Diapers? Check. Wipes? Check. Mickey ears? Doing Disneyland with a baby can be challenging, but a little prep and planning go a long way in turning what can be an overwhelming experience into a hoppy family memory. We've got some advice for taking your tadpoles and toddlers to “The Happiest Place on Earth” that will ensure that the whole family has a great time!
Top Secrets for Going to Disneyland with a Baby
What to Bring
The Southern California sun is strong, so plan ahead to protect baby’s skin. Cool mornings can develop into hot days, and then temperatures return to chilly in the evenings. Dress your baby in layers and bring the following:
- Extra outfit (so spills and diaper blow-outs don’t ruin the day — because, hey, spit-up happens)
- Sun hat
- Blanket to shade from sun or provide extra warmth
- Formula and bottles/bottle liners
- Baby food/snacks
- Your baby spoon
- Wipes (beyond diaper changes, you will need to keep your little tadpole’s hands and face clean)
- Baby shoes (some rides require your baby to wear shoes)
- Optional: Baby carrier/sling
Should You Bring Your Own Stroller to Disneyland or Rent?
This topic is so complex that we devoted an entire post to using a stroller at Disneyland. Whether you rent or bring your own may depend on cost and convenience to you. Disneyland rental strollers go for $15 per day. You can rent two single strollers for $25 per day and a double stroller for $35 per day. When taking two small children, I find it easier to use a baby carrier to attach my littlest one to my chest, keeping my hands free while I push the toddler or preschooler in a stroller. Ah, the days with Lily in the sling!
You can also rent a stroller (and even baby equipment!) from an off-site rental company. ScooterBug is Disneyland's recommended off-site rental company. You can also find rentals from other companies, such as City Stroller Rentals.
Keep in mind that your slightly older children, who may have recently outgrown a stroller, might enjoy hitching a ride now and then when their legs get tired. Even the strollers with a standing platform for older siblings can help give their legs a rest and keep them close to you in a crowd.
If you bring your own stroller, be aware that you will have to remove the baby and fold the stroller to take it with you on parking trams or buses. You can walk from the parking structure to Downtown Disney using the new pedestrian bridge and then continue on to the parks if you do not want to load a stroller onto the tram. All of that may be enough motivation to stay at a hotel within walking distance. Also, be aware that as of May 1, 2019, strollers must be no larger than 31 inches wide and 52 inches long. Many — but not all — strollers meet these guidelines. There may be some exceptions for strollers that are also used as wheelchairs.
Now that the Disneyland security checkpoints have moved to the perimeter of Downtown Disney, you have more flexibility when renting a Disney stroller. You can take a rental stroller between parks and Downtown Disney restaurants and shops (but not hotels). If you want to transport your sleeping baby to your hotel that's within walking distance, you’ll want to have your own stroller.
Be smart with your stroller inside the theme parks. A stroller can conveniently hold all of your baby supplies, but don’t leave any valuables in it. It is important to park your stroller only in a marked stroller parking area. If you don’t park smart, a cast member may relocate it for you, and that’s no fun to figure out when you return.
People often ask if it’s better to take a small umbrella stroller or a larger stroller, and while a larger stroller is a little harder to maneuver in crowds, it’s easier on the body, maneuvers terrain (like curbs and trolley tracks) better and holds more stuff, so we always opt to take our best and hardiest stroller to Disneyland. We personalize our stroller because so many strollers look alike! Wagons of any kind are not allowed at Disneyland.
Take Advantage of the Disneyland Baby Care Centers
Missing supplies can cause a meltdown, for you and your baby. Don't fret. The nurses at the Disneyland Baby Care Center have got you covered. Ran out of diapers or wipes? Lost your pacifier? Out of baby food? Need baby medicine? You can restock at the Disneyland Baby Care Center. You'll find a vending machine with all of the baby supplies!
The Baby Care Center in each park has a number of free services, as well. There are several clean changing tables, private rooms with rocking chairs for nursing, powered stations for pumping and high chairs. This quiet oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the park is just what baby and parent need.
