Disneyland with a kid (2yo)

Despite our considerable expertise in HappiestPlaceOnEarthology, my wife and I don’t have children. Thus, we neglect (or outright avoid) the parts of the park that cater to the young’uns.

However, in June we’re borrowing our 2-year-old nephew for a Disneyland trip. I can, at least, imagine this will prompt my first rides in years on such attractions as Dumbo and Casey Jr., and travels to parts of ToonTown at which I’ve barely given a second look. I’m looking for tips and suggestions on things I’ll never think of, and general advice on being a temporary parent while at a theme park. Eating, entertainment, naps, characters, etc. (I’ll get his height from his mom soon.)

We have four days at the park, with hopper passes also good at California Adventure. Our current hotel reservations are at our normal dog-accepting place*, but it’s 20 minutes away. I’d like something closer, but it would have to be in the same price range and have free (or close) breakfast that’s more than just pastries and coffee.

*: We’ve managed to finagle dog-sitting services from relatives, so no puppies with us this trip. Yay!

Assuming they have the same policies as DisneyWorld, if both adults want to ride a ride do what is called the baby swap. Parent 1 takes the kid to the end of the ride while parent 2 rides. Parent 2 takes the kid while Parent 1 gets taken up to the start of the line , thereby bypassing the long line for their ride. (this also assumes they have not changed the ability to do this)

Yeah, do the thing Bijou Drains says. We were there last September with our 2 year old and I found getting on most of the adult rides was faster (even for both of us to do it) because we didn’t have to wait in the long line. We just went through the single person line. In the meantime the other person did something more relaxing with the kid.

2 year olds need time to chill every so often. Find the fountains and let them run through it. Get an ice cream and sit under the tree. Just don’t expect to drag them from place to place through crowds relentlessly.

We’d go in the morning before it got busy - do some stuff, then head back to the hotel so the toddler could rest/sleep. Then we headed back for an afternoon/early evening time.

Our son was quite frightened by the ‘dark’ rides. We tried taking him on the Finding Nemo sub ride - but that turned out to be a mistake. It was just simply too dark and too loud. That scared him a little too much and after that he wouldn’t even ride the Its a Small World. Previously he’d enjoyed rides like the Buzz Lightyear, Winnie the Pooh and Small World, but after that Nemo ride (on day 2 of 3) we had to pretty much avoid all indoor rides with him.
But he really loved Dumbo. Over and over again. He’d wait patiently 45 minutes in the sun to ride that thing for 90 seconds. Californialand has some good little kid rides in a nice little area off to itself. He liked Mickey’s Wheel a lot too, and some sort of an outdoor area they have with netting to climb around in - we actually found the California part much better for little kids all in all.

We are aware of the swap pass. That’s something you get at City Hall, right?

We shouldn’t be short on relax-time. It’s not like we feel the need to experience the whole park; we’ve done that many times over and I figure the kid won’t remember much anyway. With four days there should be plenty of time to enjoy Fantasyland, Toon Town, and A Bug’s Land at an easy pace.

Good note on the dark rides. He doesn’t seem like the type, but we’ll be conscious of the possibility.

From a Dad with a 2-yr old at WDW, it’s fun and hard. Two-year olds don’t have all the words to express what they’re feeling, so outbursts are likely. They may tire easily, too. Definitely rent or bring a stroller. Bear in mind that Disney thrives on exaggeration for effect. Loud noises, bright or flashing lights, fireworks, dark scenes, etc…can easily scare a two-yr old.

On the bright side, their expressions can be priceless making the whole trying trip worthwhile. Another tip: We did the character meals, but we discovered our 2-yr old was more receptive to the characters once fed. He probably worked up quite an appetite (plus my boy had a fear the characters would steal his food!).

Last, keep you and your little ones well hydrated! Drink water often even if not thirsty… especially the little ones who may not even know they’re thirsty.

We never needed a pass for the baby swap but we did that 10 years ago. The fast pass is what lets you skip the line but that is for anyone.

This is good advice.

Try to get there right at opening, or even a little earlier, and do Dumbo, Peter Pan & Nemo before the lines get long.

I think kids love the unstructured fun of Tom Sawyer Island quite a bit.
At least I do.

and HEY! What’s wrong with Dumbo?

Oh, yeah, Tom Sawyer Island! My wife and I were just talking about how, when we were kids, the caves seemed much larger. I wonder when they shrunk them. :wink:

I didn’t say I don’t like Dumbo, I just don’t ride it. I figure there’s less wait time for the kiddies if I’m not in line in front of them.

Any other suggestions?

Get the book the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland , lots of good info in there.