*This post is sponsored by Disneyland. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own.
“To all who come to this happy place, welcome”
— Walt Disney
It’s a marvelous experience to pass through the turnstiles and enter Disneyland! And to roll through the entrance with a stroller filled with your own darling children for the first time is truly a magical experience!
There’s something remarkable about sharing a place with your children that was special to you as a baby, child, teenager, and adult! Disneyland is a happy place for people of all ages. Even my dad grew up with Disney—Mickey Mouse debuted in Steamboat Willie, which was released in 1928 when he was 2 ½ years old. He taught my siblings and me to draw Donald Duck and even did the voice. He loved the characters and Disneyland seemed to be a very nostalgic place for him.
So many of us are filled with sweet memories of our own Disneyland experiences too. I think that’s why it’s so special to help make those memories with and for our own children. Planning ahead and being prepared is a great way to make those memories!
Keep reading for tips, ideas, and thoughts to help you plan your kid’s first trip to Disneyland.
Download the Disneyland Resort app
The Disneyland Resort app is a must-have in my opinion! When I found out my sister was taking her littles to Disneyland, the first thing I said to her is ‘download the Disneyland app and start getting familiar with it!’ It’s a must-have in my opinion.
So what can you use the Disneyland Resort app for?
See a map of Disneyland Resort, buy tickets, check the ride wait times, find Disney characters, see show times, find shops, find restaurants, and more!
I use the app a lot when I’m in the park and I used the app a ton while planning my kid’s first trip to Disneyland in January of this year!
Rides & Attractions
Head to the Disneyland Park website here and check out the attractions. You can find out which rides your children are tall enough to go on. You can filter attractions by age, height, and more.
Plan ahead which rides will be your priority. Do you have several rides that were childhood favorites? Will you guys be disappointed if you miss a certain ride? Make a list of rides that you will make a priority and separate them by location in the park so you can plan out your day.
I made a list for our family and printed it out before our trip. Try to go on your favorite rides earlier in the day. If everyone really enjoyed a certain ride, you may have time to go on it again later when you’ve checked the other priority rides off your list.
Waiting in line
Waiting in line with our active little boys is something that caused us a bit of apprehension as we thought about this trip. If you’ve ever had toddler boys, you probably understand why! 🙂
However, I am happy to report that although they had moments of fussiness, it was actually fun waiting with them in line.
Tips for helping kids stay happy in line: pack plenty of easily accessible snacks, water bottles (yes, you can get free iced water from restaurants at Disneyland but it takes time to go to a restaurant, wait in line, etc. and I’d rather be making memories!), and talk to your kids about the ride.
Talk to them about what to expect on the ride and get them excited about it. What color teacup should we ride in? There’s a wheel inside we can turn to make it go faster or slower, should we spin a lot or a little? While waiting for the carousel, we’d ask the boys ‘which horse are you going to ride?’ Things like that to keep them engaged and excited about the ride.
“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse.”
— Walt Disney
In Mickey’s Toontown, you can visit Mickey Mouse’s house and meet Mickey! When taking our littles to Disneyland for the first time, I definitely felt like meeting Mickey needed to be on our list.
It wasn’t a very long line when we went but it still ended up being kind of a long wait. However, I think that special time the boys had with Mickey made it worth it!
Little E playing the piano at Goofy’s playhouse in Mickey’s Toontown.
When I told my mom that I could find where characters would be and at what time using the Disneyland Resort app, she was surprised! She said that when she and my dad took us as kids, you were lucky to see a character. How cool is it then that nowadays we can find characters easily right from our phones?
Ask your kids in the days/weeks leading up to the trip which characters they want to see and plan time for it. There were a lot of characters that our little ones wanted to see. It didn’t take long to see Goofy, and we got really lucky on our way to see Woody and passed Donald Duck, which was an exciting moment for little G.
In Critter Country, next to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride, is Pooh’s thotful spot. We waited in one line nearby to see both Tigger and Winnie the Pooh (we missed Eeyore on this trip). It was a little bit of a wait, but it was worth it. Little E had a chance to hop around with Tigger, and both of them were so excited to see Pooh bear.
We headed over to Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland to see Chewbacca and Darth Vader. Each character has their own line.
When we reflect on our trip, Max and I both feel like interacting with the characters may have been the boy’s favorite part of visiting Disneyland. Considering the memories the boys made, I think all the waiting time was well worth it!
Quick tip: I think it’s a great idea to get a Maxpass. That way you can download the pictures taken by Disneyland’s photopass photographers.
You can read about Fantasmic! here. It’s 27 minutes long and it is important (especially when you’re on the shorter side, like me) to be in a good spot for the show. I think it’s a good idea to get a Fastpass for Fantasmic! if possible.
“It is my wish to delight all members of the family, young and old, parent and child”
— Walt Disney
Final thoughts and tips
It’s a great idea to bring blankets (I packed older ones so I didn’t mind if they got messy), sweaters/sweatshirts, maybe even a change of clothes for each child if possible, hand wipes, lots of snacks, food, and water. Plus, the rest of the obvious diaper bag things (that could be a whole different blog post!).
As I discussed this blog post with my husband, he said something that really struck a chord with me. He reminded me of how we used to dream about what we’d be like parents, and what we’d do when we took our kids to Disneyland. In that way, it’s literally like a dream come true taking our own children to Disneyland as parents–it really is!
So try to plan ahead as much as you can, and try not to get stressed while you’re on your trip . . . enjoy the magical moments!