Disneyland is an epic place to take a toddler, especially if she or he is under the age of 3 (because they’re FREE!). Our family got passes to Disneyland last year and it’s been an incredibly epic and fun way to spend time together on the weekends. Here are some fun Tips for Taking Toddlers and Babies to Disneyland.
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1) Find Disney Gear Before You Go to the Park – If you’re anything like me, you want the whole family to dress in Disney gear from head to toe. If you want to buy those things on a budget, I highly recommend checking out stores before you head to the park. Walmart, Target, H&M, Gap, Amazon and many other stores have affordable gear that your whole family can wear.
2) Bring food, drinks, and snacks for your family – The long lines can be hard for littles. If you have applesauce pouches, raisin boxes, and other easy treats to snack on~ it’ll make your entire experience much better. Our daughter was not a fan of the food at Disneyland so having things for her to eat throughout the day was huge. (Note: You can bring anything into the park except glass. They will confiscate it at the security check points.)
3) Bring a backpack or a comfy way of carrying your valuables – We normally keep a backpack filled with things like wipes, several changes of clothes, antibacterial spray, sunscreen, cell phone chargers, etc. in the stroller basket. Then I carry a little side satchel or cross body bag with my wallet, phone, chapstick, wipes, hand sanitizer, and snacks – something light that I can carry on me throughout the day but has all my essentials. I see tons of parents wearing backpacks around the park, but my toddler is so active that I find it hard to wear. Instead, I have a backpack at the bottom of the stroller and only carry a light cross body/side satchel. I would say, bring what works for you!
4) Get to the park when it opens – No matter the season, the best timeline I’ve found is going as soon as the park opens. It’s less crowded and the characters are all outside waiting to meet guests. It’s about a 2-5 minute wait per character, whereas the wait time can get up to 25 min-1 hour in the afternoon. The wait time for the most popular rides is also shorter, which means you can maximize your time at the Park.
Our family will usually do as much as possible in the cool morning, take a nap break in the afternoon, let our daughter run around at Mickey’s Toontown for a while, and then start the day back up in the late afternoon. We try to avoid rides and characters during the busiest times of day between 12pm-3pm. by doing more easy activities like watch shows.
5) Measure your toddler’s height before you go – There are so many incredible things toddlers can do at Disneyland, but please keep in mind that rides may not be one of them. Many of the rides have a height minimum. Trying to get a wiggly toddler to stand next to a height measurer at the park can be nearly impossible. I recommend measuring your toddler at home when it’s easy, so you know in advance which rides to avoid and which rides your family can go on.
6) Nursing Moms Can Use The Baby Care Centers in Disneyland and California Adventurs – The Baby Care Center in Disneyland is located next to the first aid office and the corn dog stand. The Baby Care Center in California Adventure isis next to Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop and across from The Bakery Tour in Pacific Wharf. The station is not only air conditioned, but it has individual rooms for moms nursing or pumping. Only some of the rooms have outlets so I recommend bringing batteries just in case. One wonderful thing for pumping mamas is that the first aid station will keep the pump for you while you walk around the park. They cannot hold onto the milk for liability reasons, but will give you ice packs for the pumped milk.
7) Bring Water – Water, Water, WATER. Bring LOTS of water! Frozen water bottles in the summer (if possible) are so helpful since they melt as the day gets hotter. If you bring refillable water bottles, there are water stations all throughout the park. One thing I also noticed was that every single stand/restaurant will give you free water and ice in disposable cups.
8) Be Prepared For The Weather With Layers And Sun Protection – The weather can be cool in the morning/evening and hot in the afternoon. Since many folks will be at the park all day and night, I recommend bringing lots of layers and sun protection. My daughter will not wear a hat so the best I can do is reapply sunscreen throughout the day and keep an umbrella in my backpack. During the long lines in the sun, I pop my umbrella and it shades our family and gives us a break from the heat. I also like bringing a thin muslin to act as a blanket or a cover when my little one is sleeping. If we’re going to stay for a fireworks or light show in the evening, I bring a fleece blanket and store it in my stroller basket. It can get chilly fast in the evening, especially if you’re walking back to the hotel or car when it’s late. In any case, layers are the best way to go for such a long and unpredictable day.
9) Walk Instead of Ride – If you park in the parking garage, the line for the tram can be insanely long. Our family always walks to the park and cuts through downtown Disney. Not only is it faster on some days, but you don’t have to unpack or fold your stroller. When you have squirmy little ones, this last step can be a huge energy sap before your day has even begun. Once you pass security at downtown Disney, across from ESPN Zone is a monorail into the park (you come out at Tomorrowland). This entrance bypasses the rest of downtown Disney and the long lines at the main entrance. If it’s your first time at the park and you want to take those classic photos at the entrance or meet the Characters that wait at the front of the park entrance, then do not take this short cut. Only do it if you have been to the park before and just want to go straight to the rides.
10) Download the Disney App and Have a Plan! – Parents should take a look at the park schedules and have an idea of which places to go and what times the shows are. It will make the day go by much smoother to know that in advance. Your little ones might take naps at unexpected times throughout the day, so it’ll be nice to prepare and know what show you can duck into (if it’s hot and you need a/c) or if you want to wait in line for something while your little one is sleeping.
11) Have Something Fun for Your Child to Do While Waiting in Line Line – This one is huge when you have little ones. Often times the lines for rides/shows can be 30 min to 1 hour. We bring tiny toys for C to play with, snacks to keep her tummy happy, and during the later afternoon we will let her watch a few things on our phones. The lines are long enough to begin with and having a squirmy toddler on the verge of a meltdown can be torture. Make sure you have a few things in your bag to keep your toddler happy or some fun songs to sing to help pass the time.
12) Park Your Stroller – At first when I thought about leaving my stroller behind in the designated areas per ride, I was taken aback. But we have never had any problems with our stroller and always make sure to take our valuables with us (wallet, camera, phones). Our cooler, backpack and some of C’s toys remain in the stroller basket. If you have a popular stroller in a basic color (like black), I recommend attaching something to the stroller to make it stand out. My friend wraps ribbon on the handles so it’s easy to find in the sea of parked strollers. I cover mine with a bright muslin so it stands out.
13) Check out the Toddler Appropriate Rides –
- At Disneyland, I recommend Dumbo, Peter Pan, the Carousal, It’s a Small World, Toon Town, Story Book Land, Jungle Cruise, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Storytime, and the parades for little ones. I also recommend the character meet and greets throughout the park.
- At California Adventure, I recommend Ariel, the Frozen Show, Bugs Land, Disney Junior Dance Party, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters, Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!, and the parades that happen throughout the day. Another must: character meet and greets throughout the park, like meeting with Elsa and Anna!
14) Get Something to Eat – The Golden Horseshoe in Disneyland is a place that our family usually goes to for lunch. Not only is it air conditioned, but there is a show once every hour. When our daughter is sleeping on a hot day, we take her in there for a cool place to nap. There is a large selection of items on the menu and you get to watch a fun/quirky show while you take a break!
15) Don’t Forget Your Buttons! – There are free buttons at the gift shop kiosks for every occasion: first trip to Disneyland, birthdays, celebrations, newlyweds, etc. We love getting buttons for C to wear throughout the day. She always feels so special walking around with one.
I hope these tips help you and your little ones on your next trip to the Happiest Place On Earth!