Recently, Ryan and I went to Disneyland - the Happiest Place on Earth! We had been talking about it for months but weren't sure when would be the best time to beat the crowds. I had a hunch September would be a good month (we had some pretty good luck going on vacation in Maine in Sept. after Labor Day two years ago) since most kids are back in school, it's after Labor Day, and still early enough before the Holiday season.
One thing that helped us make the decision was the Is It Packed website. I hadn't heard of it before, but if you're considering going to a theme park in Southern California, you definitely want to check it out. They do real-time and projected crowd tracking so you know when's the best day to go. On the particular Sunday we chose, wait times were expected to be around 30 minutes.
Luckily for us, the crowds - or lack thereof - were even better than the website predicted. We only had to wait 30 minutes twice (for Space Mountain and Splash Mountain), a handful of rides were only 15-20 minutes, and the rest were all 10 minutes or less. SCORE! We got a chance to ride everything we wanted, and a few things twice.
On top of the rides, one of our favorite things was the food. Yes, theme park food is always pricey and probably not worth it, but I like to think it's part of the experience. If you're not sure what foods are worth it, here are the three things I recommend at Disneyland.
1. Churros - At $4.75 each, they're not cheap, but they're totally worth it! Ryan and I ate 5 between us (towards the end of the day they threw in a third one for free).
Each time we got one, they were hot, perfectly cooked, and covered in cinnamon sugar to perfection. Definitely worth having as a sweet treat! They have several carts located around the park so you can grab one anytime.
2. Pineapple Dole Whip Float - Over in Adventureland near the Enchanted Tiki Lounge is a little stand serving up one of the best cold treats you'll ever have, especially if you love pineapple as much as I do.
The Dole Whip Float is pineapple flavored soft-serve in a cup of fresh pineapple juice and it is ah-ma-zing! It's only served at Disneyland so it definitely adds to the experience.
3. Beignets & Mint Juleps - I've heard so many people rave about the beignets at Disneyland so I knew we had to grab some from the Mint Julep Bar in New Orleans Square. The beignets aren't just cute, but they're light and pillowy and delicious.
While in line, a woman told me that the original beignets with powdered sugar are the best things in Disneyland, but the mint julep isn't that great. I actually really loved the julep since it was light and refreshing.
As an honorable mention, I'll throw in the Mickey shaped soft pretzel because, again, it was just too cute to pass up. It tasted like any other soft pretzel you might get at a theme park, but I couldn't resist.
Also, you may not be able to wear costumes to the park if you're over 14-years-old (kind of not fair), but that doesn't mean you can't show your Disney love with some cool shirts and jewelry.
Shop some great items (I'm partial to the Hakuna Matata tank) here: