Most people say it’s crazy taking a toddler to Disneyland. I’m here to tell you it’s easier than you think because I took mine!
We made a short trip to Disneyland in celebration of my 30th birthday. I wanted nothing more than to see my daughter’s face when she realized where we were. Of course, she was smart and figured it out long before we realized that she did, but it was still the most amazing birthday trip! And taking her as a toddler was really a lot easier than we thought it would be.
Since I found it to not be as hard as I thought, I wanted to share with you some of my tips and observations from our trip that made it easier.
I have mixed feelings about strollers, on the one hand, they’re convenient for transporting a tired child and for holding your bags. But on the other hand, they can be bulky when maneuvering through crowds.
I debated bringing our stroller and just having our daughter walk around with us, but ultimately, I didn’t want to have to carry her around when she got tired, so we packed our stroller up and brought it along for the ride.
I found the stroller to be a lifesaver because our daughter could take a nap in it when she was tired. Or she could just rest her legs when she was done with walking around with us. It helped us to keep track of her too when we were it got crowded.
Thankfully Disney knows that people will bring strollers, in fact, you can even rent strollers from them if you don’t want to pack your own from home! They provide stroller parking in designated areas so you can leave your stroller while you go on rides.
Just please be smart and don’t leave any valuables or belongings that you would miss. Even though it is Disney, there is still the risk of things getting stolen! We left nothing behind in our stroller except for park maps, drinks, or snacks.
Toddlers Are Easily Amused
I thought we would need a bunch of trinkets and phone games to keep my daughter occupied, but honestly, being at Disneyland was amusing just by itself! For the first time, my daughter was seeing things she had only seen on YouTube or our old Disneyland SingAlong DVD.
Of course, she wasn’t perfect, but we found the most simple thing that kept her entertained for hours: A bubble wand.
Disneyland has these cute bubble wands for sale everywhere. All themed differently and in different shapes too! My husband bought our daughter an Ariel bubble wand while I was on a ride and I wished we had bought it sooner. She was so happy riding in her stroller while the thing played music and blew bubbles onto the crowds. She still plays with it at home too!
Another way they’re easily amused is the whole park is like a playground to them. Now I’m not advocating that you let your kid climb wherever they want, but finding a spot to let them get out a bit of energy will make things easier for them and for you when they start to get restless.
Some of our most magical moments came from these times where we sat and watched our daughter play. Peter Pan came over to “feed the ducks” with her and another time Gaston tried to impress her but she was more impressed with the replica of Rapunzel’s tower.
I don’t know about you, but my daughter doesn’t usually eat huge meals, but rather she does like to snack and at Disneyland that was no exception!
We made sure to bring snacks packed in our day bag for her to munch on when she got hungry but wasn’t quite ready for a full meal. But for times when she did want something more to eat, we discovered the Kids’ Mickey Check Meal – Power Pack.
The Power Pack includes a drinkable yogurt, sliced apples, carrots, small banana, crackers, and choice of small milk or water bottle.
What I loved most about this food option was that if my daughter didn’t eat it all at once, it was easily saved for later. It was also healthy and didn’t make her feel sluggish like some of the other menu options do, which in turn made our days easier.
Rider Swap is by far one of the best tips for taking a toddler to Disneyland. Since some rides have height requirements that most toddlers won’t meet, Disneyland makes it easier for parents to be able to ride those rides without having to wait in a long line twice.
To use Rider Swap, everyone who is riding the ride first goes through the line to ride. At the front of the line though, you’ll give the ticket for the member of the party who is staying with the kid who can’t ride and have the cast member scan it. This adds what is essentially a fast pass to the ticket to be used within an hour after being scanned.
Since there was only two of us that were tall enough to ride in our party, we ended up riding those rides alone. While not ideal, it was still fun! While we did the Rider Swap dance, we would take our daughter on another ride that she could ride or just browse the gift shops or relax and take in the atmosphere.
Break time is literally what can make or break a trip to Disneyland with a toddler. Our daughter is down to one nap a day so we knew she needed to have time to nap during our days at the parks.
If you’re staying at a hotel that’s close by, I recommend going back to the hotel for those naps. It’s a nice midday break from being at the parks early and the evenings at Disneyland are even more magical than the daytime! (My favorite place to book a hotel nearby is through Get Away Today! Use my code TwoGeeks to get an extra $10 off)
It’s not always feasible to go back to the hotel. Maybe you are only there for a couple of days or your hotel is further away. Both of those reasons applied to us so we opted to have our daughter nap in the stroller (another bonus to bringing a stroller).
We would put our stroller into the position that would let our daughter lie down and then put the canopy over her. We even took it a step further and put one of our jackets over to keep out some of the noise and the cold (because it was cold when we went!).
While she slept we took the time to do some more Rider Swaps, ate lunch, or did some shop browsing. Her naps were never as long as they were at home but she got enough to be refreshed for the rest of the day.
While taking a toddler to Disneyland can feel daunting, it really is easier than you think. If you use these tips you can have a most magical vacation and wonderful memories of traversing the parks instead of fighting to keep your toddler happy!
Did I miss any tips? Let me know in the comments if you have any tips to add for taking a toddler to Disneyland!