Can’t wait to take baby to Disneyland and California Adventure? Though baby may not yet be able to fully appreciate the magic of the Disney experience, she can still squeal in delight at all the lively sights and sounds and maybe even stare in awe (or in our case, shrink with fear) at the Mouse, himself. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts of taking baby to Disneyland and California Adventure that will keep baby comfortable and keep you believing that it’s still “the happiest place on earth”.
You have to park your stroller at all rides so a baby carrier for waiting in lines is a must. It also gives baby a different vantage point allowing her to see things other than the sunburnt backs of legs from her stroller.
THIS is the ride not to miss with baby. And really, with or without a baby, you MUST ride the famous "it's a small world". You move slowly on a boat while being serenaded by adorable dancing dolls representing children from around the world. And it all happens to that happy melody that you will have in your head for days to come. Baby may cry and be frightened through part of it, be confused and bewildered through part of it, but if you get a smile or excited wave at any point, it makes it all worth it.
Your baby may love watching Monsters, Inc. or Finding Nemo at home, but a life-size Blue Monster with big, crazy eyes in person may scare the hell out of her. Even the nice girls with the flowing, chiffon fish-fins in the Nemo part of the Pixar Play Parade at California Adventure had poor Stella shaking in my arms. But, if you stand far enough away from the action, it's definitely worth watching this lively parade which occurs at 2 and 5 p.m. which travels the length of the park.
This area of California Adventure is perfect for young children and even babies. It seems to be less crowded than the other parts of the park and has plenty of shade throughout the area. It's a great place to walk around with baby and admire the bug-themed land while others in your group enjoy its gentle rides. You can even take baby on Heimlich's Chew Chew Train. It is a slow moving ride, in which you move through oversized human foods such as a watermelon, candy corn, a box of animal crackers and carrots, and get whiffs of accompanying scents along the way. Don't take baby to see the 3-D show, It's Tough to be a Bug! It's loud, dark and scary in some parts. Our daughter started crying within the first 3 minutes.
You're all wrapped up in the magic of Disney, and cave at the sight of all things shaped like mouse ears. Baby didn't have a clue about the deliciousness of your Mickey Mouse bar until you put it up to her mouth and gave her a taste. It was so cute to see baby's delighted reaction to the ice cream, but now she won't stop crying until you give her more. You got swept up, and now you will pay. Resist.
Select rides at Disneyland and California Adventure have a Rider Switch Pass. This allows you to take turns waiting with the baby or other guests unable to ride. When your party exits the ride, whoever has been waiting can then enter the Fastpass line. The pass is good for the person who was waiting and another person to ride. Ask the attendants at the entrance for a Rider Switch Pass. It's particularly handy at popular, high wait-time rides like the Radiator Springs Racers line at Cars Land in California Adventure.
Stroller parking can get hectic. And when you wait in lines for an hour or more, the stroller parking looks different when you go back to pick up your stroller. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before Disney decides to introduce Stroller Valet Parking. But until then, try to park your stroller in a place where it won't get boxed in by others. Then make a mental note of where you've parked the stroller, and make sure you can identify it. After a long day in the park, all strollers start to look alike.
Additionally, you can rent strollers from Disneyland and California Adventure just inside the main gates of each park for $15/day.
There are Disneyland photographers set up to take that famous Disneyland Entrance photo. If you don't want to pay for that, however, just be sure to ask someone who is not in a hurry or a bad mood to take your photo. That way, at least they might just wait until the family walking right in front of you clears before they snap the photo.
All the noise and people and sun and activity can lead to some serious overstimulation. And any one or all of these things combined can lead to a major, baby melt-down. Try to work naptime into your schedule. This often translates into finding a shady place to let your baby sleep uninterrupted for an hour while the rest of your family waits at least that long to ride Indiana Jones.
As much as you want to keep your perfect spot to see the finale to the fireworks show, you'll be better off viewing it from outside the main gate. The show starts at 9:30 and only lasts 15 minutes, so I suggest scurrying out of there to beat the crowds. Your little one will be tired, you'll be tired and you won't want to shuffle your way out shoulder to shoulder after the last firework BOOM has signaled the stampede.
With so many other things to see at Disneyland, Big Thunder Ranch may be low on your list of attractions. But, reconsider visiting the area, especially if you have a baby. It's outdoor petting zoo may amuse your baby, the whole area is MUCH less crowded than many other areas of the park, and you are likely to catch Western-themed Mickey and Minnie for a photo-opp. How bout a photo with the famous pair without having to wait in a massive, slow-moving line? Yes, please.
