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Over the years I've read, listened to and participated in many conversations about whether or not taking a little one to Disneyland is worth it or if it is better to just wait until they're older. Will they remember it? What if it's a huge pain? My take: don't wait!
When my oldest
turned 2 we made our way to the happiest place on earth. While things didn't
go exactly as I hoped—turns out she was afraid of adult-sized Minnie despite
being dressed just like her (goodbye perfect photo opp)—we had the best
time. It was on that day that I learned that there is nothing quite like
witnessing the magic of Disneyland through your child's eyes.
Now, when I bring her sister, my 3-year-old, I get to experience that pure excitement all over again. She thinks everything is real (even the characters in the rides), sings along during the shows and parades and is so easy to please (churros for lunch, anyone?).
Here's why you shouldn't wait to take your toddler or threenager to Disneyland.
According to the Disneyland website,
"no ticket is needed for children younger than age 3." Think of all the souvenirs and dole whips
you can buy with the money you save!
2. There's a Baby Care Center
If you're potty training the idea of navigating a
theme park and frequenting public restrooms may prompt you to veto any special
trips until your toddler has mastered it. But trust me, you don't have to
(lots of moms opt to have their potty training kiddo wear pull-ups just in case though).
There are tons of public restrooms that are regularly cleaned, and even better,
there's a Baby Care Center (there's one at California Adventure too) where you'll find "amenities
for parents with infants and toddlers." It's filled with things that will make
your time there much easier, such as high chairs, microwaves, changing
tables and pint-sized potties. They even have pacifiers, which
means there's no need to freak out if the binky goes MIA at some point during
the day. There's also a shop that sells items ranging from wipes, juice and over-the-counter medicine.
3. The things your little one is bound to say
Toddler through preschool vocabulary is the best
there is. I love hearing the things my little one says. Once she touched
Minnie's dress declaring, "I like your dress." Another time she told
Minnie she had a surprise for her (it was her stuffed Mickey doll). She had
brought him with her, certain Minnie would be so happy to see him (she was
totally right, by the way. Minnie twirled him around with excitement).
4. The cast knows how magical Disneyland is for littles and
they do their best to add to it
The cast members of Disney know how special
going to Disneyland can be for kids. Not only do the characters take their time
saying hi and posing for photos but everyone extends
patience and kindness, whether it's holding your little one's hand for a moment
while they find an open seat in a sea of excited preschoolers (they've got some great shows) or complimenting them on their
princess attire. Even when they are clearly in route someplace they will stop and wave or say hello. They understand the impact a wave from a mermaid
or superhero can have on your kid.
5. They believe
I think one of the most magical things about Disneyland with
a little one is that they still believe. To them, the characters are all real; they
aren't just people dressed in costumes. Even the life like figures in the rides are
worthy of enthusiastic waves and hellos. During a parade Cinderella blew my 3-year-old a
kiss, and that was her favorite story to share for weeks. Recently Ariel stopped
to say hello to her. She could not believe it. And whenever we see Minnie Mouse
it feels like she's seeing an old friend. For the smallest of mouseketeers this
isn't just make-believe, it's real life and it's pure magic.
Little kids (and a select number of grownups who are still kids
at heart) go all out at Disneyland, it isn't unusual to see a preschooler
dressed in costume, even when it's not October.
7. You can bring snacks
There are a ton of dining options;
however, if you've got a picky eater and are concerned about the offerings
available you can pack a tried-and-true favorite.
8. There are tons of things to do
There are so many rides that little ones can
go on. There are also shows, parades and play areas, too. No need to worry that
they'll have to solely be spectators when it comes to all the fun.
9. There's a chance that they may surprise you
I could not
believe when my little one insisted on sitting on the front row of carpets to
watch a show. The front row meant that she couldn't sit with me, and even when
her big sister decided that she didn't want to sit on the carpet being bumped
by cute preschoolers, my little one still stayed. Clearly Elsa and Anna were worth it.
10. They are an easy crowd
You really don't need to get them
souvenirs. You could simply bring a beloved toy character from home or dress them
in a Disney shirt you purchased at Target the night before. They are just happy
to be there. Besides a Mickey-shaped ice cream or pretzel is much more valuable
than another stuffed character or set of ears.
Going with a toddler or threenager is such a different experience. I feel like I get to take
my time and I see things that I might have missed while in line for all of the
rides for big kids and adults.
12. Even if they don't remember you will
Chances are you'll take tons of photos to chronicle the day. There will be so many moments that you'll want to
capture and others that you will want to soak up first-hand, leaving your phone
in your purse and storing them in your heart. Your 3-year-old probably won't
remember the way they practically leaped into the arms of their favorite
character and held on tight. Or how they said "yes" every time someone asked
them if they were the real (insert favorite character they went dressed as).
They also won't remember that time you sat on a bench for two hours to ensure
they could witness the magic up close for the parade. And later how you told yourself
it was worth it as you watched them sing "Let it go" at the top of their lungs.
But you will. You'll never forget the joy you felt inside as you watched your
little one display every ounce of happiness they possessed inside on the outside.
Of course there's a chance things won't all go as planned (do
they ever?). Your kid may scream with terror when Donald comes close, you
may spend more time people watching than riding rides, or find yourself with a
tantrumming toddler (look around you're probably not the only one)—but most
parents can attest to the fact that, even with a few hiccups, a day spent at
the Magic Kingdom is worth it.