We were lucky enough to travel to Disneyland this summer and as a pre-planner I knew I had to plan my trip before stepping into the magic. I had lots of fun advice from friends and family and one self proclaimed Disney Princess. Here is the thing, you can listen to all the helpful advice but in reality my most helpful advice was from the actual Disney website.
Disneyland didn't do anything half way. When I called the toll free help line, I talked to the kindest person who gave me great advice. The website is also user friendly so utilize it, it is easy to navigate and has the best tips.
1) Disneyland or Disney world both are in warm climates. I don't know about you but I am not at all comfortable or patient when I am hot, so dress with the climate in mind. Also, Disneyland and Disney world are massive so wear comfortable shoes. Dress your kids for the same thing. Sturdy shoes that are comfortable and don't cause your kids to trip every step is key.
2) Map your trip - I went on the site and checked all the rides that were age appropriate for my girls. We didn't have a a child over 42 inches so we made sure to narrow down our ride choices by the height requirement.
I used the website for this as well - all the rides are on the website and will tell you if they are scary, have big twist and turns or sudden drops. This was also helpful because our little girls are not in to anything scary. We chose family friendly rides and enjoyed every one of our choices. For example we skipped Pirates of the Caribbean and Mr. Toad's wild ride. We especially skipped the haunted house.
3) Get to Disney when it opens. This will help with waiting in lines and allow your little one to enjoy age appropriate rides without all the wait. Purchase your tickets on line, you can also pre-purchase your parking online. We did this and we sailed right thru the lines.
4) Don't rush thru Disney. Stroll, take in the sites, meet lots of characters. This will delight your child over and over. They have changed how things go with the characters so you can see lots of them but they don't tell you where and when. It is by chance. Let your kids go at their own speed, it will keep things calm and happy.
5) If there is something your children are most wanting to see/ride/visit then do that first. Some of the more popular rides will fill up quickly. Our daughter's were excited to see the Princesses so we went to the Royal theater first and it was worth it. We walked by a couple of times and mid-day the wait was more than an hour. We were relieved that when we went it was a 15 minute wait for some Princess time.
6) This was our most important step - We reserved online prior to our visit our restaurant choice and time for lunch. We picked a restaurant that was quick to get to, child friendly and inside. I am so glad we chose to do this ahead of time. By lunch time our kids were hot, hungry and tired. That is the perfect storm. So right at 11:30 we walked into our chosen restaurant, gave our name and were seated within 5 minutes.
We had a much needed break from the sun, took potty breaks and sat down for a good lunch. If you don't make a reservation you chance waiting a long time to eat or eating at the vendor stands. Once lunch was finished we were ready to get back to the fun.
7) If you are local take a stroller. If not. Disney rents strollers. It was 100% worth it. Little legs get tired and need a rest. You will not regret taking a stroller. Disney of course makes the process easy, peaceful and fun!
**Bonus tip** Disney offers a photo card that you carry with you all day and the on site photographers grab from you prior to picture taking. Then you upload it the next day and you can purchase or not purchase any of the photos. I have never been more grateful than to have done the photo experience. This makes it possible for your whole family to be in multiple pictures together and helps you remember the magic. When I looked at mine the next day, my heart melted at some of our pictures and finally, I was in pictures with my family.