10 Ways to Make Your Disneyland Trip, Perfect.

It is absolutely NO secret that I am a huge, if not fanatical Disney / Star Wars fan. Yes… they go together. That is how they are. That is how it should be. That is how it is 😉

Well, this last week, I had the absolutely pleasure of going to Disneyland for an entire day with my in-laws. It was one of the smoothest and longest staying visits we’ve had for a while. Staying anything longer than 3-4 hours has been challenging because of our toddler. Well, this visit was pretty much as perfect as it could’ve been.

I then realized, I have yet to share my secrets on how to make the most out of a Disneyland trip. So, without further ado… Here are…!!!


10 Ways to Make Your Disneyland Trip, Perfect.

1. Make a flexible plan.
Disneyland Resort has made a bunch of maps available for your perusal. Download these and make a flexible plan as to what areas, attractions, and shows you definitely want to experience, might want to experience, would experience as a target of opportunity, and are only interested if there is time. Map this out, with each target with their own backups based on level of interest & vicinity to walk. By doing this, you would have created a flexible plan with many layers of backups — just in case the parks are insane in the membrane & you need to get the heck outta dodge!

2. Set your expectations.
Depending on when you’re going to visit, it may or may not be entirely crowded or empty in the parks. Also, depending on the time of day that you are visiting the park, it may or may not be feasible to do everything you plan to do. Getting to the park early is always going to be helpful in terms of cramming in attractions. Typically, if you’re there for the Rope Drop (when they let the guests storm the rides), you’ll get onto your first ride as a walk-on, your second as a mere 5-10 minute wait, and your third ride as a 20 minute wait or so. It’s a pretty good deal. Also, if you’re there super late, it’s more often than not that the more aggressive rides are walk-ons. That is, minute Space (now Hyperspace) Mountain and other super popular attractions as such.

3. Good Eats!
The Disneyland Resort is actually a wonderful place to eat. This is particularly true of the restaurants in Disney California Adventure. Regardless of where you go, most of the food is typically themed for a theme park / fair type experience. However, there are hidden sit down gems such as Flo’s Cafe in Car’s Land, The Plaza Inn, and the far side of Disney California Adventure — where the Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta is located. Also, be informed that there definitely exists various toddler menus such as the kids power pack — a healthy mix of fruits, snacks, and munchies, including chocolate milk. The price point is about 50-60% that of an adult meal and tends to contain combinations that kids are more likely to enjoy.

4. Find strategic rest points.
While most guests show up for the exciting rides and like attractions, it’s actually the shows, theaters, and exhibits that I look forward to. These areas are strategic rest points, in shade, cool air, and even air conditioning. Also, look to dark rides such as Ariel’s, Pirates, and even Small World as a way to rest, get out of the crowd, and just take a break from all that hustle and bustle. Oh, one more thing, the Grand Californian Hotel is just a walk down Downtown Disney. And, it has a marvelous lounge on the 1st floor and 3rd — wonderful places to catch a break.

5. Wear out the kiddos.
Whether you’re bringing kids or not, it’s important to be aware of their behavioral patterns… meaning, nap time, food time, and meeeeeelt down time 😉  If you’re coming from varying time zones, there are other elements to consider. However, the principle remains the same: Kids tend to meltdown at the same time, pass out at the same time, and eat at the same time… well, at least window of time. If you’re there without any kiddos, this is your prime opportunity to catch a few more rides. If you ARE there with kiddos, that means that eateries will be jam packed during those times. Use your instincts and your understanding of your kids; get some food before or after the rush.

6. Use hotels to your advantage.
As I mentioned, the Grand Californian is a great rest point. Also, any hotel on property gives you a huge advantage with Disney’s Magic Hour where park hotel guests are privileged to have an extra hour in the park before everyone else even gets to enter. Also, if your hotel isn’t far, be sure to use it as a mid-day staging area. Disney parks tend to have several patterns. Opening rush. 1030 rush. Lunch hour. Mid-day melt down. Afternoon lull. Dinner rush. Fireworks & everyone leaves. Everyone leaves… then, finally, the peace and calm of night. So, if you need a nap or whatever, plan around this and get that break you need. Trust me, you won’t be missing out on ANYTHING by hiding away for a few hours. Remember, Walt Disney wanted the parks to be enjoyed… not be sweltered within.

