Nicole visited Disneyland several times in the past. However, this was her first time traveling with a toddler. Listen as she shares with Shannon details about her September trip to Disneyland with her husband and their 2-year-old son. She shines a light on where to find the best cold brew in Disneyland and where are the best places to eat gluten-free and plant-based items.
Post trip begins: 24 minutes
Nicole, her husband, and their 2.5 year old are traveling from Vancouver. They originally had a trip planned for April of 2020 but since then have added a child to their family so they opted to go to Disneyland.
They are Disneyland regulars but this is their first time traveling with a 2.5 year old. Nicole’s husband has Celiac Disease and needs to eat gluten-free. The whole family also is vegetarian and tends to eat a plant-based diet.
They left their home on September 21 and departed Disneyland on September 27. They flew into LAX airport.
Nicole and her family stayed at the Sheraton Park hotel because they’ve stayed there in the past. They wanted something familiar since they haven’t traveled with a little one before.
Nicole booked Genie+ for their entire trip and they utilized that while taking turns with their son. They also had a very interesting technique to navigate Oogie Boogie Bash.
Arrival (September 21)
They arrived at the airport and were checked in very quickly. Their flight was only 10 minute late arriving at LAX. They took the LAXit shuttle to the car pickup area. This was very convenient due to their bags and things.
They were able to do customs at Vancouver and when they arrived at LAX they were able to depart as usual.
They ended up taking Lyft because it was $20 cheaper than Uber. It took them a long time to get to the car and another 90 minutes to get to their hotel.
They arrived to the hotel at 5 p.m. and were upgraded to a park view room! This was such an exciting upgrade. The hotel is very convenient with outlets everywhere. There was a big renovation a few years ago which created lots of storage and convenience.
They went to Savor Stone Hearth Pizza for dinner. They got potato soup and a charcuterie board immediately. They asked about dietary restrictions (Celic, vegetarian, and plant based) and brought out selections by the slice.
After dinner they got some dessert pizzas that were delicious. They went down to the pool after dinner but the sun had gone down and it was too cold to swim.
They went back to their room to get ready for her son to go to bed. They picked up their Amazon Fresh order at the front desk and went to bed.
Disneyland (September 22)
Nicole and her family woke up and ate breakfast in their room. They left their room at 7:30 a.m. Nicole thought they would have early entry from their hotel, but they didn’t.
Their first stop was Jungle Cruise and they were able to walk right on. That went really well! They went to Pirates of the Caribbean next. Nicole was a little worried about how her son would like this one but he liked it!
Their next stop was Haunted Mansion. This was the Halloween version. While they waited in line, Nicole booked a Tiana’s Place order. At 8:40 a.m. there was already a 7 hour wait! She wasn’t sure what she would even want that far out.
Nicole wasn’t sure how her son would handle Haunted Mansion but the only thing that frightened him was Jack Skellington on the ceiling of the stretching room.
After that they walked to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which was another walk-on. Her son loved this!
Galaxy’s Edge was their next stop. They mobile ordered Blue Milk and it was ready immediately. They loved it! Nicole stayed in Galaxy’s Edge with her son while her husband went to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with a 20 minute wait.
Nicole switched with her husband and went to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. She was then able to schedule a Lightning Lane for Matterhorn. In retrospect, she would recommend checking the single rider line because that was much shorter.
They went on Mad Tea Party next and her son liked this. Her son wanted to do Dumbo next but the wait was too long. Casey Junior had a 10 minute posted wait time but it was actually 25 minutes, which was much too long. Her son wasn’t happy about that at all.
Nicole’s son and husband waited for Dumbo next and he loved it. Nicole didn’t want to wait for it. They booked a lightning lane for Indiana Jones Adventure for 2:55 p.m. and mobile ordered Alien Pizza Planet for immediate pick-up which was nice. The gluten free pizza is made to order, which was really good.
They were trying to find an individual lightning lane for Rise of the Resistance that lined up with Nicole’s son’s nap time. She was finally able to get one that worked for their schedule. They walked across the park and only waited 7 minutes for the ride.
Nicole really loved Rise of the Resistance. It was well worth the wait! Nicole got Green Milk after that and they liked it as well. Nicole’s husband then went on Rise of the Resistance and loved it as well.
