As the summer crowds and heat start to descend on Disneyland during an already busy 60th Celebration, I want to give you some tips for a day (or a few hours) with a toddler at Disneyland. Now, let me preface this by saying that I do not have a toddler (or children) myself. I do however, get to be an honorary auntie to two of the most adorable girls on the planet. I took Aubrey, who was 2 at the time, to Disneyland the day before her sister Madeline was born. Aubrey was all dressed up in her Cinderella dress, and was beyond excited when I told her that Auntie Caitlyn was taking her to Disneyland. Now, I’ve been to Disneyland with children before, but never for a good chunk of the day by myself. It was a great experience, and so much fun! So, based on of my experience, and some help from my parents, the seasoned veterans, here are 10 tips for taking a toddler to Disneyland.
1. Pack Plenty of Snacks and Juice/Water
As you’re probably well aware, children are always wanting something to eat or drink, and Disneyland food can be expensive. By bringing your own food and drinks, you’re going to save yourself a lot of time and money. I know packing a lot can be a pain, but it’ll help you in the long run. If you run out of water, just ask any quick service restaurant and they’ll give you a free cup of ice water. That way, you fill up your toddlers sippy cup, and you can stay hydrated as well!
2. Be “Go With the Flow”
Toddlers don’t EVER follow a schedule, so watch their behavior and go according to that. It won’t be as fun to do things when they’re cranky. It’ll be less frustrating if you don’t cram your schedule, and just take the day as it comes.
3. Take Time to Meet the Characters
Now, I know some kids are a little uneasy about meeting characters, but if your toddler likes them, try meeting a few or as many as you can! It is truly a magical experience to see a young child light up when they meet their favorite hero, princess, or Mickey himself! When I took Aubrey, she was awestruck at meeting Cinderella, Ariel, and Aurora. The picture I took of Cinderella and Aubrey looking at the slipper is just too precious, and I cherish that memory so much. Trust me, you will not regret spending a little bit of time in line to see your toddler meet Mickey for the first time.
4. Have Your Kids Wear a Costume if They Have One
Now, please don’t go out and buy a costume just because. If your child happens to have one, it would be fun for them to wear it, especially when they meet their favorite character and they’re wearing the same costume! It makes for a great interaction! Make sure you pack an extra pair of clothes as the costumes can get hot and uncomfortable!
5. Remember That Nap-time Is Important!
Just because you’re in Disneyland doesn’t mean you have to skip nap-time to get everything done. There are plenty of quiet places you can go while they nap in their stroller, or on your shoulder. My favorite quiet spot is in the Animation Building in CA Adventure. It’s also a perfect spot if you need a reprieve from the weather. The Grand Californian lobby is excellent, because there are rocking chairs, comfy couches, but it’s also spacious and air conditioned and usually some nice piano music.
6. Map Out the Bathrooms Before Getting to the Park
You’ll want to know before the dreaded “I hafta go potty NOW” issue arises.
7. If You’re Limited on Time, Don’t Worry Too Much About Rides
Take it slow and do things off of their mood. Disneyland can be a lot to take in for a small child, as there will be new things, lots of people, and lots to see. However, some toddler friendly rides in Disneyland include: Casey Jr. Circus Train, Peter Pan, Dumbo, it’s a small world (remember, 14 minutes of A/C!), and Winnie the Pooh. In California Adventure, they include: The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, all rides in A Bugs Land, and Jumpin’ Jellyfish. In California Adventure, the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is a great place to let your kids run, climb, and get their wiggles out.
Honorable show mentions go to Disney Jr. Live on Stage, Turtle Talk with Crush, The Royal Theatre, and Jedi Training Academy.
8. Be Careful What You Say, They WILL Remember It!
When I took Aubrey, it was around the time when the Anna and Elsa meet and greet averaged a two hour wait. I almost told Aubrey that we were going to see them, but I figured she would never let me forget it if I told her and then we didn’t end up seeing them. Instead, I told her I had a surprise (which she kept asking about), so I could check the line. I wasn’t shocked to see that it was a two hour wait, so instead, I showed her Olaf (when he was still on the roof in Fantasyland), and she was completely satisfied with seeing him. She never knew that Anna and Elsa were right behind the door.
9. Experience the Park Through Their Eyes
Disneyland through the eyes of a child is truly something special. Everything is exciting to them, and it is such a magical experience. Take the time to watch their eyes light up, because you’ll experience Disney magic as a child all over again.
10. Make Sure to Capture the Memories, But Live Them as Well
We all are engrossed with using our phones and taking photos of everything, but sometimes it’s important to stop, step back, and actually enjoy the moment. I encourage you to still take pictures, because they’ll last forever, but live in the moment and enjoy it through yours and your child’s eyes.
I hope these tips were helpful, and I truly wish that your trip with your little one is full of Disney magic!
Until next time,
Twitter and Instagram: @caitlynnoel