Episode #58: Planning a Stress-Free Trip to Disneyland

On today’s podcast, we’re going to Disneyland! Well, we’re planning a family trip to Disneyland, in the most streamlined way possible. Does the idea of planning a family vacation to Disneyland stress you out? Planning the meals, figuring out what rides to hit and navigating the park itself can all seem a bit overwhelming. That’s...

Does the idea of planning a family vacation to Disneyland stress you out? Planning the meals, figuring out what rides to hit and navigating the park itself can all seem a bit overwhelming. That’s why the Perry’s are bringing you this episode, a how-to guide to a stress-free vacation at Disneyland.

Based on two of Mika’s blog posts, Russ & Mika layout all the tips, strategies and apps that help them enjoy the park with their three girls.

What kind of stroller should you bring? How many snacks should you pack? How do you deal with inevitable meltdowns? Mika says its all about letting the little moments outside the rides happen, and with three Disney trips under their belt, Russ & Mika share some of their secret tricks to making this vacation a magical one.

In this episode, you will learn:

• Why Mika wasn’t a Disney fan at first
• Should you use Disney travel agents?
• Whether or not to stay on site or off site
• How planning this trip is all about energy management

Mentioned in this episode:
Russ Perry on Instagram
Mika Perry on Instagram
The Sober Entrepreneur by Russ Perry
The Russ Perry Show
Mika’s blog post – Travel Files: Disneyland Tips
Mika’s blog post -5 Tips For The Easiest Disney Trip Ever
Bon Appetit magazine / Lebanese food
Daniel Tiger
Chipotle catering
Chipotle mobile app
Align pant from Lululemon
A Farewell for iTunes by Kevin Roose (New York Times article)
Started From the Bottom – Drake
• Intermittent Fasting


Do you have questions, comments or suggestions for this show? Send us an email at!


Russ Perry: I’m Russ Perry.

Mika Perry: And I’m Mika Perry, and you’re listening to Good To Be Home.

Russ Perry: Good To Be Home is a weekly exploration of entrepreneurship, family, marriage, sobriety, and how we balance our business and life.

Mika Perry: From our family to yours, thanks for joining us, and welcome to our home.

Russ Perry: Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of Good To Be Home. I’m you’re co-host, Russ Perry.

Mika Perry: And I am Mika Perry.

Russ Perry: And, Mika, I wonder if people know that this is even possible, and it’s going to Disneyland without any stress?

Mika Perry: It is, and we’re here today to share with you what that’s like.

Russ Perry: Now, you wrote a blog post, you can go to to see it, all About Disneyland. You’ve done it twice now, right?

Mika Perry: Yes. I did one about three years ago when we first went and the kids were much younger, and then we just went last month. So I did a recap kind of like a travel files blog post. This is kind of like the podcast version of that blog post, going into detail, so we’re hitting you from two sides. From the blog, you can listen to it here so that you are well prepared if you do chose to go to Disneyland. One thing I will mention, we are talking about Disneyland in California. However, this is applicable to a lot of things that are in Disney World, which is what your assistant, Nicole, just told us. She went last week to Disney World and came back and said, “Hey Mika, a lot of this was totally applicable and the same.”

Russ Perry: But, truth be told, we’ve never been to Disney World.

Mika Perry: Yeah, we haven’t been, but we’re just saying, if you are on the east coast and thinking Disney World, still have a listen. There’s really great strategies here, that have worked really well for us. So we want you to know.

Russ Perry: Awesome. But before we do that, we’re going to get into our list that we do every week, our reading, listening, eating and loving. This is just tips and ideas and things that we collect for you, and you can get the list every month over at Mika.

Mika Perry: Okay, reading. I just read an issue of Bon Appetit Magazine, and that has been a longtime favorite magazine of mine. I love reading about food, just as much as I love-

Russ Perry: Really?

Mika Perry: Yes, as much as I like eating it. I don’t know, it’s just a thing of mine. I’ve loved watching cooking shows. I love reading about food. I almost feel like I have the experience and I just love learning more about different cuisines. This one, the cover had Lebanese food on it. I have never had legit Lebanese food. I’ve had hummus, I’ve had red pepper dip and certain things, but legit real ones. So when we go to London, I’m real excited because I found a Lebanese restaurant there, so we can try it out.

Russ Perry: All right. I’m going to be surprised, because I have no idea what it is.

Mika Perry: You would love it, because you love Mediterranean flavors, so it’s really good. Listening, nothing. I don’t have anything, honestly, to give you guys, because I have just been so busy and not able to listen to podcasts as usual. I have a big backlog. I will say that Daniel Tiger is always on in my car. It’s summer break and we’ve been in the car a lot.

Russ Perry: Turn it off and listen to some music.

Mika Perry: I don’t mind it. That songs are great.

Russ Perry: Like, “When you’re stressed.”

