Another summer, another Disney trip in the books. Truth be told, we weren’t planning on heading to the parks this year as we are planning to go to Walt Disney World next spring, but the opportunity to travel with my husband’s family came up and, well, who can say no to that?
There were eleven of us total for this trip: three couples, one single, and one family of four. This group had a big range in that we had a couple with two small kids (me), two childless couples, one single, and one pair of grandparents. The Best Western Plus Stovalls met everyone’s needs.
Firstly, the breakfast is excellent. The coffee is solid, and they have lids so you can take it to go. They had a wide array of options including make-your-own yogurt parfaits (including toppings like granola, cranberries, and fruit), make-your-own breakfast sandwich (cheese, egg whites, regular egg patties, turkey sausage, bacon and English muffins), make-your-own-oatmeal (apple, original, maple; with topping options like fruit and nuts). There was always cereal, sometimes scrambled eggs with chorizo and tortillas (my personal fave), toast, bagels, and four types of juice. They even had peanut butter, so I was able to make my boys some PB & Js for the parks.
The pool was the other star of this hotel. There are gazebos along the edges of the pools (yes, pools!), so there is shade for those of you who want to be out of the sun. They had lounge chairs as well as a table and chairs to eat at (we often had snacks on the tables to pick at throughout the day). There are two decent sized pools, two hot tubs, and a toddler pool that is 1.5 feet. Perfect for them to splash around in on their feet rather than relying on adults to keep them afloat.
The location is what seals the deal for me in the end. It’s about a ten minute walk to Downtown Disney, and a 15 minute walk to the Cheesecake Factory. It’s right beside the Anaheim Convention Center.
This trip was the first time that I had groceries delivered, and it was A-mazing! I started my order about two weeks before we left (keener, I know), because I was just itching to remember everything. I wanted the food delivered the day we arrived since we were planning on being in the parks the next day, so I noted that we wouldn’t be available by phone, but listed my e-mail and my husband’s e-mail and mentioned the hotel by name again so that we could be contacted there.
Some things to be aware of:
- Check through your order a couple days before and actually place it, because some things could be out of stock. I also found that two weeks before Coke Zero wasn’t on sale, so I was going to buy a pack of La Croix, but then when I went to put my order through, Coke was as cheap as the La Croix but came as a 12-pack rather than an 8-pack.
- Payment requires a credit card online. It did not allow me to use a Canadian billing address, so instead I put all of my correct billing information, except that when it asked for zip code and city, I used our US shipping address. Payment went through just fine.
- Take a look online for any discount codes. Google “Walmart grocery promo code.” I was able to find a $10 off code, which helped balance out the delivery fee.
- Different times have different delivery amounts. I was able to choose 4 pm-5 pm which was only $7.95 for delivery, but you can pay as much as $9.95.
- Be prepared to tip the delivery person. I don’t know why, but I totally didn’t think of this… luckily he arrived right as I was being checked in to my room, so I had my wallet with me. He brought everything right into the room for me. You can also tip after (Walmart sends a link to tip).
- Delivery requires a minimum $30 order. With there being 11 of us, we all put everything onto one order rather than everyone having to pay a delivery fee.
- If they’re out of something, they will substitute it, but you need to check off that substitutions are okay. They did a great job substituting, but there were a couple of things out of stock that they didn’t substitute.
What to Order
Before you order, make sure that you have a fridge in your room. I had stayed at the hotel before, so I knew that it would fit what I bought. Here’s what my order looked like for my family of four:
- Yogurt tubes, cheese sticks, fish crackers, juice boxes, food packs.
- Bubble solution (to refill the bubble wands previously purchased in Disneyland).
- Canned pop and juice boxes (for those days by the pool).
- Pre-sliced cheese, pepperoni rounds, crackers (I brought a container from home and rather than spend $3 on Lunchables, I made my own!).
- Food for the park: anything that was ready to eat. Wraps, salads, etc. One per day in the park. (I packed my youngest’s clothes in a cooler, which then fit in to his carry on.)
- Mac and cheese microwaveable bowls. Previously they let you heat these up in the park at the Baby Centers. With the new stroller rules, they’ve also put this on the no-go list. So I just heated them up in the hotel room and brought them down to the pool for lunch on an off day or made them in the morning of a park day, popped them into my container I’d brought from home, and let the boys eat it cold (they didn’t mind).
- Canned coffee. Specifically Starbucks Double Shot Espresso and Cream. You can’t bring glass into the parks, so make sure whatever you grab is in a can. It was $5.68 for four, but I figure it’s cheaper than buying a coffee in the park. If you don’t have a cooler, any quick service restaurant in the park will give you a cup of ice.
