When we decided to do a Disneyland day trip I was 1/2 excited and 1/2 sure that we were complete idiots.
We hadn’t planned on going to Disneyland. In fact, we didn’t plan on doing anything different on that upcoming Thursday. But when my cousin and her husband announced that they might stay an extra day in Disneyland if we wanted to go with them, for some reason we thought it was the greatest idea in the world. It would be the two of us and our two kids, the two of them and their baby, and my aunt, so there would be plenty of people to watch the kids and help out.
In all honesty, we thought that the hardest part was going to be the drive there and back because Lincoln is not quite the carseat lover we wish he was. Oh man how wrong we were.
Lincoln slept the entire drive from Vegas to Anaheim. From our house to Disneyland it takes exactly 4 hours (and I mean exactly), and Lincoln didn’t wake up once. He was so good in the car.
Because of how easy the drive was, I thought for sure it was a sign that things were going to be super easy.
HA. I was wrong.
When we pulled into the parking garage the baby started getting fussy. We thought it was no big deal, because we were already there, but then the line to get into the garage began to slow. We sat there for at least half an hour before we were able to park. Then when we did park, we were met with the challenge of either waiting in the 20 minute elevator line or maneuvering our double stroller down the escalator.
Once down the escalator we encountered another challenge. How would we get onto the tram to enter the park? We considered folding up our double stroller, but we have the Baby Jogger City Select which isn’t quite the easiest fold (because the seats have to be off and that would be a pain in the butt to take apart, hold on the tram, then put back together while also holding a baby and corralling a 3 yo).
Ultimately we decided it would be worth our time to wait until we could get on the front of the tram where there’s space for a double stroller.
When we got to the park we lathered the boys with sunscreen and tried to get Lincoln to cooperate in the baby carrier, but he was adamant that we carried him. Woo. This was fine for a minute because I wanted to buy him a sunhat at the Mad Hatter which is inside the first roundabout shopping area in the park, however, he started to get fussy quickly and eventually I just plopped myself down on a bench and decided to give up forever.
Unfortunately for me and my desire to wallow in self pity, because we were at Disneyland with other people, I didn’t really get the option of giving up and leaving (also because we’d spent too much money to give up and leave). We decided to fastpass Space Mountain and then headed over to Cafe Orleans to eat.
I feel like it’s important to add that if you go to Disneyland and you want a hearty meal and to sit down for a substantial amount of time, Cafe Orleans is the way to go. Despite the warm weather I ate their bread bowl of corn chowder, and I’m still dreaming about it days later.
Following lunch we made our way to Fantasy Land so the little’s could ride some rides with us. But of course this didn’t work out quite like we wanted. Soon Lincoln was fussy, Easton was grouchy and didn’t want to listen, and Jake and I were frustrated.
And this was when I decided to go find the Mother’s Room.
I left everyone else to ride the Fantasy Land rides so that I could feed Lincoln and hopefully cool down. If you’ve never been inside the Mother’s Room (or whatever they call it) it’s one of the most magical parts of Disney. They have these amazing rocking chairs and the air is cool and it’s dim and you can’t hear the noise from outside. I hid in there and fed Lincoln for a solid 45 minutes, and while I did Jake took Easton on Pinocchio and the Carousel.
Am I bummed I missed out on the Fantasy Land rides? A little. But I’ll get over it.
When we met back up things were a lot calmer. We went on It’s A Small World which Easton really enjoyed and Lincoln hated. Then we went to Toon Town and ate churros/drank our giant Coke’s.
Once things settled down and we got out of the “everything has to be perfect and we have to hit all the rides” mindset, we realized he nice thing about this trip was that we were able to take it slow and just hang out. We spent time hanging out and taking pictures. We took Easton around to the fun little areas in Toon Town. We got some cute pictures of the kids.
We also got to go on the adult rides. We took turns watching the kids with my cousins and went on both Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain. We also went on Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, and the Storybook Boats.
And of course, we ate our weight in churros.
The coolest part of it all though was that we got to see the parade from the VIP section. My cousins had been heading over to The Matterhorn at just the right time and happened to bump into an employee who asked if they wanted to sit in the VIP area. They said yes, but then we were able to come over and view it from there too! It was so awesome to see from that close up, and we didn’t have to reserve any seating or sit for an hour on a bench! We seriously lucked out.