Mika Perry: Yeah, they’re great. Sorry guys, I don’t really have a good one for you this week. I’ll be back next week with a good recommendation, but I just want to be honest. Okay. What am I eating? Chipotle catering. We love Chipotle catering, not sponsored, for events, because it’s so easy, and we’ve done it for a ton of different kinds of gatherings. Most recently we had Maddie’s graduation party. It’s just a crowd pleaser. Everyone loves Chipotle, even vegetarians and vegans have something there.

Russ Perry: There’s always leftovers.

Mika Perry: Always.

Russ Perry: So you eat it the next day, or later that day.

Mika Perry: It is. So I highly recommend Chipotle catering for any very informal, casual gatherings. Finally, loving. The Align pant from Lululemon. Now this is leggings that I’ve worn for a while now, so it’s nothing new, but I haven’t mentioned it here. So I wanted you guys to know they are the best pants ever from Lulu. They’re soft, they’re comfortable, they come in different lengths. I get the seven and eights, seven eights, I think they’re like 25 inch, because I’m a little shorter and they’re perfect for me. So if you are looking for new workout pants, they have them. They’re awesome. I know that there are some dupes circulating on that internet, of Amazon dupes for the Align pant. I haven’t tried them yet, but there are a lot of people out there saying that there are some dupes on Amazon that are just like that Lululemon pants, just not without the logo in the back.

Russ Perry: Are they pants, or elastic pants?

Mika Perry: Pants. They’re leggings. They’re not shorts, they’re not skirts. They’re pants. They’re not like trousers.

Russ Perry: I thought that pants would have to be like denim wear.

Mika Perry: No.

Russ Perry: They’re just called pants?

Mika Perry: He’s pointing at my jeans right now. Yeah because they don’t call them leggings, workout pants.

Russ Perry: What are leggings?

Mika Perry: Oh my gosh, tight pants.

Russ Perry: So these aren’t tight?

Mika Perry: They are tight, that’s why … I’m calling them leggings, but at Lulu they’re called Align pants. The entire back row is called pants.

Russ Perry: Got it.

Mika Perry: That’s how they have their pants.

Russ Perry: Okay. I’m thinking of slacks and things.

Mika Perry: No, exactly, but that’s not … because there’s no other way to categorize them. They’re not-

Russ Perry: Hey, I learn things too during this segment.

Mika Perry: Okay, sorry, I’m just-

Russ Perry: You’re teaching me.

Mika Perry: Okay. Pants.

Russ Perry: And there are a lot of guys that listen, so I’m trying to help them out.

Mika Perry: Okay. Yes. But they won’t be buying the Align pants.

Russ Perry: Maybe for a gift.

Mika Perry: Okay. Let’s hear yours.

Russ Perry: Anyway, what am I reading? The New York Times had a great, funny, satirical article that came out a couple weeks ago, and it’s about the death of iTunes. It was an obituary for iTunes. Reason is, is they launched it in I believe 2003, maybe. I’m taking a guess there, and they just announced that they’re retiring the app. It’s going to now be Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV, three different apps.

Mika Perry: So no I?

Russ Perry: No I.

Mika Perry: So what are they going to call it, Apple Phone?

Russ Perry: Well, in terms of like if you plug in your phone to the computer or what do you mean?

Mika Perry: No, because it’s called the iPhone, but now are they going to call this the Apple Phone?

Russ Perry: Well I don’t think they’re getting rid of the I, or maybe they are and they’re retiring it. But it was funny because the author, Kevin Rose, was like, “I remember when I first met iTunes, and I was able to download songs for .99.” It was actually, like you really think about what that app did for the music industry. It was really cool. Pretty funny.
What am I listening to? It’s an oldie, but it’s a goodie, Started From The Bottom by Drake. (singing) I had a friend who was having a bit of a hard time, and I sent him this song.

Mika Perry: That’s sweet.

Russ Perry: Just to remind him that even Drake started from the bottom. What am I eating? Well, Chipotle would’ve been a good one, but today, nothing until around 11:00 or 12:00.

Mika Perry: So intermittent fasting?

Russ Perry: I’m kind of back on it a little bit. It’s actually, I like it a lot more.

Mika Perry: Why?

Russ Perry: It’s not necessarily … Energy. I feel just more focusing in the morning.

Mika Perry: Really?

Russ Perry: Yeah.

Mika Perry: Not hungry?

Russ Perry: Mmm-mmm (negative). Then when lunch comes around, like we just ate before this, I feel really like, “Okay. It’s time.” It’s more appropriate for that. Then what am I loving? I will actually [inaudible]. I had something different, but you mentioned Chipotle. I’m going to say the Chipotle mobile app. I love the Chipotle mobile app, and kind of mobile food apps in general that are native, because I’ll take the girls and I can order on the way and we just walk in and it’s sitting there in a brown paper bag. We sit down at the table. It’s so easy. We don’t have to pick and decide and wait in the line and wait for the quesadilla to get ironed out, it’s just ready to go.

Mika Perry: And I noticed just from an organizational standpoint, because I notice these things wherever I go, they have this bookshelf or this shelving system that’s there just for the orders. It’s just a really good streamlined system, and their app is very streamlined.

