Some people said I was crazy when they found out I was going to Disneyland solo with 2 kids…
…I was also a little worried. BUT – it turned out to be a great experience and one that I will probably do again! There were even people at the parks that commented on how my hands were so full, but our trip was honestly so great and not as stressful as I expected it to be. I’ve done Disney pregnant, now here is what I learned going to Disneyland solo with 2 kids:
Tip #1: Go during the week
Since my kids are not in school yet, it is really easy for me to take them on getaways during the week, especially if Jordan isn’t joining us. As long as you’re not heading to Disney during a peak school vacation time (i.e. spring break, Christmas break, summer vacation) it’s a pretty safe bet that it will be significantly less crowded on a weekday. It’s always a good idea to check for any upcoming events at the parks that week (like a big ride opening, grad nights, or holiday events) and I like to check Is It Packed, to get a good idea of what to expect in terms of crowds on the days we plan to go.
Tip #2: Stay on property
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Disneyland and its resort properties. Since we were driving over from Palm Springs for our little Disney adventure we booked a night at the Disneyland Hotel. I wanted to make it as easy as possible to manage Disneyland solo with 2 kids, so this was a no brainer. I drove us over on Thursday morning after the rush hour traffic had mostly subsided, and we arrived around 10:45. We got super lucky that a) the parks and hotels were relatively quiet so we got to check in to our room right away and b) the hotel was so quiet they offered us a second night at a huge discount on the normal nightly rate. Because I was a little worried about driving back late by myself we snapped up that offer.
The perks of staying on property while managing the 2 girls by myself were mainly the extra level of service you get from Disney, and the proximity to the parks. We got our tickets right when we checked in, and they are so great about storing anything you need if you have checked out or can’t get into your room right away. The valet is also so amazing. They had my car loaded/unloaded so quickly while I was wrangling my kids in and out.
Tip #3 Don’t overdo it with reservations
Disneyland is a very different from Disney World when it comes to dining reservations. When we went to Disney World in 2018 we quickly figured out it was best to have a reservation for most meals, especially dinner! At Disneyland you can mostly get by without making reservations, or making last minute reservations (as long as it is not a peak season/holiday).
I made a reservation for dinner our first night there. Our reservation was at Wine Country Trattoria at 7:05 – my dinner partners couldn’t make it to dinner time (too much excitement), which was fine, I was able to enjoy a relaxing dinner and a glass of wine. I didn’t make reservations for any of our other meals and it made it so much easier to have the flexibility to eat where and when we wanted! The same approach worked for fast passes, I only made a few FP reservations. It was nice because didn’t need to stick to too strict of a schedule in relation to what park we were in.
Tip #4 Have low expectations
I had very low expectations for our trip. Mentally, I had prepared to have Disneyland ruined for me, at least for a little while. Honestly, Disneyland solo with 2 kids could quickly turn in to a train wreck. Luckily, that didn’t happen! I was so pleasantly surprised but what a good time we all had. By some miracle Peyton was (mostly) on her best behavior and did a great job listening, even with all of the extra thrill of being in Disneyland! I think part of the reason that we all had such a great time was because I really had no expectations. We played it by ear and worked around Reagan’s nap times by visiting attractions that we could bring the stroller with us to, or by spending that time window shopping and eating. Sometimes low expectations make you more appreciative when things exceed them!
Tip #5 *For Little Ones * Find Baby/Toddler Geared Meet & Greets/Shows
One thing I was little worried about was having Reagan spend too much time in her stroller. Having just turned 1 she is, unsurprisingly, on the move. I brought our ergobaby 360, but she also isn’t the biggest fan of being strapped to me anymore.
To make sure she didn’t spend to much time restrained we made time to see some shows and visit some attractions where she could be out and even able to crawl around. The best was the Disney Junior Dance Party. Peyton loved it, she got to dance, sing, and see some of the characters she sees on tv. Reagan also had a ball! The show includes bubbles, paper leaves, and snow falling from the ceiling – Rea was in awe! Some other winners for us were the shows at the Royal Theatre (Tangled & Beauty and the Beast), waiting for Elsa & Anna in the Animation Building, and the Sorcerers Workshop, also in the Animation Building. If you’re there Sunday-Thursday I have also heard amazing things about the Frozen show at the Hyperion!
Tip #6 Plan for naps
Let’s get real, this isn’t just for the kids. If you’re planning on going to Disneyland solo with 2 kids, you will be tired.If you are planning on staying in a Disney resort, or even within a short walking distance, this is so easy to do. We actually didn’t head back to the room either day for a nap because my girls were great about sleeping in the stroller. However, in the past when P was a toddler, we staying on property and went back every afternoon after lunch for a nap. It was amazing.
Even though we didn’t go back to the room, planning for them to nap around their normal nap times on my solo Disney trip was helpful. When nap time was getting close I would make some excuse to Peyton about why we had to walk a long distance, for ex: “Yep, time to ride the Pirate ride, we have to walk all the way from here (Pixar Pier) there, which is a long walk! Rest your eyes and when you open them we will be there!” Then, about 2 hours later she would wake up at our destination!
Tip #7 Always quit when you’re ahead
Our first 2 days were so great! I thought my kids were angels. Saturday, before we drove back to Palm Springs, Peyton was so sad that we didn’t get to go on rides. Ok, I thought that since everything had gone so well, a character meal before we got on our way would be a nice treat. Little did I know, this was the point where my hubris had to be put in check.
I took the girls to brunch at the Storyteller’s Cafe in the Grand California Hotel. Our reservation was for 12:05 which was my first mistake, almost nap time. P was excited to have lunch with Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale, but the buffet style and maraca parade that happened every 30 minutes was just too much. She had a meltdown when I tried to serve her mac n’ cheese. Took off, and I had to chase her across the restaurant, baby in tow, and reason with her to sit down so I could at least pay.
Lesson learned. Always quit when you’re ahead.