Best Ages for Disneyland

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Should we go to Disneyland with 3 year olds?

Feb 2012

Our twins have two weeks off from preschool/daycare in May (just after their 3rd birthday) and we're trying to decide on a fun vacation for part of that time. We had been planning on taking them to Disneyland when they turned four, but now we're thinking maybe we should go this year. Is this totally crazy? Is it a waste to take 3-year-olds there? (considering the costs, distance, etc.) Is it fun with this age group? I'd love to hear opinions in either direction on this issue. I should say that my kids aren't really familiar with Disney movies yet but do know and love Mickey Mouse and related characters (goofy, daisy, etc.) --can't decide!

I'd recommend Legoland in Carlsbad. It's aimed at younger kids - much smaller but a better fit for 3yos in my experience. We went last year with my then 5 and 2 year old and had a blast. It's small enough that you can lap it 2x in one day - lots of age appropriate rides for the kids. And the food is surprisingly healthy and good. They have a water park but we didn't go last year (too cold).

If you do decide on Disney and want to splurge, I'd recommend the Grand Californian hotel - it has an entrance to California Adventure. We went 2 years ago and it was great to be able to walk back to the hotel for a nap in the afternoon and then hit the park after dinner for some more rides and fireworks. Enjoy! amusement park mom

If you only get 1 trip, then go when the twins are 4 years old. But they will still enjoy it as 3 year olds, but not sure if they'll enjoy it $70 per ticket worth as just-turned-3 year olds, legoland or just a park might be better. anon

We took our 3 1/2 year old to Disneyland last year. It was not the magical experience that we expected. He was overwhelmed by the noise and the crowds and hated waiting in line. He enjoyed the break that we took at the hotel pool better than Disneyland. In fact, his favorite ride was the piggy back ride that he got from his cousin. If you do go, do not go on a weekend. Stay in a hotel close to the park so that you can take a break and have a swim/nap. We really like the Red Lion. I have been waiting since high school to have a kid and take him/her to Disneyland. I was very disappointed. Will try again in a few years

I have 82 pictures in my Shutterfly account of my child at Disneyland at age 3.5, having the time of her life. She's been twice, once at 3.5 and once at about 7.5 and both times were fantastic. So my feeling is yes, it's worth it. I'd take her every year if I could afford it. Feel free to email me directly if you want to ask me specific questions. I would say the highlight for her at 3.5 was having an autograph book and getting character autographs and pictures. At 7, the rides and shows were the highlights. Noel

We just went for the first time w our kids who just turned 8 and 6. I'm glad we didn't go when they were any younger. Our 6 yr old had a great time but was also a bit overwhelmed, but we still had a really fun day. I just don't think it would have been worth it to take them much before turning 6, unless you just really want to go there for yourself or the expense doesn't matter to you. A year earlier, we took them to the Knottsberry Farm amusement park down in SoCal -- it's not nearly as great as Disney, but had a lot of stuff for little kids and was way cheaper. If you do go to Disneyland and are doing so for one day, don't bother paying extra for Disney's California Adventures; there's more than you can do in a day at the main park. A single day at Disneyland for 2 adults and 2 kids can easily end up costing in the $500-600 range for parking, tickets, food, and a couple of souveniers. You can also try taking them to Marine World in Vallejo which also has a lot of little kid rides (plus animal shows..) to see how they hold up to a day at that kind of park.. Goofy

Hello! I have twins too, and we first took them to Disneyland at an older age, which I would recommend. We took them when they were 6 and it was such a hit! At 3, they won't remember, and you will be much poorer. I would recommend checking out Legoland for 3 year olds. We didn't discover Legoland until my kids were older, but they would have had much more fun about that age. Legoland is a bit further south than Disney. Crowds are much more manageable, rides are more suited towards toddlers. They also have an aquarium which would be great for that age. The water park I'd probably skip. There's a hotel there that boasts that it has its own entrance to the park. We didn't stay there because it was pricey. Stayed at a Hilton which was across the street and the parking lot. It was great there! Great pool for kids too. It's also a time share, so if you want to sit through the pitch, you can get some moolah too. They are also kid oriented so they had popcorn one night when we came back. Lemonade and chocolate chip cookies another night. Legoland!

We JUST got back from disney with our 7, 4, and 2 1/2 yr old and i would say wait. I had been wanting to go for years but my husband kept saying the kids weren't ready and in all honesty, he was right. My 7 yr old princess/ fairy loving daughter was the perfect age...knew every character, was able to handle waiting in lines and wasn't scared. Could also be able to be out all day. My 4 yr old is a tougher than normal girl, loved all the rides. My 2. 1/2 yr old son was too young and was a real ball and chain...tired, fussy, scared of rides, running through crowds. We both left feeling that 4- 5 is really the perfect age... Its an expensive trip, so best to really make fun for them, otherwise, its just more for you. Give them time to learn the characters , as they was best part of it for my is really character driven so if they don't know ariel or tinkerbell or alladin, seeing them just won't be as fun. Oh, and can handle waiting in lines and staying out all day... Survived disney!

I would wait for Disneyland. I took my 6 1/2 year old last summer and left my 3 year old home with dad. I was so glad I did. The lines are so long for everything and I don't think 3 year olds have the capacity to be patient all day. It is also really big and crowded so there is no room to run and play. My 6 year old was able to wait in lines, stay up late for the fireworks and she appreciated that the trip was special. I would recommend Monterey as a better destination. My kids love the aquarium, My Museum, Dennis the Menace park, and the beach. If you do go to Disneyland, I recommend the Howard Johnsons. They have a great mini water park and good rates. miranda

Well, it depends on you and your children's stamina. At over $308 for two parents and two kids (bummer, under 3 and your kids would have been free), it gets pretty pricey and the park is huge - especially if you want your kids to walk. Your kids WILL be exhausted by lunch. Pacing and moderate weather helps. As for things to entice them, even if your kids never step foot on a ride, there are a lot of attractions that are kid friendly from the Nemo submarine to the Jungle Cruise to Toon Town, Astro Blasters and Small World. There are lots of things to look at, entertainers, parades, and the trains around the park and the monorail are also worth taking advantage of. We waited until our child was 8 and they didn't last an entire day. We went for the morning, had lunch, rode the train, went back to the hotel, swam, and then hit the park after dark. Didn't make the fireworks. LA is worth the drive however. Lots to do in addition to Disneyland that would make the drive worthwhile like the La Brea Tar Pits, and the California Science Center in LA on your way down. But you have to do your own calculations to determine if $300 plus gas and hotel for not quite a full day is worth it at this age. Kiddie Koncierge

Disneyland is fun for *any* age! I'm not sure why you think it would be a significantly different experience for a 3 year old than for a 4 year old; it's certainly a bit different for a toddler than for a grade schooler but both will enjoy it.

I've been with a 17-month-old, with a 19-month-old plus almost-5-year-old, and with a 6-year-old plus a 10-year- old. The last time was definitely easiest, in most ways, but we had fun every time and so did the kids. And watching my then-preschooler experience Small World as completely magical was awesome; you don't get that with an older kid.

The things that make waiting longer easier for you, as the parents? Giving up naps (naptime can really mess with having enough time for the attractions), having more stamina for walking and long days, large/tall enough and adventurous enough to go on all the rides. Oh, and being reliably potty trained, so you don't have to haul around a diaper bag.

The things that make going sooner easier for you, as the parents? Hauling around a sleeping baby (in a carrier or even in a stroller) is a lot easier than hauling around a whiny overtired six-year-old. (Plus, for really little babies you don't have to carry snacks! And children under 3 get in free! But yours are already past that stage.)

If Disneyland is the sort of thing you're likely to do only once in your children's lives, I suggest waiting until they are 8 or so. But if going now isn't going to stop you from going again in three or five or ten years, and the trip appeals to you now, go! Have reasonable expectations for their stamina and interests, and your twins will love it.

And consider visiting Legoland too, while you're in SoCal. It's definitely well worth at least one day, and has plenty to appeal to the Duplo set. Holly

I took my girls when they were 1 and 3 and then again at 2 and 4. They are 9 & 11 now and they remember none of it. They were just as happy to go to Pixieland in Concord or Fairyland in Oakland with a lot less stress. If you go, plan to go back to a hotel for mid-day naps to keep you all more sane and plan to take it slow. Debbie L.

I would wait til they're 4! They'll be more aware, able to walk further, etc. Take a year and show them some Disney movies...get them familiar with stories and more'll all have more fun next year. heidilee

We took our almost 3 year old to D-land last summer, and he had a blast. He hadn't really seen any movies either, but did have some Disney characters by stuffed animals or books (Pooh).

We stayed at the Disney resort, which was nice, so we could walk back (or Monorail) for afternoon naps (but were willing to forego). There are still alot of rides they can go on at that age, and it's not too overwhelming. We even stayed up late and saw the fireworks show.

We didn't go to Cal Adventure Park.

He still remembers the trip and talks about it (over 6 months ago), now that he's 3.5. Anon

Have you considered Legoland? We went over the summer with our 2 and a half year old and he had a great time. There are lots of other things to do in San Diego too. Have fun!

no no no no no no no!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! too loud, crowded, overstimulating. I took mine when they were 3 and 5 and it was a nightmare. No one had fun. My friends with kids that age said Legoland was by far superior. anon

I would not recommend taking 3-yr-olds to Disneyland. They are barely going to remember the trip and they cannot ride most of the rides. I just took my son for the first time and he was eight. He could walk the park and ride all the rides. It was fantastic! But we did have to stand in lines for up to an hour (aka the \xc3\xa2\xe2\x82\xac\xcb\x9cDisneystand\xc3\xa2\xe2\x82\xac\xe2\x84\xa2) for some attractions and it was a long couple of days. He would not have tolerated that at 3 years old. I went for the first time, when was young, at age five and I remember it being a bit overwhelming.

Also, it can be very crowded. The stroller population at Disneyland is insane, even the employees complain about it. We were run over or hit more than once in a day. So you would either have to watch you children closely or become part of the stroller annoyance.

I know some will vehemently disagree with me, but I think until your children can walk the park, have the patience to stand in line, and ride the rides, it might be better to go someplace else. Cynthia

Here's some things I would consider. Find on-line the height restrictions for rides at Disney and compare that to your kids heights. My daughter was on the short side but yet a daredevil. When we took her at 3 she could do quite a bit but there were a bunch of things she couldn't do. We took my son at 2.5 and he's super tall, he could do most things. With that said, I think it's a great place for all ages. My daughter didn't know the characters at all but still loved the park. This last time we stayed at Disney's Grand Californian. It was super pricey but so, so, so convenient. It has it's own entrance into the park, we didn't drive for 3 days, and we could come back and hang out at the pool(s) in the afternoon. There were also some early admittance days and some extra fast passes. It was really nice. Food prices are ridiculous at the park and hotel. So, if you do stay at a super close hotel I would make sure you bring food, snacks, water. When we went w/ my daughter we went during spring break which was ridiculously busy. I would stay away from the busy times. If you stay at a non- Disney hotel I would stay at a place very close to Disney where you can do a shuttle and possibly a pool. We used a Mouse Waits iPhone app and it was very helpful. We have gotten passes where we could also go to California Adventure. The Bug's Life area is nice for kids. I know they have a lot of construction going on so I'd research that if you are interested in CA adventure. CA Soaring was a favorite for both kids. - Disney Fan

we took our almost 3-year old to Disneyland over Xmas break and had an amazing time. We are going back in a week, it was so great. (gotta get in while she's free!) Given how much negative feedback your question received, it seems like a question that only you, who knows your family, can answer. Kathleen

How old for Disneyland?