7. Know how to get around the parks.
Trains, monorail, areas of foot traffic bottlenecking (ie Adventure Land, the castle, and the entrance)… these are all areas to understand in terms of foot traffic. Also, understand that certain routes are blocked off during parade times as well as fireworks. There is also the option of the monorail from Downtown Disney into Tomorrowland. And, there is the side entrance into Disney California Adventure from the Grand Californian Hotel. Knowing your ins & outs are a great way of keeping ahead of the crowd and not getting bottlenecked into slow traffic or crowded areas with long lines. Take paths that are wider, less traveled, and be sure you have a way to double back in case you get roped in during a parade you didn’t intend on standing through.

8. Swim Like Salmon.
Speaking of foot traffic, swim like salmon! Go against foot traffic! As crazy as it sounds… it works. Just about everyone in the parks swim like sardines, in the same patterns and circles. People go into Tomorrowland, circle upward into Fantasyland, then bottle up. People go into Adventureland and immediately reach a bottleneck. People go through Frontierland are likely to rush into Big Thunder Mountain. So, wherever you intend on going, go against the foot traffic. Trust me, the crowd moves slower than those slivers you need to dip, dive, and dodge between to get to where you’re going when moving against it.

9. Know the lines.
Fast passes, switch rider passes (up to 3 guests) for those with children, or wheelchair access, are but some of the best ways of getting in and out of lines quickly. The best strategy is to grab a fast pass, then move into an attraction which doesn’t offer one. By the time you’re out of that first attraction, your fast pass times will open up and you can cut to through that line and enjoy. Repeat, and you can’t go wrong. Also, know which lines go faster. An example: The right side of Its A Small World goes faster than the left because the left side is where wheelchair access transfers in and out of… which takes longer per boat than the other line. Also, certain rides have single rider lines such as Soaring and Radiator Springs Racers. So long as you don’t feel bad about “ditching” the group or splitting up the group, you will get through the line just about as fast as a fast pass… which is practically, cutting into the loading zone.

10. Follow Disney on social media and/or apps.
Disneyland Today, Disneyland AP, or their Disney Parks app. Any one of these outlets gives you an inside look at how the park is doing for the day. There are announcements throughout the day, exclusive content, and most importantly, the daily mention of which passes have access to the parks. The more passes that can get in, the more likely the park isn’t so busy. However, if only the highest level pass is given access — Disneyland is going to be a zoo!

So, these are my tips… 10 ways to make your next trip to Disneyland, PERFECT! Just remember, the perfect trip to Disneyland doesn’t mean you get through every single attraction in the parks. It means the day was super smooth, enjoyable, relaxing, and magical. It means the trip wasn’t exhaustive, frustrating, filled with lines, and fits from the kiddos.

Disneyland was meant to be enjoyed as a park, not as a laundry list of tasks. So, enjoy it that way!

Personally, my wife and I constantly will check out lines for their wait times…. if something is over 20 minutes, we move into another area of the park and casually look for targets of magical opportunity to be enjoyed.

Like this… 😉  No one in front of me. I must have taken 20 pictures of this with my phone. Amazing.

Found this pic in my camera roll @disneyland. #Disneyland60 #disneylandap #disneyfan #dadblogger #dadblog

A photo posted by Ben Fung (aka @DrBenFung) (@daddyintheraw) on

Car-gy!

This TBT post is more of a dad’s ramble. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy! 🙂


So, “car-gy” is the way Nathan used to say the word “car” or “cars.” As I’ve mentioned before, Nate’s speech was of concern in the past. He’s coming great now… as you can see 🙂

Along with Cars, Nate also loves Toy story. And, gets sad & mad along with the characters. It’s actually quite interesting and rather sweet to see such a young kiddo empathize — he’s always been a very in touch child.

We also noticed that Nathan prefers the computer animated pieces more so than the hand drawn productions. I’m not sure exactly why this is, I only know that Wreck-It Ralph holds his attention better than Lion King does.

Which randomly reminds me about how we spent all this time finding a DVR opportunity to get Cars on without commercials. However, once we got it, Nathan started to lose interest. Before, the version we had was filled with commercials. These commercials served as interruption points where he would have to grab us to fast forward the show.

Once the video went without interruptions, he preferred it a lot less. We guessed that those interruptions served as regular and predictable chances for him to check on us.

Let’s see… what else? Well… he’s been playing a lot more with his ABC toys and chatter boxing to us. He’s even pointing at the label on his car seat saying “W” and “R!” It’s pretty cool stuff.

