Have you had your trepidations about bringing a 3-year-old (or younger) to Disneyland? Believe me, we did too. We have only been to Disneyland just the two of us. You can read about all the awesome things you can experience kid-free at Disneyland here: 12 Ways to Experience Disneyland without the Kids.
So, the hubs and I started having the discussion of when to bring our daughter to Disneyland from about the day she was born. I wanted to go sooner than later and my husband wanted to wait until she was older. His argument was that if we go too early, she will never remember the experience. My argument was that it wasn’t just about her memories, but our memories of her seeing Disneyland for the first time. The magic in her eyes, the excitement, the look of awe when she see’s her favorite characters like Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Pluto and Goofy! And the princesses, so many princesses to be seen and hugged!
Needless to say, my argument won out and we were able to take our own little princess to the Happiest Place on Earth.
I am so glad we did. There are so many things to do at Disneyland for little kids. I think that parents wonder about if it is too much work to bring young kids to Disneyland, but here are some amazing reasons to leave those worries behind.
1. It’s Disneyland. There is literally magic at every turn.
2. The treats. The treats themselves are a big reason to go to Disneyland. On Instagram there are millions of results for #disneylandfood. And for good reason. There are so many unique, yummy and fun treats. However, you can always bring your own food/treats into the park for those moments when your kid just can’t wait a second longer. Then splurge for those amazing treats when you’re ready to indulge.
3. The rides. When my husband and I went to Disneyland five years ago, we were obviously not looking for little kid rides, so we were shocked at the things to do for little kids. There is Mickey’s Toon Town. There were a few rides in that area and lots of little houses to explore, characters to meet and lots of fun. There were also a lot of rides between Disneyland and California Adventure. From Carosels, to smaller rollercoasters. It’s a Small World and Disney movie rides that are always a hit. My daughters favorite ride was in Tomorrowland, the Buzz Lightyear ride. She could have ridden that ride 100 times if we let her.
4. Times. The best time to go is early in the morning. Typically if you have young kids, you’re going to be awake anyway right? So get there when it opens. Then you can leave when it gets to be too hot or the kids just need a break/nap. My advice is to stay at a Disney hotel so it is just walking distance to take a break if needed (tantrums or nap time.) We stayed close to the resort and took a shuttle back the hotel during the day. It was fine, but it would have been nice to not waste time that we could be living it up at Disneyland by waiting for the shuttle.
5. Food. We had a sit down dinner at Blue Bayou at Disneyland and they had a great kid’s menu. My daughter actually got a small steak and veggies. She loved it. They also had other options like mac&cheese and things some pickier kids like. We Also sat down at the Pacific Wharf in California Adventure and she got Mac and Cheese. Then at Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta at California Adventure the kids options were awesome. She got pizza and was able to choose 2 sides, (applesauce, fruit, yogurt.) and a drink. Which for the record, if you like Italian food, this place had so many options and the Alfredo looked amazing. I regret not trying it, but I was so full already!
6. Baby Care Centers. Find out where the baby care centers are. These are super important in case you forgot anything like diapers or wipes. These places are air conditioned and can help your little ones take a break in the air conditioning while watching a few cartoons.
7. Splash pads. If you are going in the warmer months, take advantage of the splash pads they have at Princess Dot Puddle Park in California Adventure. Don’t forget to bring a bathing suit for the kiddos.
8. Max pass or fast pass. Kids and lines are not a great combination. Fast pass will let you come back at a later time and skip the line. However, you can only have one fast pass at a time. Max pass costs $15, but it will allow you to plan your rides and hold multiple fast passes at the same time. Totally worth the cost.
9. Rider switch. This is also an awesome idea. Basically you both wait in line and let a cast member know that you want to do a rider switch. One parent can go on the ride and then the second parent can use their ticket to not wait in line again for the same ride while the other watches the kid(s).
10. Music and Dancing. There is music everywhere. I loved this. My daughter loved the band in the French Quarter of Disneyland. They also had a dance Party every night with characters in Tomorrowland for the kids. Fun music and a stage. She loved that.
11. Makeover. Princess makeover At Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, watch your child become a beautiful princess or shining knight.
12. Character breakfast. Princess or character breakfast with Disneyland’s Character Dining experiences. Don’t forget your autograph books!
13. Parades. We were lucky enough to go in September, so that month they brought back the electrical parade at 8pm. It brought back memories for me as a kid and my daughter loved seeing the lights and the characters.
- Bring your own stroller. This was essential. We would just park them at a spot for most of the day then when we needed it and our little needed to lie down, she could. Since we had our own stroller, we had cup holders and compartments to hold our stuff.
- Under 3 is free! Yes, any child under 3 is FREE!
- Halloween time was a great time to be at Disneyland. They have a Halloween show at night down main street with their fireworks.