Disclosure: Disneyland provided me with media park passes.
Disneyland is MAGICAL!
At least, it is to me. I grew up going to Disneyland several times a year. My whole family are big Disney fans. My dad hung the old Disney lithographs on our walls. In 8th grade I did a book report on Walt Disney. Even as a teen, if you asked me what my favorite place was, without missing a beat, I’d have told you Disneyland.
My family went to Disneyland a LOT. We were a large brood and we often had multiple kids under the age of 3 with us.
So it is only natural that letting our children experience a bit of this magic is high on my priority list. That is why when I was planning our family vacation to southern California last month I made sure to include a trip to Disneyland.
In the many trips I’ve made to Disneyland over my lifetime I’ve picked up several helpful tips for going to Disneyland with a baby and kids.
Here are a few tips for going to Disneyland with a Baby and Kids:
- Before you do anything else, I suggest you visit Disneyland’s Offers and Discounts page. Checking out the discounts and offers on this page can help you figure out whether you’ll get more bang for your buck purchasing one of Disneyland’s travel packages or booking hotel, buying tickets, etc. a la carte. If you’re a military family be sure to check out current Disneyland military discounts
- Also an important first step is to decide which day of the week/month you’ll be visiting Disneyland. If you’ve ever experienced the wonder of Disneyland then you’ve also experienced the lines. When you’re taking young kids the last thing you want to be doing all day is waiting in lines. During peak days it isn’t uncommon to experience average wait time of 1 hour with the more popular ride lines reaching almost 2 hours. It is possible spend an entire day at Disney and only ride a handful of rides. To avoid this I went to Is It Packed Disneyland Crowd Forecaster. For Disney World try this Disney World Crowd Calendar.
- Download the DLR Lines Disneyland planning app to your phone. I didn’t pick up this tip until our 2nd day at Disneyland when I was talking to a stranger and his family at dinner. He used the app DLR Lines to check line wait times and plan their ride schedule. You can also use the app to check the crowd level on the day you’re planning on visiting. You can use this app for Disneyworld too!
- Get the kids their own Disney Dollars! We always let our kids pick out a toy to buy at Disneyland. This year I let them do extra chores to earn their Disneyland money. When we arrived at Disneyland California Adventure our first day I headed straight to the park’s “Chamber of Commerce” building and exchanged some of my real money for Disney Dollars. Disney Dollars can be used in any of the Disney parks.
- Plan to see some shows. Disneyland rides are great, but make time to see a couple shows. Disneyland shows and parades are made to wow, and both you and your kids will welcome the opportunity to sit, rest, and be entertained! You can check out Disneyland show schedules ahead of time at the app above or at the Disneyland website.
- Got a Star Wars enthusiast? Don’t be late for Jedi Training! The Jedi Training Academy is for kids ages 4-12. Participants are randomly selected from audience volunteers, but *tip* the more energetic your kid is (as in “Pick Me! Pick Me!”) the more likely they are to be selected.
- Fast Passes! As soon as we entered California Adventure I went to nurse the baby while the boys headed to the new Cars Land. The first stop they made was to the new Radiator Springs Racers ride where they waited in line for an hour and a half. When you have an impatient 6 year old that’s not the greatest way to kick off a day at Disney. Better bet would have been to stop at that ride’s fast pass kiosk and pick up a pass to come back at a later specified time. You can see which rides offer Fast Passes here.
- Sunblock and Hats!!! Unless you plan on going to Disneyland parks on a rainy day, it is wise to bring along a tube of sunblock. And don’t pull a me and forget to sunblock your legs. You will likely be sitting in the sun at various time during the day. You’ll also be standing in line a lot so make sure to get the back of your legs too! I have relearn this every time I go to Disneyland. Apply before you enter the park and reapply after lunch. Make sure to bring hats for the kids. Keeping the kids’ eyes shaded will help prevent headaches from the sun.
- Make sure to check out the Baby Care Centers. I’ll admit, this was probably my favorite discovery! It was such a relief to be able to feed my easily distracted nurser in a quiet, cool (so important in the summer months!) place! Located in California Adventure and Disneyland parks, the Baby Care Centers offer:
- Booking a hotel? Book EARLY! During the moderate to peak days hotels around Disneyland fill up fast…especially if you need a suite. I tried to book a suite two weeks ahead in late May and found almost all the suites booked! Thankfully, I scored one of just a few family suites left available at a hotel directly across from the entrance to the Disney parks.
- Bonus tip: Take advantage of the Disneyland baby swap policy: Although I’ve used the baby swap option dozens of times at Disneyland, a friend pointed out that I’d left this uber-helpful tip out of my post. To that I can only offer my deepest apologies. Taking advantage of the Disneyland baby swap policy is easy and allows both mom and dad (or grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, significant other, etc.) to enjoy any ride at Disneyland even with a baby in tow. To use this policy, everyone needs to wait in line together. When you reach the first line attendant inform them that you are doing a baby (or child) swap and they’ll let you enter the line. When you reach the loading area, one adult rides while the other stays with the kids. Attractions at some parks offer waiting areas for this purpose, but generally you just wait off to the side. Then the riding adult disembarks and takes charge of the children while the other adult rides. A third adult (or child who meets the minimum height requirement) in the party can ride twice, once with each switching-off adult, so that the switching-off adults don’t have to ride alone.
I hope these tips help you plan an awesome Disneyland trip! You and your kids deserve it!