How to use a FastPass at Disney parks

Disney parks have the most awesome thing since all-inclusive tickets: the FastPass. While parks like Six Flags and Universal Studios charge for these “get to the front of the line” passes, everyone has access to FastPasses at Disney for no extra cost. Read on for using a FastPass at Disneyland. Disney World changed its FastPass system – you can read more about it here.

Can you see the difference in lines? We waited about 5 minutes to board our space craft inside. The others? Oh, about 90 minutes.
Can you see the difference in lines? We waited about 5 minutes to board our space craft inside. The others? Oh, about 90 minutes.

What are they?

A FastPass is a timed ticket to get you into a special, faster line during a one hour period. Otherwise you ride “standby” which is Disney lingo for “huge long line.” The FastPass line sometimes get you in immediately, but more likely you have to wait a few minutes (though we’ve never waited more than 15-20 minutes unless the ride was broken down). Continue reading “How to use a FastPass at Disney parks”

Tips You Won’t Read Elsewhere – Adventures in Disney

I did a lot of reading before heading to Disneyland and California Adventure (and even more for our Disney World trip). Some might say too much reading. But since it was going to be crowded (spring break) and I wanted to maximize our time there (and minimize lines), it was totally worthwhile. Here are some tips you likely won’t read in other Disney guides. This is part of a Disney/Disneyland series.

princess jerseykids

 

FYI – this is part of a Disneyland/California Adventure series. See the bottom for links to other posts in the series.

Being nice pays off

Twice, being nice to the Disney cast member during a problem (a ticket purchase snafu, and a ride breakdown) caused the cast member to give us an extra “readmission pass” Continue reading “Tips You Won’t Read Elsewhere – Adventures in Disney”

The Best Disney Park Apps (and where to charge your phone at Disneyland and Disney World)

This trip to a Disney park was the first I made with a smart phone. What a difference! I tested out four apps and review them here for you. If you have an extra phone battery, bring it with you! I had to switch batteries late in the day, and I didn’t use my phone for much more than checking line times. An iPad would be ideal – if you have a data plan. We also had my brother in law save his phone battery by not using it during the day (only leaving it on if the group split up for FastPass retrieval) so he’d have a fresh battery if mine died. If you go that route, turn off the data plan (use airplane mode) to save on battery drain. (This is part of a series on Disney/Disneyland)

phone

FYI: Disneyland DOES now have official charging station lockers. It’s $2/hour. Here’s the scoop on charging stations at Disney. We didn’t check it out while there, but it’s nice to know it’s available.

Here’s a list of outlets at Disneyland/California Adventure.

It does not appear at present time that Disney World has the same charging systems. Here are some places to charge your phone at Disney World and here.

I’d recommend spending time on the apps before you get there so you know what you’ll need and where you’ll find it and won’t drain your battery looking. There are a lot of tips and good planning information you can find there as well, which can make time in line go faster as you share these with your fellow travelers.

I reviewed these apps specifically for Disneyland, though there is some Disney World information there too.

linesTouringPlans.com Lines app

If you’re not familiar with touringplans.com, it comes from the authors of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland   (and Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World). It’s a fabulous book I recommend you buy. They have a touring plan that helps save you time by helping you avoid the lines by going to the attractions in a certain order. I’ve used it – it works.

Pros: You want this app mainly for the Line feature. Continue reading “The Best Disney Park Apps (and where to charge your phone at Disneyland and Disney World)”

What Happens When a Disney Ride Breaks Down

In my many years going to Disney parks, we’d never been on a ride when it broke down. Sure, we’d be in line when it broke down, but not actually on the ride. How did we get so lucky on this trip? Not only did we experience five ride breakdowns, but we were evacuated from Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure. Do you get your FastPass back if you’re stuck on a ride? If you’re in line but it closes? If you’re evacuated? Read on for answers below (this is part of a series on Disney/Disneyland):

The day our stranding on Grizzly River Run, we spent the day at Disneyland. For periods ranging from 1-10 minutes, we got stuck on Astro Blasters, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean (Indiana Jones broke down while we were in the FastPass line, though fortunately cleared before we left).

