You already know I’m a Disney girl at heart, having visited Walt Disney World as a child several times (and even working there as an adult).
So when the man and I had some Disneyland tickets to use, we were faced with two options regarding our one-year-old daughter:
1. Take her with us – she’s only 1, but hey, she’s free!
2. Be tooltastic parents – who goes to Disneyland without their children??
We opted for #1.
I’d like to think I’m a bit of a pro when it comes to navigating Disney parks; I know the typical traffic patterns (hit Fantasyland early in the morning or in the evening when the kiddos are watching the parade) and I can navigate crowds on foot like nobody’s business. My sister and I knew what to hit and when so we could tackle as many rides as possible with limited wait times.
But this time I was traveling with my young kiddo, who came with a stroller, diaper bag, and various snacks and toys in and around my purse. I wasn’t sure how Disneyland would be with a young child, so I did a little research beforehand.
1. She could go on anything without a height requirement
The nice thing about Disney is that they have a variety of rides, so if coasters or intense simulations aren’t your thing, there are other items to do (I’m looking at you Universal Studios…#fail). That meant that she joined us on our favorite rides like Buzz Lightyear, Haunted Mansion, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and more.
2. Baby center
Each park as a baby center, a quiet place where you can retreat with your wee one to breastfeed, take a nap, or just take a break from all that stimulation. They also stock it with items you may have forgotten (like formula). On this trip we didn’t utilize this space, as the little miss slept perfectly fine in her stroller.
3. It’s OK if she makes noise
This may seem obvious, but having a sit down dinner within Disney was decidedly less stressful than usual because hey, EVERYONE has a child (or at least most do)! That means that when she squeals in excitement for finding the giraffe in her book, or she does her hello laugh/growl combo, people surrounding us found it more endearing than off-putting.
4. The FastPass
These are the ultimate lifesaver. We’d swing by one of the restricted rides (Soarin’, anyone?) and snag a fastpass, then go wait in line for something the munchkin could join us on (Heimlech’s Chew Chew train!). After an hour or so we’d make our way back and take turns going on the ride. Not only did it minimize wait times, and when you’re pushing 30, it’s not as big of a deal to go on rides by yourself. If we did decide to wait for a ride (like when it was only 20 minutes) you can ask for a rider switch pass, which works similarly to a fastpass in that one person will wait in line, and then the other can simply bypass the line and go up front.
5. Disney rental strollers do not recline
My mom was always a fan of renting strollers from Disney, and I get why–no worrying about hauling your stroller around, or having it taken. However, having a stroller that reclines is extremely helpful for young kiddos because it helps them get comfortable and sleep more easily. We didn’t have an issue with the safety of our Peg Pérego, maybe because in CA several people are rocking strollers that come in at $800+.
Overall we had a fantastic time—better than I could’ve hoped for actually.
The little miss really enjoyed seeing all of the kids, and enjoyed practicing her standing and walking during our wait times in line.
While she may not have understood why we were shooting aliens with Buzz Lightyear, she was still all smiles (and snoozes!) after that ride. The man and I even enjoyed some quiet time up at the Alfresco Tasting Terrace for some wine and small plates.
Disneyland was fun, but in a few years I’m even more excited to take her to Walt Disney World!