Tips for Taking Young Children to Disneyland

A little girl hugging MickeyTaking your children to Disneyland may seem like a dream come true but it can quickly turn into a nightmare if you don’t prepare well ahead of time. Take these tips for a picture perfect day at Disneyland with your whole family.

• Plan Before Your Visit – It is important to plan your time at Disneyland in advance of your trip. This will help the entire family better know what to expect and what you will be doing at the park. There is a DVD and Video that are available from Disney that provides abundant information and helpful advice. The video has sections on “Tickets & Packages”, “Dining”, “When to Come”, and “Fun for Little Ones” among others. The DVD is free and is available in English and Spanish. There is also a Holiday version you can request. If it is close to the time you are leaving and you don’t have time to wait for the mail to come, the guide for 2014 is available in both languages online. There is a huge amount of information on the park and Anaheim that you can use to help prepare your children for your vacation. Additionally, you can find coupons and free offers that will help you make the most of your trip for the least amount of money.

2 children drinking hot chocolate at Disneyland cafe• Stay Close to the Park – When traveling with young children it’s a good idea to stay either at the resort on the park grounds or at one of the establishments right across the street from the gate. This is make it possible to take your children home for a nap during the day. While Disneyland may be the happiest place on earth, children can become overwhelmed and overstimulated by the sights and sounds around them. Some quiet time at the hotel or taking a quick swim to cool down can go a long way to helping re-establish a sense of calm for your child so you can enjoy the afternoon at the park.

• Buy Tickets Early – Instead of waiting in line for hours, you can buy tickets online through the Disney website. If you order early enough, you can have tickets shipped to your home before you leave. Otherwise, you can download them to your email and print them from there. You can also purchase them using your mobile device and the Disney mobile store will send bar codes directly to you. These are scanned at the gates allowing you to bypass the long line.

• Give Your Child a Temporary Tattoo or Name Sticker – Write your cell phone number or other contact information on your child’s arm in case they are separated from you in a crowd. These can be made temporarily water resistant by putting a coat of liquid bandage over the writing. You also can provide your child with a name sticker that gives their first name and your contact information.

• Avoid Ride Lines with a Fast Pass – It may look like the Fast Pass machines require a payment but the pass is actually free. Don’t miss out on this this chance to avoid lines for many of the parks most popular rides. When you go to the ride it will have a return time listed for Fast Pass holders and you can pick up a pass for the hour long time slot with your Pass. You then just return during the hour listed on your ticket and get right in. This means you can enjoy yourself elsewhere, with shorter lines, in the meantime. This includes many of the best loved children’s rides. Check the list of rides included on the Fast Pass before you arrive so you know which lines you can skip and how many lines you will have to wait in so you can intersperse them and avoid a meltdown.

• Use the Disneyland Wait Time App – The Disneyland wait time app is great for gaging how long lines are at various rides during the day. This lets you choose ride times based on the length of the wait and further help you avoid standing in long lines with young children.

• Ensure your Child Can Meet their Favorite Disney Character – Children can become very disappointed when they find out they can’t meet their favorite Disney character. You can prevent this by making a reservation beforehand at one of the participating restaurants throughout the park letting your child meet their Disney idols. A character list is provided for each of the restaurants on the Disneyland website under dining options.

• Bring Things to Entertain Your Child in Line – Even with the Fast Pass, there will be some lines you can’t avoid. Make sure you have something for your child to do when waiting for a ride. Small picture books, puzzles, and toys that the child can easily hold are ideal, and bringing a few new things along to present during particularly trying times as surprises are a good idea.

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