Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers- Tips for the Parks!

I know, I know.  I was supposed to have my Disneyland series finished up two weeks ago but man, our house got hit with some super fun sickness and I think I got the worst of it.  I barely moved out of bed for three days.  Thank goodness for visiting family otherwise I’m pretty sure my children would have starved.  We are finally on the mend and I can finally finish up this series with the fourth and last post.  Here are my best tips for the actual days you spend in the park!

Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers#1- Don’t Buy Park Hopper Tickets.  This tip specifically applies to groups with babies and toddlers.  If you are going to Disneyland with older children/teens then I say go for it, but I think Park Hopper tickets are a waste with the baby crowd.  When you have little ones in tow you will be moving much slower than normal and there is no way you will be able to see all of one park in one day, let alone two parks.  We went to Disneyland on Thursday, California Adventure on Friday, and Disneyland again on Saturday and we didn’t come close to seeing everything.  You will be walking slower, taking more breaks, and perhaps riding Dumbo 5 times in a row.  Don’t worry about running back and forth between both parks.

#2- Nap in the Stroller if Possible.  Even though we stayed at a property very close to Disneyland we didn’t leave midday for naps.  Thankfully our children slept great in their stroller, even with all the noise and craziness.  This is where that dark sheet came in handy!  Keep in mind that if you decide to leave for a break it can take you 30-45 minutes to leave the park, get to your car, and drive off the property.  Then you have to add in 2 hours or so for a nap and getting ready to leave again, and then another 30-45 minutes to park your car, board the shuttle, and re-enter the park.  This can all easily take 4+ hours out of your day.  If you feel like a nap in the stroller will work, then you might be better off finding a nice place to sit and relax, or slowly stroll down Main Street and do some shopping while your kids nap.  And yes, she fell asleep like this. :)

Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers#3- Take Advantage of the Parades and Shows.  Our children seemed to enjoy the parades and shows the best out of everything Disneyland had to offer.  They were completely spellbound the entire time.  And it gave us all a nice chance to sit down and rest our feet.  Plus, air conditioning!  Awesome.  Our favorites were Disney Junior- Live on Stage and Turtle Talk with Crush in California Adventure.  The Paint the Night parade is amazing and definitely worth staying late to see.

Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers #4- Crawling Spaces.  This was the biggest challenge we had on our trip.  Our little boy was so close to walking but still only crawled around.  And he wanted to be out of the stroller and crawling around everywhere.  Which is a problem for a couple of reasons.  One, even as clean as Disneyland is, the ground can still be pretty dirty.  Two, in a lot of places the crowds are crazy and it just isn’t safe for a baby to crawl.  Three, there are not very many places for a baby to actually crawl!  There are no open grass areas and many attractions are a walk-through attraction and limited on open space.  But…we found a few places where a baby can crawl that may help you out if your crawler just needs to get down and wiggle.  The lobby of the Disney Animation building in California Adventure is a large, air conditioned, and carpeted room with plenty of space to crawl as long as the crowds are minimal. The Mainstreet Cinema and Opera House in Disneyland are also large, carpeted spaces that usually have plenty of room and are fairly quiet.  In a pinch we found a courtyard that is kind of tucked away near Aladdin’s Oasis in Disneyland.  There is only one entrance and it is pretty roomy, and there were never any other people when we stopped there.  It has benches all the way around, but the ground will probably be pretty dirty.  It is however, right next to a restroom so after letting your little one crawl you can just duck into the restroom and wash their hands.

#5- Explore Fantasyland.  Babies and Toddlers can go on just about every ride in Fantasyland.  I know that Toon Town might seem like the obvious choice but for us, Toon Town was always so crowded and too busy.  It wasn’t that enjoyable. (I think it would have been much better if we had caught it on a not-so-busy day.) But we could have easily spent an entire day in Fantasyland.  We probably had our favorite moments there and watching our daughter meet Tinkerbell was just about more cuteness than I could handle.  I may have shed a tear.  Or two.

Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers#6- Just Relax. Don’t worry about creating the perfect day and the perfect family vacation.  Don’t force it.  Just slow down and take in all the wonder of Disney and see it through your child’s eyes.  Be prepared for tantrums, spilled food, and sore feet.  But also be prepared for laughter, joy, and more family fun than you can handle.  Be prepared to create some of your most treasured memories.  You don’t have to do it all, or see it all in order to have the “perfect” trip.  Just relax.  And enjoy.  It is magical.

Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers

Packing for your Disneyland Vacation- What Should I Bring?

This is the third post in my Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers series and today I am talking about what to pack, specifically to help you with the little ones on your trip.  Before we went on our trip I did a little research and looked at other blogs for tips on things to pack.  I found a few different lists and they said things like “Tickets” and “A Camera.” Well no offense, but duh.  I’m pretty sure I knew those things already.  These are suggestions for things to pack that you may not have thought of already but that came in so handy for us.

My number one tip for packing with children is not just a Disneyland specific tip.  This is how I pack my kid’s clothes anytime we go on a long trip!  It keeps them organized and maximizes space in the suitcase.  And it all starts with Ziploc bags!

#1 Packing Tip for Baby and Toddler Clothes When Going on VacationI am the type of person that plans out each outfit for my kids for each day we will be gone.  I lay out a shirt, pants, socks, diaper or underwear, and hair bows for my little girl.  And then each outfit gets put into its own Ziploc bag.  Then all you have to do in the mornings is reach in and grab one bag and you are all set for getting dressed.  Let’s by honest, baby socks are annoyingly tiny in a big suitcase! And my husband usually has no idea which bow matches which outfit.  But this way, there is no guess work and no searching for small pieces in a large suitcase.  It saves so much time in the morning!  For a big trip like Disneyland, I even labeled which outfits go on which days.

#1 Packing Tip for Baby and Toddler Clothes When Going on Vacation #1 Packing Tip for Baby and Toddler Clothes When Going on VacationAnd when all the air is pushed out and the bags are sealed look at how tiny they are!  Boom, you’ve got all kinds of space in your suitcase now. And look at how organized it is.

#1 Packing Tip for Baby and Toddler Clothes When Going on Vacation #1 Packing Tip for Baby and Toddler Clothes When Going on VacationI put together a back up outfit for each of my kids that we kept in our backpack while at Disneyland.  The Ziploc bag does double duty here.  If one of my kids had a diaper blow out, or spilled chocolate milk all over, then all we had to do was reach in, grab their bag, and head to the nearest restroom.  All you need to change their whole outfit, diaper included, is in the bag.  And once you have the outfit changed you now have an empty Ziploc bag to hold the soiled clothes.  This packing tip has saved our lives on many vacations!

Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and ToddlersI talked about the awesome supply of Disney toys we bought at the Dollar Tree in my second post but I want to specifically talk about bubbles and glow sticks.  BUBBLES!  The most amazing toy ever.  We bought some Minnie Mouse and Star Wars bubbles and they were probably the biggest hit of the trip as far as “stuff” went.  Bubbles kept our kids entertained in just about every line or waiting for the parades.  And not only our kids.  We ended up entertaining every kid 10 feet in front and behind of us. SO MANY parents were saying, “Why didn’t we bring bubbles?!”

What to Pack for Disneyland plus my #1 packing tip for ANY vacation with kids.The same went for the glow sticks.  You can buy packages of glow sticks at the dollar store and during the night parades our children were just as happy to play with the $1 glow sticks vs the $20 light up toys the vendors were selling.

My next tip, is to bring a dark colored sheet.  I know it sounds random but trust me, you’ll use it.  You could technically use a blanket but a sheet is a lot easier to pack and much lighter to carry around.  This is a big deal if you are flying and need as much space as possible in your suitcase.  A sheet will also just fit in a stroller or bag easier than a blanket!  But why do you need a sheet at all you may ask?  For one, it turns your stroller into a dark, out of the sun nap space.

What to Pack for Disneyland plus my #1 packing tip for ANY vacation with kids.I know that is not the most amazing, pinterest worthy picture but what you see are two tired children napping in their stroller and being protected from the sun.  The darker color helps keep them cooler and since they are used to sleeping in dark rooms it helped them sleep longer.  Our sheet is folded in half here so it didn’t drag on the ground, but is a regular queen sized flat sheet.

