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Stacy's Picks: Disneyland
This past December I took my east coast family and headed west for our much anticipated California Road trip. Sadie and Rory had Disneyland in their sights; David and I had a plan. We were gonna do Disneyland and do it right, do it the way a New York producer would, and do it with smiles. So how does a New York producer take on the Magic Kingdom? Simple – you find the deals, you skip the lines, and you beat the system. This is how we did it-
Happy kids at Disneyland means.....A happy family at Disneyland, which means.....VERY happy parents at Disneyland.
(1) VIP tour guides Our first day started by meeting our guide, Jim, from Stone VIPs. Jim was incredible. He filled a backpack with water and granola bars, kept the girls entertained, knew the park backwards and forwards, all the shortcuts, and the best order to go in. He thought of everything. Even when faced with a three and a half hour line for the girls favorite ride, The Radiator Spring Racers, Jim knew how to get us through in 20 minutes. Getting a VIP tour guide is totally worth having on any day, but during Christmas it's essential.
Rory inspecting the Disneyland map, the Radiator Springs Racers (our fav ride), and Goofy with the girls!
(2) Restaurant research Disneyland is not all hot dogs and funnel cakes, but you have to know where to look. We did our homework and ended up having some truly amazing meals. The first stand out was dinner at Napa Rose. Napa Rose has a seasonal menu inspired by California ingredients, is known for their wine selection (which David was very happy about), and has a Zagat rating of 27!
The inside of Napa Rose, David picking out the perfect bottle, and all the delicious wine.
The second was the Blue Bayou, a cajun inspired restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The girls loved getting to watch boats of passengers pass by and the food was a hit too. David had the Royal Street Seafood Jambalaya filled with gulf shrimp, mahi mahi, tasso ham, andouille sausage and chicken. Rory had the Cajun-Spiced Salmon stuffed with goat cheese, oven roasted tomatoes, and artichoke. I chose the Isla-Cruces Crab Cakes topped with lobster beurre blanc and mango slaw. Plus, we all had the New Orleans gumbo and it was totally spot on.
David's Royal Street Jambalaya, the twilight lit Blue Bayou, and my Isla-Cruces Crab Cakes.
Last was our lunch at Carthay Circle. Inspired by the original Carthay Circle, where Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs first premiered, you walk in and feel like you're in the Golden Age of Hollywood. I had the curry udon noodle bowl with shrimp and mushrooms, David had the sauteed northern halibut, and Sadie had the mac n' cheese which she described as- “Perfect. Just the way I like it.” Knowing where to eat makes all the difference.
David and Rory at Carthay Circle, the restaurant's grand entrance, and Sadie and I after lunch.
(3) Deals and Specials Half the battle when visiting the Magic Kingdom is reading the fine print. For example, we chose to stay at the California Grand located inside the park and as a result had access to the park itself an hour earlier than anyone staying outside of the park. Another example was the Carthay Circle's adult special, one appetizer and main dish or a main dish and dessert, got all four of us VIP tickets to The World of Color water show later that night. It's these little tricks that keep you one step ahead.
The amazing World of Color show and the lobby of the California Grand during Christmas.
And so, there you have it - VIP tour guides, restaurant research, and deals and specials. This is how Sadie, Rory, David and I took on Disneyland had a great time doing it.
Sadie's "Princess Box" (an individual cake!) at Napa Rose, Rory's mature dessert at Napa Rose - she always insists on ordering off the adult menu, and Sadie's "Perfect" Mac n' Cheese.