To say Levon is obsessed with Disneyland is an understatement. He asks to go weekly. He even had a Haunted Mansion themed birthday party last year.
We’re lucky enough to live in Southern California and visit the park twice a year. As a frequent visitor, I’ve learned a few tricks to prevent meltdowns in the park. Mommy meltdowns, that is.
BUY THE OVERPRICED BALLOON
Give in to your child’s whining and buy him a balloon on Main Street. Triple points if it lights up. Park employees constantly rearrange strollers to keep pathways clear, which means you often exit a ride to find that your stroller isn’t where you left it. The first time this happened to me, I was convinced Levon’s stroller had been stolen (#newbie). It’s hard enough to find your stroller among the thousands of others during the daytime, but it’s nearly impossible at night. Tying a balloon to your stroller makes it a bit easier to eye. Plus it stops the whining for five minutes. (I’ve also been known to wrap our stroller handle in battery-powered Christmas lights, though that doesn’t help until after dark.)
DOWNLOAD THE DISNEYLAND APP
It gives you current wait times for every ride, digital fast passes, a list of daily events with start times, and most importantly, the location of every bathroom in the park. Kids love the parades, especially when they have good seats, and knowing the start time allows you to grab front row seats before it begins. Did I mention the bathroom map? The best part – the app is free! (It does require you to set up an account with an email address, so be sure to download it before you go.)
MAKE A DINNER RESERVATION AT DOWNTOWN DISNEY
It only took me half a dozen trips with Levon to realize the genius of this. On more than one occasion, Levon has fallen asleep in his stroller during our walk to the restaurant, which allowed us to relax and enjoy a meal not on a stick before re-entering the park after dark. Levon woke up with a second wind and we found ours, thanks to a second cocktail. Our familiy recommends Tortilla Jo’s and Uva Bar. Click here to view the full list of restaurants in the Downtown Disney District.
Do you have other tips for Disneyland with toddlers? Share them below!
Jessica Butler is the co-founder of "Raise Magazine," stepmother of two, and adoptive mother of one. Prior to "Raise," she was a writer on USA’s "In Plain Sight" and TNT’s "The Last Ship." She and her husband, writer/producer Warren Bell, co-created the Nick at Nite series "Instant Mom," based on her life as a stepmother. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and five-year-old son, Levon.