I am one of those parents that leaves home around 2am, drives 408 miles to Disneyland with the arrival time of 8am. We have breakfast, head into the park, stay until 5pm, get on the road at 6pm to drive another 408 miles and arrive home about 1am. Woo hoo! I can't tell you how many times we did this over the years. I'm a Disney nut. If we aren't doing a one day trip we almost always do a 3 day one.
To make our trips special, before we leave we have a calendar on the fridge that both my girls take turns marking a day off, bringing us closer to our actual trip date. I give them their allowance in Disney Dollars. We listen to the park tracks the whole drive down. We talk about what we are going to do and work it out together so that when we do arrive at the park, it goes smoothly. Communication is the key! Make sure each kid has a chance to express what they really want to do. During the 6 hour drive, I bring their Disneyland coloring pages and they bring some Disney themed toys. All their clothes for the trip are Disney clothing, down to the socks on their feet. I believe that part of sustaining the Disney magic is to dress the part