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Visiting Disneyland

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disneylandA great article from Holiday with Baby -
Visiting Disneyland
 
I have had the pleasure of visiting both Disneyland in Anaheim and Disney World in Florida on a few different occasions and am planning on completing the circle and visiting Disney’s European attraction Euro Disney soon.

Visiting Disneyland/World as a child was one of the most exciting experiences of my childhood by far. Seeing and meeting all my favourite Disney characters in person was such a thrill, all the magic and excitement coming to life. It truly lives up to its tagline ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’.

When travelling with small children I would suggest making Disney Land in California your Disney Destination. Disney World in Florida is huge and incredibly overwhelming for kids and parents. Between its 4 theme parks and 2 water parks, it’s far too much for the little ones. Rather wait to conquer Disney World when they are a little older and are able to really enjoy the experience! A big plus is that children under 3 are free!

Visiting Disneyland
Disneyland which is situated in Anaheim in California’s Orange County is easily accessible from Los Angeles and its International airport and a fabulous pick for a family holiday. Disneyland is a smaller attraction and is easier to visit when travelling with toddlers and very small children. Being a smaller park, it’s easier to navigate and explore especially with strollers and little ones.

Where to stay and when to go?
Many deals to Disneyland include staying at a Disney hotel within the park but if you can avoid it, rather do. There are many hotels in Anaheim with good, much cheaper deals and you can still be close to to the park as well as enjoy everything else Anaheim has to offer. Majority of all Anaheim hotels have a shuttle service running to and from the hotel to Disneyland.

The city of Anaheim has a visitor shuttle system, ART (Anaheim Resort Transit), to dining, shopping and attractions such as Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure Park and Downtown Disney District, it is a fast and easy way to get around.

Disneyland is fantastic to visit in the winter months as it’s less crowded. The lines are much shorter than in the summer and it’s also not too hot. The winters in California are very mild so it is pleasant to be outdoors. It is also cheaper to visit Disneyland in the winter, as tickets are less expensive as are hotels. Another plus is that you won’t have to keep the kids up so late to watch the fireworks in the evening.

Doing Disney
Disneyland is very baby and toddler friendly and has gone out of its way to cater to the needs of the little ones. A great idea before you visit is to do a quick review of the park and was the best age-appropriate rides and attractions for your little ones are situated.

If you're visiting Disneyland with toddlers, a quick review of the rides will show you that almost all the appropriate rides are in Fantasyland and Toontown. If you are travelling older children, the Indiana Jones Adventure or Space Mountain will be more their speed. The guide will give you an overview of what rides, attractions, restaurants and shops you can find in each of Disney's "Lands".

There is a fabulous dedicated baby care center at the end of Main Street. The baby center is fitted with clean changing tables, high chairs, little cubicles so you can nurse your baby discreetly, high chairs and little potties for those in training. The center also stocks and sells diapers, wipes, baby food and formula for emergencies and for anything you may have left at home. It’s a wonderful facility to get your little one out of the heat (or cold!) and take a quiet break away from the excitement of everything. The staff are very friendly and helpful and you will feel like there are Mary Poppins scuttling about! Another good thing to know is that almost all bathrooms (Men and Women's) have diaper changing facilities, too, and there are some family restrooms that allow a parent (either mom or dad) to take a child in to use the toilet or change a diaper.

Disneyland also offers a stroller rental service. Strollers can be rented for $8 (£5) just inside the Main Entrance of the park.

Heading to Toontown with the little ones is a must as it’s the most toddler friendly. Everything is geared towards them. They will love meeting Mickey Mouse, Goofy and the gang. A great little place to know about is the play area in Toontown. You can take young ones in there to run around, climb on things and play on the slide. They can also explore Goofy's house. You can take babies in there to let them crawl around (under supervision) and have a cool place to take a break. Toontown is the home of Mickey and Minnie’s houses, Donald Duck’s boat which has ladders and staircases to climb and lots of things to play with! In Toontown is there is plenty to do and explore! The Chip 'n' Dale Tree house to explore, the Disneyland Railroad and Toontown Station where you can take the Disneyland Railroad past the sights. There is also a kiddie-sized rollercoaster, The Gadget's Go Coaster and Goofy's Playhouse where kids can explore Goofy's house and garden - bouncing on the furniture is allowed, the little ones will love it! Ride the Jolly Trolley, this trolley ride bounces gently as it goes up and down the streets of Toontown. Small children will also love the Little Bears picnic attraction! Get those autograph books ready!

