Recently, my mom and I took Fern to Disneyland for the first time, although that wasn’t the specific purpose of our trip to California. I was in L.A. for work, and my mom came along to watch Fern for me, but while we were there, my mom really wanted to go to Disneyland. I tried to talk her out of it, saying we should wait to spend the money when she was a little older and could appreciate it more, but my mom insisted.
So, we set off for Disneyland — and I quickly realized that I made the right decision. Taking Fern to Disneyland was truly magical and so much fun – absolutely worth the cost.
Here are some photos from the trip, along with some tips, tricks and thoughts on why it was totally worth going with a baby.
Disneyland with a Baby: Tips, Tricks and Why It's Totally Worth It
Just because your little one is still a baby, doesn’t mean that Disneyland can’t still be magical. Here are some photos from our recent trip along with tips, tricks and why it’s totally worth it to go with a tiny tot.
Have realistic expectations
Babies don’t care about all the fancier rides – half the time Fern wanted to explore random structures and people watch, so hold your plans loosely and just enjoy these sweet moments for what they are. If you don’t set your expectations too high, you will probably be pleasantly surprised by how much your little one enjoys their Disney experience.
Be prepared for more cuteness than you can handle
Fern meeting Minnie Mouse was just about the cutest thing I’ve ever witnessed. It was by far my favorite part of the entire day and I seriously would’ve paid the admission fee just for that one moment in time.
See Disney through their eyes
I honestly figured Fern would be too little to care much about the experience, and everyone in all of the forums I read said that babies will enjoy a trip to the mall just as much as they would a trip to Disneyland. But, they were wrong and it was seriously so magical. Seeing Disneyland through the eyes of a baby was priceless.
Fantasyland is where it's at
Babies can pretty much go on every ride in Fantasyland, so that’s where you’ll want to spend most of your time. We rode on Small World, Dumbo and Peter Pan. The line for Dumbo is super long, so you may want to go there first.
It's a Small World was magical
My favorite ride of the day was Small World by far. For one, it’s air conditioned, so you can get a good reprieve from the sun on a hot day, and it’s LONG. When you’re waiting in long lines, it can be disappointing to get on a ride that only lasts 90 seconds, but It's a Small World seemed to go on and on, and it was totally magical. Fern was entranced.
Take a ton of photos, but stay in the moment
I’m pretty sure I took at least 100 photos of Fern sitting in Small World alone, but I definitely made sure to put my camera away to stop and really just take in the experience without having a camera in my face.
Don't sweat nap time
One thing I worried about during our Disneyland trip was nap time. I have Fern in a good nap routine and we usually have a difficult time breaking from it. Because I wanted to stay at the park for more than a couple of hours, I decided to just let her nap in her stroller. But what happened was, she only napped for 15 minutes in my arms while we waited in line. She was awake from 8:15 AM until 11:00 PM when we left the park. And it was totally fine. There were so many exciting things to see and do that she never got fussy. (If you want to try to squeeze in a nap, try riding the monorail during nap time.)
Run around at Toon Town
After awhile, standing in lines and riding around in a stroller is going to get old, so stop by Toon Town – you’ll get to check out all the character’s houses and there are plenty of character photo opps, although I pretty much just let Fern run around and climb on everything in sight so that she could get out a little bit of energy. It was perfect.
Enjoy learning your child's likes and dislikes
While Fern LOVED Minnie Mouse, she was a little bit scared of Pluto. I’m not sure what the difference was, but apparently she has her preferences. It was fun to study her all day and see what things she was drawn to and what things she didn’t really care for.
Seeing your little one in those classic Mickey ears with their name embroidered on the back in classic gold thread is truly priceless.
Mickey’s House is deceptively large. You walk in and start walking back to wait in line for your photo with Mickey and even though it may not look like you’ll be waiting long, it was about a half hour wait. The good news is that there are plenty of fun things for your babe to explore and climb on while you wait, but just be prepared for the time commitment.
I definitely took too much stuff along with me and regretted it. Obviously it’s difficult packing light when you have a little one, but my recommendation would be to fit everything you’ll need for the day in a cross body bag and make sure to leave room for souvenirs, because you won’t want to be bogged down. We also took an umbrella stroller which was perfect. You can park your stroller anywhere and leave it while you go on rides, but I definitely wouldn’t want to leave anything valuable in the stroller – hence the brilliance of the cross body bag.
Stay for the parade and fireworks
Stake out your spot early – everyone lines up early – but it will be well worth the effort. The parade was so much fun to watch as well as the fireworks even though it was pretty late. Fern loved all the sights, sounds and colors and spent the majority of the time giggling and excitedly pointing at everything.
Odds and ends
Seeing the characters was one of my favorite parts of the day, so make sure to include plenty of time for that. As far as rides go, my favorite baby-friendly rides were: Small World, Peter Pan, Dumbo, The Jungle Cruise and the Winnie the Pooh ride – a little known gem with short lines. Ask about “rider switch” passes if you want to go on the grown-up rides, so no one in your group gets stuck not enjoying rides. Also, realize that you can only plan so much and the rest is left to chance. So hang out and enjoy it as it comes!