If not, then go to the 10:30 show which is a lot less crowded. Also, for WOC the 10:15 show is less crowded too. - BaseballMickey_CM  7599.7 #11 10:18AM
If you plan on seeing both the fireworks and Fantasmic in the same day, stake out a place for the fireworks on Main Street, then after the fireworks head straight to Fantasmic for the second showing. They will clean out the area for the first show then let everyone in at the same time. The second showing is much less crowded than the first show. Enjoy your trip! - paintedflowers28  9.7 #11218 12:59PM
Hi. Parent swap is still available on some attractions. You ask for the card with the cm at the whining if the line and you all can wait together. When you get to loading you can go trough the exit and then you plus 1 other can go through the exit and get on. I think lol. See instructions on card. Yes you can bring your own water and food just not in glass containers. For WOC get your fastpass by GRR in the morning an return when te ticket says. Fantasmic I would suggest second show, just be waiting by haunted mansion area by frontier land do you can go right in. Or you can wait or the first show I would suggest at least 1-1.5 hours depending on where you wan to sit. Just have fun and go with the flow. - TikiJOSEsWingman  332.4 #733 10:19AM
This will be spring break season so it will be a tad more crowded. You can bring snacks and drinks into park, just no glass and no alcohol. They do have parent swap on some attractions( not sure if on most). For WOC seating , use your ticket to get a fast pass for seating. Blue section is probably what you'll get. You'll want to get near center and against a gate with no poles blocking you for best view. For Fantasmic, get a seat a few hours before show by having someone sit in that area with blankets to save spots. - Villescas8  606.9 #336 10:20AM
Get the unoffical guide to DL at a local bookstore. has lots of great tips and touring plans and (I think) has info on hotels for large groups. - GoofyMom77  904.1 #203 10:24AM
lol, so many questions!! I love a big family, my husband is 1 of 8 kids. You are not insane, you are smart for wanting to create these memories with your kiddos. However, it will be crowded because it is Spring Break season. I'll try and help with the food questions...You can bring in snacks/waters/juices/sodas as long as they are in plastic containers. A small cooler bag is also perfectly fine. For meals if you aren't into cereal/milk/fruit in the hotel room, I would go to Denny's for a cheapish breakfast. I would carry in lunch items (sandwiches, etc) and then probably eat dinner in the parks...there are affordable options, ex: corn dogs are huge and come with apples or chips for under $7, you can get a whole Pizza Port pizza for around $35, (I don't think the pizza is that bad.). If you are driving into the parks, stash a big ice chest in your car and refresh your chilled drinks/snacks/lunch as needed. - Linzee  1188.8 #146 10:27AM
Linzee, sorry for all of the questions. But thank you so much for your assistance. Your comments on food choices are helpful. We we t to Disneyland almost every year when I was growing up so I should be a little more comfortable. I even marched down Main Street with my high school band all four years. So I am very Familiar with the lay out. But I am used to running around with a group of 2-4 not 9. I'm sure it will all come back to me like riding a bike once I walk through the main gates. Anything else you can think of or some suggestions on your favorite things to hit on you visits would be great. Thanks again. - jazsdad  14.9 #8653 12:06PM
I think it would be fun for you to sit down with your wife and older kids, pull up the DL website and make a list of things you all want to see/do. Vote on the *first ride* so you know where you are heading when you first get in. Utilize (and help enter) the wait times on here. Make sure you understand Fast Passes. Take your time and don't rush through the parks😊. - Linzee  1188.8 #146 12:54PM
We're a family of 8. 3 adults and 5 kids ranging from 2-15. We've always had fun, sometimes we split up, and some of us take the littler kids in bugs land or tame rides, while the other adults and bigs go on the faster rides :) we take our own snacks most of the time, and we love Earl of Sandwich, and it's one of the cheapest. Sometimes we walk across the street to Denny's and McDonald's also :) - GarnerPhotography  324.9 #776 10:37AM
That's not crazy at all. I have gone with my family of 10 before. We stay at the anaheim desert inn because they have rooms big enough for all of us. You should have booked a hotel long ago. Even though it isn't that busy of a time hotels still full up fast. Being snacks in for in between meals and then split meals or order off the kids menu to save money - rachelelizabeth  189.5 #2125 10:50AM
Maybe they can rent someone's time share. It may be cheaper than looking for a hotel room for that many people - GoofyMom77  904.1 #203 10:55AM
That's a good idea too. I looked and they still had the big four queen and a pull out couch available for March 19-21 but no room on the 22nd. - rachelelizabeth  189.5 #2125 11:03AM
Double strollers don't fit in some doorways in main st. So towards the end of the day when the minis are sleeping someone will have to wait outside with the stroller. I also recomend. Strollers with a lot of storage space, backpacks can get heavy and annoying. Get there as early as possible since its not as hot and less crowds at opening. Mark all your kids with your cell # and name on a bracelet or necklace in case they get lost. Unless you have 7 eyes like the evil queen - philliprocks  1319.2 #132 11:09AM
Nooe, no 7 parents here. Well my wife says that she has eyes in the back of her head. :) I love the bracket/necklace idea for the kids. I never thought of that and that would calm a lot of fears of my kids wondering around looking for us and CM trying to locate me or my wife. - jazsdad  14.9 #8653 11:56AM
Oops . No 7 eyed parents here... - jazsdad  14.9 #8653 1:10PM
I found a vendor online that makes dog tags in all different colors, and had them engraved with emergency contact info. I think for two of them, it was about $8. They came with little key-chains that the kids put on their lanyards (or else it would have been on their beltloops or something). - jmgphx  323.1 #789 1:12PM
