With the Kids

8 Must Haves for a Family Disneyland Trip

Prepping for a family Disneyland trip can be quite a task. If you want to have a truly magical time, there are a few things you can do that will help make it perfect. Here are 8 Must Haves for making your Disneyland trip go smoothly.

Disneyland Travel Tips

8 Must Haves for a Family Disneyland Trip

1 – Good shoes. Bring a good pair of walking shoes as your feet will be stomping all over the place, even running to each ride if you’re like us! Flip Flops might seem easy, but after a whole day walking in them, you’ll be wanting something more supportive. So make sure to bring a good pair of shoes, complete with comfy socks.

2 – Matching shirts. Disneyland tends to be a crowded place. It’s a good idea to wear similar shirts as a family so everyone can be easily spotted. Even if you geek out in Mickey and Minnie attire, who cares, you’re at Disneyland. Or you can be like my sister and her family of 10 and all wear NEON green shirts, making sure they spotted each other in the crowds!

3 – A babysitter for the baby. Yes, we did it. Thanks to the help of close friends and family, we left our 1 year old at home. And oh can I tell you it was worth it as we were able to cruise the park fast and furiously. I just hope one day she won’t say “Remember that one time when you left me home?” But she’ll get her turn one day soon!

4 – Don’t forget the camera. We’re the total camera-at-every-magical-moment family! We take video, use our camera phone, and even the kids get to take some pictures! But I do suggest on one of the days you leave your camera in the hotel room so you can just enjoy the park for what it is.

Disneyland Family Vacation

5 – Snacks and a water bottle. When you’re at Disneyland from morning to midnight and the lines are long, you’re going to find your kids in need of water or snacks. It’s a good idea to bring a Nalgene bottle and a few granola bars in your pack, so when you’re in line or have a break, you can re-fuel. Otherwise you’ll pay $3 for a tiny bag of chips!

6- Fanny pack. You heard me, a fanny pack. They actually sell some cool lightweight packs these days to carry all your park hopping accessories. It was great to have a lightweight pack to keep our traveling supplies in. No loose change will go flying out of pockets on the Tower of Terror!

7 – Stroller. No matter how old your kids are their little legs get tired. So be prepared with a stroller just in case. You can keep it at the hotel or in your car, or rent one at the park. I promise it’s worth it. It will save you from sore shoulders and whiny children.

8 – Bring your appetite. There’s lots of yummy “must have” treats at Disneyland. My husband and I live for the MONTE CRISTO! I think we ate 2 of them during our stay, yikes! But it’s one fun thing we look forward to when we go to Disneyland. There’s also the Pomme Frites (fancy fries) from Cafe Orleans, the Mickey Ears ice cream bars, and the frozen lemonades. Yes, we also starve ourselves the weeks before to make room for all these goodies!!

Great places to eat while at Disneyland:

  • Blue Bayou – just note, their Monte Cristo is only served at lunch
  • Cafe Orleans – across from Blue Bayou, also serves the Monte Cristo and those yummy fries!
  • Character Breakfast – you must experience this once. We loved Goofy’s Kitchen.
  • Red Corn Dog Truck – on Main Street. Soooo good!
  • Dole Whip – in front of the Tiki Room
  • Bengal BBQ – yummy bbq skewers in Advertureland

Disneyland Dining Tips


  1. My comment on snacks: two things we loved were those single serving packets of lipton tea or lemonade that could be added to water bottles. Then we could stop at a water fountain and have a tasty drink without paying the big Disney prices. The other snack was a bag of smart pop. We divided out baggies of these for the backpack. They are lightweight and serve the purpose when my daughter saw the popcorn for sale (she didn’t know the difference). Of course we bought food there too, but any bit of saving helps.

  2. We are heading to DisneyWorld next month for the first time. Thanks for the great tips!! I am nervous/excited…

  3. We are a family of 6. So to save money on food, we packed a cooler and took a break from the happiest place on earth to sit just outside the park. They have a picnic area set up that’s in the shade just outside the gate. It was kind of a nice little calming break from the energy and people in the park. Because we had breakfast included at our hotel we were able to grab some fresh fruits to snack on. And then we splurged on dinner at disney walk. I totally agree about the stroller, even if you have kids who are not stroller age. It’s great to have a place for all the stuff, sweatshirts, water bottles, sunscreen etc.

