One Day Itinerary – Insider Tips for Disneyland with a Toddler

I’ve been taking my little ones to Disneyland since they were babies. I’ll admit that vacationing with a toddler at Disneyland can be a challenge. There are definite considerations and adjustments that need to be made in your trip when you have a toddler in tow! Check out my ideal one-day Disneyland itinerary with a toddler.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

This one-day Disneyland with toddlers itinerary has all the insider tips for a magical day!

Toddler at Disneyland

Before your trip, here are a few ideas and additional posts about what you should plan ahead of time.


Disneyland Itinerary with a Toddler

This is a one-day Disneyland itinerary with a toddler. I’ll outline what things you can see, do and eat in a single day at the Disneyland park with your toddler. You won’t be able to do EVERYTHING (you’d need more than a single day for that!). But these are the essentials that your toddler will enjoy!


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Extra Magic Hour and Rope Drop

Most toddlers are early birds, which will make it easy for you to get to the Park before opening. Have a quick breakfast at the hotel or do what I do with my toddler – Give her a granola bar or dry cereal and a cup of milk, and let her nibble in the stroller while we’re walking to the gates!

Guests staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel can enter the Parks one hour before official opening. Not all attractions are open but Fantasyland is! And Fantasyland is the perfect place to start with your toddler! Note that there are specific days that the Disneyland Park is available for Extra Magic Hour so check at the hotel for the schedule.

If you aren’t staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, you’ll want to take advantage of “Rope drop”. This happens in the 30 minutes before the Park opens officially. If you arrive during this time, you may be able to enter onto Main Street U.S.A. before the rest of the Park opens. There are often character greetings and the shops are open for browsing.

This one-day Disneyland with toddlers itinerary has all the insider tips for a magical day!

Character Greetings

Toddlers are fickle little people. Some toddlers LOVE the characters. And some toddlers HATE the characters! I recommend letting your toddler watch from afar at first and judge from there if you really want to do the character meet n’ greets. There are plenty of characters around the entrance and hub of Main Street U.S.A. and if you’re there right at rope drop, you’ll be able to meet with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald and more.

Check out this TravelingMom post with tons of tips on how to meet characters (with practical advice from a mom whose toddler is scared of Mickey!)

This one-day Disneyland with toddlers itinerary has all the insider tips for a magical day!

Fantasyland

The first two hours inside Disneyland are important to maximize! Many vacationers will sleep in and arrive to the Park later in the day. It’s good to be an early bird and take advantage of the lighter crowds during those first few hours. I recommend hitting Fantasyland first with your toddler. Walk straight down Main Street U.S.A., across the Sleeping Beauty Castle drawbridge and into Fantasyland!

Most of the rides and attractions in the Fantasyland area are toddler appropriate (save for the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which have a 42″ minimum height requirement). I’ve included all of the attractions here with key notes for taking your toddler –

  • Alice in Wonderland -Most toddlers enjoy this ride
  • Casey Jr. Circus Train- MUST DO
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant – MUST DO
  • “it’s a small world”- MUST DO
  • King Arthur Carrousel- MUST DO
  • Mad Tea Party-Can take Toddler but they might be scared (fast moving)
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride-Can take Toddler but they might be scared (dark elements)
  • Peter Pan’s Flight-Most toddlers enjoy this ride, however it is dark inside
  • Pinocchio’s Daring Journey-Can take Toddler but they might be scared (dark elements)
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough-Most toddlers enjoy this ride (lots of stairs to climb, which toddlers usually enjoy!)
  • Snow White’s Scary Adventures-Can take Toddler but they might be scared (dark elements)
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats-Most toddlers enjoy this ride (slow boat ride, storytelling & miniatures)

This one-day Disneyland with toddlers itinerary has all the insider tips for a magical day!

Lunch with Littles

Most dining locations offer toddler meals on their menus. And of course you can always request an extra plate and feed your toddler from your own meal. Feeding your under 2 year old at a buffet location is free. I have more dining tips for little ones at Disney on this post.

I’m not a fan of full-service dining with a fidgety toddler. When toddlers are hungry they want to eat NOW! Also, my toddler tends to eat quickly and then clamor to get out of her highchair. This means I’m usually having to rush my meal or take it to-go!

Character dining can be hit or miss with a toddler. If your little one loves the characters, then yes, by all means book Goofy’s Kitchen, Disney’s PCH Grill or the Plaza Inn Breakfast with Minnie and Friends. But if your toddler doesn’t like the characters, I’d definitely skip the pricey character dining experiences.

Here are my favorite places to eat for lunch with my toddler at Disneyland:

  • French Market in New Orleans Square- outdoor covered patio dining with roast chicken, meatloaf and corn chowder. The restaurant often offers live jazz music.
  • Red Rose Taverne in Fantasyland-indoor dining. My toddler liked sharing the flatbread and fries.
  • Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country-outdoor covered patio dining with chicken nuggets on the kid’s menu.


Play Time

Toddlers can only take so much of being strapped into a stroller. They need to get out, run around and play a bit (best to do right before their regular nap time).

There are places for you to let your toddler walk (like Main Street U.S.A. and the plaza near “it’s a small world”) that aren’t too congested. Other areas like New Orleans Square and Tomorrowland tend to be very crowded and it’s easy to get separated. Here are a few places to let your toddler out for free play (for more details and more locations, check out this DisneyBaby post about play areas at Disneyland).

  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
  • Tarzan’s Treehouse
  • Toontown Play Areas including Donald’s Boat, Goofy’s Playhouse, Minnie’s House and Mickey’s House

This one-day Disneyland with toddlers itinerary has all the insider tips for a magical day!

Nap Time

Do NOT skip the nap! I repeat, do not attempt to skip sleep with your toddler! It’s tempting to want to power through your Disneyland day but you’ll pay for that skipped nap with tantrums and meltdowns!

You have several options for nap time, whether it be returning to the hotel, finding a quiet location or letting your toddler stroller sleep (my personal choice). Read more on this DisneyBaby post about ways to encourage naps at Disneyland.


Toddlers Love a Parade

Mickey’s Soundsational Parade is an absolute delight! Toddlers will love the vibrant colors, familiar characters and dance-able tunes. I keep my toddler in her stroller and roll it right up to the curb during the parade. This allows her a front row view to the show!

This one-day Disneyland with toddlers itinerary has all the insider tips for a magical day!

Dinner at Disneyland

As dark falls on the Park, thoughts turn to dinner. As I noted at lunch, I recommend sticking to quick service locations. These are my favorites:

  • Plaza Inn on Main Street U.S.A.- Both indoor and outdoor dining. The fried chicken, veggies and mashed potatoes can’t be beat and the large platters are perfect for sharing.
  • Rancho del Zocalo in Frontierland – Outdoor dining. I love the atmosphere here at night, with the beautiful colored lanterns that hang over the dimly lit patio. The Mexican food offerings are good. Just be sure to check the menu before sharing because some of the items are on the spicy side.

Other Must-Do Toddler Attractions

Any ride or attraction that does not have a height restriction is a-okay for your toddler! Rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion do not have a height restriction but use your best judgement before bringing your toddler aboard. Skittish little ones who do not enjoy the dark aspects or “spooky” elements likely will not enjoy these attractions!

I’ve noted the following attractions that are must-do with your toddler-

  • Disneyland Railroad
  • Enchanted Tiki Room (snacks are allowed inside!)
  • Jungle Cruise (there is a loud gunshot during the ride; the Cast Member “Skipper” will alert you to cover your ears)
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (let her wield her own “blast” gun!)
  • Finding Nemo Submarines
This one-day Disneyland with toddlers itinerary has all the insider tips for a magical day!

Inside Finding Nemo Submarines – Toddlers can stand and look out the porthole.

Nighttime Entertainment

If your toddler doesn’t mind the noise and can stay up late, the fireworks spectaculars at Disneyland are amazing. Another excellent nighttime show is Fantasmic! I recently viewed this show with my toddler and have a few pointers. You’ll need to collect a FastPass ticket for Fantasmic! early in the day to have standing room viewing. Note that you’ll be arriving to your designated location about an hour early and standing to wait for the show. That’s a LONG time to hold a squirmy toddler. By the time the show came my arms were spent!

I highly recommend booking a Fantasmic! Dining Package in advance. You’ll receive a meal at one of the designated locations and a seat to watch the show front and center. I’m totally doing this next Disneyland trip!

This one-day Disneyland with toddlers itinerary has all the insider tips for a magical day!

For more Disney itinerary ideas,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


What’s New, What’s Returning and What’s Coming To Disneyland?

So much exciting news has been developing at the Disneyland Resort this summer! From the Marvel-inspired Summer of Heroes, new and updated rides and attractions, the release of MaxPass and the building anticipation of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, there’s tons to explore! Find out what’s new, what’s returning and what’s coming to Disneyland Parks.

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

I received complimentary Park Hopper tickets and MaxPass for myself and my children to attend a Family Media Day event at Disneyland. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

#SummerofHeroes

As you enter Disney California Adventure Park, you can’t miss the huge Marvel-style signage above the entrance. It’s the Summer of Heroes at Disneyland and there are several new things going on in the Parks. Some of these events will be ending when Halloween Time arrives. Other attractions are here to stay!

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

Entrance to Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure park for Summer of Heroes event.

