How to Have a Successful Disneyland Trip With Young Kids!
Is there anything as magical as bringing your kiddos to Disneyland? Probably not. Is there anything as overwhelming as bringing your kiddos to Disneyland? Probably not.
Bringing young kids to Disneyland can create amazing memories that will last a lifetime. But, in between those fun memories, you can sometimes find tears and overstimulation. The parks can be overwhelming for both kids and parents. That’s why it’s so important to plan for a successful trip — and we have tips that help make that possible!
Disneyland With Kids
Growing up, my family took me to Disneyland often. I can remember how overwhelmed I felt at times — the sounds, crowds, and lines…it’s a lot for a kid. (It’s still a lot for me now, as an adult.) Keeping those memories in mind, I’ve carefully planned successful trips with my own kids. I’ve taken my children to Disneyland at all ages — starting at 4 months old. I’ve mastered (as much as humanly possible) the art of bringing kids to Disneyland, and I’m sharing all of my tips with you!
Theme Park Reservations
DO NOT forget to make your theme park reservations! Nothing ruins a Disney vacation quite like getting turned away at the entrance.
Whether you have a Magic Key or a regular theme park ticket — you need to make a reservation. While making your reservation, keep in mind what attractions your kids will want to ride. If your kids aren’t fond of what Disney California Adventure has to offer, you’ll probably want to make Disneyland Park your starting park (or your only park if you don’t have a park hopper).
Download the Disneyland App
The Disneyland App is the hub for practically everything you could possibly need while in the park. Wait times, maps, showtimes, park hours, mobile ordering, Genie+, Individual Lightning Lane access — all of these helpful tools can be accessed in the Disneyland App.
So before you head into the parks, make sure you already have the app downloaded and an account created. It’ll also help if you insert your card information ahead of time.
Consider Buying Genie+
Genie+ is not a must, but it can be helpful. You can choose to wait in the standby queues for each attraction and still have an amazing time! However, if your kid(s) struggle to wait in line, this may be a useful tool for you.
With Genie+, you’ll use the Disneyland App to receive redemption times for accessing the lightning lane queues in a variety of attractions in both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. Genie+ currently starts at $25 per ticket, per day, with pricing and availability varying by date. Remember — Genie+ does not give you access to Individual Lightning Lane attractions. Those highly-demanded attractions require you to individually purchase lightning lane access.
Overall, Genie+ can be hit or miss. Some days, lightning lanes will save you a ton of time. On other days (especially when attractions break down), the lightning lanes can almost be as long as the standby queues. You’ll also want to consider what attractions are covered with Genie+. If the Genie+ list doesn’t include a lot of the rides your kids are interested in, then it’s probably not worth the cost.
Mobile ordering is such a huge help when you have kids in tow! This can be especially helpful if you know when your kids will be hungry, as you can schedule your order pick-ups around their meal times.
Using Mobile Order, you purchase meals through the Disneyland App, and choose a pick-up time. This allows you to skip waiting in line, and just show up to grab your order. (Mobile ordering is a personal must when I’m bringing my kids to the parks!)
This is mostly something to keep in mind if you’re using a double stroller. Disney has size guidelines for strollers, and you’re not allowed to bring in a stroller that exceeds their max dimensions, which are 31″ (79 cm) x 52″ (132 cm).
Additionally, you cannot bring in a wagon (unless it’s a medical need). Security will turn you away if you bring in a wagon or oversized stroller, so be sure to check your stroller’s dimensions before bringing it into the parks!
Watch Ride Videos
This is another must! As your kids grow, they’ll meet the height requirements for more and more rides. And of course, sometimes those “big kid” rides can come with some fear.
There’s honestly nothing worse than having your child be frightened on a ride. That’s why preparing them is so important. To prepare my own kids for these rides, we watch videos of the rides on YouTube. This allows them to see the ride, know what it does, and choose whether or not they’re comfortable with riding it.
Baby Care Centers
Baby Care Centers are so helpful! These staffed centers have nursing rooms (with chairs), changing rooms (with tables), toddler-sized toilets, highchairs, bottle warmers, and a vending machine with just about any baby item you could possibly need (formula, baby food, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, pacifiers, over-the-counter medicine, etc.). The staff also provides stickers for potty-training kiddos when they use the potty!
Aside from how useful these centers are, they’re also just a great place to escape the crowds with a baby. Unfortunately, there’s only one in each park. Disneyland’s Baby Care Center is at the end of Main Street, U.S.A., tucked between Plaza Inn and First Aid.
The Baby Care Center in Disney California Adventure is in between the Ghiradelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop and Cars Land.
I schedule time for “energy-zapping” — periods of time when my kids can get out their energy. When they’re overstimulated, physical activities help keep them regulated! There are tons of places where you can get energy out at the parks. Our favorites are the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail…
…Tom Sawyer’s Island…
..and the Adventureland Treehouse (which reopens this fall)!
Between sitting in the stroller and waiting in long lines — getting their energy out is a necessity!
Pack for Success
Packing is a huge way to ensure you have a successful trip. Here’s a list of items I pack for my kids:
- Plenty of snacks
- Hand Sanitizer
- Baby Wipes (for diaper changes or messy faces)
- Changes of Clothes in Ziploc Bags (so the clothes don’t get wet on water rides)
- Refillable Water Bottles
- Stroller fan(s)
- Diapers (if applicable)
- Baby Food Pouches (if applicable)
- Pacifiers (if applicable)
- Bibs (if applicable)
- Bottles Filled With Pre-Measured Formula (if applicable)
- Breastfeeding Cover (if applicable)
You may also want to consider staying on-site. Disneyland has three resort hotels:
- Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel (soon to be Pixar Place Hotel)
- Disneyland Hotel
- Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
All three of these hotels provide you with quicker walks back to your room, should a meltdown occur. They also provide you with an extra 30 minutes in the parks before they open, which I’ve found is useful for getting some Fantasyland attractions out of the way. Another useful perk — you can send your purchases directly to your room, so you don’t have to carry your shopping bags through the parks all day. (The diaper bag is heavy enough!)
The Grand Californian also has special access to Downtown Disney and Disney California Adventure. Paradise Pier also has their own hotel-specific access to Disney California Adventure, but it requires a short walk.
Those are my main tips for having a successful trip to Disneyland with your kids! Hopefully some of these work for you!
And speaking of planning a successful trip, for a FREE quote on your next Disney vacation, please fill out the form below, and one of the agents from MickeyTravels, a Diamond-Level Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, will be in touch soon!