Russ Perry: And actually this have never happened again, but the first time I used it, they doubled our order and they’re like, “Here’s another one. Sorry, by accident.” So we had a whole thing to go.

Mika Perry: All right.

Russ Perry: All right, let’s talk about Disneyland.

Mika Perry: Disneyland.

Russ Perry: Okay, here’s the thing. I like Disneyland for a lot of different reasons. Personally I’m a big fan of the history and the branding, but it definitely is something that has grown on us as we’ve had kids throughout various ages.

Mika Perry: Yeah, I actually entered into this whole Disneyland initially not as a fan. I didn’t understand people that were really into Disney, with all the character goods, buying things and just really being all about it, and going to Disneyland with all these outfits. I just thought it was a little bit too like, I’m not a fan culture kind of person, and that’s how I felt Disneyland was. It’s all these super fans, but after we went for the first time, I realized that it is an extremely family friendly entertainment place.

Russ Perry: Yeah clearly.

Mika Perry: Yeah. I mean it’s an amusement park, and it’s exactly what it is. They execute it so well. Now just being parents, any sort of little convenience or things that helps kids have a better time and therefore the family have an easier, better time, when you’re just out and about or traveling or on vacation, it’s so appreciated and very welcome. So that’s what I love about Disneyland. It seems stressful, but it actually is a very family friendly, easy vacation.

Russ Perry: If you design it that way.

Mika Perry: If you design it that way.

Russ Perry: So this is the big thing. I remember going to Disneyland as a kid and as a young adult, and it was stressful. The very first time we made a go at it as a family, I was blown away by how smooth, relaxed, clearly it was organized because of your involvement and research on where to go and the blogs. But for everyone listening, what we want to cover today is kind of the overarching bullet points or main pillars of how to make it stress free.

Mika Perry: We’ll also share some favorites at the end, of little tiny hideaways and little secrets about Disney. But yeah, an overall experience that will help you in a broad and detailed way.

Russ Perry: Okay, I’d like to go first. So to get to Disneyland, you need tickets and a place to stay. I always, always fought against travel agents. I didn’t understand it. I can do the research. I can find it. But turns out, the easiest and most streamlined experience I’ve had with Disneyland is using a licensed Disney travel agent. These people live for Disney.

Mika Perry: These are the fans.

Russ Perry: These are the fans who are also making money. Also there is zero price difference. There’s zero commission. And I have found even on our last trip, the hotel we wanted to stay at was sold out online, and it wasn’t through one of the agents.

Mika Perry: Now where are they making their money? From Disney?

Russ Perry: They do make a small commission back on the ticket sales and all of that, as far as like an affiliate commission for example. But they are fantastic, and the very first time we went, they were quizzing us of age and range and crib, and “Okay, this floor is better than this floor. I’m going to make a request.” So they know the properties inside and out of where you should even stay, and make recommendations that way. It’s not always guaranteed, but as an entrepreneur, as someone who is working all day, for me to go down this path of, “Do I stay here or here? What about this or this package? Or two days or one day?” They just did it all for you at no extra cost.

Mika Perry: Yeah it’s a huge time saver, and even if you’re not an entrepreneur and you’re just planning a trip like this, it is a lot. And to have someone that knows the little things and the important stuff that you would never know of or think about, that’s huge. I think it’s so worth it.

Russ Perry: Right. They can make reservations for dinner. They can make recommendations for anything, and even though it’s very small, there is a little packets they’ve always included so you get lanyards and coupon books and things that you don’t normally get if you just book it directly yourself.

Mika Perry: Oh, I thought that was from the hotel. That was from the travel agent?

Russ Perry: Yeah.

Mika Perry: Oh.

Russ Perry: That’s part of the package.

Mika Perry: I didn’t know that. Okay, yeah, because we did get a big pack when we arrived.

Russ Perry: I mean maybe this is common knowledge to anyone, but it wasn’t to me because I’ve never used travel agents, but that was where you start.

Mika Perry: How did you find this person?

Russ Perry: I found it through some … like just Disneyland agents Google search, and read a couple recommendations. I believe there’s a website called Mouse Savers. I’ll double check on that, but they recommend one, and it’s the one that we used this past time.

Mika Perry: Now, do they, because you booked this so that’s why I’m asking questions here. Do they also coordinate hotels outside of the Disneyland Resort hotels?

Russ Perry: They can. They can, but let’s move to hotels. On site or off site?

Mika Perry: On site 100%.

Russ Perry: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Why?

Mika Perry: Because you get so many benefits from being on site, and one of them being early access to the parks. This means that you can access either Disneyland or California Disney Adventure on alternating days an hour earlier than the rest of the ticketed people that are coming. This is huge for hitting the big, long line type of rides. So the Cars rides, not … Space Mountain, can you do that?

Russ Perry: Yep. Space Mountain.

