When Darkwing Dad & I began planning out our first family Disneyland trip, my oldest daughter was 2. Disney Mom Blogs/Social Media accounts were both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in the way that some offered great tips for taking my potty training toddler, a curse in the way that some also gave me unrealistic expectations for my future trips. From the gorgeous, perfectly-posed character pictures, to the lack of meltdown-mentions. The more kids we had, the more opinions there are, and the more complicated trips. These blogs made it look so easy! I love other blogs, but I preface my post with that to say…
Here is some realistic advice on how to make the most of your trip:

1. Meltdowns happen, and it’s o.k.
Our oldest is the most easy-going child. Always has been. However, our second and third are a little more vocal about their wants/needs/complaints. Know your kids, know their limits. Sometimes meltdowns happen, and that’s fine. Head to a quiet area in the park, or go back to the hotel room for a snack and rest. Take a deep breath. It’ll be o.k.

2. Snacks and distractions are a beautiful thing!
When we go to the Parks, my purse/diaper bag/ backpack are filled with easy snacks (cheddar bunnies, fruit, etc.) These come in handy while walking around, waiting in long lines, or waiting for a meal. Also, smart phones are magic. Download an app or two, some videos, etc. for your kiddo before you go. I’ve even seen adults playing “Heads Up” in line and it’s fantastic.

3. Your child doesn’t need to meet Mickey Mouse.
I know this one is a little disappointing, but I promise it’s o.k. Our middle child is almost 5 and is just now coming around to the idea of character meet and greets/character meals. If your child is scared, just get a picture with the castle 😉 Also, not every picture will be absolutely perfect, and that’s o.k. The memories will be!

4. It is possible to do what everyone wants, without stressing out.
We let our girls pick out a few specific rides/shows before our trip, then make sure to take turns doing a few things from their list each day. I know it’s tempting to do ALLTHETHINGS in one day, but trust me. If you map out a few items, and focus on spreading them out throughout the day, you’ll feel a lot better, and so will the kids. I also recommend splitting up w/ the rider swap pass. Our oldest loves the “big rides” but our middle isn’t quite ready, so my husband usually will take #1, while I take #2 and #3 on something else, then use the rider swap pass so I can do the same big ride with our big kid.

5. Staying at a resort hotel does not make or break the trip.
Resort hotels are GREAT. I wish we could stay at the Grand every trip, because it’s not only fun, it was a big help when we took our baby. However, it’s not worth having to penny pinch through your whole trip for (unless your only young traveler is a baby.) The hotel won’t matter as much as your experiences throughout the overall trip. Don’t get me wrong, my girls have great memories from our stay at the Grand, but they’d rather go & stay somewhere else, rather than not go at all.

I hope this advice is helpful to you! Regardless of any of the above, a trip to Disneyland provides a lifetime of memories, and is absolutely worth it.

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