Check out this video from Disney Parks Blog that outlines what’s happening at Disney California Adventure park for the Summer of Heroes event:

Super Hero-Style Dining

There are some super bites for guests to enjoy representative of Summer of Heroes! I’m mean, how cool is that Groot Bread! I had the chance to try several dishes. The yummy Obviously Nachos are made with fried blue corn tortillas and topped with red pepper cheese sauce, mojo-marinated chicken, chipotle crèma and green onions. Multiverse Parfait was rich and delicious (Chocolate cake layered with white and dark chocolate mousse and cherry jelly, topped with chocolate ganache).

Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT

The jewel of the Summer of Heroes is the most grand attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT. This ride opened to guests earlier this summer. While my three kids rode, I stayed behind with the baby. I thought since this new ride had previously been The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror there might be some similarities. As my eldest explained, “It’s nothing like The Tower of Terror!” I’m looking forward to visiting again soon so I can ride and see for myself!

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT attraction remade over the Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park.

MaxPass

I’ll admit that I was a little fuzzy on the details of MaxPass up to our recent visit. This new feature had debuted about a week before my trip and I’d not done much research. Fortunately it’s a very easy program to use and saved us immense amounts of time!

Here’s an outline video from the Disney Parks Blog on how MaxPass works:

A few of my own thoughts about MaxPass. At a cost of $10 per ticket, per day (along with unlimited PhotoPass downloads) I found this to be a good value. My family and I were able to experience 24 rides on our single day visit (over the course of 13 hours). This was on a summer Saturday in July!

While we were leaving one attraction, I was able to arrange a MaxPass reservation for our next ride. I appreciated being able to access the app to see which times were available next. This allowed me to pick and choose the next available time for an attraction that was nearby. This allowed us to maximize time and eliminated unnecessary running around.

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

I also liked that I could quickly scan all available open MaxPass and pick and choose which attraction I wanted. This meant I didn’t have to physically go to the attraction to see the return time before choosing that reservation.

I even found that I was able to hold several MaxPass at the same time, something that didn’t happen for me when using the old FastPass system.

MaxPass Tips!

  • Start the day with a fully charged mobile device battery and bring an external charger as well. Using MaxPass all day really drains the battery! I brought my external charger and even after a full charge, my phone battery still died before the end of the night.
  • Before “locking in” on a MaxPass reservation, scroll through all the available options. Some attractions had several hour waits before we’d have been able to redeem our MaxPass reservation. Other times we were able to find some attractions with only a 5 minute wait!
  • MaxPass works between the Parks. This means you can book a Disneyland Parks MaxPass even while at Disney California Adventure. This was an awesome feature, being able to book a reservation for the opposite Park just before Park Hopping!
  • FASTPASS tickets that are printed are only your reminder of the return time. With MaxPass you won’t be printing anything so you’ll need to view your return time on your mobile device.
  • You can use either your Park tickets or your mobile device as the proof of your reservation. I used my Park tickets each time (simply to save phone battery). This meant I was pulling my tickets out to show them to Cast Members over and over throughout the day. I can see how easily this would mean losing them (in fact, my daughter DID lose her ticket, about an hour before closing). Keep your tickets in a safe place. I’d recommend a water proof lanyard.

I feel that MaxPass truly did maximize our visit and streamlined our time spent in queue. We never spent longer than 20 minutes in any one line all day, even for the E-Ticket rides like Radiator Springs Racers, Space Mountain and Guardians of the Galaxy. Here is my video review of how MaxPass worked for my family:

New FASTPASS Opportunities

Two new FASTPASS locations means that lines will be moving more swiftly! For the first time guests can book a FASTPASS for Toy Story Midway Mania and the Matterhorn Bobsleds. These two attractions are also available on the MaxPass system. FASTPASS continues to be complimentary to any ticket holders for the duration of your visit. MaxPass costs $10 per ticket, per day.

Another change is that the FASTPASS ticket that is printed is only a reminder of the time. You’ll need your actual Park ticket to redeem the reservation. The only exceptions are for special shows like Fantasmic! and World of Color, as you’ll still need the actual FASTPASS ticket to redeem when arriving for your reserved time.

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

Paper FASTPASS is only a reminder. You’ll need your park ticket to redeem FASTPASS.

 

Rivers of America

The Rivers of America re-routing and Railroad track construction is complete. This means that the Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia and Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes are back on the water! And Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island has reopened as well.

Here is a video from Disney Parks Blog that celebrates their return.

Disneyland Railroad

After being closed for a year, the Disneyland Railroad reopened on the day of our visit (July 29th, 2017). Several elevated trestles have been installed along the tracks and for the first time the train makes a left turn along the route.

What's new & what's coming to Dis

This new view of the Mark Twain is taken from atop the bridge for the Disneyland Railroad

With the Railroad reopening another often-forgotten attraction has been rejuvenated as well. Just after leaving the Tomorrowland Station, the train enters The Grand Canyon and Primeval World dioramas. This attraction has always been one of my favorites and the new updates don’t disappoint! The dioramas look refreshed and have been updated with projections that add even more interest to the dramatic scenes.

Entrance to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

With the reopening of the pathway between Frontierland and Fantasyland, guests can now access the path that will lead to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Though this new Land won’t be opening until 2019, the excitement is already building for what will be an amazing new addition to Disneyland Park.

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

This is to be the entrance to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The pathway leads under a new bridge for the Disneyland Railroad.

Here’s a “fly-through” of the model that will be Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge from the Disney Parks Blog:

Red Rose Taverne

This new restaurant opened to guests earlier this year, in celebration of the feature film Beauty and the Beast. The Village Haus Restaurant in Fantasyland has been transformed into a French chateau, the Red Rose Taverne.

I dined on the Beast’s Burger, which was over-the-top yummy. A Gray Stuff Gateau (white chocolate mousse and red velvet cake with a sweet raspberry center) is offered here for dessert. We’ve heard mixed reviews so we skipped it this time.

This restaurant is being called a “limited time offering” but it’s still going strong several months later and I’m not sure when it will be ending.

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

Fantasmic!

This long-running nighttime spectacular returned to Disneyland Park mid-June with updated technology. Guests who wish to watch Fantasmic! should grab a FastPass early in the day. This will allow you entrance into a reserved viewing area (you are unable to watch the show with this ticket).

There is a Fantasmic! Dining Package available, which offers you a meal along with that reserved FastPass ticket. Choose from Blue Bayou, River Belle Terrace or Hungry Bear Restaurant. The dishes look delicious and the desserts are even more amazing.

(Image: Disney Parks Blog)

Check out this Sorcerer Mickey “Fantasmic!” Dessert, with milk chocolate mousse, bananas foster sauce, milk chocolate pound cake and a chocolate glaze…wow!!!

Here’s a sneak peek video of Fantasmic! from Disney Parks Blog:

Save money at DISNEYLAND!

Purchase discount Disneyland tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.

Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

 

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Phone Camera Tips for Capturing Your Best Shots

Everyone’s taking lots of pictures with their phone cameras. Naturally your phone is easy to carry with you, especially when traveling. And you can share images immediately on social media which is always fun! When traveling light, I leave my bulky DSLR camera at home and rely solely on my phone camera to take pictures. Here are a few tips for capturing your best shots on your phone camera.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Taking the Best Shots on Your Phone Camera

We’ve all seen some truly fantastic phone camera shots that look like they were taken with a “fancy camera”. And we’ve seen the out of focus, smudgy and too dark/overly bright cell phone shares too. Here are some phone camera tips for taking the best shots! All of these pictures were taken with my Android, Samsung Galaxy S6.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

So happy I had my camera with me to capture this first taste of a Dole Whip at the Polynesian!

Clean the Lens

That’s a no-brainer when using your regular camera, but often forgotten with your phone camera. Use a lens cloth to clean up smudges for the most crisp images. In a pinch, the edge of your shirt will do.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos at Disneyland during Halloween time.

Getting in Focus

Getting that beautiful bokeh (or blurred background) is easy with your cell phone camera! Simply tap the spot on the screen that you want to be in the most clear focus before you snap the picture. Having the item close to the camera will create that lovely bokeh in the background.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Adjust Brightness Manually Before You Shoot

Things looking too dark or overly bright? Just before taking a photo, adjust the brightness manually. Simply touch your cell phone screen and slide your finger either right or left to brighten or darken your shot. My phone has a little light bulb icon that pops up on the screen to indicate brightness.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

The sun was overly bright on this day at the Wyndham in Disney World. I adjusted brightness before taking the shot.

Turn Off the Flash (or Diffuse It)

Sometimes lighting is lower than you like but always try to resist using your cell phone camera flash. The flash can create some intense shadows, hot spots and maybe even completely blacken out the background of the image. Instead of using your flash, concentrate on holding the camera very still by propping your arms or using a travel tripod.

Another option is to diffuse the flash (especially helpful when photographing food in a dimly lit restaurant). Hold a paper napkin over the flash on the camera to lessen the strength.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney!

I wanted to capture the entire scene behind the Dole Whip cup so I didn’t use the manual focus for this shot inside the Polynesian.

Night Shots

I find that I can capture better night shots with my cell phone camera than I can with my regular camera. One tip is to hold your phone very steady. For this shot of the Disneyland Hotel pool area at night, I held my elbows on a railing so I didn’t wiggle the camera when I took the picture. Use the brightness feature sparingly to lighten things up as you wish.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Dark scenes that are far away aren’t going to show up well. You’ll need to get up close to the item and make sure that it’s fairly well lit. Also items that are moving quickly in the dark are going to blur if you try to photograph them. Aim to shoot items that are still or moving slowly and very well lit, like the float in the Paint the Night Parade (featured image at the top).