Mika Perry: Yep. Space Mountain, just the huge ones that later on as the day goes on they get very crowded, so our strategy is using that. That one hour is golden, they called it Magic Hour, and it really is magic. It either starts at 7:00 on California Adventure side or 8:00-

Russ Perry: It depends on the time of year.

Mika Perry: Oh, it depends on the time of year.

Russ Perry: Yeah.

Mika Perry: Okay, so between 7:00 and 8:00, whereas the parks open around 8:00 and 9:00. When you have kids, they wake up early anyways. For the most part ours do, so why not get it all in on the front end and relax a little bit more on the back end of your day?

Russ Perry: So I don’t want to go too far down the ride framework strategies just yet. I want to come back to the hotels and other benefits beyond-

Mika Perry: That’s one. Then two is that the hotels, they’re right there, so you don’t have to get onto a tram. You don’t have to find parking. There’s less transportation because you’re right there. Three, the service at these hotels. In my first blog post I talked about just the lifeguards at the Disneyland hotel. I have never seen more serious and trained lifeguards in my entire life.

Russ Perry: Oh my gosh. It was amazing.

Mika Perry: And a huge, like a ton of them. So it’s like … They call them cast members, the staff at Disneyland on property are called cast members. And they take their jobs seriously, and I just feel like they have a great employee culture, just from the outside I sense that. And it really shows in the level of service that you get, so I really think that you get what you pay for.

Russ Perry: Now another advantage of on site hotels is when things don’t go as planned, one parents needs to bail with the child. Maybe they’re tired, they’re not feeling good, something happens, it’s very easy to say, “Okay I’m just going to take him back to the hotel room and we’re going to relax. We’re going to call [inaudible],” or the whole family. The thing about Disneyland, it’s like energy management. That’s how you don’t get stressed, is you need to make sure not to do too much and have enough time, but also you don’t want to be there for five days. That would be a nightmare. You would feel so sick and exhausted after it.
So having the on site property, you can say at 2:00 if it’s a warm day or whatever, you’re just like, “Hey let’s go back to the pool for an hour, or chill,” or, “I’m going to go to the pool and you can go to the hotel room, and let’s reboot and reset.” That’s something that we have done. We’ll go into the day by day structure here in a minute, but you can’t … You can do it with off site, but it is adding 20, 30 minutes, 45 minutes just for that whole process to get wherever you end up.

Mika Perry: Yeah. If you stay off site, you feel like once you get to the park you’re committed for the day, and for the most part you want to stay for the night time stuff too, so that is a long day as a family to be at the park. So it’s actually a time and energy management strategy for us to stay on site, on property, so those three hotels are the Disneyland Hotel and Grand Californian and Paradise Pier. We haven’t stayed at Paradise Pier, but the other two we have.

Russ Perry: We almost did actually, because the California one was sold out until I went through the ticketing agent.

Mika Perry: Yeah, so we love both of those. Great experiences, good food. They have room service. Another thing about the little touches of service is that they have a TV channel lineup of where you can listen to the fireworks songs that are happening so you don’t have to actually at the fireworks, but if you have a view of fireworks you can hear the song playing at the same time as the fireworks, so it’s kind of like you’re there. We did that when Paige was a baby because we didn’t want to go out late at night, so we watched that.
They also have a story time TV channel that Reese loves. She loves, so like at night when you come back to the hotel, you turn on this channel and it’s princesses reading stories to you. I mean how sweet is that.

Russ Perry: It is adorable.

Mika Perry: And just little mouse ear, like you’ll see patterns on the carpet and you’ll find little mouse ears all around the hotel. So it’s these amazing, I mean I’m sure there’s a treasure hunt of like, you can go find all these artifacts and signs, but it’s just really neat to be there.

Russ Perry: So when we do stay on property, it actually allows us to do more in less time, and all the times we’ve been we’ve booked three day tickets, but really we’ve only done two and a half days at Disneyland. Maybe even two, because the first and the third day are kind of like half days in that sense.

Mika Perry: Half days.

Russ Perry: So that’s another advantage, is you’re able to do a lot in less time, so you’re not having to spend more money on park tickets, extra nights. You can get it out of the way and you can make it happen. By the end of day three, or at the beginning of day three, it’s kind of like, “We’ve done everything. What should we do?”

Mika Perry: Yeah.

Russ Perry: So here’s how we approach it, and I think this I a great strategy for anyone coming in. First is we arrive on a weekday. That’s critical. Arriving on a weekday, and we’ve done usually a Wednesday. We’ll arrive on a Wednesday.

Mika Perry: We’ve done a Monday too before.

Russ Perry: A Monday, yeah. Any Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday is ideal. Weekends are always going to be more crowded because of locals, so arriving on a Wednesday. We arrive on a Wednesday mid-afternoon. We get checked in, and then we make our first go at whatever park is not having the magic morning the next day. Does that make sense?

Mika Perry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Russ Perry: So if the next day Disneyland’s opening early, we’ll do California Adventure, and vice versa. So then that is also the night that we’ll stay out the latest. Everyone’s the most rested. They haven’t had three late nights in a row. So if it’s on Disneyland, they have the firework show, and then currently in California Adventure they have the World of Color show.

