A couple weeks ago we took Grace to Disneyland to celebrate her second birthday. My parents, my brother and my best friend Emily all joined us for a few days of fun at the parks! We bought the 3 day southern california resident ticket pass which was a major steal! We ended up doing Disneyland two days and California Adventure one day. That’s right, three whole days back to back! SO fun but SO exhausting! The happiest tired I’ve ever been was the last night there, watching Grace’s face literally light up while watching the Electrical parade.
Disneyland can definitely be magical if you know what you’re doing and plan ahead! There are so many tips and tricks I didn’t know about until I started researching before our trip and now I’d love to share the things we found to be most helpful when planning a trip with a toddler!
- is it packed – so important to check out before you decide which days to plan your visit
- magic kingdom mamas – I found this blog to be incredibly helpful to read through beforehand
- the official disneyland website – always good to check out for important info like park hours etc.
- disneyland mobile app – definitely a must download on your smart phone! Mostly for the maps and the wait times but you can also get so much extra good info like height requierments, entertainment and event times and locations and find bathrooms and places to eat!
Things to Bring:
- Food! You can bring food and water into the parks! Snacks are life when you have a toddler! We packed tons of snacks and also peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches.
- Stroller is a must. We brought our citi mini and it was perfect! Some people suggest a stroller lock but we skipped this (if you have a really expensive stroller then I would consider it). Grace napped in the stroller all three days.
- Two bags. We brought a smaller backpack to keep with us at all times that we put all our valuables (wallets, camera, phone) in and then a separate bag of things that could be replaced (diapers, wipes etc) that pretty much stayed in the stroller the whole time.
- Extra clothes for the little one(s) – there are some water rides and activities in california adventure. Plus it’s always a good idea to carry extra clothes in case of spills/accidents.
- Sweatshirts/jackets for everyone. You’re usually starting your day off early and ending late so the temperatures early in the morning and late at night are much lower than middle of the afternoon.
Things to Know:
- Get there Early! Getting through security and getting into the parks can take a LONG time. Don’t show up right when the park opens, plan to get there an hour before if you want to be one of the first ones in.
- Extra Magic Hour/Magic Morning. If you stay at one of the disneyland resorts you get to enjoy Extra Magic Hour and California Adventure (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) and Magic Morning at Disneyland (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday), meaning you get to enter the park one hour before they open to the general public. We got to do this at Disneyland because it was part of the southern california resident pass but not California Adventure. During the magic morning at disneyland only certain areas of the park were open so it honestly didn’t seem to make that much of a difference, however I’ve heard and from what we saw, it looked like it made a BIG difference at the California Adventure Park.
- Height requirements. Two is such a great age because the height requirement for some of the kids rides is 32″ and Grace met that no problem! She is tall for her age though so I’d recommend measuring your little one before you go. There are also plenty of rides that don’t have any height requirements.
- Fast Passes & Rider Switch. For all the really fun adult rides in both parks fast passes are key. In the app I mentioned above you can see if a ride offers a fast pass. You can only hold one fast pass at a time so there is some strategy that goes into it.
- Character Dining. We didn’t do this because I wasn’t sure how Grace would react to meeting the characters and I felt like it was probably better for kids who are slightly older. But definitely something I’d love to do with her in the future!
Classic and nostalgic, there’s nothing like taking your little one to Disneyland for the first time and seeing all the magic through their eyes. I hope that the memory of Grace dancing to the music of It’s a Small World in the front row of the boat stays with me forever and ever.
Get Fast Passes For:
- Space Mountain
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Indiana Jones Adventure
- Pirates of the Caribbean
Gracie’s top ride picks for Disneyland:
- It’s a Small World (no height requirement)
- Autopia (32″ or taller)
- King Arthur’s Carousel (no height requirement)
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant (no height requirement)
- Tea Cups (no height requirement)
- Casey Jr. Circus Train (no height requirement)
- Jungle Cruise (no height requirement)
I love California Adventure. I might even go as far as saying it’s my personal favorite and it’s not just because they serve wine in the park, although it doesn’t hurt! I just love all the rides. Cars Land is so cute and the rides are really fun. And my all time favorite ride at both parks is Screamin. The park has a lot for adults and little ones to enjoy! Don’t forget to check out the parades and the world of color show!
Get Fast Passes For:
- Radiator Springs
- Toy Story Midway Mania
- Gardians of the Galaxy
Gracie’s Top Ride Picks for California Adventure:
- Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (32″ or taller)
- Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters
- King Triton’s Carousel (no height requirement)
- Toy Story Midway Mania (no height requirement)
- Ariel’s Undersea Adventure (no height requirement)