 

Crop Later Instead of Using Zoom

Zooming on your cell phone camera is going to make you photo look very pixilated and/or blurry. Better to take the photo as you see it and then crop later.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Don’t zoom! Better to crop the image later.

Sharing on Instagram

If you’re taking a photo specifically for Instagram, set up the shot ahead of time to best fit their square frame. You don’t want to have to crop out your favorite part of the picture to make it fit into the frame for Instagram. I wanted to capture not only my kids in this photo but the sandy beach and the hotel behind them so I took a wide shot and then cropped for Instagram.

 

Snapseed

Rather than using the same ol’ filters on Instagram that everyone else is using, edit your photos in Snapseed. This free app allows you to simply crop, brighten or sharpen images. Or you can get as complicated as you would in Photoshop on your desktop with curves and healing tools. Except that Snapseed is totally easy to use!

I used Snapseed on this shot at Port Orleans Riverside, including white balance and brightness.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.


For more Disney photo tips,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


7 Books for Kids to Read Before a Disney Vacation

Getting kids ready for a Disney vacation? Every child, from babies to teens can benefit from one of these tried and tested Disney books for kids before their magical vacation. Whether doing Disney parks research, educating on the history of Disney or just getting familiar with characters, these are books kids will love. These are the top books for kids to read before a Disney trip that will get them prepared and excited!

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

Disney Books for Kids

Yep, the internet is great for travel planning but I don’t necessarily want my kids surfing the web (even if they’re just looking for Disney vacation stuff). I love that these Disney books for kids exist to help get them prepared for vacation. Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing the Disney books you should have in your collection. I’m talking about the books for kids that they should read before your Disney vacation.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

For Research and Planning

If you want to get the most out of your Disney vacation (money and time well-spent) you’ll have to invest some research and planning. Get kids on board with a guide book they can read with you at home.

The Birnbaum’s 2018 Walt Disney World For Kids guide book really helps to build excitement. Kids may have heard of the rides and attractions but not know any details other than that. The book informs kids on what to expect once they get to the Parks (psst…helping kids know what to expect can help minimize disappointment and meltdowns!)

For Babies

If you’re planning on taking your baby to Disney, I suggest helping them get familiar with the characters. Disney Baby I Love You This Much! features Mickey and his friends with a sweet story line. Point out the characters in the books and repeat their names. Expand baby’s character palate with the equally adorable Disney Baby My First Colors. I love the colorful fold-out pages and less often seen characters in this book.

My daughter loves these books (we received complimentary copies from Disney Baby). Most babies are very excited to see characters in the park though some might not want to get closer than a few feet. My daughter at 6 months old wanted to touch characters. However at 13 months old, she cried anytime we were within 10 feet! Read more about my “no-cry” ways to introduce your baby to characters in the parks.

For more tips about taking babies to Disney, read about the things to do at Disney World with a baby on TravelingMom or my posts at Disney Baby.

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

Even babies will appreciate these Disney books for kids before their vacation.

For Preschoolers

When planning your preschooler’s first Disney trip, you’ll want to give them more of a backstory on the attractions. Preschool #DisneyKids are easily drawn into the magic! My preschooler loves storybooks, like the Walt Disney’s Classic Storybook Collection.

Planning a California trip to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure park? Check out my TravelingMom post with insider tips for taking preschoolers to Disneyland. And more preschooler at Disney tips here, as well.

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

For Princesses-in-Training

Is your little princess excited to wear her costume at the Park? Get her ready from head-to-toe with the help of this DIY book, Disney Princess Hairstyles. The step-by-step illustrations make it easy to recreate some truly stunning braids, buns and up-dos, inspired by Disney Princesses. For even more inspiration, try Disney Frozen Hairstyles: Inspired by Anna and Elsa.

  

Give yourself plenty of time at home before your trip to practice and perfect some of the more elaborate designs.

Doing your child’s hair and sprinkling your own glitter will save you big bucks! However if you can’t handle the complexity of these styles, consider booking a reservation at Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique instead.


For Tweens

Many kids at this age have an appreciation or interest in history and historical figures. A non-fiction account of Walt Disney can really spark the thoughts of impressionable tweens. Walt’s quotes about imagination, hard work and steadfast dreams hold true for kids today. Tweens can truly find inspiration in knowing Walt Disney’s background and childhood history.

Tweens also love to find out how things work. The basic principles of creative “Imagineering” can affect tweens in a positive way.

I recommend Walt Disney: Young Movie Maker (Childhood of Famous Americans) and Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real.

    

For Teens

My fantasy-loving teen has really enjoyed the Kingdom Keepers (7 Book Series). Getting to stay at Disney after everyone leaves – amazing, right? Fighting Disney villains to save the world? Even better! This dramatic chapter book series is great.

For Aspiring Animators

Immersing kids with Disney pre-trip really gets them in the mood for a magical vacation. Watching the classic Disney animated features helps get kids excited for what they’ll see on the rides. And possibly for the character meetings they’ll have as well.

My kids enjoy the Learn to Draw series. The step-by-step illustrations guide kids how to draw characters, whether it’s classic Mickey from Learn to Draw Mickey Mouse & Friends Through the Decades, an animated favorite from Learn to Draw Disney’s Classic Animated Movies or Moana & Maui from Learn to Draw Disney’s Moana.
    

Stock up on sketch paper, pencils, erasers and colored pencils so kids can work on their art. This is a great on-the-road activity as well!


Looking for Recommended Disney Books for Grown-Ups?

Make sure to check out my post, Best Books to Buy When Planning a Disney Vacation. Those are the books that the grown-ups should read for research and fun before their trip!

Many of these books are available for Amazon Kindle as well.
Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

For more Disney book recommendations,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Black | Ultimate Guide to Disney Books

What to Do on a Non-Park Day at Disney World with a Preschooler

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

No ticket? No problem! There are tons of things to do on a non-park day at Disney World with a preschooler from resort hopping, dining and free fun. Preschoolers can be notoriously fickle and many will have a better attitude when allowed free time and play without structure. These ideas for a non-park day at Disney World with a preschooler show you exactly what you can do with little ones without having to purchase a Park ticket.

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Green Loop. Today we are sharing fun things to do at Disney on non-park days.


11 Things to Do at Disney World with a Preschooler

Being a longtime Disneyland guest if we go to Disney, we always go into the Parks. Outside of the resort hotels and a few shops at Downtown Disney, there isn’t much that’s “Disney” to do if you’re not inside the Parks. However at Walt Disney World there are so many amazing things to do outside of the Parks (and lots of these ideas are totally free!)

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

I’ve always wanted to pad my visit with several non-park days and I was recently able to do that. My one-year old toddler and my 5-year old preschooler and I were recently at Walt Disney World and we had three non-park days on our visit. This allow us plenty of free time to explore some of the entertainment options outside of the Parks. Keep reading for my tips on how to enjoy a non-park day at Disney World with a preschooler.


1. Transportation is a Ride for Preschoolers

My preschooler couldn’t wait to get on his first Disney World ride and was disappointed when I told him we weren’t going to Magic Kingdom the first two days. He was appeased however when I told him we’d be taking the Monorail, the bus, and several boats that day instead. For preschoolers hopping aboard transportation is a Disney ride. And you won’t need a Park ticket or even need to be a resort guest to ride them.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

The boats from Epcot to the Boardwalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club and Hollywood Studios are totally free to ride!

2. Resort Hopping

During our visit we were able to visit a total of six different resorts. We chose to stay overnight at three different places (Port Orleans Riverside, Disney’s Caribbean Beach and Beach Club Resort). Then we jumped aboard the Monorail and made stops at the trio of resorts on the loop (Contemporary, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Grand Floridian). Walking through the lobby, wandering the grounds, grabbing a snack inside a quick service restaurant and perusing the gift shops were fun activities for my preschooler.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Be sure to check online as to different activities that take place inside the resorts that anyone can enjoy. After reading an article on the Disney Blog site, I found out that the annual Easter eggs would still be on display in the lobby of the Grand Floridian during our visit.

3. Preschool Fun in Disney Springs

The first night of our stay we hopped on a boat that took us from the Port Orleans Riverside. In just under 15 minutes we were deposited into Disney Springs, a lively outdoor shopping spot with plenty for preschoolers to see and do.

My preschool was enthralled by the splash pad. It was quite late at night but being Florida, it was still pretty warm. I happily let him run through the water and it pretty much made his entire vacation!

Other preschool activities could be taking in a G-rated movie at AMC Theater, The night of our visit there was family-friendly singing and dancing at the Waterview Park amphitheater. Brave preschoolers could take a high ride in the basket of the Characters in Flight helium balloon. If preschoolers just can’t wait for their first ride, the Marketplace area has a train and carousel.

4. Dining at Disney Springs That’s Perfect for Preschoolers

We ate dinner at Blaze Pizza, the perfect VERY quick meal for hungry preschoolers who don’t want to wait. The pizzas cook in just 180 seconds! Blaze had some deliciously unique pizza combinations available but we settled for simple pepperoni for my guy. It was a decent size for the two of us to share along with a green salad.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Other dining locations that preschoolers would love are T-Rex, Earl of Sandwich and Rainforest Cafe. The volcano outside the Rainforest Cafe ignited with shooting flames, something we had to stop and watch. Splitsville would be a great place for a few hours of dining and entertainment so you can eat and bowl a few games.

Ghiradelli ice cream and soda shop was our dessert location that night, with overflowing cones of mint chip. We’d intended to grab cupcakes from Sprinkles but the shop was closed and they were in the process of loading the ATM. There is also very preschool-friendly shaved ice from Florida Snow Company and treats from Erin McKenna’s Bakery.

