Post by contributing writer, Kim Meredith.
As a full-time working mom with two youngsters ages four and two, going to Disneyland by myself seems like a daunting mission. I can't imagine all the stuff I would need to pack for the day, and being out past nap time makes me nervous. Can I handle the meltdowns by myself in a crowded amusement park? What about when I try to strap my toddler into the stroller and the preschooler likes to wander off on her own. Who is going to chase her down? Yikes! Okay, and is it too soon? What is a good age to go, and will they remember any of this? I thought to myself - we will never make it to Disneyland until the kids are much older.
Well, we did it! A few weeks ago with the help of auntie Mary, my sister, we took the children for their first time, and at the end of the day, I was amazed how much fun we had. Being a mom of two herself (ages seven and nine), she reassured me that Disneyland can be enjoyable at any age, and thankfully she guided us around the park. Just having another adult there to help me with the children made me feel much better. I have some helpful tips for first time parents. Being well prepared is key to minimize parental anxiety.
What to Pack:
- Bring a stroller. If you have two small children, bring a double stroller. They also have them available for rent. If you have infants, pack a carrier as well. The strollers have multiple uses, and it will save your back. It will give the children a place to rest and nap so you don't have to carry them, and it also stores all your belongings.
- Supplies. Load up a backpack with wet wipes, diapers, portable cellphone chargers, hats, a change of clothes, jackets (it gets colder in the evenings), their favorite blankie, water and their favorite snacks. Pack umbrellas, rain boots, and ponchos for rainy days. Wallet and keys stayed with us and not in the stroller.
- Mark your stroller. I was amazed how stroller-friendly the park is, but in most cases, you'll have to park it somewhere before getting on the attraction. It scared me a few times when I couldn't find it. They shuffle it around so I suggest tying a ribbon, something bright, or a balloon to distinguish yours from the others . Otherwise, like suitcases, they all look the same! With that said, don't leave your valuables unattended. Take them with you.
- Camera. The children are only so little for so long. Capture all those cherished memories. Photos at Disneyland make great keepsakes.
- Autograph book.
We were there from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. and we covered a lot in the short amount we were there. HOLLYWOOD LAND and BUG'S LAND had so much to offer for toddlers and preshoolers plus they are right next to each other. If you have season passes, take your time to explore each area. For a limited time, they are previewing "Beauty and the Beast" at Sunset Showcase Theater, and it is such a tease, because now we can't wait to see the new movie! Disney Junior - Live On Stage! was interactive and the children enjoyed seeing their favorite characters. There are several meet and greets throughout. My four year old was shy getting up close to the characters, but I got cute pictures of her waiting for their autographs. Both her and her brother loved meeting Elsa and Ana. Captain America and Spiderman took a break from crime fighting to meet with fans. Frozen - Live at the Hyperion was an amazing one hour performance, and it was perfect, because my toddler took a nap and was refreshed for the rest of the day. Here is a list of toddler/preschooler-friendly attractions at Disney California Adventure Park:
- HOLLYWOOD LAND:
- Disney Animation is indoors and here you will find Sorcerer's Workshop, Anna & Elsa's Royal Welcome, Animation Academy, and Turtle Talk with Crush.
- "Beauty and the Beast" Preview at Sunset Showcase Theater is showing every 20 minutes, rated PG, and features a collection of props and costume pieces used in the film.
- Disney Junior - Live On Stage! includes a fun interactive show with Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First with Mickey Mouse and friends.
- BUG'S LAND:
- Francis' Ladybug Boogie
- Flik's Flyers
- Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies
- Princess Dot Puddle Park
- Heimlich's Chew Chew Train
- CARS LAND:
- Luigi's Rollinckin' Roadsters
- PARADISE PIER:
- Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure
- King Triton’s Carousel
- Toy Story Midway Mania
Meet and Greets:
- Captain America & Spiderman are in Hollywood Land
- Anna & Elsa's Royal Welcome is inside Hollywood Land's Disney Animation
- Residents of Radiator Springs are in Carsland
- Other Disney Stars can be found in Hollywood Land between Disney Theater and Disney Animation as well as on Buena Vista Street and Paradise Pier
- Alice in Wonderland
- Casey Jr. Circus Train
- Storybook Land Canal Boats
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- The Royal Theatre at Fantasy Faire
- “it’s a small world”
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Goofy’s Playhouse
- Mickey’s House and Minnie’s House
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Both of my kids enjoyed the moving dancing cars in Luigi Rollickin' Roadsters. For lunch, I was happy to see there were kid-friendly staples like mac and cheese, but if you have a picky-eater like mine, bring backup. All of the restrooms are kid friendly with at least two changing tables, but bring a changing pad to place underneath your kid’s head. I suggest getting a guide map upon entering the park and mapping out where are the restrooms are, what attractions and shows you want to see, and food places before walking around. Thank goodness there were plenty around, but the line can be exponential so timing is everything. Overall, we had a great time. Both kids enjoyed themselves and immediately fell asleep as soon as we got into the car. Thank you, Disneyland, for having us and all the wonderful memories! ~Kim
- Baby Care Centers with nursing rooms, changing rooms, feeding areas, microwaves, etc. can be found at Pacific Wharf in Disney California Adventure and at the end of Main Street, USA in Disneyland.
- Companion/family restrooms can be found throughout the park. There are six at Disneyland and five at Disney California Adventure.
- Securely store items you don't want to leave in your stroller in a locker. Four Locker locations are available for storing valuable with two in the main entrance plaza, one on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland and another on Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure.
- They have a Guest Service Office at both parks - City Hall in Disneyland and the Chamber of Commerce in Disney California Adventure.
Ever thought about booking a room at the Disneyland Hotel? We stayed over one night as a local, and it was a nice chance to relax and give the children some down time before heading back into the park or exploring Downtown Disney. The Monorail station is right there too. Early risers can take advantage of Magic Hour or Downtown Disney Early Hour Activities, and then come back to rest when needed. We stayed in the Fantasy Tower overlooking the pool. The Sleeping Beauty headboard lights up and plays a magical tune to promote sleep reminding us we are in a magical place, and I love the Mickey fixtures in the bathroom. They had people in the pool in the middle of February so I can imagine how much fun it is in the summer time. They also have nightly Movies Under the Stars featuring a Disney favorite at 7 p.m. I think it was playing Lady and the Tramp, Pocahontas, or Tangled that night. Downstairs is Goofy's Kitchen where you can dine with characters available for breakfast or dinner. I love those because the characters come to you. Reservations are recommended and they take them as early as two months out. I enjoyed staying there with the children and already thinking of a special occasion to come back. Disneyland Hotel is located at 1150 West Magic Way in Anaheim, California. You can find more information on their website here: disneyland.disney.go.com/hotels/disneyland-hotel/ or call (714) 778-6600.