June 2010

My husband and I are thinking of taking our two boys to Disneyland this year. Our oldest is three years old and our second will be two in September and that's when we plan on going. The boys are just now beginning to appreciate Mickey and friends but are they still too young to take to Disneyland? If we go, would it be better to stay near or at Disney so we can break the visit up? With cost of going being as high as it is these days, we want to make sure that we get the most of the trip. Any advice, pro and/or con will be much appreciated. Anon

We took our kids (boy-girl twins) to Disneyland when they were 3 years old. I love Disney, so it was as much for me as for them. My wife tolerates Disney, but admits to having fun there.

They don't remember it now of course (they are 13), but the way to give them the most from their experience is to take pictures and especially video of them at Disneyland. Our kids love watching themselves having fun at Disneyland.

It is essential to stay close enough so you can go back to your room for a nap in the middle of the day. That way you miss the heat and give everyone a break. Then after you are refreshed you can go back and have some more fun. We stayed for two nights. The first night, one of us went out while the kids were asleep to go on the big rides the kids can't go on. The second night we switched.

You can also do ''baby swap'' where one parent waits at the end of the ride for the first parent to ride, and then the other parent can ride without waiting. We didn't do that; there is so much to go on and see with your kids.

Another key thing is to take advantage of early entry if you are staying at a Disney hotel. This gets you into the park 1 hour before it opens to the general public. Usually the Fantasyland rides are open and you can get on all of them with little wait. The more you wait in line, the more your kids are going to get antsy.

The other important thing is to be flexible. If the kids are getting worn out and cranky it is time to head for the hotel and rest or play in the pool.

If you can afford it, sign up for a character meal. The characters come to your table and interact with everyone. This makes especially good video.

Since your kids aren't in school, you can go during the off season when things are cheaper and it is less crowded. Have fun! Disney Lover

I can't answer your direct question. But I did take my 5-year-old to Legoland this spring. We all really enjoyed it. They have a number of very basic rides, and more ''advanced'' rides as well. There is plenty of space for down-time, which are spots to build with legos, or observe lego displays, or play in some water areas, or ''shoot'' soft balls in an enclosed climbing area. They also have a ''basic'' aquarium.

For a 3-year old, I would think Disney might be an amazing experience, or it might be overwhelming. I'm not sure how much they would get out of it. Talked to a few families at the hotel we stayed in at Carlsbad (near the beach) and they figured Legoland for a few years and then graduate to Disneyland. Bryan in Oakland

We waited until our eldest was four for Disneyland and are glad we did because she was tall enough for many (but not all) of the rides and she had a great time. Our youngest was one that trip and along for the ride. We stayed at the Candy Cane Inn (per recommendations from BPN) and it was great: close to the park, free shuttle, super clean and basic nice. It worked well for us to purchase three- day park hoppers and then each day we took a long break (a couple of hours) for nap and lunch or dinner; this made the kids' spirits much better and we feel like we got a lot out of our time there. Our stroller (baby in stroller, kid standing on back) helped a lot to keep both girls going. Erin

I took my daughter when she was 21 months old, and she absolutely loved it. I mean LOVED it.

Things she liked the most: parades--all of them. Electric Light Parade (wayy past her normal bed time) was the absolute favorite. Small World, naturally. Loved it. Silly things like trains, monorail, double-decker bus. And all the characters. She didn't even know who they were... just thought it was kind of marvelous that there were life-sized animals wandering down the streets. Some rides (like Dumbo) she just loved to watch, which was great, because then we didn't have to stand in line.

I'm sure she won't have life-long memories of the trip, but she still goes bananas now 2 1/2 months later any time we start singing It's a Small World.

Really, the hardest part was getting over my expectation that we see and do a lot. When I slowed it down to her pace and didn't think we needed to get to every spot, we had a great time.

Naps were a pain. Still worth it though. Sold on Disney

I'd say they are too young. I would wait at least two or three years. A lot of the characters are actually scary to little kids. I remember taking my stepson when he was four. Sure, he loved it, but Winne-the-Pooh (his total fave) scared the beejeebers out of him! When we went again a few years later... wow, what a difference! And then again when he was 8 and his sister was 9 they had the absolute best time ever! My own son went for the first time that he could remember when he was about 3 and a half (maybe almost 4) and totally into Peter Pan. He was still terrified of the characters and didn't want to go into the Peter Pan pool or on any of the rides. Totally overwhelming. Advise waiting for Disney

We just arrived back from a trip to Disneyland today, so I can give you a current impression. There are a lot of families with young children at Disneyland, including many in strollers. I don't think your kids are too young to enjoy visiting, and it is certainly a magical place. You may want to consider though whether this is the ideal trip for your young kids. There is a lot of travel involved coming from the Bay Area, and your kids are probably only good for about 5 hrs per day at the park ... unless they are especially melt-down proof. We stayed at the Paradise Pier hotel, and that was reasonably priced on a AAA package, and very convenient. Personally I would not take kids that young to Disneyland, because we have great alternatives right here. When our kids were little, we really enjoyed taking them to Children't Fairyland in Oakland, the Oakland Zoo (which also has some rides), the Train in Tilden Park, and the Little Farm in Tilden Park. For a family vacation away, you may also want to check into Berkeley Tuolumne Camp, which works for children of all ages. Anon

We went to Disneyland when our kids were 5, 3 and 1. It was terrible. They were afraid of the dark, so didn't want to go on rides. They were afraid of the characters and certainly didn't want pictures with them. They mostly wanted to go back to the hotel and swim in the pool. I know many families who had great trips at those ages, but for my kids, it was too scary. If your kids are sensitive about bad guys in movies or shows, then you might want to wait. (Disney movies, in general, were always too scary.) If your kids love that stuff, then they'll probably have a great time. L

We took our kids at ages 4 and 18 months. At 4, I felt like my son was just barely old enough for Disneyland. Barely. It was lost on the toddler, of course, except for 30 seconds of glee which could have easily happened in an abandoned field. I know people who love Disneyland with the little ones, but we could have easily waited two more years and little would have been lost.

Two and Three are not too young to enjoy Disneyland, though some in this forum will tell you that. We took our children for the first time at 6mos and 3 yrs, and once a year thereafter. It is absolutely magical for them, but you need to choose your activities wisely.

1. If cost is a concern stay at one of the non-Disney hotels on S. Harbor. (the 1500 block is the best for walking in and out) I highly recommend the Park Vue Inn as it is directly across the street from the entrance... it is just as close as the Disneyland Hotel but on the opposite side of the park.

2. Plan to go in and out of the park so that your children can get some downtime taking naps, playing in the pool, just being with you.

3. Consider using RideMax to plan your trip in advance. For a small fee you subscribe to their program. Before you go to Disneyland you program when you will go in the park, when you will take breaks and the rides/activities you would like to do and the program will create an itenerary you can print and follow, minimizing your walking and wait times. We've done this every year and have been able to get through Disneyland without a single potty training accident or temper tantrum... our children never waited in line for more than 15 minutes.

4. With two young children consider going with another couple who will be willing to swap off childcare so you can take advantage of the parent switch off pass they offer for rides like Indiana Jones.

5. Make your first activities fun open air ones. When our kids were little we'd go in for the first time in the evening. We'd watch the parade, ride dumbo, the tea cups Small World, Alice, and Peter Pan... everything was sweet and gentle so they were absolutely happy. Casey Jr and the Storybook Boats are also gentle. If you have sensitive kids don't take them on Pinocchio or Snow White... those two rides will ruin the whole trip!

I could go on, but those are the essentials that make the trip for us. Dizzy for Disney

Disneyland is very expensive. I'd wait until your younger son is around 4(since most kids this age don't nap anymore). My 13 yr old son has always loved Disneyland, but we found that we started to make the most of it when he hit the age of 11. Then you can enjoy the park at night too, which is great fun! Stay walking distance to the park (we like Howard Johnson's) and check out for the best discounts. Love Disneyland

While toddlers might really enjoy an up-close with Mickey, if they still take naps, you will be paying hundreds of dollars for very few hours of hot, crowded fun. Disneyland is SO expensive that I waited until I was sure my kids would be able to remember how much fun they had, and also went in the winter when it was empty. My kids were 7,9 and 11 and we went in January. The had a complete blast and we stayed from opening to closing -- used every minute of our three-day park hopper pass! --Worth waiting

Disneyland is my absolute favorite family vacation but it can be very overwhelming. We go for 4 days so that we can move slowly, although 3 might be okay for your aged kids. If you can swing it, I would suggest staying at one of the Disney properties (preferably the Grand Californian because it is the closest to the park) because you will have at least one napping child. It's really great for one parent to take the napping child back to the room and then you get alone time with the other one. Also, move very slowly.... enjoy Disney at your 3 year old's pace. Don't worry if you don't see everything. September is a lovely time to go and if you can swing going mid-week or at least Sunday-Thursday, that would be best. Learn about the Fast Pass system -- it's a lifesaver. Watch the times on the tickets and use the system. It works! Plan on getting to the park THE MINUTE it opens in the morning so that you can beat the heat and the lines in Fantasyland. Then, go back to your room at lunchtime and play in the pool or sleep. The parks probably close around 7pm. or so in september so keep that in mind (you can check their website for that info ahead of time). Watch the parade if you can. It's great to see their faces amazed at the characters. Don't be disappointed if they don't want to hug the characters...they are very large to the kids! Keep lots of snacks on you to give the kids while you are waiting in a line. Helps to distract them. I love Disneyland for a 3 year's so fun. Enjoy!! Disney Mama

Given how expensive Disneyland can be, I would wait at least another year before taking your kids. I actually think 4 or older is the best age. Younger kids are often terrified by the huge Disney characters walking around. They don't find waiting in line tolerable, and most of the rides are too scary. The wait times for the rides for really young children are often extremely long. They won't really appreciate the ''magical'' aspects of the place. Why rush -- you'll all have more fun later. Also, do stay in a nearby hotel and plan on returning mid-day for a swim and sleep. Young children are often much more interested in the swimming pool than the amusement park. There's so much time to do all that fun stuff, I'd say don't put yourself through it yet. It will be too stressful and the kids won't appreciate the fun yet. Disney Fan

I would say it really depends upon the child. If your kids are really active and spirited, it could drive you crazy chasing them around the park. But if they have a good attention span and will hang with you, I think it can be a really fun time for toddlers! (I know not everyone is a fan of Disney, but I personally love disneyland. The place is always extremely clean and they make a huge effort to be family friendly. Should be a ''no duh! it's a family place'' but compared to Great America or other parks, which always have popcorn/gunk all over the place, I really appreciate the effort they make.) We took our little guy to Disneyland at 18 months, when some friends of ours went. i was a little nervous that he would be way too young but he LOVED it. He was very into trains at this point and so all the little cars and actual trains at the park were a *huge* hit. He was very transfixed by the Parade. He had just gotten into Pixar movies and Mickey/Minnie and was completely in awe of the ''characters''. I absolutely recommend staying near the park so you can take a nap break. You don't have to stay at the Disney hotel, there are plenty within walking distance that are affordable. Strollers and having your own supplies on hand are also really key to enjoying the experience!

