Disneyland with Toddlers! Do it!
I have to admit, I was actually one of those who wanted to WAIT for the big Disney trip until, "the girls could remember it," like around age 8 and 7, I guess that's the age I felt deemed appropriate for such a lavish trip, but husband was actually more excited about booking this one than me in the beginning, and I am glad I quickly jumped aboard! The sheer joy and excitement and MAGIC is in the girls souls' NOW, not later, but NOW! The moment was this year for us, ages 5 and 3.5 and it was perfection!
I think I mentioned in the first post on our day one at Disneyland, how whenever the Disney castle came on the screen before the start of a movie the girls would scream and lurch out of their seated positions with fists in the air, open mouths yelling at the ceiling, "I WANNA GO TO THE DISNEY CASTLE!!!" I think that was our first clue, the trip of their little lifetimes so far was this summer. Hubby started planting the seed that we would be going and after we completely booked the hotel and purchased the tickets and were really going, I was all in. I have been to Disneyland California twice as a girl, and I was more in the elementary age range I had thought I would take my own girls to Disney in, but I'll be honest, I have only a couple fuzzy memories from both trips. So, I feel, taking your kiddos to Disneyland is also about the MAGIC it brings YOU seeing THEM! I get it now, mom and dad, and THANK YOU for taking US to Disney as kids!
SO, Disneyland for toddlers. There's a lot of information and blogs and online articles on the topic, you'll also hear banter from strangers about it at the library or get the low-down from pre-school or kindie classmates that might have just got back form their own Disney trips. I say- IGNORE it ALL! GO! You will NOT regret it! If you plan it all in advance and utilize their app and their Fast Pass system which they always highly suggest, like all over the articles, blogs and websites, then you should not have a better time navigating the parks, and better chances of getting on more rides. Husband and I both agree that two days, with a park hopper pass, that allows you to bounce between the two parks if you want, is PLENTY of time to see a TON in both parks. We were even able to catch the day time Pixar Fest parade, and the Light up the Night Pixar Parade, AND the fireworks on the castle, along with ALL the rides and character meetings! I think a third day would have killed us all and stripped the FUN out of it. Disney is TIRING, emotionally, and physically! All the highs, and MORE highs, (there's never any lows at Disney) really take it out of ya!
Another recommendation is to stay at a hotel AT or NEAR the parks. For us, with toddlers, this made it nice. We were able to get there RIGHT at opening on the first day, and we were able to leave the park for a late afternoon nap on the first day and go back for the evening. The second day we opted for staying in the park the entire day, the girls were POOPED, as were we, but we didn't feel it! Well, maybe we did, but you press on! We stayed in the park on day two to catch the day time parade which was at 3 pm. The parades are at 3 and 6 pm, a little inconvenient for littles, I feel like it would be great to have an 11 am parade, but Disney DOES know best, and I also think they do this to KEEP people IN the park. Smart.
We did bring our double stroller, which we also both highly suggest. They will charge so much to rent one there, and there is plenty of stroller parking ALL OVER the park, and near rides. Nobody is concerned with your fancy stroller or your diaper bag, everyone is in the same boat, and I feel, everyone is following Mickey's honesty policy and on their best behavior in there. That said, do keep your valuables and personals, special shoppings in a backpack to take with you, water bottles, umbrellas, ponchos, snacks, extra clothes, whatever else, in the stroller. Luckily for us ew HAD the stroller, because we USED our stroller quite a bit on this trip! Even though at home I think we are nearly DONE with it, NOPE! Not for Disney! Take it! Also, my girls NEVER nap in the stroller but low and behold, we found amazing curbside view spot in Downtown Disneyland to catch the Pixar parade, settup all early, I even had time to dash over to get coffee, "Starbucks" in the shop. Adorable settup in their btw, AND I thought the line would be horrid, but it is huge inside and had like 7 lanes for orders and it was a breeze getting an afternoon perk-me-up before the parade! Anyway, the girls were BOTH asleep in the stroller, and Arlo never did wake up to catch the Pixar parade! poor girl. We have it all on video to show her someday.
The Pixar Fest parades were STUNNING! These floats, if you can even call them that, were so incredibly detailed and well constructed, with dancers and acrobatics and aerial dancers swinging around devices, water shooting out, from the front to the back, 360 degrees of awesomeness. We were sitting near the are where the parade ended and it was so incredible to see! I was asked to get back on the sidewalk a couple of times, trying to snap photos of the incredibleness in front of me, all for the shot, oops!
Disneyland Adventure Park has a Bug's Land area which is ALL for toddlers! The girls loved it! We went on several rides there, and I had brought their swim suits and they wore their water shoes, shoes ARE required in this area btw (I saw security tell a few parents to put shoes on their kiddos for safety), and we were able to cool down after a few rides. Husband did NOT understand why we had to do a splash pad at Disney, but it was only for 20 minutes or so, and they were ready to get dressed again and we were ready for our Fast Pass to the Soar over the World Ride! I thought that little splash area in Bug's Land was brilliant! I saw a rumor somewhere that they were closing that are though to create more area for Galaxy rides, maybe. Don't quote me. This are was a toddler dream! I also LOVED the ride design and all the detail put into the park area, the scale of everything was made to make you feel minuscule like an ant. Giant straws, the restrooms in a giant tissue box... just SO CLEVER.