Secondly, your sheet will be your seat saver.  If you want to watch any of the parades (which you will because they’re AWESOME) then you will need to save seats ahead of time.  This consists of sitting on the curb for a good while before the parade starts.  And you may think you have enough space saved but as more and more people come to sit you will slowly find all of your personal space being invaded by strangers and their strollers.  People will get as close to you as they possibly can until your seat with the perfect view that you have been saving for an hour is now obstructed by a family with 10 kids all wearing matching giant Mickey Mouse ears.  BUT…if you have a large sheet you can spread it out and stake your claim to your space!  It clearly says this seat is saved and sets up a boundary around that seat.  And you don’t have to sit on the dirty ground.  It is just a sheet so it won’t really provide much padding, but it is cleaner.

Another must pack item?  Food.  Disneyland is great about letting you bring in your own food as long as it is in a soft sided cooler.  And while I think it is an absolute must for everyone to have at least one churro while you are there, bringing in your own food and drinks can save you a ton of money!  We ate breakfast each morning before leaving for the park, brought our own lunches and snacks, and then treated ourselves to dinner in the park.  Granola bars, fruit snacks, nuts, applesauce, crackers, oranges, water bottles, juice boxes, etc.  Bringing our own food also allowed us to munch while waiting in line for a ride or a show instead of wasting time at a restaurant.

What to Pack for Disneyland plus my #1 packing tip for ANY vacation with kids.Another really helpful item?  Disposable bibs and plastic spoons from the dollar store.  The paper bibs work great and the plastic spoons came in a package of 12 for $1.  At that price we were perfectly okay with throwing them away after each meal if needed.  Our youngest was still eating strictly baby food so bibs and spoons were a must.  These were much better than having to find a place to rinse off a bib or spoons, or carry around ones that were covered in food.

Next, bring ear plugs or another form of ear protection.  The parades and even some of the rides can be LOUD.  You want your little one to be able to enjoy the amazing sights but not be overwhelmed by the very loud noises surrounding them.  Ear plugs, large headphones, or ear muffs can really help filter out the sounds for little ears.

What to Pack for Disneyland plus my #1 packing tip for ANY vacation with kids. What to Pack for Disneyland plus my #1 packing tip for ANY vacation with kids. What to Pack for Disneyland plus my #1 packing tip for ANY vacation with kids.For my last tip, I say go all out and get into the Disney spirit.  I am normally not a fan of clothing with characters on it but I think it is a must at Disneyland.  Walmart, Target, Kohls, Amazon…they all have clothes with Disney characters.  Look on Etsy as well.  I picked up this ridiculously cute outfit for my little guy and bought the iron on decal for my daughter’s shirt on Etsy.  Then all I had to do was iron it on to a plain white shirt from Walmart.

Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and ToddlersWhat to Pack for Disneyland plus my #1 packing tip for ANY vacation with kids.Savannah got to live out her Frozen fantasy and Milo rocked the Star Wars characters.  Another day we were all united as a Captain America family.  It is perfectly okay to geek out and be a little silly while at Disneyland.  It actually makes the vacation even that much better.

What to Pack for Disneyland plus my #1 packing tip for ANY vacation with kids.What to Pack for Disneyland plus my #1 packing tip for ANY vacation with kids. What to Pack for Disneyland plus my #1 packing tip for ANY vacation with kids.Hopefully these tips give you some good ideas that you may have not thought of on your own!  Packing for a big trip can be stressful and I’d love to help ease some of that stress.  Whatever you decide to bring, first and foremost make sure you pack your sense of adventure!

You can see the other posts in the series here:

#1- Why You Should Go to Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers

#2- Tips to Prepare for Disneyland+Printables for Your Trip

 

#2- Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers

Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and ToddlersThe second post in my Disney series is about the preparation and printables you may need.  The secret to most good vacations is in the preparation.  When babies and toddlers are involved, spontaneity and “winging it” usually don’t work out.  Here are a few things we did:

Introduce your toddler to the characters beforehand.  We started going to our library and checking out a couple of Disney movies each week and letting our daughter watch them during her “quiet time” each day.  She became familiar with many of the characters and seeing her excitement when she met those characters was one of the best parts of the trip.  We made sure that we talked about the size of the characters with her as well.  The only Mickey she knew was 6 inches big on the TV screen.  It could be slightly terrifying to be confronted by a huge mouse that towers above her. So we told her over and over, “Did you know that Mickey is as tall as daddy?” And we’d ask, “How tall is Goofy?” and she would stretch her hands up as high as she could.

