Whether it’s your first trip with a little one or the hundredth visit, going to Disneyland with a toddler can be stressful. Kids typically require a little more gear than adults, especially when they are still taking naps and needing a stroller for long journeys.
In this article, I’ll help you discover exactly what to pack for Disneyland with a toddler!
General Packing List
When packing for a Disneyland visit, having the staples of daily outfits, personal toiletries, an extra pair of shoes, and so on is an absolute necessity. Try to plan the day based on whether you will leave the park to grab extras from the car or a hotel. Because of this, your visit, especially with a toddler in tow, will require more consideration than just the usual basics to ensure your visit is truly magical.
Here is what you will want to pack for your toddler any day or overnight trip to the Happiest Place on Earth:
Any essentials and toiletries, namely:
- Underwear or diapers or Pull-Ups
- Extra socks
- If you can, an undershirt is a plus so they can change in case of spills and such.
- Disney gear is always a plus!
- Jeans or sturdy materials are best
- For little ones who may be in a stroller a lot, anything that protects their legs is a good option
Check out this VLOG by a mom who discusses what she prefers to pack in her suitcase whenever her family visits Disney:
- A sweatshirt or jacket
- A raincoat or water-resistant overcoat during rainy seasons
- Hat or beanie
- Sunscreen (even when it is cloudy, you catch UV rays that cause skin damage)
- Sneakers are the best for every Guest, no matter the age
- Flip flops for the pool or to swap out when riding water attractions are a good idea, especially during the sunny season
When you are thinking about what to bring with you into the park, think about spare and hard-to-purchase items.
- Facial tissue
- Over-the-counter, low-grade pain children’s medications
- Extra socks
- Reusable water bottle (no glass is allowed to be brought into the parks)
- Plastic baggies (great storage for your electronics on water rides and wet days alike!)
Expensive Items to Buy In-Park
- Beach towels
- Portable Phone Charging System (FuelRod)
While most things in Disneyland Resort are sold, there are a few freebies! You can always utilize resources like the First Aid Stations and water fountains for basic needs. Some of the beverage fountains in buffet-style restaurants will also allow you to fill your water bottle.
There are also Wireless Internet Access points through the parks, so your little one (and you) can be connected as needed to devices. Be sure to download the Disneyland Mobile App and select Guest Services in the drop-down menu over the map to find your needed resources!
Personal Care for the Whole Family
Let’s begin by discussing ways to protect yourself from too much sun exposure.
Sun damage can happen to anyone! Whether you notice a sunburn or not, exposure to the sun for long periods of time can leave damage, especially for little ones.
In Southern California, the sun is intense no matter how cloudy or grey it may seem. Plus, it is rare to have really gloomy days for about 90 percent of the year. Even if you encounter a rainy or grey day for your Disney visit, you are exposed to UV rays and are likely to burn. And so are your kids.
If you don’t take any other packing tip, please, please, please take this one: Pack sunscreen.
Especially for young kids, like toddlers, pack a child- or baby-specific sunscreen that can be applied to the face and body alike. No-tear brand options are great if your kiddo really doesn’t like having lotion smeared near their eyes. Have it handy and available before you leave and at the park.
Sunscreen, in particular, provides:
- Protection from UV radiation given off by the sun’s rays
- Moisture for the skin during dry heat spells
- A general layer of protection for all people of all ages
Again, the biggest point here is to put sunscreen on everyone before you get to the park. Carry it with you around the park (it’ll be cheaper from a drug store than in Disneyland Resort). Apply it as often as you can to ensure the best protection for the whole family.
Preventing the Spread of Illness
Don’t let viruses pull away from the magic! Whether or not your kids are vaccinated, actively ill, getting over a cold or simply easily susceptible to illnesses, you should take precautions to ensure your family is safe.
Disneyland Resort is amazing and magical, but it is also filled with people. As such, you’ll be exposed to lots of germs. Pack extra supplies to help prevent illness from spreading.