We also saw Pixar Piers! While we never made it to see Ariel or get on the Ferris Wheel, we DID ride the Toy Story "ride," more of a game really, but super fun! We also rode the Silly Symphony Swings as a family! Toddlers under 42 inches can ride with an adult! So fun! We had NO line either! A recommendation might be for you to eat on the far end of Pixar Piers, and use the restrooms over there and get water, rather than the restrooms by the Toy Story ride- LONG line there for girls' restroom. The food lines near Cars land were SO LONG as well. We were hungry and sort of lost on what to eat for lunch on day two, while we had plenty of snacks, our decision to stay all day in the park meant we were bound to have to eat a meal in the park. We ended up getting corn dogs, not bad, by the Goofy Take Off coaster ride. Had we gone a bit further past, we would have found a bunch of dining options. We DID end up back there for dinner! We had the Italian food and sat outside and listened to live instrumental music- so nice!
The highlights of day two at Disneyland Adventure Park had to have been Remy's face when she came off the Goofy roller coaster she got to ride with her Baba! She was grinning SO BOG and she bubbled with excitement sharing about her time on her FIRST big girl coaster! Arlo was too short for that one so we waited on the sidelines. Arlo was fine waiting, but when her big sis raved about the ride she just had, add in no nap at Disney, a dash of humidity and heat, and a MAJOR scoop of sensitivity, well, you can imagine the meltdown that ensued. Thankfully, Remy is SUPER intuitive and wicked SMART and quickly back pedaled, and played down the ride and explained that Arlo wouldn't have liked it anyway. She is SO great at side tracking her sister into positivity! I caught it all on video, but those two together is really special. After that, we decided to ALL ride the swings as a family!
After dinner, we walked down the Hollywood lane area and stumbled into a theater where Elsa and Anna happened to be! No lie. We had no idea they were in there, and there was NO LINE! We waited about 10 minutes and we were face to face with the Frozen sisters! The sweet conversations had between our girls and the siblings from Arendelle were so SWEET! Inside that theater there is also another cool thing where you can take a class to draw your favorite character! They have a short tutorial teaching you how to sketch Disney characters! We were exhausted at this part of the day, but we ALMOST did it! That sounded neat!
We did not do much in Cars Land, my girls aren't into this and haven't seen the movie, gulp, but I know that ride is like a two hour wait! We rode the Luigi's car ride where the cars dance to music! That was ADORABLE! Again, the way Disney has EVERY flower every railing, every topiary perfectly manicured, it's just IMPRESSIVE! This little ride was ADORABLE!
After that we happened to catch the Cars' CAR, drive by and we hopped in line to meet him at the Cozy Cone Hotel! Whenever we saw a character, we literally, STOPPED, and RAN! Once the character forms a line, they have about ten minutes for meet and greets really, and then their assistant tells you that they have somewhere to be. I think to control crowds. They sort of pop out and slink away quickly! We also caught Daisy, and DONALD, my absolute favorite of all time!
Before the parade, we let the girls do a little retail therapy! There was an adorable toy shop and we wanted them to pick out something special from Disney. They had NEVER asked for ONE thing the entire trip! I was so worried and read many a momma saying how to be prepared for the whining and the tears and the tantrums and the case of the Gimmy Gimmies, but it just did not happen with us. Our girls love toys and the Disney store like the rest of them, but I think they were so fulfilled and HAPPY and energized from all around them, it never donned on them to WANT for anything. Blessed. I EVEN prepared and had bought some Disney Princess bubble wands, batteried them up and had them ready to gift in my backpack, I found thers at Target for $10, versus the park rate of $25. In fact, I forgot I had them, and we NEVER gave them! They are sitting in my basement now! Unfortunately I threw away the packages otherwise I might have returned. I think I'll save them for Christmas.
The girls picked out some plush Tsum Tsums! BUT, Arlo had also grown quite fond of Woodie while visiting Disney. They nearly got overwhelmed in there, just one room, but we quickly tried to pick up on what they normally play with and like and it wasn't too difficult for them to choose. I picked up a special Christmas ornament for the family tree this year! I LOVE collecting Christmas ornaments from family trips and things we do throughout THAT year to add to our collection. I also got a Donald Duck coffee mug! Thank you, Baba!
We finished the evening off with the Pixar Paint the Night Parade- INCREDIBLE! It was sooooo GREAT! We LOVED it! And Arlo was awake for that one! I didn't think this would be me, BUT already dreaming about when the next Disneyland trip will be, could be, might be! I can see why many go once a year! Not sure we can afford THAT frequently, as we live a few states away, BUT maybe in two years we'll be back! I definitely want to go as often as we can while the girls are still so sweet, innocent and ENAMORED by the spirit that Disney is, MAGIC! It really is. And if you think it's just a "Mom's Pilgrimiage," as my brother in law called it, ask my husband who is the polar opposite and a complete Disney Devotee and excited to go back someday!
Here's some photos from our second day!