Diapers? Check. Wipes? Check. Mickey ears? Check. Taking a baby to Disneyland can be a challenge, 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 the whole family has a great time!
Top Secrets to Taking a Baby to Disneyland
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)
- Optional: Baby carrier/sling
Should you bring your own stroller to Disneyland or rent?
This topic was so complex that we devoted an entire post on 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. If you require a double stroller or only have one adult for two stroller-age kids, you should definitely bring your own since Disney does not rent double strollers. 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!
Keep in mind that your slightly older children, who might have recently outgrown a stroller, might enjoy hitching a ride now and then when their legs get tired. If you bring your own stroller, be aware that you will have to remove the baby and fold the stroller to take on parking trams or buses.
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.
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? Need more baby food? Need baby medicine? You can restock at the Disneyland Baby Care Center (they sell baby items for a cash fee).
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 from the hustle and bustle of the park is just what baby and parent need. They 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 Ghirardelli for a free piece of chocolate. You’re welcome.
Feeding Baby at Disneyland
While you 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, fruit and other foods an older baby might need. You can find toddler meals for guest 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.
Best Disneyland Attractions 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 wear a baby in a carrier on some rides, but the ride attendant will tell you if you need to remove the baby first. Disney is always re-evaluating ride safety, so expect that policies on baby carriers may change.
Try these Disneyland attractions with baby:
- Pirates of the Caribbean (cool, long, dark, and relaxing—good for nursing)
- "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
- King Arthur Carrousel
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Main Street Vehicles
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Storybook Land Canal Boats
- Alice in Wonderland
- The Enchanted Tiki Room
Jungle Cruise humor might be over the head 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. You will probably want to avoid taking your little one on Disneyland’s scariest rides.
Toddlers need to move, and Mickey’s Toontown provides all 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 in that can toddlers can touch and spin. 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.
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 attractions for baby at California Adventure Include:
- Disney Junior: Live on Stage
- The Little Mermaid
- Triton’s Carousel of the Sea
- Mickey's Fun Wheel (a unique enclosed ferris wheel that has both rocking and nonrocking gondolas)
- Heimlich's Chew Chew Train
- Flick's Flyers
- Francis' Ladybug Boogie
- Flik’s Flyers (Another note about Bug’s Land (on hot days check out the water play area—two family restrooms available changing nearby)
- Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
- Golden Zephyr
- World of Color (breathtaking show for guests of all ages)
Disneyland Ride Switch for Babies
Even though most rides at Disney can accommodate even 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 all the taller guests can take turns riding/watching the baby without doubling the wait. Ask the attendant at the entrance of these rides. When the second adult takes their turn they can bring up to two guests with them. If you have an older child with you, they just may get to ride twice in a row while the baby sits out. 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 bring your own bubble blower from home or buy a souvenir bubble maker in the park, do not underestimate the power of bubbles on a toddler. The bubbles can come in handy for easy entertainment when waiting for a ride or a parade. The same goes for light-up toys at night. Chances are all the other kids in the area will enjoy it 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 ;)
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! Three 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 down time so you can re-enter the park refreshed for round two. Be sure to keep yourself and your baby hydrated.
With these tips for taking a baby to Disneyland, you can have a successful and fun day with your little one. 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!