Fave rides for little ones: It's a Small World, Tea Cups, Dumbo, Casey Jr. Train, Autopia, Jungle Cruise, Magic Tiki Room (singing birds are lots of fun, the singing tiki logs can be a little scary so don't sit next to the wall where they are!), Winnie the Pooh, Finding Nemo Submarine, Disneyland Railroad Train. If they are braver, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan are really fun ''dark'' rides. Also, Toon Town is the ''little kid'' area with loads of fun play structures.

The biggest advice I would say is take it slow, pace yourself, be patient and make sure you take that nap break! The kid's tend to be so transfixed, looking around in wide-eyed wonder that you can get caught up in everything and might miss your usual schedule! (that happened to us!) Also, know that you will miss out on the grown up rides. You might want to consider going with another family. We did this and the dads watched the kids during the parade while the moms rode a few ''big kid'' rides. Then we took the kids to Toon Town so the dad's could ride some! It worked out well....

Good luck! It's a lot of fun...we've been back three times (my son is now six) and every visit was HUGE fun! Alix

Disneyland with a group of high school students

May 2009

A group of approximately 60 plus high school students with teacher and parents are planning to travel to Los Angeles and Disneyland in June 2010. We would like to get travel tips for transportation, food, and lodging. What were some creative alternatives that helped your group spend less, eat well and healthfully, survive heat, and have fun? We would like to hear your dos and don'ts, musts, and what to expect. Recommendations for places to eat and shop for food are also welcomed. Thanks! Denise

Just came back from Disneyland for the weekend. We stayed at Desert Palms which has suites, refrigerator in room, pool, hot tub, and free breakfast that included scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes, pancakes, danishes, oatmeal, juice, coffee, great deal especially for teens. However there are a lot of hotels within easy walking distance - some right across the street.

While there I made this list, because a lot of hotels will say they're walking distance and that can mean a lot of different things. Close hotels are: Desert Palms (Katella Blvd), and the following hotels on Harbor Blvd, right across from the main entrance to Disneyland: Desert Inn & Suites, Anaheim Inn (Best Western), Alpine Inn, Anaheim Plaza, Del Sol Inn, Park Vue Inn, Carousel. We had all our meals at Disneyland, so I can't help you there, except that I think the food at California Adventure is better than the food at Disneyland.

It also saves time if you buy your tickets on line. You can print them out on your home computer.

As for rides, you can use your park entry ticket to get a ''fastpass'' which allows you to skip big lines by giving you a time window in which to return. Use them carefully because you can only get one ''fastpass'' every 2 hours. Be sure everyone saves their ticket. You need a handstamp AND your ticket to re-enter the park. We got the park hopper tickets which allow you to go from Disneyland to California Adventure in the same day. Its fun and very easy. Sue

I've never gone with 60 kids, only 4, but here's what I recommend--Print out a map of the streets that border Disneyland, and find the hotels that are within easy walking distance of Disneyland's Main Gate (these are LONG blocks, but teenagers can walk farther than 3-year-olds, so you have lots of choices. I highly recommend staying on S. Harbor Blvd.) Go online and read reviews of the closest ones. Then start calling and seeing if they have special group rates or deals. Get rooms with refrigerators & microwaves (most have them).

Upon arrival, take groups of kids to Von's (like Safeway, a short drive down S. Harbor Blvd.), where they can buy fruit, ready-to-eat-veggies, instant oatmeal, cereal, milk, bread, cold-cuts, cheese, jam, peanut butter, yogurt...paper plates, and plastic they can have snacks on hand and make sandwiches. Most of the hotels have free breakfast, and have little shops to buy snacks, drinks, etc. Disneyland food is expensive, and we've taken sandwiches in for our kids. They've never questioned it. Pizza places and other restaurants deliver to the hotels; that's fun and you don't have to take over an entire restaurant. If you want to eat out, call ahead to make sure they can accommodate you. There are lots of restaurants within walking distance. Go out to eat in smaller groups to make it easier.

The heat--do the outdoor activities in the cooler morning and evening hours. Do the indoor stuff or hit the pool during mid-day. Bring water to the park with you, and use it to douse your hats and shirts if it's hot! A wet shirt is a great way to keep cool. It's very kid-friendly there for kids of all ages. Be sure to watch the fireworks in the park at night! Have a great time! heidi

Is Disneyland worth the trip for a 5, 3, and 1?

April 2009

We are seriously considering taking the kids to Disneyland. It will be our first time going anywhere with the three of them (4.5 yrs, almost 3 yrs, and 1 yr). Up until now, going anywhere has been major WORK! Even getting the three of them in the car is work. And it still will be work, but maybe a little less work now that they are a tiny bit older. So, my question is.... do I DARE take them to Disneyland for a few days??? Is it worth it??? MY girls are SO into princesses that I feel like they would really really love it. We are just a little hesitant. Plus, the whole plane flight seems a little overwhelming, too. Any advice appreciated. Stephanie

We have taken our three boys to Disneyland on numerous occasions. The first time they were 6, 3, and 4 mos; we went in August. It was a great trip, albeit a little warm. My advice: take them when it's not quite so hot (and crowded) if you can. When we had just the two boys, we took them in October. The weather was fantastic and it wasn't quite so crowded. We've also gone at Christmas and a few weeks ago, we went for Spring break (with our four kids). We've stayed at the resort and off-site. I preferred being closer when the kids were smaller, but now that they're 11, 8, 5 and 3 off-site has it's benefits. Call AAA or Costco for special packages which include things like, 'Character Breakfast'(get up close and personal with all of the princesses),adults pay the same price as kids and free shuttle service from the hotel to the park. Off-site is definitely less expensive and some offer free breakfast. It's not a long car ride (about 5 1/2 hours) if you prefer driving over flying. Three days in both parks is plenty -- they'll get their fill of Snow White and the gals. My boys and girl loved it! Good luck! Fan of Disneyland

If you do it, make sure to have a minimum of 1 adult to each child. So you need a grandparent or a babysitter. In my early 20s, a single mom invited me to one of these trips. She paid for all the gas and the motel room we all shared, I paid my entryfee and all my own food in exchange for helping with the kids. You would be CRAZY to have two adults take three kids, with the youngest at age 1.

Yes! My 3 kids are that exact age structure, and we went in December. My husband and I looked at each other near the end of the day in amazement that we'd actually had FUN together as a family. Take it slow, drink lots of water and snack often (they actually have great kids' snack boxes with minimally processed foods and juices/milks/waters, etc. on sale at the park). I have 2 boys, 1 girl (girl is in Princess mode, too) and even my oldest loved ''Princess Land'' (near Small World--princesses tell stories, do makeup, sell crap, all day). That was new since I had last gone. I thought my daughter was going to explode... the look on her face when real-life Belle bumped into her and then leaned down to apologize was something I will never forget.

Stay close to the park. There are many suite-hotels that are resonably priced about a mile down the road. The kids were all in one room, and we could stay up, drink wine, be adults, AND see the fireworks. We drove into the park, and a parking pass gives you in and out privelages. It's 15 bucks--cheaper than the shuttle from the hotel for 5 people. The kids went all day-- 9 am(ish) to 9 pm. Then we took them to the hotel to sleep, husband stayed there, and I returned to do some roller coaster- type rides with my family who was also there.

Full disclosure: I grew up in So.Cal so I am biased towards d- land. Mouse-Lover

Hi! We took our kids to Disneyland for the first time last month because we have been conditioned that a visit to Disneyland is a child's birth rite. We stood in line for hours and hours. We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel and got the privilege of walking about \xc2\xbd mile through a mall (aka Downtown Disney) each time we went back and forth the to park. We bought over-priced food. We got the Disney brand imprinted to my kids' head every turn we made. All for hundreds of dollars a day. If you want a vacation in which you come back exhausted, you have to keep your kids contained and supervised every second, and shell out tons of dough, then Disney is the place for you! Next time going to a lake

A trip to Disneyland will be fun for the 5 and 3 year old. The one year old will surely get some fun out of it too, but it will be mostly for the older two. It's good that you are asking this question and thinking about the trip now! If you go, think a lot about how much time you will spend at the park, how you want the pace of it to go for your family and so on. Go into it knowing that Disneyland is a fun but super-stimulating and exhausting place for kids and adults (and did I mention that is is expensive?) So, for kids that age it would be wise to not even try to see or do everything in the park even if you're there a couple of days. In fact, forget about California Adventures and don't even try to see everything in the ''old'' Disneyland park. I suggest getting an early start when the day is cool, staying 'till perhaps just past lunch and then heading back to the hotel for a nap and ''down time'' and maybe even a swim in the hotel's pool. Then, you can go back in the afternoon when it is cooling down, you've missed the peak crowds, and enjoy a few more hours and perhaps catch a parade. Also, if you can afford to stay at one of the Disney hotels, do it. Or, research the hotels and find one as physically close as possible to the entrance to Disneyland. It is exhausting and time consuming to ''shuttle'' yourselves back and forth from the park to a hotel so the more time and energy you can save on that, the better. Lastly, if you do go, embrace the whole experience and do it at a humane pace for your children. Be super-patient with them and everyone will have a good time. It's the happiest place on earth! friend of Mickey

I think they are too young. I went with my son when he was six? or seven? and that was just barely old enough. I saw lots of families dragging younger kids around who looked miserable. And do NOT go between May and August, or during any school vacations/holidays. It can get insanely crowded and the lines are LONG. But, I think D-land is way overrated, and my husband refers to it as 'the happiest hellhole on earth.' oh - and it was also the most expensive vacation we've ever taken - more expensive than Hawaii, and (not counting the flight) more than London, too.

As a mom of four grown children and gramma to three, here is my suggestion. I just returned from a wonderful two-night, three- day marathon to disneyland with my 5-yr-old grandaughter (princess) and her mom. We had a blast! Five is the perfect age to take them....I would not spend the money for all three at this time....It's just not worth the effort, money, exhaustion, and short-tempered parenting involved. If you have a choice, don't go in the summer! P.S. you must make reservations for the Disney Princess Lunch or Dinner at Ariel's Grotto at California Adventures across the way...delightful! gramma

Personally, I think Disneyland is too much for a 1yr old, and maybe also for a 3year old. There are limited things they can do that the 5yo can do, so it's a lot of splitting up, waiting, etc. Remember it's also hot and crowded. I''d make it a special weekend for the 5yo and a parent...let the others go later when they can appreciate. I took my younger son when he was 9. We had a blast. anon

The 1 year old is definitely too young, and the three year old could be, too. The baby will not really be able to appreciate what he/she is seeing, and will likely need to nap in the middle of the day. You may be tired and stressed from trying to entertain/feed/take care of the baby, which will make the whole trip less fun for everyone. Is there a grandparent or sitter who could stay home with the baby? Warning: you will need to go again when baby is older. We took our boys (7 & 8) and our daughter (3). My daughter couldn't go on any of the ''fun'' rides because she wasn't tall enough. I promised to take her when she was older. (She's 26!) jackie

At those ages, I would probably opt for Lego Land in Southern Orange/Northern San Diego County instead. They have more rides and attractions geared to the younger set. Furthermore, there are always promotions to help keep the costs down. Now, even though there is more for the younger set, it doesn't mean that older kids will be twiddling their thumbs. There is a fair amount of activities with minimum ages (typically 4). The attractions are very hands on which is a big hit for that age group. Disneyland does have some stuff for younger children, but fo rthe money, I would recommend waiting a couple of years at least. The Legoland park size is a little more compact as well - something to think about as you wheel or carry three kids around. And, even though the Lego park is one big product placement, the commercialism is pretty subdued compared to Disneyland.

