The second day, we succeeded in arriving a little before the amusement park opened, which is the most peaceful time to be there. Crowds grow as the day goes on, so there’s a much more relaxed atmosphere when everyone’s fresh. We ate lunch at Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta where the kids could choose pizza or macaroni and cheese and we could enjoy grown-up cheese ravioli with pesto sauce and pine nuts. Delightful. And the dining area is ample and shaded. We researched restaurants ahead of time to find out which had healthy portions without being very expensive. After lunch, we let the kids rest at the hotel before finishing the day at the park.
I also used a custom itinerary from touring plans. You pay a little to be a member, and then you can choose which rides you want to do and it tells you the most efficient order in which to do them, saving hours of waiting in line. Since my biggest problem with amusement parks is paying so much to stand in line for the majority of the day, this was a God-send. I even chose the dates we visited Disneyland based on their research of crowd levels.
The next day, we drove north seven hours to San Francisco and visited Muir Woods, a redwood forest that’s free. The next day we saw Lombard Street and went to Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands. It’s not crowded and overlooks the Golden Gate bridge. You can also see Alcatraz from there. The fun for the kids, was running around the old military bunkers. We drove farther north and toured the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield (also free). Keep in mind they are shut down for their annual cleaning in June, so if you’d like to see the factory in action, this was not the month to tour! We still enjoyed the videos of people making candy and sampling the flavours. Even if you don’t like jelly beans, you can sample fudge or purchase something from the Chocolate shop!
There is so much to see in California, we barely scratched the surface. If you’re planning to take kids to Disneyland, splurge on a two day pass – especially if they’re not amusement park pros. The first day was fun, but the second day, I could tell they felt more familiar with the environment and were able to take it all in and genuinely enjoy it. Since they were our reason for going, it was money well spent!
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