We love the guide's corny jokes. Babies may or may not like the crocodiles and ear-wiggling hippos. But it's difficult not to test the waters, so to speak. This ride is a classic, an original gangster. And my baby may very well just be a scaredy cat.
Mickey's Soundsational Parade was a hit with all of us, including baby. The music, floats, characters and dancers were amazing, and it really enriched our whole Disney experience. Luckily, we were far enough away from the characters to avoid a baby panic attack. This is a 40 minute parade which occurs at 4 and 6:30 p.m. We opted for the 6:30 performance as the sun was not as intense at that time. It travels from Town Square down Main Street past Cinderella's Castle and down the Promenade to "it's a small world".
The slow movement and monotony of a long line can put baby to sleep. Though it may be hard on your back, you've not only put in your time in the queue, but given baby time to snooze. 2 birds, 1 stone people.
While I was waiting with my daughter for the rest of the crew to get through the ginormous line for the Radiator Springs Racers ride at Cars Land, we discovered the Pretzel Bites at the Cozy Cone Motel. They were the perfect snack for my 9-month old daughter to gnaw on. Warm, soft and easy to bite off (gum off) and swallow. Though I bought them to give her something to chew on while we waited, I ended up eating all but two of them. And she was pissed about it.
You can take your little one to meet up to 3 princesses at the Royal Hall in the Fantasy Faire, a new addition, at the edge of Fantasyland. Baby may not have liked seeing Goofy, but surely she'll smile and coo at beautiful Sleeping Beauty... Think again, Slugger. With baby, you may strike out with every, single, Disney employee from Chip and Dale to the guy selling Dole Whips outside the Tiki Room. But, it's worth a try for a photo with a princess.
Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue is a great value for the price as it is an all-you-can-eat, family-style feast of delicious cowboy-inspired food which includes ribs, chicken, baked beans, coleslaw, and cornbread. It is less hectic than other eateries in the park and baby can have a meal in the shade while watching a toe-tapping country act on the stage.
They serve both lunch and dinner. Prices range from $15 to $29.99.
This Broadway-style musical, which is performed at the Hyperion Theater in Hollywood Land, is a 45 minute show which occurs 4 times a day. The show features many of the songs from the movie and great improv comedy from the Genie. My husband and I were pleasantly surprised that at no point in the show did either of us have to leave with our daughter. She was captivated by the lights, effects, music and the genie's blue unitard. It was a thoroughly enjoyable show doable with a baby. Oh, and do catch some Zzz's while you wait for the show to begin in the comfortable seats and air-conditioned theater.
Admittedly, at 9 p.m., it was a bit late to still have baby out at the park. But we figured, hey, she'll fall asleep in the stroller and we'll watch the World of Color water show at California Adventure while she saws some baby logs. Mm, not so much. Being that Disney goes full bore with everything, the sound system was bumpin' and baby Stella was like, "hands in the air, like you just don't care."
If you have a baby daughter, you will be tempted to purchase various Princess-themed merchandise at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique near the Castle entrance in Fantasyland. It's also a preview of what may come in years ahead with the focus of the boutique being a salon which transforms little girls into princesses by way of makeup, hairstyling and accessories. Thankfully, our daughter is too young to wear Cinderella hair extensions and blue eye shadow. I did a fairly decent job at resisting the urge to shop there and ended up keeping my purchases down to a set of Princess bath toys for my daughter.
There will be plenty of waiting around for shows or parades to start. Because you have to secure a seat or good viewing spot, you will need to have something for baby to play with until the show starts. Those princess bath toys I bought at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique came in real handy at those moments.
Each of the parks has a Baby Care Center for diaper changing, nursing and feeding your baby in a comfortable, complimentary facility. Which is pretty sweet. It's a great place to regroup and get the little cub properly fed, changed and situated. These centers are fully staffed and feature nursing rooms with chairs, changing rooms, a feeding area with highchairs, a kitchen and main room with a t.v.. But the best thing about these facilities is the on-site baby-needs shop which offers formula, baby food, diapers, wipes, over-the-counter meds--anything you may need for your little one. I swear, Disney has it all covered.
At Disneyland, the Baby Care Center is located at the end of Main Street, USA next to First Aid. At California Adventure, it is located next to the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop in Pacific Wharf.