5 Tips for a Successful Day in the Parks with a Toddler

by Shannon Benecchi

Think back, can you remember your first visit to a Disney park? I have wonderful memories of visiting Disneyland with my family as a child and as a mom I love that I now get to take my children. The feeling of magic and excitement never seems to go away! Disneyland is a perfect place to take your kids, it is full of fun and adventure!  However, it can also be over-stimulating and exhausting for young children.  Before you decide to visit the park with your toddler, check out these five tips to make your visit go more smoothly.

Lower your expectations

You may be all set to hit the ground running and knock out 10 rides before lunch, but this might not be your child’s speed.  If this is your child’s first trip to a Disney park be prepared for a lot of downtime.  My child gets overstimulated after a few of the dark rides, so we stop and have a snack to regroup to ward off any tantrums.  Instead of focusing on all the rides you want to go on, focus on making amazing memories with your child.  I know many people find the railroad to be less than exciting, but young children love it! Try it out, your child might really enjoy the slower rides that you may usually skip over.

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Bring snacks!

I can’t stress this one enough.  My daughter spends most of the day grazing on snacks, it keeps her blood sugar up and (more importantly) keeps her happy.  Fill up some baggies with your child’s favorite snack and bring them out when he or she is starting to get cranky- a small snack can work wonders on a bad attitude!

Prep your child

I love Peter Pan’s Flight- it is hands down one of my favorite rides in the park.  When I took my daughter on it for the first time she was very nervous!  My child likes being able to predict what is coming next, and flying around London really threw her for a loop.  If your child is the same, consider checking out videos or pictures of the rides to help them prepare.  My daughter loves watching ride videos on YouTube and will now ask to go on specific rides after watching the videos.  I am happy to say that she has gotten over her fear of Peter Pan’s Flight! This goes the same for meeting characters. My daughter loves Mickey Mouse…but she was not prepared for him to be over 5 feet tall! She eventually did warm up to Mickey, but it took some time for her to get used to his size.

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Consider leaving early

This one really pains me because I love Disneyland and can easily stay from opening to close!  However, this is a bit much for my daughter.  Rather than staying all day we usually get a hotel room nearby so we can go and take a nap or swim in the pool for a few hours.  Being away from all the crowds and noise recharges my daughter’s batteries so that she can go back and enjoy the nighttime shows with us.

Use the baby care center in the park

True, a toddler is not a baby so this may not be on your list of places to visit.  However, if your child is getting close to a meltdown or if you just need some quiet and air conditioning this is a great place to go!  It is so nice to have a really quiet place to regroup and let your child rest a bit without even leaving the park.  I also prefer this spot for all diaper changes or potty stops for little ones.  Check it out- you won’t be disappointed!

Visiting Disneyland or Walt Disney World with young children can be daunting, but you can certainly make the visit a little easier for you and your child.  Do you have any tips that I missed?  Leave your favorite tip for visiting the parks with toddlers in the comments below!

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