All this ramble to say that many fatherly worries come and go. Most of them will pass as the baby turns kiddo and kiddo turns *shudders* teen. The body has a fairly good sense of how to work itself out. I guess it’s just something to think about, remember, and be thankful for.

Star Wars Launch Bay

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Disney & Star Wars are centric to who I am.

So the other day (a month ago), my family went to Disneyland again — no surprise. Well… Disneyland turned Innoventions and that whole area of Tomorrowland into the biggest Star Wars fan paradise EVER. It was practically like being a Star Wars Celebration. Okay! No more words. A Picture is Worth A Thousand. And… how about a video?!

From @disneyland the other night. #SeasonOfTheForce #disneylandap #Disneyland60

A photo posted by Ben Fung (aka @DrBenFung) (@daddyintheraw) on

From last night @disneyland. #DowntownDisney #DaddyInTheRaw A photo posted by Ben Fung (aka @DrBenFung) (@daddyintheraw) on

Another one from @disneyland #DowntownDisney #disneylandap #Disneyland60 #DaddyInTheRaw

A photo posted by Ben Fung (aka @DrBenFung) (@daddyintheraw) on

Because. #StarWars #starwarsfan #DowntownDisney A photo posted by Ben Fung (aka @DrBenFung) (@daddyintheraw) on

Star Wars Launch Bay

Enjoy the walk through!

A Day In The Life

So, I get asked a lot: “Ben, what does your average day look like?”

Average?! LOL. I’m not sure that exists for anyone in a startup business. My days span between waking up early to attend conference calls 3 hours ahead of my time zone to sleeping in because I can. Much of my time is spent on the computer, on social media, doing marketplace research, digging into the back end of financials, creating content, thinking, ruminating, thinking some more, spending time with family, making time to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, hitting up private clients, working at my per diem PT gig, cooking, cleaning, errands, creating more content (LOL! #ShoutOut to Rich Severin on a Facebook Q&A question… THIS is probably how & why I have a blog post for everything — more answered on PT Pintcast)… and, yeah… the rest of the time, I luxuriate in being a good husband and loving father.

Since these descriptions range as far as the moon is from the sun, let me give you a sample chronicle of three of days in the last month. And, you better believe, it includes Disney 😉

Sample Day 1: 10am is the new 7am

Perhaps one of the most endearing parts of being a work at home dad is that… well, I’m at home!

One lazy morning, the whole family wakes up at 10am. Our son decided it was time to be awake… and hungry. So, first things first… it’s snuggle time! For about 15 minutes or so, we all just hang out in bed, playing with our boy, being silly, making him giggle, tickling him, smooching him… you name it. It’s all smiles, all laughter, all love. This morning represents the heart of why I quit all those high paying jobs — what is better than this?!

So, it’s 10:20am or so… I mosey over to the kitchen to start Nate off with his morning shake. While my wife is feeding our boy his breakfast, I’m also frying up some hash browns, eggs, sausages, and making some coffee as breakfast for the wifey and me. The coffee is going to be amazing. I can tell, I’ve done this a thousand times… literally. When the coffee takes an extra long time to extract and all the grinds are settling evenly, you know you’re going to get an amazing pull. The hash browns are done and I’m drizzling some of last night’s brown sauce on top. It’s going to be a great morning.

Now that we’re all stuffed and probably set for a mid-morning food coma, it’s actually time for me to get to work. I have a couple of blogs to write, social media to attend to, a blab to schedule, conference call to attend, guest hosting the Therapy Insiders Podcast and some other content to work on. After maybe one or two 45 minutes sessions in my office, it appears my wife and son need me. Time to go!

After I deal with whatever that is… I’m back in my office, hacking away the faithful laptop.

Like this segment, there really isn’t any structure. It’s free flow. We wake up when we want. Eat when we can. Relish in our time together. My work day isn’t scheduled unless my partners or customers need it to be. I work when I work and play the rest of the time. This, is why I became a work at home dad… that my family may reside as the center in my life.

Sample Day 2: Hustle. Hustle!

