Now that we were well-acquainted with the park, it was much easier to move around and see what we wanted to in a big hurry. We took the monorail right to Tomorrowland (after another breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen!) and hopped on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. This is well worth it – if you have any memories of the submarines at West Edmonton Mall, they look very similar but (in classic Disney style) are so much more. The ride is situated directly under the Tomorrowland monorail stop, so if you are itching to get on some rides, consider going there first.
Other rides in the Tomorrowland area which we enjoyed include Matterhorn (a thrilling, bumpy rollercoaster-style bobsled ride which I don’t recommend for small children) Space Mountain (very smooth, very thrilling rollercoaster-style ride in total darkness with stars) Captain Eo (open only for a very limited time, a Michael Jackson sci-fi 4D 1986 adventure – my husband’s favourite ride in the whole park) the Innoventions pavilion (featuring lots of technological gadgets, a ‘future’ house, ASIMO the robot, Thor and Iron Man) and Star Tours (an interactive Star Wars video ride with loads of different possible routes and endings.)
If you are navigating through the park, it’s probably easiest to tackle one “land” at a time – we decided to do this with Tomorrowland, and we managed to get a lot of rides done in a short time. It can be tempting to run across the park to go on specific rides, but you will love absolutely everything at Disneyland (trust me!) so consider tackling each ride as you walk by it. If there are very long lines at a ride you want to go on, grab a FastPass and come back at the time which is listed on it. (This is a way for Disneyland to reduce line-ups – you get a FastPass and if you come back at that time, you get to go in a much, much shorter line.)
After finishing Tomorrowland, we walked on towards the back of the park. Splash Mountain is a very long, quite intense log ride. You will definitely get wet, so watch the weather when you go on! The Haunted Mansion was all dolled up for the holidays as a Nightmare Before Christmas ride, completely overhauled to include loads of references to the Tim Burton flick. This ride is very surprising and very spooky for little ones (small children have to come accompanied with an adult) but there are a few opportunities for a quick exit if you decide that this ride may be too much for your family. We loved it, but there were a few kids who were ushered out after the first part of the mansion.
I highly recommend visiting the park both in the daytime and at night – the park at night is a totally different experience and is all lit up with beautiful displays which add to the whole experience. As an added bonus, if you are there on a weekday night during the holiday season, it tends to be a lot quieter than you might expect. The longest we waited for a ride was about 20 minutes, and we often walked right on to whatever we wanted to see. Consider going early (hotel guests get an extra “magic hour” which allows an hour early entry) and enjoying the park until about 11:00-12:00, then going back to the hotel for a rest and a dip in the pool and coming back to the park around 4:00 PM. You’ll get the shortest lines that way and you will definitely want a break!
In the evening, we had the opportunity to watch the incredible A Christmas Fantasy Parade (insidethemagic.net) which was absolutely magical and featured loads of Disney characters, dancers of all kinds, and, of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus. This parade runs every night from around 5-6 PM – arrive early to find a place where you can see the parade. It’s absolutely worth it!
If you stick around, there are two more shows every night at Disneyland Park – Believe…In Holiday Magic, the nightly fireworks show which runs twice a night, and Fantasmic! an incredible multi-media spectacular which is more appropriate for the slightly older child (6+) and also runs twice a night. Fantasmic! is absolutely incredible in scale and execution – like everything at Disneyland, you really have to see it to believe it! If you have a room in the Disneyland Hotel, ask for one with a firework view – it is possible to see a lot of the show from your room if your kids are tired. Make sure to turn the TV to the firework music channel!
The monorail runs until the park closes, so make sure to get on before then if you want to save sleepy feet at the end of the night.