Last time I visited Disneyland, I was a nursing Mommy with several children under 5. More recently, a friend asked for tips on visiting, and I realized I had enough ideas to build a blog post!
Disneyland can be a fun experience for anyone – even a mommy with young children. Here are my tips for Mommies to make the most of the trip (without pulling your hair out).
Tips for Planning and Packing
#1 Try to go during offseason. While some of the rides will be closed down for maintenance, the lines are shorter and the character autograph opportunities are bigger. This tip is easier to do if you homeschool or have only very young children.
#2 Look for deals. Outside the park, look for family package pricing. It's often cheaper than buying individual tickets.
#3 Plan for resting breaks. Consider a week-long trip rather than 3-days so that when those little ones tucker out, you don’t feel like you have to push it to see everything you want to. If there are multiple adults on the trip, you may decide to have a half-day where one adult stays at the hotel with the younger children while the others go on those more adventurous/tiring rides.
#4 Think about transportation for little ones. When picking your in-park transportation for the little ones, think 'stroller' instead of 'wagon.' If the handle is on a joint and is meant to be pulled instead of pushed, then it won't be allowed in the park. If your little one has a disability, get a 'Stroller = Wheelchair' tag to allow you to push it into areas where strollers are not normally allowed. Child slings and backpack-style carriers are also great choices for transporting little ones.
#5 Pack a little food. Go ahead and pack snacks to take into the park for between meals. Some parks don't like you taking in outside food, but Disneyland is more understanding. But eating the food sold in the park is part of the experience, so don't miss out!
Tips for Rides and Resting
#6 Utilize the rider switch pass. When going on a ride with height restrictions (or even just a ride that's too scary), ask for a rider switch pass at the front. One adult waits outside, and then gets to skip the line when it's time to pass the little one.
(#7) That said, you'd be surprised how many rides you can take the tiny tots on with you. If it doesn't say you can't, you probably can hold the young 'un on your lap or right beside you.
#8 Avoid long lines. If the fastpass clock says "ten minutes wait," Go for it! There's probably not any wait at all.
#9 Special Place for Mommies If you're nursing or need a quiet moment to let a child rest, Disneyland has the BEST mother's lounges. It's like a dream for moms with little ones. Seriously, check them out!
Tips for Shopping and Souvenirs
#10 Get character autographs. New characters can have a 3-hour plus line for signing autograph books. Instead, I suggest looking for supporting characters from the favorite movies as they often have shorter lines. If you MUST have a specific character, 'cast members' (employees) usually have lists when and where characters will be at any given time.
#11 Shop inside and outside the park. Shopping is sometimes more fun for the little ones if there's a train ride in between. Catch the train from the Park to Main Street Disney, and then back again. Be sure you have your handstamp or ticket that lets you back into the park.
#12 Get several photos. Cast members at several locations are willing to take pictures using your camera. You can also get a photo pass where cast members scan after taking an 'official picture' with their camera. You can load your pictures after the trip and order prints from the Disney website.
#13 Want some Disney currency? Be sure to get a few Disney Dollars! Each Disney dollar equals one US dollar. This is real legal tender and a great simple souvenir. While you're at the Disney bank, ask about free buttons. First-timers and birthday buttons are available in many locations.
In the unhappy (and hopefully unlikely) event a child is separated from you, tell the nearest cast member. They are all well-trained to find your child quickly and get your party back onto a happily-ever-after adventure.
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)