Unfortunately, all this talk of Disneyland led her to ask every day (multiple times) if it was time to go to Disneyland yet.  In came the ever useful paper countdown chain.  I actually had some random Disney scrapbook paper so I made a chain and we hung it up in our family room.  Every night before bed Savannah got to take off another link.  It definitely helped with the “is it time yet” questions.

Preparing for Disneyland with Toddlers- Countdown To Disney Printable & Paper ChainPreparing for Disneyland with Toddlers- Countdown To Disney Printable & Paper ChainThis paper chain saved my sanity.  If you have a curious, loud, and of course absolutely adorable toddler you should make one too.  I’ve even made a little sign you can print off and put at the top of your chain!

Download the PDF

Preparing for Disneyland with Toddlers- Countdown To Disney Printable & Paper ChainAnother thing we did was head to the Dollar Store to pick up lots of little toys and presents.  I could not believe how much Disney merchandise you can find at the Dollar Tree and it came in so handy many times.  Everything from books, to dolls, to crayons and stickers… they had it and way cheaper than you would find at the actual parks.

Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and ToddlersIf you have a long drive you can wrap up a few toys and hand them out at various intervals throughout the trip.  Use them as incentives (aka: bribes) to keep your kids behaving in the car.  Or take a couple with you to the park and when your child starts asking for a $25 Buzz Lightyear Action Figure you can instead whip out one of your super cool toys!  What we did was wrap up a couple of toys and give one to our children at night before they crawled into bed.  Then they got to bring it with them to the park the next day. Let’s be honest, Milo is almost a year old and he had no idea what was going on.  So the toys for “him” were actually more for me.  I wanted to buy them for him.  :)  Savannah on the other hand was extremely excited about her Disney presents, especially because they had a tag saying they were from Minnie Mouse.

Printable Minnie and Mickey Gift TagsWant some Mickey or Minnie Mouse gift tags to use on your trip?  Well I’m sharing those too!

Download the PDF

Printable Mickey and Minnie Gift TagsThe final printable I’m sharing is a tag for your stroller.  Now you may be thinking, “Why would I need a tag for my stroller at Disneyland?”  Well…

Free Printable Stroller Labels for DisneylandStollers are everywhere.  EVERYWHERE!  And chances are you will find several that look just like yours.  Disneyland has a lot of great spaces that are dedicated stroller parking outside of each ride but while you are on that ride the employees will often move the strollers around to maximize the space available.  So that’s fun.  Hanging a bright colored sign on your stroller will not only help you identify it easily but also keep anyone else from accidentally thinking it is theirs.

Free Printable Stroller Labels for DisneylandI laminated our label and hung it on the stroller with some string where it was easy to see.  I made two different versions, a Mickey and a Minnie.  You can have them as well!

Download the PDF-Mickey          Download the PDF-Minnie

Free Printable Stroller Labels for DisneylandI hope these help you in preparing your trip!  My next posts will be focused on what to pack and tips for the actual days in the park.  So stay tuned!

Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers #1

If you are looking for a post that will tell you to wait until your children are older before going to Disneyland, that it is a waste of time to take a baby or toddler, or that you will have a miserable trip…. then this is not the post for you.  Because I am going to tell you that you absolutely can (and should) take your little ones to Disneyland and enjoy every second.  Why?

Because I LOVE DISNEY!!!

I have always had a deep love for everything Disney.  From the movies, the stories, the characters, and of course, the theme parks. I am a full on Disney fanatic. So many special moments in my life have included Disney.  My then-boyfriend-now-husband proposed to me at Disneyland when we went on Spring Break a little over 10 years ago.

