Disneyland Tips for Families with Children: Part II

Kelsey P. Gonzalez December 15, 2010 1 Comment

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Disneyland Anaheim, California

Disneyland, California

 

On my family’s recent vacation to Disneyland—a trip that included six adults, one pre-schooler, and two babies—we learned a lot about making the Disney experience fun and relaxing while traveling with such a large group.  Here are a few more tips (see Disneyland Tips for Families with Children: Part I), that came in handy on our adventure to “The Happiest Place on Earth!” 

Pack extra everything to take into the parks with you 

This is so important if you’re traveling with young children.  You don’t want to have to make the long tram ride back to the parking structure for extra items, be forced into buying forgotten items in the park (which can get expensive), or even to make the relatively short walk back to one of the Disney hotels if you’re staying on-site.  We found it was always better to just come prepared for as much as possible.  Every morning my husband and I would emerge from our room with our stroller packed so tight it didn’t look like there was any room for a child to ride in it and a diaper bag so stuffed it looked like the zipper would snap.  My parents were in awe the first day of our trip as they couldn’t imagine why we could possibly need so much stuff.  Maybe it’s just my little family but we ended up using nearly everything we’d crammed in at one point or another.  

Stroller in Disneyland California

Our son and daughter all bundled up at Disneyland, California.

 

For a baby, of course all the essentials—diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, pacifiers, changes of clothes, blankets, sweaters—ended up being needed.  Our three-year old didn’t require as much but we still made sure to bring extra jackets, hats, and a full change of clothes each day.  While it’s probably obvious why our four-month old daughter needed a change of clothes, our three-year old son required them for different reasons.  Not only were there the occasional spills that soaked a shirt or pair of pants but some of the rides and attractions at the two Disney parks include water and can wet you through enough to make you uncomfortable if you’re stuck in them for very long.  If you have a recent potty-trainer, you’re likely to need a clean set of clothes as well!  

The weather in California can also be a factor as the temperature tends to vary, sometimes widely throughout the day.  The mornings were often a bit chilly so our kids would start off wearing sweaters.  Then as they day went on it would warm up and we would strip them down again (we found it was best to dress them in layers), then finally when night really set in it got downright cold and we would pile on the jackets, hats, gloves, and blankets.  We were visiting in early November, but the weather during the summer can be just as uncertain; it may stay hot for most of the day but when the sun sets, a light jacket is often a required essential.  Both parks do have lockers, so if you find you’ve just got too much to carry, you can always rent a locker for the day and come back to it as needed.  

Now for a quick word of warning… for the past several years Disneyland has had security checkpoints that everyone must pass through (even those staying in their hotels), before you can enter the parks.  The list of prohibited items are fairly common sense—weapons, alcohol, fireworks, etc—but an employee will have you open all bags and purses that you are carrying for inspection before they will clear you.  Although I have never once been told I was carrying a prohibited item, having to undo all my carefully packed bags before entering the parks is always a hassle.  Be prepared for it before you go! 

Bring Snacks 

Bringing along snacks are another important tip for families traveling with little children.  Disneyland and California Adventure both have so many places to eat and so many options for snacks that you can’t walk more than ten feet without running into one.  Unfortunately, they’re usually pretty expensive, not to mention they’re not accessible when stranded in line for a ride.  We carried small, easy snacks and drinks with us including fruit snacks, granola bars, crackers, bottled water and juice—and kept them in a bag where we could get to them quickly even in line.  This helped cut down significantly on our son’s cranky episodes if he was hungry between meals.  It also cut down on our expenses since we were able to save so much money on food!  It’s important to know however, that while snacks and drinks are okay to take into the parks, full meals are not allowed beyond the entrances.  Picnic areas are available right outside the Disneyland gates just beyond the ticket booths.  There are also lockers here where all your food can be stowed until you’re ready to eat.  You will have to leave the parks to access your food again so make sure you get your hand stamped before leaving so you can re-enter when you’re done! 

Strollers in Disneyland California

Our son with his stroller at Disneyland, California.

 

Strollers 

When I was a teenager with an Annual Pass to the Disney parks, I thought strollers were an abomination; I couldn’t take two steps without being smacked in the shins, whacked in the ankles, or nearly run over by one of them.  Of course I vehemently swore I would never enter Disneyland pushing one of the accursed things, no matter what.  Yes well, fast forward ten or so years and I’ve changed my mind a bit.  I still have the same painful run-ins with other people’s strollers, but I’m afraid they are a necessity when visiting the parks with young children.  

For those who don’t want to haul their own strollers through their entire vacation or don’t want to drag them on and off the tram twice a day, Disneyland does offer stroller rentals—$15/day for one stroller and $25/day for two.  We considered this option for our family trip, but we ultimately chose to bring our own.  If we’d been staying at a hotel off the Disney property we might have rented instead, but staying on site makes it much more convenient.  We did end up with a flat tire one day, but we took our stroller up to the rental area outside the main gates and they were gracious enough to inflate the tire for us at no cost!  

We chose to bring our standard stroller instead of our jogging stroller because of the width.  We find it much easier to squeeze into the stroller parking areas with the more narrow frame.  We also found that many of the restaurants don’t allow them to be brought inside, not to mention the inability to bring them along on the rides.  Some of the shows and attractions—such as Playhouse Disney—also prohibits the use of strollers inside, so be prepared. There is a designated stroller parking area available just outside each of these attractions, and although we never experienced any problems with theft, we always make sure to take our valuables with us.  

The type of stroller you take, or the decision on whether or not to rent will of course depend on what works best for your family.  The number of children in tow, nap requirements, or children that need long breaks from walking are all factors to consider.  I chose to carry our then four-month old daughter in a sling for most of the trip so that our three-year old son could ride when he wanted; we knew he was probably still too young for all the walking.  Extending the seat back allowed him to sleep comfortably as we pressed on with our day’s plans.  For more information on Disney stroller rentals please visit their website at www.Disneyland.disney.go.com.  

Hopefully these Disneyland tips will help your family enjoy your Disney vacation as much as they helped my family enjoy ours!

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Kelsey lives in Southern Utah with her husband, their 3-year old son, and their newborn daughter. They enjoy the adventure of exploring new places together and love building memories through family travel.

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One Comments to “Disneyland Tips for Families with Children: Part II”
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