Cost wise, if ALL you do is go to Disneyland, it will cost you $59 a pop up to 9. 10 years and older will run you $69 a head. Add $25 to include California Adventure. Add $39 above that to make it a 2-day adventure. Legoland is $53 for kids 12 and under and $63 for adults. Add $13-15 to make it a two day adventure. Now you may think: why would I extend this ordeal over two days? It actually makes sense. Say you are staying relatively close. You can peel your kids away before they (or you) are completely fried. Have them chill for a bit and go back the next day fresh as a daisy. It is a lot more civilized and you as program director, do not feel the compulsion to cram EVERYTHING into one visit. Stephen

Hi - I definitely think Disneyland is worth it for your 3 and 5 year olds, our boy was 3 when we first went and I'll never forget the experience -- the look of awe on his face and the sparkle in his eyes the entire day. It really was magic (and I'm pretty cynical in real life). We've gone each of the last 2 years since and it's been great both times. However, I would think twice about taking your 1 year old. The last 2 times we went we left our 10 month old (the next year she was 18 months old) with a babysitter and were very happy we did. Actually, we took her into the park for about 3 hours when she was 18 months, but then she really needed a nap and one of us would have been tied to the stroller (assuming we could have gotten her to sleep in the park). Either way it seemed like no fun. We'll take her when she's 2.5 or 3. Anyway, definitely go, it's exhausting but amazing and the plane ride is only an hour. Also, you didn't ask, but we stayed at the Camelot Inn & Suites, which is great for families and literally a 5 minute walk to the park (and WAY cheaper than Disney hotels). Have fun!!! another princess fan

No! It is not worth it! Hugely overrated! I frankly think Disneyland is not worth it at all for any age, as things with equivalent costs are more fun and less annoying for the parents (go spend a couple days at the beach), but even if you do think Disneyland is fun for kids, I think your kids are too young to really enjoy it. Years ago, I took my 5 yr old nephew, and the thing he liked the best was Tom Sawyer's Island, and that's the most low-tech part of the place (basically just a park with a cool fort). Then I took my daughter when we were living down there, she was about 4 yrs old, and although she had fun, she didn't want to stay for more than a couple of hours, which is not long considering what you pay. I stupidly felt like forcing her to keep going so we could ''get our money's worth'' but she was done. She liked it, but no more than she liked the little train in Tilden Park and other much simpler (less overwhelming) places. Its just not worth the expense and hassle, esp with kids that age. If they love princesses, I'll bet they would get into some other princess-like things that are not nearly as involved, expensive, tiring. A play, Fairyland, a new princess costume, a tea party at home... BTDT

We just went to Disneyland in March for our son's 5th birthday. We also have an almost 2 year old daughter who is very difficult to say the least. I have to say, our son had a fantastic time, but we have not planned on returning until at least our daughter's 5th birthday. With a nap being needed, over-stimulation, lines to wait in, etc. it was a bit too much work and not enough vacation for us. We did stay at the Disneyland Hotel to be close to everything, but it is still a bit of a haul to get into and out of the park. Our 2 year old definitely had fun, but it would have been MUCH MORE worthwhile had they both been older. I don't think I would even consider going with 3 at the ages yours are right now. I would wait until the youngest is at least 4 or 5 leaning on the older side. You will have more fun as a family and it will be more memorable overall. Not to mention the cost factor - everything is pricey as I'm sure you know. Disneyland is great, but you definitely miss out on a lot of it with very young ones since they can't do certain rides, they won't be out late night, need naps, etc. We did see a lot of very young kids and even babies, but, for the most part, the bit older ones were having the best time as were the parents of the older kids. Also, it's a lot of walking even for a 5 year old. My son is very active and energetic and he wanted to be in the 2 year old's stroller a lot of the time which caused some arguments between them. My recommendation is to find other special things for your kids to do that don't require a plane trip, tons of money, lines, crowds, etc. Also, don't feel guilty about not going if you choose not to or that they are missing out - Disneyland isn't going anywhere, and I promise you they will enjoy it much more at a bit older age. yvette

No, taking a 5,3 and 1 year old to Disneyland is so not a good idea. A HUGE waste of time, effort and money. At that age (especially the 3 and 1 year old!) they'd be just about as happy with a day trips to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Oakland Zoo or even Fairyland for the kiddie rides, petting zoo, beach, arcade, cotton candy and other stuff. You could also consider hiring a 'princess' that does birthday parties for their princess fix. Kids that young can't really tell the difference between a simple down-home type of park and Disneyland. Also they won't have many memories at such a young age. Your 5-year old will get more out of it, but with such small ones, most of what you're paying for at Disneyland will be out of their reach/desire (scary, fast rides). I'd wait 3 years at a minimum. Your 8 year old would then be able to enjoy the 'extras' Disneyland offers, but for your 4 year old it would still be a waste in my opinion. Unless you have money to burn and don't care about the wasting money part.

Also I'll share the best advice I ever got about taking the kids to Disneyland. Simply: go in November! Our kids missed two days of school but it was totally worth it. Cool, pleasant weather and hardly any long lines, even on the most popular rides. Disneyland in summer is HOT, jam-PACKED, and lines are 1 HOUR long for a few minutes of ride. It's not that fun, especially for very young kids. With very short lines you can take advantage of a lot more that the park has to offer, and stand in line a lot less. A LOT less. Timing is everything

YES! We also went to Disneyland for the first time when my daughters were 5 and 3, and my son was 4 months. We also brought along their 4 year old cousin. The girls had a terrific time, and the princesses were a huge hit. We spent time on rides, but be prepared to just stand in line and meet princesses, and look for princesses and take pictures of princesses. We also had a 3rd adult there, my MIL, so my hubby and I could ride a couple rides together, which was terrific, but the kids were the focus of the trip, and that is a magic age, perfect for the magic kingdom. Try this--before you go, write letters ''from the princesses'' on pretty stationery for each child, welcoming the child to Disneyland. As soon as you get to the hotel, slip the letters into a drawer or someplace for the kids to find. They'll be delighted. We drove, which was a long trip, but worked fine. I think flying will be MUCH more pleasant...quick, for sure. Anaheim really caters to families with small kids. Buy the book ''Disneyland and Southern California With Kids''. It will give you hundreds of tips that will come in handy (private nursing rooms in Disneyland, where to go at what times, to avoid crowds....) Yes, go, and ENJOY! heidilee

My advice is a definite ''no'', given what Disneyland entails, the ages of your children and your own stated stress level with the sheer logistics of managing 3 kids in traveling. We waited until just last year when our two girls were nearly 7 and 8 and it was fantastic. We said over and over again we had waited until just the right age. Surely, your kids might be gleeful for a few minutes, but given their ages/heights, they wouldn't even be allowed on the rides you might enjoy, and vice-versa. The lines can be overwhelming even with the ''fast pass'' sort of thing they have now (which is mostly fantastic), so imagine your 3 little ones perhaps standing or crawling in line for even 1/2 hour. YIKES! And the rides for little ones are still horrifying for so many children because of surprises, bright lights, dark corners, noises, you name it.

Re your daughter's princess stage, I know how you feel, but to be honest, D-land is so full of character literally and figuratively, it's hard to even locate the ''princess'' aspect amidst all the others for the most part. Find another simpler trip to take that allows all of you the time and peace for a good time together. D-land is truly for older kids or families that have aunts and uncles to come along and help you the whole day! leslie

Yes, 1, 3, and 5 are too young - especially all at the same time. I just got back from Disney World with my 10 year old and had a great time - perfect age - still doesn't mind holding mom's hand and is excited about everything and doesn't need a stroller. My husband and I took our children when they were young (our 10 yr. old was 3 1/2 at the time) and while my older kids (9, 11, and 12 1/2 at the time) remember the trip, my child who was 3 doesn't remember anything from the trip and was afraid of many shows and rides and had several meltdowns because he was tired. I saw many families with young children, whose children were having meltdowns and whose parents were clearly exhausted and frustrated. I would wait till the youngest is at least 5, but if you do go, don't cram too much into one day - too hard for both parents and children. voice of experience

I am a huge fan of Disneyland, but with your kids the ages they are, I would not go unless you have a 3rd adult. Your 5 year old is perfect age, the 3 year old will get a lot out of it, and your 1 year old will just complicate everything. I would suggest you stay at one of the Disneyland resort hotels if you can (the Grand Californian is the closest one to the park which is VERY CONVENIENT, although expensive) so that the baby can nap. You will need to go at a very slow pace for your kids as it will be super stimulating. DON'T GO IN THE SUMMER...too hot and the lines will be crazy crazy long. late september or early october in the middle of the week is best. Enjoy! Mickey's #1 Fan

not worth it. Definitely for the 5 year old, probably not for the 3 year old - total waste for the one year old, and a pain for you! Wait a few years and you'll all enjoy it more. anon

Please take you little ones to Disneyland! I regret that we didn't take our son until he was 7. By that age, he had already outgrown Fantasyland. Don't forget, a big part of the fun is seeing it all again through the eyes of a child. You'll remember more than they will, but they'll remember more than you think and you'll all be talking about it for months or years to come. To reduce the stress you are anticipating, take along an additional helper who knows and loves your kids (teenage relative, grandma, etc). It will be well worth the extra expense!! Also, book one of those motels that are an easy walk from the front gates of Disneyland. This is especially handy if one or more need to have an afternoon break.

Before you leave, let them go on a binge of Disney movies to reacquaint them with the costumed characters they are likely to encounter. If you can go in the fall, the weather will be better and the park less crowded. Jane

If the girls are really into the princesses it can be fun, but remember that you will likely be standing in line for hours to meet the characters and that you have to carefully plan the day if that is the goal (which can make it more stressful than relaxing and fun).

If you do it plan to be very mellow and only try to do a couple of things each day otherwise it is hectic and overwhelming.

Also - the likelihood that the girls will remember the trip at the ages they are is slim. When we go now (ages 11 and 8) the kids get there are say ''oh I remember...'' and they can call up elements but nothing that is a life-long memory from the trips when they were under 5... Maggie

I have a 13 year old and an 8 year old. Our most fun times at Disneyland have been in the last 2-3 years. We went much earlier, but you need to have strollers for all three kids in your case and the 1 + hour wait for most rides is enough to try even the more patient parent. Plus, there will be a number of things you can't take them on, so then is one parent going to watch the two littlest while the 5 year old goes with the other parent?

I would save your money at this point. With the younger ones, the biggest hit was staying at a motel with a swimming pool. They could have stayed there the whole time. So, a much less expensive vacation would be to go to a nearby motel with a pool for a couple days!