5. Souvenir Collecting

If you plan on resort hopping, one fun activity that my son enjoyed was collecting pressed pennies. Resorts have themed pennies that you can only collect in that location.

Disney Springs has many great souvenir locations for preschoolers. Souvenir shops that are preschool-perfect here are Build-a-Dino inside T-Rex, The LEGO Store, Once Upon a Toy and the enormous World of Disney (only go in there if you have LOTS of time!)

6. Resort Playgrounds

What do preschoolers love more than playing! Many of the resorts we visited had playgrounds that let little ones burn off steam. My preschooler loved the waterside play area called Caribbean Cay at Caribbean Beach as well as the rustic playground in the woods at Fort Wilderness.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

7. Get in Character

Even if you’re not going to walk through the Castle that day your little princess can still get dolled up. A visit to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique inside Disney Springs allows her to get a magical makeover with make-up and hair styling. With any luck (and no swimming!) her hair will still look stylish the following day.

Another fun option is face painting or hair braiding. Many resorts as well as Disney Springs have this option.

8. Making a Splash at the Resort Pool

Take advantage of the amenities right there at your resort hotel. A day at the pool is one of the best ways for preschoolers to enjoy a non-park day. While parents can grab a drink from the poolside bar, preschoolers can swim and splash to their heart’s delight. There are life jackets available for new swimmers. Some resorts have very cool interactive pools like the water slide at Port Orleans Riverside or the fenced in pirate play area specifically for preschoolers.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

This play area at Caribbean Beach is made for preschoolers.

And nothing beats Stormalong Bay at Beach Club Resort. It’s the ultimate pool experience! My preschooler loved the sand-bottomed zero entry pool and the beach buckets and shovels to build sandcastles. And for brave preschoolers the dramatic water slide that shoots you through a pirate ship will be the talk of the trip!

9. Grab a Bite at a Resort Hotel

One of our favorite things on our non-park days was enjoying some of the dining at the resort hotels. While resort hopping, we enjoyed lunch as Gasparilla Grill inside the Grand Floridian. This quick service location offers freshly prepared dishes along with grab & go items (like this adorable and delicious Minnie Mouse cupcake!)

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Minnie Mouse cupcake at Gasparilla Grill, Grand Floridian Walt Disney World

The following day we enjoyed lunch at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at the Beach Club Resort. This charming location has such a fun vibe from the kid-friendly food and of course, the sweet treats. My son loved that his hot dog lunch came with the happy ending of a Mickey Mouse ice cream sundae.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

The Mickey Mouse ice cream sundae comes with a kid’s meal at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop.

Dinner at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue was definitely one of our favorite things of the entire trip. We took the boat from Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness and wandered the grounds before dinner. I’m so glad we indulged in this dinner show. Everything from the plentiful and delicious food to the top-notch entertainment was perfectly tailored for everyone in the family. My preschooler loved the loud atmosphere, the strawberry shortcake & being handed a washboard to make loud music!

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Strawberry shortcake at Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

10. Indoor Fun for Preschoolers

Inside many of the resort hotel lobbies are artists waiting to draw your child’s portrait. My son had never had a caricature drawn before and it looked like a great souvenir to bring home so I had him sit for one.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

We don’t usually watch television when we’re on vacation but I did let my preschooler watch a bit before bed each night. Disney World has an entire channel devoted to safety. This very fun and informative cartoon series features Timon & Pumba from The Lion King. It was the only thing that my preschooler wanted to watch!

While waiting for our dining reservation we wandered the lobby inside the Beach Club on a hunt for Hidden Mickeys. Preschoolers absolutely love spotting Hidden Mickeys everywhere from the flower arrangements to the carpet design.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Hidden Mickey finding is perfect fun for preschoolers! Here’s one in the Beach Club lobby.

Be sure to check the resort guide for other activities they offer to guests. Many have organized things to do indoors including scavenger hunts.

11. Outdoor Adventures

If your preschooler loves the great outdoors, take ’em to the fishing hole and see if they can catch the big one! There are small places to fish (like this area at Port Orleans Riverside) or larger fishing excursions (like on the Seven Seas Lagoon).

https://youtu.be/TXvOjyZfnRI

Some of the resorts have horse drawn carriages that will take you for a tour of the property. Or rent a bike surrey and everyone can pedal while enjoying the resort.

We’d intended to visit the Campfire at Fort Wilderness however our dinner at Hoop-Dee-Doo let out later than expected and we missed it. Many of the resorts offer this evening activity with the option to purchase and prepare your own s’mores over the flames. At Fort Wilderness Chip & Dale greet guests and there is a cowboy singer (no charge at all to attend this event!)

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Ready to explore Fort Wilderness

While at Fort Wilderness we had the chance to see the horses. My preschooler didn’t want to ride but that option is available if you have a horse lover.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Did you know that Disney World has two mini-golf courses (Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland – read Adventureland Pam’s review on that with the link below). My son really wanted to go miniature golfing during our trip but we just didn’t have enough time. Guess we’ll just have to plan more non-park days on our next Disney World vacation!

For more ways to spend non-park days at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


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Walt Disney World Guide for Toddlers at Magic Kingdom

Toddlers at Magic Kingdom? Here's your Walt Disney World guide including what attractions are best, where to eat and what to pack with you for the day.

Toddlers at Magic Kingdom? A toddler’s emotions can go up and down quicker than a roller coaster! Is a trip to Magic Kingdom a good idea with your little one? I’m all for taking kids of all ages to Disney parks and I’ll give you the practical tips. Here’s your Walt Disney World guide including what attractions are best, where to eat and what to pack with you for the day when visiting with toddlers at Magic Kingdom.

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing tips to for taking toddlers to the Disney Parks.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Toddlers at Magic Kingdom

Toddlers can be a fickle bunch. One moment they’re happily clapping along with Mickey during a meet n’ greet and the next they’re screaming in Pluto’s face when Mom tries to snap a photo. You might be wondering if it’s a good idea at all to take a toddler to Disney parks. I’ve been traveling to Disney parks all my life, including my very first visit to Disneyland when I was just one year old. I’ve been taking my children to the parks for years, including taking my then-6 month old daughter cross-country to Walt Disney World! I think taking toddlers to Disney parks is a wonderful idea and I’ll tell you why Magic Kingdom in particular is the perfect toddler vacation spot.

Of all the Walt Disney World parks, I think Magic Kingdom is tailor-made for toddlers. There is really so much that little ones can enjoy here including shows, attractions and dining. Many of the rides in Magic Kingdom do not have height restrictions, so toddlers can join their parents in the fun.

Toddlers at Magic Kingdom? Here's your Walt Disney World guide including what attractions are best, where to eat and what to pack with you for the day.

1. Do Your Research & Get Toddlers Prepared for the Trip

As noted, toddlers can be unpredictable. That being said, there is quite a bit you can do pre-trip to get them ready for Disney.

  • Brush up on which Disney rides your toddler will be tall enough for on your vacation. This list of rides that do not have a height requirement will be safe for everyone!
  • Order a Disney travel planning DVD and watch it with your child to show them what Disney World looks like.
  • Watch YouTube videos of the rides you think they’ll want to go on. They’ll be less stressed out or worried if they have an idea what to expect ahead of time.
  • Read Disney-themed books and watch age appropriate Disney films or Disney Junior programs to get toddlers familiar with some of the characters.
  • Create a countdown calendar that will count down the days until your vacation.

Toddler Tip #1: Find out from your toddler what their top three “must-do” things are for the trip. Whether it’s meeting a certain princess or eating a churro, put those things at the top of your vacation list and make sure they happen!


Toddlers at Magic Kingdom? Here's your Walt Disney World guide including what attractions are best, where to eat and what to pack with you for the day.

2. Have a Well-Stocked Toddler Bag

Every great Disney day begins with a well-stocked bag. These are a few of the essentials you should consider packing in with you.

  • Disposable bibs
  • Snacks
  • Sipper cup
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Diaper supplies (changing pad, diapers, wipes)
  • Change of clothes
  • Wet bag (for storing wet or soiled clothing)

Toddler Tip #2: Choose a backpack instead of a diaper bag. You’ll be able to wear the backpack in queue and remain hands free.

Toddlers at Magic Kingdom? Here's your Walt Disney World guide including what attractions are best, where to eat and what to pack with you for the day.

3. The Early Bird Gets the Rides

If your toddler is an early bird, I’d recommend getting to Magic Kingdom at “rope drop”. Arriving early will allow you to experience many of the rides in Fantasyland with less of a wait than if you waited until mid-day.

One you’re inside Magic Kingdom, immediately hit Fantasyland. Rides like Peter Pan’s Flight, “it’s a small world”, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Dumbo the Flying Elephant are toddler favorites.

Toddler Tip #3: Start the day with a quick snack in the hotel room. Something like fresh-cut fruit, a granola bar or even dry cereal (avoiding sugary snacks) will get toddlers on the right side of the bed in the morning.

Toddlers at Magic Kingdom? Here's your Walt Disney World guide including what attractions are best, where to eat and what to pack with you for the day.

4. Shows to Make Toddlers Smile

  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire
  • Move it! Shake it! Dance & Play it! Street Party

Toddler Tip #4: Most toddlers will enjoy a day that’s well-balanced with rides, shows, play and rest. Instead of rushing around the park tackling all of the rides, make sure to schedule in some downtime before and after some of the shows that will allow for a nap, free play or a snack.

