LA is full of cool vibes, great food, sandy beaches and of course, Disneyland. I’ve only been home for a week and I’m already itching to go back. This trip was a bit of an impromptu vacation but I’m so glad we did it because some of the most amazing and precious memories were made during this family trip. I hope you guys were following along on stories when we were away. It definitely got a little chaotic at times.
Aliyana travelled pretty well but BOY is it a different ball game than when we went to Europe 8 months ago. She’s now 16 months with a firey personality – blabbing, talking and walking. She didn’t want to sit in her stroller or be in the carrier so we had to let her walk on her own. Now that she’s semi-confident, holding hands with her is becoming problematic. She’s apparently a big girl now.
I’ve been to Disneyland a handful of times and I can proudly say that each time I enter the park, it feels just as magical as the first. This time was extra special because we got to bring Aliyana. Disneyland was not in the original plan but I’m glad we made it work.
So many people said that going to Disneyland was going to be a waste of money because she wouldn’t remember a thing. I can truly say I disagree because although she IS really young and probably won’t remember it, we as a family gained so many new memories just from that one day – seeing how excited to she got when Buzz Lightyear walked by during the parade, her clapping and shouting during Fantasmic, scream crying when she saw Minnie, eating ice cream and churros for the first time. My heart is exploding just typing this out.
Although it was a great day, it wasn’t without meltdowns. There were a ton of people everywhere so everything had a line-up. It was really hard on us and it got to a point where we were prepared to leave 5.5 hours into our visit. Whenever she got tired, she would start screaming and we couldn’t do much but continue to stroll along hoping she would fall asleep. She always eventually did. It’s always really hard when Mike and I don’t agree on certain things (and he hates seeing her cry) but I’m so glad we both pushed through and just let her be.
Here are my tips for a memorable Disney adventure:
- Before the trip
Download the Disneyland app. You can buy entrance tickets and make restaurant reservations beforehand which is super handy. The restaurants do get full fast and some don’t take walk-in’s so it’s best to do it beforehand. It’ll save you a lot of waiting time and you can also time your meals with your baby’s nap schedule. You can also view all the photos that get taken of you from the photographers on site directly from this app.
- Go there early!
The park opens at 8AM and we arrived at the parkade around 9 and still didn’t fully get into the park until almost 11AM. I’m not joking when I said lineups are everywhere.
After you find a parking spot, you’ll need to catch the tram to Disneyland. It’s approx. a 20 minute walk or a 5 minute tram ride. I suggest taking the tram on the way there and walk through downtown Disney when you leave to head back to the car. It’s a really beautiful walk filled with gift shops, pin trading and cute restaurants. It’s a great way to wrap up the night and pick up any last minute souvenirs you might have forgotten when you were inside.
Each tram car as 4-5 rows of seating. Only the first row is slightly wider so you can fit your travel stroller in it somewhat nicely (folded up). I highly suggest walking to the back of the tram where the seating is double wide so your stroller can roll right in without you having to fold it up. That’s probably the last thing you want to do after you’ve packed the carrier basket full of stuff.
- Meeting your favourite Disney characters
If you have a hyper baby like mine, I’d suggest picking 1-2 characters you would like meet and do those vs. trying to do everything. Each lineup is approx. 45-60 minutes long. If you like Winnie the Pooh, you can meet all 3 characters in one line so that’s a great option. We were only able to line up to meet Minnie. As you might have already known from watching stories, Aliyana freaked out like she did when she met Santa but absolutely LOVED just hanging out in Minnie’s yard. She spent a good 20 minutes roaming on the grass.
- Quiet corner
If your baby can’t sleep with loud noises, we literally found the only quiet corner in the entire park. If you walk towards Chip n Dale’s Treehouse there is a small dead-end path at the back left corner and you can park your stroller there for a quick snooze. We saw a few parents hiding out there while their babies were sleeping.
