Two weeks ago, Grandbarb forwarded an email to me: "Confirmed, your stay at Disneyland!" The surprise trip was just what we needed after the hustle of the holidays and a rainy January here up north, I could barely contain my excitement!
I know there is a lot of debate on whether or not to take toddlers to Disneyland, but after the magical few days we just shared, I can only emphatically say, "Do it!" Truly, it was amazing - memories I know Grandbarb and I will cherish for a lifetime, even if the wee ones may not remember it.
To prepare, I read up on so many of the awesome Mommy blogs presenting information on bringing the tiniest Minnie Mouse fans to Disneyland - and they had some great recommendations! A few tips we picked up from the web that works and others we tried on our own:
- If flying to Disneyland, fly into Santa Ana airport and use Anaheim Town Car services (Thanks, Amber!) I loved this because you can book online - including what type of car seats you need. The carseats were installed and ready to go and the drivers were prompt and communicative in great cars. Pain-free experience - which is exactly what you need when traveling with a 14-month old and 29 month old solo in the airport. I also recommend Santa Ana as its small and easy to navigate, super clean and family friendly restrooms, and fast security lines.
- Pack light! You are going to Disneyland, so really anything you could possibly ever need - from diapers to medicine - is there. Flying solo for the first time with my two minis, I took a backpack and the double stroller. We decided on just wearin Minnie Mouse's signature black and red, so we could easily pack lighter - a pair of shoes for each girl, socks, and basic outfits but of course, bows!
- California Adventure Hotel: It was a nice hotel, but I honestly wasn't wowed. For the price, I would have expected better, more famly friendly amenities. There isn't really much "Disney" in it, even the club-rooms are small but the location can't be beat. It is still a walk to get to the Disneyland park, but you basically pop right out of the elevator into California Adventure. With the girls at this age, it was perfect - but I may explore other options when they are a bit bigger.
- I cannot express enough great things about my Zoe Double Stroller. While there were a few tense moments I wish I could one hand navigate it, aside from that it traveled so well - throughout the airport, loaded up into the limo, stored in the hotel and taking on Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks. The extra long umbrella canopies provided shade while the girls napped and the large storage basket below was great for waterbottles, coats, and diapers. The yellow color also stuck out in a sea of black strollers.
- Dinner/Lunch at Ariel's Grotto. I think this may have been our biggest win. Grandbarb booked a 4:40pm reservation for a late lunch at Ariel's Grotto and it was pure magic. We met every single princess and enjoyed a lovely meal. it was quiet and air conditioned and a nice escape from the crowded parks. While pricey, it sure beat having to wait in so many lines! I would budget for this awesome, 3-course experience that is sure to be the most memorable of their stay.
- Rides: While we tackled so many rides at both parks, I have to admit that much of the joy was the adventure of witnessing the girls take in their surroundings. We loved climbing around ToonTown (Grace even did the rollercoaster!) and tried out moms-favorite, Pirates of the Caribbean (Grace was Scared, E was fine). Everyone loved Winnie the Pooh and Nemo's Submarine. At California Adventure, the lines were far more manageable so we tackled all of the rides from Cars to Ariel's Grotto - some a few times each! The carousel had no wait and we were actually allowed to keep riding, which was sheer joy for these little ones!
- Shows: I've never been a fan of seeing shows at Theme parks, until now! Wow! They were incredible - the Disney Junior Stage had a great episode of Mickey's Mouse Club House lives playing with Sophia the First, Doc McStuffins and Jake and the Neverland Pirates - all live with bubbles and magic for the kiddos. The Bugs Life show was interactive and quick, though the kids didn't want to wear the 3d Glasses. The Animators studio had all of their favorite movies playing while waiting to meet Anna and Elsa, and the Tiki Room was of course an old time favorite- it was dark enough for Emery to get some sleep but so interactive Grace got a kick out of everyone singing. The Frozen show was cancelled while we were there, but it was okay, we had seen so much!
Thinking of spoiling your toddlers and taking them to Disney? Do it! Not only are they free until their 3rd birthday which decreases the risk, it is an absolute magical experience- without any agenda! My kids didn't know what Disneyland was. They never asked for it. Instead, we presented them with wonderland of magic suited just for them - and explored the theme park with a new perspective, taking it in at a toddler's pace and learning we loved the shows, meeting characters, and witnessing the joy of others on the rides we maybe couldn't tackle this trip. I may sing a different tune in a few years, but if you can, bring them while they're little, you won't regret it!