Mika Perry: Also on the Disneyland side, there’s Fantasmic, which is-

Russ Perry: Sometimes, yeah. So you choose. So whatever you end up, that’s … For us, we don’t try to do it every night, so that’s the night we stay up late, kids are … Inevitably someone’s going to melt down, but that’s fine, and we plan on that. Then the next morning is what Mika was saying, is when you get to go to the park an hour early, and whatever park you choose that’s your day.
So for us, the next day was Disneyland, on our second day, and we just owned Disneyland the whole time. The key for that is making sure that you get all the big rides out of the way as soon as you can in the day.

Mika Perry: Another recommendation is that there are some experience, like character breakfasts and dinners, or character dining. There is also things like the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, which requires a reservation. You can also just do regular dining at certain places like the Blue Bayou, in both parks, and those require a reservation. Those can also kind of guide your itinerary as well, because some of those are hard to get, so you’d want to make those reservations in advance and then kind of batch them into thematic days. Like here are my Disneyland reservations all on one day, and vice versa for California Adventure.

Russ Perry: And looking at using those as a break as well. We did, on our third day, which would have been back at California Adventure, we did a princess breakfast back at the hotel. We did it mid morning, so we went to the park for a few hours, and then came back and did the breakfast. By that time we had pretty much done everything. So that alternating strategy is fine. Then inevitably in the afternoon you’re gonna find that you’re kind of maxed out. You’ve done all the rides. So we always get the park hopper passes, meaning we can go back and forth between the parks as well.
It’s not a tremendous amount more on the ticket price, but it is fun because you can be like, “Oh, let’s go check this one thing out.” You kind of freestyle a little bit more in the afternoon, depending on what’s available ride wise.

Mika Perry: Yeah, and so how you find that out is with the Disneyland app. You 100% need to download that app, and I would suggest downloading that in advance so that you can familiarize yourself with what the app can do. The main thing that people use them for is for the FastPass. So that means that you have little timeframes that you can go to certain rides and bypass the line. You might wait a little tiny bit still, but you are having a great advantage.

Russ Perry: On the phone, it’s called the Max Pass, because you’re able to do FastPasses on your phone.

Mika Perry: Oh got you. Okay.

Russ Perry: Then that also includes any time you see a official Disneyland photographer, it includes all of those photos as well.

Mika Perry: Yeah, so you’ll see these people there and they’ll scan your phone or your … They call it the PhotoPass, and that way you get really great professional quality photos and you can download them on your phone. They’re there throughout your trip and on your app. Another thing that you can do on the Disneyland app, and I’m sure the Disney World app as well, is that you can order food in advance. This was new to us this year, and so you can order things like Dole Whip. Dole Whip is this incredible concoction of pineapple ice cream that you can get at the Enchanted Tiki Room over on the Disneyland side. It is so good, and you just crave it. Now you pick it up with mobile ordering, so kind of what you mentioned with Chipotle apps, that’s how-

Russ Perry: There it is.

Mika Perry: Disneyland is incorporating this now, so a really great time saver there. Unfortunately you couldn’t do it with the Starbucks that was on Main Street or in Downtown Disney. I checked, because those lines can get a little bit big. Another thing that they added this year was, or this year for our trip, was that they have like you can play on the app. The kids can explore Disneyland on the app, and actually with the opening of the Star Wars: The Galaxy’s End Park-

Russ Perry: Edge.

Mika Perry: Galaxy’s Edge, you can do … there’s a lot of interactive play on the app for the kids. So what they did that for is not for your kids to go to Disneyland and be on their phone, but it was designed for when you’re waiting in line for something, for the kids to do. Which I think is pretty cute.

Russ Perry: Now it goes without saying, all of that crushes your battery life, so get a couple battery packs. We both have new iPhones, newer. You have a nicer one than me now, but it’s like you have to have a battery pack ready to roll.

Mika Perry: Yeah, so definitely pack a battery pack.

Russ Perry: Now on the app, one of the things that I’ve always said is you never pass up a short line in Disneyland. So if you’re walking and you don’t really have a place to be at a specific time and you see that the Dumbo ride is only five minutes a line, just do the Dumbo ride.

Mika Perry: That’s rare.

Russ Perry: Well yeah, but-

Mika Perry: But if it is-

Russ Perry: But sometimes it’s weird, it’s like dynamics, because I think because of the app people will see a shorter line and they’ll all rush there. But inevitably just with the time of day, the crowds, what’s going on, shows, they’ll be ebbs and flows. And I always, even if it’s not a ride I’m really into, I’ll do it.

Mika Perry: You’ll pop in.

Russ Perry: Especially with the kids. Just like, “Hey, let’s do it. Let’s get it.” You never pass up a short line.

