My family of five (me, DW, girls 8, 6 & 3) had our first trip for the girls to Disneyland earlier this month (was my fourth time, but the last one was in 1989). We were fortunate that my parents also agreed to join us. We decided to make this trip as easy as possible so concentrated only on the Disney Resort, and used the Disneyland Express bus so that we would not have to take car seats.
Day 1 - Like most savvy travelers from the Greater Vancouver area, we fly out of Bellingham, Washington when we can because airfares are so much cheaper. We flew Alaska Airlines via Seattle to Santa Ana, and were happy with the flights. We had a tight connection to make in Seattle, and basically just walked straight on to the Santa Ana flight due to our Seattle flight having to wait on the tarmac at sea-Tac for a gate to open. My belief is that the Bellingham-Seattle connector probably gets more & more backed up the later in day that it runs.
Once in Santa Ana, we waited for the Disneyland Express bus. Somewhat surprisingly, once we got on it, their was only our family, one more family of five, and many singles and couples. My assumption was that it would be mainly families. Anyways, the first stop was the Disneyland Hotel, and all of the singles and couples got off, just leaving the two families. I made a comment to the other Dad about "how families couldn't afford to stay at posh resorts like this". He gave me a smile in return, but didn't say anything. His family got off at the next stop, the Grand Californian. Doh! We continued on to our hotel the Hampton Inn & Suites on Harbour Blvd. We chose this hotel because my wife wanted a suite, I wanted a free breakfast, the price was good and the reviews were very good. We really enjoyed our stay (see my review of the hotel for more details). We had dinner at Red Robin, also good, and pretty much called it a night.
We took the 8:45 shuttle from the hotel to the park. The lines to get in were good. We took the obligatory photos in front of the train station, walked down Main Street, more photos in front of the Castle, before getting to the meat of the day - rides! (Okay, I was probably as much, or more excited than my girls). We walked into Fantasyland, and looked at the line for Peter Pan, which was already 30 minutes, and promptly went to Mr Toad's Wild Ride which only had a 10 minute wait. Mr Toad's was one of my favorite rides when I was nine & thirteen, so it should be my girls favorite too, right? Not so much. My eight year old loved it, the six year old was shell shocked and the three year old was traumatized, so much that she burst into tears everytime a ride would go into a tunnel (including It's a Small World & Winnie the Pooh) for the rest of the trip. The rest of our time on this day was trying to undo the damage of my decision by going on all of the really tame rides in Fantasyland & Toon Town. The girls also saw a performance at the Princess Faire where they got to learn how to act around a princess and saw Cinderella, Snow White & Aurora. We left around 1:30 to give the little one a nap and let the older ones have a swim. We had dinner at Buca de Beppo, very good, and then headed back to the park to see Fantasmic and the Fireworks. We got on the Jungle Cruise and saw tarzan's Treehouse before finding a spot for the shows. All of us loved the fireworks, but Fantasmic was a bit intense at times for the younger two girls.