I came back from my little trip to Southern California with my family a little tired, a little sunburned, but fully energized with quality family time. Scroll on to see some of my favorite snaps from the trip and a few tips for not just surviving, but enjoying a trip to Disneyland with your toddler.
Parades and Shows
We really wanted to try to get a good seat for the Main Street Electrical Parade so we decided to head over about two hours early to hold a spot on the curb. My sister brought a blanket in a bag. so we laid it down. We parked our strollers on either side so that we had enough curb space for everyone. We took turns grabbing food, visiting the shops, taking pictures, and the kids played.
The “cast members” supervising the area kept telling us that they don’t allow for saving spots, that most of your party must be present so we couldn’t just park one person there to watch all of our stuff. One might feel that sitting there for two hours before the parade is a waste of time, but with three toddlers, it was just the break we needed on our second day in the park to rest up a bit.
As soon as we entered California Adventure, the guys went over to get Fast Passes for World of Color. To my understanding, Fast Passes are the only way to get a spot to view the show. This was definitely my favorite show of the trip so I recommend trying to see it while you’re there.
We weren’t planning on trying to catch Mickey’s Soundsational Parade, but it just so happened to be arriving outside of It’s a Small World as we were getting off, so we stuck around and watch even though we didn’t have the best vantage point. I think this is the one Avery enjoyed the most, she was dancing and waving at the characters and performers like crazy.
Food at Disneyland
The most important thing when it comes to traveling with kiddos is to be fully stocked on snacks and drinks. My sister and I had a variety of fruits, veggies, crackers, trail mix, cheese sticks, applesauce pouches, fig bars, and more on hand to entertain, distract, and, most importantly, keep away the hangries! We love these snack containers because the little hands can hold them easily and they fit in cup holders.
Weeks in advance of our trip, we made reservations at the Blue Bayou for lunch. While expensive, the food was delicious and the experience was super fun. In other words, totally worth it! One surprising thing was how little you noticed the Pirates of the Caribbean riders going by.
We also purchased tickets and made a reservation for a character breakfast on Easter Sunday. While fun for my sister’s kids, my daughter was actually super nervous, even scared, at the characters. But the buffet breakfast was super yummy, especially the Mickey waffles. Don’t forget your autograph books and camera!
As for our other meals, we mostly just grabbed quick stuff like chicken and beef skewers from Bengal Barbeque in Adventureland, corndogs or chimichangas from the carts, or Pizza in Toontown. That way we could get back to the rides as soon as possible.
And of course we couldn’t do Disneyland without having some Dole Whips!
Stroller Passes and Waiting in Line at Disneyland
I really like doing Disneyland with my family. First, they’re fun and awesome. Second, when you travel with a small group, there are enough people to coordinate going on adult rides while still having someone to watch the littles. And that’s when you take advantage of stroller passes, a little card that allows three people (the people who had to stay with the kids during the first time around) to go through the Fast Pass line and ride.
In our experience, each ride operates a little different. We think that’s by design so that people can’t game the system. Some rides wanted you to bring the kids to the entrance of the ride to prove the need for a stroller pass. Others would give us the pass as we were about to get on the ride. Once we forgot to ask for the pass and they let my husband go up to the front after we got off the ride and they gave us a pass.
As for surviving long lines with the kiddos, well that’s where the snacks I mentioned earlier really come in handy. I also brought a few small toys and books as backup. I didn’t need the toys much, but I was sure glad I brought them.
Nap Time at Disneyland
I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s key to head back to the hotel for a rest or a nap midday. But to that I say, “Know your kid.” At two-and-a-half, it felt like such a waste of time and energy to trek back and forth from the hotel (even if you’re staying at a Disney resort hotel) so I decided to go for the old nap-in-the-stroller. I knew my kid well enough to know that if she didn’t want to take a nap, I wasn’t going to force her. One day, she actually fell asleep holding her lovey in a line while I was wearing her in a baby carrier. If you want to try to get your kid to sleep in the park, I recommend bringing something that usually signals nap time, if you can, like a small blanket or soothie toy.
Here are some of the rides we’ve noticed will let you ride with a baby strapped to you:
- It’s a Small World
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Toy Story Mania
- Storybook Canal Boats
- Haunted Mansion
What to Wear at Disneyland
For my park outfits, I opted for casual basics that were light and comfy. T-shirts and cold-shoulder tops with jeans. I kept a utility or denim jacket in my stroller for the cooler evenings after the sun went down.
My footwear consisted of a variety of sneakers. The pair I was most glad to have brought was my faux leather white velcro sneakers. I didn’t mind if somethings spilled on them or if they got wet on Splash Mountain because I could easily just wipe them clean or dry.
Now it’s your turn
What Disneyland tips and tricks do you have? Share in the comments!