It’s time to take that Disneyland trip you’ve been waiting for! So many things have changed since we last visited years ago pre pandemic and pre kids! We now have little ones (2 and 4 year olds, and 1 and 3 year olds) with us to experience the magic and Disneyland has made plenty of changes over the recent years. Traveling with youngsters is tough any way you slice it. Good planning at Disneyland is so important since happy kids make happy parents!
Planning Your Visit
We planned for two days at Disney Parks and opted to go on Monday and Tuesday since we thought it would be less crowded than the weekends. When talking to cast members it seems like the best day to go to avoid crowds is on a Wednesday but any weekday is better than the weekend. Check the calendar for the daily hours of each park (Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure) before purchasing since they also sometimes have special events where the park closes early. We opted to go to Disneyland Park on Monday and Disney California Adventure on Tuesday since Disneyland Park was closing early on Tuesday due to a special event. Some companies offer discounted tickets as well so check with your company before you buy.
Be sure to download the Disneyland App before arriving. You can load your tickets onto the app and it will also allow you to see wait times for each ride as well as order and pay for food within the park touch free. The food feature was very handy to order and receive food quickly for hangry children and to avoid having to fumble for credit cards. From the app you can also get in line for virtual queues for the Rise of the Resistance (Galaxy’s Edge) and Spider Man rides. Queues open at 7am and noon so make sure to try to add it asap if you are interested since it fills up within seconds!
The rides in both parks do have height requirements. Make sure to measure your little ones and check out the height requirements before you go.
Visiting with the little ones we spent a good part of the first day in Fantasy land riding the kid friendly rides. During nap time we headed to Star Wars Galaxy’s edge to check it out. Try riding in the singles lines if you can while one person watches the little ones. We did this for the Millenium Falcon ride and the wait was only about 5 minutes, if even. Or if you want to ride together there is also a Rider Switch option available on most rides where you all wait together and then one adult goes on the ride while the other adult waits with the kids. When the first adult is done the second adult can go on the ride without having to wait again. Also, note that one of the only places you can find alcoholic beverages at Disneyland is at Galaxy’s Edge. In California Adventure alcohol was a lot more abundant and available.
If your kids are interested in princesses you’ll definitely need to head to the Royal Hall. Here they can line up to have one on one time with the princesses, or if they just want to see them without getting close you can stand at the side of the structure and peek in. This a difference from previous times when princesses are walking around.
Disney California Adventure has a reputation of being less kid friendly but our kids had a great time in both parks. Our Disney California Adventure highlight was definitely Cars Land. If your kiddos love cars, this can’t be missed! Lightning McQueen and Mater occasionally drive through the town making it extra special. The Little Mermaid Ride was also a big hit. If your kids have extra energy to burn make sure to check out the Redwood Creek play area and many of the rides at the boardwalk are kid friendly.
Parades are back on at Disneyland! They usually have two per day so if your kids love them you can watch it twice! Fireworks are usually at 9pm as well. You can use the Disneyland App to view the schedules for the day so you can plan around these events since it varies by time and frequency every day.
There are plenty of locations to purchase food in Disneyland but it does require a bit of planning. Most all of the restaurants and kiosks have pre-ordering available on the app. You can choose your pick up time and pre-order your meals and snacks ahead of time. If a location is busy you may have to wait for a later pick-up time so be sure to order before anyone gets hangry! You can always edit to a later time so don’t worry if you are running late. Once you arrive at the location you will press a button on the app saying you are here to pick up. The food is then plated so you can pick it up hot and fresh. Most locations have walk up ordering as well, but some are app only so make sure to check beforehand.
What to Bring
We planned to stay at Disneyland all day without leaving the park so we had to bring some key things with us.
Stroller or Baby Carrier: If you have young children strollers or double strollers are a must. It will save your arms from carrying them all day when they get tired, provides a place for them to nap, and a place for you to store all of your stuff! Or if your baby is younger be sure to bring that carrier for naps!
Battery back up: You’ll definitely want to bring a backup phone charger so you can have power all day. You’ll probably be taking lots of photos and videos on top of using the Disney App.
Change of clothes: Although it’s usually always sunny and warm in So Cal, when the sun goes down it can get pretty chilly. We are happy we brought jackets and pants for the kids to change into and jackets for ourselves.
Snacks: This seems like a no brainer when traveling with kids, but it has to be said! Disneyland lets you bring your own food into the park, so take advantage. Even though you can purchase plenty of food inside, sometimes you just need something quickly while waiting in lines. We went through our entire snack stash on the first day and wish we had brought more.
Water: Again, probably obvious but you want to make sure everyone stays well hydrated throughout the day! They do have fill stations but they aren’t super apparent.
Masks: Masks are currently required in all indoor areas (shops, restaurants, rides, restrooms). It can also get pretty crowded outdoors so you may feel more comfortable with one on even when outdoors as well or waiting in line.
Fanny/Hip Pack: This will come in handy to keep hands free. It’s so much more comfortable to wear all day versus a shoulder strap bag to keep the important stuff close to you at all times.
Staying at Residence Inn Anaheim Resort Area/Garden Grove
If you can stay at a nearby hotel you’ll save yourself a lot of time. We stayed at Residence Inn Anaheim Resort Area/Garden Grove. Taking a shuttle from the hotel drops you off at the entrance to the parks, much more convenient than parking you car in the huge lots and having to walk to the front gates. There are a couple of shuttle options when staying at this hotel. You can take the ART shuttle (area transit) from the hotel. It costs $6 a day for adults and $3 for the children 3-9. However, we found it easier to walk to the Hyatt hotel located just next door and take their direct shuttle to Disneyland. The cost is $6 per person per day, ages 4-10 are $3 per day, and kids 3 & under are complimentary. The shuttle departs to and from Disneyland every 30 minutes.
The Residence Inn Anaheim Resort Area/Garden Grove is perfect for families because all of the rooms are suites! We opted for a two bedroom which boasts two bathrooms, kitchen area and living area. Kitchens make it easy to prep easy quick meals if necessary, store beverages and clean baby bottles and cups if you need to. Having separate bedroom and living areas is a must so parents don’t have to sit in dark silence once the kids go to sleep (we’ve all been there!). They also have a pool/hot tub area which the kiddos thoroghly enjoyed. Their complimentary breakfast is awesome for getting bellies full before heading to Disney for a full day. They have tons of options for even the pickiest eaters.
Visiting Disneyland with young children is a magical experience. To see it through their eyes makes all the prepping and planning worth it! This was our first big vacation since pre-covid so it was nice to finally get out in the world again to create new magical memories!