We just came back from an amazing family vacation to the Disneyland Resort in California. We spent a few days at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure and enjoyed our time at the happiest place on earth.
We visited the Disneyland Resort with just one child in the past and this was our first time with two children ages 5 and under. Below you will find some of my tips based on my experiences to help you plan your holiday and get the most out of your Disneyland vacation when visiting with young children.
Getting The Most Out of Your Disneyland Visit with Children Ages 5 and Under!
Planning Your Trip
If you can pick your travel dates during low or off-season then I highly recommend you do. We have been to Disneyland twice in mid January and both times we have enjoyed the low visitor numbers and short wait times, allowing us to do more and not worry about the crazy crowds. The weather was also very pleasant at about 25 degrees and we lucked out with no rain. We have never been to Disneyland in the middle of the summer and I can’t imagine the crowds and having to wait in line when the temperatures are so high, definitively not something we would do with two young children.
Stay at the Disneyland Resort If Possible
During our visit we stayed at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, a short 5 minute walk to the main park gates. We loved staying at a Disney themed hotel and being able to walk to Disneyland every morning and then again to go back to the hotel for naps, plus we enjoyed the extra perks like early park admission, see below for more info.
Take Advantage of the Extra Magic Hours
If you are staying at a Disney resort hotel then be sure to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours. Extra Magic Hours for Disneyland Resort Hotel Guests allows early admission to one theme park on select days. We were staying at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and took advantage of the extra time each day, it was amazing to just walk in to some of the popular rides with no wait time at all, definitively worth waking up a bit earlier for!
Plan to Be At Disneyland For A Few Days
Wondering how many days you need to do most of the rides and enjoy what Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have to offer? I say you need at least three days to do both parks if you are going with young children and you don’t want to rush. Plan for at least two full days at Disneyland and one full day at Disney California Adventure minimum.
Get Your Tickets In Advance
Avoid lines at the gates and order your tickets online. If you are visiting for three or more days getting multi-day tickets is cheaper than purchasing individual tickets. This time we decided not to get Park Hopper tickets and we instead focused on enjoying one park each day. I found that we were not in a rush to get to the other park that way and we were able to take in everything each park had to offer without feeling rushed, especially when at the park with two kids 5 and under.
Bring A Stroller or Rent One
We traveled with a stroller for our toddler and ended up renting a second stroller for our 5-year-old at the park. We thought he was going to be o.k with all the walking but it ended up being a bit too much for him. Stroller rental is ($15US) per day at the park and I was glad that we had the choice to rent it there, our son was happier and we were able to spend a bit more time at the park that way.
Familiarize Yourself with The Rides, High Requirements and Fastpass System
Disneyland’s Fastpass allows you to save time and avoid crazy lines. Just get your Fastpass tickets for the most popular rides when you arrive at the park and get ready to head back to get on the ride at your assigned time. Do this early!
Make sure to identified attractions that are o.k for both toddlers and older children and those that are closed. Plan ahead and know where you are going in the park to maximize your time and know which areas to avoid. We avoided some of the scary rides or bigger roller coasters because both children were too young to ride those. We also took advantage of the Rider Switch passes to allow the adults to take turns going on rides that our toddler was not able to ride. Doing so meant not standing in line all over again and going straight to the front of the line.
Tomorrowland was the busiest place at Disneyland this time around, it was all about Star Wars and the Star Wars rides, so fun to get to see Stormtroopers walking around and to meet Chewbacca, Darth Vader and more characters. Get your Fastpass tickets for those rides as soon as you arrive!
You can find a full list of our favourite rides to do with a toddler HERE and a list of what you should take with you when going to the Disneyland Resort.
Go Back to the Hotel For Naps
The easiest way to avoid tantrums and melt-downs is to take a break during the day to give children a chance to relax and decompress. We spent the mornings at the parks, had lunch and went back to the hotel for a break. After naps we went back to the park and remained at the park into the evening to enjoy the parades, lights and fireworks.
There are always many wonderful new things to learn when you go on a holiday with your children. Disneyland is truly magical and your kids will love it there. If you have been to the Disneyland Resort with your children, what were your favorite rides or things to do/see there?
Some Video Clips From Our Trip:
Height Requirements for All Attractions