On May 29th, my husband and I visited Disneyland with our then-20-month-old daughter and our friends Joe & Rhonda and their then-8-month-old son. I think we were all wondering if a trip to the famed amusement park would be worth it with such young ones in tow. After all, they wouldn’t remember the experience and we still had to think about naps and breastfeeding, baby food and strollers, toddler snacks and diaper bags. But I am here to tell you that it was more than worth it! We would do it all over again a thousand times over. It was a magical, wondrous, and joyful day – full of beautiful and memorable moments. Disneyland is actually the *perfect* place to go with wee ones. Here’s why…
1. The Disneyland Baby Care Center. Located on Main Street, the Disneyland Baby Care Center is a comfortable and welcoming spot for new parents to tend to baby’s needs. The center features private nursing lounges, a diaper changing area with soft diaper pads and disposable paper to put down underneath your baby, mini potties for potty training tots, a fully stocked kitchen area with a microwave and sink, and a lounge area with coaches and a TV/DVD player (plus, a basket of books and toys). If you need assistance, you’ll be greeted by grandmotherly figures in rose-colored aprons and gentle smiles. This place is a jewel and beats Knott’s Berry Farms’ baby stations by a hundred fold.
2. Baby/Tot-Friendly Rides and Attractions. Disneyland is a baby-friendly park, for sure. Your little one will be mesmerized by Pinnochio and Peter Pan. We didn’t allow our daughter to watch any TV until she was a year and a half and only very minimal TV after that so I think those rides were a little bit too stimulating for her. BUT she absolutely loved Cinderella’s Golden Carousel and Dumbo…and Pooh was a favorite too simply because it was Pooh.
3. Healthy meal and snack options. We were pleasantly surprised to find numerous fruit stands throughout the park with shiny red apples (a la Snow White) and yellow bananas for sale. Plus, the park offered deli sandwiches, veggies, and other nutritious fare aside from the regular family favorites – pizza, burgers, and corn dogs (the corn dogs were seriously tasty – I think that may have been the best corn dog I have ever eaten, as a matter of fact). The food WAS pricey, but it also tasted surprisingly delicious (unlike other amusement parks where the food is outrageously priced and less than mediocre…ahem, Six Flags).
4. Neat and Tidy. In the movies, Disney princesses always seem to have “special friends” that help keep things tidy…and they must be hard at work in the park because the park is spic and span. From the rides to the floors to the eating areas, everything is non-sticky and pristine…which is pretty remarkable considering how many people tromp through the park each day. If messes are made, they are cleaned up almost instantly – magically. Now if only that would happen in my house (a girl can dream)…
5. Service with a smile. Disney hires great people. For the most part, the workers all were friendly and cheerful or, at a minimum, professional. Dressed in costume, the workers all seemed proud of Disney and what it stands for. There seemed to be A LOT of Disney staff members walking about (which is a good thing), but Rhonda and I both commented about how we missed the “old days” when characters would wonder around throughout the park. Is that practice defunct or did we just go on a weird day? We saw one or two here and there, but most of the characters were MIA.
5. The Parade. At the end of the day, we chose a spot on the sidewalk off of Main Street and marveled at the perfectly-orchestrated parade. The costumes were gorgeous, the characters were spell-binding, the music was familiar, and the dancers never missed a step. Both of the babies in our company were enthralled by the show and, come to think of it, so were their parents.
In sum, Disneyland is a magical place for the littlest of visitors. The thing that particularly struck me as we ended our day was that everything was managed with such meticulous care and engineered with such flawlessness. The Disneyland that Walt Disney dreamt up still seems in-tact: excellence in every detail and happiness in every nook and cranny. Disney remains my absolute favorite amusement park – it simply can’t be beat in terms of quality and imagination.
YOUR TURN: What is your favorite amusement park and why? If you’ve been to Disneyland with a little one (under age 4), what was YOUR experience like?
P.S. As a side note, strollers are available for rent for $10/day, but I think it’s much better just to bring one of your own. It’s free, more comfortable, AND yours will stand out among the throngs of strollers outside of Splash Mountain.