 

Toddlers at Magic Kingdom? Here's your Walt Disney World guide including what attractions are best, where to eat and what to pack with you for the day.

Toddlers that are too shy for meet n’ greets might just enjoy waving to characters at the parade instead.

5. A Full Belly Makes for a Happier Toddler!

A grumble in a toddler’s tummy will make them turn from beauty to beast! Here are some dining tips to keep toddler bellies full and happy.

Children Under 3 Eat for Free (sort of) – You are welcome to share your meal with your toddler at no additional charge. You can also prepare them a plate at any buffet meal without cost. However if you order your toddler their own plate from the menu or something from the kid’s menu, you will need to pay for it.

Look for the Mickey Check – Kid’s Mickey Check meals meet Disney nutrition guidelines as a healthier meal. These dishes limit calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar.

Full-Service Dining –

  • Plan ahead by making Advanced Dining Reservations for any full-service meals you wish to eat in Magic Kingdom (here’s how to get the reservations for the meals you want!).
  • Research menus ahead of your trip before deciding what restaurants will work best for your family. While you might be hungry for the Layered Ratatouille at Be Our Guest restaurant, your toddler may be less than thrilled at the Chicken Brochette. Make sure that what’s on the menu will be something your toddler will eat.
  • Plan on a much longer dining time at full-service locations. If your toddler can’t sit through a usual restaurant experience or fusses because he’s done and wants to leave, consider dining quick service instead.
Toddlers at Magic Kingdom? Here's your Walt Disney World guide including what attractions are best, where to eat and what to pack with you for the day.

You want Disney dining & your toddler probably only cares about the corn dogs!

Quick-Service Dining – 

  • Quick service meals are often delivered fast, making them great for when your toddler is hungry RIGHT NOW!
  • Divide up the adults when in a quick-service restaurant. One adult can grab a table and high chair for the toddler and the other adult can place all the orders.

Character Meals – Toddlers may especially enjoy the buffet character dining in The Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh and friends. One caveat: If your toddler is afraid of characters (or you suspect they might be), avoid booking character dining or risk having them cry during the entire meal!

Snacks – There are snack locations and carts all over Magic Kingdom with savory and sweet treats for toddlers.

Toddler Tip #5: Don’t think you have to rely only on the snacks sold in the park. Pack in your toddler’s favorites; you’re allowed to bring snacks in the parks with you! Be sure to balance out snacks with fresh fruits, veggies and lean proteins to avoid mid-day crash!

6. Let Them Think They’re In Control

Disney parks puts toddlers in control of the fun. Some rides let little ones take control and everyone knows that toddlers like to take the reins! If your toddler likes to push buttons, turn the knobs and take charge of the wheel, check out these Magic Kingdom attractions –

  • Astro Orbitor
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade (for the cost of a few quarters)
  • Mad Tea Party
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Tomorrowland Speedway (32″ or taller)
Toddlers at Magic Kingdom? Here's your Walt Disney World guide including what attractions are best, where to eat and what to pack with you for the day.

Let your toddler think he’s in control behind the wheel!

7. Sleepy Kids (aka: Avoiding the Meltdown)

If your toddler is accustomed to napping you might want to consider returning to the hotel before nap time to ensure that she gets the rest she needs before the dreaded meltdown ensues!

If your toddler can sleep despite the extra noise and excitement inside Magic Kingdom, start by winding things down a bit and enjoy a few mellow attractions like Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover or Liberty Square Riverboat. Then seek out a location where your toddler can rest in the shade of their stroller. I found a nook near Gaston’s Tavern to be a great resting place that included a seat in the shade for me!

Toddler Tip #6: Use a stroller, even if you think your toddler won’t ride in one. Little legs get very tired from all the walking and it’s great to have a shady place for them to rest or just eat a snack. If you don’t want to bring your own stroller, consider renting one during the trip from Amusement Park Rentals.

Toddlers at Magic Kingdom? Here's your Walt Disney World guide including what attractions are best, where to eat and what to pack with you for the day.

8. A Place to Toddle

Take your toddler out of the stroller and let them roam in these fun and save environments (naturally, you’ll need to follow closely behind!)

    • Swiss Family Treehouse
    • Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station (bring a swim suit, towel and waterproof, slip-resistant shoes)
    • Tom Sawyer Island

9. It’s the Little Things

With a focus on the big shows and attractions inside Magic Kingdom, you might miss out on some of a toddlers favorite little things to discover. Toddlers often need more time to just watch and absorb the entertainment so make sure you’re taking this into account before pushing the stroller away. These little things might be your toddlers favorite too, so be sure to spend a bit of time checking them out:

  • Toddlers love to sing and dance. If you see Casey’s Corner Pianist playing or the Dapper Dans singing, let you toddler get up out of the stroller to dance and clap along.
  • Pressed coins. What toddler doesn’t love to turn the crank on the pressed coin machine and have a quirky souvenir to show everyone? Aim to collect several from around the park.
  • Save a souvenir to hand your toddler when you leave the Park. Something small like a race car or a bottle of bubbles can help prevent cranky kid meltdown at the end of the night (and also give them something to entertain themselves on the bus back to the hotel).
  • Electrical Water Pageant. Another great way to get your toddler out of Magic Kingdom, by showing them this simple and sweet parade that takes place each night outside the park exit.
Toddlers at Magic Kingdom? Here's your Walt Disney World guide including what attractions are best, where to eat and what to pack with you for the day.

Back at the Port Orleans Riverside, dreaming of Disney!

For more advice on taking toddlers to Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


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Best Books to Buy When Planning a Disney Trip

I’m all for doing my online research ahead of time. I search Google for everything far and wide so I can get the most information when planning a Disney trip. But there’s just something about having all the tips in one place – A book! To have a book in hand is invaluable; to be able to flip the page, see photos, tab and highlight favorite sections – That’s one of my favorite parts of Disney vacation research! See my recommendations for the best books to purchase when planning a Disney trip.

Planning a Disney Trip? Pick up a Book

Whether you’re just in the research stages, getting the kids familiar with Disney or looking for some background and history there is a Disney book for everyone in your family! You can even take some of these books along with you for the trip.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and purchasing through the links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Planning a Disney trip? Pick up one of these recommended Walt Disney World or Disneyland books for everyone in your group!

 

Research Books to Help You Plan & Stay Organized

If you read this blog at all you’ll know that doing your pre-vacation research is an important way to save money and time on your trip! These Disney vacation research books will help you properly plan and be prepared. The Unofficial Guide was my go-to research book when planning my first vacation to Walt Disney World.

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2017

Birnbaum’s 2017 Disneyland Resort: The Official Guide (Birnbaum Guides)

PassPorter’s Walt Disney World 2016

    

The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World Planner: A Complete Organizer, Journal, and Keepsake for Your Unforgettable Vacation

Frommer’s EasyGuide to Disney World, Universal and Orlando 2017 (Easy Guides)

102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World: Bonus! 40 Free Things to Enjoy, Eat, Do and Collect!

  

Books for Kids to Get them in a Disney Mood

Get the kids on board by supplying them with a few Disney themed titles. They can help with vacation planning or just get in the Disney mood with a few storybooks. My son owns several of these Disney Storybook Collections and they are a bedtime favorite leading up to our vacation day whenever we’re planning a Disney trip. My older kids have read and loved the Kingdom Keepers series.

Birnbaum’s 2017 Walt Disney World For Kids: The Official Guide (Birnbaum Guides)

Going To Disneyland – A Guide for Kids & Kids at Heart

Disney*Pixar Storybook Collection

    

Kingdom Keepers Boxed Set: Featuring Kingdom Keepers I, II, and III

The Mystery at Walt Disney World (Real Kids, Real Places)

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2018

    

Books for Little Ones

If this is baby’s first Disney trip you’ll want to make them familiar with characters. These sweet books are ideal. The encyclopedia is great for acquainting kids with the characters and you can take it with you on the trip to have each character sign inside!

Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters

Disney® Mickey Mouse “My First Books” (Set of 4 Shaped Board Books)

Disney Classics Little Golden Book Library (Disney Classic)

Disney Baby My First Colors

     

Books with a History and Background

Ready to dig a little deeper into Disney lore? You want a book with a bit of history or that gives you some background into the Disney experience?
I’m wanting The Disney Book for myself, it looks like an amazing read!

Disney A to Z (Fifth Edition): The Official Encyclopedia

Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real

  

The Disneyland Encyclopedia: The Unofficial, Unauthorized, and Unprecedented History of Every Land, Attraction, Restaurant, Shop, and Major Event in the Original Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination

Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service (Disney Institute Book, A)

       

Books to Use When on the Trip

Once you’re on vacation, there are a few books that you can bring with you to maximize your Park experience. They also help alleviate boredom when standing in line or waiting in restaurants! I think my preschooler would get a kick out of finding Hidden Mickeys on our next visit!

Disneyland’s Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Disneyland® Resort’s Best Kept Secrets

The Hidden Mickeys of Walt Disney World

The Walt Disney World Trivia Book: Secrets, History & Fun Facts Behind the Magic (Volume 1)

The Disney World Queue Line Scavenger Hunt: The Game You Play While Waiting In Line

    

What are your favorite Disney books? Share in the comments!

20 Trusted Tips for Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney

Traveling with a baby has many challenges. Traveling by yourself with a baby? Even more to consider! How about traveling alone with a baby to Disney? I’m here to tell you it can be done! I’ve done it twice in the last year. With some advance planning and knowledge, traveling alone with a baby doesn’t have to be vacation-doom. Read on for my 20 tips for traveling alone with a baby.