- Hand sanitizer (travel size is best)
- Sanitary wipes (for meals, this can be particularly useful to ensure a clean table)
- Babies’, toddlers’, or kids’ portable/individual use placemat (for the messy eater)
- Facial tissue (don’t use your fingers and sleeves!)
- Face masks (especially if you’re already sneezing and coughing)
While there is no need to freak out about getting sick, it is smart to be mindful of the potential of catching a cold just from being around so many people all at once. It’s best to be prepared and cleanse your hands and eating spaces to avoid anyone in the family catching a bug!
Snacks and Personal Favorites
While there is a lot of excitement, like characters, new food and rides, it is important to let your kids be themselves. For some toddlers, that will mean taking naps. For others, that will mean eating specific foods. By catering to these little staples in their life during a Disneyland visit, you can save yourself the headache and make your day (and everyone who’s around you) better when your little one is smiling and giggling during the fireworks!
While there are several good options around both parks to pick up apple crisps featuring Mickey on the bag, getting to the kiosks is often difficult and time-consuming. Add to the fact that you’re fighting crowds with a stroller or hungry, crying child the distance between these food stands, and your last hour just became less-than-magical. Therefore, bringing your family’s favorite snacks and drinks is a great option!
Outside food and drinks are allowed into both parks. However, there are a few limitations, including no glass containers (medical exemptions and baby food exemptions provided) and no large coolers. For the full list of Park Rules, click here.
If you’re set on reducing the clutter you’ll be carrying around the park most of the day, be sure to check out these snack options highlighting kid-friendly bites:
- Tropical Imports in Adventureland (Disneyland)
- Fruit Carts in Critter Country and Fantasyland (Disneyland)
- Mortimer’s Market near the entrance to Buena Vista Street (DCA)
- Fairfax Market in Hollywood Land (DCA)
Packing for Personal Needs
The last thing you will want to be forced into buying is a new blanket or stuffed animal to simply pacify a cranky toddler. While it’s not a great idea to bring your kids’ favorites to the park, be prepared with some of their comfort items.
Upon visiting the parks numerous times, I’ve seen kids grumpy for every reason imaginable. However, the one thing my own nephew needs for any trip is his blanket to nap.
For his first trip, he was under three at the time, and therefore he was still taking naps. Luckily, his parents knew that he would want to snuggle up at some point, and so they sent us with one of his blankets. Although Auntie and Uncle were reluctant to carry extra stuff, it proved to be the right choice. The minute Nephew started to get tired and cranky, he reached for his blanket. We put him in the stroller, snuggled him up for a couple of hours, and had a great trip overall! Plus, by bringing his comfort staple, we saved ourselves about $20 by not needing to buy a Disneyland blanket.
The big takeaway here is pack for your kid. Don’t be afraid to have “too much” if it is what your kids needs to have a good trip.
The best age to take kids to Disneyland is when they are able to walk (or be carried) fairly long distances, such as between rides within a single land. So, toddlers are one of the more common types of Guests to DLR! However, even the most rambunctious kiddos are likely to tucker out, which means strollers are a common option for parents looking to make the magical experience a little easier for everyone.
An absolute savior for cranky and tired little ones, strollers can also be your biggest Disneyland nightmare. Because they are bulky and hard to navigate in tight crowds, it’s worth considering the alternative. Here’s why you should consider going with an on-body carrier only or simply leave the stroller at home.
You will be slowed down in the pedestrian traffic.
Stroller parking is not readily available throughout DLR.
Restaurants within and outside of the parks often do not allow the strollers inside, forcing you to leave it outside of view.
They are bulky and heavy, making them hard to maneuver, fold, and deal with all around.
You’ll really only need them when your kid/s fall asleep since you can’t take them in line with you.
If it’s just not possible to do a day at Disney without a stroller, not to worry. Here are some tips to make your #momlife or #dadlife (and every other life revolving around a child) a bit easier as a Guest!
Fold up strollers and carry them whenever possible in tight spaces, including before getting into an elevator and onto the Tram.