If you need to pump milk, you’ll need to bring your own pump. You can store it at the Baby Care Center in Disney California Adventure or at the nurse’s station next door to the Baby Care Center in Disneyland. The park cannot store milk for you, but you can get ice from a restaurant. Frozen water bottles last a long time and work well to keep milk cold. The Baby Care Centers also have filtered water to mix formula, bottle warmers and a microwave to warm up food.
Have a potty training toddler? When Lily was training, she loved the Baby Care Center’s tiny potties that are just her size (for guests under 42 inches). The Disney California Adventure location also has a family restroom, which is lacking from the older Disneyland Center.
Even though every restroom in the park has a baby changing station, take advantage of the Baby Care Centers in both Disneyland (near the first-aid station off Main Street) and in California Adventure (to the left of Ghirardelli chocolate and ice cream store). Plus, if you wander off without a child, this is also where children wait for lost parents to come find them. While you are there, be sure to hop into Boudin Bakery for a free piece of sourdough bread. (You’re welcome.)
Feeding Baby at Disneyland
While you'll want to bring your own baby food (or buy some at the Disneyland Baby Care Center), you can buy milk in the parks, as well as yogurt, cheese, fruit and other foods an older baby might need. You can find toddler meals for guests under three at many park restaurants. I always find having some Cheerios or crackers with me goes a long way in entertaining a baby or toddler. The squeezable baby food pouches are easy to use at Disneyland. Older babies may be able to eat off your plate.
Best Disneyland Rides for Babies
So you have a well-fed, comfortable baby. Now comes the fun! What will you and your baby enjoy at Disneyland? Parents love that Disney designed rides with families in mind. Most family-friendly rides in the Disney parks can accommodate at least two adults and a small child, or one adult and two children. Since baby often makes three, this arrangement makes everyone’s ride so much easier than deciding how to split up.
You may be able to take a baby in a chest carrier on most rides without a height requirement, but be willing to remove it if a cast member asks you to for safety reasons. Disney is always re-evaluating ride safety, so expect that policies on baby carriers may change.
The best Disneyland attractions for babies:
- Pirates of the Caribbean (cool, long, dark and relaxing — good for nursing, although it can be scary for older children and there are two mild drops)
- "it’s a small world" (repetitive song and visual stimulation for baby; AC for you)
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Jungle Cruise
- Casey Jr. Circus Train
- Disneyland Railroad
- Sailing Ship Columbia
- Mark Twain Riverboat
- King Arthur Carrousel
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Main Street Vehicles
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Storybook Land Canal Boats
- Alice in Wonderland
- Mad Tea Party (don't spin too fast!)
- The Enchanted Tiki Room
- Character houses in Toontown
- Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (gentle ride, but this does have a shooting component)
- Storytelling at the Royal Theatre
- Mickey and the Magical Map
Jungle Cruise humor might be over the heads of toddlers — and some adults — but those animals sure look real, so taking that trip is kind of like getting in a quick trip to the zoo. Most rides in Fantasyland are safe for baby, but Lily finds Snow White, Pinocchio and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride a little scary. What is scary to a baby and to a toddler can change frequently. An infant may not be fazed by a ride that can terrify a toddler, so just keep that in mind. You will probably want to avoid taking your little one on Disneyland’s scariest rides. The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is gentle enough for baby, but baby needs to be able to look through a porthole to see the action, and it can get dark and loud. We have seen some babies and small children get overstimulated or scared, so you’ll have to decide based on how well you know your baby.
Toddlers need to move, and Mickey’s Toontown provides all of the satisfying, tactile, out-of-the-stroller experiences and “cause and effect” lessons that little ones crave. Push a button and things light up, explode or talk. It is very fun to supervise your toddler running free, crawling through watermelons and pumpkins at Goofy’s Playhouse, pushing buttons to make funny noises or “driving” the various cars on the street. In Tomorrowland, there is a large, wet granite ball that can toddlers can touch and spin. Pixar Pier also has a large granite Pixar ball across from the Pixar Pal-A-Round. Letting your toddler take advantage of these experiences will help get the wiggles out so that the stroller will be a welcome rest — a win-win!
