Disneyland, just me and my 3 year old!

Discussion in 'Disneyland (California)' started by RidingSolo, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. RidingSolo

    RidingSolo Earning My Ears

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    I'm thinking of planning a trip for December. It will be my 3 year old's first Disneyland trip. I will be graduating from college that month, and when I started I told myself I'd take him after graduation, before I started working...

    and suddenly it's here! Now I'm wondering if I'm INSANE. I really, really want to take him - he LOVES Mickey Mouse Club House, Cars, Peter Pan, etc... I know he would love it. But I'm so nervous about going with just me and a toddler! Has anyone done this? Do you have any tips?!
     
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  3. marcemc

    marcemc I wouldn't be able to handle such fluffliness eith

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    Congrats on graduating :goodvibes

    You will have a fun time, yes, even with a toddler ;), my recommendation would be to go with the flow and be relaxed. Make sure you stick to his meals & nap schedule and don't try to overdo it by trying to see everything.

    It's the memories that count.
     
  4. loricdietzel

    loricdietzel Mouseketeer

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    I haven't done it- but you will have a blast! When I read your title I thought- aw!!! How lucky!!!! I would love to go to Disneyland with just my dd! (who is now 4, but we went when she was 3.)

    Go and have a great time!!!! You will be making some magical memories!!!!
     
  5. DisneyMommy403

    DisneyMommy403 Wishing on a Star

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    go for it! you'll make some great memories!

    I agree with the PP, just be patient, take your time, and try your best to keep the little one fed and rested.

    congrats on graduating!
     
  6. disneegrl4eva

    disneegrl4eva <font color=darkcoral>now we just need a secret ha

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    first of all......

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!:cool1::banana::woohoo:

    thats a HUGE accomplishment..especially with a baby in tow....second, I totally love that age in a childs life...and taking him to DL will bring such joy and amazement..especially if he loves Mickey and cars...he may get overwhelmed at first because hes only ever seen them on TV and then all of a sudden there is this giant of a mouse coming at him:rotfl: but I really dont think you will have a hard time taking him by yourself...it will make such great memories for you...he probably wont remember much so you will have to take tons of pics to show him..I definitely second what marcemc said about the food and naps..its a definite!!!....I definitely think you should take him:thumbsup2
     
  7. Girimama33

    Girimama33 "I've disgraced the forces of evil."

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    Congratulations...and I say take him as well.
    I am considering doing this with DD(4) early next year between our two trips. I think it would be fun.
     
  8. Stitch35

    Stitch35 Mouseketeer

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    I went with my DS when he was just 4. It was a mommy and me trip. My tip is let him lead. If he wants to play in toon town for an hour let him. Do a ride over and over, great! Is he just 3 or an older 3? He may be overwhelmed at first, but then the look on his face when he meets Mickey for the first time, is priceless. Characters really take their time with the little ones. One of the backpack leashes might come in handy and definitely have a stroller. Bring a lot of snacks and stay close to the park. He might fall asleep in the stroller or you might take naps at your hotel. The area is pretty safe, so you can feel comfortable walking back and forth.
     
  9. kindakrazy2

    kindakrazy2 DIS Veteran

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    DO IT!!!!

    Its such a magical time - they still totally buy into the magic of the whole thing and seeing it through your son's eyes will be something you will never forget.

    I went alone with a 4 year old and a baby. We did great. Didn't do everything in the parks but we hung out and did all sorts of things, took lots of pics, ate lots of yummy food. Just went slow and stopped when the mood struck us. One of my favourite trips!
     
  10. longtimedisneylurker

    longtimedisneylurker DIS Veteran

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    Definitely go for it. I think it's awesome you want to take your son, and there are many great things you can do together. While he may not remember much, if anything, you always will, and you will have pictures to show him. Don't get so involved taking pictures though that you didn't get to fully enjoy the experience of just being there with him and seeing how he reacts to everything.

    Things to consider:
    When are you planning on going exactly? December is wonderful because of the holiday decorations and activities and the festive atmosphere. The week of Christmas and the week of New Year's though are the two busiest weeks of the entire year and can be a bit overwhelming to the less experienced visitor.

