Disneyland is a magical place, THE MOST MAGICAL PLACE ON EARTH. But it is also chaos.I’ll admit, it was VERY ambitious of us to plan a trip to Disneyland with three kids, especially since one for those kids happened to be only 8 months old. First of all, it’s expensive. It’s hard to justify taking kids that young to Disneyland KNOWING that they probably won’t remember everything. BUT. BUUUUUT. I can tell you that if you can afford it, it’s well worth it.
Sure, you are getting more bang for your buck if their older. They can ride more rides, they will remember it, they are more self sufficient. But the magic is when they are little. My daughter just turned seven right before, and the magic was definitely still there, but I can see that this was probably the oldest we could’ve taken her that it would still be SO magical.
So for the crazy parents who want to go for the magic and take their very young children, here are some helpful tips.
1. Download the Disneyland App like 2 week prior.
I downloaded it like a month before lol It gave me a chance to scope it out a little. From just checking it out on my breaks, I was able to know the layout of Disneyland better, where certain rides were, what times of day the waits were the longest and where the food that I ABSOLUTELY needed (like beignets) was located. You have no idea how overwhelming it is to walk into Disneyland. It helps a TON if you have an idea in your head of where you want to go.
2. Figure out your must haves.
We went into it with a list of things we NEEDED to do. Hats with the kids names embroidered on them, autograph books, small world, pirates of the Caribbean (which was too scary for my kids so they stayed behind with Grandma), Beignets and mint julep, churros, hand dipped corn dog from the red wagon, and we wanted to see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Elena of Avalor, Spider Man, Captain America and Elsa and Anna. AND I wanted a picture in front of the Disneyland castle. This all goes back to the Disneyland map. I found out that everyone except Goofy, Mickey and Minnie are EXCLUSIVELY located at California Adventure. I would have never known that! I found out where they were located and we made that happen. If you have your realistic must haves, and talk to your kids about it ahead of time, then making those things happen is the goal of your trip. If you complete those realistic goals, then you can walk away saying you were able to do everything you wanted and THAT is where you get the bang for your buck.
3. Mickey and Minnie
If they are two of your bucket list characters, don’t have your heart set on seeing them at their house. OR get their early and be waiting before 9 when they open for photos. Because the wait is almost always an hour, and that’s a LONG time to wait with little kids. Instead, we saw them at California Adventure! There was almost no line- so it’s worth it to just try to spot them when their out and about!
4. The shows are the highlight
When I think of Disneyland I think of the rides. I had all these rides we HAD to do and all of this stuff we needed to get. We watched two shows with the kids when the day was getting just VERY overwhelming, and honestly that is one of the things I look back on with the most fondness from our trip. Everyone was laughing and clapping their hands and just having a GREAT time!
5. Photopass is WORTH it.
I took a ton of pictures with my phone, and I am one of those people who will just say “I don’t need to pay for that service, I can just take them with my phone” but really…I am SO glad we used that service. The photographers are SO engaging and really want to make the moment special, and they really do a great job. I looked through all of our photos afterwards and it just makes me want to cry! I am so glad I have those.
6. California Adventure is WHERE ITS AT
My husband and I just kept saying the entire time “I wish we would’ve done two days at California Adventure”. The lines were way more reasonable, the food options were more out style, they serve alcohol which you don’t NEED but hey a good margarita while you’re walking around isn’t anything to turn your nose up at. The bugs life land was so fun for the kids. The entire area is built for them, they could go on everything VERY easily and it was super cute.
7. Baby care center
This is a game changer for a young family. When WE went, it was ran by two little sweet grandma ladies. The entire place was softly lit, the decorations were all baby animals from Bambi, the changing room was a huge room with huge super soft padded changing tables. The ladies put a fresh piece of butcher paper down after each changing so you don’t even need those stupid changing mats. There is a curtained area with big comfy chairs for breastfeeding, a little kitchen area where you can buy a WIDE range of baby supplies and little high chairs to feed your baby. It. Was. Amazing. They have one at both Disneyland and California Adventure. Although it does kind of stink that they don’t have multiple throughout the park, that really didn’t bother us too much. I would change him in one of the bathrooms if I had to, but it was also well worth trekking out by myself to take him to the care center while my husband did something with the older kids.
8. Be realistic.
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of trying to get through everything you can because it is SO expensive. But you and your kids will be miserable. We would take a break each day and take the shuttle back to our hotel. Then we would returned rejuvenated, and then back to the hotel by 9 every night. You can stay later, but with our kids being so small it just wasn’t worth them crying and being overdone. We could watch the fireworks from our hotel roof and that was just as exciting for them. They each got to pick out one souvineer and then they got their Mickey ears with their names. You don’t have to go broke- their at DISSNEYLAND.
9. Look up the not-so-well-known Disneyland secrets ahead of time
From getting the old map from the jungle cruise, to pulling the rope in the Indiana Jones ride line, to visiting the Beast’s Library there are several things I didn’t even know you could do. I am SO glad I looked them up ahead of time because it was a fun photo op and also a cool little side-mission to take.
Don’t forget to do that. It was so magical, everyone is smiling. I don’t think I have ever smiled more in my entire life! I hope you have a magical Disney adventure-ours sure was!