- Iced coffee and creamer. (It was so nice to have on our pool day! We could just lounge by the pool and not have to run out anywhere.)
- Bottled water (especially if different water upsets your stomach).
- Snacks (granola bars, trail mix, candy, chips).
- Adult beverages (you’ll have to show ID at drop off).
- $1.49 sand toy (because we went to Newport Beach). (Check out our post on great beaches in the area here.) I also grabbed a couple of table clothes at the dollar store from home to lay our towels on top of at the beach. My mother-in-law popped into a convenience store called Fry’s Market and rented an umbrella and chair for $15.
In the Parks with a Large Group
There is nothing like being in the park with family. The bonding and sharing that happens is indescribable. There are obviously some down sides to being in a large group, in that it can be hard to get going (why is there always someone who races to the bathroom just as part of the group is returning? Also, “Hi, I’m someone”), and you don’t always get to do what you want to do. We started the mornings together and did our best to make sure that everyone had a say in where we were headed, and then often split up in the afternoon. Sometimes we met up again, and sometimes we didn’t. But you need to feel free to do what is best for your family. It is a delicate balance of doing what you need to do but also making concessions so that everyone feels heard and has a good time.
For example, I’m usually not one to leave the parks. I don’t go back for a swim, I don’t go out to eat. But this time I did. Eating inside the parks is expensive, and honestly there wasn’t anything new that I was dying to try. We walked as a group to the Pizza Press (basically Subway for pizza), and we were able to feed our fam of four for $11! Of course, we tacked on a fountain drink and a beer, so that brought the total up to $20, but the value was much better compared to what you can find in the park. The only downside was that the idea of walking back made me want to cry a bit, and our youngest was just losing it. So instead we all headed back to the hotel, and had such a good time in the pool together. Concessions were made, but the memories were worth it.
This was the first time our four year old was able to do the “big” rides. He is just 42 inches, and I’m not going to lie, I got emotional as we got into the line up for Space Mountain (Space Mountain. My baby went on Space Mountain!). But let me tell you, that kid was an absolute champ. He was not scared of one ride! However, we did make sure to tier it a bit for him. Don’t start off on the Matterhorn. Don’t lead with Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout. Check out our post here about sensitive kids, and details on individual rides. It was pretty clear after Space Mountain that this kid was game for anything.
Notes for Next Time
Even veterans make mistakes, okay? Remember how we went back to the hotel instead of the park? Well, at the time I figured, no big deal, we’ve got plenty of time, it’s only day two of four. But then on day four we found that we hadn’t done several of the rides in Fantasyland, including my personal fave, Peter Pan! We had planned to do it all day, but in the morning we were sticking together as a group, and so we were doing bigger rides, then in the afternoon we popped over to DCA to do our favourites over there one last time.
That day really flew by, and before you know it, it was dark. We headed back into Disneyland while the Electrical Parade was going on, which made navigating really difficult. Our goal was Fantasyland. I wish we’d stopped to watch the parade, but I also really wanted to get those last couple of rides in. By the time we got to Fantasyland, all of the rides from the Carousel on were closed for the fireworks (they re-open after). So no Peter Pan for me.
Because half of Fantasyland was closed, it bumped up the wait times of the remaining rides. It was getting late, and we were at the end of the trip, so the boys were exhausted. We checked out the Disneyland app to see the wait times, and Pirates was only five minutes. Now, normally you can walk from Fantasyland to Pirates in less than five minutes. But it also happened to be when Fantasmic was on. So the area was absolutely packed. It was slow going, but we made it on, the lineup was indeed short, and it was a great final ride. We then got caught in the fireworks traffic on our way back. Here’s where we learn a lesson. Be aware of the entertainment schedule. During the summer, avoid Main Street/Fantasyland/Frontierland from 8:30 pm – 10:00 pm. During the off-season, when the nighttime shows aren’t every night, avoid on weekends.
All that to say, know what you want to do, and make it a priority to get it done. But if you don’t make it a priority, then take a lesson from Elsa, and let it go. Would I have wanted to see Fantasmic and the Electrical Parade this time around? Sure. But I didn’t make it a priority; because for me, this trip was about Daniel’s family. And I’m so pleased at how it all turned out. This trip was truly one for the books. I’ve been blessed with the absolute greatest in-laws, and it was such a pleasure to hang out with all of them for a whole glorious week.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us @stressfreemickey on Instagram, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a magical day!