I’ve heard numerous people say something along the lines of, “don’t go to Disneyland with young kids. They won’t remember it, and you won’t have fun.”
It’s true your baby won’t remember their first time going on It’s a Small World (or get that song stuck in their head), but going to Disneyland with a baby can be a fun, stress-free experience.
I’ll even give you the cliche that your experience will be magical and your whole family will know they’re at “The Happiest Place on Earth”—but only if you follow these 10 tips and tricks for doing Disneyland with a baby:
1. Bring a stroller that reclines, is reversible and has a sunshade
Your baby will nap while you’re in the park, and a reclining stroller ensures they’ll sleep comfortably. Even better than one that only reclines is a baby stroller with a full-coverage sunshade. They call it sunny California for a reason, and you don’t want your baby in the sun all day. The sunshade protects your baby, and a stroller means you never have to take the long way to an attraction to keep your baby out of the sun.
2. Pack a baby carrier
A baby carrier is another must-bring baby gear item. Your baby will eventually want out of the stroller, and you don’t want to hold them in your arms for hours. Your baby will like the carrier because they’ll be able to better see everything around them when they’re awake, and you’ll like it because they’re happy and your hands are still free. You can also ride several rides, as long as there isn’t a height restriction, while babywearing.
3. Take two bags into the park
Bring a lightweight backpack or crossbody bag for your more valuable things, i.e. wallet, tickets, phone, camera, etc. It’s easy for you to carry around and carry with you on rides. You’ll also want a bigger bag, probably your baby diaper bag, for all the baby essentials, i.e. diapers, wipes, extra outfits, snacks, sunscreen, etc., that you can attach to your stroller or put in its undercarriage.
4. Use a pacifier clip and strap for toys
Even with all the entertainment Disneyland offers, it’s a good idea to bring some toys to keep your little one occupied while walking around or waiting in lines. And if your baby takes a pacifier, you can’t leave home without that. But pacifiers and toys will fall or be thrown on the ground, and you don’t want to spend every five minutes picking up and cleaning them. Pacifier clips and straps for toys keep them from falling but still within reach for your baby to play with.
5. Know what rides you can take your baby on.
Take a few minutes beforehand to learn the Disneyland rides that don’t have height requirements so you know what your baby can go on with you. A few favorites are Alice in Wonderland, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Jungle Cruise, Toontown and It’s a Small World.
6. Have someone come along who doesn’t mind missing attractions to stay with your baby.
There are some rides your baby won’t be able to go on, and rather than you and your significant other taking turns missing them and never getting to ride together, have someone come to Disneyland with you who doesn’t mind staying behind with baby (grandma and grandpa are great choices).
If you can’t bring a baby chaperone, use Rider Switch. This service lets your first group go on the ride, and then group two, which includes the non-rider who stayed with your baby from group one, gets to go to the FASTPASS queue or attraction exit and go on the ride with everyone right after.
7. Know where the Baby Care Centers are and use them.
Disneyland is especially accommodating for babies, clearly evident by its Baby Care Centers. These centers are free for parents and kids to use and are open during regular park hours. The one at Disneyland is at the end of Main Street right by the First Aid. If you’re going to California Adventure, that one is located next to the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop.
Here’s what the Baby Care Centers offer parents and babies:
- Nursing room
- Changing room
- Feeding area (high chairs included)
- Small kitchen with sink and microwave
- Main room with TV, chairs and table
- Shop selling baby essentials (formula, baby food, diapers, wipes, etc.)
- On-site staff to help with any needs
8. Take advantage of other relaxing, nursing-friendly spots.
If you don’t want to use the Baby Care Center to nurse, there are plenty of other places around the park. Disneyland shows, like the Enchanted Tiki Room show, may not be the quietest spots, but many are inside, air-conditioned and dark—three great things for nursing and napping. Other spots include the Hungry Bear Restaurant, the Mark Twain Steamboat and one of the corner benches in Toontown.
9. Stay at a nearby hotel.
If you care more about convenience than price, then stay in what’s called the “Disney bubble”. When you’re within walking distance, you don’t have to worry about driving, parking or taking a stroller in and out of the car. Maybe more important, if your baby has a meltdown, needs to lie down for to nap for a couple hours, goes through all their packed clean outfits or just needs a break from the park, you’re close enough to easily walk back to your hotel room. Some of the nearby hotels even have portable cribs so you don’t have to travel with a bulky pack ‘n play.
10. Be realistic about your visit.
Really, the best tip for Disneyland with a baby I can give you is to have realistic expectations about your visit. Don’t stress about hitting every attraction or ensuring that you stick to your baby’s strict at-home nap schedule. Your baby probably won’t care about all the attractions. They may get more out of people and character watching and just exploring this new place. Also, even great sleepers will probably take power naps throughout the day rather than taking a normal two-hour nap. to their normal nap schedule. So just enjoy watching your baby take in their first Disney experience and savor each sweet moment with them. Because as you’ll find out, seeing Disneyland through your kid’s eyes can only be described as magical.
Photo credits: @mamabirdlosangeles