The New Year is here. Woooohoooo! I’m always down for trying new experiences with the whole fab fam around New Year time… and I like to haze my hubby into doing new experiences with us. The guy’s a smart and fun dude who loves kids and travel, but suggest taking him to Disneyland with two little girls under the age of 4 and he flips out.
So we took him to Disneyland. Just to see if he would explode. He hesitated, he hemmed, he hawed (“I don’t really wanna go, it’s not my thing, it’s gonna be too hard with the toddler-thing… thanks…”) It’s not that he doesn’t like being happy, he just didn’t want the DRAMA of potential crankiness, whining and general uncomfortableness (is that even a word?) for an entire 12-hour day with two little girls under the age of 4. Once he got there, he was ALL-IN. (Maybe it had something to do with the holiday decorations? Magical.)
I’d like to think he had a blast because I busted my tush to be organized and prepared to make the whole day run as smooth as chocolate silk pie . (I love chocolate silk pie.) We started in Disneyland around 10:30am… then headed over to Disney’s California Adventure around 4pm. Behold my ‘must-dos’ for turning toddlers at Disneyland into a piece of cake… ok, almost a piece of cake (I love cake.)
STROLLERS ARE A MUST. I don’t care how crazy active your kid is, if he/she is 5 or younger (heck, 6 or 7 or younger) bust out the stroller. I hauled out my clunky double-stroller (that I NEVER use anymore for regular trips to the mall, etc) because I knew that both my kids would need a place of their own to sit without negotiation. A stroller also keeps them contained so that you can take unnecessary amounts of family selfies.
USE LEASHES. It’s not child-cruelty, it’s not embarrassing, it’s not inhumane. It’s SAFE. Keep your kids attached to you when they want to walk (and also, writing your phone number on the inside of their arm in pen is a savvy thing to do just in case somebody runs off in a mad dash to try and hop onto Small World again without your consent). We dig our puppy-backpack leashes because… well… we like to pretend we’re puppies… ruff ruff.
CONSIDER ‘LESS POPULAR’ RIDES. Sure, we’re obsessed with Dumbo’s famous flying elephants and Alice’s legendary Wonderland adventure, but toddlers honestly don’t care what kind of ride they’re riding. You don’t have to hit up the most well known rides and wait and wait and wait in lines with impatient little people under the age of 4 to have a good time. Go to Snow White’s Wishing Well and spend 20 minutes throwing pennies into the water (my girls love it). Hop on the Carousel just behind Sleeping Beauty’s Castle (even on the busiest days, the line’s not all that long). There’s a big train that choo-choos around the WHOLE park (catch it at the entrance to Main Street, at the clock tower right when you enter Disneyland). Or, consider hitching a ride on the Circus Train next to Dumbo’s flying elephants (wait time was about 8 minutes on the day we went – and the park was packed). My girls got the biggest kick out of sitting INSIDE a cage. The little animals.
PACK SNACKS… IN A BACKPACK. (Don’t tell Disneyland vendors I suggested this.) Yes, there is food beyond food and treats beyond treats at the Happiest Place on Earth… and you will buy lots of them… but take your own snacks for additional help and quick accessibility when a line is too long and your kids are complaining they’re hungry… or you just plain don’t feel like stopping to wait in a long line to nab a snack for your kid. I took water, PB&J sandwiches, grapes… my girls ate while sitting in their stroller enjoying the sights and sounds. I also deeply believe in utilizing the power of lollipops. All packed into my semi-obnoxious-but-very-Frozen-fabulous blue sequin backpack.
PREPARE FOR NAPTIME. You know your kids, you know when your kids will get tired… prepare for it by bringing a cover to give them shade and quiet time all in one… along with any blankets or cuddly-things they’re used to having with them during an afternoon rest (yes, we full-on take our big soft cuddly blankets and stash them under our stroller until it’s naptime). I like to use this freakishly-long-and-wide scarf/wrap thing I have (notice that I’m wearing it around my neck in a picture below). Aha! You laugh at me like, YEAH RIGHT MY KID’S GONNA NAP IN THEIR STROLLER AT DISNEYLAND?!?! You might be surprised… all that noise, happiness and “look-it’s-Mickey” excitement and pointing can poop a youngster out late in the afternoon. I like to celebrate this ‘naptime’ with my own ice cream, uninterrupted, while they’re asleep in their seats.
FIND THE DAD STUFF. Did you know that Disney’s California Adventure has a whole CARS land?!?! I’m not really obsessed with the movie Cars (never seen it, actually… don’t judge!) but it is ADORABLE (in the most macho-dad-will-love-this way possible). It’s like you’re IN a cool-retro-hip-and-happenin’ movie. Diners, gas stations, gift shops, ice-cream joints. My husband dug it. “This is so cool!” (that’s his legit quote). We filled up our tank too.
TAKE THE JAMS. At night, when you’re generally done with all your ride-riding, venture into a bathroom or the brilliant ‘Baby/Nursery Area’ at the end of Main Street (just across from the most incredible corndog stand) and do a wipe-down/wash-down/hand-wash/teeth-brush/diaper-change and wardrobe swap into PJs. That’s right, clothes off and jam-jams on… then put all shoes and coats on top of the PJs (that’s the way we do it). Then continue with your park activities and stroll around, watch a show/parade, grab a snack. My girls thinks it’s sooooo funny to have their PJs on among the park’s princesses. (And that brilliant ‘Baby/Nursery Area’ at the end of Main Street? It’s equipped with storybooks, place to feed – including high chairs!- and the most attentive and sweet grandmother-types to tend to your every need.) In PJs, kids can fall asleep in their stroller… which makes your life easier after you exit the park.
And that’s all I got. Disneyland made easy! Ok, easy-er. Now how’s that for a fairytale experience and ending for hubby? No more excuses hon… no more excuses. Score. Happy New Year! Raise the roof, Minnie.
DISCLOSURE: This post was part of a sponsored opportunity with Disneyland to promote #DisneyHolidays. We were generously provided with family passes to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure for one day to report our findings. All experiences and opinions are my own. Get your #DisneyHolidays on before they disappear January 6, 2014!