    Are you visiting for more than one day? If it's within your budget, I would highly recommend two or even three days and, of course, visiting both parks.

    Potty trained or not? Make sure to carry a change of underwear and clothes even if he is potty trained because all the stimulation can be a bit distracting. Be aware that each park has a Baby Center that can be a helpful resource. These locations also have tiny toilets suitable for toddlers.

    Tips:
    If you are staying in a hotel, look for one within close walking distance.

    Bring lots of little snacks to help avoid crankiness (his and yours :)).

    Great things to do with that age include character meet and greets, Fantasyland rides, Buzz Lightyear ride, Winnie the Pooh ride, parades, Disney Junior show, Muppetvision 3D movie, Monsters Inc. ride, Toy Story ride, and Ariel's ride. Carsland is awesome to visit as well. You will have plenty to do even without the "thrill" rides.

    Congratulations on your graduation and have a great celebration at Disneyland with your son.
     
  11. pharmama

    pharmama DIS Veteran

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    Congratulations on your graduation!

    I just spent 3 1/2 days at DLR just me and my 3yr old DD. I also did a trip with my now 7yr old DD when she was 3 (just before the now 3yr old was born). You will have a fantastic time- its a very fun age. everything is so magical to them.

    I would definitely try to get into Toontown Morning Madness, especially if he loves MMCH so he knows all the classic characters.

    Do as many days as you can so you can go at his pace. I loosely planned certain days in certain parks partly based around some character dining I booked and when we planned to se WoC etc. but mostly let her dictate where we went and what we did (though I did deny requests to go on Small World next when we were at, say, Toy Story Midway Mania...).

    You'll have a fantastic time. Seeing the magic through their eyes is just wonderful.
     
  12. roobug

    roobug Mouseketeer

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    Congratulations. I have done Disneyland by myself with my twin boys. I went when they where two and when they were three. I had such a great time! My biggest suggestion has already been mentioned but keep him on his normal schedule with eating and naps. Makes the trip so much easier.
     
  13. yaya74

    yaya74 Mouseketeer

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    Congratulations on your great achievements!

    you and your baby will have, a blast at DLR. I took my DD there when she was only 18months old. We had a great time! She is now 4 and I canot wait to take her back in Nov.
     
  14. lurpee

    lurpee Mouseketeer

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    Congratulations on graduating! That's fantastic! I think you should! When do you think you will be there? I'll be there Dec 14th to 26th with our family from the 14th thru the 18th and just my little family the rest of the time. If you're there during that time we could meet up. I have DD4 and DD11 mos (in December). I hope you get to make a trip soon!
     
  15. MyYearWithTheMouse

    MyYearWithTheMouse Disneyland Fan

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    Congratulations on graduating!!! Big accomplishment!

    You'll have a great time. As others have said, make sure you adhere to his regular schedule. Don't worry too much about doing everything--you can always come back. Sure, maybe not next year, but in a few years. If he wants to ride Small World 3 times, go for it. Don't forget to be a kid yourself! It's so different through the eyes of a child.

    I would also add that I think Turtle Talk is a great activity for that age. And definitely make use of Photopass, and be sure to ask the PP photographers to take pictures with your own camera. You need to have pictures of the two of you together!!!
     
  16. RidingSolo

    RidingSolo Earning My Ears

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    Oh, you guys are all so great!!! Thank you so much for all the input!

    So here's the plan I have so far:

    Budget: Around $1,000 for the trip itself (transportation, hotel, tickets). We're within reasonable driving distance so with my gas calculations, if we can find a reasonable hotel, that budget is feasable for 3 days and 4 nights. Obviously if I don't have to use up my WHOLE budget it would be great - more money to play with. I'm saving up for food/souvenirs separately, so that budget isn't all inclusive.

    Dates: As soon as practical after December 14th (graduation ceremony! :goodvibes ). I'm just GUESSING that checking in Monday the 17th and checking out Friday the 21st is going to be more budget friendly than going over the weekend; thoughts? I can't postpone until after the holidays - I have no idea what timeline I'll be looking at as far as sitting for state boards and getting a job until the time comes, and I don't want to risk having to cancel! I know FOR SURE that I'll be able to go directly after graduation though.

