We did it! We finally went to Disneyland. I’ve been promising her since last September and now we can check it off the list. The happiest place on earth yet not even two minutes past the gate, we already had a meltdown. #momlife
I’ve never been to Disneyland and the thought of bringing Milan for the first time was overwhelming. I had no idea what to expect or what to pack. I decided to round up all the essentials you’ll need, some non-essentials and share tips on how to survive Disneyland with a toddler. Plus find out where the best places to take cute photos with your family.
The one thing I was most panicked about besides tantrums was which stroller to bring. Milan hasn’t sat in a stroller since she was one year old. She prefers to walk or be held. There was NO way I would survive if I had to carry her the entire time. I decided to bring this stroller and would highly recommend it. It’s lightweight and easy to fold up.
I was stressing out about what to bring and what was going to happen but then I decided that I wasn’t going to have ANY expectations. Things can go sideways real fast with a toddler so it’s best if you just accept the fact that things aren’t going to go perfectly. Here are some essentials you will need:
– get there as early as possible (if park opens at 9 try to arrive at around 8:30-8:45 due to traveling from parking to Disney as well as possible traffic and possibility of getting into the park early)
– DO NOT LOSE YOUR TICKET! You will need this to return to the park if you need to leave or go to your car
– prep for security line, have all things that are needed off and out/ in a backpack so they can just look at it quickly
– download the Disney app
– try to get pictures with characters in the mornings before the lines are packed
– take advantage of fast passes as well as child switch rides
– watch shows during the afternoon not in the morning
– rides and characters/ pictures are best first thing in the morning
– entertainment time schedules
– if you plan on watching the parades/fireworks try to find a spot 15-20 minutes before they start (best locations are on Main st. for the fireworks, and for the parades the best part is going to be around the center in front of the castle)
– the baby care center has small toilets that are available for use as well as baby changing stations that are quieter and aren’t as hectic as the rest of Disney
– if a balloon pops or ears that were bought inside of Disney were lost you can just get a replacement
– take the monorail/train/main st. conveyances to save walking time
– almost everything in Toontown makes noises, so it’s an easy spot for kids to be distracted
– watch shows to keep your little ones entertained but also so you can give yourself and your feet a break
– Fantasyland has rides that kids can go on and there’s no height requirements
– if needed, you can also ask the photo pass photographer to take pictures for you as well
– wear comfortable sneakers, comfortable clothing and layers so you can take off if it gets too hot
I told myself if I could get one photo with Milan at Disneyland, I’d be happy. I was deathly afraid that wasn’t going to happen since she refused to at the very beginning. Once she pulled herself together, we had a blast. Seeing the look on her face when she met the characters was priceless. Luckily she was willing to pose with each of them. I was so relieved. LOL
Had I known she would love meeting all the characters this much, I would have done the breakfast at Plaza Inn. It’s a buffet/family style restaurant and apparently you get to meet and spend time with the characters. If you want to avoid standing in lines to meet each one and not knowing where and when they will be at the park, this is a great way to do that all in one shot. If I ever take her back, I will probably do this. The prices are steep but worth it if you want to avoid crowds.
– In front of the castle (to the side to minimize photo bombers)
– Snow White’s grotto
– Teacup ride
– in front of the Christmas tree (during the holidays)
– Chip n Dale house
– pictures holding the balloons
– It’s a Small World wall
– Walt & Mickey statue
I ended up packing WAY too many snacks but I’d rather be over prepared than not have enough right? We barely touched any of it. I did bring along sandwiches that we kept in a cooler in the car. I would highly recommend taking a mid-day break in the shade just to sit, eat and give your feet a break. The park is SO big and if you’re going for the first time, it can be A LOT to take in.
Milan’s favorite ride was Winnie the Pooh. We must have gone on it 5-6 times. My favorite ride was It’s a small world – so amazing! I definitely felt like a kid again. Milan was brave enough to go on the rollercoaster but it was definitely scary for her. We both loved the Mad Tea Party ride – so cute!
We didn’t get to go on as many rides as we wanted to. Time goes by so fast and before you know it, everyone is exhausted. Milan didn’t nap the entire day. She was close at one point but omg how could she? Talk about stimulation overload! It’s even too much for adults to handle so I can’t even imagine what kids go through. If you can accept the fact that there will be meltdowns and you won’t get to do and see everything you want in one day, then you are good. Go with an open mind, low expectations and a good attitude. Some people love Disneyland and for others, it’s not their cup of tea but when you have kids, you do it for them. Seeing the world through their eyes is truly magical and I can’t wait to take her back. 🙂