We are what you might call a “Disney family.” We have been to Disneyland too many times to count, but this last time was a little different for us – it was our first Disneyland trip with a baby! Taking your baby to Disneyland doesn’t have to be hard! We had our son, Liam, last May and as crazy as it may sound, we couldn’t wait to take him to Disneyland! At just nine months old, we loved watching him experience so many things for the first time. It was an adventure and tons of fun to see how he would react and interact with the attractions, shows, characters, scenery and people. Since we were traveling with a baby, I was very aware of all of the other babies on vacation – and there were MANY – some as young as a few weeks old. Although I’d been to the Disneyland Resort so many times before, this trip was quite different. Because we’re seasoned Disney travelers, we were pretty well prepared and had an idea of what to expect, but still had a few surprises. I have compiled my best tips and tricks that made our baby’s first Disneyland vacation a stress-free and fun-filled one. Hopefully it’ll make taking your baby to Disneyland a whole lot easier, too!
Tip #1: Stay as close to the Disneyland Resort as possible. We were fortunate enough to be able to stay at one of the Disneyland hotels this time. This made it so easy to come back and forth for the babe’s naps. It also was a lifesaver to be able to just run him back to the room when he started to get fussy during World of Color. He would have been in complete meltdown mode if we had to wait for a shuttle to get back to our hotel. We loved using the private entrance at the Grand Californian and we definitely took advantage of the early entry every day. Watch for specials to stay at the Disney hotels, especially during off-season. We were able to save 25% by going during the Spring. If the Disney hotels aren’t in your budget, there are many hotels across the street from the main entrance that are easily walkable. When you have a baby, it’s just a good idea to be close!
Tip #2: Use the Baby Care Centers. There is a Baby Care Center in Disneyland and one in Disney California Adventure Park. These centers have multiple changing tables, high chairs, a private nursing area, a microwave, and a little section with extra baby items for purchase. Most of all, the Baby Care Centers offer a clean, quiet place to give your baby the attention he needs. I think it is the only place in the Resort that doesn’t have music piped in and if you have a baby that is craving some peace and quiet, it is a welcome respite. And, the workers there are so helpful and friendly. As an added bonus, the Baby Care Center in California Adventure is located right next to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop and you can get a free chocolate sample just by walking through the door. It’s always nice to be rewarded with chocolate.
Tip #3: Bring helpers with you. Since Liam is the only baby in our family, we invited my brother and sister-in-law to come along for the trip. We loved having the extra helping hands (yes, we had four adults to one baby), but it was also really nice when riding attractions which I’ll get into next. If you can get family or friends to travel with you, you can almost guarantee that most of your time will be spent riding attractions, watching shows, and leisurely shopping, dining and enjoying the atmosphere. Here’s how in the next tip…
Tip #4: Use the Rider Switch. I feel like this was one big secret we were missing out on. The Rider Switch works a little bit differently on each attraction, but basically you collect a Rider Switch lanyard (pictured below left) as you get into line. The Cast Member will verify that someone is waiting behind with a stroller. Then, before the riders board an attraction, they change the lanyard for a Rider Switch Pass (pictured below right). The Rider Switch Pass works like a FASTPASS, but does not have a scheduled return time. One pass is good for up to three riders. We decided that four or five is the perfect number of adults or older children to take full advantage of the Rider Switch. This number ensures that no one ever has to wait or ride alone.
Tip #5: Use the FASTPASS. You can get a Rider Switch pass at the beginning of the FASTPASS line as well. If you first collect your FASTPASS tickets, then take advantage of the Rider Switch, you can spend even less time in line and more time enjoying your day. One FASTPASS you do not want to miss is for Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land. The tickets are so popular that they are normally gone within an hour or two of park opening. One nice perk of the Radiator Springs FASTPASS, is that it allows you to hold an additional FASTPASS at the same time. You can grab another for Radiator Springs Racers or another attraction. The rest of your FASTPASS tickets for the day will work as usual with a posted return time and a note with when your next FASTPASS ticket will be available. By combining the FASTPASS and Rider Switch options, we spent very little time waiting for attractions.
Tip #6: Know what you can ride. There are so many attractions that have no height requirements as long as you have an adult riding. Dumbo, Peter Pan, Snow White and the Story Book Canals are all perfect examples. For the first time in my life, I was a little disappointed that “it’s a small world” was closed. We were thrilled that Liam also loved Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise, The Little Mermaid and Monsters Inc. to the Rescue. He also loved the Aladdin show, which was a nice surprise. We were amazed at how many attractions we were all able to enjoy together.
Tip #7: Bring or rent a stroller. This probably is a no-brainer for parents with infants, but what surprised us was how easy it was to get around with the stroller. All of the attractions and shows had ample stroller parking. It was nice to have all of Liam’s supplies (and a few snacks for Mom and Dad) on-hand at all times. Not to mention, our babe was a trooper and napped in his stroller the first day. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of bringing your own stroller, you can rent them for about $15 per day. If you rent a stroller, they all look the same. You might want to bring some pins or stickers to make yours stand out and avoid any accidental stroller switches.
The next time I’m asked if I would take a baby to Disneyland, I can confidently say, “YES!” We had an amazing time, made precious memories and got some great pictures that we hope Liam will enjoy looking at as he grows up.
If you’re thinking of planning your next Disneyland vacation, Get Away Today would love to help. Our Disney Experts visit the resort multiple times each year. We also negotiate special deals and exclusives just for Get Away Today guests like free parking, free breakfast, and 3rd, 4th or 5th night free specials at our hotel partners. We also guarantee the best price on Disneyland tickets and are regularly offering exclusive specials. Also, as an added bonus, use promocode: OSSS2014 and you’ll save an extra $10 off your Disneyland vacation booked at www.getawaytoday.com or by calling 855-GET-AWAY.