I can’t even explain how excited our kids were to go on our first trip to Disneyland!! When planning our trip we considered many things. First and foremost our kids are 2 and 3.5 so we did not think they would last very long at the park and also they would not be able to do a lot of the bigger rides and things. So considering that we decided we didn’t want to stay at the resort or one nearby. The rest of our trip we spent in Manhattan Beach (read my review of that part here) and did a one day trip to Disney. Overall it worked out great and I would do it that way again.
So being this was our first trip to Disneyland I am by no means an expert haha. We did some research before going and had a good game plan. I thought I would share a breakdown of our day and thoughts on things so you can decide what’s a good fit for you. So here are my tips and takeaways.
Use the app! Best thing I ever did was download the app. You can use it to plan your day, reserve dining and check wait times and coordinate around that. I’ll say it one more time… Use the app!
Give yourself a lot of time to get in the park. You have to account for parking, taking the tram to the park, waiting in line to get in etc. It all adds up. Plus of course there’s traffic. We were late to our breakfast and thought we would be early.
Buy the tickets before– there was a huge line at the entrance as it was. But there was another large line to purchase tickets as well.
Get fast pass – again you can decide if it’s worth the investment for you. But after seeing how huge some of the lines were and we would just walk right in with a very minimal wait it was totally worth it. I do want you to know that it doesn’t include every ride. We only waited in line for a couple rides. And as we waited we would plan put out fast pass. It flowed very well for us that way. There is where the app was critical.
Make it a team effort. Think about going with other family or friends. It helps break everything up and gives options for people to do different things if needed. My sister in law came there with us (always more fun than mom and dad!) which we loved and it always helps having another grown up. We also met up with some local friends at the park which was nice.
When you get there
Parking– we did preferred parking. I will let you decide if it’s worth it to you. It was $20 for regular and $35 for preferred. Obviously this is a lot of money but in the grand scheme of how expensive everything is there I thought it was worth it. There was a big debate between the adults in the car about doing it or not haha. After we did it and got in the huge line of cars and then they saw our pass, moved the cones and we pulled to like the 3rd spot in the front. Totally worth it ✔
Character breakfast– I will let you decide this one for yourself. It was a lot of interaction and easy to see a lot of characters. But it wasn’t a lot of the “main” Disney characters. The food was just ok. Nothing special but it did cut down on wait times so you decide. Also it was expensive in my opinion – around $130 for 3 adults and 1 kid (my 2yo was free), yikes! Minnie was the main character there – others were Captain Hook, chip and dale, Winnie the Pooh, Max (goofys son). The big benefit was meeting and taking pictures with Minnie with no line.
During the Day
Have a game plan for eating. The one good thing about the character breakfast is we were fueled up and going for awhile after that. So snacks were just fine for us. But use the app to find where you need to go. We ate at the park but you can bring food and drinks and that would save you lots of money and time if you want to do it.
Rides – here are the rides we did. They were all good. Astro orbitor, buzz light years Astro blasters (this was a favorite for all), roger rabbit cartoon spin, it’s a small world, and gadget go coaster.
Toontown – We spent a lot of time in Toontown as it was great for our kids ages. In Toontown we saw Pluto and went to Mickeys house among other things. You can check wait times for everything on the app. Mickeys house said 30 min but it was only like 10. Maybe we were just lucky.
Be prepared for younger kids. Obviously the little ones you will want to bring a stroller. But do consider the amount of walking for smaller kids too. My son is a little over 3.5 and walked the entire time but would not have been able to make it much longer. This is where another stroller or one of those board attachments for a stroller for him to stand on would have been handy. They do have stroller rentals at the entrance of the park so if you need one they have them.
Other random thoughts. These may seem obvious but just in case…
- wear comfortable shoes! Sometimes flip flops aren’t what you want. I wore my converse and they were perfect.
- Also make sure to have sunscreen. You can get a lot of sun there.
- Buy the souvenirs on the way out. They have everything you need at the front of the park. There are loads of places to buy things throughout the park but we didn’t want to lug it all around. Anything the kids wanted we just picked up on the way out. It worked great.
I hope you find some of it helpful. We will definitely go back. Seeing our kids that happy was amazing.
Next stop… Disney World!
Probably not for another year or 2 but we will definitely be heading there once the kids are a little older. If you want any tips or info on Disney World in the meantime check out A Disney World Adventurer she has so much great insight and tips for the Magic Kingdom and all the surrounding parks if you are heading there!!
Whats your favorite thing about Disney? Let me know!
Your post is absolutely amazing!! I love all of your photos, the little ones are adorable! Thanks for bringing us along on your Disneyland adventures, I hope so much to get to experience Disneyland too someday, but I guess I have to take a break from Disney World to do that! Haha! 🙂 Your post is fantastic!
Thanks so much for the mention in the post, it is so appreciated! I can’t wait to hear about your Disney World adventures someday too!! 🙂 <3
Aww thank you so much!! Your site has so much good info!! I can’t wait to check out Disney World one day with the kids. I will definitely reach out for pointers before we go 😉
You have such a beautiful family! My favorite thing about Disney is all of the yummy snacks.
Thank you so much, you are so sweet ❤️ yes the snacks!! We loved them all! I was especially fond of the Dole Whip 😊
I needed these tips because everyone who offers advice either goes constantly or doesn’t have small kids. Thank you for a true first timers perspective.
Thank you so much! ❤️ I’m so happy it was helpful!
I loved this post! I have a 3.5 YO as well and I’ve been considering doing something like this but I wasn’t sure he was old enough. By reading your post I think he is actually a really good age to give this a try! I also like the fact that you made it a 1 day trip. I think that is all my little one would be able to handle!
I’m so happy you found it useful!! Yes he did great actually and really liked everything! I thought he wouldn’t make it all day but I think the excitement pushed him through. One day was perfect and we did the beach the other days, it was a great balance. 😊
I literally cannot wait for the day I can take my little one to Disney. I am pinning this for when I am able to do so. So many amazing tips and tricks!
Thank you so much! It’s so fun to see how excited they are ☺️
What a fun post! We live close to Disney and had passes for a while, but now that we’re a family of 6, we haven’t in a while. So fun to see other families enjoying it! And a great summary/review of the important stuff!
Thanks Amy! Yes if you are going with a family of 6 you want to wait to make sure everyone will enjoy it. The nice part is you live so close for when you want to go again! Im glad you enjoyed the post, thank you! 😊
I have been to Disneyland before, but can’t wait to take my daughter when she is old enough to have fun and remember it. I love all of the insight you have on going to Disneyland too. I can’t wait to put it to good use because it should be one of our first large trips as a family and we want her to have the best time. I hope she likes roller coasters!
Aww thank you so much for your comment! This was our first big family trip too and it was totally worth it. My daughter just turned 2 and was still a little apprehensive about some stuff but it was perfect for our 3 yo. So if that helps give you an idea for future reference ☺️