Yes, we took our first (of many, I am sure) family trip to Disneyland. We spent a little time planning our adventure, and attempted to go when the weather was perfect, however, were hit with an unseasonable heat spell! Go figure! Despite the heat we had a blast, and I won’t attempt to blog about how to create your perfect Disney vacation (surprisingly there are thousands of blogs for that!), but I have a few tips that I will share after our experience going.
First, the indoor rides, and shows, are LOUD! If your little one is anything like mine, loud noises bother her. I am sure she gets that from me, because I don’t like loud noises either, but especially being two, noise volume is a big deal. On a whim as we were leaving, I grabbed our kid’s noise-blocking headphones, which we have used in the past when going to sporting events or fireworks shows. Boy, am I glad I did! They came in handy many times throughout our trip. From the dark, indoor Fantasyland rides, to the World of Color light and water show, they were a lifesaver. Allison was able to feel more comfortable on the rides (even if the sights were a little scary) and we felt better knowing she wasn’t freaked out by it being too loud. We ran into a family on the elevator after the water show and asked how they enjoyed it (the show was pretty amazing—think Bellagio water show on steroids, and crack, and well worth the hour wait staking out our spot to view it), and the family said they loved it but had to leave early, as it was too loud for their toddler. I was thankful we had our headphones, because Alli really enjoyed watching it, as did us all. Another side note, if you go to see World of Color at Disney’s California Adventure, get a Fast Pass to the show early in the morning, as they run out, and get a picnic dinner from one of the many restaurants in the park, and bring it with you to eat while you sit and wait on the sidewalk to watch the show.
Second, be flexible. Of course we had a plan of action of what we wanted to ride on each day, but we found that everyone was happier if we weren’t rushing to try to get in one line, or see a certain show. This is true especially with little ones, as their needs can be unpredictable. We also wanted our two year old to make the choices of what she wanted to do (with guidance from us of course), and sometimes that meant going on a ride twice in a row, or missing the opportunity to use our Fast Pass for the adult ride we were going to go on, and really, it was fine. The point of the trip was for Allison to have fun, so we really tried to cater to her wishes. We had the luxury of Grandma sponsoring and joining us for the trip, so we reserved an evening to go ride the “big kid” rides we wanted to without the kids. Another good tip, if you are traveling with more than one child, and can, bring reinforcements. It was great to have someone available to sit out a ride with the baby if necessary, and to give Mommy and Daddy some alone time too!
Last, I realized that this really was the perfect time to go with two little ones. I was hesitant that Allison, our two-year-old was too young, and wouldn’t appreciate it, and that Jolie, the baby, would be hard to accommodate, but in reality, it was just right. Allison was young to understand about all the characters, but then it meant she didn’t HAVE to see them all, or buy every princess toy she saw. She also just loved the rides for being a ride, regardless of who the character was that it was based on. When she goes again when she is older she will have been exposed to more, and will have a new appreciation for Disneyland, but for now, it was a perfect innocence. And I shouldn’t neglect to mention that kids are free before 3, so that savings is a plus. As for Jolie, our five month old, it was also a good age to go as a younger sibling. She is alert enough and big enough that she enjoyed the stimulation of all the sights and sounds, but not mobile, or eating many solid foods, so she was content in the stroller or the Ergo for long periods of time. I was also glad I didn’t have to stop and nurse her as often as I used to! Every two hours would have been tough! The girls could go on a lot of rides, as there are only a handful with height restrictions, and Allison wasn’t even close to the right height for those!
There are tons more tips online to help make your Disneyland experience fulfilling, and they are worthwhile; but the best laid plans always change. For me, I just wanted to have my girls get their first pair of Mickey ears with their names on them (much like the ones my mom saved from my childhood!) and without much planning at all you can see your child’s face light up with the biggest smile, or witness their eyes so filled with wonder, as the moment when they go on their first ride at Disneyland, or meet their favorite character! Like the saying goes, that is priceless.
June 2014 – I have added a more detailed post with Disneyland tips, here: 15 Disneyland Tips and Tricks!