There was a 20 minute posted standby for Smuggler’s Run so they opted to do the single rider line. Nicole’s husband was actually able to be a pilot! Nicole was an engineer on her ride. Nicole wasn’t that impressed with Smuggler’s Run because she just watched the buttons instead of the ride.
Their next stop was Autopia so that Nicole’s son could drive the car. They got some popcorn because popcorn is always better at Disneyland. Then it was time for their Indiana Jones Adventure lightning lane. They took turns riding this.
It was finally time for their Tiana’s Place order. Nicole didn’t really like the beignet but the cold brew was okay.
They went on the train next. Her son loved it but when they went through the dinosaur area, he wanted to just stay there.
Nicole pre-ordered a veggie Monte Cristo on gluten-free bread two weeks in advance. This was wonderful and everyone was able to eat something that they liked. Her husband said the batter was delicious. He got it with the mashed potatoes, but it was a smaller portion compared to the fries Nicole got.
After dinner, it was raining, which is so unusual in California! Nicole’s son wanted to go on Pirates of the Caribbean again, so they did that after dinner.
After Pirates, they ended their day and walked back to their hotel.
California Adventure (September 23)
Nicole and her family left their hotel at 7:30 a.m. again but the lines took a bit longer and they weren’t into the park until 8:05 a.m. or so.
They went first to Webslingers. Nicole said it was disappointing. They did it and they never have to do it again.
They had an 8:30 a.m. Lightning Lane for Cosmic Rewind so they went immediately to use that. While Nicole’s husband went on Cosmic Rewind, she waited at Pym Test Kitchen for cold brew. If you are gluten-free, do not waste your time as they cannot make any modifications to the cold brew to make it gluten free.
Nicole rose on Cosmic Rewind next and loved it. When she got off they booked a 10:20 a.m. lightning lane for Midway Mania. Nicole was trying to book Lightning Lanes for her son’s naptime but lightning lane times were always within 5-10 minutes.
They went to San Franstokyo to rope drop Baymax. That section options at 10 a.m. and so they waited about 30 minutes. It was nice to get it done with earlier in the day as it is so popular.
They ordered Aunt Cass’s Cold Brew and Lemonade while they waited. The cold brew was okay but the lemonade was incredible.
Their Midway Mania lightning lane turned into an anytime experience because that ride went down. They didn’t know what to do next because they didn’t really need a lightning lane for anything.
They went to Emotional Whirlwind. The posted wait time was 15 minutes but it was actually 27 minutes and that was brutal. It was a very short ride and a very long wait.
It was time for their Lamplight Brunch Reservation at 12:30 p.m. Her husband got the Chilaquiles and said they were delicious. Nicole got Potato Flautas and they were delicious as well.
They used their anytime pass for the Incredicoaster and then booked another lightning lane for Midway Mania for 3:30 p.m.
Nicole’s husband did the Single Rider for Radiator Springs Racers and Nicole watched the stunt show. They found that the Single Rider Lines were really useful. She recommends the rule that if you cannot see the Single Rider line, it’s a good option.
The posted wait time for Radiator Springs Racers was 105 minutes but they only waited 25 minutes using the single rider line.
They stopped at Clarabelle’s for plant-based strawberry ice cream. It was really hot out and the ice cream was delicious.
Nicole had hoped they would be able to ride Ariel’s UnderSea Adventure but it was closed for the majority of the day. They were finally able to get on Midway Mania and everyone liked that a lot.
Nicole’s son really wanted to go on Jessie’s Critter Carousel. They loved this because there was a belt for him so he could ride by himself.
They booked a lightning lane for 4:05 p.m. for Monster’s Inc. At that point, Nicole realized she missed booking the Monster’s After Dark Cosmic Rewind lightning lane. You cannot book this until the original ride is down. It seems that the lightning lanes went very quickly.
The posted wait time was 60 minutes but thankfully they only waited 7 minutes with their lightning lane.
Nicole got overwhelmed with getting lightning lanes and parenting. It was all so much. She was able to move beyond that and knew they could ride it at the Halloween Party later in the week.
They got in line to meet Anna or Elsa and the line was much too long. They mobile ordered dinner and Nicole’s husband had to go get their food while she stayed in line. After waiting 45 minutes in line, there wasn’t a photopass photographer. Thankfully, another mom was able to get photos and videos. Yay for moms!
