Traveling with a baby is an incredible exercise in patience, flexibility and time management. Traveling with a baby to Disneyland, over 2200 miles away from home base? It’s a whole ‘nother ball game. There’s jet lag. And flight delays. And lost luggage. And forgotten essentials. But when you arrive at the park as the sun is setting, just in time to watch a 16-month-old’s eyes light up at the sight of her first parade? It’s all worth it.
If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland with your baby in tow, here are a few tips/tricks that made our trek fun, memorable and — not surprisingly — magical:
1. Lower the expectations.
If you’ve got a list a mile-long of attractions, rides and shows you want to see, now is not the time to tackle Disneyland with your baby. Instead, leave the list at home and prepare to explore at the pace of your baby. We admittedly spent our first hour at the park at the entrance chasing the birds and had a wonderful time, so for us, soaking up those moments were more important than any Space Mountain ride could offer.
2. Do your research.
Disneyland resorts come equipped with pack-n-plays, so we could have freed up a few hands by leaving ours at home. And by scouting the most affordable restaurants ahead of time, we could have saved a lot of time/money rather than taking a pit stop the moment hunger struck. Disneyland.com has a wealth of resources available for first-time guests or new parents, so it’s definitely worth checking out!
3. Expect hiccups.
Lost sippy cups. Broken sunglasses. Wet clothes. There are a fair amount of hiccups to encounter on an adventure like Disneyland, so come with an open mind and embrace the madness. There were a multitude of times we had to change plans and re-evaluate our day to allow for naps, diaper changes, meals and rest breaks for Bee. It’s all a part of the process, and bracing yourself for these tiny setbacks can make a world of difference when encountering them.
4. Come prepared.
As much flexibility as we allowed ourselves, preparation was key to enjoying our vacation. My mother-in-law accompanied us to offer a helping hand when exhaustion (and jet lag) set in. We packed extra wipes for impromptu messes. We even toted around a cooler of goat milk (Bee has a milk allergy) knowing it would likely not be available within the park. By preparing ourselves for the needs we anticipated, we were better able to work through those we didn’t. (Hint: Disneyland has a wonderful Baby Care Center with nursing stations, changing tables and kitchenettes available for use, as well as a store for diapers/formula/sunscreen/wipes/etc, just in case you aren’t quite as prepared as you’d hoped!)
5. Embrace the moments.
Sure, there were minor meltdowns and 2 a.m. wake-up calls from a very, very jet-lagged baby. But there were many beautiful moments among the harder ones: Bee’s newfound love for Mickey “Mouf.” Her infectious laughter on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Her clapping hands and bouncing head during the many parades we managed to catch. And just like parenting, the trickier moments are always shadowed by the beautiful ones.
Tell me, what tips did you learn taking your baby to Disneyland? I’d love to hear!