    Hotel: NO IDEA. I've been to Disneyland a bunch of times, but a) we were super spoiled and always stayed at the Disneyland Hotel or Paradise Pier, and b) I haven't been to Disneyland in almost 10 years. Are the "Good Neighbor" designated hotels the best options? Are there other close options that may be less expensive? I don't need anything fancy - just a *safe* place nearby to relax, sleep and shower.

    Tickets: I'm thinking of trying to shave a little off the cost by not doing park hopper tickets; I can't imagine trying to tackle more than one park in a day with a 3 year old. The only bad thing about that is if I only go for 3 days, we'll only get to go to DCA once. Anything I'm missing? I've never NOT had a parkhopper ticket; are there any perks to it that I wouldn't get with a one park/one day ticket?

    Rides: I know there will be PLENTY to do in Disneyland, but I'm worried about DCA. As I mentioned in the OP, my little guy is a super huge fan of Cars. The last time he was measured he was 37.5 inches - that was about a month ago - so unless he has some kind of monster growth spurt in the next two months I'm pretty sure he's going to be too little for ALL the Cars rides. Is that right? I know there are fun things in other areas for him to do, but I'm worried about the meltdown that may happen if he sees the Cars rides but can't go on them. I'm pretty sure I can explain away any of the other "big" rides by telling him they're for big kids or grownups, but I just don't think logic will apply in Carsland. Any tips?! Are there other fun things in Carsland to keep him occupied?

    Food: I don't have a set budget for this, but I want to for sure do at least one character meal. I'm thinking Goofy's Kitchen but am open to suggestions. Since he loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so much I'm mostly wanting Fab Five interactions, and he does like Chip and Dale. He still doesn't have the attention span for a lot of the classic cartoons I've tried to force him to watch ;) So he won't recognize many of the other characters. Oh! He knows and loves the Winnie the Pooh Characters too.

    Other than the character meal, I'm thinking we'll mostly wing it in the parks with quick service and all the DL delights like churros and Dole whips ;). I do want to try a Montecristo though.. I've been to Disneyland probably a dozen times growing up and I did the WDWCP and I've never had one!!! Anything else that's a must do that I might have missed?


    Anything else I'm forgetting?! I'm SO excited for this trip - I have to just say, my little boy was born too early and spent 45 days in the hospital - and a LOT of those 45 days I sat by his incubator or held him and read trip reports of people taking their kids to Disneyland for the first time. I know it sounds way silly but thinking about it helped me get through his hospitalization and kept me hoping for the best outcome; I can't believe the time to start planning for REAL is finally here!!

    Again, thank you so much for all the input and support! And sorry this post is so long!
     
  17. RidingSolo

    RidingSolo Earning My Ears

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    I think we will be there at the same time!! I would *love* to meet up!!
     
  18. roobug

    roobug Mouseketeer

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    I think you will find a fair amount to do at CA. My boys love Disney Junior live on stage, you story mania, the wilderness thing I'm blanking on the name but that's worth at least an hour, they also where in live with carsland even with out the rides. They likes looking at Filmores house and meeting lightening Mater and Red the fire truck. They also really like bugs land. So I think there is a ton to do there.
     
  19. longtimedisneylurker

    longtimedisneylurker DIS Veteran

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    Often there really isn't a rate difference between weekends and weekdays near Disneyland, so it's worth pricing it out and considering.

    The hotels that I prefer that might fall within your hotel budget include Howard Johnson's on Harbor and Tropicana Inn and Suites. More budget minded hotels that are in walking distance that I have seen recommended included Anaheim Plaza Inn and Suites and the Quality Inn on Manchester. I'm sure you are very busy with your studies, but when you have a few minutes of downtime here and there hunt around this site for some hotel recommendations. Personally, based on some threads I have read here and some comments from an acquaintance of mine, I would stay away from Park Vue Inn and Castle Inn even if they were good deals.

    If you are comfortable with being further away from the park and using the shuttle system rather than walking, then you might find some cheaper options or similarly priced options with more amenities. The drawback in this is time lost. A closer hotel makes it easier to go back for nap time or whatever.

