Disclosure: My family was generously offered a two-day stay at the Disneyland Resort by the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Special Event Team and Disney’s Babble. And of course I said yes, because Disneyland is one of our favorite places EVER! All experiences and opinions are my own.
My family loves to travel. My husband and I have always preferred adventure over “stuff”, and we prioritize our spending accordingly. Honestly, one of the reasons we both work is so that we can afford travel on a regular basis. Over the years we’ve been to southern Africa, Belize, Croatia, the Broughtons in the wilds of northern Canada, the Galapagos Islands…
And when it comes to vacationing with our kids, there’s nothing more fun for all of us than a Disney vacation.
Here’s the secret: Disney has figured out how to take the pain out of traveling with little children. You know that phrase about how traveling with kids is a trip, not a vacation? Not so with Disney. They know the stress points, and they’ve smoothed them out.
Here are just a few examples: There’s a Pack N’ Play in the closet of every single room at the Disneyland Hotel. Diapers, wipes, and even extra baby food are easily purchased when you’re inside the Parks. No need to lug a stroller across the country with you – just pick one up from Stroller Rentals near the front gates. There’s toddler friendly food all over the place.
And those toddler and preschool years…that’s when the magic is real. That’s when children are filled with delight and astonishment at every attraction, every character, every moment. Anything and everything seems possible there.
I recently spent two magical days at the Disneyland Resort with my family (including my mom, sister, and niece who joined in the fun – thanks guys!), and we still can’t stop talking about everything we saw and did. It’s maybe the best use of my vacation days ever!
The Disneyland Hotel Means Extra Magic
If you ever get the chance, check your family into the Disneyland Hotel. The rooms are designed with families in mind and easily sleep five people…and staying there really sets the stage for the pixie dust of the Parks. Our room had a huge Peter Pan mural over the headboards of the beds that lit up and played “When You Wish Upon a Star”. My children could not get enough of it!
Maybe the best bonus is that Disneyland Resort hotel guests get an Extra Magic Hour – admission to either Disneyland or California Adventure one full hour before the Parks open to the general public. That means you can knock out at least one or two big rides before the lines form! We managed to ride Soarin’, Toy Story Midway Mania, and the incredible Radiator Springs Racers in under one hour! My older two kids could not believe their luck in getting to walk right onto these rides with no lines.
Feel the Force
Do you have a child who’s Force Sensitive? Run – don’t walk! – over to Jedi Training. My son was able to duel with the Dark Side for the very first time on this trip, and it was nothing short of amazing. He had a perma-grin on his face for the rest of the day and has re-watched the video of himself swinging a lightsaber at least one hundred times.
Insider tip: Jedi Training fills up fast. If your daughter or son wants to participate, sign up early in the day! It’s open to kids ages 4-12 years old.
Let a Fairy Godmother in Training Work Her Magic
My older daughter spent a glorious hour having a princess makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. She chose her hairstyle (rainbow braids, of course!), had her nails done, and even had a little glittery makeup applied. She spent the remainder of the day telling me how much she loved her “new look”, and would not let me touch the hairdo for two full days afterward.
Small World, Dumbo, Pooh Bear, Mr. Toad…
Disneyland has many, many rides suitable for babies, toddlers, and big kids of course! Initially I wasn’t sure how my youngest would react to the rides, but she was absolutely mesmerized by It’s a Small World! I think she would have cheerfully spent the entire day soaring over the Park on Dumbo the Flying Elephant. And she laughed her way through The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Of course we used FastPasses and Rider Switch passes so we could hit the “big kid” rides as well, but my son told me his favorite rides were the ones where we could bring the baby, because it was so much fun to see her reactions. [Heart melts into a puddle as I type this.]
Say Hi To Your Favorite Characters!
My littlest one felt very suspicious about the characters, but my 7- and 8-year-old can’t get enough! We met Anna and Elsa and some of our favorite Marvel characters in the Parks, plus we had breakfast with the characters at Goofy’s Kitchen (reservations highly recommended!).
Goofy and friends came around to every single table for pictures and autographs, which my big kids loved. The baby was not so impressed with the characters trying to befriend her, but very impressed with the huge selection of desserts. Chocolate cake pops at 8:30 a.m., YUM!
Baby Centers and Wish Lounge
Disney really cares about making the experience as easy and seamless as possible, and to that end they’ve created the Baby Centers in each Park, and the Wish Lounge inside Disneyland. The Baby Centers are stocked with baby supplies like diapers and snack pouches, plus they contain big, clean changing tables, private space to feed your baby, and tiny potties for your toddler.
The Wish Lounge is available to guests attending the Parks via the Make a Wish Foundation, and who might need a break from the action during the day. They offer a quiet place to relax and recharge.
Enjoy the Little Moments
Just watching my little ones smile, laugh, and get along with each other all day was pretty magical. Seeing them all explore the Park, take in the sights and sounds of Main Street U.S.A., and even hold hands with each other while we waited in line…those were some of my very favorite moments.
That’s the real magic of Disneyland. Even if your children don’t realize it, they are making memories that will last their entire lives. They’re posed for pictures with iconic characters that you probably took pictures with when you were small. And all of you are having fun together, as a family.
If you are a Southern California resident, now is the perfect time to visit Disneyland Resort with the special 3-Day Ticket offer – it averages out to less than $50 per day! It’s the best deal ever for Disneyland so go grab it while you can!