Monday, July 9, 2012


I have not been to Disneyland since I was 8 years old and my husband has never been.  Seems impossible since we have lived in California for over 20 years.  We were planning this huge Disneyland vacation since earlier this year.  There are so many logistics that need to be planned out well in advance to our family leaving for a week, especially traveling someplace both my husband and I are unfamiliar with.

For example, do we have enough medications for everyone.  Having several children with multiple medical issues can certainly complicate travel plans (and make mommy nervous).  See how I keep track of everyone's medications in this post.  I also had to make sure our calendar was clear of appointments for the ENTIRE week.  (Of note, we typically have about 10 appointments in any given week.)

Our home away from home.
Since we have a travel trailer, where to stay while at Disneyland was a fairly easy decision.  We made our campground reservations back in March (after viewing the map of the campground and requesting a particular site).  Even though we only had 3 day passes for Disneyland, we booked our reservation for a week so we could take advantage of the weekly rate.  Plus, we wanted to be able to spread the days out and enjoy visiting other sites while we were in the area.

The countdown begins
I made a countdown calendar for the little kids and this helped with the incessant questions, "Are we going to Disneyland today?" or "When are we going to Disneyland?"  I probably could have started it MUCH later than I did, but it certainly helped!

To prepare our child/children who have anxiety, we did several things.  One was to take a day trip to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in early June as a practice run.  Of course we went there last summer with the kids and I have been there so many times I no longer need a map to navigate.  We took time to view the map of Disneyland beforehand.  We talked to friends who had been there and asked them for suggestions.  We watched the Netflix show of the Disneyland Park over and over, which progressed to looking at pictures of the rides, and finally YouTube videos of the rides.  One of our children was a Disneyland expert and had never even set foot inside the park.  

And the car trip.  Before getting into the car we figured how to strategically place everyone as to avoid the typical car fights.  I made plastic activity boxes (labeled with their names) for each of the younger children including a new book, a new drawing/coloring activity, a new toy, lacing buttons, several favorite snacks, a favorite toy, dry erase activity, a puppet, and our travel bingo game.  Oh yes, and one cannot forget the iPads (we are fortunate enough to have 3 of them).

Notice the sleeping teenager in the back

We decided to leave Sacramento on a Sunday at 5am even though we weren't on any time restrictions, hoping to avoid the L.A. traffic later in the day.  This worked out wonderfully for us!  We were able to settle into the campground before the hottest part of the day and definitely while it was still light outside.  What better way to end a day of travel than to go for a swim, which is exactly what we did!

What special steps have you taken in order to help your summer vacation go more smoothly?  Any advice for traveling with children who have special needs?


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