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Baby Talk: Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

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by , 09-10-2011 at 09:58 PM


Taking toddlers or younger children on a Disneyland vacation can be a lot of fun. With just a little planning ahead and a lot of patience it can be a very rewarding experience for parent and child. Here are a few tips we’ve learned from taking our little ones to Disneyland.


Hotels
We try to stay at a hotel as close the park as we can so it’s an easy walk into Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. This makes it much easier to take afternoon breaks or run back for those forgotten items . . . "Mom, I need my binky." If you aren’t able to stay at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels there are also some really great Good Neighbor Hotels close by, some of them even closer to Disneyland's front gate than the Disneyland Hotel itself. Great vacation packages are available for both with benefits like Magic Morning, and Mickey’s Toon Town Morning Madness to name just a couple of our favorites.




Strollers
I strongly believe strollers are a must-have. There is a lot of ground to cover and those little feet just can’t keep up with our big ones. Strollers make it much easier to navigate the park with your toddler.

Some helpful hints for taking a stroller.

  • Make sure you tie something around the handle of your stroller so you can easily identify it amongst the vast sea of strollers. Much like you do to your luggage so you can find it at the airport.
  • At times a Disneyland Resort Cast Member may re-park your stroller in a different location from where you left it. Don’t panic!! It’s usually nearby and if you take a moment or two you will spot it.
  • DO NOT leave anything of value in your parked strollers (wallets, purses, cameras, cell phones etc).
  • If you need to rent a stroller, rental locations are found near the entrance to the theme parks.The price is $15.00 per day for one stroller or $25.00 for two strollers.
  • The rented strollers may be used in both the Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park but they are not permitted in the Downtown Disney District.

Baby Bags
Don’t forget your normal baby bag filled with the usual bare necessities like diapers, Pull-ups wipes and a change of clothes. Additionally, keeping a small backpack with some drinks and snacks handy they can help keep your toddler happy when you are waiting in line for your favorite attraction. A few other things you’ll want to have on hand in your day pack are sunscreen, a hat and antibacterial wipes for their hands and yours. Make sure you have no glass containers in your bags they are not permitted in the parks. Your bags and purses will be checked before entering the parks so make sure you have them out from under the stroller unzipped and ready to be checked when you enter the park.



Maps
Grab a map and park schedule (Times Guide) on your way through the entrance turnstiles. If your are unfamiliar with the parks, these will make it much easier to find what you are looking for. Especially Restrooms, First Aid, Lost and Found, Lost Guests and Baby Care Centers which are an absolutely fabulous place to change your little one if they are still in diapers or potty training. For the diaper set, they have cushioned changing tables that are always clean and comfortable. They also have toddler sized toilets. The Baby Care Centers are the place in the parks to go to if you realized you’ve forgotten the diapers and need to purchase some. Other baby essentials can be found there as well.

Also found on the maps are attraction locations, ride height requirements, parade routes and dining options. The park schedule will let you know the park hours for that day and entertainment schedule. This makes it easier to catch the parades, live shows or meet favorite Disney characters you or your little one don’t want to miss.




Strategy
My advice is get there early, preferably at the park opening or before. This a great time to take advantage of Magic Morning or Mickey‘s ToonTown Madness if you have purchased one of the participating packages. They allow early entrance into Fantasyland and Mickey’s ToonTown on certain days. Now head straight for the great toddler friendly attractions such as Peter Pan’s Flight, King Arthur’s Carousel, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Alice in Wonderland, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Tea Party, Storybook Land Canal Boats or “it’s a small world”. Those are just an example of some our favorites. (My little ones don’t really care for the dark rides like Snow White’s Scary Adventure, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. They think they’re too scary but every child is different so you may want to give it a go).

Over at Mickey’s ToonTown are many great places to let your toddler get a chance to burn off some energy and play. Visit toddler favorites like Goofy’s Playhouse, Donald’s Boat, Chip and Dale Tree House, Minnie’s House and Mickey’s House. If you're there at the right time, you may get a chance to meet your favorite Mouse! Finally, your toddler will most likely not have the same park stamina that you have. They will inevitably tire out long before you do and probably let you know by becoming something resembling the Abominable Snowman from the Matterhorn . . . and who wants to deal with a cranky toddler at the Happiest Place on Earth? Don’t make yourself crazy trying to do it all, it’s best if your itinerary short and manageable. Then head back to your hotel for a quiet lunch and possibly a nice nap or a least a little quiet time for a couple of hours. If you all are feeling rested after your afternoon siesta then head back to the parks for some more Disneyland fun.