You will have a lot more fun with your kids at Disneyland when they are older. We take each of ours on their 10th birthday and they can bring one friend. Then, I gave them walkie talkies and turned them loose with frequent check ins. kl

If you go with two adults, agree to split up depending on the kids' needs, go when most school-age kids are in school, and don't try to do too much, it will probably be OK. You might try driving down and spending a night somewhere in the middle. But what really might work best is make it a special 6-year-old birthday present -- when each kid turns 6, that kid only gets to fly down with one parent while the other parent stays home with the other kids. -- a mom whose done disneyland with just one kid and it was great

Your kids will LOVE Disneyland, and the princesses stuff will be a bonus. At the moment, your 1 yr old is free, and AAA (and others) have 3-day passes for $149, children & adults (till 5/2?). You CAN fill 3 days (and you should go California Adventure too). You can stay in one of the nearby hotels and walk or you can do the shuttle (it is nice to go back to the hotel for nap/swim time, though I never did it with my hyper-stimulated daughter). The most important things you can learn are: use your Magic Morning pass (gets you into the park an hour early on a Tu Th or Sat) and get there BEFORE the time to go on popular rides. On the other days, arrive before the gates open, and have a plan. For the middle of the day, you can do shows, which are great: the Aladdin show at Calif Adventure is even entertaining for grownups, princess storytimes are great for kids, etc. Go to the princess place to meet them (it gets less busy in the afternoon, or at least that's what I saw). Bugs Life rides and water stuff at Calif Adventure, and the Redwood Creek challenge trail is really nice for time off, as is Pirates Lair in DL (formerly Tom Sawyer Island). There's plenty to do, really, and they'd love all of it, except for the waiting in line part. And you need to balance DL noise w/ quiet time. But you can also trade off w/ two parents, and if you're so inclined, you can get ''switch'' passes at some of the rides so you don't have to both wait if the smaller kids can't go, and there are some ''single rider'' rides at Cal Adventure--so you can ride California Screamin, for example, quickly, while the other spouse takes the kids to something easier. Get a book from the library to get a sense of what is a good strategy to avoid lines (fast passes, etc). Although keep in mind that some of the newer rides may not be in the older books (e.g., Nemo, which is not as interesting as I'd like it to be but is very popular). The good news is that with 5 people and only 2 grownups, you could just blast through the fun grownup rides w/ fast passes... There are a bunch of other really fun rdes for little kids too, but you should look at a book or ask your friends. I could go on, having just returned from there...

It is only worth it if YOU will enjoy it. Yes, of course they will love it (at least the 5 and 3 yr olds will) but they will love Oakland's Fairyland almost as much, and it is a lot less work for you. We took our children to Disneyland when each was 3, and it was totally worth it but only because we, the parents, really love amusement parks and such, and we made sure to take turns going on the fun rides we wanted (ask about the parent swap pass). Go to Disneyland if you will enjoy it, but if you would enjoy somewhere else more (like San Diego beaches or Yosemite or camping) then do that. (I finally figured out that the kids will have fun almost no matter where we go, so the main person the vacation should please is ME.) --if Mommy is happy, everyone will be happy

I would skip Disneyland if I were you! It is not a restful place to go with little kids. If you want to do an amusement park go to Legoland in Carlsbad or, closer by, Gilroy Gardens. These places are designed for smaller kids and have mellow playgrounds and water play areas to hang out in. My experience with Disneyland is that it's crowded, there are long lines for rides (which is enough to try anyone's patience), and the only place to take a break is at food concessions. The fantasy is way better than the reality. Carol K

NOOOOO! I took my 3 & 6 year old for two days a few years ago- it was nightmarish, too loud, over whelming-really expensive-we drove, stayed two nights in this icky hotel, ate one meal a day in the park, bought one sovenir and it was almost $1200. let the girls play princess-watch the movies or even have a 'princess birthday'' at superfranks in Pleasanton or hire a princess to come to your home through Western Onion but disneyland is too much for the little folks- not a fan of the house of mouse

My family just took my 7-year-old son on a huge SoCal excursion. When we got home, I asked him what he had liked best. He told me, in order, how he had liked everywhere we went: 1) Wild Animal Park in San Diego (best by far) 2) Beach in San Diego 3) Legoland 4) The water squirting station in Universal Studios (didn't like any of the rest of it though) 5) Disneyland (least favorite) My son's an outdoor kind of kid, doesn't care much for rollercoasters (though he did like the Matterhorn and Indiana Jones), loves hands-on kind of stuff. I guess you have to think about what kinds of stuff your kid likes. Karen

Disneyland with a 2 and 4 year old

Oct 2007

I'm planning a day at disneyland in January of 2008 with my 2 and 4 year olds. I have only been there a couple of times and I remember that it involved a lot of walking and lines. Should I bring my double stroller - mostly I think only my two year-old will use it and I'll put stuff in it but it is pretty big and I'm wondering if it will be more trouble than it's worth. I can bring a back pack to carry my youngest but that really limits the amount of other stuff I can take for them. I think I will have another adult along to help out. Also I'm wondering if there is a specific part of the park we could aim for for that has lots of activities for this age group. disney-bound

My sister-in-law buys an annual pass to Disneyland every year and she's taught us a few things about how to do the park:

1) Definitely bring the stroller, or at least a single stroller. Disneyland is stroller friendly and there's stroller parking outside of every ride. It's a big park and kids get tired walking around, and you'll get tired carrying everything on your back.

2) It's hard to do everything in one day, so plan ahead. Is there one ride or area that you don't want to miss? Depending on how popular it is (the new Nemo submarine ride, for instance) you might want to get to the park as soon as it opens to get in line. Or, you can get one ''fastpass'' ticket for a ride that allows you priority entry at a certain time, but you can only get one fastpass at a time.

3) The California park is much quieter and has fewer lines than Disneyland.

4) Two areas that would be great for two and four year olds: Toon Town in Disneyland and A Bug's Life (or A Bug's Land? or something) in California Adventure. Toon Town is a bit like a cartoon jungle gym while Bug's has fun, mellow rides for little ones.

5) If you can, bring in food and water. It's really expensive inside the parks. The least expensive food I've found is a McDonald's near Paradise Pier in California Adventure.

6) The shows are really pretty cool -- fireworks, electic parades, 3-D shows. If you can schedule one in, it would be worth it. The California park closes at 9pm and then everyone heads over to DL to see the fireworks.

7) My brother taught me this: put a piece of paper with your name and phone number on it in your kid's pocket. DL is really crowded and it's easy for kids and parents to get separated.

8) The Buzz Lightyear ride in Tomorrowland is also good for younger kids -- and adults like it too.

You'll have a great time! Have fun... jodi

Hurray for Disneyland! I went several times last year due to a season pass. I would say definitely skip the backpack. The double stroller should be fine, especially if you are not going on a peak day (after Thanksgiving, Christmastime; check their website). You will have to park it (lots of places) and take the kids out to wait in lines anyway. They can rest or nap in it when you go place to place, a must if you plan to stay all day. If you're still not sure, you can just bring a single stroller and then rent another one there if you decide you need one (if you have another adult helping out). The only places where the stroller might be cumbersome are some stores and restaurants, but I think they all can accommodate it.

The best spot for children's rides is Fantasyland. However, my daughter at age 2 enjoyed all the rides that didn't have a height requirement, even Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion (might be scary for some kids). Don't forget the rides on Main Street (old cars, horse-drawn carriage) and the railroad if your kids like that; less waiting there, too. Again, check out the website - lots of information there - and the park map.

I've heard some people mock Disneyland, saying, ''Why are people there so happy/nice all the time?!'' Well, that is the best thing about it! Disneyland is extremely child-friendly. If you are holding a tray of food and trying to push a stroller at the same time, just ask someone for help. If you have another adult, even better to save a table and leave the kids there while the other adult orders.

A few more tips: Skip California Adventure (unless you're there for several days). As for Disneyland, there is a nice children's room at the end of Main Street for miniature toilets, changing tables, eating area w/microwaves, etc. Disneyland doesn't allow you to bring your own meals but allow children's snacks - they've never questioned our lunchbox. Get there EARLY (even an hour or more before opening, if you can) because you have to jump through lots of hoops just to get in (line in parking lot, line for tram, line for security check). It sounds bad, but after you're in, it's great. Granted, I've never gone at a super-busy time and am generally patient with lines if I know to expect them. Food is not very good and is expensive; some restaurants have better selection/quality than others. Try Plaza Inn or specialty carts. Have a great time! Wish we were going, too. I Love Disneyland

Double stroller is essential for 2- and 4-year-old if you're the only adult, and if there are 2 or more adults, then a double or two jogger strollers or other very smooth-riding strollers are a must. We went this spring with 2, 2.5, and 5-year-old, a Graco Metrolite, and a MacClaren and were shocked that 5-year-old was EXHAUSTED from all the walking so we rented a THIRD stroller since we had not brought a double. Double would have been easier even with all the adults we had. Also, my lousy Graco really bothered my wrists after a couple of hours. The single strollers they rent there are joggers and are very smooth. They don't rent doubles. Rental of a double can be arranged, but must be done well in advance. Tried same day or day before through our hotel, and no dice. Annie

We just came back from Disneyland and had so much fun (with a 3 yo). You can rent strollers there for the day (or multiple days) for $10 a day which is worth it if you are flying down there so you don't have to lug your own stroller around (and they're kind of like jog strollers and can store stuff underneath). We also timed it so that we were there on a Thursday and so the lines weren't bad at all - if there were any lines at all. We really only had to wait in one line that was pretty long and that was for the new Nemo Submarine ride (which was worth it) but it still moved pretty quickly. I would suggest making sure you have snacks and/or small little entertainment things (e.g. small pad of paper and crayons) if you do hit a long line. If you can, I would plan your trip for during the week versus the weekend (or at least try to get a Thursday in there so you can do the more popular rides then before the weekend (including Friday) crowds hit. On the Disneyland website, there is a section with recommendations about what rides are most suitable for little kids. Some rides you can get a fast pass for (it's only available for a few rides though) so you just come at a designated time. We loved the Nemo ride, Its a Small World, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh Ride and Alice in Wonderland but I felt like overall, the park was very friendly to younger ones without relegating you to one section of the park...have fun! anon

I'm a huge Disney fan and visit the park on a regular basis. I have taken my daughter to Hong Kong Disneyland when she was 17 months old and we just celebrated her second birthday at Disneyland in July.

If your kids won't be sitting in the stroller, I'd recommend not taking it. Depending on the time of the year when you go, trying to push a stroller through the crowd will be far slower than walking.

There are plenty of rides that your 2 and 4 year olds will enjoy. Everything in Fantasy Land will work. Although my 2 year old did not like the dark rides (Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White...) However, Dumbo, the Carousel, Storybook Land (boat ride), Casey Jr.'s circus train were all hits with her. Then there's Toon town where they can meet Mickey, Minnie inside their respective houses. The characters will also hang out at various sites throughout the park, marked on the map. You'll always find Mickey on Main Street. Winnie the Pooh ride is over in Frontierland next to Splash Mountain. You can find the princesses next to the castle. Fantasmic is one show not to be missed when it is scheduled (evenings, worth staying up for, my 2 year old did not blink once through the 9pm show).

California Adventure has It's a Bug's Life play area for kids. The fountain is a great hit with kids during the summer. There's Heimlick's train. And lots of opportunities to meet the characters. This park has fewer rides overall for young kids. Your 4 year old might like Turtle Talk in the backlot.

As for supplies, they do have lockers inside the park if you need to stow some stuff. I would recommend bringing as little as possible to make it easier to get on rides. If you make purchases through out the park have your packages sent to your hotel if you are staying on the Disney property or have it sent to the front gate to be picked up when you leave the park. Give them 2 hours to transport your package to the front or hotel.

