Taking your kids to Disneyland is a little like Christmas and Santa…while Disneyland brings fond childhood memories, I think it might be even more fun to watch your own children experience it! The thrill of the rides, meeting the array of fantastic characters, crossing through the iconic castle, watching a marching band or [fill in the blank, its all pretty awesome!].
If you are planning your first visit, here are the 15 things you NEED to know. Below them are some additional tips which may be helpful.
- Download the Disney App here.
- Purchase your tickets in advance via the app. Disneyland is split into Disneyland and California Adventure and you can choose either park or a “Park Hopper” ticket that gives you entrance to both.
- Plan to arrive at the parking at least 30 minutes before the park opens. Skip the upgraded parking option, just get the basic parking its hardly a difference.
- Bring a single fold stroller. No matter where you park, you will need to fold and transport your stroller on a tram or bus…having to remove seats is unnecessary aggrivation!
- Bring 2 bottles of water per person. This is in part because often you will want to grab a bottle to drink in line and will have to toss what’s left at the front of the line so having extra is good. They do sell it inside of course if you forget.
- Pack some easy and/or healthy snacks. Many of the snacks easily available around the park have a lot of sugar.
- Bring your own sunscreen, and remember to re-apply.
- Check the availability of fast passes on the app or at the kiosks when you arrive (fast passes are free, and are only available on select rides, it’s worth a try…you can learn more about them here). Send 1 person from your party to grab passes, the rest should head straight to the rides.
- Review the park map the day before you go and plan 2-3 rides right near each other, head straight to the rides upon entering…lines for the rides will never be as short as the first hour the park is open. Get in as many as you can before lines are 60+ minutes.
- Make your character dining reservations in advance (there are plenty of places to grab lunch too, of course).
- At the end of Main Street you will find the Baby Care Center, where you can find changing tables, chairs for nursing and a shop that sells everything from formula to diapers.
- Make sure you get a silhouette made of your kids in the Silhouette Studio on Main Street before you leave. It’s the best bargain in all of Disneyland for a souvenir that won’t hit the trash a month later BOOM! And to boot you get TWO copies so send one to Grandma. BONUS!
- Wear layers. Check the weather before you go and if you aren’t a local understand Southern California weather- it’s a coastal desert and it’s heated by the Sun…so it can be 60 degrees when you arrive and 90 degrees at by noon and back to 65 as the sun starts to set.
- Bring antibacterial wipes/spray to clean little hands before lunch 🙌🏻
- Bring any mouse ears, tutus, crowns and costumes your children may want…they are very expensive inside the park and lots of the kids are wearing this stuff…if you have it at home you do not want to be put in the position of buying duplicitous toys at high prices inside the park.
Other helpful hints:
- If you philandering on bringing a stroller, you should know that you can also rent a stroller inside.
- Lockers are available inside if needed.
- If you are staying on property, you need to know about the Extra Magic Hour Early Admission option!
- To strategize on quick admission and best shot at Fast Passes…choose to visit the respective Park on it’s non-Extra Magic Hour day (see above link for that schedule). Otherwise, you will have all the hotel guests with early admission ahead of you…in line to enter, at the fast pass machines and for rides.
- When you see a character you would like to meet/photograph with, get in line RIGHT AWAY. There will always be an attendant who is “the end of the line” – go to that person and get in front of them. If the line is full they will let you know…and know that does happen, like all the time. You can ask that attendant where they are headed next, or other info about future meet and greet times for that character. Steer clear of promising your kiddos to see or meet one particular character if you can 🙂
- If your kids don’t watch TV or Movies yet and you are thinking maybe Disneyland isn’t relevant for them, I totally disagree. Gman had never watched anything but Caillou much less seen a Disney movie before we went and he LOVED it. The characters are fantastic, regardless of whether you know them. And the rides are a blast. And the whole atmosphere is like nothing your child has seen before. I do agree that kids who watch the shows/movies probably get a little more out of it….but there is plenty for screen-free kids too!
- I have a Pinterest Board called All Things Disney with TONS (and tons, and tons, and tons!) of articles from bloggers all over on everything from secrets of Disneyland (and Disneyworld so watch the titles!), to cheap eat recommendations to free stuff. Check it out.