In November my husband and I took my son to Disneyland for the first time…outside the womb. Adam and I have been to Disneyland many times before. In fact, we met there, went while we were dating, were engaged there, and went after we were married. We love it and never get sick of going to the Happiest Place on Earth. This time it was different though. We had a 1 year old. You wouldn’t think that would make a difference but it does….a big one. So I wanted to share some tips and tricks with you on how to survive Disneyland with a 1 year old.
First, and my favorite, if you can bring along a Grandma, do it! Not only does it make it more fun to share these fun memories with your child’s Grandma, but there are benefits to having an extra hand. When your child doesn’t want to sit on your lap on the plane or be held by you while waiting in line, they will always love playing with Grandma. Also you have someone to take family pictures of you! No more asking a stranger to capture your memories. Grandma can also sit with your child while you hit the big rides that little ones can’t go on.Pack light.When you go to the airport you have to haul it all in. If you are bringing your stroller, car seat, diaper bag, purse, and suit case you are going to have your arms full already. Bringing more than you need won’t make for a fun time. Pass on the pack and play…hotels have cribs that you can use. Only bring a small amount of things to keep your child entertained on the plane, chances are they aren’t going to want to play with it anyway.
There is too much going on to sit and color. Bring a few snacks to get you there but don’t bring the whole box of crackers. Packing light doesn’t just stop there… need to pack light too! Try to get all of your things and your child’s in one suit case. Wear shoes for more than one day instead of bringing a pair for each day. Don’t bring all of your makeup; just bring what you will use for one day and use those colors everyday. Check with your hotel to see what they provide in rooms; maybe you can even pass on a blow dryer. Bring one jacket or sweatshirt and wear it everyday rather than a new one for each day. You only wear it for a few hours at a time. I know packing light can be tough (I am a “new shoes for every day” and “I don’t know what kind of makeup I will be in the mood for so I should bring it all” kind of gal) but if you pack light you will thank me. Promise!
Stock up on healthy snacks and bring along a thermal bag. Before we went to our hotel we stopped at the store and picked up a bunch of healthy snacks for our little man. We bought string cheese, crackers, fruit and veggie pouches, and a few other healthy snacks. (We checked with our hotel ahead of time to make sure we had a mini fridge.) At night we stuck our ice pack in the freezer (ice packs are allowed on the airplane as long as they are completely frozen) and in the morning stuck it in a thermal bag. This kept our treats cold and safe all day long. Having healthy snacks will keep your child happy and full instead of ornery with an empty belly and then having it filled with sugar. Don’t forget the sippy! There are drinking fountains everywhere so you can keep your little one hydrated. At Disneyland and California Adventure you are allowed to bring any treats or drinks in you would like. A HUGE thank you to Disney for that! Soak in the joy that your little one has on their face. Stop and see the characters. Let your little one explore in Mickey’s Toon Town. Make time to see the parades, shows, and fireworks. Your child will ooo, ahhhh, wave, giggle, and stand there with their jaws on the floor.
These sweet, adorable moments only happen once so step back and enjoy them. Racing from ride to ride can really wear your 1 year old out, so move a little slower and indulge in these moments. Grab your camera and capture these magical memories. Disneyland wants to make sure your visit is wonderful and they do this by helping provide the necessities for mothers and kids. In the Disneyland Baby Care Center you will find a quiet area to nurse in, changing tables, small toilets ideal for potty training toddlers, outlets for pumping, and a microwave to warm up food. You can even purchase essentials you may have forgotten or run out of: diapers and wipes, diaper rash cream, baby food, formula, bottles, etc. There are also high chairs and a place with a to sink to clean up in. This is helpful so your child can focus on eating and not on everyone around them. No more trying to find a quiet and semi-private spot to nurse in…sit in the quiet AC and allow your child to stay calm while having privacy for yourself. There is also a Baby Care Center in California Adventure.
It is located next to the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop and across from The Baker Tour in Pacific Wharf.Whether you go back to the hotel room or your child falls asleep in the stroller, allow them to nap. I know it isn’t always fun to leave Disneyland or have to sit around while your child catches some z’s but they need it. Disneyland can be hot, over stimulating, and loud. Allowing your child some time to be calm, get cooled off, and recharge their battery will not only keep them from having a break down but it will make everyone’s experience more memorable. If you stay in the park while your child naps, use this time to go on the bigger rides that your child can’t go on anyway. This is when it is great to have a Grandma with you. One person can sit with the child while the other two go on a ride. This is also a nice time to enjoy a nicer restaurant such as The Blue Bayou or Carthay Circle. Plus, I am pretty sure no adult will complain about a little feet rest time.
Disney Jr Live on Stage is made with toddlers and preschoolers in mind. Here you will see all your favorite Disney Jr characters come to life, sing, dance, and solve adventures. We saw Doc McStuffins, Mickey and his whole gang, Sophia the First, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates! My son was in heaven. He was dancing and clapping while other children were singing along. It is so fun to see how excited your child (and other people’s children) get when they see all their favorites right in front of their eyes. I love my heels, don’t get me wrong, but Disneyland isn’t the place for them. If you are wrangling a 1 year old you want to be comfortable. Wear comfortable shoes! Layers are always a plus. Sometimes the mornings and evenings at Disneyland can get a bit chilly so bringing along a cardigan or hoodie is easy peesy. Don’t forget about your child though! They need to be comfortable too! They are going to be sitting, standing, napping, and being held so make sure they are wearing breathable fabric.
They need layers too. In the summer, watch when they are napping in the stroller that they aren’t overheating. Whether it is for you or your child don’t forget to dress cute! There are going to be lots of pictures taken that will be seen for years. Take some time before hitting the park to pick up some cute Disney and Disney inspired clothing, socks and shoes, bibs, sippy cups, hair accessories, etc. You will see people all over Disneyland showing their Disney side, so come prepared to show yours too. This will keep you from wanting to buy a whole new wardrobe while you are there. My final tip is to make sure you and your family get a good nights rest. The days at Disneyland are long, high stimulating, and full of lots of energy. Everyone needs to get good sleep at night. It is OKAY to leave the park before it closes. It is OKAY to not be there right when it opens. Try to keep your kid on a close schedule to what they are used to every day.
This will keep them from being a beast (no pun intended) at Disneyland. When you get sleep you will be able to have more patience with your child who may be a bit more of a handful then normal due to excitement and extra stimulation. Everyone, even other guests at Disneyland, will be happier when you and your family get a good nights rest.Disneyland is extremely fun with a 1 year old! It is fun to see how excited they get to go on the rides, watch the parades and shows, and to see the characters. (I know some kids are scared of the characters but my son couldn’t get enough of them. I had to pull him away so the next family in line could get a picture.) It is fun to dress them up, buy them souvenirs, and help them throw a penny into Snow Whites wishing well. If you have other tips and tricks for how to survive Disneyland with a 1 year old PLEASE feel free to share them in the comments section below. The more you know the more prepared you can be!