We had a wonderful day in Disneyland, thanks to great weather, small crowds, and all the great advice I've gotten from this forum! We stayed at Camelot Inn & Suites, which is very close to the parks (closer than the Disneyland hotels). We began our day with breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen in the Disneyland hotel. We walked there through Downtown Disney, none of which was open yet, but it was an easy, pretty walk, and my kids enjoyed the fountains. We had reservations for 7:00 when they opened, and there were very few families there in the beginning, so we got lots of character attention. We stayed almost an hour and a half, and we saw Goofy, Pluto, Baloo (who was very big and scared my toddler), Belle, Chip, Dale, and Minnie Mouse.
When the park opened, we sprinted (yes, I know many of you disapprove) to Finding Nemo, and we were among the first batch of people on the ride. Then we did Matterhorn Bobsleds with my 2 bigger kids, and my almost-4-year-old found it too scary. Next we did Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, which he also found too scary, then he refused to do any more indoor rides (I specifically avoided Snow White for this reason, but I underestimated his scare threshold). So we rode the Carousel and Casey Jr. Circus Train, which was one of our longest lines of the day. We went on Pinocchio without the little ones, who I think would have been scared by it as well.
Then we spit up, and my husband took the two little boys on the monorail and Autopia, which was the almost-4-year-olds favorite ride of the day. My 7-year-old daughter and I rode Space Mountain twice (no line), Star Tours, and Buzz Lightyear. I LOVED Space Mountain! It was my favorite ride by far...I could have ridden it all day!
All back together again, we rode the train from Tomorrowland to New Orleans Square. My son found the dinosaur area of the train ride too scary...do you notice a recurring theme? After much coaxing, we got him to walk through Tarzan's Treehouse and ride Jungle Cruise, both of which he liked and my toddler loved.
We had a late lunch at the Golden Horseshoe. We got a nice table on the balcony and watched Billy Hill and the Hillbillies cute show. The food line was long and slow, even on a low crowd day at the park. Then we all rode Winnie the Pooh (which was the least scary indoor ride we went on).
My husband then took the boys to Tom Sawyer Island, where my son was very pleased with himself that he was brave enough to explore the caves. My daughter and I rode Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion, both of which we walked right on. We also rode Indiana Jones, which had a short wait.
To finish our day at Disneyland Park, my husband and daughter rode Splash Mountain, which was both of their favorites of the day, while I took the boys on Winnie the Pooh again. We then picked up some Dole Whips and headed over to DCA for the 5:15 Pixar Play Parade. Since we're from the eastern time zone, by this time, my kids were getting really tired. It was good timing to sit and enjoy the parade (the Disneyland parade was at 7, which was too late for us). It featured a lot of movies that my kids love, like Cars, The Incredibles, and Toy Story. That was the end of the day for the boys, but my daughter and I couldn't leave without riding Soarin' (no line), which we both loved.
We really packed in a lot of fun in a short day (10 - 5:45) and we all had a great Disneyland experience. We missed a few rides I would have loved to try -- Peter Pan's Flight (the line was long), Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin (we never made it to Toontown), Honey I Shrunk the Audience (we took a 2nd spin on Space Mountain instead), and the Enchanted Tiki Room (we got there just as they were closing the doors, and we didn't want to wait for the next one). The highlight of the day for my daughter was when Captain Jack Sparrow snuck up behind her and tried to steal her Dole Whip. Even in the presence of a scary pirate, she wasn't letting go of her ice cream!
Disneyland is a wonderful place. I hope we get to visit again some day!