  4. After years and years of visiting the Magic Kingdom, we happened to visit one fall on daylight savings time Sunday. Of course, we forgot it was daylight savings time, so we were very early!! But it was very worth it when we discovered they have an “opening the park” show. It was fabulous!! ALL of the characters arrive on the train at Main Street Station and do an amazing song and dance number. I highly recomment you arrive early so you are in the holding area before the park opens for the show. (The area after the turnstile, but before the train bridges gate.) We would’ve never known they had this if it weren’t daylights savings day. :) Enjoy!

  5. Hi Marie,
    I serve with Jeanne in the stake Primary – I love your web site. I am a total Disney fanatic! I have been there over 25 times at lease! We are headed there next month!

    I get at least 1 to 2 calls a month of people wanting tips for Disneyland – I just want to say your tips are great! This was so fun to read about your trip at the happiest place on Earth!

    You have a great web site!

  6. We’re actually going to Disneyland…on FRIDAY! Woo Hoo! We are so excited – and we’ll definitely keep your tips in mind.

    You’re right about the red corn dog truck on main street. I don’t even like corn dogs and I like THOSE corn dogs. ;)

  7. Hubby and I have been to Disney World 3 times, and my choice of footwear is sport sandals. I love Splash Mountain, but I HATE having wet running shoes – they take forever to dry! I try to wear clothes that will dry quickly too – there’s nothing worse than walking around with a tell-tale wet bum for half of the day! I’m also not much of a hat person, but I always wear one at Disney. It keeps me cool, from getting sunburned, and again, it helps me from looking like a drowned rat after Splash Mountain! ;)

    If we’re staying at a Disney hotel, we make use of the option to have our Disney purchases sent from the store to our hotel at the end of the day – it saves us from having to carry around bags all day!

  8. We are going to Orlando next month for our Honeymoon. I have been to Disney World many times (as a child), but my fiance has not. We are so looking forward to all of the fun at the ammusement parks and enjoying the night life too. We expect the bring back many souveniors and gifts for our parents and other family members who are generously paying for our trip. But since, we are flying we will ship these extra items home via UPS. We will overnight them the day before we leave.

  9. 6 – The fanny pack is the official fashion accessory of the Magic Kingdom. I declared it so when we were there in February.

    8 – we were told that the Monte Cristo sandwiches WERE NO LONGER SERVED AT DISNEYWORLD. An employee told me that when I asked where we could get one. I had one when we visited Disney when I was 10 years old and it made such an impact that it was one of the things we were looking forward to. I am so bummed that I was misinformed! Maybe next time . . . until then, I’ll just have to indulge in the Bennigan’s version.

  10. Such great additions to the Must Haves!

    For sure use all the Fast Passes! Especially for California Screamin’ and Indian Jones.

    And we’ve heard of Ride Max before and didn’t think we needed it. But we’ll be doing it for sure next time!

  11. We always bring a neat sheet (or towel) so one person can reserve a spot on the curb for the parade. And since I have a little kid I print out the rides with height restrictions ahead of time so I know which rides we can all go on.

  12. If you like Montecristo, check out the outstanding ones at Zinn Bistro in Salt Lake City. They’re tucked in a tiny little shopping center on 33rd South, near Wool Cabin (if you like to knit or crochet, or simply admire it). Zinn has unusual hours so call ahead so you’re not disappointed. It’s such a wonderful little secret in Salt Lake. Although it’s great for couples, it seems like a fun Girl Friends kind of place for a specal lunch. You’ll leave with treats in a box; their servings are generous plus they serve you special appetizers & dessert treats at no charge. Everything is house made & exceptional from the pastries to the special little chocolate cookies at the end of your meal.

