I did it, I took my toddler to Disneyland, and I have never been so equally stressed and excited for something before. It was amazing, and completely exhausting. Before our trip, I asked a lot of people for a lot of advice, and here is a list of what I believe made our vacation a magical success:
- Bring (or rent) a stroller. A good stroller will definitely be a lifesaver, as there is a lot of walking involved in a trip to Disneyland. I rented mine from City Stroller Rentals (you can read my review on them here).
- Wear comfortable shoes. If your toddler is anything like mine, you will end up holding them for a lot of the ride lines, so comfortable shoes are a must.
- Make time for nap time. We stayed in a hotel across the street from Disneyland, just for this purpose. We were just a 10 minute walk from the park, and were able to walk back to the hotel for naps in between our adventures. Titan and I were both in need of naps, and he was so exhausted that he would nap for 4-5 hours, which was amazing, and also allowed us to stay out later and watch the night parade.
- Bring plenty of snacks and water. A hungry child is a grumpy child, and you want them to enjoy the magic, so keep those little bellies full. We ended up bringing our own water bottles and filling them up with ice and water from the hotel every time we would head out which also saved a lot of money.
- Use the Disneyland app. First of all, it’s free. Second, it is an interactive map of Disneyland, so you don’t get lost. Third, it gives approximate line times for rides. I didn’t ever have a “plan” for which rides to do in what order, I would just look at the app and go on whatever had the shortest line. This was perfect especially since most of the little kid rides don’t have fast passes available. Oh, and little kids don’t have great patience for long lines.
- Let them bring their comfort object. Titan has special blankets (there are four of them, but I only let him use one at a time, so I can wash them and make sure he always has a clean one). These blankets are the cure to all sadness and are his most special possessions. I usually don’t let him bring them with us places, but I’m so glad I decided to make this an exception. A lot of the little kid rides have scary parts, especially the older ones, but Titan’s special blanket helped him to be brave. He even went on Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion and did awesome.
- Meet (or watch) the characters. Surprisingly, this was one of Titan’s favorite things. He was afraid of the characters up close and would panic, “Hold Mama! Hold Mama!” But, he could sit in his stroller about 20 feet away and watch them meet other children for forever. As soon as we would start walking away, he would say, “See Ant!” or whoever it was and be all sad, haha.
- Watch the parade. I’m not huge on parades, but this one is amazing, and your toddler will be in awe. Titan wasn’t such a huge fan of the fireworks though. I think some of them were a little too bright for him, but that he will love them in a few years.
- Don’t try to fit too much in. Let your toddler take the lead in how much you do. Watch for cues that they need to take a nap, or want to climb around, etc. If you don’t ride every ride, don’t sweat it. The most important thing is that they are having fun and soaking it all in.
- Enjoy the atmosphere. Half of Disneyland is the incredible atmosphere they have created. Even though he was too short to go on the Cars ride, Titan loved exploring Radiator Springs and recognizing things from the movie. He also couldn’t get enough of the cars in Toon Town and touching everything he could inside Mickey’s house.
- Take a million pictures and then make a book for them to look at. Titan loves his book of Disneyland photos, and likes to show them to his little stuffed Mickey.
Thank you, Disneyland, for the wonderful memories!
Any other tips you might suggest??