Traveling Alone with a Baby

Last year I had the opportunity to travel to Walt Disney World for a conference with the TravelingMoms. With a 6 month old at home, I knew that I’d need to bring her with me for the 4 days I’d be out of town. I was feeling confident and excited. First of all, I was going to Disney World! Second, with only a baby in tow, it was going to be almost like a solo vacation (hmm, almost but not quite!)

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

Starstruck by Chip

I had a lot to learn, it seems! I’ve outlined all the details you’ll need to consider when traveling alone with a baby, with special considerations given for Disney vacation travel.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase through these links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. Travel Times

When considering booking your flight, take a look at your baby’s schedule. I chose to fly in the morning, which would fall during my daughter’s first nap of the day. She’s also in a much better mood in the morning than in the evening so I knew she’d be happier during the flight. I was flying from San Diego to Orlando which clocks in at just around 5 hours. I lucked out and she was able to sleep for about 2 hours on the plane while I wore her in the front carrier.

Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: Choose a non-stop flight whenever possible. Getting on and off the plane with all your stuff and a baby is less daunting if you know you only have to do it once each way.

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

2. Checked Luggage

One of the best things about a Walt Disney World vacation is that luggage is handled for you when you stay on-site. Check it curbside at the airport and the next time you’ll see it will be inside your Disney World resort hotel room! Yes, they take care of getting your luggage from the airlines and then deliver it directly to your room. One less thing to worry about for sure!

What do you need to pack with you for a Disney vacation? Be sure to check out these two handy printable lists, a list for mom and a list for baby! I’ll mention that I underestimated the number of wipes I’d need and had to buy more on the last day. Fortunately they sold them inside the Baby Care center at Epcot!

Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: You’ll be lugging your luggage to the front of the hotel on check-out day so make sure you have one that rolls well and isn’t so impossibly heavy that you can’t handle it yourself.

3. Carry-On Bags

In addition to what you’d normally pack in a carry-on bag for yourself, you’re also going to need to carry everything for baby as well. This would include plenty of diapers and wipes, changing table pad, baby snacks, blanket, bottle or cup and at least 1 change of clothes (some babies have intestinal issues during air travel because of the increased pressure, so you might want to bring 2+ outfits!)

The baby’s #Disneyland outfits are done, we can officially go on vacation! #Disney #sewing #babyclothes

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Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: Consider making your carry-on bag a backpack. Not only will it be easier to carry through the airport, you’ll also be able to access your supplies easier when you can compartmentalize in a backpack rather than a cavernous tote bag.


4. Navigating the Airport

From checking your luggage, passing through security checks and making the long walk to your gate, you’re going to need free hands. Holding a baby and juggling these other tasks is tricky so make it easy on yourself and wear the baby so your hands are free. On my flight to Disney World I was allowed to pass through security while baby-wearing and didn’t have to take her off my body. I use a Boba Air Baby Carrier and wore it through my entire trip. Invaluable!

Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: Wear shoes that slip on and off easily without your hands so you won’t have sit and bend over to tie them.


5. On the Flight

My daughter sat on my lap during the flight, mostly held in her front carrier. I opted not to purchase a seat for her or bring her car seat because I knew that I would not be able to carry it on the travels by myself. Once in my plane seat, I used a sanitizing wipe to clean down any surface that my baby might touch (windowsill, arm rests and tray table).

Ready for takeoff! SAN to MCO #waltdisneyworld here we come #tmomdisney #Tmom

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I was blessed to have an empty seat next to me on the flight there and a completely empty row on the flight home! This allowed me to spread out a bit and use the empty seat to hold my carry-on backpack. You might not be so lucky and of course, space is tight on a plane. Pack your carry-on bag judiciously so you can reach in for what you need quickly when it’s at your feet.

Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: Forget pulling out the laptop on the plane; with a lap-sitting baby you probably won’t have the space for it on the tray table. Bring a good book or magazine for when baby naps (or heck, take a nap yourself!)

6. Bathroom Breaks

When you gotta go, you gotta go! What do you do when you have to use the bathroom? Because I wasn’t going to have a stranger on the plane hold my baby, I placed her inside the front carrier and still had my hands free to do my business and properly wash my hands. When in the Disney parks, I’d simply roll her inside the bathroom in her stroller and use one of the large stalls. Take the changing pad with you and take care of baby’s needs while you’re in the bathroom too.

Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: Changing diapers on the plane has it’s own challenges! Be sure to read this post with tips for changing a diaper on a plane from my friend Leslie at Trips with Tykes.


7. Using a Stroller

Since I was using the front carrier to tote my baby through the airport, I opted to leave our regular stroller at home. I had used Amusement Park Rentals in the past for my son and contacted them once again for a stroller on this trip with the baby. It was so convenient to meet them in the lobby, have the rental stroller for the trip and then have them pick it up at the end of the visit. They even included a rain cover for the stroller in case of showers.

Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: If you choose to bring a stroller with you, roll it right up to the entrance of the plane and the stewards will store it for you.

Heavy sleeper. @disneyland #disneybaby #Rollercoaster #Disney #Disneyland

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8. Take the Magical Express

One of the fabulous benefits of staying at a Disney World resort hotel is complimentary use of Magical Express. This is bus transportation that will take you from Orlando Airport directly to the front entrance of your Disney World resort. Babies can lap sit just like on the plane. If you have a car seat they will not allow it on the bus, it will be stored underneath the bus with carry on luggage.

Solo Traveling Tip: If staying off-site at a non-Disney resort hotel and unable to use Magical Express, bring a car seat from home for baby. Services like Uber and Lyft do offer car seats in some vehicles but they aren’t rear-facing seats for babies under 2.

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

9. Transportation on Disney Property

Once on Disney property you’ll be able to get to and from your hotel to the parks and Disney Springs via transportation buses, monorail system and friendship boats. You’ll be in charge of carrying your baby, folding and carrying your own stroller and handling your own bags so consider this when packing for a day in the parks.

If you find yourself in need of help, ask someone standing in line with you for assistance. In my case, I always had someone asking me if I would like help or they’d even swoop in and grab my stroller to put it on the bus for me!

Solo Traveling Tip: During peak season and when mass groups are entering or leaving the parks, seating can be very limited. There were several times I had to stand on the bus and hold onto the rail. Wear baby in a front carrier so you can hold on to the rails. You do NOT want to take a tumble when the bus turns or stops.

10. Hotel Choice

The rooms at All-Star Music and Sports were on the small side but adequately suited for just the two of us. It had enough space for me to park the stroller in the doorway and the second bed allowed me to spread out luggage and use it as a changing table for the baby.

I was co-sleeping with my daughter so we simply shared one of the queen sized beds. However resort guests can request a pack ‘n’ play portable crib when booking your reservation. It would have been a very tight fit for a crib in the All-Star rooms so keep that in mind when looking at the resort hotel square footage.

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

All-Star resort hotel room

Solo Traveling Tip: Getting back and forth from the hotel room to the bus pick-up, the time it took to travel and then the walking from the bus depot into the parks really takes a great effort when alone with a baby! Consider booking a hotel on the monorail line to cut transportation time and struggles.

11. Room Location Requests

On my visit, I stayed in three different hotels. Certainly not ideal but I was padding my stay at the conference hotel on each end of the visit with a Disney Resort hotel. Unfortunately the two Disney Resorts were All-Star Music and Sports, which are both very large resorts. The rooms I was given at each hotel were the furthest walk to and from the front entrance. It would seriously take me 15 minutes of brisk walking to get from my room to the bus each day. It took even longer on check-out day when I was trying to push a baby in a stroller, carry a diaper bag and wheel my luggage at the same time!

Solo Traveling Tip: If you’re traveling alone with a baby put in a request when booking the room for a location that isn’t such a long distance away.

Thankful for this sweet girl, who has been the best travel companion I could have asked for! #TMOM #TBaby #WaltDisneyWorld

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12. Consider Renting a Locker

If you’re packing in everything you’ll need for a Disney day including diapers, wipes, a change of clothes and baby food, consider renting a locker in the Park to hold items until you need them. No need lugging around all the diapers and food for the day if you can store some of them in a locker that allows in and out privileges.

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

13. Dining at Disney

If your baby is big enough to sit inside a highchair you’ll find that they are plentiful inside restaurants, including quick service locations. I decided not to pack the highchair cover because it was just so big to lug around with me inside the parks. All of the highchairs I used were quite clean and had functioning buckles. I simply wiped the chair down with a sanitizing wipe before putting my baby inside.

Although children under 2 are free to eat at the buffet with a paying adult, I chose to skip the buffets. It’s next to impossible to hold two trays of food on your own as well as handle your baby! I also opted out of full-service dining on my trip as my baby wasn’t eating table food yet.

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

Definitely ask for help if you need it. Navigating inside the quick service lines with a stroller and balancing a tray of food through crowded seating areas is hard when you’re alone. I requested help from the server when I ordered, asking if I could have assistance with getting my tray to the table.

Solo Traveling Tip: Check out this post about feeding your baby at Disney, including what to pack (disposable bibs and stick-on place mats are a must!)

14. Taking on the Rides

There are so many rides and attractions to experience, even with a baby on board. Since you won’t be able to use Rider Swap on this trip if you want to go on a ride, you’ll have to take baby with you!

Pre-trip, check out the height restrictions on the Disney parks website. If there are no restrictions, you can bring baby with you onto the ride. At both Walt Disney World and Disneyland I’ve been able to ride dozens of things with my baby on my lap, even Pirates of the Caribbean, Mad Tea Party teacups and the Haunted Mansion.

