Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Disneyland with Babies and Toddlers

If you would have asked me five years ago if Disneyland was one of my favorite places to vacation I would have laughed and said heck nooooo.  Since having kids (who very much love Disney princesses), I've learned to LOVE Disneyland!  Disneyland is often hot and crowded and there's lines for everything... but it is somehow also so so magical!  Watching your kids jump and dance as the parade goes by, get to meet their favorite character, and watch the fireworks at night makes all the sweaty crowds worth it ;).

We just got back from our fifth trip to Disneyland and it was our best trip yet!  Sloan and Phayre are both at ages where they really "get it" and get so swept up in the magic.  People often ask me how long they should wait to take their kids to Disneyland and I always say 2.5-3 years old is the perfect age.  By that time they've seen enough Disney movies and have favorite characters, they can make it through the day without several naps, they're typically not afraid of the rides, and they remember little bits of the magic (Sloan remembers lots of things from her third birthday in Disneyland!).  

I've done a few posts about doing Disneyland with littles, but I thought I'd do a new post so that all of that info is in one place!

First and foremost, my best advice when doing Disneyland with toddlers is to throw any expectations out the window, follow their lead, and slow down enough to enjoy it all!  The first time we went to Disneyland I remember trying to squeeze in as many rides as we could and rushing around.  We've learned to slow down, let our kids lead the way, and soak in the magic.  This results in less meltdowns and more fun!

Accommodations & Travel
-We've booked all of our Disneyland trips through Costco travel.  You can book your flights, hotel, park tickets, and rental car/shuttles all in one place which keeps things more organized.  You also get a few perks like a Disney gift card and a free character dining experience when booking through Costco.  (Not sponsored at all-but if Costco contacts me and offers me a free vacation I'll take it ;))
-We always stay in one of the Disney hotels.  We do this because our kids are little and still need a nap everyday.  It's just so convenient when your hotel is close by to run back for naps.  We also love staying at the Disney hotels because you get to take part in magic morning (read more about that below!).  
-If you are only traveling to Disneyland (and not anywhere else in CA) and do not plan on renting a car, look into booking one of their shuttles.  We have finally figured out that the shuttles are ALWAYS running late so give yourself lots of extra time if you choose this option.  Bonus you won't have to bring carseats, but chances are the shuttle will be late so you'll need to plan for more travel time.
-When we travel to Disneyland, we often also visit family so we rent a car.  We bring our infant carseat with us, but rent carseats from the car rental company for our bigger girls.

Making the most of your trip
-Eric and I feel like 3 days at Disneyland/California Adventure is the perfect number of days.  Plenty of time to go on lots of rides, catch a few parades, and eat all the yummy treats.
-If you're staying at a Disneyland hotel, you can take advantage of magic morning.  This means that you get to enter one of the parks an hour before it opens to the public (Disneyland and California Adventure rotate magic morning days so check with the hotel front desk to find out which hotel is on which day).  You can squeeze in several rides during magic morning!  Sometimes there isn't a line at all so they'll let you just stay on the ride and go again.
-People will start lining up for magic morning way before it actually opens.  Try to get there 15-20 minutes before the park opens so you don't get stuck in a big line.
-If you take advantage of magic morning, you're definitely not going to be sleeping in!  We either order room service (you can order it the night before and have it delivered at a specific time) or grab Starbucks breakfast sandwiches on your way in.
-Download the Disneyland app.  You can see ride wait times, where characters are, and what the height requirements are for each ride.
-Take advantage of parent swap!
-Plan nap time around parades, the parades are magical for kiddos!!
-Get fast passes and plan rides around them.  It's so nice being able to skip the line!
-Stay for the parades and/or fireworks at night, always so worth it!
-You'll drain your phone taking photos/videos and checking the Disneyland app.  Bring a travel charger, I love this one!  There is also an outlet inside of the Disneyland Starbucks, but you'll need your phone charger.
-If you have a baby, make sure you visit the baby care center for diaper changes and a comfortable and cool place to nurse.  The baby care center also has a ton of baby supplies for sale (they only take cash), a sink with dish soap to wash bottles, and a microwave.  The baby sunblock is only $4, which is way cheaper than they sell it for in the gift shop!
-If your kids need a little break, go watch the Disney Jr. live show in California Adventure or stop by the Tiki Room in Disneyland.
-Check the Disneyland app to see which rides your toddler can go on.  I've found that any of the rides that do not have a height requirement will allow you to wear your baby in a front pack.

-Lines can get crazy long at the restaurants inside of Disneyland and some restaurants only take reservations. This can be a disaster when you have tiny hungry people!  I highly highly recommend making reservations with Disney dining.  We typically make dinner reservations for each day and do something quick for lunch.
-Favorite treats: dole whip floats from the Tiki room, raspberry Mickey macaroon from The Jolly Holiday Cafe, and churros.  The churros inside of Disneyland are amazing, but the ones sold outside of Disneyland in downtown Disney are not the same and aren't as yummy.
-Favorite foods: grilled cheese and tomato soup from The Jolly Holiday Cafe, Monte Cristo sandwich from Cafe Orleans, and fajitas and the spicy mama margarita from Tortilla Joes in downtown Disney.
-The restaurants at the hotels typically don't have a wait, remember that's always an option.
-Our girls love the popcorn by It's a Small World, they'll split it into two containers if you ask them.

