If you have been with me from the beginning, as in nearly seven years go when I started my blog and social media, you know I love Disneyland! I started taking Ryan when he turned a year old (why did I wait a whole year?!) and never stopped since. While Ryan was with me, our Disney trips quickly turned into ‘our thing’. We frequented the park at least once a week and had our route and favorites down pat. Even on his last day here on Earth was spent at the “Happiest Place On Earth”. Disneyland will forever be a place where I feel and remember every ounce of my wild boy.
Now, once Mila was born I was jumping at the chance to visit Disneyland again with a child of mine. We took Mila when she was just two months (you can see her first visit here) and it was perfection. We haven’t stopped going since. If you see us on Instagram we head to the Disney parks once (and sometimes more) a week. Over the past year Mila has seriously grown to love the place and she even has a few favorites now. It has been such a joy to watch her grow, laugh and love a place that was close to her big brother and I. I’m proud to say, Disneyland is now a place I go with BOTH my children. Though anything Cars was Ryan’s favorite, Mila is more fond of Minnie Mouse and Small World. I am more partial to Haunted Mansion and Pirates. The three of us enjoy churros, churros and more churros.
This week my family had a fun opportunity to stay at the Disneyland Hotel and play inside Disneyland for two whole days back to back. Which is pretty much my dream! The best was that Dan took a few days off work to join us! It was his first time back at the park since Mila was just a baby! When we arrived at the park on Tuesday I fully cried because it really did feel like the four of us were together roaming around, having fun. I think the best though was watching Dan’s face while he watched Mila and her reactions to everything. I always come home bursting with stories from our Disney adventures, but he got to see her first hand this time around which was really special. We will be heading back again as a family soon, I’ll be sure to share a bit more on my Instagram stories!
Since we do go to Disneyland a lot and typically always share our fun on Instagram and Facebook, I receive a ton of questions. A lot of you ask how we do certain things, what rides are good for little ones like Mila and what foods we like to enjoy. Now, I’m no expert. Though, we do go a ton and I’ve nailed down a few tricks that make our life easier. I will say first that each and every time we go to Disneyland I arrive with zero expectations. The only game plan I have is to have fun. I have found that keeping expectations low at overwhelming places like Disneyland takes the pressure off. What will happen will happen and above all else, you are at Disneyland! Even grabbing a snack and sitting for 30 minutes while your kid gets their wiggles out is more fun than not! Below I’ve shared my top 3 Disney tips for you all, hope they are helpful! If I didn’t answer something you are curious about, just ask and I will either answer you in comments.
How We Survive Line & Parade Wait Times
Mila and I typically head to the park early to avoid long wait times. Hitting Disney early is a must with little ones simply because you can hit a lot of rides without waiting in long lines AND get a ton done before lunch + nap time! Usually Mila and I get the park at open ride her favorites in Fantasyland, hit up New Orleans square for Pirates and Haunted Mansion then take a breather for lunch. If we do find ourselves in a longer wait time I let Mila just hang out for as long as she can. Meaning she just waits alongside with me. I either wear her/hold her or hold her hand. We people watch, talk, sing songs. If she gets antsy I have a small snack on hand. A good rule of thumb for us is, if the line is longer than 30 minutes we don’t ride that ride. Mila can hang for more than 30 minutes with out losing her mind (can you blame her). My advice is find a few things you can bank on keeping your child’s attention with and don’t make them wait longer than what they can handle.
Parades are a beast that has literally taken a year to master. I am not kidding. Snagging a front row spot for a parade is a must in my book, but that means you have to wait a good 1.5 - 2 hours beforehand. I bring a blanket to sit on and plan it around meal times. I pack snacks, bubbles and a few toys that keep Mila happy. Like clockwork about 30 minutes before showtime Mila gets fed up. So at that point I just hold her hand and we walk up and down the parade route near our spot. She watches other kids play and toddles around. When the parade starts I will tell you, I’ve cried at the way my daughter reacts to seeing the magic up close. There are times while waiting when I think “Am I a F-ing nut bag for doing this?” but once that parade beat drops and I see my daughter perk up and start dancing … it makes the waiting worth it.
Must Do Rides For Mila (Baby +Toddler)
This is an easy question! Any ride with out a height requirement is a must do! Both my children loved all the rides. Get the park early and hit Fantasyland before it gets busy, those line queues can get a little hairy with little ones. Do the classics like; Small World, Pirates and Haunted Mansion. Over at Disney California we always ride Littler Mermaid, Monsters Inc. and watch the World Of Color show. You’ll find that your little one can go on just about anything, except the roller coasters and any ride with the word ‘mountain’ in it. Once your child hits 42 inches though they can literally go on anything. There are a few rides that call for 32 inches which Mila just hit! So now we can ride Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree in Cars Land which I’m pretty excited about. I'd also say any parade is worth the wait so check parade times as soon as you enter the park and work your day around those!
Favorite Foods Within The Park & What We Bring From Home
If you know me, you know I love sweets. At Disneyland I always get a churro. Sometimes (like this week) I go a bit overboard and indulge in a caramel apple or beignets, which are fried donuts covered in powdered sugar. Guys come on! So good! But in real life, for as much as we go to Disney we can’t eat like that every time. I always pack a tiny lunch box with food for Mila and a few snacks for me like string cheese, protein bars etc. Disneyland is pretty accommodating and even has a microwave in their baby center, so you can pretty much bring anything from home! I say, bring a ton of snacks and packed lunches from home, but indulge in a few treats from the park too!
Photos by Morgan Pansing