Our Trip to Disneyland

Harry is officially three and ALL about Buzz Lightyear. He adores characters far more than Maxi ever did- over the years it’s been The Grinch, Shrek, and for the past 11 months or so it has been Buzz. He’s got a thing for green. Toy Story is always on repeat at our house and if you aren’t quick, he will throw the pillows off the sofa and yell, “Buzz fly. I fly!” Last summer, I looked at Paul and told him, “We have got to take him to Disneyland for his birthday.” Something about capturing the innocent adoration at this age! He thinks Buzz there is truly THE Buzz Lightyear and I wanted to see the magic through his eyes.

Maxi’s school got out for summer in the middle of May, so we figured we’d go then! We had Kindergarten graduation, dance recitals, and then booked it to California. We’d taken her to Disneyland before, but it felt like ages ago, so I wanted to use a planner this time. I used Sarah Shirley and she was incredible! A bit of a Type-A Fairy Godmother if you will, with laminated itineraries for all.

I wanted to share some moments from our trip and a few of our favorites in case you want to pack as much as you can in a day or two! I also found the perfect getaways, like the ones at Romancenrelaxtravels.com, that are tailored for travelers specializing in honeymoons, romantic getaways, cruises, and group travel. So be sure to check it out now!


We flew in on a Tuesday and flew home on a Sunday. In hindsight, we should have flown in on Monday, and flown home on Saturday. The park on Saturday was NUTS, naturally. But I also just needed a day after recital weekend to pack us all up and get our life in order, so *shoulda, coulda, woulda’s* aside- it really was a great schedule for us! We stayed at the Grand Californian as we had before. The convenience of going in and out is well worth it in my book, and if you can do the club level- DO IT. We didn’t have to grocery shop for snacks because we did that.

On Tuesday, we checked in around 3. We were going to let the kids swim, but their “June gloom” had hit May and it was so dark and drizzly out, we just took them to Downtown Disney for pretzels and exploring. $500 balloons {kidding, but not} later, and a few trips to the Lego store to see the Lego Buzz, we headed to dinner. Dinner was at Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel and that was Harry’s favorite character dining. The one-on-one with Goofy is the perfect timing before you start your meal, and after a day of traveling, I was thankful for a quick buffet for the kids.

Wednesday, we headed to the parks with the early hotel access. We had the kids ride Peter Pan, Dumbo, and Alice in Wonderland before making our way to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Sarah was able to snag us an appointment, and Maxi went full-on Elsa with a glittery pink ponytail extension and all. 😉 I had a few readers ask if I thought the experience was worth it, and I do! She said Bibbidi Bobbidi, swimming at the hotel, and the Little Mermaid ride was the favorite part of her trip. We snuck back to Downtown Disney for pizza at Napolini. Harry had fallen asleep in the stroller, and they were gracious to let us just keep the stroller by us. Then, we had the kids explore all of Toon Town, Story Tellers performance at 2 {one of my favorites}, and It’s a Small World again and again. We introduced Maxi to churros and had an early dinner at Cafe Orleans. Harry also told Chewbacca he was a “scary monkey monster” to his face at some part of the evening. ha.

Thursday was our California Adventure Day.  Once we got to CA, we immediately headed to Cars Land. She rode the Cars rollercoaster with my parents and was thrilled after. We rode Little Mermaid, met Ana and Elsa, and then Harry met Buzz. That was by far the highlight of the trip for me. He was so cute patiently waiting in line and immediately sprinted up to him. Y’all, this story was hysterical. For context, Maxi had gotten her ears pierced for Kindergarten graduation the week prior. We had lunch at Lamplight Lounge {delish!} and my dad looks at her and goes, “Where is your earring?” We think with my dad’s arm around her on the Cars ride it had come out and you should have seen us looking on the ground for an earring at this point. It was absurd. I looked online for the nearest Claire’s, threw Harry to my parents, and ran back to Grand Californian for our car. Truly, THE reason to stay there. lol. We ran in Claire’s, they cleaned her ear, and got us a piercing earring back in. All-in-all it was an hour of commotion, but when I tell you that felt quite chaotic…we got back to the park and she’d casually say, “Hey guys, remember when my earring fell out on the rollercoaster? Wasn’t that crazy?!” Too soon, Maxi girl. Too soon. ha. We came back for a bit more exploring and then finished the day with dinner at Carthay Circle and the World of Color Dessert Party. A little tip: they have you check in at 7:30 for World of Color, but dining starts around 8:30. You can just have one member of your party check you in, the entire group doesn’t have to. My parents thought the dessert party and show were their favorite part, so try and see it if you can!