- Change stations
There are a few family change rooms throughout the park but every time we tried to get into one, we would have to wait 15+ minutes and I eventually gave up. Every women’s washroom has 1-2 change tables in it and I found the washrooms in Adventureland to have the quickest lineup flow (sometimes with no line-up). Give that a try when you’re there!
The only ride we could go on was King Arthur’s Carousel. The line-up was also super short so it’s definitely worth hopping on a horse for a quick spin and some cute photos.
- Souvenirs worth buying
1. Bubble wand – at $25 USD, take my money Disney. This bubble wand is probably the best purchase ever and I should’ve bought it the moment we entered. This wand kept her entertained for the rest of our trip, I think it would’ve worked wonders while we were there too. This is why I’m sharing it now, let it be the first thing you buy before Minnie Mouse ears.
2. Rose Gold Minnie Mouse Ears – if any of you gals are into Rose Gold, these sparkly rose gold ears can only be purchased at the big Disney store in Downtown Disney. Once you enter the park you won’t be able to find them (at least I couldn’t). I don’t mind the more traditional ones but rose gold definitely would’ve been way cuter.
There isn’t much in the park that is baby friendly so I suggest bringing your own baby food. We brought a lot of pouches with us along with TONS of snacks.
We caught the the 3:30pm Pixar Fest parade (after Aliyana’s nap) and the 9:00pm Fantasmic show. We were able to stay for the fireworks after which was great! We left shortly after the fireworks and made our way back to the car via the Downtown Disney route and stopped at a few stores while we were there.
Things to bring:
- Stroller – A cover for the stroller for when they’re napping. If you don’t already have a cup holder, get one! You’ll definitely wish you had it!
- Keenz Stroller Wagon – If you guys want to splurge, check out the Keenz Stroller Wagon. I’ve seen some cheaper ones here in Vancouver but nothing like this crème de la crème. We saw so many parents with this guy at Disneyland and was drooling and wishing we had one – it even has a cooler bag attached. It would be so amazing for summer bbq’s, the PNE or just about anything!
- Change of clothes – I found that the temperature dropped quite a bit in the evenings. Don’t forget to pack a sweater, socks and some comfy shoes for your little one.
- PJ’s – We changed Aliyana into her PJs by the end of the night, she passed out on our walk back to the car and the entire car ride home. When we got back to our air bnb, we just transferred her from the car seat to the playpen. That made our night so much smoother. I would hate to wake a sleeping baby up to change her diaper and into PJs.
- A wide brim sun hat or bonnet – I bought two bonnets last minute from Rain People, a local Company from Vancouver Island. They’re super soft and the wide brim option is AMAZING. These bonnets kept things dark during naps and the sun off of her face when we were cruising around town.
- Sunscreen – we use ThinkBaby and haven’t had any issues with this brand!
Last but not least, I can’t end my post without photography tips!
Iconic Disney Castle:
Everyone needs that iconic Disney castle photo. The best time to take this photo is before 11:30AM. LA tends to be a bit cloudy/muggy in the mornings which makes this photo even more magical. The light is soft and almost glowing while the sun is trying to sneak its way out. I always bring a tri-pod with me everywhere I go because I have major trust issues with others taking our photo. If you can’t make 11:30AM, the other option is at 7:00-7:30PM. The designated Disneyland photographers will also be there at this time so they can always help you snap a photo.
Toontown during the day has extremely harsh lighting BUT at around 6:30 is when it’s the most magical… There is a red car under a tree (to the left of the food area) where the sun just peaks through at that hour creating a super dreamy photo.
At 7:00pm. Mickey and Minnie’s front yard is the perfect spot to end your photos for the day!
Honestly, I didn’t take too many photos this time around. I really wanted to soak up all the fun so we actually have more video clips than we do photos. I really had to make a conscious effort because I love taking photos and a lot of the times, it really does consume me because I spend a lot of time perfecting that one photo you guys get to see. I wish it was easier….. Ask Mike and he’ll tell you all about it.
Whether you’re heading to Disneyland in a few weeks or at the end of the year, I hope this was helpful to plan your perfect Disney trip ahead.