Ladybug just turned 2! I am still in shock. It seems only yesterday we celebrated her 1st birthday with a somewhat stressful, big birthday to-do. This time around, we did things differently. We had a small family party and planned a Mom, Dad & baby trip to Disneyland. Visiting the magic kingdom with a toddler or infant is quite an ordeal. Here is my summary of our experience along with some hopefully helpful tips:
I followed the various blog recommendations I found as much as possible. I downloaded apps on my phone to see current ride and attraction wait times, researched park restaurants and studied the park map. And I was sure to make note of where the first aid and baby stations were located (so important!). One thing I could not plan for was the weather. It was a scorcher! Unfortunately, my husband had requested the day off work and couldn’t switch it once we saw the forecast, so we made the best of it. Typically, before summer, in May, mid-week are perfect days to visit Disneyland. We just happened to get a 100+ degree day handed to us. If you must go on hot day, be prepared!
- Load up on the sunscreen…obviously. I waited until we were in the parking lot and coated Ladybug thoroughly. I then reapplied every 2 hours. Because you may not be looking at the clock often, try to reapply while waiting in lines for rides. And be sure to protect yourself too momma!
- A sun hat, sunglasses and stroller visor are key for your baby. Try for at least one of the three here. We were lucky that Ladybug wore her sun hat most of the day and we used the stroller visor as much as possible. No sunburns on that precious scalp of hers.
- Stroll in the shade whenever possible. I swear I must have nagged at my husband 100 times to get her stroller into the shady part of the walkway.
- A mist spray bottle is a great way to keep cool. Try to buy a $5-$9 bottle at a store beforehand, as the park sells them for around $17, yikes!
- Bring refillable sports bottles. We had one bottle for each of us and we bought a few ice cold bottles at the park to refill them, however, there are several water fountains around the park to refill them as well.
- Ask for cups of ice when needed. We got them for free!
As for what to pack and bring to the park, it really varies. Do you have a picky toddler on your hands or perhaps just want to save money? Are you unsure of what diaper bag necessities you’ll actually need? Consider these options:
- Pack easy, dry finger foods such as dried fruits, granola, crackers, raisins and a couple of squeeze pouches. If preferred, pack a small lunch bag with an ice pack for a few items like string cheese or bottled milk (cow or breast milk).
- Food can get pricey at Disneyland, but there are a few hidden deals to be found. We scored veggie and fruit cups, and even hummus with pretzels for $3.99 and less in Toontown. Various carts throughout the park have nutritious, medium priced snacks.
- The changing tables in most of the parks restrooms are hard surfaces, so it may be good to bring your own changing pad for a bit of comfort and cleanliness.
- Speaking of cleanliness, don’t forget plenty of hand wipes! I was constantly wiping Ladybug’s hand as she’d touch literally everything as we waited in lines. And her little fingers were always in her mouth, so I wiped like crazy and washed her hands anytime we entered a restroom.
- Carefully consider your stroller. A small, lightweight stroller won’t hold all too much cargo, but will make maneuvering the magic kingdom much easier. Choosing to bring a bulkier stroller will be helpful with the storage compartments and cup holder and all other comfortable bells and whistles. Plus the advantage of a reclining position and larger canopy making it ideal for a quick nap. A downside to bigger strollers, however, is that they are harder to push through crowds and walkways and don’t fit as nicely in the stroller parking areas. You could also choose to rent one at the park for $15, but they didn’t look all that comfortable on a hot day in my opinion.
Lastly, it is extremely helpful to do some ride and attraction research and planning. Why wait in line for 30 minutes only to have your baby or toddler be terrified of the ride?
- Timing is everything. Little ones tend to have more patience earlier in the day an after a good nap, so look for rides with longer wait times first and save the walk-on type attractions for later as they lose patience. I suggest Fantasyland type rides first, then maybe move on to Toontown as lunch time approaches.
- If baby is getting cranky and tired of sitting in the stroller, Tarzan’s Tree House, Goofy’s House or Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, will let them move those legs a bit.
- Consider possible triggers. Some toddlers fear the dark, others loud noises as was the case with Ladybug. There is a good chance your kiddo won’t like the rides that are rather dark such as Peter Pan, Snow White and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Start slow with Casey Jr.’s Train or Small World and ease into the other rides.
- Don’t force things! Mickey and other characters may be scary in person. Don’t be surprised if you wait in line to met Minnie only to have your little one burst into tears.
- Two parks may be too much for the wee ones. The first trip might be better spent at one park instead of hopping between Disneyland and neighboring California Adventure.
Bottom line, we had a great day at “Mickey’s house”, as Ladybug calls it. Aside from her short, late-in-the day nap and finicky eating throughout the day, it really was a fun day. Mainly because it was memorable and sweet. Watching my sweet girl light up and take in all of the wonders that I remember as a child just filled my heart. I had to lower any expectations and go with the flow, and it all paid off. Going the extra mile and preparing could make a huge difference in how you enjoy baby’s first Disney trip. Check out this helpful site (I wish I had found before our trip!) for all in depth Disneyland with baby tips.