Tips for tiny prince and princess parents
By Holly Jones
My husband and I just took our princes (ages six and eight) and princess (21 months old) to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure for their first visit to the Happiest Place on Earth. Taking an infant or toddler to Disneyland seemed daunting at first—but, fear not!
Here are the top tips we can share from our experience that will hopefully help you make the most of your magical vacation with your family.
Tip #1: Diapers & Changing Stations
You’ll want to bring a pack for the flight and hotel, but once you’re in the park, if you run out of “diaps & wipes,” don’t sweat it! Disneyland and California Adventure both have Huggies Baby Care Centers, where you can find the “Bare Necessities” to buy for those buns. We also found changing stations in every bathroom we went in, both men’s and women’s, so no matter whose turn it is, you’re covered! Speaking of covered, we were also covered at the Paradise Pier Hotel pool, where we found a basket of complimentary swim diapers, which were really helpful, considering we’d forgotten to pack our own.
Tip #2: Feeding
We saw nursing moms around the park with babies of all ages—I found Disneyland and California Adventure both breastfeeding-friendly. In fact, those Baby Care Centers also offered space for nursing and pumping, which was really comforting as a nursing mom!
For solid-eating infants and finicky toddlers: Starbucks in Downtown Disney offered what we call “squeezy-fruit” (fruit puree pouches), which we stocked up on and took into the park in our diaper bag. Inside the park, Pluto’s Doghouse had a “Toddler Meal” that was very successful—macaroni and cheese (perfectly portioned and sticky enough to not slide of the spoon, which helped our little princess have an independent, less messy meal) and a Go-Go Squeez applesauce. We found several fruit stands around California Adventure that had bananas, apples and oranges, which were also big hits. The pineapple spears served just outside the Tiki Tiki Room in Disneyland’s AdventureLand were another example of welcomed freshness on the go. We opted not to do any of the reserved dining, as our toddler isn’t much of a sit-down-dinner kind of gal just yet—and it worked out just fine. The “express” dining options in Downtown Disney and the room service in our hotel were perfect for us—especially the Jazz Kitchen Express (our favorite breakfast)!
Tip #3: Strollers
We stayed at the Paradise Pier Hotel, which is a short walk from Downtown Disney, the monorail station and then to the park entrances. On our first day at the park, we rented a stroller (if you’re facing the entrance to Disneyland, stroller rental is over to the right). We found the stroller itself to be great and the price reasonable, but hit a snag when lunchtime hit and we wanted to go back to the hotel for a break. You can’t take the stroller back to your hotel, so if you have a sleeping little one in the rental stroller, you have to pick them up. You can leave the stroller parked at the security entrance to Downtown Disney and come back for it later, but again, if you don’t want to interrupt that nap, you may want to consider an alternative. We found umbrella strollers for purchase in the hotel gift shop, and the price was equivalent to 3 days of rental, so we ended up just buying one. Knowing then what we know now, we’d have just packed our own from home.
Speaking of wheels—you’ll want to know about parking strollers. There are special stroller parking zones (they’re clearly marked) where hoards of strollers will be left while families enjoy attractions and ride rides. I was pleasantly surprised to see that people were very respectful of each other’s belongings and our stroller remained safe every time we parked in one of these zones; that said, I wouldn’t leave my purse or purchases unattended in one and walk away—I’m just paranoid like that.
Watch out, though—if you see strollers parked somewhere and it isn’t a marked stroller parking zone, if you park there, you will be towed to the nearest designated parking zone! I mistakenly parked where I shouldn’t have outside of the Haunted Mansion and came out of the attraction to find my stroller had been relocated. Mild panic when it was missing was replaced with comfort when I was directed by a very sweet cast member (who was quite forgiving of my breach of stroller parking etiquette!) and I saw everything was where it ought to be.
Tip #4: Swimming
I mentioned the swim diapers earlier, which were really awesome to find. But wait! There’s more! There were life jackets of all sizes available for kiddos to use, and several lifeguards on duty at the hotel pool, which helped us relax a little more while the kids were in the water. There was also a one foot deep toddler pool—our little princess loved splashing around in there while her big brothers did cannonballs in the big pool and enjoyed the slide. The description of the slide said that it required kids to be “strong swimmers” to use it, but it was very tame and our six year-old, moderate swimmer did just fine. I saw even younger, less experienced swimmers using it safely, too.
Tip #5: Sleeping
Our hotel room came with a Graco Pack & Play in the closet and the couch folded out into a daybed. Everybody had plenty of room and exactly what they needed to sleep soundly!
Tip #6: Crying
We knew we were surrounded by families—we saw them all over the hotel—but we didn’t hear a single thing. They must’ve really insulated the walls well, because when our own kids weren’t being loud, you could hear a pin drop in our room. That helped ease our minds when the baby cried, and trust me, trying not to upset the neighbors is usually a big concern for us when traveling. This experience helped keep Mom and Dad quite calm.
Tip #7: Rides
It should be obvious that some rides are not for babies. We found that there were more our little princess was able to enjoy than we’d expected. Granted, HyperSpace Mountain and Radiator Springs Racers were certainly not for her, but Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters, Dumbo, The Teacups…there’s actually a very long list of attractions that littles can enjoy. A few things to keep in mind: if you’re baby-wearing, some of the safety bars might make things uncomfortable. The cast members there are great about helping ensure you and your little rider have a safe and comfortable time, so don’t hesitate to ask!
Tip #8: Characters
Characters are super friendly and happy to take family photos, even with babies, but they don’t hold babies, and for good reason.
So, if you’re just dying to take that picture with a character and your child, get in there with them—you’ll be glad you did.
Holly Jones pictured above with Woody from Pixar’s Toy Story
When planning your Disney vacation use a Travel Agent with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. I used Zac Wilson for our Disneyland vacation. His services are complimentary, professional, and very knowledgable. If you’re planning a Disney vacation, contact Zac Wilson!
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About the Author
Holly Jones is a mother of three and the author of the young adult novel “I Want Everybody To Like Me,” available on Amazon.com (https://smile.amazon.com/I-Want-Everybody-Like-Me/dp/1537139606).. She and her husband Billy are raising their family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.