We recently got the chance to go to Disneyland. This was a much thought about decision. Ever since Lincoln was born, I kept wondering “what is the best age to first take your kid to Disney?” Well, in our case, it was three and a half. This was the best trip ever and Lincoln LOVED (that’s an understatement) every second of Disney. I thought I would share some of the little tips and tricks I used to make our day go as smoothly as possible.
1. Download the Disneyland App
This is crucial in your Disneyland visit. You can purchase your tickets in the app and then don’t have to worry about losing your paper ticket while in the park. You can reserve dining in the app, see a map of the park, and see wait times for the different rides. You can also order food for pickup at a ton of different restaurants throughout the park. Utilize your map of the park to view wait times for each ride to strategize which ride you will do next/when.
2. Get There Early
We didn’t stay at a Disney Resort, so we didn’t have the luxury of early access. However, we got to the resort 30 min before it “opened.” We arrived in park at 8:30am and the rides start at 9am. This was the best plan ever. They allow you to go into the park prior to the rides starting and there are several characters already out for meet and greets and pictures. We were able to get in 2 different meetings with Goofy and Pluto before proceeding on with our day.
3. Hop on the Train & Head for the Back of the Park
As soon as you enter the park, there is a stop for the Disneyland Railroad. Hop on the train and take the train all the way to the back of the park to the Fantasyland stop. This puts you right at the entrance of Toon Town. Now, Toon Town doesn’t open until 10a, but there are rides in the back of the park that you can do until it opens. We ended up going to It’s A Small World, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage all with a less than 5 minute wait. In addition to doing these three rides, we were able to grab a quick bite to eat all by 10am (within an hour).
4. Bring your own Stroller
You guys, the number of strollers in Disneyland is incredible. I don’t think I have ever seen so many in one place. Thankfully, Disney has designated stroller parking. However, this also means that all the strollers are in one area and if you rented one, good luck figuring out which one is yours. I HIGHLY suggest bringing your own and adding something very distinct on it, as well as a tag with your name. We brought our light-weight umbrella stroller and even though Lincoln walks just fine (and prefers to do so) there is a LOT of walking involved and he definitely appreciated the stroller. I have included a few links to some super easy strollers that are perfect for Disney.
- The stroller we have (LOVE)
- Another option
- If you have a little girl, THIS ONE is a must
- And THIS ONE is perfect for a little boy
5. Make Dinner Reservations at a Character Meal
Fore warning, this is expensive. We had no idea how much, but be prepared for at least $200 for 4 people. We made reservations far, FAR in advance. Honestly, the second you suspect that you will be going to Disneyland, I suggest going into the app and making reservations for a Character Meal. You can book at Disney’s PCH Grill, Goofy’s Kitchen, Plaza Inn, or Storytellers Cafe. These reservations fill rather quickly and the sooner you book, the better. You can always cancel if you decide not to do it. The reason I highly suggest a character meal is that if there are any beloved characters that you missed (or didn’t want to wait in line for) you get to meet them, 1 on 1, at a character meal. We ate at Goofy’s Kitchen and saw Goofy, Pluto, Mickey, Minnie, Chip & Dale. They each come up to your table individually and give some individual attention to your littles. This was Lincoln’s favorite part of the trip even though it was at the end of the day and we were all exhausted.
6. Use the “Rider Switch” Option
This is KEY. I repeat, DO NOT FORGET THIS TRICK. Of course, with Lincoln being a toddler, there were a few rides that he wasn’t tall enough to ride. But us adults still wanted to ride it! So, here’s what you do… your group walks up to the entrance of ride. For example, we all wanted to ride the Indiana Jones ride, but Lincoln couldn’t. The four of us walked up to the attendant at the entrance of the line and told her that we wanted to use “the Rider Switch.” She hands us a ticket. My mom and Bobby went (with the ticket) in line while Lincoln and I went off to Tarzan’s Tree House. After my mom and Bobby get off the ride, my mom takes Lincoln and Bobby and I take the ticket. We head back to the line and hand them the ticket and BOOM! You don’t have to wait in line a second time. You are put right into the fast pass lane and you get to pass up the long line. And this ticket is good for anytime. You don’t have to use it right away. You can come back and hop right into that Fast Pass lane. You’re welcome.
7. Order Food Through the App
This isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but it definitely saved us a little time when getting the famous Dole Whip. You can order and pay for it through the app and instead of waiting in line (which can get super long on hot days) you just walk up and its ready. You can do this with many of the smaller restaurants around the park.
8. Bring Your Own Water
As you all know, Disney is expensive. If there is one way around it, it’s to bring in your own drinks and snacks. You can bring in bottles of water or drinks as long as they aren’t in glass. And you can bring in your own lunch or snacks. If you don’t want to indulge in some Disney treats, this is your best option.
9. Deck Out Yourself & the Kiddo’s
If there was one thing that got Lincoln excited about going to Disneyland, it was getting some new Mickey digs. I would surprise him each week with a new item until his outfit was complete. And I didn’t want him to be alone! So many places now sell Disney gear for adults. Target, Walmart, Amazon, Forever 21, H&M…. the list goes on. I will go ahead and add the links to some cute stuff for everyone in the fam.
I hope this all helps you to navigate your best day ever a little easier.
Love, Chelsea Lyn