By the time we got to the hotel that night I was completely exhausted. We showered, got the kids to sleep, and then passed out.
The drive back the next morning was nice and easy, and Lincoln slept most of the way home which was great!
Overall we had an awesome Disneyland experience, but we had to mix up the pace and take things a little slower. And that’s why today I want to share my tips for making Disneyland a magical experience even with two little kids.
First I want to say that if you can, I would highly recommend bringing other people. Whether that’s your friends who have kids too, your parents, or an aunt who really loves Disney, having someone else to help you (and your spouse) out will make such an insane difference. Aside from just having a third set of arms, you also have a third person who can entertain or who can run to get fastpasses while you’re wrangling little children.
Having my cousins and aunt there was a huge lifesaver, but I also need to point out that if you’re there with small kids you need to bring people with you who won’t be gung-ho about getting on every ride, hitting up every attraction, and being on a certain time schedule.
Being constrained by another person’s time limits will just put you in a stressful place as you try to wheel your stroller through the masses chasing after someone who’s probably already over doing Disneyland with you (because if their that crazy about accomplishing everything at Disneyland there is no way they’re happy about waiting for you to change a diaper, push your stroller, or stop to feed the baby).
With that, you need to be relaxed. Take a more laid back approach to the day, even if that’s not your style. By committing to taking it one thing at a time and having an exit strategy for unsurprising but still frustrating situations (blowouts, screaming babies, toddlers who want to throw their shoes out of the stroller, etc) you’re saving yourself a lot of overwhelming feelings.
Kids are unpredictable and being at the park all day is exhausting for them. You have to remember that even though you may have paid for it, your kids have to come first. If they’re not having a magical experience, you’re going to have an even less magical experience.
That doesn’t mean you have to bend to your kids unrelenting will, and by no means should you because you’re still the parent, but you need to be prepared. For me that meant having plenty of granola bars on hand, nursing the baby while standing in line, and bribing my toddler with a bubble wand.
Another huge tip for parents of small children, get a stroller that you enjoy pushing and that moves easily. I can’t tell you how many people I saw who were pushing the Disneyland rental strollers and looked about ready to loose their minds. I know that if you fly it may be difficult to bring your huge stroller, but guys it’s so worth it!
I always get questions about my stroller and I’ll probably make a post dedicated to how much I love it specifically, but we have the Baby Jogger City Select double stroller and it is a lifesaver. I can’t say enough good things about it; it’s my favorite.
And it was so easy to push through the crowds!
My fourth tip would be to anticipate spending more money than you want or to be extremely well prepared on the food end. We didn’t want to bring food into the park (other than some easy snacks) so we knew we were going to spend money.
When you don’t plan to spend a lot of money and then you do it can be really aggravating. Especially when you’ve already spent money on the tickets an hotel. When you plan ahead you’re better able to brace yourself for the dent you put in your wallet.
Also, if you’re going to buy a park souvenir make sure it’s not something your kids will throw away the second you get home. We bought Easton a bubble wand which is great because he really enjoys it, but there were so many parents buying toys for their kids who looked totally uninterested in them.
Just because you think it would be a fun Disney souvenir doesn’t mean your kids will so save yourself some money and either buy worthwhile souvenirs or don’t buy any at all (because unless your kids really likes stuffed animals is he going to care at all that you got him a Mickey stuffed animal?)
My fifth and final tip for any of you traveling to Disneyland with kids is to just remember that it’s only as fun as you make it. If you’re in a bad mood, stressed, and irritated that your kids are being…well…kids, you won’t enjoy it at all. Try to remember that they’re only little for a little while and using a kinder attitude and being positive may make all the difference in whether they have a good Disneyland memory or a bad one.
Guys, let’s all admit that Disneyland is so much fun without kids. In fact it may be a little more fun without them (#momconfessions). But there’s nothing more magical than seeing Disneyland through your child’s eyes. So take lots of pictures, enjoy the happy moments, and don’t lose your temper over something silly and unimportant.