Making The Most Of The Magic Kingdom

Dear Mamas,
My husband and I are taking our two-year-old twins to Disneyland.  Any tips or wise words from parents who have already gone?
Thanks! Julie

Hey Julie,
You’ve come to the right place because I have to admit, one of the reasons I had kids was so that I could go to Disneyland over and over again without getting weird looks from friends and family. I love it! Your kids are old enough to enjoy it but there are a few things to keep in mind in order to make it a win-win, fun time for everyone.

♥ The big thing to remember is that your two-year-olds cannot yet tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Mickey and Minnie could possibly scare the daylights out of them. Keep your distance, and let them take the lead in how close to get to the characters.

Also, the concept of a “ride” is not something that they can understand yet either. Watch out for rides like Mr. Toad, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. Just remember, to your kids this stuff is real, and can be terrifying.

1. Pick a hotel that’s really close so you can get back fast if someone has a melt-down, needs a nap etc. The Disneyland Hotel is our favorite because once you arrive, you park the car and from then on it’s easy access back and forth with the Monorail or shuttle bus.

2. Get your tickets in advance with your hotel reservations or at the desk when you check in. Save yourself the hassle of waiting in line with squirmers.

3. Get those cribs reserved in advance and threaten to sue if they aren’t there when you arrive.

4. Bring the sleep essentials (favorite stuffed animal, blankie, pacifier etc.) and recreate their beds at home as much as possible.

5. Get to the park when it opens! This is a big, important tip. Early is good for a two-year-old. Plus, as the day goes on, the crowd gets bigger. That means more lines, more waiting, less fun.

6. Rent two strollers right away. Use the lockers to store an extra set of clothes and anything else that you MIGHT need but don’t want to lug around.

7. Remember that you have to leave the strollers outside when you go on a ride and can’t leave the backpack there. But bring all the gear you need–wipes, diapers(?), pacifiers, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, band-aids, water in sippy cups, nutritious snacks.

8. Head immediately to Fantasyland and hit the Carousel, It’s a Small World, Dumbo’s Flying Elephants, The Parade and other rides that are not going to be too scary or overwhelming. If they love It’s a Small World, go twice if there are no lines, which is possible mid-week in November or December.

9. After a few hours, they may have had enough. We used to head back to the hotel and chill for awhile. The kids will enjoy the pool (bring water wings) and just walking around the grounds. Maybe they’ll take a nap (one can hope).

10. Then after a break you can head back and hit other non-threatening rides like Tom Sawyers Raft, The big Steam Boat, the Jungle Ride, the train–you get the picture. Fireworks may work if they are not too wiped out.

Try to eat healthy and keep to their schedule (within reason) if possible. And no matter how much you grownups might want to take a break in the evening, never, never leave them alone and asleep in the hotel room with a baby monitor. I know you probably know this but it’s surprising how many parents don’t!

Have fun, don’t forget the camera, and say hi to Mickey.

P.S. I’m secretly jealous!

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

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