More Toddler Friendly Attractions to Check Out
There really is so much for families with toddlers to do at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. Here are some more of our family’s Disneyland favorites. Kids love cars and trains. The Main Street Vehicles and Disneyland Railroad always put a smile on their faces, especially when they also get to see dinosaurs. If wild animals are what your kids crave, try out the Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise and take a steep walk on the wild side at Tarzan‘s Treehouse. If they love Pooh don’t miss The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. If you get a chance after visiting the crew from the Hundred Acre Wood head down to the lower level of the Hungry Bear Restaurant and feed the Happiest Ducks on Earth, my kids love this. If you're feeling adventurous set sail on the Mark Twain Riverboat or the Sailing Ship Columbia. Need to stretch your sea legs? Hop on a river raft headed for Tom Sawyers Island where they can explore secret caves, tree houses, forts and a pirates lair. ( Note: Hold your toddlers hand when you're spelunking through the caves or you may get separated from your child. Yes, this did happen to me… much thanks to the amazing Cast Member who found her). Next, you may want to saddle up and head west to Big Thunder Ranch, a great place to see and even pet some really cute critters. Ready to head into the land of tomorrow? Space Pod,…check, Laser Blaster…check, fight intergalactic crime at Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Take a real submarine into the great big blue on Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. If you’re ready to head to Downtown Disney try hitching a ride on the classic Monorail. Whew! And that’s only Disneyland there’s a whole other park to explore!



One of the things I love about visiting the parks is there is always something new to learn, details I didn’t catch before, some story or fact I wasn’t aware of, usually shared by other Disney enthusiasts. It’s those discoveries and magical moments that keeps my family coming back again and again. I enjoyed sharing some of my family’s Disneyland toddler trip tips and favorite attractions. Please share your toddler travel tips, favorite can’t miss attractions, Disney discoveries and even your fairytale faux pas.


Amy is a Disney Fan originally from Southern CA. now residing in AZ. She has been able to travel to Disneyland numerous times and was lucky enough last fall to join the MiceChat crew at Walt Disney World for her first WDW trip. Amy is a mother to two of her own Disney Princesses that she has been fortunate enough to share her love of Disneyland with. She is married to Jeremy an active duty member of the United States Air Force. She spends her time caring for her family and helping out other spouses of deployed service members. In her spare time she is training to become part of the team of Fairy Godmothers at Fairy Godmother Travel.



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Comments

  1. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Really appreciated this article Amy. It was so great getting to know you on our WDW MiceChat trip last year!

    For years, I've wondered why folks bring toddlers to Disneyland. It just didn't seem to me like there was much for them to do. But, after reading this article, I realize that there is actually a lot more than I thought. Plus, if you are going to travel with very young kids, Disneyland is probably better suited to meet their needs than just about any other place you could consider going.

    Thank you!

