Thursday, August 18, 2011

Disneyland with a Toddler

The toddler won’t be a toddler much longer, as he’ll soon turn 4. We really wanted him to experience Disneyland while it was still truly magical for him, so we planned a trip. We decided to visit Disneyland only one day as we wanted to avoid “entertainment overload,” and it worked out well. Here some pics:

Here is what we would do again when visiting Disneyland with a toddler:
  • One day/one park is plenty for a toddler. Disney really pushes multiple day/multiple park passes. In fact, you can only buy the one day/one park ticket (the cheapest ticket) at Disneyland. However, it turned out one day was plenty, and we all really needed the downtime the next day.
  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast. Our hotel provided a complimentary breakfast, and we got up early to eat breakfast at 6:30 a.m. so that we would have time to get to the park before 8. Getting up early was totally worth it, as it allowed us to enjoy the park while it wasn’t crowded without having to worry about eating.
  • Get there early. We got to the main entrance before 8, bought our tickets, and entered the park right after 8. We were able to ride several rides without any wait time.
  • Plan lunch early. There is nothing worse than a hungry toddler and having to wait a long time for food. We ended up eating at French Market Restaurant before the lunch crowd. It’s a self-serve restaurant with outdoor, shaded seating. Hubby and I both got salads, which were quite good, and the toddler got mac & cheese with carrots, celery, and grapes, which he enjoyed. Most importantly, there was plenty of room, shade, and live music, which made for a pleasant and relaxing lunch.
  • Go for a walk after lunch so your toddler will (hopefully) take a nap in the stroller. This was crucial to help prevent meltdowns!!! We ended up not going on a few rides because of the nap, but it was so worth it!
  • Watch the fireworks from your hotel room. We stayed a little over a mile away from Disneyland, but we got a Disney-facing room and were able to watch the fireworks from our hotel room both nights. It was kind of late for the toddler (9:30 p.m.), but he really enjoyed watching them, and it was worth it.
  • Here are the rides and attractions we really enjoyed (I know, there are many, many, many more): it’s a small world, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Pirates of the Caribbean (the toddler was a little scared), Disneyland Railroad, The Haunted Mansion (we were worried this would be too scary, but the toddler really enjoyed it), Enchanted Tiki Room, Big Thunder Ranch, Mickey’s Toontown (so much to do and explore for toddlers!!!), Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin (the toddler’s favorite ride), and the Parade.
Here is what we would do differently when visiting Disneyland with a toddler:
  • Take advantage of FASTPASS. We only got FASTPASS tickets for one ride and didn’t even end up using them. Next time, I would make better use of fast passes. We waited in line for over an hour for Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, which we could have easily avoided had we used FASTPASS tickets.
  • Use mobile apps for wait times, maps, etc. I downloaded a few apps but ended up not using them.
  • Use rider swap. It would have been fun to go on at least one “adult ride” (I love Indiana Jones), and we could have both gone by using ride swap. (From the Disney website: “If you have 2 or more adults in your party, you can take advantage of the rider swap program that enables you to experience the attraction while one adult waits with the child. You then "swap" to enable the other adult to enjoy the attraction as well.”)
Questions: Have you ever been to Disneyland or Disney World? If so, what’s your favorite ride or attraction? Do you have any Disney tips?
Be well,


  1. OH I can't wait to have kids simply so I can bring them to Disney World! DW is closer to use than DL, although we do have friends in Cali, so maybe we'd go there instead. I've only been to DW, and it was when I was ten. I remember LOVING Space Mountain!!
    Great tips Andrea, and I have to say, nothing's worse than a hungry GINA either (ask Nick..he'll tell you!).

  2. Never been to Disney World - although we did do Epcot Center in Florida to go to Emeril's restaurant - it was so good!

    Thanks for sharing the pictures! :D The toddler is getting so big!

  3. Wow! He's turning 4 already?! Crazy!!

    Your trip looks amazing! I went to Disney World when I was about 7, so needless to say, I remember none of it...but I was told I had an excellent time and the photos are fun to look at now :)

  4. I've loved watching the toddler grow up through your blog, Andrea!

    Great tips for Disney travels! We went to DisneyWorld for the first time 3 years ago and it was one exhausting (but fun!) trip!

  5. Great Disney tips! I have such fond memories of visiting Disneyland as a kid. I can't wait to take mine someday :)

  6. Glad to hear you had a fun time at Disneyland. You were very smart to limit it to one day to avoid Disney overload! We usually go to Disneyland once a year which is perfect for us. My kids and I always have fun, and my husband still does (and always will) find Disneyland to be a magical place! We even spent his 40th b-day there this year :-)

  7. What a great day, the toddler must have had a great time.

    I've been to Disneyland once, almost 20 years ago, and to be honest can't remember much of it, except that it was Disney magic. Don't know what rides I took. There's a disneyland nearby Paris which I still want to visit someday.

  8. I just love Disneyland!! I think it's good you just did one day. It can definitely be overload if you have more time than that.
    I miss it so much now that I see your pics! :)

  9. Anonymous8/19/2011

    Disney Land is so much fun! Thanks for sharing your experience and the pictures!

  10. great, great tips and ideas.

    and i can't believe how big he is getting!

  11. Yes, we've been and I second the one day is enough statement. The ride swap thing is very cool. I paid for a service that lets you cut the lines. My kids were young enough not to notice (and get spoiled) but it was well worth the 10 clients I had to see to pay for the service.

  12. Anonymous8/19/2011

    what great tips and it looks like you had fun! enjoy your weekend andrea!

  13. Bringing your toddler in Disney is really tough! It makes me so doubtful of visiting Disney this year. Anyhow, Thanks for sharing your ideas, I might use this on my Disney trip. You could also have Baby wheels with your adventure.