Friday was our Manhattan Beach day, which sadly, we ended up canceling. The “June gloom” didn’t feel worth the drive, so we stayed at the hotel. We started the morning with the Disney Princess Breakfast at Napa Rose. This was my favorite character dining. Worth every penny! Not only is the food phenomenal, but the staff is also probably the best restaurant experience I’ve interacted with. The fact you easily meet 5 or 6 princesses makes it so much more enjoyable not to have to track them down at the park. After brunch, the kids spent the day swimming and catching up on naps. A slow day was much needed for my two kids that still love a nap.

Saturday we had our “bucket list” day. We started with Mickey’s Storytellers Breakfast and then asked the kids whatever rides they wanted to do. We tried to divide and conquer with grandparents, but the nice part of Disneyland is everything feels manageable. I don’t think my kids would be quite ready for World just yet. We weren’t able to do Fantasmic as they had had a fire a month or so prior, but honestly, after the parade at 3:30, both of my kids fell asleep. We did early baths, room service, and watched Princess and the Frog- which was the perfect ending in my book!


We took our Libelle stroller which I can’t travel without! I’ll link what is available of our looks below, and if you see a piece from Allie & Bess remember my code is KATEY20 to shop there!




Floral Mini Dress | Ikat Dress | White Dress




  1. Golden Books- Instead of having the characters sign signature books, Sarah told us to pack our favorite Golden Books for collecting signatures. This brought about sweet conversations with the characters, and it’s something I know my kids will flip through time and time again as we read their stories.
  2. Parade– Try and watch the parade by It’s a Small World. This is where it starts, and that way you can get out with antsy toddlers a little faster, rather than being on Main Street and needing to wait another 15 minutes for it to end. We stayed on the side across from It’s a Small World, because that’s where they had the new Little Mermaid meet and greet- but if you stay closest to the ride, usually Tinker Bell will throw some pixie dust on you. 😉 We stood for the parade based on where we were, but if you sit, these Mickey Gathre mats are perfect to sit on.
  3. Napa Rose Princess Breakfast– If we could only do two character dining, I’d go with Goofy for Harry and Napa Rose for Maxi. Napa Rose was the best food we had and just overall an incredible experience. They also had the most gluten-free options for my mom.
  4. Club Level–  We did the Veranda club level at Grand Californian this time and I’d do it each time again. We didn’t have to grocery shop for fresh food or snacks, because we could pop in all day and they had plenty of options. We could take the sandwiches and snacks into the park, so my kids always had something within reach. We also found that they’d make my mom anything she wanted that was gluten-free. If you’re on the fence about it, I think you make the money back and more by having free coffee and food available all day.
  5. Trade PinsSarah links the best Disney finds on her Instagram, including these pins. She had us order our trading pins on Etsy before we got there and that way you aren’t spending a silly amount on one pin!

Our feet were tired and I think it took me two weeks to catch up on laundry, but it was so well worth it to see the magic in their eyes! Let me know if you have any questions and thank you for always allowing me to document these special moments for you all.

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  1. S. Marie wrote:

    What a wonderful time and the perfect ages to see magic thru a child’s eye!
    Maxie will remember every min. of it but you will have to go back when Harry is older! Older than Maxie is now, as boys, in my opinion anyway, remember almost nothing till age eight or older!
    THIS tells us something about men, right?? ;-D
    BEAUTIFUL children!

    Published 18 Jun 23Reply
  2. Ali wrote:

    As a California native who’s been to Disneyland more times than I can count this recap is a vital resource. Our Disney itinerary has really changed since having kids and you nailed all the key points. Glad you enjoyed your family trip!

    Published 19 Jun 23Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Ali, you are so sweet!! I was kind of nervous to write it because so many people know more than I do! But just hoped it would help a few people. Thank you for this comment!! 🙂

      Published 19 Jun 23Reply