As promised, I have lots more to share about a trip to Disneyland California with a one year old. We celebrated Ava’s actual 1st birthday while we were there and watching her take it all in was heartwarming. But there’s more to Disneyland than just Disneyland. There’s a-whole-nother park: Disney’s California Adventure. It’s full of all sorts of “small” lands (Cars Land, a Bugs Land, Pacific Wharf, Pixar Pier, Paradise Gardens, Grizzly Peak, and Hollywood Land). There’s plenty of fun to be had for a one year old in this park too.
Rides/Activities with little ones:
- Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue!
- Disney Jr. Dance Party
- Toy Story Midway Mania!
- Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train
- Flik’s Flyers
- Francis’ Ladybug Boogie
- The Little Mermaid-Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
- Pixar Pier Games (win your little one a toy!)
Where to Meet Characters:
- Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome (Anna, Elsa, and Olaf)
- Buena Vista Street (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy)
- Near Pixar Pal Around (Mike and Sulley)
- Near Incredicoaster (The Incredibles, Frozone, and Edna)
Where to Eat:
- Award Weiners (fast/casual)
- Cozy Cone Motel (fast/casual)
- Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge (sit down)
- Download the Disneyland app–again you can order food and avoid lines, you can check wait times, you can save photos, etc.
- Make your PhotoPass code your “lock screen” on your phone so you’re never fumbling for it.
Other Information about Disneyland
Where to Stay:
I’ve always been a fan of staying on property. The benefits are great–early magic hours at the parks, easy access to the hotel for much needed naps, etc.
- Disney’s Grand Californian–this directly connects to Disney’s California Adventure Park and makes for an easy entrance/exit from the park
- Disneyland Hotel–the location of Goofy’s Kitchen and Steakhouse 55. A true original.
- Disney’s Paradise Pier–very family friendly. The lobby has less amenities than the Grand Californian, but it’s easy to get anywhere in the Disney parks from here.
A few places to pick up some souvenirs, but also more “sit-down” type meals can be found here.
- Tortilla Jo’s. I highly recommend the seafood enchiladas!
- Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria
Other Places to Eat:
- Steakhouse 55 at Disneyland Hotel
- Napa Rose at the Grand Californian. The best meal we had and a great date night spot!
- Make dining reservations early and make sure you make them for as many meals as you plan to eat so you aren’t strapped for finding food with a hungry little one.
- Baby Care Centers. There is one in each park and they are a great way to get out of the heat and away from all the stimulation for a bit for the little ones. You can feed, change, and give baby a rest.
- Rent a stroller. For $15/day you can rent a City Mini GT from City Stroller Rentals. Reserve in advance! You can rent a stroller from Disney itself, but you cannot bring this stroller back to the hotel/room. When you’re little one is absolutely lights out, you need a stroller that gets you all the way back. City Stroller Rentals will deliver it to the bellmen/valet and pick it up when you leave as well. This way you’re not struggling with a stroller on planes or buses or taking up precious cargo space in a car with a stroller.
- Pack a baby carrier if your little one still fits and tolerates them.
- Use a shuttle service to get to the hotel/parks. Don’t bother with renting a car/paying for parking if you truly plan to spend much time at the parks and still get some rest too.
- Reserve a character breakfast (at least one!) as it’s the easiest way to meet a lot of characters quickly. However, the lines for characters at Disneyland were completely tolerable.
- If you have time and need to update your family pictures, hire a professional photographer to get some timeless photos in the park! I highly recommend Sarina Love Photography. I found her from another mommy blogger and we loved our session with her–even if Ava tried to have a meltdown or two! She has some signature photos that are really great.
Lastly, if you’re lucky enough to have family traveling with you, take a day to be adults. Make sure you get a park hopper so you can enjoy both parks and check out these rides that you missed out on with the little one in tow:
- Star Tours
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Space Mountain
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Jungle Cruise
- Haunted Mansion
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Indiana Jones Adventure
Disney’s California Adventure
- Guardian’s of the Galaxy Mission: BREAKOUT
- Radiator Springs Racers
- Goofy’s Sky School
- Golden Zephyr
- Grizzly River Run
If you have other insights, tips or tricks, or other ideas, please do share! I seriously can’t wait to go back. It was such a great family vacation and I can’t imagine anything better than watching a young child experience Disney Magic!