Mika Perry: On the flip side of that, I will say, to really be there and be stressed about like you have to go on Space Mountain, we have to do, and have all these big ticket rides that you have to do it, I would suggest not stressing out about it. If you don’t make it on there, it’s okay. I feel like when you are like … I mean if it’s the reason why you came to Disneyland, sure. But, don’t feel the pressure to have to check off this list of all the rides, because then you kind of lose the fun because you’re stressed out about it and you’re waiting in line for two hours. So there’s plenty that we’ve bypassed and we haven’t done, and it’s fine. It’s just a ride, and those rides just last a minute or two. Really it’s a lot of the little tiny moments that are outside of rides that end up being really memorable about Disneyland.
For example, Reese wanted to buy this bow and arrow set. We got it for her, it’s because of Merida from the movie Brave. And it was mid-day, maybe around 2:00 or 3:00. We didn’t have any FastPasses. We were still hanging out there, and we … She said, “Can I do these bow and arrows?” And I, no fault to you Russ, but you’re like, “No. We’re not here to shoot bow and arrows in the middle of Disneyland.”

Russ Perry: I don’t think I was that hard about it.

Mika Perry: But you were hesitant. You were very, very hesitant.

Russ Perry: I was more like, I was actually like, “Is it allowed?” Initially I was like no, but I’m like, “Wait. They’re selling this in Disneyland. Of course it’s probably allowed.”

Mika Perry: I was like, “No Russ, just let her. If that’s what she wants to do right now and will make her happy, let her do it.” She played with that bow and arrow set for about two hours almost, and we just sat. Paige slept in her stroller. She first did it in front of the castle, and she was shooting them and having a great time. Then we went over to Toon Town and we found this waterfall kind of quiet by the playground that they have there, and you may think like, “Why would there be a little kid playground at Disneyland? You came all the way to go on little playground?” But there was tons of kids there, and sometimes that respite, that break, everyone needs. Then you can recharge. So I’d really encourage that if you’re there with kids. So we just let Reese shoot bow and arrows against this fake little Toon Town building.

Russ Perry: Backdrop.

Mika Perry: And she had a great time. We sat, and I had my Starbucks drink. That to me is just as memorable as any of the rides.

Russ Perry: Right. Now, here’s how you can go on all the big rides though, is with the FastPass and the MaxPass, we have, at the time a three-year-old, a seven-year-old, and then two grown adults. Not everyone can go on all the rides, but the FastPasses don’t know that. So you can actually, if you want to go, you have an older child or you’re a kid at heart as an adult and want to go on the rides, you can actually just use your other members in your family and register for them for multiple FastPasses.
The one thing about the FastPasses, once you register for one, and really all that you’re doing is holding your place in line at a certain time, you have to wait awhile until you can use it again. But if you just use one, well then three more are available. And if your family isn’t going on Space Mountain, you can just do one on Space Mountain, one on Splash Mountain, one on whatever ride. That’s something that I do, I don’t know if you know that, and how we get through so many is because I’ll use … I’ll register you and Paige for Space Mountain, and then me and Maddox would go.

Mika Perry: On one phone?

Russ Perry: Yeah, you have the whole family listed on your phone.

Mika Perry: Got it.

Russ Perry: So I have access to all four tickets, which are all … I can have a FastPass for each ticket.

Mika Perry: Got it, so you just always have all four or five of us if Maddie’s there.

Russ Perry: Right.

Mika Perry: Register for something at all times basically?

Russ Perry: Yeah, you’re just continually registering throughout the day.

Mika Perry: That’s the key.

Russ Perry: Yeah, and I’ll even register late at night, and it turned out to work in my favor. Because I was like, “Maybe I’ll go back and do Indiana Jones-

Mika Perry: By yourself.

Russ Perry: “At 10:30 PM,” which of course I was exhausted and I didn’t, but the ride broke down, and because I had a FastPass, they issued me a wild card FastPass that I could use on any ride the next day. So there’s a weird little additional piece on that. I thought that was interesting.

Mika Perry: That’s awesome.

Russ Perry: With it. One cool thing that I will say, and people could say, “Well Disneyland is Disneyland. Once you go …” I mean, I guess yeah, they just built the new Star Wars land, but I will say, I love going back at this phase in our life, because every time it’s a different experience for the girls.

Mika Perry: Mm-hmm (affirmative). They’re into different things. Yeah.

Russ Perry: Yeah.

Mika Perry: This time for Reese, she was much more adventurous and older, so her big memory’s going to be going on the Matterhorn, which she called the Mad Hatter Horn.

Russ Perry: The Mad Hatter Horn.

Mika Perry: And she was so excited and had so much fun, whereas maybe in the previous years she was a little bit more about the princesses.

Russ Perry: The haunted house was [crosstalk]

Mika Perry: Haunted Mansion was her big one last year. She loved that. Then we have Paige, who last year was a little bit like, “This is fun.” But still she was little. She was like two-ish, and then the time before that she was a baby, so this was the first year that she was much more aware of what was happening, and into princesses and characters. Very exciting.

