First Time at Disneyland with a Toddler and a Baby
I have resisted the happiest place on earth for a year and a half now. Ever since we moved to SoCal, the temptation to take Alex to Disneyland has been there. After all, we only live 20 minutes away! However, due to the price of the tickets, I always told my husband: “We will go only when the kids are old enough to remember.” Well, that plan failed.
Alex has been really into Disney storybooks lately. He demands that we read Frozen at least once a day, and every time we drive somewhere he has to have Frozen songs playing in the car. Mind you, we do not do screen time so he has never seen any Disney movies, but apparently, the stories are captivating enough that he has become a Disney addict just from books. With Alex’s third birthday coming up, we were at a loss about how to celebrate. We thought about having a birthday party but decided against it. Then we learned about the discounted tickets for Disneyland for SoCal residents, and we were sold.
No later than 5 minutes after we walked through the entrance to Disneyland, I knew we were going to one day be one of those families with annual passes to Disney. We saw Chip walking around and playing with the kids, so we encouraged Alex to go up to the giant chipmunk to say hi. Then we were thrown into a state of total confusion when Chip took Alex’s hand and just started walking away with him. My first instinct was to tackle Chip to the ground for kidnapping my child, but I did a mental check and reminded myself that we were at Disneyland and this was probably something the characters do from time to time. Chip showed Alex how to jump over the cracks on the ground and Alex gladly followed suit, and they walked and jumped around until they saw Donald Duck. Chip walked over to Donald with Alex and Donald gave Alex a kiss on the head. For a boy who usually has his poker face on all the time, you could tell that he was on cloud 9, and my heart just melted seeing him so over the moon with happiness.
Here are the highlights for the rest of the day:
- We loved Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. I think this is the best ride for toddlers in the theme park. You walk down into the body of the submarine, which is cool for them in and of itself and off you go on an underwater adventure! In front of you the world of Nemo is recreated and you follow Marlin and Dory around as they try to find Nemo. Everything was so cute and well done, and Alex said “Whoa!” I don’t know how many times during the ride.
- Alex drove the cars at Autopia twice because we had a Rider Switch pass. What a great idea by Disney! Since Zoe was too small to experience the ride, I waited with Zoe at the exit so that once Alex was done with the ride with Marc, I could go in with Alex through the exit and he could experience the attraction again without waiting in line. Unfortunately, Zoe started freaking out while we were waiting for Marc and Alex, and I had to run out to nurse her down for a nap. I didn’t want Alex to miss his chance to experience Autopia again, so I ran with Zoe still attached to my boob (under a nursing cover) up the ramp just in time to give Marc the Rider Switch pass so that he could go again with Alex. I guess mommy will just have to wait until next time.
- We watched the Jedi Training while Alex was having a snack. He loved watching all the kids fight Darth Vader and the Seventh Sister Inquisitor. Now, he has no clue who these people are because we never exposed him to Star Wars, but he thought the show was awesome anyhow.
- Fantasyland was definitely the place to be for toddlers. We rode Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Casey Jr. Circus Train, and King Arthur Carrousel. The train had two cages that we could sit in, and Alex was determined to get to one of the cages. I have to point out that Alex is a pretty laid back kid and is usually timid about fighting for what he wants. He must have really wanted to sit in a cage, because as soon as the attendant opened the gate, he ran for the cage and grabbed on to the door. Another girl, probably around 6 years old, got there at the same time, but Alex held on to the door and stared her down until she left to find another place to sit. Mommy was so proud! Zoe woke up before the train ride and was able to enjoy it as well.
- It started raining pretty hard at one point so we decided to wait in line for Pinocchio’s Daring Journey since most of the time we would be covered. Zoe was fussy again because she wanted to nap, but she could not nap in the stroller with all the excitement and noise going on. I ended up nursing her while standing in line, and she fell asleep right away. I tried unlatching her and handing her to Marc, but she woke up immediately when she popped off my boob, so I had to pop her back on again. I continued to nurse her when we got to the front of the line and she went through the ride sucking on my boob.
- Zoe continued to sleep and nurse while we waited in line for Snow White’s Scary Adventures. My arms were about to fall off from holding her, so at one point I threw caution to the wind and just sat down on the floor while in line and nursed her. The ground was wet from the rain but I would rather have wet pants than risk dropping my baby. My arms got a short break during the ride, which I was worried might be too scary for Alex. We went through the haunted forest with trees that looked like they were about to eat us, and at one point we passed a skeleton hanging in a dungeon. But good old’ Alex came out of the ride with zero emotion on his face and told me he liked it.
- Since it was still drizzling, we decided to walk through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. The setting was very dark and eerie, and I thought for sure that Alex would be scared, especially when Maleficent transformed into a fire-breathing dragon. I mean, I remember being afraid of watching Sleeping Beauty in the dark when I was little. Alex again took everything in stride and walked out of the castle without any expression. He said he enjoyed it though.
- The rain was finally dying down and we headed to the famous It’s a Small World I wasn’t planning on going on the ride because my right arm was losing feeling from holding Zoe for over an hour, so I sat down to continue nursing her while Marc and Alex got in line. Of course, Zoe chose to wake up 10 minutes later, so I ran through the line so that we could all go on the ride together.
- We then headed to Mickey and the Magical Map, which turned out to be our favorite part of the day. The show was very well done, almost like a mini Broadway show with lots of moving props, singers, and dancers. Alex sat there staring at the performance without moving at all, and afterward he didn’t want to leave. If it wasn’t our first time at Disneyland we probably would have stayed for a repeat performance but we wanted to cover as much ground as possible that day.
- Since the performance was right next to Mickey’s Toontown, we decided to go there next. There was tons to do, and we were puzzled about what would be the most fun for Alex until we saw Goofy. Goofy was meeting and greeting little kids in front of Goofy’s Playhouse, which has a play area for small kids in the back and fun toys inside the house. We asked Goofy if he could dance with Alex, and he right away enthusiastically took Alex’s hand and busted some moves with Alex. Alex loved when Goofy did the first pump explosion and now insists we do it with him. We were so impressed by the personal attention Goofy gave to each kid and how much he acted like… well, Goofy!
- The sun was going down and the kids were getting tired. But we didn’t meet any princesses yet! We waited in line and finally, Alex got to meet Cinderella, Ariel, and Elena. I don’t know if he aspires to be one of the princesses, or he wants to be a prince who eventually marries one of the princesses, but this kid is just obsessed with princesses. So now… mission accomplished.
I never thought I would want to go to Disneyland more than once a year, max. I remember going to Walt Disney World when I was in high school and was fairly bored. However, as a mom, experiencing Disney with a toddler, I now view the theme park in a completely different light. The amazement and joy in Alex’s eyes were truly beautiful to see, and I would do anything to give him that experience again. Although Zoe ended up overstimulated and overtired, I am sure that once she becomes a toddler, she will enjoy Disneyland as much as Alex.
Okay, Disney, you won. Just take all my money now, and rob me blind. If it means going back to work so we can afford the tickets, I will do it. I also need to work out more in preparation for the next time we go to Disney since my biceps are still sore 2 days later from carrying Zoe for hours. However, seeing Alex having the time of his life – totally worth it.
How was your first trip to Disneyland? Any advice that would make it easier with a toddler and a baby?