Visit the parks land by land to use stroller parking efficiently as most attractions will not have ride-specific stroller parking. Once you have a spot, plan to walk (and possibly carry your kid/s) between attractions.
Avoid leaving big bags in your stroller as they will not be hidden; consider renting a locker for more valuable and bulky items.
Check the rules before you go as some stroller sizes are not permitted.
Rent a stroller at Disneyland for about $15 per stroller per day to save yourself the hassle of getting the stroller to and from the park.
When you’re in the midst of the crowds at Disneyland Resort, it can be an overwhelming trip, especially with a toddler. Knowing the best time to visit Disneyland is incredibly helpful in the pre-trip planning phases. Using a crowd index calendar like Is It Packed? will allow you to assess the busiest times (and, therefore, times to avoid, if possible) as well as the slowest times (typically the best for first-time Guests) of the year. If possible, plan your trip according to those predictions and trends to ensure the whole family can enjoy the magic.
Beyond booking the best dates for low crowd index, here are some tips to make your Disneyland trip with a toddler easier:
Purchase admission and parking online to avoid standing in ticket queues. Be sure to print your tickets at home or at your hotel of choice (if they accommodate such amenities).
Create an itinerary and identify your priority attractions (the must-dos) versus those that would be nice to get on and those that you simply do not want to see or ride.
If you are looking to take photos with characters, follow them around the park via the Disneyland App or ask Cast Members for tips on where to find their friends.
Specialized experiences should be booked ahead as possible. Otherwise, check-in at those locations first to book your reservations for the day.
Start as early as you can. Whether you get there at park opening or use an Extra Magic Hour, you want to get as much time in the park as possible.
Stay as late as you are able to so you can enjoy not only the amazing night spectacles but catch your last few rides on your favorite attractions up until park close.
Plan to eat your meals a little early or a little late. Lunch hour is usually busy between noon and 2 p.m. Dinner is fairly flexible between 5 and 8 p.m. You may want to aim for dinner during an afternoon parade or getting a late-bite after fireworks, Fantasmic!, or World of Color.
Use shows to take a break or grab a snack. Check out Frozen in DCA and enjoy a popcorn. Watch Mickey and the Magical Map in Magic Kingdom and enjoy a baked potato or sweet drink. Participate in any of the shows at the Royal Theatre while eating a delicious bread twist or sipping on a slurpee-like delight.
Most of the major attractions have a FASTPASS option, so be sure to use them to your advantage. In brief, FASTPASS allows you to cut the line during a specific Return Time. Tickets are linked to individual passes.
No matter how you handle crowds (no matter how big or small), save yourself a headache by being as patient as possible. Courtesy goes a long way, even when others don’t express the same sentiment. Your toddler’s Disney vacation should be filled with joy and magic at the Happiest Place on Earth!
Disneyland Tech for Everyone
Download the Disneyland App for the best of Disneyland Resort!
About the Disneyland Resort Mobile Application
The app is compatible with Apple and Android products. Ultimately, it prepares you for everything Disneyland from attraction locations and wait times to food options and mobile orders.
Check up-to-the-minute wait times, show times and character visits!
Navigate the parks and Downtown District with an interactive digital map. Map filters include attractions, events, food spots, restroom locations and park services.
Buy tickets and view ticket purchases linked to the app account. Note that special offers may not be accommodated in this forum.
Mobile Order food and beverages in both parks and set the best pick-up time for your itinerary (and growling stomachs).
Track your FASTPASS collection throughout the day, and use the app as your access to get ahead in the queue!
Other App-Based Magic
Play Disney Parks is a second mobile application that features fun games at certain rides. It is the best perk for kids! Save everyone from the boredom of long queues when you see “Play Disney” signs.
One of the latest and greatest additions to DLR is MaxPass. While you can get about one FASTPASS per hour in the parks, you cannot schedule to pick up or purchase these shortcuts without MaxPass. When you opt into this program, it will display in connection with your ticket (separate per ticket in the party) on the Disneyland app. Note that it is an additional cost to your regular admission ticket.
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