If you are going in the next couple of months, the Haunted Mansion will be decorated for Holloween and It's a Small World will have Christmas decorations. Feel free to e-mail me with more questions. One happy Disney fan. Crystal

Hi Disneyland-bound,

I recommend just taking a single stroller as a double may be too bulky to lug around (although the park is very stroller friendly).

There is plenty to do for that age group (Toon Town, Fantasy Land, etc).

If you can, it also helps very much to stay in a hotel close to the park such as the Grand Californian or Disneyland Hotel. Then you can leave the park for nap time and easily return later. Have Fun!

We just got back from our first trip to Disneyland with my 4YO and 2 YO. I'd put it off this long with my first one b/c I just wasn't up for the challenge of it all. You'll be happy to know it was FAR easier than I ever could've imagined! Yes, bring the stroller! There are many stroller parking areas and the park employees will help you park it (ie. we were able to keep the baby in the stroller through the entire line for Nemo, and then they parked it for us when we reached the front).

My best advice is to invest $15 in purchasing the RideMax software ( Based on historical data from the park, this program allows you to choose which rides you want to go on (and does provide some age recommendations), at what pace you will be exploring the park (slow v. fast), and what day you are going on. It will produce an itinerary for you of what rides to go on when, and how long you can expect to wait in line. I can't tell you how accurate it was: we gt off one ride, looked at our schedule, saw ''Peter Pan ride @ 10:07'', we'd look at our watch, see it was 10:07 and that we were right next to Peter Pan. Scary! We're not big planners by nature, but this took such a burden off of figuring out what to do next and managing our expectations that we were able to have fun. If you are considering staying at a Disneyland hotel, the benefit is you get Early Entry depending on what day of the week you are going. We went on an Early Entry day, and got in line at 7:20 as recommended by RideMax, and were first in line at our gate for the 8:00 opening. Withink 5 minutes, there were probably 50 families behind us.

As for parts of the park, ToonTown is great for little ones - there are even play structures for the kids. It is close to Small World, which is always fun with kids, and close to some new Princess/Fairyland area(my older one is a boy, so we didn't go in, but if your older is a girl, she might like it). We went on a few rides in Fantasyland; Dumbo is there and the carousel. My older was periodically scared as some Fantasyland rides (Peter Pan, Snow White, Pinocchio) as they get very dark and the rides are jerky. We pretty much skipped FrontierLand, but ''Critter Country'' is close by with the Pooh bear ride. The Jungle Cruise is a must; we missed Tom Sawyer's island which is our one regret. Unless you do have another adult with you, you'll probably want to skip the Buzz Lightyear ride (I think it's probably too stimulating for an infant) and you'll want to do Nemo first (longest lines). We didn't do any rollercoaster rides, but did do Pirates (a little scary for the 4YO; 2YO ! was unfazed) and we had to leave the Haunted Mansion. Lots of info; but check out Ridemax - it's a great help! Have fun! disney convert

I went to Disneyland with my husband, 1 yr old and 4 yr old this May for 3 days, had a great time but it's tons of work. First off, get the book ''Disneyland and S. Cal with Kids''. LOTS of good advice on what to do, bring, etc. I brought 2 strollers but the double would have been fine, we were never separated. Just make sure you have a sun shade on your stroller. My 4 yr old rode in the stroller EVERYWHERE. Forget the backpack, too cumbersome. take it slow and rest. Plan your day in advance, bring food and water with you. Spend lots of time in Fantasyland. Prepare the kids that although they won't get to do EVERYTHING, you can always go back. Email me if you want to talk more! love the mouse

We've done Disneyland every year since my now five year old was 6mos old and his older brother was 3yo... this last trip (5yo and 8yo) was the first time we didn't use strollers. It is a lot of walking. We are big on going in early, leaving in the afternoon, going back in the evening and staying late so we always took two strollers so the boys could doze in the strollers on the way out. (Even when our oldest was 7 we used the stroller for this purpose!) One time we took our double umbrella stroller. It was harder to maneuver with the crowds in summer, but doable. If there will be two adults, I recommend using two (cheap) umbrella strollers so that you can get around better. This is not as much of an issue if you are travelling at a non peak time of year.

Areas that are best for little ones: Fantasyland... hands down. You can't beat Dumbo. Toontown also has some toddler/smaller kid fun areas. If you get the parkhopper tickets I recommend the Its a Bug Life area of California adventure as well. One nice thing about Disneyland... if your kids are into carrousels and it isn't a busy time of year they won't make you get off after the ride. (I think we went 6 rounds without getting back in line...) There is a princess meet and greet area near the Small World ride that has tables with coloring which is a nice, mellow break from the hubbub.

Also... if you walk all the way around to critter country, across from splash mountain where the country bears jamboree used to be is the winnie the pooh ride. My five yo can spend all day on that ride. It is a ''dark ride'' like Alice and PeterPan and takes you through the events of the movie... it is one of my favorite rides too.

If your kids really want to meet charachters we have found the all you can eat breakfast buffet at the Plaza Inn (inside Disneyland) to be an expensive, but fun, meal (it is hard to mess up breakfast.) The characters come right up to the table to talk to the kids. My kids like it, but some kids do get freaked out by the characters being alive.

The Finding Nemo ride should by all rights be a great ride for small ones... very gentle, not scary, mellow music. BUT the line is prohibitively long (or was all summer) here are my suggestions for Nemo. 1. If it is a non early entry day get in line early so you can be one of the first people in the park and head straight to Nemo. The ride will have an hour long wait within 15 minutes of park openning. 2.If you stay in a Disney hotel or buy your ticket through AAA you will have the opportunity to get in early (1 hr before park opening... only on 1 day for AAA,) on an early entry day you want to go in early and head straight to the Nemo ride again. 3.The other way you can get on with a relatively short line is to get in line just before the park closes as Disney doesnt' shut the ride down on the people in line at closing.

The #1 best thing about Nemo is that because everyone is heading there first, you can walk on to almost every ride in the park with almost no line for the first hour or two each day... even Peter Pan which has traditionally had a 45 minute wait all day long.

That is probably more than enough info... have fun. Disneyland is IMO very kid friendly and not too hard to figure out. Some kids do get freaked out by all the stimuli. Rose

Disneyland with a 4-year-old + baby

April 2007

Tax refund! My husband and I are planning a roadtrip to Disneyland with our 4 year old son and 12 month old daughter. We're planning on going in May for a few days, I liked the look of one of the 3 day Disneyland resort packages, but would like some helpful advice from parents who have made the trip before I book. We want to go in comfort, but not too over the top. Does anyone have advice on # of days to spend in the park, where to stay, gear to bring, food, events to not miss, and anything else you'd like to share? Thanks! Mousebound

We've been to Disneyland tons of times. And we took our three year old last fall. There is a great guide book called Dineyland with Kids. It's the best. It has schedules, tips, secrets. I basically followed what the book suggested and we had the best time ever. The best tip is to break up your day by staying at a near by hotel. Since small children get overstimulated fast there, you should go early in the morning when it opens. Stay until about 11:30am. Then head back to your hotel for lunch (cheaper that way), naps, play in the pool. This way you also avoid the hottest part of the day. Then around 4:00pm, you go back to the park. Have dinner there and watch the parade until 8:30pm. Then go back to the hotel and put the kids in bed. Then you two take turns going down to the hot tub. After trying out lots of different hotels there, we found our favorite to be Candy Cane Inn. It's next door to the entrance so it's easy to walk to the park, but you still feel like you have left the insanity of the park when you are there. It has lots of beautiful vegetation and plants, and the rooms are clean. For a deluxe room you get continental breakfast delivered to your room every morning and free video rentals (great for the kids). Also, always take a stroller to the park so you can stow all your stuff. Have fun. Chiara

I visited Disneyland in June last year with my 10 mos. old baby, and my brother's 4 children, 10,9,5 & 3. I was pleasantly surprised how many rides my 10 mos old could go on (while sitting on my lap). I was also happy that she expressed curiosity, but no fear of the rides. It may be a different story with your 4 year old on some of the more adult rides (such as haunted mansion). My strongest advise is, save the Peter Pan, Mr. Toad's wild ride, etc (can't think which ''kingdom'' they are in) for early evening. By this time, the other parents will be exhausted and gone and you can practically walk on to the rides with no wait. Take advantage of the set ticket times you can pick up at many rides (Buzz Lightyear for example)which will also save you waiting in line. Go a little later in the day instead of showing up when the park opens so your 4 year old can last into early evening when it will be quieter, less crowded, and you can see a nightime parade. My 10 mos old just took a nap in her aunt's arms instead of us leaving the park for ''nap time'', but be also just planned one day in Disneyland. anon

I have an almost 3 year old daughter, and we took her to Disneyland at 16 months, 23 months, and soon again at almost 3. I usually do multi-day trips to Disneyland even when it's only adults. With kids, I definitely think that multiple shorter, lower-pressure days is better. I think a 3-day parkhopper is a great choice.

I highly recommend focusing on shows and parades while you are there. Even the 12-month old can enjoy these. You can get a schedule on-line. Things not to miss: the Bug's Life ride area in the California Adventure park is great for little kids. Playhouse Disney and Turtle Talk with Crush would be great for your 4 year old, and probably with your 1 year old as well. Disney characters can be very intimidating up close; my daughter was totally excited from a distance but panicked when they got up close. That said, we did do a character breakfast at the Plaza Inn in Disneyland and had a good time. My daughter followed Minnie Mouse around for quite a while (little stalker). At one, your youngest probably won't be afraid of some of the ''scary'' things at Disneyland (like Pirates of the Carribean: dark, skeletons, etc.), but your 4-yr-old might be. We did well with open air rides like the carousels, Casey Jr., Storybookland Canal Boats, Dumbo, etc. Not so great with the dark, scary Snow White and Pinocchio rides (or Peter Pan for that matter). Toon Town's interactive stuff (talking mailboxes, etc) are great for kids. The horse that pulls the trolley down main street was a big hit, as was the Disneyland band. So it's not necessarily the things you would think that will capture the kids' attention.

The last time we went we stayed at the Residence Inn Anaheim Maingate, which is a suite hotel with full kitchens. This gives you a room for the kids to nap (or go to bed early) while you hang out in the living area. Others swear by the convenience and comfortable beds of the Grand Californian, but we find it prohibitively expensive. Have fun! Carrie

Hi. We just went in March. 8 and 5 year old. Perfect ages. Your children are a bit young, as they won't be able to do the majority of the rides given height limits or fear/interest levels. But, if you're committed to doing the trip now, just know you probably have another one in your future!

MAJOR advice points:

Book through There are no discounts for their hotels (there are three) to be had outside of their site and you do get some savings on Super Shuttle and air travel if you choose.

Stay at a Disney property. The benefits are HUGE: Within walking distance to either California Adv. or DL. Also, on certain days of the week, as a DL property guest, you get ''early entry'' to DL and hour before the park opens to the general public. This is limited to Fantasy land, but it's perfect for younger children. The crowd difference is HUGE. You actually can SEE main street walking down. It does mean for early mornings, but you're probably already having those with an infant. It's nice to also be able to walk back to your hotel mid day for naps and pool time and then go back for an evening parade or fireworks. If you're driving, you won't need a car once you park.

The site also offers some ticket deals; we got a 3 day park hopper pass at ''the kids price!'' that was pretty good deal.

