Secrets of Going to Disneyland with a Young Child

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Listicle for Young Kids

I am a fairly new mom, having a daughter who is only 12 months old, however, I am a longtime Disneyland passholder. From the moment I took my baby girl to Disney for the first time at two months old, I immediately was on the hunt for the best places to go for feedings, naps, and playtimes amid the bustling atmosphere of Disneyland. Being known as a Disney novice among my friends and family, I often got asked about the best places to go around the resort for all things baby and toddler, and want to extend my knowledge to all of you on what places I’ve discovered throughout Disneyland that have been lifesavers in going to the parks with the tiniest of tots!

There are many opportunities where parents need a quiet, comfortable place. If you have a little one who gets distracted while eating, or you want to nurse somewhere privately, or need to try to get your child to sleep, here are my go-to quiet places:

At Disneyland:

  • Baby Care Center (at the end of Main Street, U.S.A.)
  • Hungry Bear Restaurant eating terrace, if you go all the way towards the back of the terrace on either floor it is almost always empty, or at the very least few people, so this tends to be quiet plus has a lovely view of the Rivers of America! (Critter Country)
  • Waterfront seating area in Fantasyland. Just like Hungry Bear terrace, this is almost always empty, and even during peak seasons it is quiet. (This is a little peninsula of land with tables and chairs located between the Matterhorn and Small World in Fantasyland)

At California Adventure:

  • Baby Care Center (Between Carsland and Pacific Wharf)
  • Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe (aka Starbucks) tends to be pretty empty during non-peak times. During peak times however, it is busy and full of noise (Buena Vista Street).
  • Smokejumper’s Grill, if you go near the back of the outdoor eating area it is almost always quiet. Sometimes peak seasons in summer it can be full, but almost always the eating area to the right of the entrance is more sparse and quiet (Grizzly Peak Airfield).
  • The Mad T Party area, during the day that is! During the daytime when the dance party isn’t happening, all the Mad T Party lounge chairs are still set up to sit on, and some of them even have their backs turns towards the main pathways, creating ultimate privacy. This is just past the Monsters, Inc. ride (Hollywood Backlot).

The Rest of the Resort:

  • Any of the hotel lobbies make for a comfortable and quiet place to feed. Note: If going to feed at the Disneyland Hotel, I recommend going to the lobbies of the Adventureland or Frontierland towers, since Fantasyland Tower is where check-in is located, it can sometimes be quite busy.
  • During the daytime on off-peak seasons, Tangaroa Terrace makes for a quiet place to feed, plus relaxing Hawaiian music and beautiful atmosphere! There’s the seating area outside the Terrace itself, the seating area in front of Trader Sam’s, and a couch/fireplace seating area downstairs from the Trader Sam’s entrance. (Disneyland Hotel area)
  • Starbucks outdoor eating area, during mid or non-peak seasons (Downtown Disney, next to World of Disney).
  • Whitewater Snacks, you can come in here even if you aren’t purchasing food and is almost always empty (near the pool and Mandara Spa, Grand Californian Hotel).
  • La Brea Bakery quick service outdoor eating area. I’ve gone there many times even if I haven’t ordered anything. The quick service area is a common resting place for customers and non-customers since it’s right by the tram stop, and is very large and always empty! (Downtown Disney)

Next are my tips of places to go if you are bottle feeding and need a microwave.

  • Baby Care Center (Main Street U.S.A., Disneyland)
  • Baby Care Center (Main Street U.S.A., Disneyland)
  • The Coffee shop next to Goofy’s Kitchen (Disneyland Hotel)
  • Paradise Pier lobby, any cast member there can direct you to it, and is available 24/7 (Paradise Pier Hotel).

Playtime! My daughter isn’t walking yet, but wants to crawl non-stop! It can be tough when little ones want to crawl everywhere or toddlers want to run around at a busy theme park, so here is my list of places that are great, more confined spaces for littles to get their “ya-ya’s” out!

