Disneyland is our favorite place on Earth! Since we live so close and have a Southern California Annual Pass, we try to visit at least once a month.
Traveling to Disneyland with a toddler can be hectic, even if it’s a day trip and you’re not lugging a suitcase across the country.
I’ve put together a few tips from our experience at Disneyland that I hope will help to make your trip magical!
If you can swing an early morning, arrive right when the gates open to maximize your day. The park is usually pretty empty earlier in the day, which makes it easy visit favorite characters or hop on a favorite ride without long wait-times. Plus, from experience toddlers are typically in better moods in the morning! If you live close to Disneyland, arriving early is perfect for a half-day adventure, so that you’re home before dinner!
Pack LOTS of Snacks
Plenty of snacks will be a lifesaver to have on hand throughout the day. We typically pack a variety of healthy fruits and veggies, as well as our favorite junk food snacks to keep our toddler happy. Since you will be waiting in lines, snacks that are easy to grab and go are the best kind such as: applesauce pouches, fig bars, apple slices, fruit snacks, cheese sticks etc.). If you can’t pack snacks, Disneyland now has healthy stands around the park packed with fruit and veggie options for your toddler to munch on while waiting in line or cruising in the stroller. You can bring a soft cooler with an icepack into the park that security will check on your way in.
Bring a stroller that is easy to push because you will be walking all day. Since the park is filled with strollers, you might want to find a way to easily identify your stroller such as a special ribbon on the handlebar. You may also want to consider a wheel lock just in case a pesky thief happens to be trolling the park for an expensive stroller. Also, make sure that you bring your most comfy stroller with a good sun shade, so that if your toddler needs to nap, you won’t have to leave the park.
Baby Care Center
The Baby Care Center will be your new best friend! It’s a little oasis from the bustle of the park where mamas can relax in some air-conditioning and a bit of quiet. The centers are clean and includes all the necessities for babies and toddlers. Nursing mamas can also indulge in a few minutes of privacy while nursing. You can also find small toddler potties and an array of CLEAN changing tables. It also has a full kitchen and you can heat milk, prepare baby food and use a high chair. If you forget a critical baby supply, they also have extra wipes, diapers and other baby gear items. The best part is that it’s FREE!
Pull out that old fanny pack from the 80’s! It will alleviate the headache of carrying a heavy diaper bag onto the rides. You can store your cell, credit card, identification and any other valuables without having to worry about them all day, or lug a heavy bag around.
Download the Disneyland App
The Disneyland App is the best because it keeps everything in one place. You can get ride wait times, updates on where/when characters are in the park, and it links your fast pass. The App also allows you to make dinning reservations and store your park tickets for easy scanning at the kiosk. If you’ve purchased a fast pass, you can also download any pictures you’ve had taken by the professional photographers, which most times come out much better than the ones we take.
Visiting characters is always a special highlight of a Disneyland trip. Arriving at the park right when the gates open will ensure the shortest lines and Minnie and Mickey are usually at the entrance. If you can swing it, line up some character dinning (reserve on the Disney App) to spend even more time with your favorite characters.
Reusable Water Bottle
Pack a reusable water bottle for adults and children. You can fill them up throughout the day at different water stations around the park!
See Some Shows
Shows are always a highlight of a day at the park. They give parents time to relax and keep kids entertained for a good half hour. Our favorite show at Disneyland is Mickey and the Magical Map because it’s filled with amazing singing, dancing and Mickey Mouse makes several appearances. The Magical Map show typically has a 12:30 show, which makes it a perfect lunch because it’s in an outdoor arena.
If you venture to California Adventure, don’t miss the Disney Jr. Dance Party! It’s a half hour of non-stop dancing and appearances from Disney Jr. celebrities such as Sofia the First, The Lion Guard and Dr. McStuffins. The best part is that the finale ends with Minnie and Mickey dancing with the kids!
Get a Fast Pass
To decrease wait times, a Fast Pass is highly recommended, especially if you’re come with other adults ( grandparents, cousins etc.) and you want to ride an adult ride. Since it’s now all on your phone through the Disneyland App, it cuts out the extra walking to physically grab your pass. The Fast Pass also links to any pictures taken with professional photographers throughout the day, which makes a perfect keepsake.
Our toddler is an escape artist and we’re always terrified of losing her at the park. We always write our phone number on both arms with a sharpie, so that if she manages to escape someone could easily call us for quick reunification.
Extra Clothing and Diapers and Portable Potty
Pack extra sets of Disney themed clothing because your child will more than likely get their first outfit dirty. We also bring a Potette Portable Potty for ease of using the bathroom when we’re not close to a Baby Care Center.
It’s impossible to visit Disneyland and not buy any treats. We have a rule that our toddler can have 1 (maybe 2) treats during our visit, and that’s it. Some of our favorite treats include Dole Whip located in Adventure Land, popcorn found in many locations around the park and Minnie Mouse Cake Pops found on Main Street.
I hope that these tips have been helpful! Let me know some Disneyland tips and tricks that have worked with your kiddos in the comments!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.