10 Tips For Disneyland With Small Children

Since I have been taking my kids to Disneyland for the past few years, I figured I am now a self-proclaimed pro.  I have had friends ask me for advice in how to enjoy and maximize their first time Disney trips with their children.  I should probably get some type of Disneyland Mom award for telling you tips of mine.
  1.  Check out the website!  If this is your first time visit, and you are just as much a control freak parent that I am, I know you probably have your trip all mapped out.  But if you don’t, and are a bit nervous, you can order a Disney parks dvd to help you prepare for the trip.  It gives you a tour of the park and rides.


  2. Temporary Tattoos!  If you are a paranoid parent like myself, in case you get separated, you can write your phone number on your child’s arm and apply skin shield. It will be just like a temporary tattoo. Or you can go to Guest Relations and ask for a sticker to attach to the back of your childs shirt.

  3. Buying Tickets!  The first time we visited Disneyland, we bought our tickets online and printed them out.  If the line is long, you can forgo the wait by buying your tickets via mobile device. On your smart phone, go to m.disneyland.com and select buy tickets.  Enter the number of tickets you would like to purchase and credit card info.  Once you purchase the tickets, the Disneyland Mobile Ticket Store will send the ticket barcodes to your mobile device.  You can head straight to the turnstiles without the hassle of the long line.  You will then receive a paper ticket which is still needed if you have a park hopper or for reentry if you leave the park and should come back later.

  4. Download the Mouse Waiting App on your smartphone!  It gives you wait times of popular rides so that you and the family can enjoy the rest of the park!  Grab fast passes for these rides when possible!  Keep in mind, if you are splitting up to grab fast passes for everyone, you will need to have all the paper tickets for everyone in your group.  Only 1 fast pass will be printed per ticket.

  5. Also check out height requirements for popular rides.  I have a 5 year old and a 22 month old.  My 5 year old is starting to like the “fast, big kid” rides.  We didn’t want to disappoint her so i made sure to check out all height requirements before getting to the park.  If you have a smaller child with you who cannot ride, check to see if the ride offers child swap.  Child swap is a great way for parents to ride when a child can’t.  For example, a baby or someone who does not meet height requirement can not ride Indiana Jones, but it is a favorite of many older kids and adults.  With child swap, both adults can enjoy the ride at different times.  When you would like to use child swap, just go to the attraction you would like to ride and tell the first Cast Member you see for that attraction.  Let the Cast Member know you would like to child swap. You will be given a child swap pass.  Make sure all members of the family are present.  Your pass will be good for the whole day on that attraction.  Also if you have older children, he or she will get to ride twice!

  6. Collect the special buttons for souvenirs!  If it is a first time visit or your child’s birthday, you can visit Guest Relations for a special button!  Your child may get special treatment on rides and the staff will greet your child and wish his or her a Happy Birthday!  My daughter Micaela loved when anyone wished her a Happy Birthday!  It made her feel like a princess and very special.  We have saved all the buttons we have received for souvenirs.

  7. Bring a stroller and baby carrier.  Even if your child does not normally use a stroller, it is always best to bring one with.  We bring our giant double BOB jogger.  It is a giant but it maneuvers well in the park.  Also having the massive shade visor is a plus during nap time in the warm summer months.  Strollers are also great for storage.  I have the whole undercarriage for snacks, waters  blankets, extra change of clothes and souvenirs. During the line, we put our little one in a carrier.  You can also rent a stroller at the park.  They cost $15 per day to rent one stroller and $25 per day for two.  Stroller rentals are located outside Disneyland Main Entrance adjacent to the kennel.  Rented strollers can be used at both Disneyland and Ca Adventures but unfortunately is not permitted at Downtown Disney District.

    We use the Ergo Baby carrier and he loves being on my back.  It saves your arms in the long lines and also keeps your child at bay.  Mason is always trying to run off or squeeze in between the metal gates our carrier saves us from being a nuisance in line!

  8. Snacks and backpacks!  Disneyland has recently updated their outside food policy.

     “At the present time, you can enjoy your own food and beverages in an ideal setting at the complimentary picnic area—conveniently located outside the Main Entrance to Disneyland Park.

    However, with the exception of food items for Guests with specific dietary restrictions, outside food or beverage items are not permitted in either of the Disneyland Resort theme parks.”

    Absolutely no hard side coolers, glass containers, large coolers or alcoholic beverages.

    If you plan on bringing snacks i.e. sandwiches, crackers, water, pack in a small backpack/insulated bag.  This is usually ignored as they check the bag at the security checkpoint.

    I carry 2 separate bags for my 2 kids.  One goes in the stroller and the other with me in line in a backpack.  During the hot summer months, I usually bring a small insulated bag for keeping drinks cold and fruit fresh.  I don’t bring a ton of food into the park as we eat meals there.  I bring light snacks and separate in snack baggies so i can have them ready to hand out at the first sign of boredom or a meltdown.  I pack goldfish crackers, trail mix, granola bars, cut up fruit in plastic tupperware, popcorn, applesauce/fruit pouches, graham crackers.
    If you choose to bring in food to the park, there are lots of tables and benches.  If you eat discreetly and do not make a mess, I’m sure no one will say anything to you.  If you are not the risk taker like myself, there are lockers available to store your large cooler and designated areas to picnic outside the gates of Disneyland.

    All the restaurants have kid’s/toddler meals.  My kids love the mac n cheese meal and also the hot dog meal found in Toon Town.  Also some restaurants give free drink refills.

  9. Go to Disney Character Dining!  The character dining is a great way to see your little one’s favorite Disney characters all in one spot.  It beats having to wait in lines!  The characters make the rounds and visit each table individually so that your kids get their undivided attention!  Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is the only breakfast where Mickey is guaranteed to show up!  Don’t forget the autograph books!

    Please note that Disneyland does raise prices for the Character dining during busy times of the year.  It can cost up to 25% more than normal.

    Easter / spring break time, summer and the Christmas holiday are usually subject to these increases.

  10. Fantasyland first!  Fantasyland in my opinion is the most kid friendly area.  We always head there first so that the lines aren’t so long!  There are no fast passes in Fantasyland so heading there first is best for us!  Another good time for Fantasyland is during Parades and non peak hours.  Peter Pan’s Flight and Alice in Wonderland are 2 of the longest lines in this area.  Average wait for these rides are 30-45 min.  If you see the line is short, take advantage!  We have strayed from our itinerary a few times when we see short lines!

    I hope these tips come in handy for making your Disneyland experience a magical one!  I’ll be sure to add any new updates or tips that I may have.

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