Afternoon arrival on Day 1
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I'm planning my family's first trip to DL the week of June 30th. We should arrive at our hotel (Grand Californian) around noon on Monday the 30th. What should we do that first afternoon? I've gotten lots of great advice about how to attack a full day, but I'm not sure of the best approach with a mid-day arrival. My kids are 3 and 7. Should we go into the park and just familiarize ourselves without trying to stand in super-long afternoon lines? Hit the pool and go the park in the evening? Appreciate some advice on starting off successfully.
We had a similar issue on our last visit to Disneyland, as we also arrived in the afternoon. We took the time to just do exactly what you've said - familiarise ourselves with the park layout, walk round and get some photos and some ideas of what we wanted to hit the next morning.
On my trip in April, we had an afternoon arrival as well. We scheduled a dinner at one of the resort restaurants and then took advantage of some of the nighttime shows in the park. Based on the calendar, it looks like you have some choices. Fantasmic has two showings at 9:00pm and 10:30pm (Recommend the scond showing as it is less crowded). There is also the Remember...Dreams Come True @ 9:25pm. HTH!
We had an afternoon arrival as well and my kids are 8 and 5. We rested for a bit in the room then we took the monorail into the park and walked around to get our bearings and see what all the girls really wanted to do. Then we took a ride on pirates then headed to the Blue Bayou for dinner! It was a great way to begin our adventure! Nice and mellow but yet felt like we had done something,
Agree that spending time in the parks is the best way, if your package or passport allows for a half day in the park. Take advantage of fireworks or Fantasmic!
If not, dinner at Goofy's Kitchen is a great way to start the magic, as well as an evening shopping in DtD.
I agree with Dawn. One of the night time shows would be a nice introduction, especially if you can catch Remember as that can get cancelled with slight winds. Parade of Dreams is also at 6:30 - that's a nice one!
Here's an idea to consider...take a "stroll" through Disneyland upon your arrival and see if there are any "short" enough lines to do a ride here or there. Then, head over toe DCA where I think your kids will enjoy the rides over in the Bug's Life area and also in the Pier area. The lines will be much better on the DCA side, I think. Then, you can choose to catch the parades in DCA or DL...the one advantage you have in California vs. Florida is that it's just a quick walk of a couple hundred feet to get from one park to another!
For our very first DL trip, I decided to start things off with a bang. I scheduled the Fantasmic Dessert Buffet and it was a perfect start to an absolutely magical trip! I think even standing eating a Mbar watching Fantasmic and then the Remember Dreams Come True Fireworks would be a magical beginning!
Another suggestion would be dinner at Goofy's Kitchen. It was a fun character meal and my Dgang had a blast! The character interaction was the greatest!
I do believe you can buy a ticket after 4:00 is that correct that would save a ton of money. If not, Downtown Disney is right there at the resort. There is so much to do there, it would make for a great first day.