    Dusty
  2. DisneyResort's Avatar
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    Since you have two little Princesses of your own Amy, I thought I should point out that meeting the Disney Princesses over at Princess Fantasy Faire next to It's A Small World is the perfect place for the little ones. They can meet three Princesses, participate in the Royal Coronation Ceremony, and you can sit (and rest) during Princess Storytelling.
    One thing that isn't widely known because it's not in the daily program is that you can also meet the Princesses at the most perfect location...next to Sleeping Beauty Castle. I'd say 90% of park guests will walk through the center of the castle, which is normal. But if you take the time to walk around the left and right sides, you may run into Ariel, Cinderella, Princess Aurora, Belle or Snow White.
    They will come out several times throughout the day. But they tend to hide behind the trees so as not to be easily seen from the bridge. This is a strategy to help avoid creating a mob scene. In fact, now that we're in the off season, it's not unusual to run across a Princess all by herself. Now that's some quality time for the little ones if you happen to have her all to yourself.
  3. WorldFair's Avatar
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    Thank you for this great article. I'm not much of a "kid person", but I personally heard Marty Sklar (Disney Legend) say that if you don’t have a small child to bring to Disneyland, then “rent one”. Seeing Disneyland through their eyes will change your view of Disneyland. I experienced this (and the “Abominable Snowman” moments) with my nieces. It's fun. I’d recommend leaving the SUV-type strollers at home. They take up a lot of space and can be stolen. The elevator at the parking structure sometimes feels like it needs a Fastpass, and they can be an issue on the tram. I highly recommend renting or bringing a cheaper compact to the park. If you plan on taking the Monorail, keep in mind that all strollers must be folded on the train and the Disneyland rentals are not permitted onboard. The cast members usually say this in their spiels, but it amazes me how often they are ignored.
  4. ladyalmalthea's Avatar
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    The best advice my friends got from me is the fact there is a microwave and high chairs in the baby center! So much easier feeding someone in a quieter place than out in a dining area or in a stroller by a park bench.
  5. DisDreamin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyResort
    Since you have two little Princesses of your own Amy, I thought I should point out that meeting the Disney Princesses over at Princess Fantasy Faire next to It's A Small World is the perfect place for the little ones. They can meet three Princesses, participate in the Royal Coronation Ceremony, and you can sit (and rest) during Princess Storytelling.
    One thing that isn't widely known because it's not in the daily program is that you can also meet the Princesses at the most perfect location...next to Sleeping Beauty Castle. I'd say 90% of park guests will walk through the center of the castle, which is normal. But if you take the time to walk around the left and right sides, you may run into Ariel, Cinderella, Princess Aurora, Belle or Snow White.
    They will come out several times throughout the day. But they tend to hide behind the trees so as not to be easily seen from the bridge. This is a strategy to help avoid creating a mob scene. In fact, now that we're in the off season, it's not unusual to run across a Princess all by herself. Now that's some quality time for the little ones if you happen to have her all to yourself.
    I totally agree with this strategy. We took my son for the first time this year and he's 2 years old. I decided to go out the side of the castle to get from Fantasyland back out towards Main Street and right along there we ran into the Fairy Godmother who made my son laugh so hard. He loved all her silliness and he had time to just sit in his stroller and have a few minutes without any other kids running up to her. It was great! I decided then that when we come next time I will continue to go to other less traveled areas in search of characters! It's also great for when you need a quiet area to push your little one if you're trying to see if he/she will drift off to sleep in their stroller. We always took our son out to the hotel for a nap but while pushing him through quieter areas he drifted off to sleep even before we hit Main Street to head out of the park.
  6. techskip's Avatar
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    My advice will always be to travel light. Even with 5 kids (8, 7, 5, 3.5, and 1) we managed the park with 2 backpacks, a backpack carrier and a small umbrella stroller. One backpack was the diaper bag. Since we have 2 in diapers (well training pants and diapers) it's easier to use gallon size ziplock bags. One bag for each size, one bag for wipes, and a few "spare" bags should you end up with wet clothes. Hard to believe a dollar at a local store can literally save your diaper bag. Since it was the larger bag we also packed the juice boxes and water in it before placing it on the back of the stroller. Just remember to put the backpack in the seat if a little one isn't riding.

    The snack bag (my beloved green backpack) also made use of ziplock bags. Just because you bought the cherrios and fruit snacks in a box doesn't mean you need to keep the box. One gallon ziplock bag of cherrios, one of fruit snacks, possibly a third with cookies or crackers. I also like to have a 6pack of the small applesauce cups (no need to remove the packaging) and I'll toss plastic spoons in a small ziplock bag. It seems like a lot but we're a big family, and we still buy lunch!

    The umbrella stroller, and the backpack carrier are lightweight, and easy to stash before going on a ride. The smaller stroller also makes it easier to maneuver in crowds. For those flying, you may want to consider stopping at a local Target, Walmart, KMart etc. They run about $15, and it is a lot cheaper then checking one in, plus it gives you an extra checked bag should you need it. You can always donate the stroller to a local thrift store when you leave (or notify the front desk of a hotel as most will do that for you).

    As a parent nothing compares to the experience of seeing your child take in the magic. You see their eyes light up with wonder and that smile just grows as they see their favorite character, or ride their favorite ride. The smaller the child, the more magical the expression... have fun everyone.