Can Disneyland still be the most magical place when taking toddlers? Yes! Here are some tips to make your trip to Disneyland with toddlers amazing!
I have been dying to take Oliver to Disneyland ever since he started freaking out every time he saw Mickey and the gang on anything. I am a planner. Sometimes. But I did all the planning for this trip and it paid off! Aside from how insanely busy it was because of Thanksgiving, it was great. So here I am, imparting my wisdom gained from planning and experience to help you have an amazing trip! This post is all about the best tips on how to make Disneyland with toddlers amazing.
DISNEYLAND WITH TODDLERS GUIDE
Pre-Trip Prep & Disney Bootcamp
Know the height requirements! It would be such a shame to get your little toddler hyped up for a ride only to find out that he or she is too small to ride it. Even worse, if you stood in line for 30 to 45 minutes and then found out! Doing your research will allow you to tailor your trip on your pre-planning to make sure that your little toddler is ready for the rides that they can ride.
Another prepaid trip thing you can do is to teach your kids about Disney. Let’s call it a mini Disney Bootcamp. They may have watched some movies, but to really get the full Disney Experience it is helpful for them to watch movies or videos about the stuff that they’re going to see. This will really help bring things to life for them and help them make the connection between what they’ve seen at home with you and what they’re experiencing in the Parks. It also helps to have them listen to music that is on the rides or will be played at the park. Our Ollie loves music, and he loved making the connections between songs he heard in movies or that we played for him and the songs he heard at the park.
Here are some videos and music and movies that can help you in your little Disney boot camp.
- Little Mermaid
- Winnie the Pooh
- Toy Story
- Peter Pan
- Snow White
Last thing I recommend when pre-planning is to familiarize yourself with the park. Trust me, the last thing you want to do is not know where you’re going and spend valuable time looking at a map and trying to find where each ride is when you get there. Familiarizing yourself with the park will allow you to better plan for which rides you want to hit and where you want to eat and be more efficient with your time!
What to Pack
I’m sure we all know how to pack, so I’m just going to give you my recommendations for extra things we found helpful to bring for your sweet little toddler to have a comfortable experience at Disneyland.
- Disney-themed outfits (optional of course)
- Water bottles
- Daily outfits in ziplocs for easier access (Busy Toddler idea)
- Diapers and wipes (14 DIAPER BAG ESSENTIALS YOU DON’T WANT TO LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT + FREE CHECKLIST)
- Good shoes for kids
- Jacket/Sweater – depending on when you are going
- A few toys or books for long waits
- Wristband or Temporary Tattoo with your Phone Number
Where to Stay
We love using Get Away Today to book our Disneyland trips. Their website is so easy to use and allows you to easily compare all of the hotels in the area. Our two favorite hotels are the Marriott and the Desert Palms – https://www.desertpalmshotel.com/
We like to get suites when we go with Ollie because we don’t keep him up (and vice versa) and it allows us to get ready in the mornings before we wake him up so that he can get maximum sleep. Get Away Today makes it really easy to search for hotels with suites so that we can find what we’re looking for more easily. They are amazing!
We also booked our Disney World trip through them during the pandemic and someone from their office reached out to us before our trip to make sure we had what we needed. It was so great.
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At the Park
Traveling with toddlers is a little slower in general and Disneyland is no exception. Kids have little legs and they are super curious. It’s fine! Take time to enjoy the experience through their eyes. This was something that really helped us when we took Ollie because we are huge Disney people and we do Disney hard. However, Oliver likes to take things so slow so changing our perspective and realizing that we may not be able to ride all the rides that we wanted to really helped us have a much better time. We went with the flow and we just had a few key rides we wanted to hit. Thankfully, we hit most of them and had a great time despite the crowds and a little toddler.
Some little toddlers are still taking naps and that’s ok! That’s why I recommend bringing (or renting) a stroller. Ollie napped in the stroller a couple of times while we were at Disneyland, which was great. The stroller was also super helpful for when he got tired or we had to go a long distance.
There is also plenty of stroller parking throughout Disneyland which makes it easy to park it when you are getting ready to get on a ride.
Rider Swap Pass
You guys, I did not even know this was a thing until I went with my nephew a few years ago. It is the sweetest thing for adults with kids so that everyone can experience the ride even when there are kids that are too small to ride it. For those of you who don’t know what this is, this is a way that Disney allows groups with small kids who are too small to ride a ride to just take turns.
How it works is that your group will go to the Disney employee by the ride and ask for a rider swap pass. The Disney employee will scan the tickets of the members of your group that are going to stay behind with the littles, and then let those that are going on the ride first on while the others remain behind with the kid. Once the first group has finished riding the ride then the second group can go right to the front of the line, scan their tickets and ride the ride. It is amazing and I highly recommend it if you have small kids. For our last trip, we went with my in-laws and sister-in-law. This made it super easy for both Josh and I to be able to ride rides together while the rest of the family hung out with Oliver.
What to Eat
It can be hard to really plan your day without knowing how long the wait times are going to be. We definitely had a plan for what we wanted to hit each day though and where we wanted to eat (and an alternative in case it didn’t pan out). It’s also super helpful to make reservations ahead of time.
When we go, we typically only eat out once a day. Our breakfast is covered by the hotel, and lunches are super easy to make ahead of time, so we will usually eat out at dinner. If we drive, we just head over to a local grocery store (there is a Target within 1 mile of Disney) and get some snacks and things to make sandwiches. We then store our food in the lockers so we don’t have to carry it around and will grab it when we’re ready for lunch!
This time around though, we ate out for lunch and dinner because again, Thanksgiving. We splurged a little and it was pretty fun! Aside from the prices. Thankfully, I don’t eat a ton so I would get something small and then share food with Oliver or Josh.
I highly recommend using mobile ordering when getting food though, especially your snacks at highly sought-after places, like Mint Julep Bar or the ronto roasters. you can do this through the app, super easy, and super efficient. Bonus, you don’t have to stand in line with your toddler!
For example, if you’re in line to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, just get on your Disney app and mobile order your snacks from the Mint Julep Bar. If you time it right, your order will be ready when you get off the ride! This makes it so much easier also because you don’t have to stand in line to order your food you can do your thing until you get the notification that your food is ready.
Best Places to Eat
- Dole Whip at Tiki Juice Bar
- Bengal Beef Skewer at Bengal Barbecue
- Macarons at Jolly Holiday Bakery
- Mickey-shaped Beignets and New Orleans Mint Julep at Mint Julep Bar
- Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor
- Blue Milk from the Milk Stand
- Ronto Roasters
Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner
There you have it! Those are our recommendations for Disneyland with toddlers. It can be done, And it can be fun. I will agree that it definitely gets more fun as they get older because you don’t have to do the rider swap pass. However, I’m going with the little toddler is just so magical and you definitely experience Disneyland and a different light which is so amazing.