When most people think of Disneyland, myself included, I think of family time. I love spending time with my husband and my son there, and it’s great that most of the attractions are such that an entire family from grandmas to young children can enjoy them together. I have found, though, that I also love having a date night with my husband there. There are some fabulous restaurants such as Napa Rose and Catal that are great as adults only and it’s great that he and I can actually go on attractions together instead of one of us riding with our son and the other riding separate.
Unfortunately, living in Arizona, it’s not like I have family or friends close by with whom I can leave my son so after some research and many visits, I thought I’d share what we do in case others traveling to Disneyland would like to do the same.
The first place I thought of was Pinocchio’s Workshop located inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. What I like about Pinocchio’s Workshop is that it is run by Disney and is right on Disneyland property. That certainly made me feel a lot more comfortable about leaving my son there. After leaving him there, I found other things that I really like. They have lots of activities available for kids. There are crafts, both video and standard games, play areas, the Cast Members seem to really interact and play with the kids, one can order food from the hotel for dinner, and they take the kids to another location in the hotel to see the fireworks. My son actually asks to go there. We’ve gotten to know the Cast Members over the years, too, and on a recent visit where I ended up with an abscessed tooth, they were so sweet pitching in on a gift for me as well as a baggie with a toothbrush and pin that they usually give kids who lose a tooth to cheer my somewhat spoiled Disneyland visit. Unfortunately, we can’t always put our son there. Being a guest in a Disneyland hotel is a requirement and while we do often stay in Disneyland hotels, we don’t always. In addition, sometimes we need childcare early in the day, not for date night, but for runDisney races, and their hours are 5pm to Midnight so we have needed to make other arrangements. It is also important to note that while our son fits this description so it works for us, they do only accept children ages 5 – 12 who are fully potty trained, play well with others, and don’t require one-on-one supervision. The cost is $13.00/hour with an extra charge for a meal. Reservations recommended.
When we can’t leave our son at Pinocchio’s Workshop, we call Sitters Unlimited. We actually found Sitters Unlimited by calling the Concierge on a stay at the Disneyland Hotel (but they are not owned by nor affiliated with Disney). They will send someone to your hotel room or rental home to watch your child or children. From their website, “All of our care-givers are CPR & 1st Aid Certified and have Criminal Background Checks on file. All have extensive experience as care-givers before they come to us. Many are teachers, nurses, tutors, camp counselors and volunteers in their communities. They range from college students to moms and grandmas.” A number of visits ago, they sent Janet to watch our son. Janet has 20 years of experience with Sitters Unlimited. She showed up on her first visit with a bag of stuff to do to keep my son entertained (all their sitters do) and was really great. On one visit, she had a concern after she left and called me to make sure I was aware of it. We now request Janet every trip, although I’m sure all their sitters are great. Because they are only caring for your child or children, they will watch younger children and will take your child (if you want and give permission) to events in the hotel or the hotel pool and come at whatever hour you request. The cost for our son was $16.00/hour plus a $7 travel fee. Reservations required.
I highly recommend going on a date night during a Disneyland visit and hope this will enable you to do so. It’s so wonderful to spend alone time with one’s spouse at the Happiest Place on Earth!
Pinocchio’s Workshop – (714) 635-2300, https://disneyland.disney.go.com/recreation/grand-californian-hotel/pinocchios-workshop/
Sitters Unlimited – (714) 758-5645 (Hotel Care Number), http://socasittersunlimited.com/