Sunday, March 9, 2014

How to enjoy, not survive, Disneyland with a baby

Everly has been to Disneyland four times in fifteen months. We have passes, and if we didn't live 6 hours away, we would be there weekly. Here are a few things that have always helped us enjoy our time in Disneyland, not just survive the experience.
#1 We joked that a four to one adult/child ratio was perfect, and we really weren't kidding. If you can, an extra set of hands makes the experience complete. Going on the "big rides" by yourself gets old after a while, so bring family or a friend. If you are anything like my family, there is always at least one person who isn't going to be into that particular ride, and instead will hop on something else with the tiny one. 
#2 Ditch the stroller. Now, with that being said, we don't have a stroller to ditch, and the reason why I can say, you just don't need it. Hands, feet, baby carrier. That's all you need. Everly flawlessly made the transition between the three. Being in Disney is an experience that the little ones want to be a part of. And when she got tired, we popped her in the carrier, she slept and we went on more rides. Can't do that with a stroller. Oh, and you can't beat the flexibility of nursing while baby carrying. Just saying, it will save you, your tired baby, and everyone around you. 
#3 Backpacks. Plural. We had three for five people, so essentially whoever had Everly didn't have a backpack [and Everly wasn't made to carry her stuff]. Water is like $4 in the park, and they let you bring in your own drinks, so do it. Besides water, they are perfect for storing the baby carrier when not being used, sweatshirts for when the park drops 30 degrees at night, sunblock and snacks. 
#4 Snacks. I don't think my kid is the only picky water on the planet, so bring food they will actually eat. And be okay when you realize your kid has pretty much only eaten "snacks" all day because they refuse anything else. It is only temporary. They will survive.  [Or is it just my kid that refuses theme park food?!?]
#5 Stay somewhere with a mini kitchen. Our hotel had a full kitchen, which made me feel better when my little had only snacked all day, and we could take her back, have her sit in her own little high chair, and eat her favorite things that are always perishable, even if it meant dinner at 9:30 at night.
#6 Make a ride plan. Each day we would make sure we had a plan for what we wanted to get done. And since Disney offers Fast Passes for their big ticket rides, you need to plan to avoid over walking, over waiting in lines, and getting over your Disney magic quickly.  The last trip we took with just our family of three, we didn't have a clear plan of what we wanted to ride, and found ourselves not really riding anything, and being disappointed with our wandering.  Make a plan, seriously.
#7 Visit the baby care centers.  Disneyland has a little gem of a space at the end of Main Street where families can go and get things taken care of.  Everything from a quiet and private place to nurse, especially if your little one is easily distracted, to large changing stations.  Now that Everly is older, I didn't stop to nurse her here, but our first three trips I did frequent this room a few times, and it was a great place to just unwind for a bit.  [They also have one in California Adventure near Ghirardelli Soda Fountain which I didn't know about and will have to check out in June!]
#8 If possible, avoid crowds.  Take some time in the off season to enjoy the park, and weekdays are always preferable.  Everyone is going to be a tad cranky after waiting in an hour line for a 2 minute ride.
And most of all, remember that you are making family memories.  Sure, Everly will be too little to remember these early trips, but I know she will love hearing stories about them, and seeing pictures and movies of her having the time of her life with Minnie & Mickey.  We had the absolute best time enjoying our days with her in the park.  It is amazing the new joy you feel when being somewhere special with your little ones.  Every smile is worth the work and planning ahead!
^^and I promise, that tan baby is mine, genetics is a crazy thing^^

mom blogger note: this post was written while my daughter slept in until 11, because late nights with friends, and daylight savings, wears out a babe!

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