Parent = 1, toddlers = 2; I am outnumbered.
I took my kids on an impromptu trip to Disneyland a couple of days after my fur angel passed away. I didn’t want to be home and I needed a distraction. I sent myself all the positive vibes, prayers, and fingers crossed as I loaded my kids at 6:30am for a one hour trip across the 101 and 5 freeway. I didn’t have a plan until I started driving. I have a 1 and 3 year old and I know they need to run around so what do I do when I am at Disneyland? I planned for two rides, a show, eat, two rides and show! If I can make it happen, it would be considered a win win.
This was my first time alone with them at Disneyland for half a day! Did it work out? It sure did! There was maybe one tantrum from each, and well I let them ride it out and then we moved on.
Here was our schedule:
Arrived for opening, the parking was smooth we literally went right in. I walked through Downtown Disney to avoid the long line for inspection. I had to renew my pass which set us off 45 minutes because I had to wait in line. Blah! So make sure you buy your tickets online to avoid this nuisance.
Rides: Monsters Inc and the Little Mermaid rides – my kids had the opportunity to run through both since there wasn’t a line. So they were able to run around in a controlled area (check!)
Show: Disney Junior Dance Party (first showing at 10:30) and we walked right in. The kids can dance and shake their sillies out and take part in sensory overload! The show throws out “snow”, bubbles, confetti and fake leaves!
Lunch: We ate at the Jolly Holiday. I had to wait in line, and the kids got a bit antsy so next time I would opt for their reserve dining plan on the Disney app. That would have saved me 20 minutes and one less stressful MOMent.
Rides: Casey Junior train (no wait so they ran up the line), and Small World (30 minute wait). Next time if I know I am going to Small World later in the day, I will just use my Max Pass to get a fast pass. My kids did totally fine in line. We had trolly cars to play with so we were fine. Other parents bought their kids a slushy to sip on while waiting which I think could have worked for us too! But if you want to maximize your time, the fast pass would have saved 30 minutes.
Show: Mickey and the Magical Map (showtimes every hour, located across from Small World). This was so much fun to watch especially because it was our first time seeing it. There is dancing and singing, and my kids were really into watching it. It was already hot in the afternoon so it was nice to sit down and watch it with them. We had a whole row to ourselves so if they got up to pace back and forth, I was all for it. Movement is key when you are on your own with two toddlers!
We are fortunate to have an annual pass to allow us to do half days. But I think it is doable to go on your own for a full day if you don’t visit often. They both napped after at 2pm and I was tempted to find a nice bench, let them nap and wake them up for the 3:30pm Pixar Parade. But I had already made afternoon plans with my parents. That nap time would have allowed me to recharge for the late afternoon and evening adventures.
So if you are going on our own, here are some takeaways:
- Buy your tickets ahead of time!
- Go early to maximize minimal lines for parking and rides. If you are up for the walk go through Downtown Disney since the inspection line is 10x shorter! And if you have an annual membership go through the Monorail. I always count that as a ride. Teehee!
- Space out your rides and lines with shows or places that allow your children to run around or if you need time to recharge.
- Get fast pass to help maximize time so you can use that time for another ride/show/dining!
- If you are in a line for awhile, bring a snack or toy to help your kiddo. I get antsy myself so imagine a child having to wait in lines? Distraction is key! Even singing songs, or playing “I spy” will help,
- Utilize the reserve dining plan on the Disneyland app to help save time and antsy children!
- If you need a safe space, the Baby Care Center located at both parks can be your go to place! There is a main room with a TV, tables and chairs. I always feel welcomed by their staff and I know I can go there if I feel overwhelmed and we need to pause and start over.
- Hopefully a nap will naturally happen at some point so you can recharge (and yes, I fixed his head after).
Money saving tip: I have to share this because I saved a little money! I bought the $9 Pixar popcorn bucket (I know insane price). But I asked for an extra carton and split the popcorn into two so my toddlers could have their own. The popcorn carton is $5 so if I bought two it would come out to $10. So leave with a reusable bucket, which we use to store our play doh or crayons. I also asked for a water cup at the Jolly Holiday and they totally give you water rather than paying for a Dasani bottle. Just ask for it when you order because they do like to have everything ready with your order. Save that water money for a souvenir or an extra snack!