I've started a series of Disneyland Tips for Toddlers on my website, DaddyDan.net, and I thought I'd share them here on MiceChat:
Just before the Babito's 1st birthday, we bought annual passes for Disneyland, and it has been a great investment. Since that time, we've taken him 34 times. Sometimes our visits are for the entire day and other times we just stop by for a few hours.
Through these many visits, I've learned a lot of useful tips that have made our trips more enjoyable. I'm going to share these tips here, through a series of posts. I hope it will make your trip to Disneyland all it can be.
Today's post will cover parking at Disneyland. It may seem like a boring topic, but these tips may save you a lot of hassle, especially if you're taking a stroller with you.
Most people just drive right into Disneyland's massive parking structure and park. Let's walk through that daunting experience with a stroller.
Once you get a parking spot you have to make your way to the elevators, where you may or may not be greeted with a long line. This line is nothing compared to the long lines, and waits, you'll experience at the trams.
I have tips for handling the parking structure at the end of this post, but first, I have a better alternative.
On Harbor Boulevard there is a small parking lot with 15 minute parking for passenger drop-offs. We always stop there and I drop off my wife, the Babito, and, most importantly, the stroller. The entrance to Disneyland is a very short walk from that parking lot.
I then go park the car and meet them inside. There are several advantages to this gameplan:
The sea of strollers at Disneyland:
- You avoid the long lines for the tram. It's much easier to get on the tram if you're by yourself. My tip is to go to the back of the tram, where strollers are allowed. The non-stroller section of the last car usually has a very short line. It's especially important to avoid the tram at the end of the day, when the lines to take the tram back to the parking structure are really long.
- It gives your toddler extra time in Disneyland. In the morning, my wife usually takes Babito on a ride or two while I park the car. In the evening, she'll shop in the souvenir ships or change his diaper while she waits for me to get the car.
- If your toddler is asleep at the end of the day, you won't have to wake him up. You are required to remove children from strollers while riding on the tram.
- When you enter through Harbor Boulevard, the line to get through security is a lot shorter than the security line on the tram side.
If you don't want to do the drop-off at the Harbor Boulevard parking lot, or can't because you're alone with your toddler, here's some helpful hints on parking:
One last tip: Don't rent a stroller from Disneyland. They seem uncomfortable for the kids, they're expensive ($12), there is not much room for storage, and most importantly, no drink holders!
- The front and back cars of every tram allow you to load your stroller without emptying it and folding it up.
- Always use the back car of the tram. Disney uses the front car for the handicapped as well as strollers, so the line will take longer.
- When you go through the gate to enter parking, ask the cast member if you can park in the Pinocchio or Chip & Dale parking lot. These lots are on the ground level close to the trams. Sometimes they'll let you and sometimes they won't, but it doesn't hurt to ask.
- If the lines are especially long for the trams, there is a pathway where you can walk to the Disneyland entrance. The walk takes less than 10 minutes. That's usually what I do when I'm there alone with Babito.
- Don't leave right after the fireworks. The lines for the tram are crazy. Leave shortly before the fireworks or stay around a while after the firework show is over. Another option is to watch the fireworks from the main entry plaza between Disneyland and California Adventure and head for the trams as soon as the show is over. You can also get a good view of the fireworks from the parking structure.
Here's a picture of the strollers Disneyland has available for rental:
I hope these tips are helpful. If you have any additional tips on parking, I'd love to hear about them.
My next post in this series (at DaddyDan.net) will cover Toddler-Friendly Rides at Disneyland.