If you’re just joining in, check out My Disneyland Experience With Toddler In Tow Part 1 to get up to speed.
Now that you have officially packed and are proudly wearing your newly-earned “Always be Prepared” badge on your scout vest, let’s dive into the FUN. I will never forget the time when we took our then 12-month old to his first Disney Park. It was about the third morning into our vacation and while we ate breakfast in our room, he crawled to the door, stood up, banged on the door with both hands wide open, then quickly crawled as fast as he could to his stroller. At 12-months old, this kiddo had no doubt in his mind where the fun was. :)
THE PARK, THE RIDES, AND THE EXPERIENCE–
- STOP! Go Back!!! Did you grab not only a Park map but an Entertainment Times Guide when you entered the Park? Be sure to! Because it contains show information you need to know as well as tips to help you manage your time. Another helpful tool if you have a smart phone is to check your phone’s app store for a wait times app like My Disney Experience or other Park apps.
- Everyone’s family travels a little different, but peak times of attendance at the Park tend to be about late morning to midday. If you want to do your best to avoid crowds, you may choose to get up early and/or stay out late–with a trip to the pool in the middle.
- If you are looking to ride a popular ride, see if there is a Disney FASTPASS available. Get them first thing in the day though, because once they are gone, they are gone!
- Realize that your toddler may want to experience the park
SLOWERdifferently than you do. And that’s OK! Enjoy the pace and take a deep breath. Some of the best things we did was to stop and enjoy the parades! I highly recommend the Pixar Play Parade in Disney’s California Adventure Park as well as Mickey’s Soundsational Parade in Disneyland Park. See your Entertainment Times Guide for times.
- Grab your treats and toys and tricks up your sleeves for waiting in lines. Most of the smaller, toddler rides don’t have FASTPASS available. If you go in line with a plan, waiting isn’t as bad as you are dreading it to be. When you forget to grab something, bust out your “I Spy” skill-set.
- Measure your toddler either at home or if you forget (like THAT would ever happen! ;) ) at the first opportunity when you see a “You Must Be This Tall” yardstick. The Park map prints all the rides requirements. It is helpful to know before migrating your family across the expanse if your kiddo can ride Gadget’s Go Coaster in Mickey’s Toontoon when you are currently all the way over at the Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland.
- Know that there is a Baby Care Center in each park for you to take a break, nurse, or purchase any forgotten supplies you may need. They’re located at Disney’s California Adventure Park in Pacific Wharf and at Disneyland Park on Main Street U.S.A. And most, if not all bathrooms have changing stations.
- Disney has done a great job of getting healthy food into the Parks. Look for the Mickey Check on everything from quick service stations to restaurant menus!
- Hang on to your hat and literally your kids especially on faster rides like Mad Tea Party teacups, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree tractors ride, Francis’ Ladybug Boogie teacup-like ride, and Gadget’s Go Coaster roller coaster even if they are in their seat belts. They can be swingin’!
- For Toddlers, some of our favorite rides at Disneyland are climbing on the antique Fire Engine (Main Street, U.S.A.), The Enchanted Tiki Room (Adventureland), Jungle Cruise (Adventureland), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Critter Country), King Arthur’s Carrousel (Fantasyland), Casey Jr. Circus Train (Fantasyland), Dumbo the Flying Elephant (Fantasyland), “it’s a small world” (Fantasyland), Goofy’s Playhouse climbing structure (Toontown), Gadget’s Go Coaster (35″ height requirement, Toontown), Mickey’s, Minnie’s, and Donald’s houses (Toontown), Autopia (Tomorrowland), Astro Orbitor rocketships (Tomorrowland), and the Disneyland Railroad the circles the Park (Mainstreet, U.S.A, New Orleans Square, Mickey’s Toontown,Tomorrowland). FYI, I am sure Nemo’s Submarine Voyage will be amazing too once it reopens in Fall 2014.
- For Toddlers, some of our favorite rides at Disney’s California Adventure Park are Flik’s Fliers (“a bug’s land”), Princess Dot Puddle Park Splash area (“a bug’s land”), Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train (“a bug’s land”), Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree tractors ride (Cars Land), Luigi’s Flying Tires (Cars Land) and the World of Color show will not disappoint if you are out late (Paradise Pier). But I would also have loved to see Disney Junior–Live on Stage! (Hollywood Land)
MY LAST BIT OF ADVICE–
Go into your adventure with all of your patience. Know that nothing is quick, but you will get your turn! When you are relaxed and smiling, your kiddo will follow your lead. One thing that I had to learn as a parent on this trip was if my toddler was content, leave him and let him play–even when you see a new character come or a new opportunity present itself because when you pick up your happy kid and race him across the way, you spend your time consoling a now-upset toddler instead of enjoying a fun experience. Know too that it is impossible to see everything! You just can’t because there is SOOO much to do! So come up with a daily plan that includes your favorite activities, and try to do all the rides you want in one area before moving on to another, then there will be less backtracking and scurrying. Be sure to schedule some breaks in your day. No one, especially your toddler, can go non-stop for days on end.
Lastly, no matter what you do, walk away from your vacation knowing that everyone, including your toddler had a blast. When I talk to other moms about bringing their toddlers to Disneyland, they all say how shocked they were that their children really did enjoy themselves and really did remember their trip for a long time! (And be sure to take lots of pictures! Those toddlers LOVE to go back and look at them, parents too!… like I had to tell you that.) There really is something for everyone, so don’t assume that your toddler is too small to really enjoy it. Would I do it again?…. Does a Mouse have Ears!? :) …In a heartbeat.
Stay tuned for the last post in this series, a slideshow with the last of my tricks and tips!
Disclosure: I paid to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. In exchange for my registration fee, I received deeply discounted rates on hotel, park tickets, events, meals, and swag. I am not required nor was I asked to write about the events by Disney or any other party affiliated with the event. Thoughts are 100% my own.