6:15am. I’m awake. I shouldn’t be. I don’t actually need to wake up until 7am. Blah! Well, there’s no denying it. I am very much awake. I’m getting out of bed as gingerly as possible as to not wake anyone up. Decisions… decisions. Well, I could make coffee, play a little xbox, work on Up Doc Media, try and finish Book 5 of Game of Thrones (technically, A Song of Ice and Fire). And… I’m HUNGRY. Food and coffee. Done. I sneak into the kitchen where I’m famous for banging around and creating all sorts of noise, grab a scoop of coffee into the grinder, and take the grinder & coffee into my son’s playroom where I close the door by jamming his bath towel at the seams to block the noise of the grinder. After grinding the coffee, I have to yank open the door (while being mostly asleep and hangry, mind you), head back to the kitchen where I prime my coffee into my Vietnamese Espresso Maker. Now, for breakfast. Well, there are eggs and some chicken from last night. Guess that’s it then. I make two eggs over easy while munching on some cold chicken and cold rosemary cream sauce. The microwave will only disturb my son’s sleep. After all this is put together, I have some time left to read Game of Thrones so I throw back a chapter and then decide to hop onto the loyal lappy of 3+ years; that poor laptop needs a new companion… waiting 2 hours for it to render a 7 minute video is just NOT working anymore. Poor thing. Hey, at least it got me through my MBA!

Okay. I gotta hustle! Time flew by faster than I was ready. I whirl into khakis and a polo (Ha! Sorry, Gene. #NoPolo), give my wife a kiss, give my son a kiss, and I’m out the door! Please note: I hate the khaki+polo look. I don’t mind the pants. It’s the shirt & the combo. I don’t like collars. I’m a V-Neck guy. Moving on… I’m running out the door and drive to work. This is my per diem PT gig; I’m very happy to have it. It’s been ages, over 18 months actually at the time of this chronicled day, since I’ve done “formal” clinical work. I’ve been taking on private clients, sure. But, being around other clinicians, the inter-disciplinary team, it’s been a while! But, it feels like yesterday — and, it’s great to be part of a team again. A strong team, high functioning, mutually appreciative… it’s good stuff.

I was told I’ll have 5 hours of treatment time. Then, that turned into 7.2 hours. Yep, that’s how it happens. Trying to keep up my productivity alive while realizing that I have more work waiting for me at home with a pending blog post and other such things… Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Well, my day is done and I am absolutely exhausted. I already missed a mid-day conference call with my sent apologies. Now, I have to hustle to make sure I can get the blog post out in good time since my partner does most of the image creation. And, since we’re 3 hours apart, I gotta…. you guessed it… HUSTLE!

It’s probably 6:30pm. I’m exhausted. My son is asleep thanks to my hero wife who has been taking care of him all day long — him and his terrible twos. This is also my last chance in the week, scheduling-wise, to make it to a BJJ training session. Awesome as she is, she encourages me to go. So, at 7:45pm, I take off to make it to the 8pm-9pm BJJ class which usually extends to 9:20-30pm due to sparring at the end. I make it home after picking up a sandwich for the starving wife and we watch some TV together. The day is winding down and I don’t even remember how I got to bed. But, I know well enough that I double checked my morning alarms. I should be able to wake up and fulfill the next day’s responsibilities… or at least, I will once I get my coffee and breakfast.

It’s been a day.

Sample Day 3: Life is about balance.

After many strings of days like the days above, my wife and I decided it is time for a mini-vacation. Our day consists then of driving up to Disneyland where we spent 3-5 hours in the park. Now, on many occasions, we’ve driven up on a Saturday or Sunday evening because we missed the environment of the park. What do we do? Well, we get really hungry on the drive up so we find a place to eat dinner in the park. After we’re all stuffed and full, we take a look around and ask each other, “So… did you want to do anything?” And, we always answer, “Nah… let’s just walk around the park.” So, we do! Typically, we end up at one of the “less popular” attractions like Small World or Tiki Room. Fortunately for us, these are top two picks for Nathan who absolutely adores the soundtrack, to which of course, we own and make available on the iPod. Otherwise, we focus on just one or two attractions we wish to target and experience. Top favorites include the Aladdin show in the Hyperion Theater in Disney’s California Adventure. Speaking of! You have got to see it now before they take it down… 🙁  Other areas we love include Cars Land, New Orleans Square, and of course, Tomorrowland as that is where all the Star Wars stuff is. We only ever really stay in the park for a couple of hours since we’re Annual Passholders (APs) and don’t really wish for nor like the stress of lines and being on a mission.

As far as we’re concerned, Walt Disney created the park to be nonchalantly enjoyed — and, that’s how we do!

Did you watch the last link? Yeah… we’re big Disney nerds. #NoShame

 

And, that my dear friends! Is a day in the life of Daddy In The Raw.