5 tips for surviving Disneyland with Toddlers

By Ashley Doan

Guest Post by Ashley “WriterGal” Doan

I might just be the biggest Disney fan you will ever meet!

(Ok, that might be a bit of a stretch but I do like to consider myself a big Disney fan.)

Growing up as a child, my parents used to take us to Disneyland in California, every couple of years because we had family down that way. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been to the Happiest Place on Earth as a child and now as a parent myself. In all my time there, I have picked up on a few ways to maximize your family fun at Disneyland when you're travelling with young kids.

Today, I’m going to share five tips that help me minimize toddler meltdowns and maximize family fun with my toddlers in Disneyland:

1. Child swaps on rides. During my last trip to Disneyland my oldest was five and my youngest was three. My three-year-old daughter was too short for the big rides, but my older toddler son was tall enough for the first time. My husband and I both wanted to ride with him, but we couldn’t leave our daughter alone, of course.

If you’re travelling with shorter kids or infants, talk to a cast member at the front of the line queue (this works for most of the “big” rides), and tell them you want to do a child swap. They give you a special pass or scan your park pass, and one adult can go on the ride in the regular line with your taller child (or by themself). When you get off, the second adult gets to go on again and skip most of the queue line (so you get on faster).

With this system the older child was able to go on the rides 2x (once with each parent). He absolutely loved all that extra attention!

Definitely take advantage of this if you’re travelling with more than one child, or even when one child is too young. That way no one misses out on the ride because they have to stay behind with the younger child(ren).

2. Queue Entertainment: Have some kind of entertainment for your kids for the ride queues. Last time we went it was October so it wasn't quite as busy, but even a 10-minute line with a five- and a three-year-old can be taxing!

Bring something to entertain them in the line, whether that's an iPad or an iPhone (no judgments here, I’ve done it lots), a small portable game, a small colouring book, or even a few snacks. As parents, we know when our kids get bored they will start to act out, and those queue lines at Disneyland are really small! TRUST ME you don't want to be fighting with a tantrum-ing toddler in the middle of the Peter Pan line...when you can’t get out.

3. Pack kid-approved snacks: You may already do this when you leave the house with your young kids already, but it’s worth repeating. Pack snacks! Disneyland has some amazing snack options and I do recommend trying some of those, but have something like small granola bars, gummies, or some trail mix handy. Something your kids are guaranteed to eat. Maybe something easy to eat while standing.

Buying snacks in the park can get quite costly when you’re trying to satisfy those “always hungry” children. Having a Mary Poppins purse of seemingly never-ending snack options helps me avoid an epic meltdown in the most magical places on earth.

4. Split meals: With all the excitement and stimulation in Disneyland, your children may not eat their whole meals. To avoid having to lug stinky leftovers around the park, have your toddlers share meals if possible. My kids split almost all their meals and as did my husband and I also! You could even order 1 adult meal and split that between older kids.

By doing this you save money, save having to lug around leftovers, and maybe save a few bucks to use for a special treat or snack in the park later (I highly recommend the Mickey Mouse beignets, a mint julep, or a buttery popcorn bucket).

5. Afternoon siestas: My last tip for travelling to Disneyland with toddlers, is to take an afternoon break. We always took a break with our kids around 1 or 2 pm and went back to the hotel for a couple of hours. We’d often just chill (with our feet up of course), go for a family swim in the pool, or browse the shops in Downtown Disney.

Taking a break from the crowds can help reset your children (and let’s face it...you too). It tends to get busier in the afternoons and evenings anyways. You'll be bringing them out of that crazy stimulating environment for a little bit. You can rest. They can rest. Then you can go back into the park for dinner and take part in all of the evening magic.

Those are my five biggest tips for surviving Disneyland with Toddlers. They worked on me as a kid, and they still work for my children today.

If you want any more tips for family travel, Bronwen is the family travel expert my family uses and can help you plan the most magical family trip to Disneyland!

Ashley juggles daily. Aside from her love of Disneyland, she juggles running a business (WriterGal Marketing), raising rambunctious toddlers, and trying to maintain a semblance of sanity. Based on her own struggles balancing family and career, she’s developed a passion for supporting women and working mothers juggle what’s important in their lives. To better support them, Ashley has become a holistic life coach who guides women through balancing life, career, and family. Contact her at [email protected] to book a session, or book a complimentary session right now.