Disneyland Do’s and Don’ts: Toddler Edition
Ximena went on the adventure of a lifetime in early December: Her first trip to Disneyland!
This trip was entirely made possible by the generous contributions of our family and friends. Instead of toys and material things, we asked folks to contribute to a Plumfund for her first birthday, where we outlined our dream trip to Disneyland.
It was beautiful, and chaotic, and stressful, and wonderful all at the same time. I will say it again and again: to the people who contributed to our campaign, from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU.
What a trip it was! In case you're wondering, or planning on making a trip to Disneyland in the near future (I don't know that this applies to other amusement parks, seeing as Disneyland seems to always be in season/crowded/crazy)...
I outlined a few Do's and Don'ts of tackling Disneyland with a Toddler below. So read on if you are nervous to take a little one! Toddlerhood is so beautiful, but also confusing: You have no idea how they are going to react to certain scenarios.
In any case, let me preface this list by saying that I adore Disneyland. Always have, always will.
Though I am critical of it's skyrocketing prices, and the notion that it is the "Happiest Place on Earth," since it is not accessible to everyone.
When I was pregnant, I used to DREAM about bringing my little one here. Fun fact: I actually announced my pregnancy to the world with a picture at Disneyland!
Nevertheless, we had a beautiful time. One I will be sure to remind Ximena of for the rest of her life.
She even had an entourage: Her Ta (grandma), Toto (grandpa), Tias, and Tios came along, and she loved soaking in their love and smiles throughout the day. We are so lucky to be surrounded in such love for our creature.
This is by no means a comprehensive, end-all list. I am actually looking forward to hearing what it is that you do to make your littles as comfortable as possible on long, eventful trips like these. Holla at me on Insta to let me know!
Disneyland Do’s and Don’ts: Toddler Edition
Start your day slow: Everybody knows that when you are in a hurry, the laws of the Universe work to put obstacles in your path. It is no coincidence that there is always traffic when you are running late. Add a baby to this equation, and basically it will seem like the Universe wants you to just stay the hell home. So, prepare for that. Know that ahead of time. Calculate it into your travel-time.
Stress out if things don’t go according to plan: To be completely honest, we left our house late. An hour into the car drive, Ximena started screaming because she wanted to get out of her car seat. Surprise, surprise: There was traffic. We had reservations to have breakfast with the characters, and we cut it close. When we got to Anaheim, it took us a while to find parking. It took even longer to get from the parking lot to the actual entrance. In retrospect, we should have just started the day as s l o w l y and gently as possible. Ximena was in no rush! Babies feed off of their parents’ energies. My energy (and stress levels) were all over the place.
Follow your routine as much as humanly possible: This applies to the night before, too. Your little one (and you!) need rest to get through the action-packed day that awaits you. If you need to get a hotel, do it! We live close enough to where we thought we would be ok without one. In retrospect, we probably should have gone for it. Babies thrive on routine; eating times, nap times - all of these things should be abided by to the best of your ability.
Try to fit everything into one day: This trip was 100% for Ximena, but we got caught up in ensuring that we fit it ALL in. There is this heavy burden to get through as much of the park as possible when you are only visiting for the day so that you can “get your money’s worth.” Don’t do that. You will end up stressed and tired, and guess what? Your little one will also be stressed and tired. We made it into Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, and that was IT. A part of me was itching to get to the other parts of the park - I know she would have loved the Mark Twain Riverboat! She would have loved Toon Town! But at the end of the day, it is important to listen to the needs of your little one!
Take lots of breaks: I learned about Disneyland’s Baby Center a while ago, and was excited to try it out with Ximena. While it is fantastic for some families, the minute Ximena poked her head inside, she started flipping out. Later, my mom and I talked about it, and we concluded that the space looked too much like a doctor’s office. It was clean, and warm, and inviting - but Ximena has an irrational fear of clinical settings. So, we found our own quiet corners where she could play and walk around away from the crowds. These took the form of little alleyways, and they worked perfectly. Ximena got time away from the crowds, and mama and papa got to relax for a few minutes.
Bring everything: Yes, if you are planning on taking your baby to Disneyland in cold winter months, it is going to be cold. So pack a jacket for her, not three. I recently started reading essays by The Minimalists (thanks for the recommendation, Jacette!) and they encourage getting rid of the just in case stuff. It is rarely used, just takes up space, and weighs us down. I know this is easier said than done with a baby - you have to be prepared for everything. But chances are, she is only going to need one jacket, not three. I will be sharing a “What to Bring” checklist later this month. If you can’t shake this habit yet, there are locker rooms for rent!
Give your child the opportunity to thrive: Ximena is turning out to be a bit shy. She gets really reserved, and buries her head into my neck to avoid eye contact when a stranger waves or smiles at her. (Not sure if this is all kids her age?!) So you better believe that seeing so many people all at once, everywhere at once, was quite overwhelming for her. She thrived in more private settings (she loved having breakfast with the characters because there were no crowds, and she got one-on-one interaction with each special friend). Is your child older, and more outgoing? Perhaps you could encourage them to participate in Jedi Training.
Worry too much: I recently saw this picture on a friend’s Facebook, and it resonated with me on all the levels. If you are worried that you are not doing enough, that the trip is not going according to plan - never fear, all your little one cares about is YOU. They think the world of you, so cut yourself some slack. You’re taking them to DISNEYLAND for crying out loud. They love you, you are enough, everything is going to be just fine.
Thanks for reading! Can't wait to read your Do's and Don'ts!