My tips for taking small children to the Happiest Place on Earth
Last year during the last few weeks of my maternity leave, we decided to take our 2 year old to Disneyland. Growing up in southern California, I’ve been to Disneyland and other theme parks my fair share of times, pre-baby days of course. I went into this knowing the trip would be very different, I did a little research before and found a few good tips, plus came up with a few of my own on the fly that helped make the trip easier and enjoyable for all involved.
- Backpack. For this trip I traded in my usual tote style diaper bag for a backpack (Minnie Mouse, naturally). Much easier to carry things around strapped to your back than trying to keep a shoulder strap on.
- If you bring a stroller, bring a bike lock. This was a tip from a co-worker who had her double stroller stolen there. Strap that sucker to whatever you can, most stroller parking areas are along gates or fences anyway.
- Sunblock, lots and lots of sunblock. And a hat if your kid will tolerate it. In the summertime especially, shady spots are rare and far between.
- Tag your kid. Obviously the main thing is to keep an eye on your child the whole time, but should they run off or get separated from you, it is important to have your number somewhere on your child. There are bracelets you can order, but hey… Pinterest idea! write it on their forearm in pen and apply a layer of liquid bandage so it doesn’t smudge off. Or put one a name tag stickers on the back of their shirts with your info.
- Make friends with a friendly looking employee and casually ask if they have any tips for the parade. Employees always have little secret spots they can recommend for getting a good view without having to wait in the sun for 2 hours before.
- Stash a couple of sandwich baggies in your bag. Your kid will most likely not finish their meal, and will undoubtedly want more food an hour after you eat. Not only does it take a long time to get food anywhere, but it is sooo expensive. Toss those leftover fries and chicken nuggets into your baggie and hand it over when they want a snack.
- Since you’re going to be eating there anyway at some point, go balls out and book a character dining experience. I like to do the buffet breakfast. Yes, It’s pricy, but any meal inside the park is expensive. I justify it this way: we go around 10 am and the adults get a full meal that can hold us over until dinner, so we only have to get the kids a snacks or a small lunch item. Huge benefit, you can sit back and sip on some bottomless coffee while the characters come to your table to say hi to the kids and pose for photos. No more chasing them around the park and waiting in line to see them. (It’s best to make a reservation ahead of time, they can fill fast)
- Bring your kid a sippy cup for water. Let’s be real, toddlers backwash. Always. Water is like $5 a pop at theme parks. Yes, you can buy your kid their own bottle each time, but then you have to carry it around. Every hour or 2, Hubs and I buy a large bottle, fill up the sippy, and share the rest.
- Disneyland has a great Mommy room at the end of Main Street where you can nurse or pump in a comfy chair and some privacy. Plus they have a fully stocked changing room where you can clean up baby without loud toilet flushing noises scaring the crap out of your infant. Tip: if there aren’t others waiting to use it, hang out in there and let your baby nap a little in peace and quiet after eating, while the other people in your group enjoy a ride.
- Another employee tip, if your kid pooped out before the final fireworks show of the night, no problem, head out to your car, drive up to the highest point of the parking structure that you can get to, and enjoy the view. It was magical