I am so excited to be a regular contributor for Tips for Family Trips. One of my favorite destinations for family travel is Disneyland Resort. I truly believe there is something for everyone. It is full of fun for every age and I love their attention to detail. Since I work for Get Away Today, I get extra perks and deals so I’m able to visit more often than most.
I have been to Disneyland too many times to count, but as a mom to three very young kids, I can say that my trips to Disneyland have changed a bit over the last few years. In fact, my three-year-old has been to Disneyland three times. Each trip I learn something new and I’ve compiled my very best tips for visiting Disneyland with small children for you!
Baby Care Centers
When visiting Disneyland with small children you must know about the Baby Care Centers. There is one located in each park, and they are equipped with anything you could possibly need. Diapers, wipes, baby food, formula, baby powder, and more are all available for purchase. The prices are pretty reasonable too!
While I recommend bringing your own items to the park, it gives such peace of mind to know you can easily get extras if necessary. You can also use their microwaves, high chairs, changing tables, private nursing areas and even toddler sized toilets free of charge.
I love that the Baby Care Centers are quiet and a perfect place for a break. As a bonus, the Baby Care Center in California Adventure is located right next to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop where you can get a free chocolate sample each time you walk in the door. I always feel like I've earned it after taking care of the littles!
Rider Swap is a must with little kids. One or more adults can wait in either the stand-by or FastPass line with older kids while one or more adults stay behind with any too small to ride children. Before getting in line, let the Cast Member (Disney’s word for employee) know that you’ll be using the Rider Swap. They may ask to see the members of your party who are waiting behind for verification, and then give you a lanyard.
When the first group is boarding the attraction, they’ll swap your lanyard for a return ticket good for up to three riders. The second group can then use the rider swap ticket to get to the front of the attraction, normally using the FastPass line. Older kids LOVE being able to ride twice in a row!
It's important to note that unlike FastPass tickets, Rider Swap passes do not have a return time constraint. As a mom I appreciate that extra flexibility when dealing with children’s snack, nap and potty times!
No matter how independent your child or children may be, you’ll want a stroller. Not only do little legs get tired, it’s a great make-shift nap area. Your stroller is also the perfect place to stash everything you’ll need to take care of the family throughout the day. You can rent them at the parks for about $15 per day, but you can’t use the rented strollers in Downtown Disney or the promenade. However, if you rent one in Disneyland then park hop over to California Adventure, you can keep your receipt and pick up a stroller in the other park for free on the same day.
Bring your own snacks and drinks
Disney has minimal restrictions on foods you can bring into the parks. As long as you don’t bring alcohol or glass containers, you’re good to go! Snackables, granola bars, fruit snacks, trail mix and more are so nice to have on hand. I fed my kids Froot Loops while waiting to ride Peter Pan. Not only did it pass the time, it kept the kids happy and saved us a little bit of money on extra snacks.
Order a la carte
You can order any of the kids meal items a la carte. If your kids love mac-n-cheese, but won’t do apple slices, you don’t have to pay extra for them. Just ask the Cast Member when ordering!
Splurge on a Character Dining Experience
I’m not kidding when I say that the Surf’s Up with Mickey and Friends Breakfast was the highlight of our Disneyland trip last year. My then two-year-old was in heaven and he still talks about it. We got some of the best pictures, and the food was pretty good too. As a bonus, if your children aren’t three yet, they get to eat free at the buffet character dining restaurants!
Stay as close to Disneyland as possible
My personal choice is to stay at one of the three Disneyland Resort Hotels. You’re super close, plus you get early access into Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park each day of your stay. Early mornings can be hard with kids, but it is SO worth it to get to the parks bright and early to beat the crowds. My son and I rode Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters twice before the park even opened!
If one of the Disney Hotels isn’t in your budget, there are some great hotel options right across the street. I’ve personally stayed at the Camelot Inn and thought it was great. The Fairfield Inn is also hugely popular because each room comes with a single sized sofa bed. The Fairfield has some Disney themed rooms as well.
While there are some amazing hotels a short shuttle ride away, with really small kids, I recommend being within walking distance. Waiting for a shuttle is hard after a long day, and strollers can be rough to fit in a crowded shuttle.
I hope this helps you plan your Disneyland vacation. If you’re wondering whether or not you should take young children to Disneyland, I say do it! I’m surprised with how much my oldest son remembers. My younger son loves looking at the pictures we took on our last trip. Not to mention, the memories I have of their faces are priceless!
Planning a Disney trip?
Did you get 6 Tips and Tricks for Finding Disneyland Discounts? Click HERE to learn more about this free download that could save your family hundreds of dollars at Disneyland.
Need a place to stay? Allison has recently stayed on-property at the Grand Californian and off-property at the Anaheim Hilton Garden Inn, which is just down the street. Both are good options! Click the links to read her reviews.
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