At Disneyland:

  • This one is a bit more obvious, but any of the houses or playgrounds in Toontown! Repeat visitors of Disneyland are most likely well aware of Toontown, but since it is located in the back of the park many first timers don’t know it’s there! It’s great for running around, very child friendly, screaming and running around encouraged!
  • Tarzan’s Treehouse–not safe for crawlers, but great for walkers! (Adventureland)
  • Star Wars Launch Bay and Super Hero HQ–This is a great indoor place for littles to explore, and my baby LOVES crawling in there! She’s fascinated by the spotlights, the music, and the Star Wars opening scrawl on the carpet as you walk into Launch Bay (Tomorrowland).

At California Adventure:

  • Animation Building, great for walkers and crawlers! It is in fact, my crawling baby’s favorite place to go in the parks! She loves all the beautiful images and music, and loves chasing the spotlights. (Hollywood Backlot)
  • Water play areas in a Bug’s Land is so much fun for kids! It’s complete with a splash pad (A Bug’s Land).
  • Wilderness Explorer Trail, this is another one great for walkers instead of crawlers. A beautiful walking trail with scavenger hunts and bridges and playgrounds (Grizzly Peak Airfield, between Grizzly River Rapids and The Little Mermaid Ride).

The Rest of the Resort:

  • Any of the hotel lobbies are excellent places to take crawlers, and they love the TV that plays Mickey cartoons! There’s one in all three of the resort hotel lobbies (All hotel lobbies, at the Disneyland Hotel it is located in the Fantasyland Tower).
  • Lego Store is great for walkers, they have Lego tables where kids are encouraged to build their own creations (Downtown Disney).

Lastly, not only is it important for our kids to have their needs met, but parents need to stop and take a meal break too! It’s convenient to be able to leave the little ones in their strollers while eating, but not all eating places have the room to conveniently order food with a stroller in line or sit in the eating area with a klunky stroller. Here are my recommendations for the best (aka the ROOMIEST) places to sit and relax for a meal with your stroller!

At Disneyland:

  • Any eating place in Toontown, typically there are always tables available and no narrow lines to try to squeeze a stroller through.
  • Galactic Grill is outside, yet covered so stays nice and cool. Their queue lines fit strollers and seating available as far as the eye can see, and plenty of stroller/wheelchair ramps (Tomorrowland).
  • Hungry Bear Restaurant has lots of spacious seating, and as mentioned earlier, great for peace and quiet! (Critter Country)
  • Refreshment Corner has an okay amount of seating, but the best part is there are no metal bars to separate the queue lines, making strollers fitting inside the restaurant a breeze! (Main Street U.S.A.)
  • TIP: The restaurants that I personally find are the TOUGHEST to squeeze a stroller through that I try to avoid unless I have parked my stroller elsewhere are Jolly Holiday, Village Haus, River Belle Terrace, and The French Market Restaurant.

At California Adventure:

Since California Adventure was built in 2001 with pathways purposefully wider than at Disneyland, most restaurants are easily stroller-friendly. So instead of saying which to go to, it’s a shorter list to let you know which ones might not be as stroller-friendly.

  • Carthay Circle Restaurant, it’s a fancy joint with mostly adults dining so I wouldn’t recommend bringing a stroller in. However, the Carthay Circle Lounge is roomy and allows strollers, and is a great place to grab a drink and a snack while the little ones nap!
  • Fidler, Fifer, Practical Cafe has a stroller-friendly eating area, but it is very hard turning the many sharp corners of the queue line with a stroller (I’ve tried).
  • Smokejumper’s Grill is another one with great seating area for strollers, but lacks a stroller-friendly queue line.

The Rest of the Resort:

  • Most everywhere easily fits strollers, with the exception of Napolini, and sometimes the Jazz Kitchen Express. Downtown Disney and the hotel restaurants are great options to eat with family of all ages when you want more of a sit-down table service meal without stressing about your little ones disturbing others. At the Disneyland Resort, family dining is expected!

That’s it for my listicle of the best places to know about when making a trip to the Disneyland Resort with babies and toddlers, I have found these places to all be great gems, and I hope it can help some other parents too! Enjoy your memories with your littles at the happiest place on earth! To check out these places and more that I explore with my baby at the Disneyland Resort, check out my Instagram page, @jessiemcd_photography

Photo Credit: Jessica McDonald, Instagram @jessiemcd_photography


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