Preparing Your Family for a Day at Disneyland

Disneyland! You and your family have been saving, planning, and anticipating the trip for months now. However, a trip with this much anticipation attached rarely goes as planned. Whether it’s longer-than-expected lines, kids’ tantrums, or someone going missing, Disneyland actually throws parents for a loop more often than not. Happiest Place on Earth or not, a day at Disneyland can be an exhausting ordeal.

However, as with most things, a little preparation can help things run smoother. Here are some tips for things that you can do to prepare for your trip effectively, and get the most out of your Disney day.



Prepare for a Road Trip: Pack up your car with all the essentials. Even if you don’t end up having too much of a drive, everyone knows that LA traffic can be a nightmare during peak hours.

Be in Good Shape: A day at the parks will contain a lot of hours on your feet. While standing, walking, and bracing yourself in the rides’ seats doesn’t seem like something that will be particularly strenuous at first, it will wear on you after a while. Make sure that you have strong circulation and good cardio strength before your trip, as this will make the whole day a lot less painful.


Pack Smart: There are some essentials that you’ll want to keep in that mom-bag of yours, but all things considered, a large bag can end up being more burden than blessing during a long day. By all means, keep some snacks and a water bottle handy. Keep sunscreen and even bug spray on hand. But you’ll probably want to reconsider the backup poncho and your voluminous first aid kit.

Dress Smart: Sure, there’ll be a lot of pictures, but a Disney day is no time for a fashion show. Wear light, cool clothes, and put priority on comfortable shoes. You’ll be regretting those kitten heels within an hour. Make sure that your kids are similarly equipped with comfortable clothes and shoes.


Download the App: Disneyland’s app gives you wait times, character locations, and show schedules all at a glance. This will help you navigate the park in the most efficient way possible.

Budget for Extra Costs: Remember that although the tickets have been paid for, there are still incidental expenses that can ruin your mood if you’re not expecting them. Plan ahead for parking costs, food prices, and souvenirs. Disneyland is famous for its markups, so it’s important to plan and budget with reasonable expectations ahead of time.


Set Up an Emergency Meet-up Place: It’s easy to get lost in the crowds, especially if pieces of your family are splitting off to go to a different ride, and mom is waiting with the baby somewhere else. Plan for an emergency meet-up place ahead of time: somewhere all the kids can find easily, and somewhere where it’ll be easy to find each other. Sure, cell phones often eliminate the need for previous plans, but you never know what will happen, and nothing is scarier than losing a kid at Disneyland. Speaking of safety measures, you might want to consider dressing all your kids in a distinctive way that will make them easy to spot in the crowd. My mom would always put us in the same color shirts.

Bring some Games for the Lines: You might be envisioning nonstop action and entertainment for your day at Disney. But the truth is, you’ll be spending the majority of your time in line, even if you go in the off-season and plan smart. So bring something to keep you and your children occupied during the hour-plus waits. Heads Up is a great app that makes the time fly by, and you’ll see a lot of other people in line playing.


Plan Your Day: Now, we’re not saying that you should plan your day from beginning to end, minute by minute. Leave room for spontaneity, and for unplanned impediments. However, you’ll want to give yourself an outline to work with, especially if someone will be crushed if they miss seeing Mickey, and someone else wants, above all, to ride Pirates of the Caribbean. Plan out which Fast Passes you want to use, the attractions that you most want to see, and any eating reservations or plans. Consider height requirements for the rides, and check the construction schedule ahead of time. Especially during the off season, odds are good that at least one ride will be closed for repairs and updates.

Stay for the Fireworks: The fireworks are amazing and the highlight of Disneyland and something that you will not want to miss. The best viewing spot is in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle or right on Main Street. However, the fireworks are all dependent on the weather so be sure to check the weather before you go, if the fireworks are a must see on your list.


Let's discuss: What has your experience been like at Disneyland?