Disneyland With Kids: What to Know Before You Go
Disneyland With Kids
There are a lot of theme parks that are cheaper, but Disneyland beats them all! The combination of magic, shows, delicious food, and cleanliness keeps me and 16 million of my fellow Dis-Nerds visiting each year. I have a bucket list I made in high school and holding a Disneyland Annual Pass was on it, right between working in the ER and living in London. We’ve now held our Annual Passes for three years and I continue to learn more about how to make our Disney trips amazing with each visit!
A quick word about Disneyland before I get into the details. Yes it is an amazing place to take kids and have a family vacation, but did you know you will actually spend LESS on a trip to Paris or Rome when all is said and done? I’ve priced it out, I promise you it’s true. So while Disney is fantastic, please oh please don’t make it the only trip your family ever takes. Your kids (and your wallet) deserve more. If you are overwhelmed by planning a trip that’s not all-inclusive we have lots of guides to get you started!
Stroller or Baby Backpack?
Stroller all the way. Your kids will need it for Disney cat naps and to haul all your stuff. Make sure your stroller fits within the Disneyland guidelines. They just released a stroller size limit. Those big wagon strollers are no longer allowed, but the double BOB barely makes the guidelines. A good tip is to carry a fanny pack or small purse with all your valuables and take it with you on the rides because you often have to leave your stroller behind in the stroller parking.
Where to Stay:
If you can, see if you can work out a home exchange. When visiting Disney, you have a few choices choices. You can stay in a nearby hotel that’s close enough to do naptime (so amazing when you’re doing full days at the parks). Just make sure whatever hotel you choose INCLUDES PARKING. Parking is $25/day so it can really add up! Of course the Disney hotels are going to be the most expensive. There are plenty of cheaper options close by. My family often stays at Park Vue Inn which is right next to the Disneyland drop-off and super close to both parks.
If you’re only doing 1-2 days of Disney, it might be fun to stay near the beach and “commute” to Disney each day. My favorite area of Los Angeles is where we’ve chosen to make our home: The South Bay. We are only 30 min from Disneyland if you take the carpool lanes. Secret directions: 405-S to 110-N to 91-E, get in the carpool lane on the 91 and STAY in the carpool lane. Take the LEFT exit to I-5 S and LEFT exit to the Disneyland parking lot. No need to leave the carpool lane for most of your drive!
You’ll find a better price for places to stay and you’ll be staying in a real neighborhood without all the tourists of Santa Monica, Venice, and Anaheim. We can also get to anywhere in Los Angeles or Orange County in under an hour and the beach in less than 15 minutes. Cities included: the three beach cities (Manhattan, Hermosa, Redondo) and their immediate neighbors (El Segundo, Lawndale, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Torrance). For the immediate neighbors, make sure to read the safety reviews on the Airbnbs. Some neighborhoods are safer than others.
Hawthorne Airbnb, 2 adult, 1-2 kids, $96/night (I personally know this host, we go to church together. She is an amazing person with fantastic taste and this neighborhood is really well located for seeing LA!)
Book in Advance
I would check the Disney website in advance to see when the cheapest day to go. The prices vary per day. Best to plan Disney on a weekday if you can, but weekends can still be fun!
Movies / Books to Prep For Your Trip
Movies: Time to brief your kids on ALL the Disney movies! Here’s a starter list of what movies are especially featured in Disneyland/DCA.
Cars: There’s a whole land for it and it’s super cute!
Toy Story: Pixar Pier is a must! There’s a few Toy Story rides, including Midway Mania and Jessie’s Carousel. There’s also the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride in Disneyland.
The Incredibles: The Incredicoaster is amazing, so says my husband. I am always pregnant.
The Little Mermaid: We love The Little Mermaid and it’s always a short wait!
Frozen: The Frozen show at the Hyperion is fantastic!
Inside Out: They just opened a new Inside Out ride. I haven’t done it yet because the wait is always too long.
Monster’s Inc: This ride is hidden back in Hollywood Land, but it’s great!
Guardians of the Galaxy: Tower of Terror is now Guardians-based. It’s really fun apparently. I wouldn’t know because I don’t do drops.
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Great for introducing little ones to the stars of Disney!
Pirates of the Caribbean: More for older kids, but I think it’s one of the best Disney movies ever!
Snow White / Peter Pan / Pinnochio / Dumbo / Alice in Wonderland: Your Fantasyland Starter Kit.
The Star Wars Series: Star Wars Land is actually based off the newer 3 movies.
To get yourself further organized, see our scheduling tips and tips for arrival.