When we took the kids to Disneyland in October it was a hot topic over on Instagram and I got so many questions about how I made the trip look so easy and stress free. Short answer: I had everything prepped and planned to a “T”, and the trip still had its less than awesome moments. From running to the bathroom, toddler constipation, accidents galore, toddlers not loving a ride while you’re in the middle of it, and more it’s easy to focus on those things. I wanted to put together a comprehensive list of things that helped keep those small inconveniences from ruining our trip.
What do you do for food for the three days? (because eating in the parks 3 times a day, plus snacks, and beverages for three days is A LOT)
1. You can bring outside food and drink into the park. YUP you can stop at McDonald’s and bring in your Happy Meal, you can stock up on favorite snacks at the grocery store and bring them in the park, you can bring your own drinks into the park, and last but not least they do have water fill stations throughout the park.
2. Breakfast at the hotel (bonus if its *free/included*), and we grab and go yogurt, granola, and fruit for the kids so that we don’t have to sit around and wait for them to finish their breakfast.
3. We have reusable tumblers and the kids cups as well that we fill with ice before we leave the hotel and just top off with water throughout the day at the refill stations.
4. We will typically grab a snack like churros, ice cream, popcorn, pretzels, etc. in the morning for fun, and any other snacks they get through the day are the ones we bring from home. We literally just purchase the box assortment of snacks that they favor and restock the stroller each morning before we head into the park.
5. For lunch we always like to do one day of getting lunch in the park, it makes one meal extra special, for the other days we will get DoorDash or stop somewhere on the walk back to the hotel to eat.
6. For dinner we usually get food at the hotel, Downtown Disney, or order DoorDash it just depends on what our budget is like for the trip.
7. We decide ahead of time what meals we are eating in the park and which ones we are eating outside of the park, daily budget for food, and what snacks we are taking with us. This makes it easier for my husband and I to just tell the kids what we’re doing each day instead of trying to figure it out as we go.
How do you last three days in the parks with toddlers?
1. We take our stroller and USE it. When we are walking to and from the park, the kids are in the stroller. When we are walking through bigger crowds, the kids are in the stroller.
2. We take a break in the middle of each day. Since we are at the park for three days it takes all the pressure off of getting everything done in one day. We wake up normal time around 7, get ready, eat breakfast, and head into the park. We usually end up walking through the entrance around 9 AM and will stay in the park until about 1 PM or 2 PM, depending on where we are or what we’re doing. We head back to the room and let the kids relax for a few hours, play some games, eat lunch, take naps, take baths, whatever it is we need to do to unwind from the morning. We head back to the park after dinner around 6 PM and stay until about 9;30/10PM depending on how the kids are doing energy wise.
3. I look at the app with ride wait times religiously to make sure we make the most of the time we are in the park. We also tackle rides that are in the same area we are so that we are not running back and forth across the park all day.
4. My holy grail tip: we drive over the night before, and stay in the hotel the last day as well. This way we are not driving the 3+ hours and doing the parks on the same day.
Toddlers and lines, what do you do about having to go potty? Or one not being tall enough?
I put these together because they have similar solutions.
1. Potty troubles in line: We dealt with many of these the last time and the answer is super simple, tell a cast member that you were in line and your toddler needed to go potty. They will let you rejoin your party if they are still in line OR if they have already ridden the ride they escort you and your little to the front of the line.
2. Rider swap: for when one of your party doesn’t want or isn’t tall enough to ride. Let a cast member know that one of your party is not tall enough for the ride. Half of your party waits in line, you and the shorty can go do whatever. When the first half of your party rides the ride you go to the entrance and show them your rider swap info in the app (or pass they gave you) and you get to go to the front of the line.
Must Have Items
1. STROLLER. If there is one thing you do take with you, take a stroller. Even if you think your kids won’t use it, take it. This is the double we have and purchased specifically for Disneyland in October.
2. Backpack and in that backpack this is what we pack for the day: sunscreen, chapstick, first aid kit, pull ups, diapers, wipes, disinfecting wipes, extra binkies, extra clothes, plastic bags, hair ties, stain remover wipes, hand sanitizer, masks (for when needed), portable charger, and headphones.
3. Leashes for the kids. For the times they INSIST on walking, or that we are in line; I am that mom.
4. Refillable tumblers: so you can save money on water.
5. Snacks: so you can save money on food.
6. Comfortable shoes. No matter how many times I wear my converse to the parks because they are cute I never seem to learn my lesson. Trust me when I say you need to have comfortable shoes in the parks.
Where to stay?
1. You do not need to stay at a Disneyland hotel. The Grand Californian is the ONLY hotel that has a park entrance and it’s an entrance into Disney California Adventure. The unaffiliated surrounding hotels are close, convenient, offer shuttles, are walking distance, and a FRACTION of the cost.
2. We like The Hilton at the Convention Center and Hyatt Place at Anaheim Resort/Convention Center- they are both about a 15 minute walk to the entrance of the park. Everyone walks from their hotels, literally everyone.
3. If you want to splurge on a hotel then I would stay at The Grand Californian, since it is on the property the convenience is unbeatable but I’ve seen rooms range from $400-$800/night depending on the season. For reference the total for our hotel staying 4 nights we paid $500, and we are still within walking distance to the parks.
Is it worth taking toddlers?
I think this is subjective, obviously we think it’s worth it if we’re doing it twice. Keep in mind children under the age of 3 do not need tickets to get into the parks. So that helps cut the cost. Most of the rides do not have height limits, so that makes it enjoyable for everyone. The ones that do, are faster and probably not a child’s favorite to be on anyway, so the chances of you standing in that 60+min standby line for a ride that the kids wouldn’t even like are slim. Trust me when I say there is PLENTY to do, shows to see, rides to ride, and memories to make with the things that littles can do. Last time there were only two rides that we wanted to go on that Emilia (2) couldn’t go on: Rise of The Resistance, and Radiator Springs Racers.