My daughter and I in Cars Land
Having a child can change your entire world. When I found out that I was pregnant, everyone’s first reaction was, “You can’t visit Disneyland for years now. How will you make it without going for so long?” Everyone assumes that Disneyland isn’t a place for babies, and that there’s no way to visit the park with your little one. But that really isn’t true.
I took my daughter to Disneyland for the very first time when she was only 6 months-old. I learned so much in that trip, and I now have the experience to say that you CAN do Disneyland with babies! And to be completely honest, it really isn’t as hard as people say it is! It just takes preparation, patience, and a little bit of Disney magic (a.k.a. Baby Care Centers). So here is everything that I’ve learned through going to Disneyland with my baby, and hopefully it’ll get you ready and prepared for an amazing trip.
Bring the Right Stroller
Bringing the right stroller was the absolute key to my most amazing trip to Disneyland with my baby. I learned the lesson on strollers pretty early on. On our first trip, I brought this cheap, little stroller. I was nervous about my good one getting stolen, as some do get taken in the parks. So I bought a cheap one so that my life wouldn’t end (a little over dramatic, but still) if my stroller was stolen. Well...cheap is NOT the way to go. This stroller had ONE cup holder which was an extension on the side. This cup holder fell off within the first five minutes of the trip, leaving me with nothing to hold my drinks in. Not a big deal...I attempted to get past it. The storage space underneath the stroller had bars crossing in front of it, so that I couldn’t put shopping bags or my diaper bag underneath her stroller. I had to carry everything the whole time while pushing a stroller several miles everyday. Oh, did I mention her seat also didn’t flatten all the way back so she couldn’t sleep in her stroller at all? So, on top of the various bags I was carrying, I also had to carry my Princess of a daughter if she needed to sleep. After my two weeks of resulting bedrest (not doctor’s orders, just my dramatics again), I promised myself that I would never bring a cheap stroller again.
NOW TO THE HAPPY PART. I brought my nice Graco stroller our second trip. Two cup holders for me, two cup holders for her, a tray for her to eat her snacks, a storage space underneath that fit my diaper bag, shopping bag, water bottles, and fans, and I was able to lay her back, so that she actually had her normal naps and night time. YOU GUYS. Never compromise when it comes to strollers. Your baby is in there for hours, and you are pushing it for hours. You both deserve to be comfortable!
MAJOR TIP. How did I ease my concern of my nice stroller getting stolen? Well, a stroller lock, of course. It locked the wheels so that someone would have to physically carry my stroller to make their discreet getaway. Which obviously wouldn’t work out too well for them in a busy park. You can find the stroller lock I used, here.
Baby Care Centers
Oh my, if there’s a saving grace for moms or dads in the parks, it is the Baby Care Centers. Baby Care Centers - my favorite attraction in the parks - will be the most important place during your trip. There’s one in Disneyland at the end of Main Street on your right-hand side next to Little Red Wagon Corn Dogs, and there’s one in Disney California Adventure next to Ghirardelli Factory. Along with the WONDERFUL female cast members who are there to help with anything during your visit to the centers, there’s absolutely everything you could possibly need for your child. The things I used the most was the filtered water for bottles, bottle warmers, changing tables, and high chairs.
Now, the MOST important thing for me was the changing tables. I cringe thinking about using the family stall in a busy amusement park and putting my baby down on whatever germs may exist there. Not only are the normal changing tables in an extremely busy bathroom, but they are also plastic. In the Baby Care Centers, they provide you with soft, cushy changing tables with papers to put down for your baby to lay on. Pretty sweet!
Forget a pacifier, baby food, diaper, formula, sunscreen, or medicine? They’ve got you covered. You can buy almost anything you could possibly need for your child inside of vending machines within the Baby Care Centers. I really appreciate this as well, as you don’t want to have to leave the park and walk to the nearest store to grab important items. I’m not kidding, the Baby Care Center was one of my favorite spots in the parks.
Rides & Rider Switch
I assumed that my baby and I would probably be sitting and people-watching for most of our trip. But to my delight, there are many rides that we were able to ride on. So many that we weren’t able to even ride all of them in our very first trip (also possibly because we went during Spring Break the first time - YIKES). My favorite rides with my baby were Pirates of The Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan’s Flight, and The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.
You can see the full list of rides with no height-restriction here. And please, for the sake of your baby, DO NOT ride Snow White’s Scary Adventure or Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. I took one for the team and tested those rides out for you all and trust me, those can be left alone for a while….a LONG, long while.
Also, a heads up: while Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin and Dumbo The Flying Elephant have no height restriction, babies are required to sit on the seat by themselves. Not in a wrap, or even in your lap. This can be difficult, so I don’t really recommend these rides.