  13. My husband and I met while working in Walt Disney World, and we were greatly anticipating taking our three kids there in a few months! :)

    One tip I learned from someone while I was working there, I’ve adopted and use regularly. If you have a digital camera, take a picture of each child in your party every morning — close up of their face and a whole body shot with the clothes they’re wearing that day. If, heaven forbid, you get separated, you have an exact record of what they’re wearing, how their hair is styled, etc. It lets you show park officials who you’re looking for so the reunion might get there a little quicker! (This would work with a regular camera too, but you’d have to develop the film, which takes more time….)

    Also, take the time to show young kids how to spot the name badges of people who work there. They are all trained on where to take kids to meet up with lost parents. And make sure you find that on the map, and know where to go in the event that you get separated. I hope that no one ever needs the service — it’s a scary thought! But it’s better to be prepared than to be panicking over a missing child, and THEN trying to figure out where to go!

  14. The must: a plan for maneuvering through Disneyland!

    For $14.95 you can go to http://www.ridemax.com & enter: what time you enter the park, what time you want to take a break, what you want to see & it calculates & shoots you out an itinerary that includes how long it will take you to get to that ride from where you are, how long the ride will be, then how long till the next ride, etc. IT WAS AMAZING & spoiled us rotten because we NEVER Stood in line. We didn’t use fast pass at all – our kids were too young – but we couldn’t go wrong with our print out plan!!! Check it out!!!

    Best, Erika

  15. One of my fav disneyland foods is the turkey leg! It is so delicious and can be eaten all day!

    Also, i love the fact that you can bring your own food and drinks in…it always saves us tons.

  16. One neat tip I read (ages ago and can’t remember where) was ANYTIME you go to a big place as a family even something smaller like the county fair, dress your kids like the same gendered parent. So little boys dress to match daddy and little girls match mommy. Or all wear matching print shirts and shorts or something. Then if a child should get lost, you can tell park employees even cops if it comes to that “She/He is dressed like this, exactly” and they can even take a photo of the parents clothes if need be.

  17. I second the suggestion for Passporter – the best book! Also, sun lotion! We did WDW for 10 days last fall with no sunburn – amazing!

  18. I had the Monte Cristo last year, and have been craving it ever since. I think about getting one every time we go (we have passes to D-land, and go at least once a week…spoiled). I think you covered everything!

  19. We got the PassPorter book for DisneyWorld and it was a LIFESAVER! It made organization so much easier and we knew a lot about the rides (it was our first time to WDW) and how long the waits were, we found out all there was to know with the FastPass (another MUST). It’s the best book to get when you’re going to WDW!!

  20. Hi!

    I’ve been a lurker on your blog for a bit now and love it very much.

    I just was wondering..when you went to Disneyland..did you also visit Downtown Disney?

    I have a Pottery Painting Kisok there that you should check out. It’s lots of fun for children of all ages*yes, that includes you! :)*.

    I always offer 10% off for those that mention my blog. So if you ever return *or anyone else whos reading this and is planning a DL trip*, make sure your do on the weekends, when I am there.

    :) Plus..it would be great to meet you!

  21. Great tips! I’m waiting for my kids to hit their tween years before I take them. I want to make sure they remember it and hopefully are past the whiny stage. LOL

  22. Oh, you brought back so many memories, except ours was Disney World in Florida. The magic is so alive for these kids and the memories last a lifetime!

    Great advice. We did take our infant though, and the thing that helped me was knowing where those little mother’s stations were. I did nurse on a park bench once in a while, but the mother’s rooms were air conditioned, clean, quiet, and so, so nice. The others went on adult rides while I fed my baby. It was great for all!

    Do they do those Fast Passes at Disneyland? If so, that’s another MUST!! Beats standing in line for hours! And getting to the park EARLY really makes a difference, too. You can get on the popular lines with little or no waiting. It was great!

    The pictures were a lot of fun to see, too!

  23. Thanks for all the tips Marie! We are going to DisneyWorld next week and these tips are coming in very handy.

    It sure looks like a great time you guys had!!!

  24. We are going to Disneyland next Friday. It’s our first time and a very last minute trip. Someone suggested the Minnie character breakfast to us – we’ll see !!!!! Thanks for your suggestions!

  25. We’re going to Disneyland next month and are really excited! We are leaving our little one (a two year old) at home too. Thanks for the tips!

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