They weren’t really ready to eat when their mobile order was ready because they were still full from their lunch. Nicole got the sour dough bowl with Mac and Cheese from Aunt Cass Cafe. She used to love the Broccoli Cheese soup in the sour dough bowl. Her husband got the plant-based tacos from the taco shop.
They went back to the room and were able to catch the fireworks from their room while their child slept. They were even able to see some projections!
Disneyland (September 24)
Nicole was excited to be back at Disneyland because the experience was just much better for her son. She’d hoped that they could get back to Disneyland later in the week but the reservations were sold out.
They left their room at 7:30 a.m. and went to Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Sadly, it was down and they didn’t know if it would be back.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway was still closed after they got off of Alice in Wonderland so they went on Dumbo. It was up after Dumbo so they waited 25 minutes to ride. Her son was very upset about the waterfall scene.
They met Mickey Mouse after that to help her son cheer up. It was such a magical experience. He might not remember it, but Nicole loved the joy that he had meeting Mickey.
They went to Gadget’s Go Coaster and he didn’t want to be measured. He started crying when he was measured and didn’t stop crying. They ordered cold brew and pizza Flop-overs from Cafe Daisy. This was a highlight because the gluten free pizza was more fluffy than the regular ones!
They did Indiana Jones separately and then they walked through the shops while their son slept. Nicole got the Banana Cream Cold Brew from Galactic Grill. It was delicious
They rode on the Sailing Ship Columbia and it was very hot that afternoon. Then they got some great photos in Galaxy’s Edge. They had a really great photographer.
They got a cold brew slush on their way to pick up dinner. It was really good. They also went to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The posted wait time was 10 minutes but it broke down and it was actually 20 minutes. However, Nicole’s son decided it was worth the wait.
They got their food at Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe. They got tomato soup and grilled cheese. It’s so good!
After dinner, the boys went to Oogie Boogie Bash and Nicole went to Rise of the Resistance. The wait was 40 minutes but by the time she got there it was 65 minutes. She opted for a lightning lane instead and walked on.
She still had a multi-experience pass and she’d planned to use it on Indiana Jones but when she got there, she found out it wasn’t available for that ride. Thankfully, the cast member let her ride. After that Nicole went to use a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad lightning lane.
At 7 p.m. she met her husband so that she could take their son back to the room to bed and he could go to the Oogie Boogie Bash by himself.
While she was having time alone, her husband and son went on Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi’s Rollickin Roadsters. They loved Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree but they weren’t super thrilled with Luigi’s Rollickin Roadsters.
Once Nicole got their son, her husband went on Cosmic Rewind with the overlay and a 20 minute wait. He also did the special version of the Incredicoaster at night, which he said was a lot better than during the day.
He didn’t really like Villain’s Grove. It was a nice break but not that special. He did some treat trails. After thinking he missed the parade, he was able to catch the whole thing from the end of the parade route before leaving the park.
Resort Day (September 25)
They chose to take Monday off because locals cause Disneyland to be more busy. Unfortunately they weren’t able to sleep in because Nicole’s son woke up at 6:30 a.m.
They had a 9:35 a.m. Goofy’s Kitchen Halloween Brunch reservation. It did take a long time to get there and is a complicated walk. It was very close to get there on the map, but it took a very long time and complicated walk to get there. Nicole recommends walking through Downtown Disney as an easier way to get there.
They had a great time and got some good photos. This was a highlight of the trip because of the character interaction. Nicole’s son loved it.
They did a really cute Halloween parade around the restaurant that was really cute. Nicole also suggests checking the receipt because they were originally charged for 3 adults.
After breakfast they went to their 11:30 a.m. reservation at Trader Sam’s. They waited 20 minutes to get in, which was frustrating, but they really enjoyed it. Nicole’s son didn’t love it, but they enjoyed it a lot.
Their plan was to go to Downtown Disney while her son slept, but he wouldn’t nap.They did go to Salt & Straw. They went to Splitzville next but ended up not staying. They got some drinks for the hotel room and ordered Thai food from Uber Eats.
Also did Pluto’s Pumpkin Pursuit at Downtown Disney. Some of them were harder than others!
Disneyland (September 26)
Nicole’s travel agent was able to get them reservations at Disneyland the day before, which was so relieving. This was the busiest day in the parks and Genie+ was $30 today.
