Anaheim with Kids: A Perfect Family Day

by Ellen Buermeyer, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Nov 10th 2010 02:22 PM

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Anaheim with Kids: A Family Vacation

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Anaheim, Calif., is just 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles and is home to the famed Disney parks, Disneyland® Resort and Disney's California Adventure® Park. If you have just one day to spend with young children in Anaheim, you'll want to head straight to Disneyland® Resort to make the most of your time there. There is so much magic to experience on a family vacation in Anaheim with kids, so let's jump in! You can also follow along on an interactive map of the Disneyland® Resort.



Disneyland® Resort
1313 S. Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802
(714) 781-4565
Park hours and ticket prices vary. Please see the website or call for details.

Tickets:
You can buy a single or multiple park ticket ahead of time online at the Disneyland® Resort site. If you'll be going to multiple parks in Southern California, you may want to consider the CityPass, which saves you 30% off the admission of five parks (Disneyland® Resort, Universal Studios, Sea World, and one of the San Diego Zoo properties).


Morning


Try to get to the park as soon as it opens, enjoy a stroll down Main Street, U.S.A. and then head to your right to start your visit in the Tomorrowland® Area. If you have a Star Wars fan in your family, you'll want to get to the first session of the Jedi Training Academy. Check the schedule to find out when it starts. Arrive early, get up close and your young Padawan may be selected to learn how to properly use a lightsaber and eventually battle the dark side of the force. Adults will also love this show; it's filled with dry humor and plenty of Star Wars jokes. This is one of the best things to do in Anaheim with kids, and it's an experience your family will never forget.

Either right before or right after your child graduates to Jedi status, go underwater without ever getting wet on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Your child will see all their favorite characters from the movie here. Lines can be long, so if your schedule allows, you might want to make this your first stop.

Another favorite in the Tomorrowland® Area is the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride, where you compete with your children to see who can score the most points and win against the evil Zurg by hitting targets with your own personal laser gun. As long as the lines are reasonable, you'll want to plan to hit this ride a few times. Beating your score is addicting for adults as well as kids!

Before you leave the land of the future, your kids will also want to blast off in an Astro Orbiter, and bigger kids and adults should definitely make the time for the classic indoor roller coaster, Space Mountain (40" minimum height).

Next, head out to your right and through Sleeping Beauty Castle for a trip to the Fantasyland® Area, home to every princess your child could ever hope to meet. The spot to find them all is the Disney Princess Fantasy Faire. One of the best family vacation ideas for young kids in this area is Peter Pan's Flight, where you'll climb aboard Captain Hook's ship and fly over and through Never Land on an amazing adventure. If your children are big and brave enough, try the Matterhorn Bobsleds (35" height minimum), a twisting, turning rollercoaster that is not for the faint of heart. You might even see the Abominable Snowman!


Afternoon


At this point, you will probably be ready for lunch. Frugal travelers pack a lunch for their families, settle on a bench to eat and then get back to the fun. Otherwise, you can simply run into the nearest park restaurant that fits your family's fancy.

Post lunch, turn right after the Matterhorn Bobsleds to head to Mickey's Toontown®. This is the place to meet the mouse himself, along with all of his friends. They're all in or near their own houses, so stop by and visit with whoever you'd like. Don't forget your autograph book!

Speaking of autograph books, here's a tip: buy a photo album with pages or a spiral-bound sketchbook at your local craft store before you leave on your family vacation with the kids. Have the characters sign the right side pages and then, when you get home, put the photos of your kids with the characters on the left-hand side.

In Mickey's Toontown®, one ride adventurous children will want to go on again and again is Gadget's Go Coaster (35" height minimum), a short, fast rollercoaster with plenty to look at along the way. The lines tend to be short here, so they can ride as often as they'd like.

If your children get tired, you can head back to the hotel to take a nap, or if the family is up to it, press on. There are only a few additional recommended things to do in Anaheim with the kids before you should call it a day.

Go back through the Fantasyland® Area and head to the right to make your way to the New Orleans Square® Area. The must-ride attraction in this area is the Pirates of the Caribbean. You'll sing along to "Yo Ho Ho" and see how pirates, including Jack Sparrow, pillaged the unfortunate towns where they docked. Then, stay right and head to the Adventureland® Area to hop on the Jungle Cruise, where you'll embark on a seven-minute tour through the most exciting rivers in the world.


Evening


Grab some dinner in the park or find a spot on the strip right outside of the Disneyland® Resort called South Harbor Boulevard. There are restaurants ranging from Denny's to Mimi's Café to Morton's Steakhouse. You'll be sure to find something that meets your family's needs.

Denny's
2080 S. Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802
(714) 750-5120
Open 24 hours

Mimi's Café
1400 S. Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802
(714) 956-2223
Mon-Sun 7AM-11PM

Morton's Steakhouse
1895 S. Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802
(714) 621-0101
Bar: Mon-Sat 4:30PM-11PM, Sun 4:30PM-10PM
Dining Room: Mon-Sat 5:30PM-11PM, Sun 5PM-10PM

If your children are still awake and functional, you should definitely head back into the park after dinner to see either the fireworks show or, even better, Fantasmic!, an event that showcases many familiar Disney scenes through Mickey's dreams using both live action and video clips projected on water. It's the perfect way to end your family vacation with kids in Anaheim and is truly not to be missed!
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