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!
#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. :)
#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.
#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.
#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.