Another favorite for older babies is the Disneyland Railroad, which can also help you get around the park. If you are taking the train round-trip, park the stroller, but if you are using the train for transportation, you will have to fold the stroller and bring it with you. Toddlers especially love the stretch between Tomorrowland and the Main Street station, where you can see animals and dinosaurs.
Over in Disney California Adventure, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is a great spot for tots to let off steam. With netting to climb and slides to tackle, they'll enjoy the great outdoors.
Disney California Adventure attractions are less catering to very young babies, but there is still plenty for baby to see and do in the park. The best California Adventure rides for babies and baby-friendly attractions include:
- Disney Junior Dance Party!
- The Little Mermaid — Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
- Pixar Pal-A-Round (a unique enclosed ferris wheel that has both rocking and non-rocking gondolas)
- Jessie's Critter Carousel
- Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind
- Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
- Golden Zephyr
- World of Color (breathtaking show for guests of all ages)
- Turtle Talk with Crush
- Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
- Sights of Cars Land
Toy Story Midway Mania can accommodate a baby between two parents, but hold on tight for some unexpected movements. This 3D ride-meets-video-game may be a little challenging if you have to hold a small baby and use both hands to operate the game.
We find that babies best enjoy slow dark rides with a lot of colors and music, such as The Little Mermaid — Ariel's Undersea Adventure.
You can decide if your baby or toddler can handle the hour-long Frozen — Live at the Hyperion. Some babies might be mesmerized or take a nap. Others might start crying. If you try it out and your baby is not having it, be considerate and leave so you do not disturb others in the audience. There are smaller shows and musical entertainment opportunities throughout the park that an older baby or toddler may enjoy.
Disneyland Rider Switch for Babies
Even though many rides at Disneyland can accommodate tadpoles as young as newborns, there are a few rides in the parks that have a minimum height requirement. For those rides, you definitely want to take advantage of Rider Switch so that all of the taller guests can take turns riding/watching the baby without doubling the wait.
To use Rider Switch, bring your entire party to the attendant at the entrance of the ride. Determine who is riding in the first party and who the supervisor and guests will be to ride second. The attendant will scan the park tickets of up to three people, giving them a one-hour return window after the first party returns. When the second adult takes their turn, they can bring up to two guests with them. If you have older children with you, they can ride with the first parent and again with the second while the baby sits out. Just be sure to scan their tickets before riding the first time. It can be challenging to balance the needs of older children and a baby, so point out how bringing the baby to Disneyland is the ticket to even more fun for the other kids in the family!
Whether you BYOB (Bring Your Own Bubbles) from home or buy a souvenir bubble maker in the park, do not underestimate the power of bubbles on a toddler. If you need to occupy a toddler while the rest of the family is on a ride, bubbles are the perfect solution. The bubbles can come in handy for easy entertainment while waiting for a ride or a parade. The same goes for light-up toys at night. Chances are, all of the other kids in the area will enjoy the bubbles, too. Use the bubbles as a motivator: “If you climb in the stroller, you can hold the Bubble Wand.” It usually works for babies ... sometimes husbands too! Balloons are also a popular choice to keep a toddler mesmerized.
Take Breaks and Limit Your Time in the Parks
Disney is very stimulating to everyone, especially little babies. You are going to move a lot slower than expected with a baby, and you’ll need to take breaks. When your tadpole needs a break, use the quiet Baby Care Centers to regroup or find a shady, quiet area for a stroller nap. Use nap time in a stroller to wait for family members on bigger rides or even eat a meal in peace — it is your day too! Leap and I used to love walking Pixar Pier and enjoying a treat or fizzy drink while taking in the sights as the tadpoles rested in the stroller. Your baby will enjoy the simple pleasures of taking time to watch the ducks or to observe fun sights such as colorful, tiny doors that are just his or her size near Alice in Wonderland.
Three to four hours is a long time in the park for a baby, so if you are staying in a nearby hotel, it is worth taking a break from the park to nap baby and provide downtime so you can re-enter the park refreshed for round two. Be sure to keep yourself and your baby hydrated.
With these tips for going to Disneyland with a baby, you can have a successful and fun day with your little one on the best Disneyland rides for babies. When baby is hoppy, then you can relax and enjoy yourself too. Now, it's your turn: Share any tips you have learned in comments below!