Considering that we live about 25 minutes from Disneyland, it’s fair to say that we’ve been a lot, and many of those visits have included escorting a child under one year old. In fact, we somehow managed to visit Disneyland with our 3-month-old on the hottest day in Orange County history. (Seriously. September 27, 2010, literally the hottest day in Orange County history. 111 degrees to be exact. It was rough, people.)
Over time, I’ve learned to navigate the park efficiently and with few meltdowns with these tips.
1. The Baby Care Center – You all, if you have a young child, this place will be your mecca. (It’s located at the end of main street by first aid.) If pristine changing stations, a quiet and private area to nurse, highchairs to feed your little ones, a bottle-warming station, and kid-sized toilets aren’t enough to entice you, the place is quiet and air-conditioned. The attendants keep the amount of people in the center limited, so you never feel cramped or rushed (unlike the rest of the park), and it’s like a little oasis in the middle of chaos. Honestly, if you’ve had your infant strapped to your chest for hours in the dead of summer, there is nothing better than a trip to the Baby Care Center to relax and cool off.
To be completely honest, I think I spent 75% of my time in the Baby Care Center during the record-breaking day of heat. I just told my husband and our guests that my daughter was cluster feeding, and I needed to nurse most of the day. (She may or may not have needed to nurse that much. It’s our little secret.)
2. Rides for all ages – When you’re not hiding out, ahem, I mean utilizing the Baby Care Center, Disneyland actually has many, many rides for all ages. My favorite rides for the under 1 set are:
It’s a Small World (Fantasyland) – Adorable puppets, adorable singing, sitting in mommy’s lap in a slow-moving boat…you can’t go wrong.
Peter Pan’s Flight (Fantasyland) – Now this one can go both ways. It’s a short and fun ride, but it does involve darkness, so if your baby isn’t down with that, you might skip this one.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant (Fantasyland) – Slowly flying through the air while you chill with your baby. It’s out in the open too, so no darkness.
Casey Jr. Circus Train (Fantasyland) – A fun little train adventure. My kids love this one.
Astro Orbiter (Tomorrowland) – Astro Orbiter is very much like Dumbo, but a little faster and a little higher.
Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters (Tomorrowland) – This one involves darkness and lots of sounds, but still fun for tots to watch.
The great thing about these rides is that Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street are all fairly close in proximity, so you can get a lot accomplished without traipsing all over the park.
3. The Rider Swap program – This program allows multiple adults to experience an attraction while one adult waits with a child. You then “swap” to enable the other adult to enjoy the attraction. Basically if you want to ride, let’s say, Space Mountain, you can tell the attendant that you want to do the rider swap, and then ride the ride while the other adult waits with baby. After you are finished, the other adult can go to the front of the line and ride as well. Saves time and allows both adults to enjoy the rides!
4. A good app - I always use an app for my iPhone while at the park. It just makes planning so much easier, and we all know that an organized clan is going to have a much more robust experience at any theme park. If you’ve got a wee one with you, you’ve got to know when and where the best attractions are, as well as how crowded they are at any point in time. My favorite app is the Disney Mobile Magic App which allows you to find your favorite characters with GPS-enabled maps, access attraction wait times and FASTPASS® return times (this is huge), and view menus, restaurant hours, and easily make reservations right from your phone. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.
There you have it. My favorite tips for tackling Disneyland with a baby. What about you, though? Any tips that I’m leaving out that have worked for you?