A Parent’s Survival Guide to Disneyland: Part One

“To all who come to this happy place, welcome.” This is how Walt Disney welcomes us to Disneyland. If only he’d added “And be sure to bring a blanket to sit on while you’re camping out on Main Street waiting for the fireworks to start for two hours.”

Maybe you’re an old pro at going to Disneyland, but if you’re not then here are some tips from a guy who has been going to Disneyland three or four times every year for the last decade and a half. And even if you are an old pro at going to Disneyland, maybe some of these more parent-centric tips will still be worthwhile. There are a lot of things I never thought about when I was screaming on Space Mountain that are very, very important now that I have kids with me every time I go.
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  • Take Advantage of Large Crowds 1 of 5
    Take Advantage of Large Crowds
    There are lots of shows, parades, and spectacles to draw in the average pedestrian at the park. Use these times to get in line for the more popular rides. Memorize the schedule. Hit Star Tours during the fireworks and The Haunted Mansion during Fantasmic!
  • Giant Turkey Legs! 2 of 5
    Giant Turkey Legs!
    At $9, these may seem pricey. But these beauties, sold at a few stands and some carts throughout the park, are actually one of the best food values at Disneyland. One leg will easily feed a dad and his two kids. Get your carbs later. Also pick up some napkins. (I should note that this photo is not actually of Disneyland turkey legs. Disneyland turkey legs are even bigger.)
  • Take a Potty Break Toward the End of the Submarine Line 3 of 5
    Take a Potty Break Toward the End of the Submarine Line
    The Finding Nemo Submarines usually have a pretty long line, which inspires people to take their kids for potty breaks before even getting in line. But the ride itself is also pretty long, and if you've been standing in line for a good while (35-45 minutes if you're lucky), have someone hold your place and take the kids for another break after the halfway point of the line. The bathrooms are just around the corner, beside the entrance to Autopia.
  • Bring Your Giant Stroller 4 of 5
    Bring Your Giant Stroller
    Many people hate seeing, or using, giant strollers in places that have hordes of people. But you do not want to carry your kids, or their stuff, around all day at Disneyland. And lockers, though available, aren't always convenient. Also, the strollers available for rental at the park do not fully recline, so are not at all useful if your smaller child still naps. And at least one of you always has a seat for the show.
  • Go to Mickey’s House! 5 of 5
    Go to Mickey's House!
    Part line, part playhouse, part movie theater, part character greeting spot. If it's a hot day, do yourself a favor and go see Mickey at his house in Toon Town, because the WHOLE THING IS AIR CONDITIONED. You will thank me later.

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