Ever since I was a baby, going to Disneyland has been a big part of my childhood. The magic and nostalgia every time I go never wanes and makes me feel like a little kid again. The rides, parades, fireworks, food...I love it all! I have been dreaming and waiting until I could take my own kids one day and that day finally arrived. Some people may call me insane for taking a child under one to Disneyland. How could that possibly be fun or enjoyable? Well for Disney lovers like me, I hope the following tips will help taking your babies or toddlers to the happiest place on earth magical for the whole family.
Although going to Disneyland with kids undoubtably looks different, there is still so much available for parents with kids under one. The biggest advice I would give is to treat the experience as a marathon rather than an all out sprint. Take your time!
Treat the day as a whole experience, even if it doesn't seem like you have gone on many rides or seen the whole park. Take the time to walk main street and notice all the details you would usually blaze past to get to the rides. Visit City Hall, to the left as you enter, to get more information and grab your special occasion pins such as "1st Time to Disneyland." This will be a fun addition to your child's keep sakes as they get older. Mickey often appears in front of the Disney Gallery, to the right as you enter, so be on the lookout for a prime photo op. The Dapper Dans, pinstripe singing group, also tend to hang out in this spot as well. Another big hit for young kids are the display windows at the Emporium, first left hand corner of main street. They change when new Disney movies come out but the classics always make an appearance.
TIPS for EFFORTLESS EXPERIENCE:
Bring your stroller. Disneyland has strollers you can rent in the Mickey and Friends garage depot if you are traveling or don't want to bring your own stroller. I recommend bringing your own, however, because your baby or toddler is used to his or her stroller and will nap better during your day if they are in a familiar space. The rentable strollers also have NO storage where as you can throw anything and everything you need in your own stroller storage and not worry about needing to go back to the car for something.
Bring your own snacks. Disney does not allow outside food and drinks but one of the perks of going to Disneyland with a baby is that you can bring outside food and drinks in. Having non perishable snacks for your child will save you a lot of headache and money as sitting down to eat in Disneyland can be a long wait and expensive.
Download the Disneyland app. This app will tell you which rides your child can go on based on their height, has current wait times for all the rides, lets you know if fastpass is available, and you can order food for pick up at various park eateries.
Bring outfit changes. California natives know that there is one rule of thumb that always applies when it comes to weather - dress in layers. Utilize all that storage in the stroller and bring plenty of layers for yourself and your kids. You may start the day is shorts and a t-shirt but when the sun goes down, you never know how cold it will feel and often resort to buying merchandise in the park on a whim to stay warm. Pack pajamas for your child so that you don't have to change them when you get home or back to the hotel room after they are exhausted from a long day.
Buy Disney outfits & accessories before your trip. Although it is fun to check out the World of Disney store in downtown Disney, you will undoubtably pay a premium for merchandise you want to wear in the park, i.e. Mickey ears. My favorite online shop for unique AND comfortable Mickey ears in Main Street Mickey Shop on Etsy. They have an amazing selection and shipping is always fast and reliable. Another Etsy shop I love for Disney apparel is Magical Stitches US. They have adorable embroidered pieces for the whole family. This is also a wonderful way to support small businesses.
RIDES with NO HEIGHT REQUIREMENT:
- Jungle Cruise
- Tarzan's Treehouse
- Tiki Room
- Winnie the Pooh
- Alice in Wonderland
- Casey Jr. Circus Train
- It's a Small World
- King Arthur Carousel
- Mad Hatter Tea Party - don't spin to fast if your kids have just eaten or get motion sick
- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride - can be scary for younger kids
- Peter Pan's Flight
- Snow White's Enchanted Wish
- Storybook Land Canal Boats
- Sleeping Beauty's Castle
- Mark Twain Riverboat
- Tom Sawyer Island - perfect opportunity for your kids to run out some pent up energy
- Sailing Ship Colombia
- Main Street Cinema
- Main Street Vehicles
- Chip ’n Dale Treehouse – play area
- Donald’s Boat – play area
- Goofy’s Playhouse – play area
- Mickey’s House and Meet Mickey
- Minnie’s House
- Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin - can be scary for younger kids
NEW ORLEANS SQUARE
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Haunted Mansion - can be scary for younger kids
- Astro Orbitor
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Disneyland Monorail
- Finding Nemo Submarine
- Star Wars Launch Bay
BEST PHOTO OPS:
Main Street - There are several spots on Main Street that are perfect for family photos. Be on the lookout for park photographers. They will take your photo with your phone in addition to the one you can buy in the park.
Sleeping Beauty's Castle - The undeniable instagram worthy photo op. This is a must have for your child's first trip to Disneyland. The best lighting is typically 15 to 20 minutes before sunset. That way the sun is hidden behind park buildings and won't cause any shadows. During the holidays, this is also a less busy time because the snow show in front of the castle is about to start so there will be less unwanted photo bombing.
It's a Small World - I have always loved this location. It is such a cool backdrop and is especially fun and festive during the holidays.