PeopleMover for the first time! #Tmom #MickeysNotSoScaryHalloweenParty #WaltDisneyWorld

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Sleeping baby in a front carrier? Ask the Cast Member at the front of the attraction if you can ride. I was able to hop on Dumbo the Flying Elephant while my daughter napped and she never woke up. At Walt Disney World on the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh I was instructed by the Cast Member to remove her from the carrier and turn her forward facing with her legs under the bar. Keep baby in the front carrier through the queue waits…your tired arms will thank you!

Solo Traveling Tip: Use FastPass when you can to keep the line waits down. You’ll find that getting a FastPass for the non-thrill rides is pretty easy. I even used my choices for character meet n’ greets.

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

My very cool travel companion.

15. Shows for All Ages

Certain shows (like Mickey’s PhilharMagic and It’s Tough to Be a Bug!) have extremely high volumes and may contain some frightening elements. Things like the fireworks spectacular may frighten your baby. If you’re far enough away from the action, she may be fine with the show (mine wasn’t fazed by the noise).

Other shows are very calm, like Enchanted Tales with Belle and The American Adventure. Some shows feature lively music or bright colors (like Finding Nemo-The Musical, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room or Country Bear Jamboree) that baby may enjoy watching the action. Of course the parades are all very fun for baby to watch as well. All of the indoor shows I saw requested that you leave your stroller outside.

Solo Traveling Tip: Read up on what show elements will be appropriate for baby in the books The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2017 and The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2017. There are details on the scare-factor of each attraction.

    

16. Quiet Areas

Baby’s overstimulated? Or do you just need a quiet place to rest and recoup? Check out the Baby Care Centers. There is one located in each Disney Park and it’s a clean place to nurse, feed, diaper change, rock or just relax quietly with your baby. The nursing rooms are dimmed and some have rocking chairs. For more breastfeeding tips at Disney parks see my post on DisneyBaby blog.

Solo Traveling Tip: Bring your cell phone and charging cord inside with you. I found outlets inside the nursing rooms (for plugging in a breast pump) but you can use it to recharge your phone while feeding your little one (so long as someone with a breast pump doesn’t need it).

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

Each Disney Park has a Baby Care Center.

17. Naptime Needs

Babies tend to sleep wherever and whenever, which is a great thing! However over-stimulation may result in naps that are delayed or skipped and shortened sleep schedules. Rested babies are happier babies so take time to make sure baby gets the rest she needs, even if it means returning to the hotel. I was able to get my daughter to fall asleep in the parks, usually after a feeding and then placing her inside the front carrier.

There were times when my daughter was napping in her stroller. I took that time to browse the shops, stand in line for character meet n’ greets, eat a meal or simply rest and people-watch from a bench.

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

My sleepy girl “meeting” Jessie & Woody at Magic Kingdom

18. Capture the Moments

You NEED memories of this trip so be sure to take a camera with you! Take selfies. Hand over your camera to Disney PhotoPass photographers. Get in line with the characters for a sweet meet n’ greet. Make sure to get in the pictures yourself, too! Take pictures of it all, you’re going to love looking back at your baby’s first Disney trip!

Solo Traveling Tip: Don’t forget to collect a “First Visit” button to document your baby’s first day at Disney!

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

19. Accept Help

I was checking out of the hotel on the last day and struggling under all my bags. I had acquired a few souvenirs for the kids back home and my bags were overflowing. I was wearing the sleeping baby in her front carrier, pushing a stroller loaded down with one bag and pulling a suitcase behind me. Suddenly someone came up from behind me and started pushing my luggage for me, a teacher from Minnesota who was on the trip with students. She’d seen me lunking that suitcase across the sidewalk and happily pushed it for me as we chatted on the way to the front of the hotel.

Sure, there are sometimes you really can do it alone but if someone wants to help, let them! It makes them feel good to help you out. I can still remember the conversations I had on the transportation bus with the dad of the adopted children from Africa who carried my stroller on board. And the smile from the Cast Member who carried my food tray to my table.

20. Go With the Flow

For sure, traveling alone with a baby is sure to be a vacation that’s different than any other. You’ll be dealing with diapers, tears and feedings all by yourself. Baby’s having a meltdown at the sight of Mickey? Believe me, it won’t be the first time a baby has cried in a character’s face! Don’t stress, just laugh about it.

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

She woke up and the first thing she saw was Mickey’s face. She was not amused.

And just because you aren’t riding coasters and are going by baby’s schedule instead of your own, doesn’t mean you can’t have a magical time! Think of traveling alone with your baby as the perfect opportunity to do things on this trip that you wouldn’t consider otherwise because you’re at a slower pace. Before you know it, your baby will be joining you on the coasters!

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

Save money at DISNEY WORLD!

Purchase discount tickets and Walt Disney World vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.


 For more ideas for traveling solo to Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Orange | Traveling Solo to Disney Loop:

Have you ever considered traveling alone with a baby to Disney? I’d love to hear your comments!

 

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Where to Cut Costs)

Disneyland splurges can really add a certain magic to your vacation. From tiny sweets to full-blown boutique make-overs, there’s a Disneyland splurge to fit every kid (and every budget)! With four kids in our family we don’t tend to go “all out” but it certainly adds joy to our trip to surprise the kids with a few little splurges. I have some suggestions of Disneyland splurges for the kids, plus some money saving ideas that still allow for special treats!

Disneyland Splurges for the Kids

Yes, Disneyland is already a magical place. Throwing in a few splurges here and there on your trip will really put a twinkle in your child’s eye! These are some of the Disneyland splurges that kids will enjoy, with a range to fit any budget.

Please note that I include affiliate links in this post. Clicking the link and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Sweet Treats

When I think of Disneyland splurges, I think dessert! All those sweet treats to indulge in, with many of them perfectly designed for the delight of children. There are character-themed marshmallows on a stick sold all over the Park, sundaes from Gibson Girl, milk shakes from Flo’s V-8 Cafe and adorable cookies we found at Jolly Holiday Bakery & Cafe (check out the Cheshire Cat cookie! It matched my daughter’s leggings!)

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

And of course there are some amazing caramel apples sold throughout the Parks. We love watching them create the apples at Marceline’s in Downtown Disney District. Each apple is painstakingly dipped and decorated by hand.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

1. *Money Saving Splurge* – Buy a caramel apple and request to have it cut into slices. Then everyone can indulge and share the treat!

Watch the video of how caramel apples are made at Disneyland on my YouTube channel.

Portrait Drawing

Older kids may appreciate this more than youngers but having your portrait done (in the streets of New Orleans Square, just down from the exit of Pirates of the Caribbean) is a souvenir worth framing. Choose from silly caricatures or more serious pastel drawings.

A Splurge in Hand

Handheld goodies will put a smile on a child’s face! Items like balloons, light-up toys, spinners, Princess wands, swords and bubble blowers add to the Disney joy and are a nice souvenir too.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

2. *Money Saving Splurge* – If you buy a balloon and it pops, return the remnants to any balloon vendor in the Park for a replacement.

A Special Meal

Looking for a dining splurge you’ll never forget? Consider a meal at The Blue Bayou Restaurant. Not only do they have a location to die for inside the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction (it’s the only restaurant at Disneyland inside of an attraction!) but they have a menu that’s kid-friendly.

There are simple dishes like mac and cheese with veggies or more sophisticated options like salmon and beef strip loin. Kids will get a kick out of watching the ride boats float by and in the decor, which looks like you’re dining outside (complete with chirping crickets!) Just be sure to a get an Advance Dining Reservation because this is a very popular dining location.

3. *Money Saving Splurge* – Dine for lunch instead of dinner to save on the cost of adult meals.

Splurge-Worthy Special Event

There are several special events and packages available at Disneyland if you’re wanting to splurge! Check out the World of Color Dessert Party that gives guests reserved seating as well as dessert and drinks.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Visiting Disneyland during the fall? A ticket to Mickey’s Halloween Party is a must so that kids can dress in costume and trick or treat through the Park at night!

Stay On-Site

From the themed rooms, Extra Magic Hour, and the amazing pools, staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel is a splurge worth making. I’ve stayed in all three of the Disneyland Resort hotels and each offers their own magic.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

4. *Money Saving Splurge* – Naturally weekends, holidays and peak season dates will have higher prices. Stay mid-week and in the off-season to save on a Resort room. Sign up for offers and you may be sent a discount code in the mail or via email.

In-Room Decor

Want to give your kids a magical impression from the moment they enter the hotel room? Contact Disney Floral & Gifts for an in-room celebration that includes decorations, goodies, treats and personalized souvenirs laid out for them when they arrive.

5. *Money Saving Splurge* – Bring your own store-bought treats like bubbles and glow necklaces. Put them on your kid’s pillows and say that Tinker Bell delivered them!

Character Dining

Do your littles have a hearty appetite? Consider a character dining experience with an unlimited buffet. You’ll not only meet n’ greet with characters who come to your table for one-on-one time (photos and autographs too), you’ll also have some great options for dining that will please everyone in your group. Goofy’s Kitchen is a favorite, with an expansive buffet that includes pb & j pizza as well as freshly carved meats.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

Donald nabbing a strawberry at Minnie’s Breakfast at the Plaza Inn

Disney’s PCH Grill is our breakfast go-to with made-to-order omelettes. The Plaza Inn hosts Minnie in the mornings with a vast breakfast spread that kids will love (in between photo ops with a wide range of characters).

6. *Money Saving Splurge* – Choose breakfast instead of lunch or dinner to save on the cost.

