Where to stay outside of Disneyland. Where to Eat around Disneyland. And what to do while at Disneyland. This is the better Disneyland Guide!
Before heading to Disneyland I searched every square inch of the internet trying to plan things out. I wanted to have activities to entertain kids on a 10 hour drive, know where to stay that was close to Disneyland and wouldn’t be a gross hotel that everyone worried about sleeping in, good food that wouldn’t be a disappointment or require us to go to multiple places to please everyone, and activities to do on the days we weren’t in the park.
Before I pop in with the details, in case you’re like me and want to know exactly what’s necessary and what’s not…
Bring a good stroller. We used it a lot. Not just for the little guy but for holding sweaters which you definitely need at night, a cooler for water bottles and snacks because you definitely need a few snacks in addition to the churros you’ll nosh on. We brought our Nuna because I adore how awesome it does with maneuvering through crowds.
Our kiddos wore jellies from Old Navy and did not have a single issue with aching or blistered fit. I wore Humble Hilo Huaraches with Dr Soles sole inside and I was so comfy all day. We also carried a first aid (small) kit with bandaids and sunscreen just in case, and a portable phone charger.
First, I busted out this awesome cargo pack from Amazon. I got coloring books that were more detailed and would take the kids more thought. I found this awesome one that has little hidden pictures inside the main picture which the girls loved. Then of course movies, books, activity books etc. And most importantly a whole section of different snacks from healthy to a few treats for fun.
We made sure to pack Kind bars as those don’t feel heavy, don’t crumble or melt all over the car and they actually help you stay alert. Seriously, traveling is exhausting so being mindful of what you snack on will help you feel better and stay awake (versus sugar highs that leave you low). Plus we are crazy obsessed with Kind. Like really. Had a raspberry one today and it was amazing. Cannot wait to try the Breakfast bars.
I also was looking to be in a hotel that was great for kids and families. We found a brand spankin’ new hotel that’s actually closer in walking distance to the Disneyland gates than two of Disney’s own hotels AND it has a WATER PARK.
Sold. I mean seriously, sold. We booked our stay at the Courtyard Marriott and we arrived on a Saturday. It was even better than it looked online. The whole hotel seems to have been built with kids and families as the main focus. Everything was unbelievably clean which is always wonderful and so refreshing to come in to when you’ve been traveling all day.
The rooms were awesome. We had two queen beds and a bunkbed which made fitting a whole family such a breeze. No stuffing kids into the same bed, putting them on the floor or booking two adjoining rooms. Instead we all fit and had room to spare. But the best part? I know, you’re going to laugh but this is a big deal!!
The bathroom had two showers. We could get the kids bathed at the same time. It was wonderful!! Ok, having a booth table for breakfast, microwave and fridge didn’t hurt either. We just packed breakfast items and ate before heading into the parks to save time.
Ok, I have to admit the real winner wasn’t the bathroom though as parents it really was awesome. The coolest part was the water park located on the second floor of the hotel. The slides were awesome, a bigger pool for swimming and a kiddie pool for our little ones to splash in. It was so stinking fun.
Plus, it’s the best way to do Disneyland because we could do the park one day, let the kids play at the water park the next day so we had down time and then back to Disney California Adventure the next day. Our room overlooked the water park and you could not at all hear it from the room. Hallelujah for a hotel that did things right and made it more sound proof.
But in case you want to explore a little we did that too. We hit up Newport beach and Crystal Cove. Newport was big and the sand was clean. The kids loved to see the pier and it was busy with excitement. Later in the week we did the cove which was quiet and perfect for families. Little tide pools were fun to explore and you can eat at Beachcomber, Javiers or Ruby’s diner for lunch or dinner. Just be prepared to pay a $2-3 toll on the roads.
And if you need help finding places to eat outside of Disneyland here are the ones we were told were awesome and the ones we visited.
*Paradise Bakery for breakfast items to keep in the hotel. Located right on the corner of the Courtyard Marriott.
*Pizza Press- we never made it inside but the wood fired pizza looked amazing and multiple people recommended it.
*Lucille’s BBQ- The biscuits are huge, fluffy and all kinds of good. Order the Sampler Platter and include the chicken, it’s crazy moist and good and get yourself a tri-tip sandwich. Take a few of the biscuits for snacking on at the hotel or in the park.
*Corazon Cocina- Get the tacos- one of each kind.
*Citrus City Grille
*Zov’s Anaheim for great Greek/American
*Bruxie Waffle- Get the original and eat it with the maple syrup or do a lemon and cream version. So yum. We’ve been told the shakes are wonderful too.