I recently went on a 4-day trip to Disneyland with my husband and two children (5 and 8) and I must say it was a truly magical time for all of us. Really. If you happen to be planning a trip, I've included a few of our favorite experiences and some of the ways I found to make our trip low stress and fulfilling.
My daughters' ages made them the perfect audience for just about all of the attractions. Though they have finally left the Disney Princess phase behind (hallelujah!), they were still young enough that all of the tableau rides like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and Pinocchio were worthy of multiple visits, and they were old enough (and tall enough!) to ride most of the bigger rollercoasters like Space Mountain (best rollercoaster ever) and Thunder Mountain Railroad. Pirates of the Caribbean was of course a favorite too.
Disneyland has developed several elements which feature the Star Wars movie franchise. Star Tours is an elaborate 3D experience which takes the riders to the planets in the Star Wars universe and involves (super cool!) space chases with some of the favorite villains. Another highlight for us was the Jedi Training Academy. Both of my kids were picked from the crowd (along with 28 others) to be trained by Jedi Masters in the art of light saber dueling. They then got to face off with Darth Vader and Darth Maul! These attractions are wildly appealing to children, and to those of us who have maintained a certain level of fandom for these films even though we were children a long time ago...
Now, I tend to be a meticulous planner when it comes to vacations (if you ask my in-laws they might
say I go overboard), but I didn't have the time or the energy to schedule our every minute for this trip, so I left most of our time free, subject to our own pace and whims. However, I did make a few little reservations here and there (just a few!) to ensure we saw and did the things that we really wanted to do. I'll quickly mention a few tools I found helpful during planning. I had an app called Walkee installed on my iPhone. I found it was useful (though not perfect) for gauging wait times at some of the more popular rides, allowing us to optimize our usage of Fast Passes (mandatory!). There are some great websites dedicated to strategy, which I think is worth considering for trips scheduled during busier times. Allears.net is a great community site where readers share experiences and tips from their own vacations about dining, rides, and just about everything else. And of course, there are travel books and resources
available at your friendly neighborhood library! Have fun!