Wow! Thank you so much everyone. I am feeling a lot more confident in our decision to go. I am just worried about corralling the kids through large crowds of people. I agree with some of the comments about booking a hotel earlier. I just received my bonus check from work so since the money is available now, we are booking now. I was trying to search the school districts in the Los Angeles area and most of them are on spring break the week after we are planning on being there. So hopefully the crowds will be lighter. Since I haven't been in a few years, what rides should we tackle first? In California Adventure, should we immediately go to Car's Land and hit those rides? In Disneyland, which way do you suggest to see the park, start with Adventureland and end with Tomorrowland or vice versa. Eitherway, we are going to have a blast. I will keep you all posted and post pictures of our trip. - jazsdad  14.9 #8653 11:25AM
DCA, definitely Cars Land. Maybe one of you can go to Racers w/the older kids and the other can get FP's for later (they go really really fast). DL,both choices are good! Space or Splash, start with either and have a great time! - ShariRenee  8577.7 #9 11:28AM
Start in frontierland and go clockwise. Its less crowded that direction. When you go to california adventure start early in the morning at cars land. Lines get long fast. As for the hotel you dont have to pay for it when you get a reservation. You pay when you arrive. - rachelelizabeth  189.5 #2125 11:30AM
Rachel - some vacation sites (like getawaytoday.com, hotels.com, etc.) require payment up front. - jmgphx  323.1 #789 1:13PM
You can pack a lunch and leave it in lockers either on Main Street, Picnic area between parks or Buena Vista St in DCA. There are some great attractions where you can let the kids loose a bit (with little to no lines) such as Rivercreek challenge, Toon town, Tom Sayer Island, Tarzan's Treehouse, and Animation Academy. I usually save these for mid-day when the park gets crowded. - NikkiMickey  1686.3 #99 11:39AM
Good point and if little ones nap it's nice and quiet to sit on & watch the great movie clips on the big screens. - ShariRenee  8577.7 #9 11:43AM
ugh sorry: sit on couch. - ShariRenee  8577.7 #9 11:44AM
pfft, i sit on the floor smack center of the room with my legs stretched out lol - GoofyMom77  904.1 #203 11:51AM
My number one recommendation is to get to the park before it opens. If you have the magic morning option, where you are allowed in one hour before park opening, then use that, too. More people tend to show up throughout the day, so even during an expected crowded week, you can get a lot accomplished during the first few hours of the day. We were there last summer one day after Carsland opened and never felt that it was too crowded for us in either park. Honestly! Have fun! You will have a blast! - MeridaFan  4243.7 #34 11:45AM
Getting more and more excited the more I read everyone's posts and suggestions. Has any one tried Ariel's Grotto for a character dining experience. Some friends said that it is amazing but for the price for my large family, they better let me pull the sword from the stone or something. ;) Can you maximize a visit to Ariel's Grotto in the evening with a great view of World of Color or is that not allowed? Just curious. Keep the suggestions and tips coming everybody. It is all super helpful. - jazsdad  14.9 #8653 12:00PM
If your on a budget i don't think it is worth it for how much it would cost you. It would be fun to do but you could save a lot of money skipping it that could go to a lot of other things. - rachelelizabeth  189.5 #2125 12:12PM
AG no longer has the WOC preffered seating deal. All meals are now character meals with the Princesses, I've heard Mary Poppins makes appreances, too. I went with my daughter (10 at the time) back when they did the WOC thing. We loved the food. Had an appitizer to share, one kids entree and one adults entree, a dessert to share and a couple specialty drinks. The kids drink came with a reusable cup fairies with a light up tinkerbell clip. for boys they get a toy story cup with a light up buzz lightyear clip. My son (3 at the time) was asleep, so nothing for him. They did let me bring my stroller down so he could remain asleep. Otherwise, it would be with the other strollers parked outside the entrance. The total for just that was $90. - GoofyMom77  904.1 #203 12:13PM
If you want to get FP's for WOC without having to stand in line for them and on a budget, I'd go with the picnics. It's cold food like sandwiches, salads, and cold fried chicken. You pick it up and can eat anywhere and it used to come with a WOC tote bag (not sure if it still does) and everyone has a pass for WOC and a decent meal without a heafty price tag - GoofyMom77  904.1 #203 12:17PM
I believe the cove has great seating for world of color but I havent experienced it myself. Anyone? - DisneyMe2Death  875.0 #212 12:30PM
If you have big eaters, I want to suggest the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ. It's all you can eat ribs, chicken, slaw, baked beans, and cornbread for lunch. Add corn on the cob and sausage to the dinner menu. Food is brought to you, so not a buffet where you have to go fetch you food. Dessert is large enough to share with at least four people, but costs extra. We get the chocolate chip cookie bake with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge. I hear the cobbler is good, but I haven't tried it. - GoofyMom77  904.1 #203 12:21PM
Is Big Thunder Ranch BBQ open right now? I assumed (I know, I know) that it was closed right now because of the construction in the area. - jmgphx  323.1 #789 12:42PM
@jmgphx the open that area on the weekends at least it was open when I was there last - MrsGrumpy2002  209.2 #1885 1:24PM
It's also about $30 each, I don't know if they want to spend $300 on lunch. - bluefairy  643.8 #313 5:18PM
Another thought on your meals--my youngest is 7 now, but before she turned 3, the restaurants would provide a smaller meal for her at no cost. Maybe someone with little ones knows if they still do this. It was a nice little perk. I remember at Ariel's Grotto they would make a hot dog into an octopus, and also served a little Mac and cheese. We also did not pay for her at Goofy's Kitchen. - MeridaFan  4243.7 #34 1:06PM
Kids eat free under 3 at character dining, I believe. - bluefairy  643.8 #313 5:02PM

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