Flying to Disneyland

A few weeks ago, I scheduled a last-minute trip to Disneyland with DD since the Southwest airfare was pretty cheap.  After booking, I started to second guess DD’s readiness (or mine) for going on an airplane.  I always said we would wait until she was older before embarking on airplane adventure because she’s so active.  Since the flight is only one hour, I figured this would be a good test. 

I put a lot of thought into packing for the trip since DH wouldn’t be joining us this time.  Since I’d be flying solo with a 1-year old, I needed to only take the necessities so our bag wouldn’t weigh much.  Here’s where I netted out:

1)      Stroller
2)      Duffle bag with mommy and DD’s stuff (hook the handles on the stroller)
3)      Back pack with mommy’s purse stuff, pacifiers, milk, water, snacks, games

This plan worked out brilliantly!  I didn’t have to carry anything; just push DD and our bag in the stroller. 

Flying with Southwest, any child that is under 2 years old is considered a lap child.  You do not have to pay for a seat since they must since in your lap.  Be sure to bring your child’s birth certificate for proof of age.

There’s also a cool perk for flying with a kid.  You can bring your stroller all the way to the boarding gate and it doesn’t count against your “one carryon, one personal item” rule.  Once you get to the gate, check in with the attendant to get a tag for the stroller.  Right when you get to the plane door, fold up the stroller so they can stow it away.  When you arrive at your destination, your stroller will be ready for you when you get off the plane.

Going through security, milk and juice/water must be displayed in the xray bin and it will be tested.  Once you get through the xray, a TSA agent will ask you to open the bottle/sippy cup and they will place a strip OVER the liquid to test the vapors.  Note that they do not touch the liquid.  The strip will test for alcohol or other non-permissible liquids.

Our flight was early so the plane was virtually empty.  This meant that we had the entire row to ourselves which was a relief to me since I didn’t have to hold her in my lap for an hour.  She did have to sit in my lap for takeoff and landing, but she was pretty much free to lie around the seats.  I could tell her ears started to hurt with the air pressure, so I gave her milk and she ended up fine.

From Airport to Hotel

One of the concerns I had about flying was how to get to the hotel from the airport without a car seat.  I did some research online and found the Disneyland Resort Express: A Gray Line busing service that picks you up at the airport (LAX and SNA) and drops you off at your Disneyland or Good Neighbor Hotel.  Since I was staying at a Good Neighbor Hotel (more specifically, the Anaheim Plaza Hotel), this was perfect!  My plane arrived early, so I was able to catch the 8:00 AM bus, which was already waiting at the Ground Transportation area of John Wayne Airport (SNA).  There’s a little white booth in front of the bus where you can purchase your ticket.  I purchased a round trip ticket for $27 (DD was free).  The driver was very helpful in loading my bag and stroller and even more helpful in setting up the stroller when we arrived at the hotel.

From Hotel to Airport

For pick ups going to the LAX and SNA airport, the Disneyland Resort Express does their pick up every 40 on the hour (i.e. 5:40, 6:40, 7:40).  They picked us up and then dropped us off at the Disneyland Hotel where we had to change buses (the other bus was already there, so there wasn’t any wait time). 

After our trip to Disneyland, we were not so lucky on the flight back.  The plane was full and she had to sit on my lap the entire time.  This did not sit well with DD who probably thought she could roam around the row like she did the last time.  She also drank all of her milk during takeoff so when we were getting ready to land and her ears started to pop, she was out of milk.  I asked the flight attendant for some milk and to my disappointment, they do not offer milk!  So next time I will have to bring two bottles.

Airport Checklist

Checking In.  Bring your child’s birth certificate.

Security.  Allow extra time in your schedule for the security check point.  Just like an adult, you need to take your kid’s shoes off.  Stroller gets folded up and put through the xray machine.  Bring out your milk and sippy cups so they can be vapor tested.

Boarding.  At the gate, ask to check in your stroller.  They will give you a check tag that gets attached to the stroller.  They’ll board it for you when you get to the plane door and bring it out when you land.

Flight.  Bring extra milk along for takeoff and landing to help with air pressure.

Disneyland Resort Express:

One way
Adult: $17, Child (age 3-11): $14

Round trip
Adult: $27, Child (age 3-11): $18


About P.T.

Once I took my daughter to Disneyland for the first time at 14 months, I couldn't get enough. I literally saw the magic in her eyes and one of my "things" as a mom is to never let the magic slip away. Being an Annual Passholder and living 400 miles away from Disneyland is almost painful. Now that she's 2, she's a seasoned guest and has not run out of new adventures. Raising a Disney Kid is designed to provide helpful tips, planning info, reviews, and park updates for other parents visiting the Disneyland Resort.
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