When my daughter turned 1, I knew it was time to take her to the Happiest Place on Earth. I’d asked other parents when a good age was to bring a child and most of them said to wait until she was older. They wanted me to wait???? Yeah, I know she won’t remember the trip but that’s why we own cameras. DH and I jumped the gun and took her when she was 14 months old. I must say, it was the best trip I’ve ever made to Disneyland.
First off, kids under 3 are FREE. Once they hit 3, you have to pay $62. For this reason, you can bet that I’ll be taking her as often as I can before she turns the big 3.
Our first stop was Fantasyland where she could ride everything. It probably wasn’t a good idea to make Pinnochio’s Daring Adventure her first ride, but at least she didn’t cry. She clung onto me like a little monkey but never screamed or cried. She went on most of the rides in Fantasyland, It’s a Small World, Jungle Cruise, Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin, and the Mad Tea Party. I wanted to take her on the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean but Marlow said no.
Over in Toon Town, Goofy’s Playhouse provided a play area where she was free to run and climb about. The spongy surface made any falls softer. Tom Sawyer Island also gave her grounds to roam about. We tried King Arthur’s Carousel, but she didn’t want to sit with me on the horse or by herself. Maybe next year. In the evening, Marlow went back to the hotel to grab something, so DD and I went to the Elvis Presley tribute concert in Tomorrowland where they have an Elvis impersonator who sang and danced. There were a bunch of kids dancing and she ended up joining them. She was clapping, dancing, running around the place. I’m so glad she enjoys music.
The next day we went to California Adventure. Unfortunately, every time we found a character to pose with she fell asleep. So we have a bunch of character photos and her sleeping. But, we do have her awake with Mickey Mouse. Back to the rides. A Bug’s Land had a whole section for kids her age. The best part was the Princess Dot Puddle Park. Water came shooting from the ground where she could “chase” the water or avoid getting splashed. We had so much fun here! Then we had a delicious meal at Ariel’s Grotto and had all the princesses visit us. We had photos with each one. And, the food was really, really good! Worth every penny.
I think a key thing is to stick to the areas where your toddler can run around. I imagine being strapped to a stroller most of the day isn’t fun. Diaper changes were really easy as well. They have stations in every restroom and even provide changing mats and wipes.
Overall, our first trip was a blast. Taking your kids for the first time will leave you with many memories. And because I’m such a Disney fanatic, we took her back 2 months later!
The second trip was even more fun for her because she seemed to remember the rides she already went on and got to experience a lot more. All the rides she rode on the first trip where she clung herself to me, were the rides she started enjoyed. She was smiling and pointing at things. On the Jungle Cruise she pointed at the animals and kept saying “agua”. I also took her on the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean and she was fine and didn’t get scared at all. On the Pirates ride she even sat by herself instead of my lap.
On the second day we were there it was just DD and I since the rest of our group was still getting ready. We went right when the park opened and it was virtually empty. We met Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen with no wait line, went on four rides, climbed all the way up Tarzan’s Treehouse and only an hour had gone by. Because there weren’t a lot of people, I parked the stroller in Adventureland and let her run around where she wanted to go. It was so much fun for me to see her explore.
The Innovations building (next to Space Mountain) was also great for her. They have a big section of a futuristic “house” so there were rooms with couches, beds, a piano, etc. She took her time in each room and experienced everything she could grab.
Later, we crossed over to California Adventure to catch the Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage show. It was a show for toddlers that featured Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Little Einsteins, My Friends Tigger & Pooh, and Handy Manny. This was the BEST choice for entertainment. I’ve never seen her so focused on something. She paid attention to the whole show, was dancing, clapping and laughing. Confetti and bubbles fell from the ceiling which she loved. This show is highly recommended for your kids if they watch these shows on the Disney Channel.
When we went on Mickey’s Fun Wheel (the big ferris wheel), I thought she might get scared of the height. Nope. This crazy girl didn’t want to sit; she wanted to stand on the seat so she could look out. She had her face pressed against the bars and didn’t have an inch of fear in her. This personality trait will have me worried the rest of my life.
In the evening, I took her to the Disney Animation building where there’s a lot of room to run around and big screens showing art from the movies. Lots of music as well. She chased the lights that were spotted on the floor and could roll around. We went to Turtle Talk with Crush and her eyes were fixated on Crush swimming around on the screen.
So if you’re planning a trip with a toddler, I highly recommend it. Don’t think of it as “oh, they won’t remember or care”. Just think of it as a giant playground and do everything for them. And don’t forget your camera.