Disneyland Travel Guide For Families + Best Spots to Take Photos

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.

summer stroller disneyland adidas toddler minnie mouse sweatshirt pink

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.

mickey mouse pink sweatshirt blush minnie ears disneyland guide

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:

– tickets + wallet/ID
– lots of snacks! (a lot in order to entertain her during the lines & to save money & i’ve asked a ton of parents and the first thing they say is snacks)
– bottled water / refillable water bottles (used this one) / sippy cups (used this one)
– stroller (w/ umbrella if possible – highly recommend THIS ONE, also if needed there are options for stroller rental)
– sunscreen
– hand sanitizer or wipes (brought THESE)
– baby wipes (I use THESE)
– portable charger (multiple if possible, I used THIS ONE)
– change of clothes (multiple just in case)
diaper bag/backpack (so that if you’re in line for a ride you don’t have to go back and forth to the stroller)
– cooling fan
– ponchos/rain jackets/umbrellas (in the event of rain)
– blankets (for the Disney parades)
– extra jackets
– hats & gloves (got THIS for Milan)
– food (there’s a microwave available in the baby care center where Milan can also hang out if she gets tired and needs a nap)
– backpacks for carrying items
– hair ties/ beanie/ hair accessories
– first aid (band-aids and others)
mickey mouse pink sweatshirt blush minnie ears disneyland guide
mickey mouse pink sweatshirt blush minnie ears disneyland guide

NON-ESSENTIALS

– souvenirs (I bought THIS as souvenirs to give to Milan after)
Minnie ears (buy prior to arrival, another option HERE)
Amazon tablet/ anything that will keep your kids busy (I use THIS and requires no wi-fi)
– Polaroid camera (love THIS ONE)
mickey mouse pink sweatshirt blush minnie ears disneyland guide
mickey mouse pink sweatshirt blush minnie ears disneyland guide

TIPS

– buy tickets online
– 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
mickey mouse pink sweatshirt blush minnie ears disneyland guide
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.
mickey mouse pink sweatshirt blush minnie ears disneyland guide

BEST PLACES TO TAKE PHOTOS AT DISNEYLAND

– In front of the castle (to the side to minimize photo bombers)
 – Snow White’s grotto
– Teacup ride
– Carousel
– 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
It's a Small world castle disneyland
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.
disneyland travel guide pink mickey sweatshirt rose gold minnie ears mommy and me
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!
mad party tea ride disneyland
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. 🙂
mickey mouse pink sweatshirt blush minnie ears disneyland guide
My outfit:
Sweatshirt: Abercrombie Mickey crewneck sweatshirt (size XS) | Jeans: Topshop (size 24×28 petite) | Shoes: Adidas baseline kids sneakers (size 4) | Rose Gold Minnie Ears (another option HERE) | Backpack/Diaper bag: c/o Freshly Picked
Milan’s outfit:
Sweatshirt: Target Minnie Mouse sweatshirt (size 2T) | Dress: Old Navy tutu dress (size 2T) | Shoes: Adidas baseline toddler sneakers (size 6)

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  1. There is a benefit to growing up near Disneyland – by the time I was old enough to be there alone, I knew the park like the back of my hand. We were the be there when it opens stay til closing people. I also got free tickets at times from being in local schools. Disney at least used to do arts-related things with local schools. Of course, this was back when tickets were $20, $25, and $35. My mother and grandparents went to the park when it opened, somy family went all the time in the 80s. My godparents even worked for Disney and a lot of my high school friends were park performers after graduation. But I haven’t been since 98. We’ll have a hard time not visiting Star Wars Land when it opens.

  2. When she is a bit older (like 4 or 5) the Disney Cruise is awesome. You can sit up to meet the characters and the Princesses one on one. Plus it’s Disney so the cruise ship itself is pretty amazing.

      • Yes! You should look into it. It’s pretty amazing. Plus they have cruises out of San Diego which is super convenient for us So Cal people!

  3. Thank you for this information. We are going to Disney next month with my toddler she is 2, and is our first time. So this is awesome

  4. Beautiful pictures. S sweet. I love the first one (with the melt down). So cute! I remember those moments with my daughter when she was small. LOL I’m glad you had a great time. I am from SC and when I visited a friend in the Los Angeles area I had to visit Disneyland. I have great memories from that day.

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