Fantasyland is also a delight for the littlies! Little girls especially will love Pixie Hollow, with its enchanted pond which is very small and kiddie-sized. Magical fairies wonder around this enchanted area meeting and greeting visitors. Meeting Tinkerbell and Peterpan will thrill them to no end. They can get their autographs and have photos with their favourite characters. Rides like the Teacups, King Arthur’s Carousel and Dumbo The Flying Elephant is fantastically toddler-friendly.

Rides for the little people
Attractions to try with toddlers especially are the Casey Jr. Circus Train. This attraction is a train goes past many miniature versions of scenes of classic Disney animated films at a brisk speed. Also go on the Storybook Land Canal Boats. This ride is a slow outdoor boar that goes around a winding canal featuring settings from Disney animated films recreated in miniature. A real treat for the kids!

A highlight for any child visiting Disneyland (especially the little girls) is visiting Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. This magical castle is home to the Disneyland prince and princess faire where all the princes and princesses from Disney’s tales roam where they meet and greet visitors. Children can have photos and get autographs of their favourites! Magical.

Another must-do is a visit to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, where little girls can try the fancy hairstyles, costumes and get glittery nails and the little boys can visit the interactive Adventure Room where they can fill treasure chests and generally act pirate-like.

Other attractions to do are the Finding Nemo attraction and taking a ride on the It’s a Small World attraction.

Daily there is a street festival, were you can dance with the Disney Characters and the little ones can get balloons. And in the evening there is the fireworks display to delight the kids.

Disneyland has a wonderful facility for mums and dads who are travelling with toddlers and babies, Baby Switch. On any ride with a line, you can see the cast member in charge as you enter, tell them that you have a baby, but wish to ride. They will allow some of your party to enter, while one person stays with the baby. After the first group finishes, the baby-holder will be allowed access to the front of the line with one other person so they can ride, too. It is a great way for everyone to ride the fast rides without having to wait in the line twice. The baby switch can be used at any time, so you can even bring the pass back later and use it if you cannot do it right then.

Where to eat?
Eating in Disneyland is expensive, so prepare yourself for it. In the most (small) child-friendly areas of Disneyland, Toontown and Fantasyland there is kiddie-friendly foods. Hamburgers, hot dogs and all the normal kiddie fair. In Toontown choose from Daisy’s Diner which serves pizza and salads, or Pluto's Dog House – for foot-long and kiddie hot dogs. Fantasyland’s fare consists of Village Haus Restaurant, which is a Pinocchio-themed indoor/outdoor café with cheeseburgers, pizza, side salads and special kiddie meals or visit the Enchanted Cottage, Sweets & Treats, where Bavarian bratwurst and knockwurst, desserts and Snow White themed magic apples are on offer.

There are plenty other restaurants and fast food choices on offer throughout the park. There are many cuisines to choose from and all restaurants are child-friendly and have high chairs for your use.

Disney delights
Disney offers a service called Magical Beginnings, aimed especially for families with very small children. This service helps you make the most of your child Disney’s experience and advises you where to go and what to do and what attractions and dining is especially crafted for the very little people.

There are also tours you can take while in Disneyland. The Discover the Magic Tour, is a family-oriented tour where you all interact and work with Disney characters while hunting for hidden treasure and dodging dastardly villains. Recommended for kids between 5 and 9, it includes lunch and a souvenir gift.

Hints and tips
Do your research and plan your time at the park, where you want to go and what you want to see.

Pick up the daily schedule at the gate when you enter the park. It lists where the Disney characters will be and when so you don’t miss out.

Go early to avoid long queues

If you are spending more than one day in the park and have already seen the parade or you don't mind missing it, this is a good time to get on rides since so many people stop riding to watch the parade.

Sunscreen is a must (even in winter) as well as a raincoat or poncho. Be prepared!

Happy travels...

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