They opted to go to Peter Pan’s Flight. The wait time at park open was 20 minutes but it jumped to 40 minutes when they got there. It was early in the day so the queue was in the shade and it wasn’t so bad.
They did Snow White’s Enchanted Wish and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride next. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride broke down and the 10 minute posted wait time was 30 minutes. Their next stop was Pinnocchio with a 5 minute wait.
They booked a lightning lane for Haunted Mansion but ended up canceling it to get a lightning lane for Indiana Jones so that her husband could ride it later that evening.
After riding so many rides in a row, they got a pumpkin cream cheese cold brew and potato bites at Red Rose Taverne. Nicole says the cold brew was just okay but the potato bites were delicious.
At this point, Nicole decided what she wanted to do with their day. She wanted to do a circle around the park and end with Cafe Daisy to watch the parade.
Nicole had hoped to meet Mirabel but it was Coco and her son hasn’t seen it yet. They went to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and met Minnie and Tigger. Their next stop was to get some food from Docking Bay 7. Nicole got the kids impossible meat, meatballs with hummus and pita, and the cold brew.
Later in the afternoon they got the horchata cold brew from Rancho Del Zocalo, which was their favorite of the trip. They enjoyed this while they waited to see Mirabel.
They used their son’s naptime to just sit on Main Street and relax. Nicole got some popcorn and they enjoyed the castle and people-watching. She even got the popcorn for free!
Nicole notes that wait times are much longer during the week days versus the weekends. This is because of locals and black-out dates.
Nicole really wanted a silhouette of her son. The silhouette cutting wait was about 20 minutes. A cast member said that the silhouette wait time was getting a lot longer due to social media. It was so cute that they decided to get them for the whole family.
After that, they went on the monorail. Nicole didn’t realize it was only two stops. Her son really loved this.
After this they got the pizza Flop-overs from Cafe Daisy because they loved them so much. They waited for the parade but it was so hot and sunny. This was the first time that they got sunburned the whole time. It was a really magical parade.
They had been looking for a lightning lane for Grizzly Peak ride at California Adventure. They couldn’t get a time late enough – Nicole spent a lot of time looking and refreshing. She kept getting them for 5 minutes later.
Then Nicole was able to ride Grizzly Peak. She really enjoys this because you get wet but the ride is also very fun.
At this point, Nicole’s husband had his alone time. He got an individual lightning lane for Rise of the Resistance and didn’t have a wait. He waited 20 minutes for Haunted Mansion with a lightning lane. He used a lightning lane for Indiana Jones before getting beignets for Nicole from Cafe Orleans.
While he was doing that, Nicole and her son went to Ariel’s UnderSea Adventure. This was so fun. When they got off this ride there was a queue for a character meet but Nicole wasn’t sure what it was for. They got in the line and ended up meeting Bruno!
Nicole wasn’t able to get an allergy bag for treats but did find out what treats were gluten free and what was more plant-based at Oogie Boogie Bash.
At 7 p.m. Nicole was able to hand off her son. Her husband took him back to bed and she continued at Oogie Boogie Bash. Nicole also got the beignets from her husband. She says the ones from Cafe Orleans were much better than from Tiana’s Place.
She did the Halloween version of Cosmic Rewind. She loved this and was so impressed with the way they can switch it out.
Nicole wandered through Radiator Springs and hoped to ride the Incredicoaster, but it was down. She went on Goofy’s Sky School and then went back to Cosmic Rewind.
She hoped Incredicoaster was back up but it wasn’t. The app was consistently wrong so she kept having to go over there to check. She was able to walk on Radiator Springs using the single rider line. It was so pretty at night!
Nicole went to Villain’s Grove next. Nicole really liked this section but it was too crowded.
Nicole got a spot for the parade near the roundabout. She waited for the headless horseman and then moved to go find a spot closer to Incredicoaster so she could head over there after the parade. She loved the parade.
After the parade there was a posted 10 minute wait for Incredicoaster. She really loved it at night! Nicole took an Uber back to the hotel. There was a lot of traffic, but Nicole felt much safer in the Uber versus walking. It was only $7.
Departure (September 27)
Nicole and her family opted to use a Lyft to get to the airport. It wasn’t a peak time so they got to the airport quickly. It was very easy to get through security, but really sad to leave!
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