Your first trip to Disneyland with your wee little one is such a lovely and memorable time, but it can also be the most chaotic and stress days of your life if you don’t step back and read some tips. Here are 5 tips for handling Disneyland with a 1-year old!
1. Take full advantage of character dining packages.
Standing in line to meet the characters can be really hard for some littles. Fortunately, character dining reservations are available which allow you and your family to meet your child’s favorite characters and get a meal in at the same time. Breakfasts are cheaper than lunches and dinners. They are still really pricey, but you don’t have to worry about waiting in line and everyone gets a relaxing meal!
2. Utilize the Max Pass for $15 a day to get all your photos taken by cast members OR invest that $15 into a cell phone stroller holder and utilize your selfie mode.
Just don’t do any photos at night if you can help it. These guys aren’t the portrait photographers you see on Instagram, but they have priority over some of the best angles in the park. The best times for photos are when the sun isn’t directly hitting your face. Since the photo spots are at all different angles, I don’t suggest doing this on your first day in the parks. Disneyland does have an option for purchasing a week for about $78 dollars, which I wish I had done and will be doing on our next trip. This is a great way to get everyone in the photos together, too. And all photo spot photographers will take your photo with your phone, too, so don’t feel bad for asking.
But not everyone can afford the one-day or one-week Photo Pass costs. Sometimes, a long-term invest is better for your dollar. They make cell phone holders for bikes that also work for stroller handles. When angled just right, you can utilize the timer on your selfie mode to make your cell phone and stroller double their purpose. I used it during my most recent trip when I made solo ventures into the park with my 20-month old and it was amazing! Definitely a great option and something that will work well beyond the Parks.
3. Set alarms for nap time and STICK TO IT
If your child runs on schedules like mine does, set alarms for their nap schedule on your phone to help keep you on track. You don’t have to wait until they tell you they’re gired because they will be. Its Disneyland. Everyone will be tired. Take the time to head back to your room and rest in a quiet space for a few hours. Give your child time to decompress.
I get it, you’re spending a lot of money on these tickets and you want to get the most out of your money. Same. But having to discipline your child for acting up because you’re not giving them a break from everything isn’t going to make you feel better. Some kids can totally hang the whole time, but its absolutely normal for your child not to.
If you happen to miss nap time on accident and are scrambling for a Plan B in the parks, there are plenty of quieter places you can stop at
- Baby Centers (both parks)
- Entryways to Galaxy’s Edge (there are 3)
- Entryway to the train station in Tomorrowland near the bathrooms
- Space between Goofy’s House and Donald Duck’s house in Toon Town
- Pathway next to Cars ride
4. Decorate your stroller to make sure it’s easily identifiable.
You will have to abandon your stroller a lot. And 90% of the strollers are black. There’s always the worry of what could happen to your stroller and your belongings while you’re on a ride. First of all, don’t leave anything in your stroller that can’t be replaced. If your can’t put it in a large backpack or in a locker, leave it at the hotel or have your partner hold it. Secondly, add anything you can to your stroller so if someone accidentally or purposefully takes it, you can have proof that it’s yours if you find it. People are far less likely to take something that is easily identifiable with a name somewhere. You can use laminated nameplates and zip ties, or use heat transfer vinyl or embroidery to stake your claim. Even if no one steals your stroller, it will drastically cut time to have to find it when you get off the ride. Many times, employees will move strollers around to try and create more space when the number of strollers grow in a parking zone. So don’t assume it will be right where you left it. It more than likely won’t.
5. Relax and let go of literally any and all expectations of a perfect trip. Seriously.
Seriously. Things will go wrong. Your schedule will not be followed. Have a general idea of what you’d like to do and go from there. I read on SO MANY BLOGS about mothers who had to go through this same mentality, and I still stressed and had anxiety. Going into our next (surprise and unplanned) trip this week, I will be going in with less expectations, less stress, and more relaxation. I’m going to try out shows with him, and the Disney Junior Dance Party, and all sorts of slow, non-ride options. And I will let go of my stress. Especially since I will be venturing the park alone with him.
What advice would you give a parent taking a baby or toddler to Disneyland? Let us all know in the comments below! I’ll be posting a guide on non-ride options to try out after our trip into the parks this week. Yay for surprise trips in!