We got back from our quick Disneyland trip about a week ago and I’m finally getting around to posting these tips! Our trip was a total blast, and I loved seeing the magic in Reagan’s eyes! We went when we she was 9 months old and that was a completely different experience since we wasn’t walking yet, so here are my tips for doing Disneyland with a toddler!
- Bring extra family or friends to help! This was absolutely crucial for us. Jared wasn’t able to make the trip but I had both of my parents and a couple brothers with me at all times in the park. They were awesome at helping me keep tabs on Reagan, chasing after her, waiting in line for food and rides while I chased after her, and just being extra sets of hands and eyes. There’s no way I would have done this without them!
- Bring a stroller with a large undercarriage and that’s easy to navigate. We bring so much stuff into the park with us when we have Reagan! All the snacks, extra clothes, toys, diapers/wipes, sunscreen, etc requires a lot of space so make sure you bring a stroller that can accommodate. Also bring one that is easy to navigate through crowds and tight spaces. Lots of people bring the double wide strollers but crowds aren’t always forgiving and it’s easier to feel in control when you have a stroller that can go where you want!
- Come over prepared. Bring more snacks, clothing layers, and toys than you think you’ll need! Disney requires a lot of energy and a lot of patience so making sure you have more than you think you need probably means you’ll have the perfect amount 🙂
- Pack your own food, and buy one meal in the park. Disneyland food can be expensive! We packed lots of crackers, granola bars, trail mix, dried fruit, Powerade, and baby food pouches for Reagan and those kept us pretty full most of the day. We bought one meal in Disney (lobster rolls in New Orleans Square that were OMG good) and had coupons for free churros and other snacks that we picked up during the day. There are lots of more affordable options in the park, do your research and you can find a place within your budget!
- Plan out what rides you want to do/can do beforehand. Visit Disneyland’s website and there is a list of attractions with height requirements, or go to Youtube and watch other people ride the rides to see if your toddler would like them! Some of the rides can be a little scary, so watching them beforehand on Youtube was super helpful for us! Most rides at Disneyland can be done with little ones, but if you come prepared with a plan, you’re not running around aimlessly or waiting in lines that your little one can’t actually go on.
- Use Fast Passes. Toddlers don’t like sitting still and waiting in lines, so Fast Passes are a must! Have one person in the group be in charge of running around the park and getting them so you can take advantage of much shorter wait times for the bigger attraction rides.
- If your toddler needs a break, go to Toon Town. When Reagan got fidgety or the rest of our group was doing a big ride, we’d head over to Toon Town so Reagan could get out of her stroller and run around a bit. This area of the park is generally less crowded so Reagan had the room to roam without me worrying about her getting trampled. She loved climbing on the cars and pretending to drive, and going inside the characters houses-everything here is kid sized and perfect for curious minds! We also ran into Goofy here and the line was super short which was awesome!
- Bring toys/activities for waiting in line. I didn’t do this and we were stuck chasing a toddler around while waiting in line which was a huge hassle. Bring something to occupy those little hands and minds so they don’t get bored waiting 15-20 minutes for an attraction! I was so glad my mom hung out with me all day because when I was too tired or needed a break, she would chase Reagan around for me while I stayed in the line.
- Bring layers/blanket. California can really cool down at night, so if you’re planning on staying in the park after the sun goes down then you need to bring jackets and/or blankets for the kids. I bundled Reagan up and she fell asleep while we hung out at the park a little longer, but I forgot a jacket for myself and I froze so I was glad I had things for her!
- Visit the characters. I’ve never made this a priority, but since Reagan has so many Disney stuffed animals I thought it’d be fun for her to get pictures and autographs from them! She wasn’t a huge fan of some of them (not super surprising because she’s shy) but I thought it was a fun way to spend our time. I bought a Disney autograph book for $4.99 and I also brought a matte from a picture frame I had for all the characters to sign so I can put Reagan’s picture in there and she’ll have a fun and cheap souvenir!
- Buy souvenirs before you go. Everything inside the park is way more expensive than if you bought it elsewhere. I bought our matching Minnie Mouse ears at Target and Walmart for $5 each, they were $20+ in the park! Walmart also has princess dresses and Amazon has tons of Disney stuff you can pick up for really great prices!
- Stay inside the park, or really close by. If you’re staying more than one day, staying in or near the park has tons of advantages! You’re never far from your room if you forgot something, you can run back to the hotel if little one won’t nap in the stroller, and you can always go back for a quiet place to rest or just get a break from the park. We only went one day this time, but last year we had two days and stayed in The Grand Californian and that was so convenient having a baby with us!
- Take advantage of the Baby Care Center. There is one on Main street off to the side before you reach the castle where they have toddler sized bathrooms, changing tables, baby food and formula, diapers and wipes and pretty much anything else you may have forgotten. You have to purchase the food and diapers but everything else is free. It’s a very calm place with the nicest ladies to answer all your questions, this would be a great place to breastfeed if you have a baby with you!
- Get to the park early!! Get there right when everything opens and you’ll be able to do some of the rides that get really long lines later in the day (Peter Pan, Cars) before the crowds arrive. If you go straight to Fantasy Land you can do pretty much everything there in the first hour which would be impossible later on! Most of those rides are good for toddlers too so that’s a good place to check off your list.
- Have an escape route…from the parades. We watched one of the parades and Reagan loved it for the first 10 minutes or so but then she got really irritable and just wanted to leave. We were locked in on all sides by people or barricades so we couldn’t get out with the stroller until the parade was done. The parade lasted 30 minutes!! It was really fun but next time I’ll be sure to sit somewhere that we can escape from easily!
- Come with a plan, but be flexible! I made a list before hand of all the rides and attractions I wanted to see and do in both parks, and we maybe got through half of them. Reagan only liked a couple of rides and I was too sick to go on them so we spent a lot of time just hanging out and enjoying the atmosphere of Disneyland, and it was great! There is so much magic everywhere regardless of how you spend your time, and your toddlers will love every second of it!
Watching Reagan toddle around with her little Disney backpack and ears made my heart so happy. I love seeing her experience the magic at such a young age. Even though she won’t remember this trip, and probably didn’t know what was going on while we were there, it was so fun to just watch her take everything in. I don’t think you should wait until your kids are old enough to remember to take them on fun trips like this, when they’re younger everything is so much more magical because they truly believe in it and seeing that in your kids is so wonderful.
Hope these tips help you plan your next big Disney trip!