There is nothing better than visiting Disneyland with preschool-age children. From the wonder in their eyes and the merriment they experience with the sites, sounds and tastes of the park, Disneyland is like the culmination of many toddler dreams come to life.
But of course, taking a tantrum-prone, picky eater who may still wear a diaper and nap one or more times a day to a busy, sensory overwhelming place like Disneyland can tricky.
In the past year, I spent about 15 days in the park, most of them as a guest of Disneyland. Of course, Disneyland pulls out all of the stops, from individualized tours by Disneyland employees, a behind-the-scenes look inside shows, specials places, rides and performances, and an opportunity to try most of the food, experience the parades and fireworks, I was treated to an Insider view of the park.
I am this insider information with you for the first time:
When you are packing for a day in the park, make sure to remember:
Download the App Before you Get to the Park
The app will be your best friend. It tell you where you are in the park. Of course you will still get the park map. But just hand it to your child (they will love it) and use the app. It will tell you where rides and performances are located, wait times, the closest bathrooms and food, where characters are and the times of the parades and other special events.
Get to the Park As Early As Possible
The earlier you get to the park, the easier everything is. From parking, to security, food and ride lines, everything is faster and easier when the park first opens.
Ride the Most Important Ride for Your Child that Averages the Longest Line First
Whoa, what a mouthful. Think about all of your child’s favorite rides or what you think will be their favorite, and then figure out which one averages the longest line. Go to that ride first.
For preschoolers generally, that ride will be Peter Pan or Dumbo. Both average waits of about 45 minute. While It’s A Small World may have a long line, it goes very fast, especially when both boat lines are open. If the boat line on the left is open, go to that one. It almost always goes faster, unless there are a lot of disabled riders in their line.
Rides with Shorter Waits (under 30 minutes)
Rides Only for Kids Over 2.5 Years Old
If You Have a Little Princess
Book an appointment at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Fantasyland right past the Castle. Your little princess can choose between one of three hair styles. They get a crown, a sash, nail polish painting, some makeup and hair done. This takes about 10-15 minutes and they will shine all day afterwards.
If you have a mini knight, your child can be turned into a knight with a sword, hair style and special magic in his hair.
If The Force Is Strong In Your Child
If you have a mini Jedi, sign up for Jedi Knight training. Do this FIRST THING in the morning. Go into the park and go directly there. Do not past go. Do not collect $100. Just go sign up. Your child will be in HEAVEN! They get assigned a time slot from about 5-7 per day, and perform some tricks in costume with a light saber with surprise guests that lasts about 30 minutes.
If You Have A Frozen Fan
Go and see Frozen Live at the Hyperion! All seating is now standby (no more Fastpass) so get there early and bring snacks.
If Your Child Loves Characters or Disney Junior
Go to the character meet and greets around the park, ranging from Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Elsa and Anna, and new this summer, Super Heroes on the Backlot at California Adventure.
Best Places to Take an Instagram Photo
Naps can be hard at Disneyland, as no kid ever wants to miss out on the fun. So pull your stroller shade down or put your child in a carrier and pull up the hood, and walk. If it’s a hot day, go outside the park and walk through the Disneyland Grand Californian Hotel where it is cooler and dark.
If You are Napping or Potty-Training
Go visit the Baby Care Center. They have changing tables, rocking chairs with privacy to nurse, and extra essentials like diapers, wipes and even formula. There are also toddler-size potties.
And those are my insider secrets!