Check out RIDEMAX a web site not affiliated with DL. If you are limited to ''only'' rides suitable to small children, it may have less value for you. But we found the program totally worked, saved us TONS of ride line time (we rode everything in DL and never waited longer than 20 minutes). Totally worth the $12 or so it costs.

If you have any questions, email me! dhtchk

Going to Disneyland With a 3 y.o Girl

Feb 2007

My wife and I are taking our 3 yo daughter to Disneyland next month and are looking for any helpful advice/suggestions. Thanks David

We've been twice with 2 kids under five and both times we all had a great time. My best advice: get to the park EARLY!! Do any rides that might have long lines (like Jungle Cruise) first. Fortunately, a lot of the rides for younger kids aren't as popular so the lines are likely to not be so bad. But by 10:30 in the morning, even in the off season, Disneyland is jammed (even if the lines for particular rides are not long). Be prepared to go to California Adventure (which has some great rides for little ones) or back to your hotel during the day when Disneyland is too crowded. Be really conservative about rides that might frighten your daughter. A number of the really tame rides, like Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland, are quite dark and could be too much for her. If an adult wants to ride a ''big'' ride, definitely use the Fast Pass system. It will likely save you A LOT of time waiting on line. Finally, if like many people in the Bay Area you can imagine returning to Disneyland one or more times in the future, don't worry about ''doing everything''. Go at your daughter's pace and remember you can always come back and do more, and do bigger rides, as she gets older. anon

We brought our son to Disneyland for his 3rd birthday. We stayed at the California Adventure Hotel. Is was great because you can walk easily into and out of the park, no waiting for shuttles. So napping was easy. You can good rates on Expedia. They also let you in the park an hour earlier and you can get a lot of rides in during that hour. Visit all the ones that typically have a line. I suggest you read the schedules the night before and plan your day a little. This way you can see some of the parades. I also suggest you don't take a hungry or tired child into the Disney shopping area. If you can, avoid it as much as possible(we had a melt down there). Our son had a blast and so did we. Good luck and have fun. Mom of a 3 1/2 year old

I wouldn't take your 3 year old to Disneyland at all. In my opinion she is way too young and would be scared by a lot of what's there. It really isn't designed for little kids, even though it seems that way. I love Disneyland with all my heart, grew up down there, but didn't take my kids til they were 6 and 8 and I felt that was perfect.

I would however take her to Legoland, near Carlsbad. You can stay near the beach and have a grand ol' time. You can spend at least two days at Legoland, plus you could take the train down to San Diego, or go to the S.D. Zoo, etc.

Anyway if you insist on going to Disneyland I highly recommend the book ''Unofficial Guide to Disneyland'' and follow exactly what he says in there. We followed it to the letter, went off season, and never waited more than 5 minutes in any line. Anon

Disneyland while pregnant?

August 2006

We have the opportunity to take our 3 year old son to Disneyland with some of my family members at the end of August. I'm going to be around 31 weeks pregnant, and I know that means there are several rides I won't be able to go on. That's fine, because I figure a 3 year old is gonna wanna take it kinda mellow and slow throughout the day. I'm wondering if anyone else has done Disneyland while pregnant (particularly if past the 6 month mark), and if you had any survival tips? Also, were there any rides you went on that in hindsight you might not recommend to a pregnant woman? (ie: I read online somewhere that the Peter Pan ride has a 'bump' at the end when you land - I couldn't tell if the person was overreacting or if I was being naive). - Thanks very much!
Planning to spend a lot of time at Small World

I went to Disneyland with my two children and husband when I was 38 weeks pregnant and I didn't have any trouble. Disneyland is so geared toward children that there are always places to sit down, always places to get food easily, always a bathroom nearby. I didn't have any problems at all. My kids too didn't want to ride fast rides but they went on the cars, peter pan ( I don't remember any bump), the merry go round, storybook boats and train, mostly they just wanted to be there, see the characters and soak in the atmostphere. There are all the buses, carriages, cars etc on main street too. There are just a few rides that they don't let you go on while pregnant, you can see a list online. It is such a great place to go when you kids are little. done Disneyland

I did Disneyland when I was about 6 months pregnant. I think that unless you have had problems with the pregnancy or your Dr. advises otherwise, you can do virtually everything a 3-year-old is allowed to do at Disneyland (a few exceptions are that if he's 35 inches tall he can do Gadget's Go-Coaster and the Matterhorn, and you can't). Roger Rabbit and the teacups are spinny but the spin is under your control. The ''bump'' on Peter Pan sounds like an unnecessary worry--unless you've been confined to bed rest, you get bumps at least that big in your day-to-day activities. Carrie

I am a DL season passholder and a nurse-midwife. There is plenty for you to do in both Disneyland and California Adventure. Be sure to get a Parkhopper Pass so you can go into both parks. Peter Pan will be fine. The signage is clear at the rides that you should avoid, but your little one would not be able to go on those either. Indiana Jones, Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Spash Mountain, Mr Toad's Wild Ride are the turbulent rides in DL. California Screamin', Tower of Terror, Mullholland Madness, the Grizzley River Run- there are a couple more in Calif Adventure to avoid. It sounds like a lot but there are many rides and attractions for little ones that are safe for you. Go to Bug's Life! You both will love it.

Stay hydrated! 8 to 10 glasses when it's not hot, more when it is, or you may have an increase in the normal (4 times an hour) contractions. Take frequent breaks in cool spots. August can be very hot in the park. A good plan is to leave the park midday when it is most obnoxiously crowded and the temp is highest. Head back to your hotel and take a nap (this is very easy if you stay at one of the 3 hotels on site). Also, take advantage of Fast Passes when possible- they give you a window of time to return to a ride and enter through a little-to-no waiting line. A related tip: if you miss the time window, you can still use the Fast Pass anytime the rest of the day. Pick the passes up as you are permitted throughout the morning (you pick up one at a time, can not pick up another until the beginning of the time window has been reached for the last pass picked up). Use them when it cools again later in the day. Unfortunately, there are few little people/pregnancy OK rides with Fast Passes. Enter the park ASAP in the morning for smallest crowds and cooler weather. Buy your tickets in advance to skip the ticket purchase lines- the DL hotels (if a guest), grocery stores (gift card racks) and AAA (discounted rates). Pace yourself and stay cool by taking advantage of inside attractions, parades and shows, and you will have a great time. Enjoy! Kathy

I'm 7 months pregnant and just returned from a trip to Disneyland with my 4 year old daughter. There were a number of rides that I couldn't go on, but they were the same ones that my daughter couldn't ride on. My husband took her on the few rides I couldn't do, but she could (like the bumper cars). Peter Pan and the Pirates rides were fine for all of us, though the latter was scary for our daughter. We mostly spent our time in Fantasyland. I recommend you try and get to the parks as close to opening time (8am) as possible, go back to your hotel in the afternoon for rest, naps and/or swims, and then return to the park for the evening stuff. We avoided any meltdowns (child and adults), long lines and the hottest part of the day and were well-rested enough to stay up late. Being pregnant made me less tolerant of the heat, so if the heat gets to you, try to hit some ''cool'' shows, like the ''Enchanted Tiki Room.'' Another big plus was staying at a hotel within easy walking distance from the main entrance, so you don't have to deal with parking, trams, etc. It doesn't have to be one of the expensive Disney resort hotels; there are many on Harbor Blvd, just outside of the main entrance. Have fun! Cindy

Hi, I haven't been there pregnant; we went last spring with our then 5 & 3 year olds, and 6-month old. I would recommend you buy a book called ''Disneyland and Southern California With Kids''. It's put out by Fodor's, and I found it SOOOO helpful in deciding which rides, and which general areas would best suit our family, and our needs for mellow rides, places to hang out, etc.

There are a lot of tips that you otherwise wouldn't know about, being a visitor to Disneyland--like they had well-equipped, quiet, peaceful nursing rooms for moms & babies. Have a wonderful time, and take it easy--I bet it will be hot! A tip: wear a hat, and get it wet every once in a while--it'll cool you down Heidi

Disneyland with age 5 & under

Feb 2005

We're considering taking our 3 kids (5, 3 and will be 5 months) to Disneyland in May for the first time. We plan to stay at a hotel on or near the premises, and we're basically clueless about the whole trip. The older 2 kids are girls and really into the Disney Princesses; any advice on which areas to look for, what to avoid, etc.? We're thinking we'll be focusing on things other than the big rides...Thanks. Heidi

Our daughter at 3 1/2 (then) was not fully immersed in the Disney Princess obsession (as now). Several recommendations re Princess stuff: there was a Snow White musical and an Alladin show when we were there; the Princesses parade around with their handlers to give autographs and photos with child. You can buy a special Princess autograph book for the occasion. There are usually lines for this; there is a story time about the Princess stories in the gift shop in the Fantasyland castle - a nice respite on a hot day; Ariel's Grotto is a restaurant where Ariel is wheeled around by a handler. You get to meet other Disney characters wandering around, too. We stayed at the Portofino Suites Inn across the street. The great thing (and good for you with the 2 older girls) is that they have a separate room from the adult/main room divided with french doors that allows the girls to have bunk beds and their own table and chairs in their own section. I think you will have heaps of fun! Sharon

I suggest you spend a whole day at Disneyland, and then take your lovely family to the beach or the zoo for as much time as you have. Even if the girls are into the Princess stuff, Disneyland is rather commercial and the stimuli is almost overwhelming. Yes of course everybody does it and nobody dies from the stimuli. One day there can be presented as the norm. The beaches in the area are fabulous and while the water is cool to cold, the weather is warm! You might appreciate downtime with your children in a place that allows you to enjoy each other's company. Wish I had this advice years ago

We went to Disneyland last October with a 4 year old and a 5 year old. We had a great time. I would recommend staying somewhere nearby so you can walk to and from the park. We stayed at the Ramada maingate. It's not the snazziest place, but it was a 10 minute or so walk to the park and it worked out really well. One thing I would recommend, since your girls are really into the princesses, is to get an autograph book for the characters to sign. My son loved it. I took pictures of him with the characters and then put the pictures and the autographs in a small photo album. Another thing that my sister-in-law did that I thought was fabulous was, she bought some special pajamas (very ''Princessy'') for her daughter. When they checked into the hotel she put the pajamas on the bed with a note she had made (on beautiful vellum paper with gold writing). The note said the pajamas were from the ''princesses'' and that they were so excited she was able to visit them, etc. It was adorable and her daughter (8) absolutely loved it. Whenever she saw one of the princesses in the park, she would thank them for the note and pajamas and they went right along with it (''Oh, I'm so glad you got them, I hope they fit...''). You can also attend a ''character breakfast'' where all of the characters attend. We didn't do this because it was a bit pricey, and it might be too much for your young one, but check it out. One other word of advice, bring in your own food! It's so expensive to eat there. We brought our food/water in under the strollers, so that we only needed to buy ''fun'' snack foods. Have a wonderful time!! Nancy

We go about 2 x a year and just got back from DLand last month. I highly recommend the Fairfield Inn by Marriott. Really inexpensive, nice pool, newish. Ask for a room facing the pool, not the back part of the hotel though. It is across the street from the park and about a 5 minute walk. You can also catch the trolley that takes you to the front of the park. Buy park tickets at the front desk. Buy park hoppers to save money and get you into the CA Adventure park too. Another good hotel is the Howard Johnson, next to the Fairfield. I would allow 3 days to see everything and have time for the pool and naps. There are great restaurants in Dowtown Disney (outside the park) and near the hotel (Mimi's is good and kid friendly). If your girls are princess crazy, treat yourselves to a character bfast at the Disney Hotel's Goofy's Kitchen. Make a reservation. It is worth it. Hopefully you have nice weather but if you don't, the bright side is that there will be much shorter lines. We tend to go during the week rather than weekends to avoid the larger crowds. Have fun! Disney Fan

We went to Disneyland this past November with our 2 kids, ages 4 1/2 and 1 1/2. We had a GREAT time. We managed to stay 10 hours (we only went one day and wanted to maximize the day); the toddler slept in his stroller and in our arms for 2 naps (and had the best night's sleep of his life that night).