Disneyland Engagement PhotoDisneyland Engagement Photo Disneyland Engagement PhotoMan oh man, we were young!  And thin.  Ahh, the good ol’ days.  We went to Disney World for our honeymoon and still refer to that magical week as one of the best vacations we have ever had.  Right after our daughter’s birth mother told us that she had decided to place with us we all went and spent a wonderful day at Disneyland together.  So many big moments have been shared with Walt and his pals.  :)

So when the opportunity came to visit Disneyland again and this time take our two little munchkins with us, we knew we had to say yes.  And so we packed up and spent three magical days with my husband’s whole family, a group that included two almost-3 year olds, one 1 1/2 year old, an almost 1 year old, and a four month old baby.  Thanks to some planning and creative packing the trip went even better than I expected.  Throughout this series of posts I will share with you everything I learned about traveling to Disneyland with babies and toddlers.

Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and ToddlersThis first post is an introduction to simply convince you that you should!  I am a firm believer that you shouldn’t put off traveling until your kids are older, no matter the destination.  Traveling can be a rich and rewarding experience for any age.  Babies may not fully grasp what they are seeing, but the stimulation of new sounds, smells, lights and colors will have them squealing in delight.

Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and ToddlersToddlers are the perfect age to be swept away in magic and wonder.  There is something so special about seeing your child’s face light up when they see their favorite characters coming to life before them.  The wide-eyed awe and amazement is completely worth the missed naps and mid-afternoon meltdowns.

Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and ToddlersI think one of the most important things we did was to go in with the right expectations.  We knew that we were not going to be able to ride every single ride, that we might end up going on Dumbo 5 times in a row, or that we might need to find a quiet place and just sit for a few minutes. We knew that we would be moving a little slower with short, little legs and strollers in tow.  We planned on our little ones being scared by some of the rides or characters.  We were prepared for their favorite thing to be playing in the fountains or on the park benches.

Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers Must Know Tips and Tricks for Experiencing Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers

Having those expectations kept us from being disappointed if something didn’t go as planned and allowed us to just relax.  It lowered our stress levels and eliminated the need to create the “perfect” vacation.  And instead just enjoy the time we were having!

Hopefully as I share these tips I’ll be able to pass along something that will help you and your family have your own happily ever after vacation.  And whether you are already planning a trip or just thinking about one in the future…here is a little video I put together to get you excited.  Only watch this video if you want to see some adorable children, extreme happiness, tons of fun, and a little magic mixed in.  :)  (If you are reading this in an email you may need to click-through to see the video.)

One Pan Squash and Sausage Skillet Dinner

I love meals that can be cooked using one pan.  Dishes are my very least favorite chore so anything I can do to lessen the dirty mess is appreciated!  And when the meal tastes as yummy as this dish then I know I have a winner.  It is one of my husband’s favorites and one we make on a regular basis.

Lots of yummy veggies and flavorful sausage come together in one pan to make this easy and tasty meal!I love that this meal is full of veggies, full of flavor, and comes together quickly.  I almost always make it with sweet Italian sausage but it is so easy to switch it up a little as well.  We have made it with spicy sausage and used taco seasonings on the veggies and added in some bell pepper.   It is delicious as well.

Lots of yummy veggies and flavorful sausage come together in one pan to make this easy and tasty meal!Lots of yummy veggies and flavorful sausage come together in one pan to make this easy and tasty meal! I hope you enjoy this meal and add it into your weekly dinner menu often! Here is how to make this yummy dish!  Download the PDF recipe.

Lots of yummy veggies and flavorful sausage come together in one pan to make this easy and tasty meal!Lots of yummy veggies and flavorful sausage come together in one pan to make this easy and tasty meal!

April 2016 Visiting Teaching Handout

I missed last month’s visiting teaching handout and I am grateful for the emails I received asking if I was going to get one out for April.  Thank you for keeping me accountable and helping me remember to get my own visiting teaching done!  And as always, thank you to all of you who are actually using the prints I put together.  You will never know how much it warms my heart to hear that the handouts are being used and shared with our sisters all over the world.

This month’s message is titled Daughters of Our Eternal Father, and the simple truth expressed right there in the title is one of my favorite things about the Gospel.  I think there is something very empowering, comforting, and humbling in knowing that we are literal daughters of our Father in Heaven.

April 2016 Visiting Teaching Handout- Free PrintableYou can download the handout to take to the sisters you visit teach, send it to them in a card, or even attach it to a quick email.  Download PDF.

April 2016 Visiting Teaching Handout- Free Printable