Russ Perry: Right. So I think the return value is really high when you are going more with younger kids. Even now, there are still things that I’m like, “We didn’t do a ton of stuff this past trip.” Or if I went with Maddox it would be a completely different experience, and I think that’s one really good testament to the design of the park and how they’ve built it, that you can go every year, every other year if possible, and be in a position where you’re going to see things differently, do things differently, experience things differently.

Mika Perry: Now I want to share some quick tips, and especially mom recommendations and things that’ll be helpful. One tip is that you can go to any place that’s selling food and they will give you a cup of water and ice for free. So you don’t necessarily, if you’re okay with just drinking tap water, it gets hot in Disneyland. So we discovered that this time is that anyone will give you a cup of ice and water, and you definitely want to keep those kids hydrated, and yourself too. I notice when I don’t feel good the next day when I’m traveling, it’s usually because I’m dehydrated. I drink a ton of water back home, like a ton. So whenever we travel, I don’t drink as much.
Another tip, and the other side of being hot, is at night time, the temperatures really dip. We’re a little bit used to this happening because we’re in Arizona where once the sun goes down, it gets cold. Like our heat comes from, not retained heat, but just direct sunlight here. So the temperature difference is huge, and same in California. I notice when the sun goes down, it got chilly at night. So if you are staying on the park all night or all day into the night, be sure to pack a blanket or sweat pants or a sweatshirt or a jacket. That’s another reason why we love staying at the hotel, because you don’t have to cart that around with you all day in your stroller or in your bag. You can just go back to the hotel before night time and get all that.
I did this time bring a blanket from home, because last time I noticed when we were there I didn’t have a blanket, and people used it for sitting on the ground for the parades or wrapping themselves up when it was cold. So this time I brought one of Paige’s blankets. It’s a Sophia very obnoxious looking fuzzy blanket.

Russ Perry: Which they love.

Mika Perry: I know, they love this blanket. But I packed that in the suitcase for that purpose. They sell blankets at Disneyland, but they’re pricey, so maybe bring one from home. Another type is to not bring a lot of items to Disneyland with you, on the stroller, in the pack. You’re not going on a safari adventure. There are modern conveniences there on the park, and I take a cross body bag, like a purse, and then a zip pouch. In that I have everything that we need, and I don’t bring all the snacks. I don’t bring all the waters. I don’t bring all the things because I am okay paying a little bit more to not cart those around with me all day, and just buy it on site. We have lunch, we have breakfast back at the hotel, lunch on property, snacks we just grab something.
We don’t need to be eating all day, and part of the fun about Disneyland is the snacks. Their snacks you don’t get elsewhere. Sure, they’re not healthy for the most part, so just indulge and have fun. They do have some areas that have great healthy snacks. White River Snacks in Grand California, the hotel, it’s by the pool. It’s a little off the way restaurant/snack bar, is a hidden gem. You can order in advance there. They have really healthy options for all meals, and great drinks, so definitely go there if you need to. That area around Grand California is so cool, like temperature wise. There’s the rapids, and it’s just a really calming, nice place to be. So that’s a great little area that’s tucked away.
A final tip for parents is that car seats, strollers, we bring the stroller even though our kids don’t use strollers at home. So when I go run errands with Paige, I don’t bring a stroller. She walks with me. However, there’s so much walking, we actually calculated on one of your wrist things. I don’t know, the Garmin maybe that you had, that we walked like 10 miles a day. And kids cannot do that, that’s going to feel like 20 miles for them. So we bring our stroller, I just hae a jogger stroller. I highly recommend the jogger three wheel stroller because they’re way easier to maneuver in parks.
I would advise against umbrella strollers, because those are so cumbersome to push. Yes, they pack better. Yes, they’re lighter to carry around, but you are going to be pushing that for hours. Usually, like I would see the parents pushing them, and they’re hunched over, and they’re really putting effort into pushing. Imagine doing that for hours on end outside in the sun. Not fun. I pushed an umbrella stroller in Chicago. We went on a trip one time, took an umbrella stroller, and I said, “Never again. This is so inconvenient. I do not like pushing this.”
So back to a three wheel jogger, which yes it’s heavier if you fold it up and carry it with you, but you’re not going to be doing that. You’re going to be pushing it. You can push this stroller one handed and just-

Russ Perry: It’s very smooth.

Mika Perry: Oh my gosh, so smooth, and it lies back down to a great place for your little one to nap. Car seats, we flew to California, and we just used the car seat that the car rental company had. A lot of people get freaked out by that, like, “Oh gross. Other kids have been in it.” But I’ve never seen a cleaner car seat than the ones we got from National Car Rental. It’s only a 30 minute ride, and so they gave us the car seats, the booster seats and everything that we needed, strapped them in and we’re done. So I didn’t have to bring that with us. That was nice.

Russ Perry: Okay, I don’t have as many tips as you. But here are a few quick ones. First one, bad weather, yes Disneyland. We went when it was hot, nobody was there. Then when it was slightly raining, nobody was there. Now, it’s hard to plan around weather, especially if you’re planning this in advance, you don’t live nearby. But if you see that bad forecast or it’s too hot or whatever, get pumped up, because there’s going to be way less people there.

