The Truth About Visiting Disneyland With A Toddler

We just embarked on our first trip to the happiest place on earth, Disneyland and with a toddler. Several people couldn’t wait to hear how the trip went so I’ll share some of the high and low points of our trip here.

The truth is the trip was a BIG success and we would do it again in a heartbeat!

High points

We didn’t have high expectations - at all. We went without a stringent agenda which I believe helped us keep the tone relaxed and enjoyable.

We took a lot of fun activities for the plane ride and for dining table entertainment. We brought reusable window stickers, a handful on crayons, blank paper, 2 new small toys, and loaded the iPad with a few movies and a handful of new educational apps.

Download the Disneyland app, this is a must. Create an account before arriving and familiarize yourself with the bells and whistles. You can use this for PhotoPasses, dining reservations, as well as ride wait times. Be advised, the ride wait times aren’t 100% accurate. You can also see where the characters are located.

The character dining experiences were expensive but totally worth it if your little one loves the Disney characters. Our favorite was Disney’s PCH Grill at the Paradise Pier. Locating Mickey Mouse and spending quality time with him is REALLY hard. PCH is one of the 3 least expensive character dining experiences and this was the only meal where we met and hung out with Mickey Mouse. If you’re on a budget, I’d highly recommend the PCH Grill as well as The Plaza Inn located on Main Street in Disneyland.

We loved California Adventure because it wasn’t as crowded as Disneyland and the food is so much better! We booked our trip around the “slow season” which I’d highly recommend if you can do so. Best times are right after New Years and right after school starts. If you go during traditional school breaks be prepared for crowds and long lines.

Both parks are potty training friendly. At the entrance of each park they have a Baby Care Center - here you can change, feed, or take a break with your little one(s). They also have toddler sized potties w/o automatic flush.

We stayed pretty close to his normal nap-bedtime sleep schedule which limited the amount of exhausted tantrums. We did chose to push his bedtime out on 2 nights so he could see the Electrical Parade and World of Color but outside of that we kept to our routine.

Finally, our go-to area at Disneyland for this age is Toontown, here the kids can explore, see their favorite characters and get a little exercise before heading back to the hotel for a nap or bedtime. At California Adventure it would be either A Bugs Land or Cars Land.

Low Points

We stayed way too many days. Three to 4 days is plenty for both parents and kiddos, trust me. If you have older children, I’d highly suggest parents splitting up to allow those bigger kiddos time to go on the bigger rides which will make the trip more doable in 3-4 days.

Don’t expect to go on all the rides, even those rides that are intended for toddlers. Lines at Disneyland are crazy for these toddler friendly rides (i.e. within Fantasyland). The longest line we waited in was 30 minutes and that was a stretch for us, our Son and the people around us. We decided to forgo lines while we can knowing that in a few years we will have to stand in those lines because they will demand it!

This outing is going to stretch your wallet so bring in snacks, water and buy all your Disney gear before you make the trip.

It’s likely our Son won’t remember much - if any - of our trip, but we got video and thousands (literally) of photos which will serve as proof when he’s older. To see your child’s excitement when he/she sees his favorite character is priceless and you’ll talk about it for months - if not years - after you return.

#Disneyland #Toddler #CaliforniaAdventure #MickeyMouse