Here is my advice, based on our experiences. (We did not go to the California Adventure at all, just because time didn't permit):

- Get there early: the park really fills up as the day goes on. We got there when it opened.

- The princesses were the highlight of my 4 1/2 y.o. daughter's YEAR. Basically, different princesses appear hourly (every hour on the hour) around/near the Disneyland castle (Sleeping Beauty's Castle). They stand around to talk to children, pose for pictures, and sign autographs (children buy these autograph books for that purpose! Weird to me, but there you go. We actually didn't buy one, so my daughter just talked to each princess and posed for a picture that we took ourselves). They can also be found roaming around and talking to children, at seemingly random times. But the place to be for maximum princess time is Fantasy Land. We tried to return every hour, or every other hour.

- All the Fantasy land indoor rides (Peter Pan, Mr. Toad, etc), with the exception of the Carousel, were too dark and scary for my toddler (my daughter loved them).

- Our toddler loved: Small World, Tom Sawyer's Island (it's like a park), Winnie the Pooh ride, and everything in Toon Town. I find Toon Town exceedingly boring, but it is perfect for small children. It's toward the back of the park--past Small World. You might spend the majority of your time there!

- Our adventurous 4 1/2 yr old loved: Thunder Mountain, Pirate's of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, the rollercoaster in Toon Town, all the Fantasy Land rides, and pretty much everything we did. She is tall (45 inches) and was tall enough for pretty much every roller coaster, though both Matterhorn and Space Mountain were closed.

- We missed the light parade and fire works, because we left at 6:30 pm after a long and tiring day. However, I'm sure my kids would have loved the parade.

- Food is expensive in the park ($5 for a HOT DOG). I noticed many parents brought their own food--probably locals! We couldn't be botherred grocery shopping, making lunches, etc., but if you can, you might want to bring at least some food to offset the costs.

- You can rent a stroller (don't know if it costs $$ or not). I noticed people ran toward the stroller rental area after they entered the park--I guess the strollers go fast!

- For accommodations, we stayed at a very cheap Howard Johnson's across the street. I found it on the web. You can go to certain sites that show you cheap hotels and where they are in relation to Disneyland! I think our room rate was $79/night for a room with 2 double beds. We walked to and from the park, but it was just far enough away that we didn't want to return for naps. You will be doing a TON of walking just in the park, so even hotels right across the street can seem too far away for ''in and out'' experiences. Have fun! I love Disneyland more than my kids

Hi, I'm sure you'll get more knowledgeable answers, but I have a few tips. I just took my 5-year old and her 5-year old cousin to Disneyland recently, and this is my advice:
1. Let them get autograph books (and pens) and stalk the characters. This was the highlight of the whole thing for my kids. There are characters in Main Street at opening, at Toon Town throughout the day, etc. I think there's even a schedule. You wait in line for the autographs, and the kids get a little chat time with the character (if they speak).
2. Speaking of characters, consider a character breakfast. We all loved the one we went to, at the Grand Californian hotel. You reserve ahead of time (there's a special number somewhere), and the breakfast is more or less hotel-priced, but there are usually 4-6 characters going from table to table and spending some quality time with the kids. The Grand Californian breakfast is apparently unique (?), in that we could order a la carte or do the buffet, which cut down costs a bit (we spent under $35 including tip for breakfast for two kids and one adult - hotel prices). Each breakfast has its own cast of characters. You might want to consider the Princess breakfast, which is inside Disneyland on Main Street. The drawback to this is just that it makes you spend the emptiest hour of the day indoors, rather than out in the park, but it might be worth it for Princess fans.
3. Take a break in the afternoon.
4. Pack in healthy snacks - they didn't even blink at our sandwiches, fruit/veggies, and yogurt going in. It helped us maintain our stamina and avoid lines for meals (and save money!). Take it easy, and have fun! Nancy Humphrey

Regarding hotels, there are several that can claim to be ''across the street'' from Disneyland, but the more relevant question is: is the hotel close to the park entrance? Good luck and have fun! Anon

Congrats on your first trip to the ''Big D''. We're a huge Disney Fan Family and have been going for years. If the girls are into the Princess thing that's the best place on earth. They'll be out giving autographs all day long near the Wishing Well at Sleeping Beauty's Castle. They come and go all day long. You will have to wait in lines but the Princesses are lovely and will pose for pictures and give autographs. If you're aren't interested in the big rides Fantasy Land is the place to hang. There's the carousel and all the rids aimed at the younger set. Be sure to over on Tom Sawyer's Island in Frontier Land, there are caves to explore and rocking bridges to cross. Have a fabulous trip! Disney Fan


Disneyland with an infant

Dec 2003

We are thinking of taking our 3 1/2 year old daughter to Disneyland for the first time. The trip would include her 5 month old sister. Has anyone had experience with an infant at Disneyland? If so, are there rides or attractions that the baby could participate in (maybe on the order of It's a Small World?) or will my husband and I spend the entire time trading the baby back and forth while the other rides with our older daughter? Thanks! Jennifer

There are quite a few rides you could take your infant on. There of course is Small World, there are a few train rides, there is a boat ride through a miniature town, Pirates of the Carribean, Haunted House (maybe too scary for the older one), the Tikki Room, the Jungle Cruise, Dumbo, etc. Fantasy land is designed for kids so that might be where you spend most of your time. I think you can take your infant even on rides like Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland too, though I'd ask before you wait in line (or do fast-trak... make sure to get informed about that). My son went for the first time at about 20 months and he sat on my lap through all the rides anyway. I'm sure an infant on your lap or in a snuggly would be about the same thing. Disneyland with a toddler! can take a while getting from place to place so I'm sure you can keep yourselves busy on rides all day long. Have a great time! We're going again next month. Can't wait. Karen

There are lots of rides that you can go on with a baby. The jungle cruise, it's a small world, any of the rides in the children's area where peter pan is, pirates of the caribbean, even the haunted mansion! We were just there with a 11 month old and a 4 year old and had a lot of fun. I used a hip carrier for the baby sometimes and he actually slept through a couple of rides! Enjoy! Jackie

We went to Disneyland with a young child about 2 years ago, and it was fine. There were a number of rides that are fine for young children - when in doubt, ask one of the ride attendants, and they can describe the experience to you. Another very important thing to know, that Disney doesn't advertise: There is something called a ''parent transfer pass'' or some such name - - basically, it's for folks in your situation. When you get to the front of the line, let the attendant know you have 2 kids, one who can go on the ride w/ one parent; another who is too young to ride. They'll hand you a special pass, and when the parent who went on the ride first w/ the older child gets off the ride, they hand you the pass - this allows you (and your older kid) to go to the front of the line! on that ride again - so one parent isn't always stuck w/ baby duty. It worked really well for us, and our older son loved it, since he got to ride everything 2x in a row! Kim

Taking teens to Disneyland

August 2002

I just had two friends bail on me for this trip we had planned for Disneyland with our kids. I have a 14 yo and a 10 yo --both girls--who are both EXTREMELY hormonal right now, and exhaust me with crying, nagging, whining, bickering, you name it, night and day. the only way I agreed to this trip was because my good buds were going to drive down with me, and one of them has a 16 yo daughter who's very mature and could influence/distract/amuse my girls (or at least shame them if they got too unruly). Now I'm looking at either flying or driving by myself with these two, and I feel like I do enough self-sacrificing already!! They've never been to Disneyland--I was planning on taking them 5 years ago with my mother and she died suddenly. I must admit I'm fearful with all the kidnappings and stuff on the news--how Stainer was stalking the one family-- two daughters and a mom, and switched to the Pelosi family. It starts to get to you! I also had to put this on a credit card--I've already charged $800, and one of my friends was going to get a limo to drive down in, saving us about $200-$300 in airfare or car rental. Now I have to add that to the tab, and my husband and I just refinanced to get out of debt and prepare for a long overdue divorce. I need to either decide to take them and plunk out the bucks and pluck up my courage and maybe spend five days of hormonal hell, or call the travel service and cancel TODAY before I rack up any more cancellation fees (I will already lose $50). Does anyone have any ideas? I'm stuck!! Does anyone want to drive to Disneyland? Distraught Single Mom

We just returned from a very successful and satisfying trip to Disneyland with our 10yr and 12.5 yr old daughters. They thoroughly enjoyed both parks (Disneyland and California Adventure) and I would recommend a park hopper pass, which allows you to bounce back and forth between parks. The twelve year old brought a friend and this can help to diffuse whiny or argumentative behaviors. Your girls are close enough in age that you should be able to stay together and go on the same rides together. The girls were in the park until closing every night. There are fireworks and shows every night. My usually late-sleeping daughters asked to be awakened by 8:30 so they wouldn't miss any time in the park.

You can save money by buying your park passes here at AAA. The 3-day passes are $25 cheaper at AAA than they were at the park or hotels in Anaheim.

The drive was long but do-able. You might want to consider flying if 8 hours in a car will put you all over the top. Please feel free to contact me directly if you want to ask more questions. I think your daughters are at a great age for this trip. Also, it will be something positive to remember about this summer, especially if a divorce is part of your summer plans. Wendy

To Distraught Mom about Disneyland plans: Simplify your life; take care of yourself first; CANCEL the trip - the aggravation you will have saved yourself will be well worth $50. Your daughters frankly don't sound like they need that expensive treat, can't or won't really appreciate it, and should learn the consequences of your friends bailing equals no trip. Don't agonize over this any longer. My opinion, Cassandra

Don't go!! Driving several hours and trying to keep track of two hormonal girls by yourself would make any sane person rethink why they were doing this. I can't imagine that they would meekly follow you around and it doesn't sound like you see them as ready to solo at Disneyland and just check in with you from time to time. Seems to me you may be trying to compensate for your divorce by giving the girls a special treat but it doesn't sound like their overall behavior warrants such a treat and if you're just getting out of debt, why spend all that money --- for a lousy, stressed out time at that? You seem to have more than enough on your plate. Let the $50 go. Karen

You poor thing! You seem completely stressed out. It also seems that you actually may not be able to afford this trip (or at least not be willing to pay for it) and that you don't look forward to it. Why not postpone it until your lives have stabilized a bit and you can really afford it? Could it be that the girls are less hormonal than upset by the divorce? Also after refinancing your house to get out of debt, does it make sense to start the credit card cycle all over again? From your description it sounds like exactly NOT the time to go with your girls to Disneyland. It also sounds like you need a shoulder to have a good cry on. Best wishes.

To Disneyland parent: Don't go! You and the girls need a low stress, low cost trip together. Go camping somewhere close and quiet and have a few laughs with each other. Remind the girls of all the positive aspects of themselves and you will all feel better. Been there.