It is no secret that we love Disney in this house. We take our kids usually once a year and at least every other year. We go through Disneyland withdrawals if we are away too long. I have been to Disneyland, with a 2 week old baby, a 10 month-old, a toddler and all sorts of other ages and these are the tips that we live by for a wonder and magical day!
- Eat a good breakfast at your hotel before going to the park.
- If you’re going to park at Disneyland, do the Toy Story lot. It’s less crowded and it’s faster to get in/out. Plus it’s a bus versus the tram of the parking terrace.
- Get the most in-demand Fast Pass first thing. At California Adventures, this is usually the Cars ride. These passes can go fast.
- Get to the park early.
- Try to cram in as much as possible first thing in the morning. The park only gets busier as the day goes on. The middle of the day has the longest waits generally.
- Don’t let yourself or your kids get too hungry. Either pack food (you can bring a backpack and/or get a locker), or plan the cost of food into your trip. There are a lot of great places to eat and they’re not all astronomically expensive. There’s a cafe on Main Street that does yummy soup and sandwiches. There’s a place that does chicken fingers and fries in Frontierland. As far as snacks, the Mickey pretzels give you a good bang for your buck, as do the Mickey sourdough loaves of bread in California Adventures. You can find all of our favorite Disneyland food in this post here. – The Best Things to Eat at Disneyland.
Disneyland Baby Care Center
- There’s a baby station near the roundabout. Take advantage of that for a place to change a diaper or feed a baby.
If you have a small child, this center will safe your trip! Literally! They have baby food, medicine, formula, just about anything you need to care for a baby that you might have forgotten. They also have a large changing area, smaller toilets from young ones toilet training and a feeding area.
It is a calm place to rock a little one to sleep or put them in a high chair and feed them.
Behind this wall is a secluded nursing area. When my babies were no longer newborns, I usually discreetly nursed wherever we were but when we went to Disneyland with our older daughter, I was a first-time mom and she was just a little over two weeks old. Nursing was still really stressful and this secluded area really let me take my time and help my baby eat without any worries. I also used it a few times for an older baby because they were the kind of kid who was easily distracted when they ate.
- Waiting in line for characters can suck up a big portion of your day. If it’s REALLY important to you or your kids, then factor that in, but some of those lines can be longer than lines for rides.
My husband and I differ a lot on this. He HATES waiting in lines for characters and I love it. The line for the princesses in Disneyland can be long but then you do get to see three or four at once. We usually do Minnie’s breakfast to get a bunch of character experiences all at once. My kids love it!
- Take advantage of attending shows during the busier times of the day. These also tend to be the hotter times of the day, so it’s a chance to cool down and rest before going out again. The Disney Junior show (during which the photo below was taken) is absolutely magical. If you have tiny kids, don’t miss it!
- Use the app. It’s not always perfectly accurate, but it’s helpful.
- Try to avoid crisscrossing the park repeatedly. This will wear you down fast. Work in segments.
- The Fantasyland rides are ALWAYS long lines. They just are. I’m sorry.
- Take advantage of the Animator’s Studio in California Adventures. It’s a half-hour course where a professional animator helps you draw a Disney character. It’s free and you get to keep your drawings. They’re fun mementos. If you want more advice on free and cheap Disneyland Souvenirs read the post here. – The Best Free or Cheap Disneyland Souvenirs.
- There’s a place in Downtown Disney called Earl of Sandwich. It’s a chain, but it’s close by and cheaper than a lot of other food. Give it a shot for lunch or dinner.
- Stay hydrated. Nothing will drain your energy faster and make you ill than getting dehydrated.
- Don’t do souvenir shopping until you’re about ready to leave the park. That way you don’t have to haul the stuff with you all day, and you don’t waste valuable ride time shopping.
- There are many rides even little kids can go on like Pirates, It’s a Small World, Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise. These are perfect for all ages. My two-week-old daughter went on all of this in my arms.
- If you’re not going with other people, you can do the rider swap, where one of you goes with a kid and then gets a pass for the other parent to swap and jump further up in line after you get back.
- Watch the daily parades one day, but then on the other days use that time when people are distracted to do rides that may otherwise be too long.
- If you’re going to stay for an evening show, make sure to get a Fast Pass for it and plan on snagging a good seat well before the show starts. We didn’t do this last year and it was MISERABLE to watch the show. Make sure to do this!
- Consider purchasing tickets in advance. Then you don’t have to wait in line for tickets and to get into the park. Another upside is sometimes there are surge pricing so if you buy day to day it may be more expensive than you thought.
- If you can do the day without a bag to tote around, it will help you get in faster. There are two lines to get in the park: one for people with bags and one for people without. The line for bags is much longer. It can be difficult with kids, but maybe stuff some diapers in cargo pants pockets.
- You can request pins for special occasions like a first-time visit. This is fun for the kids and they’re free.
- Depending on how far away your hotel is, it may be worth your time to take a break in the middle of the day when it’s busy. Go back, take a nap, recharge, eat, and come back to hit the late afternoon and night hard.
We absolutely adore Disneyland and are headed back in just a couple of months! We can’t wait!
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