Tip number 1: Wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen. Non-negotiable!
Tip number 2: Dress your family in something easily identifiable. We went with yellow because it's my birthday girl's current favorite color. I advise against red because it's too obvious, every other family there is wearing red. While wearing matchy-matchy outfits may seem super dorky to some (cough cough-my husband) and did get us named the Banana Family by the Jungle Cruise guy, we were thankful to be able to quickly spot each other.
Tip number 3: If money is a concern - bring your own lunch. Despite what the website says, you are able to bring in food and they have lockers in the park to store it. Though I was pleased to see fruit for sale in the park.
Tip number 4: Measure your children ahead of time and check the website for height restrictions. Most ride cut-offs are 40 inches. My youngest is 41 inches so we spent lots of time having him measured. If they are close, teach them ahead of time how to stand up straight, but not tip-toes, for being measured.
Tip number 5: Check park hours. I generally think of parks opening around 10am. We were prepared for this trip and it opened at 8, which gave us two hours to hit up all the big rides before everyone else realized it was open!
Tip number 6: This tip is brought to you by the number 6. Six is the perfect number of members in your group to go to Disneyland with, especially if it's 3 kids and 3 adults. In almost every ride you are seated in either twos or threes. With 6 people it always divides evenly. (There are only five people in our picture because my mother-in-law was taking it.)
Tip number 7: If your kid is into Star Wars, which includes about 97% of you, then be aware of the recently added Jedi training. They do this throughout the day, they pick about a dozen participants and they get to do Jedi Training. I'm not a Star Wars buff but to my almost 4 year old boy this was amazing. Well at first it was tragic because we came half way through. Lots of tears followed so we waited for the next one. Okay, my son and I waited while everyone else went on another ride. We sat right up front. There were already the competitive soccer moms lined up teaching their kids how to best get the attention of the Jedi master in order to be picked. they were practicing clapping and raising their hands. I kind of laughed at them but I also whispered to my son to do what they were doing. Then I found myself actually praying that he would be picked because I didn't want the rest of the day to be ruined. They came out, he clapped and yelled, and right off the bat he was picked. The family behind us apparently did not pray and their unpicked kids cried for the remainder of the show.
Tip number 8: Make a ride plan. Pick everyone's 1st choice and make a sensible plan around it. Let everything else be added fun. Pick calm rides like the Jungle Cruise around usual nap times. Don't force kids to go on rides they think will be too scary. My daughter is terrified of Space Mountain but thinks the Matterhorn is boring. I just have to decide that's okay. My 9 year old was game for anything. My almost 4 year old loved Space Mountain but screamed in terror on the Snow White ride so you never really know.
Tip number 9: Pick a spending amount on food/souveniers ahead of time. Let your kids know in advance what those guidelines are. If they know what to expect they will be begging for less.
Tip number 10: Have fun! Our last few amusement park trips were disastrous. We really had a great time on this trip. I think having guidelines and expectations discussed in advance makes everyone happier. After all, it's supposed to be the happiest place on earth. And yesterday, for us, it was.