When I told people we were bringing Maddie to Disneyland, everybody advised me against it. “What a hassle!” “She won’t even remember it!” “Then you won’t have any fun!” But when I saw her face light up as she pointed up at Dumbo in flight, I knew this was going to the the first of many, many trips to Disneyland. (Hooray for annual passes!)
I did a fair bit of Googling before the trip to scope out tips regarding bringing a stroller to Disneyland, baby-friendly rides and ideal places to nurse. So although we didn’t have an exact “plan”, we were comfortably prepared for most situations. Here are some tips I’ve gathered from friends, websites and our first trip to Disneyland.
A stroller is a must for naps if you are spending the whole day there. We opted to bring the Bugaboo since it was more comfortable for naps, but equipped it with a stroller lock just in case. The parking lot tram requires you to fold down your stroller before boarding, unless you are in the first or last car which has enough room to wheel the entire stroller on (as long as you take your baby out).
If you forgo the stroller (especially on shorter trips), a comfortable baby carrier is essential. This allowed Maddie to nap while we were in line for attractions, and also gave her a safe place to close her eyes when she was overstimulated.
Leave the diaper bag at home. Instead, bring a backpack hubby can wear on the rides (leaving nothing valuable on the stroller), with baby’s things organized into ziploc bags for easy access. (Food bag, diaper bag, extra clothes bag, etc.)
Whether your baby is eating solids or exclusively nursing/bottle-fed, Disneyland makes it easy to feed your baby. There is an air-conditioned Baby Care Center on Main Street with a semi-private nursing area, private pumping area, rocking chairs and high-chair setups if you need a clean, quiet, distraction-less place to feed your baby. Though the baby center has appliances available to heat up homemade baby food, I recommend bringing store-bought food (like organic puree pouches) that doesn’t require a cooler to stay fresh and can be fed to baby anywhere (like on the train ride or on a shady bench). Outside of the baby center, there are numerous off-to-the-side shady benches for impromptu nursing sessions, just bring a discreet nursing cover. Some people have favorite rides to nurse on but if your baby is anything like mine, then ride sights and sounds are way too distracting.
Sometimes visiting the gift stores is just as fun for babies as the rides themselves. With plush dolls and colorful toys, stores can be a great place for baby to see, touch and explore things. Pick up a souvenir to commemorate baby’s first trip! Also, buy a funny hat or set of ears for yourself — babies love seeing funny things on their parents’ heads.
Infants can go on any ride without a height restriction. That said, it really is up to the parents’ discretion what they feel their baby is ready for. Most Fantasyland rides are in dark settings decorated with blacklit animatronics — this can be scary for most babies! Skip Mr. Toad’s, Snow White, Pinocchio and all of the other classic rides with scary villains and sounds. Outdoor rides like the ones at a Bug’s Land are the most fun and scenic for babies. It’s a Small World was another favorite, I’ve never seen Maddie so wide-eyed. Also keep in mind that sometimes it’s more entertaining for babies to look at rides than actually ride them. For example, Maddie loved looking and pointing at Dumbo but didn’t quite understand when she was riding Dumbo (though it made for great photo ops!). Most rides require infants to sit forward-facing on your lap, under the belt, so they are best for babies who are sitting well. A few rides (like the spinning ladybugs) require babies to sit on their own next to their parents, which can be quite scary for them.
Don’t forget to pause for pictures! Skip the lines for character pictures until your baby is old enough to know who they are. Take pictures in funny hats, in front of Disneyland landmarks, and especially in Toon Town!