Other Stuff
-We have three little kids so we took our Uppababy Vista double stroller with the piggyback board.  We LOVE our Vista.  The basket is huge and can hold anything and everything you may need in the parks.  The seats also recline and are so comfortable if one of our kiddos need to nap.  Highly highly recommend if you need a double stroller!
-When you're going on rides, park your stroller in a designated stroller parking area (they're everywhere, not hard to miss).  If you park in the wrong area, they will move your stroller and good luck finding it ;).
-I always bring two bags into the parks.  I put our important belongings (wallets, phones, camera, etc), snacks, and a few toys into my diaper bag.  Basically anything I'm going to need while we're in lines, I pack in my diaper bag.  I have a second bag that I keep in the basket of our stroller with extra clothes, extra snacks, water bottles, diapers/wipes, etc.
-Bring a diaper bag that can be worn comfortably as a backpack.  We loved using this one.
-Clean your diaper bag out each night and refill it with all of the essentials so it's ready to go in the morning.
-Pack twice as many snacks as your kids would normally eat.  My kids have never been hungrier than when they are waiting in lines!  Keep them quiet and happy and keep giving them snacks!
-I always bring little figurines and notepads/crayons for the girls to play with while we're waiting in lines.  I grabbed some stretchy mermaids from the Target dollar sections before our trip and the girls played with them the entire trip, can't beat cheap entertainment!
-I always bring sweatshirts and leggings for the girls to throw on in the evenings.  Even on really hot days it can get pretty chilly at night.
-Ask another family to swap taking photos with you.  You take their photo, they take yours, and you actually end up with one family photo in Disneyland!

I tagged most of the kids clothing on my Instagram if you're looking for sources!  Most of the girls dresses were from Alice and Ames.  Briar wore several rompers from June and January.  If you're planning a trip to Disneyland, make sure you check out the new Disney line at Target (it is so cute)!!!

I hope that this was helpful!!  If you have any other questions please post in a comment below and I will get back to you!  Have a magical time on your trip!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Palm Springs (with little people)!

Palm Springs has become our favorite place to vacation as a family.  It's only a two hour flight away and it is actually relaxing for Eric and I (which is pretty huge when traveling with three kids five and under)!  I got a ton of questions about what we do when we're in Palm Springs so I thought I'd share real quick!

And when I say real quick... it's because we really don't do that much while we're there.  Our kids swim alllllll day, we eat, we drink, and we relax as much as possible.  There are a ton of homes to rent in Palm Springs, I highly recommend trying to rent a home over staying in a hotel if you have little kids.  It's so nice when they have a bedroom (so you can still have an evening with your spouse once they're in bed) and having a private pool is seriously amazing.

Palm Springs is pretty low key.  We don't ever feel the need to go out and sight see while we're there. All our kids want to do it swim so why fight it right?!  The city parks are really nice, you just have to go really early in the morning or later in the evening so it's not super hot. There is also a zoo called The Living Desert, we've never been but I've heard amazing things!  We plan on going next time we're down there.  There is a really fun children's museum nearby in Rancho Mirage, my grandparents actually took my brother and I there when we were little!

We really love the downtown Palm Springs area.  It's fun to just walk around, go into shops, eat, and people watch. My friend Lauren introduced me to Koffi, they have amazing iced coffee and breakfast sandwiches.  There is a cute courtyard out back where the kids can run around while you sip your coffee.  We also love Blue Coyote and Las Casuelas, both yummy Mexican restaurants (ask to sit outside!).  Oh and love Fruit Wonder! The girls always get fresh watermelon popsicles and Eric and I share an acaí bowl (it's so yummy, I want one now just writing about it!).  

The Parker Hotel is beautiful and has a great restaurant.  The restaurant is kid friendly, but it is on the spendier side.  The margaritas are $17 (!!), but they are seriously SO yummy.  We like to walk around the grounds because it's all just so pretty.  Think lots and lots of bouganvia :).  La Quinta Cliff House is another nice restaurant, the food is amazing!

If outlets are your thing, there is a huge outdoor outlet mall called Cabazon.  There is also a really nice shopping center in Palm Desert with lots of restaurants called The Gardens on El Paseo.

We typically stop at Target and Trader Joes for diapers, sunscreen, and food and then spend most of our days playing in the pool.  We like to grab coffee in the morning, eat lunch around the pool, and then go out to dinner.  Doesn't sound super exciting, but we seriously love all of the quality time with our little ones.  Plus it's so nice to slow down for a few days!!

Let me know if you have any questions in a comment below!

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