Now that I
have a (long-awaited) little one, I have started thinking about his first trip
to Disneyland…and reading other people’s opinions on various pages and sites on taking babies and toddlers to the Disneyland Resort. My hubby and I decided
to skip this summer, as we know that the “happiest place on earth” can also be
one of the germiest places on earth. And, with our son being born a preemie, we decided that
we will take our first family Disneyland trip when our little one is just shy
of a year and a half.
I read lots
of comments such as “Little guys won’t remember the trip when they are older,
save your money!”, “It’s too hard to manage baby needs in the park!”, “Are there
even any good rides that babies can go on?” Now reading this kind of commentary
from others should have deterred our decision. I’m sure it would deter many.
But, as I like to consider myself an unofficial expert, I know I can tackle it!
So, here are
my responses to the most commonly heard reasons not to take little ones into
the park, and a few separate helpful tips and tricks!
won’t remember the trip when they are older, save your money!”
No, this one
won’t work for me. For starters, little ones ages 2 and under get in for free,
and you can bring as many snacks into the parks as you’d like. The additional
cost of bringing in a baby or toddler can be quite negligible, if you know how
to plan well. Besides that, who says that I’m only going for the sake of my
little boy’s memories? When his eyes get huge seeing Mickey for the first time
(or he freaks out and starts to scream…either way), when he runs through the
castle, when he wants to ride the carousel again and again, those are memories
for me. I am there for his current happiness and my memories. Not to mention stories and photos that can be shared for years to come. That is a special kind of
magic that I don’t want to miss.
hard to manage baby needs in the park!”
It is hard…I’m
finding it’s hard anywhere. But again, you can bring baby’s food and snacks.
You can put extra changes of clothes and diapers (beyond what, I’m sure, is
already in your backpack) in a locker. There are changing stations in NEARLY EVERY
restroom in the parks, in addition to family restrooms. In addition, there are
Baby Care Centers in both Disneyland and DCA. What’s there, you ask? Nursing
rooms, changing tables, kitchens with microwave and sink access, little tiny
toilets for those who are potty training, and a shop offering everything you
may have forgotten or run out of: formula, diapers, wipes, sunscreens,
pacifiers, and baby meds. In Disneyland, the Baby Care Center is located at the
end of Main Street, next to First Aid and near the Corn Dog Wagon. In DCA, it’s
in Pacific Wharf, next to Ghiradellis.
even any good rides that babies to go on?”
I hate the
notion of “good rides” vs. “baby rides.” It goes against everything that Disney
intended when he built Disneyland. But, for those who don’t think littles have
any rides for them, let me tell you: THERE ARE TONS! Any ride without a height
requirement is available for babies and toddlers. In Disneyland alone, this
includes (I know I may be forgetting some) the following: Pirates of the
Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Tiki Room, Peter Pan’s Flight, Mr.
Toad’s Wild Ride, Snow White, Pinocchio, King Arthur’s Carousel, Teacups, Alice
in Wonderland, Dumbo, Casey Jr., Storybook Land, It's a Small World, Mark Twain and the Columbia, Finding
Nemo Submarines, Tom Sawyer’s Island, Roger Rabbit, Buzz Lightyear Astro
Blasters, Astro Orbiters, Winnie the Pooh, and the Disneyland Railroad. And all
of these don’t include any of the shows, parades, fireworks, storytimes, character houses and meet and greets, or anything at DCA! There is so much to do!
So, now that
we’ve covered the biggest arguments against, here are some other things to keep
in mind for a successful trip:
your little one’s schedule and the park schedule:
your baby to skip naps or stay until park closing…Sure fire way for a meltdown!
Work in a quiet place for you little guy to rest either at the parks (the
waiting area in the Animation Academy is amazing for this!) or back at the
hotel. If you don’t think your toddler can handle long lines, there are plenty of
websites that offer crowd calendars for you to check out. Less crowded = shorter
lines! Don’t trust the crowd calendars? Go to the Disneyland website and look
at park hours. If the park opens at 8am and closes and midnight, guess what: It’s
going to be crowded!
still get on the rides that you love:
to miss Radiator Springs Racers? Love Splash Mountain? Utilize the Rider Switch
feature! Before you get in line, get a Rider Switch pass from a cast member. Then
you get in line and go on the ride. When you are done, hand your pass to the
person waiting you’re your kiddo, and they can now get into the FastPass line
to take their turn…They can even bring two people with them! This does not have to be redeemed during a certain chunk of time like a FastPass...bring the pass back whenever you're ready to use it! NOTE: As with many
“we’re here to help” features that Disney parks have offered, people have taken
advantage of this. So, many cast members ask to see your baby with you before
giving the pass to you. They are not being rude, they are doing their job. Be
nice to cast members, everyone!
You can rent
a stroller or bring your own. I HIGHLY suggest customizing your stroller with something
easy to spot: ribbon, decorative duct tape, etc. People say that their
strollers have been stolen, and most of the time, it ends up being that many
people bring in the same brand of stroller and take the wrong one accidentally.
Now, I must say, I am amazed by all of the stroller debates I have read on
Disney pages. So let’s break it down to common courtesy: Families may bring
strollers into the park, I don’t care how many people want to petition that
they shouldn’t be allowed in. That's ridiculous. If you have a stroller with you, watch out for
people’s feet and, keep in mind, that room for a small person to squeeze in
does not equal room for a double-wide stroller to fit in. Wait your turn. If
you don’t have a stroller, let the families with strollers take their turn! Don’t
jump in front of them or try to climb over someone’s stroller. (The other half of Dole Whip a Day has literally had people climb over their stroller - RUDE!) If you do that, don’t complain if the family with the stroller has the
audacity to try to move and your foot gets in the way. Be kind and courteous,
it! Am I going to take my little boy as a toddler? Yup! Are we going to have a
great time? Yup! Am I being a little naïve? Maybe, but I don’t care! My hubby
and I will figure it out and can’t wait to share the Disney magic with our awesome
What tips/tricks do you use when taking little
ones into the park? Let us know in the comments below!