I totally beat my sister.
I totally beat my sister.

On the Pirates ride, we were surprised to play bumper boats as we approached the waterfall with Blackbeard talking. He talked, and talked and talked until we could repeat his conversation by heart. Fortunately after about 10 minutes, we moved on. Continue reading “What Happens When a Disney Ride Breaks Down”

Disneyland Primer

I grew up in Arizona and later moved to California. Disneyland has always been my park. After moving to New Jersey I felt I had to check out Disney World – after all, it’s in the same time zone and everyone in New Jersey has been to Disney World! Yet, most of my East Coast friends have NOT been to Disneyland and always ask me what that park is like.

Disneyland's castle. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

So here’s a primer. (This is part of a Disney series – most posts to come) Continue reading “Disneyland Primer”

Review: New York Aquarium with Kids

We’ve been the New York Aquarium a couple of times now, and we really like it. It’s on the Coney Island boardwalk, so you can go from the aquarium to the beach to the rides with no effort. They have the usual exhibits, like jellyfish, seahorses, sharks, fur seals, sea lions, walruses, sea otters, penguins, turtles, sting rays, a reef and shore area.  They have 4-D movies (extra) and a sea lion show, plus special exhibits.

 

Fun facts: 

President Theodore Roosevelt was the person who demonized the piranha, whose sharp teeth are legendary. He wrote about a school of piranhas attacking a bleeding cow while visiting the Amazon. In reality, the tour guide threw the cow in the water to make the trip seem more exciting, and the fish were starving and trapped. Continue reading “Review: New York Aquarium with Kids”

Review: Point Pleasant with Kids

If you’re looking for a traditional New Jersey boardwalk experience, Point Pleasant does the trick. It has rides, games, hermit crabs, taffy, fudge, greasy food, the beach and other things going for it.

FOOD:

For outdoor (shaded) seating, Jenkinson’s has it’s Pavilion complex, with Mexican, sushi, seafood, coffees, burgers, pizza etc. Their Boardwalk Bar & Grill also has outdoor shaded seating. A list of other Point Pleasant boardwalk dining options is here and here. It’s the usual fare, plus many stands like Kohr’s Frozen Custard. Continue reading “Review: Point Pleasant with Kids”

Ocean City – Highlights with Kids

Just got back from a few days in Ocean City, which gets accolades as the most family-friendly town, and best boardwalk on the shore. I don’t have much to compare it to, but we had a great time and indeed, it was a great boardwalk. Thought I’d do a photo highlight of the boardwalk.  Of course it rained while we were there, so the boardwalk photo is gray.

We didn’t make it all the way down the 2.5 mile boardwalk, but we made a dent. Continue reading “Ocean City – Highlights with Kids”

Jen A. Miller’s Family-Friendly Guide to the Jersey Shore

We’re excited at Jersey Kids to feature a Q&A with author Jen A. Miller, whose second edition of Explorer’s Guides –  The Jersey Shore:Atlantic City to Cape May, a Great Destination, just came out. Jen also keeps up with the daily shore happenings at her blog, Down the Shore with Jen. We asked her about some family-friendly Shore topics.

Q: What are the best family-friendly shore towns?

A: Ocean City is built for families. It’s a completely dry town (not even BYOB!) and its boardwalk is built for people who want to stroll with a stroller or two. The ride piers cater to families, too. Sure, your teenagers will find some thrills and spills, but there’s tons of stuff for the littler ones, too.

Q: What are the top 3 fun/unique places on the shore to visit with kids?

A: Take them for a ride on the Carousel at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier in Ocean City. This is one of the few places where you can reach out and grab the golden ring from a carousel. It’s a gorgeous piece of art, too, that you can ride!

Silverball Pinball Museum in Asbury Park.  This place is amazing. For a flat fee, you can play the machines inside this pinball museum, which is located right on the boardwalk. VERY popular with parents, too!

-If they’re up for it, I’d take them to the top of the Cape May Lighthouse. You can’t get better views. And it’s an easy way to have them expend some energy 🙂 Continue reading “Jen A. Miller’s Family-Friendly Guide to the Jersey Shore”