Take a Tour

Older kids may enjoy the in-depth tour like “Walk in Walt’s Footsteps”. For a major splurge, reserve a “Plaid” for a VIP tour that will allow you priority access, reserved seating and a personal guide for the day.

Splurge-Worthy Souvenirs

Build-your-own light saber inside The Star Trader. There’s a large station with bits and parts to make it your own design. This area is usually crowded and you’ll be carrying around a big light saber so consider this a late stop in the day. If your kiddo is more the soft and cuddly type, they might prefer a Disney-themed teddy created at the Build-a-Bear Workshop in Downtown Disney District. Start your daughter’s first Pandora charm bracelet and purchase a Disney themed charm.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

7. *Money Saving Splurge* – Have a teddy at home? Shop the a la carte teddy bear outfits instead of making a bear.

Afternoon Tea

Do you have a sophisticated little lady who would enjoy an elegant snack of scones, tiny sandwiches and sips of tea? The afternoon tea held at the Disneyland Hotel has three options (classic, premium or kid’s tea party) and takes place in the elegant Steakhouse 55 restaurant. Dress to impress!

8. *Money Saving Splurge* – If this upscale experience is too much, consider a stop at the more casual Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe inside Disneyland. You can still indulge in treats, sandwiches and Very Berry Diamond Tea. You might even see Mary Poppins and Bert!

Sip and Splurge

Yes, even your beverages can be a splurge when you indulge in some of the fun that Disney offers. There are souvenir sippers, glow ice cubes and silly straws that can “upgrade” your drink. Check out the restaurant menu for other child-friendly beverage treats like mint julep at French Market, Louisiana Lemonade at Blue Bayou or Red’s Apple Freeze at the Cozy Cone Motel.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

A cool Olaf sipper

9. *Money Saving Splurge* – Ask for a “Shirley Temple” at some full-service restaurants. We were able to get this sweet drink (Sprite mixed with cherry juice) at the same cost as a fountain drink at the River Belle Terrace Restaurant.

Birthday Celebrations

No better time to splurge than for a birthday! Parents can pre-order a custom birthday cake to be served at select Disneyland Resort restaurants. Contact Disney Floral & Gifts for a birthday themed in-room celebration that includes room decoration and special gifts. The Build-a-Bear Workshop hosts birthday parties as well.

10. *Money Saving Splurge* – Pick up a complimentary personalized birthday button from guest services when you enter either of the Parks.

A Snack & a Splurge

Many of the snacks sold throughout the Disneyland Resort have an upgrade option. Choose to have your popcorn sold in a regular carton or splurge on a whimsical souvenir bucket. When ordering a kid’s meal at Flo’s V-8 Cafe you can opt for a Lightning McQueen keepsake. Order the “Kitchen Sink” like we did at Clarabelle’s and receive a souvenir Mickey-themed sink (mine holds desk supplies at home!)

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

11. *Money Saving Splurge* – The Kitchen Sink is definitely big enough to share. Order ice cream cones separately if you want to fill them with the sundae from the “sink”.

A Magical Make-Over

What little princess wouldn’t love a head-to-toe fairy tale make-over from Bibbidi Bobbidy Boutique? Sparkling new gown, glittered up-do, make-up, nail polish and more! Even your little prince can get in on the action with a Knight’s Package. For the over-the-top splurge, Disney PhotoPass photographers will capture the moment for you with a customized portrait package.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

BONUS TIP- *Money Saving Splurge* – Purchase your own princess costume from DisneyStore online before your trip and wear it into the Park. Instead of going for the full-out make-over, you can still choose the hairstyle and make-up but save on the (very expensive) dress.

What are YOUR favorite Disneyland splurges? Share them in the comments (and be sure to check out the other Blogorail posts!)

Disneyland Splurges for kids (and Money-Saving tips that still feel like a splurge!)

Save money at DISNEYLAND!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 


For ways to splurge at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Disney Splurges Loop:

 

Disney Souvenirs To Buy BEFORE Your Disney Vacation

Disney souvenirs bought in the Disney parks can be expensive! Yes, there are sometimes exclusive Disney souvenirs that can only be found in the parks, but more often than not you can purchase them at home for a reasonable price. There are also some souvenirs that you can purchase ahead of your trip and take them with you on vacation to use in the Disney parks! Keep reading for my list of Disney souvenirs to buy BEFORE you go on vacation.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Clicking and purchasing through my links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Buy Disney souvenirs before your vacation? Here are the practical reasons why you should buy these things ahead of your Disney trip.

Why Buy Disney Souvenirs Ahead of Time?

Why should you consider buying your Disney souvenirs before your vacation?

#1 is the cost benefit – You’ll save a great percentage buying items at home and bringing them with you versus purchasing them in the Parks.

#2 is that you’ll have more choices – Rather than be “stuck” with the limited choices available in the Parks, you’ll have the option of picking from the entire world wide web if you order them before you leave home!

#3 is that you’ll save precious vacation time – Why spend your vacation shopping for trinkets when you could be maximizing your Park time, swimming in the resort pool or sipping another Dole Whip float?!

No need to fill up your suitcases before your trip. You can certainly have souvenirs shipped to you at home or have them sent directly to meet you at your Disney Resort hotel.

Buy Disney souvenirs before your vacation? Here are the practical reasons why you should buy these things ahead of your Disney trip.

From the Walt Disney World website:

If you intend to receive mail during your vacation, be sure the letter or package:

  • Includes the mailing address of your Disney Resort Hotel
  • Clearly features the word “Guest” on the front and the date of your arrival

Please note that a $5 per package handling fee will apply to all packages that are received through the Front Desk or are delivered to your Disney Resort hotel room.

Souvenirs to Cover Your Head

Did you know you can get Mouse Ear hats before your Disney trip? And adorable Ear headbands too! Or choose a ball cap to shield the sun from your eyes or a warm Disney cap to keep you toasty. Wear your hat on the plane to save on luggage space.


Pins for Trading

Some of these souvenir pins are PRICEY! Purchase ahead of time and shop for individual Disney Parks authentic trading pins from Disney Store. You can also purchase bulk lots of authentic pins on Amazon (like this Disney Trading Pins Lot) if you don’t have a specific pin in mind and don’t mind a few obscure pins. This is a great gift to give a child before your trip to get them started on pin trading.

If you must buy them in the Parks, choose only those pins that can’t be purchased elsewhere or that are limited edition specials.


Misting Fan

It can get hot at Disney and as the sweat rolls down your back you’ll be eyeing these misting fans that many of the guests buy in the Parks. You can find a Disney Misting Fan on Amazon for a lot less than you’ll pay in the Parks.


Lanyards

Lanyards can serve multiple purposes from holding trading pins, paper tickets & FastPass cards at Disneyland or your medical identification. You can purchase these in the Parks or find them online. Some even have a coin purse or pouch to hold cash.

Disney Store has Park Authentic lanyards. I like the Disney Mickey Mouse Lanyard with Coin Purse from Amazon.


Souvenir T-Shirts

I saw a souvenir t-shirt at Walt Disney World that I was considering for my baby girl on my last visit…until I saw the price tag of $30! Yikes! You can get three for the price of one if you shop wisely beforehand.

Target, Disney Store and Amazon all have fantastic authentic Disney designs and you won’t be paying more than you should for one tee.


Souvenir Plush

Cute little stuffed animals in the Parks come at a premium price. Why not buy them upfront and take advantage of frequent sales and special offers, like the Disney Store online often has. You can still get Mickey and Minnie but you’ll likely get them for a steal when you buy them beforehand.


Snacks

Unless you’re using up your Disney Dining Plan snack credits, don’t use your souvenir money to buy pricey snacks. Tote in your usual snacks and if you must “Disney” them, pack them in a Disney-themed container.


Pretty Baubles

Okay, I’ll admit it, I can’t seem to stay out of the Pandora shop! I’ve purchased myself Pandora charms at both the tiny shop in New Orleans Square in Disneyland and the dreamy Main Street U.S.A. shop at Walt Disney World. Okay…and at the World of Disney too! These are the three charms that I have on my Pandora bracelet.

Pandora seems to have a set price on their charms so you won’t find that the price higher or lower by much. They do sometimes put them on sale at the Disney Store online (including the Disneyland 60th Anniversary charm).

Souvenirs to Light Up the Night

I’m a big fan of the Target Dollar Spot glow jewelry. Makes it easy to spot my kids after sunset. I use a few to wrap on the handle of the stroller so I can spot it in the crowd in the dark.

As soon as the sun is setting, the Disney Parks crew will pull out the carts stocked full with fun toys that glow and spin. Come prepared with your own light-up souvenirs for the kids, like the Mickey Mouse Glow Spinner.

For the Pool

Resist the urge to buy the new bathing suit, sandals, sunglasses or towel in the Disney Resort gift shop. I’ll admit that I bought my two older kids each a Disney-themed towel when I went to Walt Disney World and they cost me upwards of $20 a piece!

Get two for the price of one by purchasing Disney swimwear and towels before you leave home.


Souvenirs to Keep You Warm

Yes, I have several “souvenir” sweatshirts from day trips to Disneyland when the weather was chillier than expected! $50 later I wasn’t cold anymore but wow, I could certainly buy a nice sweatshirt or jacket for much less at home. Don’t forget to pack rain ponchos if showers are in the forecast!


Save money at DISNEYLAND!

Purchase discount Disneyland tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.

Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 

Buy Disney souvenirs before your vacation? Here are the practical reasons why you should buy these things ahead of your Disney trip.