Mika Perry: Yeah.

Russ Perry: I mean it was crazy when we went a few years ago and it was like 91 degrees, heat.

Mika Perry: No, it was over 100. That’s why.

Russ Perry: No.

Mika Perry: It did-

Russ Perry: I don’t think it was 100.

Mika Perry: Well, yeah, in some parts it was. Maybe not Anaheim, but like-

Russ Perry: Regardless.

Mika Perry: Yeah.

Russ Perry: For us, we were like, “Okay, sunscreen, extra water, spray mister fans, let’s do this.” And it was empty, empty. So don’t be discouraged if that forecast happens. Bring sunscreen. That’s my next tip. Don’t forget the sunscreen. I feel like my mom saying that, but California is traditionally a little bit more cooler, a little bit more overcast, so you’re not going to feel like the sun is there unless you’re really at one of those hot days. But nothing is worse than the sunburn from you know where after one day of Disneyland.
So my third tip is more of a personal preference, is think of your exit strategy for the fireworks shows and the end of night shows, whether that’s the World of Color or Fantasmic or whatever, because it is a traffic jam to get out of there. There are spots, you can look it up online, that are kind of the optimal spots for viewing, if you are not getting reserved tickets, which I’ll share in a second, that’ll be a bonus tip. That is basically areas that are easy to get out and leave the park. If you’re in the wrong spot, you can add another 45 minutes just waiting and waiting and waiting.
If you are doing something like Fantasmic shows or you’re just stopping to watch, you can just … even if it’s just a minute or two early, it’s worth it. You can usually still see things as you’re walking away. Related to that, on the dining options, several restaurants have dining options that you can get tickets to any of those bigger shows, which we’ve done twice, and it was 100% worth it. You don’t have to camp out for two hours to find a spot. You can show up right before it starts, go to an awesome VIP sitting area, and have a great view. If you’re eating inside the park, it’s a no brainer.

Mika Perry: Yep. So you can look up on the Disneyland app or on their website what those restaurants are, and what they give you is like a pass, like a ticket, and it’s for the reserved viewing areas. So worth it. I’m all about it.

Russ Perry: Make sure you ask for it though.

Mika Perry: Yes.

Russ Perry: Because they won’t always assume that that’s what you want.

Mika Perry: Yes.

Russ Perry: Now my final thing is for all the dads out there, just embrace how much money you’re going to spend and own it. Disneyland is not a let’s save a few dollars.

Mika Perry: That’s not just for dads. That’s for everyone.

Russ Perry: For everyone.

Mika Perry: Yes.

Russ Perry: You’re designed to spend a lot of money, there’s like psychological studies done to make you spend more money there, so just embrace it, enjoy it. Get tons of photos, have the experiences. Eat the Cheetos in the morning. Do what you’re going to do.

Mika Perry: No.

Russ Perry: Which I did do once.

Mika Perry: You did it.

Russ Perry: No, Maddox asked one morning-

Mika Perry: For Cheetos.

Russ Perry: And Reese, and I said yes, and they didn’t know what to do.

Mika Perry: So that’s what they’re going to remember the most, is the fact that they got to have Cheetos.

Russ Perry: Right, that they had Cheetos for breakfast. But it is what it is, and that’s what it’s designed. Look, you’ll feel twofold. You’ll feel too tired. You’ll feel all those feelings at the end, but just go along with the ride and embrace it. I had to take that advice, because before I was like, “We are bringing in our snacks. We’re going to go by the grocery store. We’re going to do this. We’re going to save a dollar here, two dollars here, five dollars here.” I was stressing out more about that than I was just enjoying the experience, and spending less before going to Disneyland so that when we get to Disneyland, game on.

Mika Perry: Game on.

Russ Perry: Corn dog stand for $11.00 or whatever it is.

Mika Perry: Yeah. It’s true, to stress about how much everything is costing there, and focusing on how long the lines are and all these things, and how crowded it is. If you focus on that, it’s going to end up being a stressful experience.

Russ Perry: Right.

Mika Perry: But come in with that bigger open attitude of it is what it is and let’s have fun, and if we don’t get to do everything that’s okay, and if we get to do these things we didn’t plan on, that’s even better. Just enjoy. It really is the most magical place on earth.

Russ Perry: This episode was not sponsored by Disneyland. All right everyone, well I can’t end it better than that. Thanks so much for listening, and we’d love to her your super Disney tips. What have you done? What are the traditions that you guys have? You can email us,, as well as send us a message on Instagram. I am RussPerry, and Mika is just MikaPerry.

Mika Perry: Yep. And if you like this episode, please let us know. Leave us a review. Give us some star ratings. A star takes like half a second to do. Click on Apple Podcasts app now, and we really appreciate it. So thanks for being here.

Russ Perry: Take care.

Mika Perry: Bye.

Russ Perry: Thanks for listening to this episode of Good To Be Home.

Mika Perry: And don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes and give us a rating.

Russ Perry: See you next time.