Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Disneyland Tips for First Timers with Small Children

My family and I just got back from a trip to Disneyland. I hadn't been since I was younger and a lot has changed. Claire had such a blast and Tom well he was a little indifferent but I would like to think he had fun.  Claire has been quite girly lately and so it was really cute to see her get excited to see the Disney princesses.

The fact that there are multiple areas to meet the disney characters is really amazing, and I don't recall them having that when I went years ago. The park itself really caters to people with children of all ages, especially strollers and babies. 

We stayed at the Grand Californian and it was conveniently located walking distance to the park which made things super easy when the kids needed their naps. The hotel had story time at night by the fireplace, christmas carolers, and Santa Claus!

Here are some things I learned that I will use next time we go to Disneyland, which I hope is often!! 

1. Obviously bring a stroller and a blanket. Thomas powered through the second day so I reclined his stroller and covered the opening with a blanket so he could relax. 

2. Take advantage of the PhotoPass. There are stations all over Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure Park, and the Grand Californian Hotel. You get a card and they scan it at every station and you can get great quality images at all your stops. Beats lugging around a large camera like I did. The photo of all of us in front of the Disneyland entrance, the Santa photo, and Claire with Tinker bell were all from Photopass.

3. Go during mid week if you can. We went on a Monday and a Tuesday and the parks were manageable, as in the longest line we waited in was 30 minutes.

4. Do the park hopper pass. We jumped from park to park and had a fabulous time.

5. Download the MouseWait app. It has a crowd index and wait times for each ride and restaurant and literally dictated which rides we went to. 

5. Use the switch passes if you have a baby that way your significant other, friend, or family member can go straight to the front of the line when you are done with the ride. 

6. Bring a backpack instead of a purse. I lugged my baby bag around and it was a pain the first day so we used my husbands backpack and it made a word of difference. 

7. If you really want to get your full day (s) I recommend skipping a dinner reservation and just grab food as you go. I made a reservation our first day and felt like we wasted precious ride time. 

8. If your daughter is into princesses see about purchasing them a princess dress to wear into the park. Claire wore hers all day long and loved admiring herself once she knew the princesses all wore gowns. (we just couldn't pry the thing off of her). Get to Fantasy Faire early as the line can be about an hour or longer wait. We went at 9am and waited 15 minutes. Also if your daughter is over 3 they do a whole princess makeover in the salon! The breakfast at Aerial's Grotto is a princess breakfast and Claire met all her favorites. You can make reservations here: Aerial's Grotto

9. The World of Disney store in Downtown Disney has a ton of items in one location so if you want you can save your shopping until you get to this store. 

10. My 14 month old son hated Pirates of the Caribbean. Yes its not an hardcore ride but the dark and the noises freaked him out so we stuck with the castle rides for him after this experience. Claire on the other hand loved everything and she is 3 in February.

11. Enjoy every minute. I wish we had done a 3 day park hopper but we took advantage of all we could in the 2 days we were there. 

12. Go during the holidays if you can, the park is so very festive and the weather is cool.

13. Finally, bring some serious hand sanitizer and wash your hands often. My entire family sans Claire and I ended up with either a cold or the stomach flu after our adventure.

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