    You will still get your early entry to DL whether you get a hopper or non-hopper ticket. We are diehard parkhoppers even after the opening of the new DCA, so this would be tough for me. There is more than enough to do in both parks to make switching back and forth between them on the same day worth it. We like to start in one park, take a break, and then go to the other park after the break sometimes. I can see how saving the money is important though too, so this is a tough one.

    Your son is tall enough for both Mater's Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi's Flying Tires because the minimum height requirement for those rides is 32". You are correct that he is too short for the headliner Radiator Springs Racers and is likely to still be too short when you get there. You will just have to be firm and up front about him being too short for that ride and not spend a lot of time focusing on it. He will be able to enjoy the other two rides, the ambiance of the land, the Mater and Lightning McQueen meet and greets, and any street entertainment that occurs while you are there. It is still definitely a great place to go for a Cars fan.

    I know Goofy's is a popular choice, but if a character meal mostly for the characters is your goal, then I would recommend Minnie's Breakfast at the Plaza Inn inside Disneyland park instead. There are consistently more characters at that meal than any other. Usually you can expect to see Minnie, Chip and Dale, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. There are also usually at least 4 or 5 additional characters in attendance. We have seen Hook, Fairy Godmother, Max (Goofy's son), mice from Cinderella, Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh, Brer Fox, and many others.

    Have fun planning, and have a great trip when you do go.
     
  20. Mommy2PrincessAbby

    Mommy2PrincessAbby DIS Veteran

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    Hi! You are going to have so much fun!!! My best memories of going to DL with my dd were trips when it was just the two of us... so much easier than having another adult to have to confer with... the two of us could just go as we wanted to.

    Bring a stroller, even if your son isn't keen on them, you will need it for sure... and then I would pay the extra for the park hopper... I know it isn't all about "getting everything done" but it will be easier on you guys if you can go with the flow and hop if needed.

    As others have said, you may want more time in DCA because of Bugs Land, Carsland (what he can ride will be sooo fun)--and you can watch the "big people" on the racers from Flo's I believe. Disney Jr... plus my dd adored Monster's Inc at that age--heck I love that ride...

    I would probably choose Minnie's breakfast... we've done all of them, multiple times... and while Minnie's is not my favorite for food (that award goes to Surf's Up in my book)... it will have Pooh characters, Minnie, maybe Daisy, we've seen Chip & Dale there too... often 10 characters. So many that the food barely gets eaten because you don't want to miss a character.

    If I were you, I'd have some groceries I brought in the hotel... give your kiddo a decent snack on the way to the parks (while chillin in his stroller) each morning (getting there before rope drop)... then ride rides etc until mid-morning... find out not the lastest character breakfast seating, but maybe the 3rd to last?? I would bet around 10 am if the parks open at 8... and eat breakfast then... then you would probably get by on snacks and could do an early dinner. 2 real meals a day filled in with food from home will reduce your costs too. Plus if you go back to to the hotel in the early afternoon for a nap, you could re-load your snack stash :)

    So great that you are doing this trip!! Enjoy!!
     
  21. Sherry E

    Sherry E Currently tag-less... Moderator

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    You and your son will be going to Disneyland during the most beautiful time in the parks! The holiday season is absolutely amazing.

    First of all, It's a Small World is transformed into It's a Small World Holiday, with breathtaking colored lights covering the facade, and a total holiday overlay inside the ride.

    Haunted Mansion becomes Haunted Mansion Holiday, with a "Nightmare Before Christmas" theme.

    Santa will be in at least 4 (probably 5) places around the Resort (in Disneyland, in each of the 3 Disney hotels and probably in California Adventure too - though we're not sure where his post in DCA will be this year).

    Santa's Reindeer Round-Up has actual reindeer!

    The Castle becomes the Winter Castle, and it glows in icicle lights after dark.

    The Christmas Fantasy Parade is festive and fun.

    The Believe in Holiday Magic fireworks (if your little one can handle the noise) are beautiful, and they culminate with light snow falling on Main Street and a couple of other places.

    Cars Land will be fully decorated with themed Christmas ornaments, trees, etc. (if the rumors are true), as will Buena Vista Street.

    Toon Town in DL and A Bug's Land in DCA (both great for young kids) have their own whimsical decorations.
     

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