Want to do the “big kid” rides, but you have your baby with you? No worries, Disney created the rider switch system just for you. One parent or supervisor over the age of 14 can stay with the baby while the other riders ride the designated attraction. Once they’re done, the other parent or guests are able to go through the faster entrance (exit or FastPass line) to avoid waiting in the regular queue, and get on the ride quick. There are only certain rides that provide this service, so make sure you know which ones before you visit the parks. To use rider switch, go to the entrance of the ride and request for the rider switch pass to be added to your ticket.
If you can afford a dining package, get one for your favorite shows. I did the dining package at the Wine Country Trattoria (definitely recommend) for the Paint The Night parade, and one at Hungry Bear (also recommend) for Fantasmic. Paint The Night was my daughter’s favorite show, and she was super happy to have so much space in the viewing area. We weren’t sitting next to anyone thanks to the reserved seating, and we were able to stand up and dance without getting in anyone’s way. We also didn’t have to camp out for a spot. Fantasmic was also an amazing experience all thanks to the reserved seating. We sat right in front of the river, but be aware, you and your baby will get attacked with mist. It didn’t bother the two of us, but if you’re not a fan of water, I recommend sitting further back.
Now, in contrast, we did the Pixar Play Parade without any reserved seating package. We sat down about 2 ½ hours before the show just to get a good spot...or so we thought. About an hour before the parade started, and family came over, moved my daughter’s stroller (which she was sitting in) out of their way, and sat down. All 20 of them. Then one of them grabbed my daughter’s hand....Oh, and during the parade, they used her stroller as a means to hold themselves up. Needless to say, I will ALWAYS pay a little extra for that reserved seating.
Also, it’s worth it to camp out for parades earlier than you usually would. You don’t want to have to fight for space when you’re holding your little one, and the break in the middle of the day can be kind of nice. Find a spot, lay out a blanket, and enjoy a snack. You may be lucky and find a little bit of shade too
What To Bring
This may be the most important part in having a successful trip with a child under the age of one. There are so many things that they need, and you want to make sure you’re prepared. Here are the things I packed in my diaper bag each day that allowed us to have a trouble-free trip:
Enough diapers to get you through the day
Hand Sanitizing Wipes
Extra change of clothes for baby inside of a ziploc (use ziploc for any clothes destroyed in unforeseen blowouts)
Pre-measured formula in bottles so that all you need to do is fill them up with filtered water in Baby Care Centers before use
If baby is drinking whole milk, bring enough empty bottles to get through the day, and fill them with milk at various restaurants throughout the parks
Enough baby food to get through the day
Pacifiers & Pacifier Leashes
Toys with links to keep them in stroller
Phone and Camera
This may seem like a lot of things, but you’re sure to have no issues if you bring everything you could possibly need. And trust me, at Disneyland with a baby, many situations arise in which you’ll need MANY things you’ve never used.
On top of all that other information, here are some other things to keep in mind.
If your family likes to watch fireworks shows, be sure to get a pair of noise cancelling ear covers for your baby. We relied on those to keep her sleeping during loud shows.
Bring shoes for your little one so you can help them waddle and bounce around before shows to get their energy out.
Also, if you’re not doing a dining package, it’s worth it to camp out for parades earlier than you usually would. You don’t want to have to fight for space when you’re holding your little one, and the break in the middle of the day can be kind of nice. Find a spot, lay out a blanket, and enjoy a snack. You may be lucky and find a little bit of shade too.
Hotel proximity is everything. Have a blowout that requires a heavy wash down? Walk across the street to your hotel. Baby throwing a fit that Mickey Mouse himself couldn't fix? Walk across the street to your hotel. I can’t stress enough how important this is. It really saved us a couple times in our trip.
TODDLER MEALS. If your baby is eating table foods, I HIGHLY recommend toddler meals. A couple places offer these meals, and we specifically got ours at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante in Frontierland. It came in a bag with a small bowl of rice and beans, an applesauce, and a small water, juice, or milk. My daughter loved it, and she felt like she was part of the table.
MaxPass! If you can afford the extra $10 a day, definitely get MaxPass! Many of us with babies want all the memories we can get. Well with MaxPass + PhotoPass, any picture you take with a Disney photographer will be available to you for UNLIMITED free downloads. Also, you don’t have to walk to rides just to get a FastPass. You can get a FastPass from WHEREVER you are, and simply head over to the ride when your FastPass time comes up. That’s it! If you’re using rider switch with a FastPass, still go to the front and request for it to be added to your ticket.
I hope you have an amazing trip and keep in mind that every baby is unique. Find what works best for yours, and be PATIENT. It’s a lot for them to take in, but when you follow your baby’s cues, you’re in for one of the most magical trips of your life!