Going to Disneyland with Preschoolers

Taking your preschoolers to Disneyland can seem like a pretty daunting task, but since there are so many wonderful things to do there, I think it’s totally worth the work involved! Plus, with the Southern California special they have going on, now is the perfect time for any SoCal locals to plan a day (or three, actually!) at Disney with little ones. 

I was invited to Disneyland for a preschooler event and of course I took Jack (and mommy). For my latest video, I thought it would be fun for you to see the day unfold with us and also see how I documented it in a scrapbook page. We packed up the car at 6am and headed out bright and early (so early, in fact, that Jack thought it was still night time). 

1. Take it easy (and pack snacks).

Because we live just over an hour away, we like to not jam too much into our day at Disneyland. It can definitely be tempting to go on as many rides and see as many shows as you can, but it’s much easier to get through a full day if you occasionally give yourself (and your kids!) a chance to relax. I recommend planning on doing no more than 5 things, and considering the others a bonus if you get to it. We always bring Jack's waterbottle and refill it at either drinking fountains or restaurants. You can also bring things to snack on, which is a great way to spend your time in line.

2. Character dining!

These meals give your family a great opportunity to interact with your favorite Disney characters without having to wait in line! They come up to the table and can take the time for autographs and photos. This time around, we went to Goofy’s Kitchen. On our first trip to Disneyland with Jack last year, we went to Disney's PCH Grill. The buffets are great and full of wonderful options. You can check out a full list of restaurants here. Make reservations ahead of time to make sure you can get in. And maybe brush up on the difference between Pluto and Goofy before you go. ;)

3. Visit the Baby Center.

This is an amazing resource for mamas with even younger kids in the park! They have everything you need to feed and change your baby on the go. It's located near the front of the park. If you're in the potty training phase or just prefer it, this place has the lower toilets. They have anything you might need for your little ones and they even have a dedicated private space for nursing moms.

4. It’s A Small World AFTER ALL.

This was my favorite ride when I was little. I also loved 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - does anyone remember that ride? Well now it's Finding Dory, and Jack has been on it only once as the line was quite long, but we loved it just the same. We stopped at It's a Small World first at the request of Jack and Harper! We always do the ride at least once as it's Jack's favorite. In fact he got to go on it four times this particular day. Mommy took him for the third and fourth time while I got to take a little ride break and catch up on some emails.

5. Take plenty of pictures! 

After we ride It’s A Small World, we like to have a mini photo shoot in front of this wall. This time, we were even joined by a pair of ducks! There's also a large restroom that we like to stop in as it never seems to be crowded.

6. Two words. Bubble. Wand.

These Disney bubble wands are our favorite thing. Jack had two of them (though the first one saw a lot of action and broke after countless hours of play). They are a complete life-saver when it comes to keeping kids entertained on long lines or wherever you are in the park. You may remember Jack outside of The Little Mermaid in California Adventure with his very first bubble wand in this video. Bring a small bottle of bubble solution from home with you because inevitably, they want to use the bubble wand ALL THE TIME. Instead of asking them to constantly turn it off, and risking a flood of tears, extra bubble solution (and maybe even some extra batteries) would come in handy! 

I also always ask the kiosk person to set up the bubble wand for us since they have the proper tools and can do it quickly and efficiently. 

Next, here are some of my tips for making sure you have a great way to look back at your special day!

Disneyland is one of the best places to make memories with your kids, so of course, I wanted to document the day when I got back home. I think you can easily use the supplies you have on hand instead of feeling like you need to purchase themed papers or stickers. Anything that makes you happy should be good enough for using for these special memories. I decided to use my latest collection with American Crafts, On A Whim

1. Add your favorite photos from the day to a “To Print” folder on your phone! 

That way, it’s easier to find the best pictures when it’s time to print them. For this spread, I used the Instax Share SP-2 printer (the newest one) to print out cute instant photos right from my iPhone. Once you’ve printed them, you can just remove the photos from that folder so you’ll be ready for the next round of memories! 

2. Harness your creative energy, even if it happens before the trip.

Sometimes you get creative before you’re able to take the photos! Some of my best work has come out of my anticipation of an upcoming vacation. Cut out small pieces of paper the size of your photos and use those templates to plan out your page. Then, you can add the photos later and you’ll have exactly the right amount space for them!

3. PUT little pieces of memorabilia TO USE. 

I think this adds so much. For my spread, I decided to carefully tear the pieces apart instead of cutting them. The torn edge adds a bit of texture and personality! 

4. Work quickly and impulsively.

Sometimes, it's just easier to stick something down rather than deliberating for too long. I like the idea of just going with it because so many times, we intend to scrapbook and document our memories, but life gets in the way. I would rather just commit and make adjustments later if necessary. 

So Cal residents, don't forget to check out the Southern California special they have going on that is valid through May 25! Maybe Jack and I will even see you there soon!

What are your favorite tips for taking your preschoolers to Disneyland (or any other theme park)? And how do you document your Disney trip when you get home? Leave your best advice in the comments below!