Best Times To Visit Disneyland With Small Children: Tips And Recommendations

by | Feb 10, 2024 | Travel Tips For All Ages

Disneyland is one of the most magical places on earth, and it's no secret that it's a popular destination for families with young children. However, with so many attractions, shows, and crowds, it can be overwhelming to plan a trip, especially with small children. That's why it's important to consider the best times to visit Disneyland with your little ones.

One of the first things to consider when planning a trip to Disneyland with small children is the time of year. While Disneyland is open year-round, some seasons are better than others for families with young kids. For example, the summer months can be very hot and crowded, which can be difficult for little ones to handle. On the other hand, the fall and winter months can be cooler and less crowded, making it easier to navigate the park with young children.

Another factor to consider is the age of your children. While Disneyland is designed to be enjoyed by all ages, some attractions may not be suitable for very young children. It's important to research the rides and attractions beforehand to ensure that your little ones can enjoy them safely. Additionally, it's a good idea to plan for frequent breaks and rest periods throughout the day to prevent overstimulation and fatigue.

Best Months to Visit

Families enjoying Disneyland in spring or fall. Children playing, parents smiling. Bright colors, sunny skies

When planning a trip to Disneyland with small children, it's important to consider the best time of year to visit. Here are some of the best months to visit Disneyland with small children:

Low Season Advantages

Visiting Disneyland during the low season can be a great way to avoid crowds and enjoy shorter lines for rides and attractions. The low season typically runs from January through mid-March, and then again from late September through early December. During these months, you can expect fewer crowds and lower prices on hotels and tickets.

Weather Considerations

When planning a trip to Disneyland with small children, it's important to consider the weather. The best months to visit Disneyland with small children are typically during the spring and fall, when the weather is mild and comfortable. Summer months can be hot and crowded, making it difficult to enjoy the park with small children. Winter months can be rainy and chilly, which may not be ideal for young children.

Overall, the best months to visit Disneyland with small children are during the low season and during the spring and fall when the weather is mild and comfortable. By planning your trip during these times, you can avoid crowds, enjoy shorter lines, and have a more enjoyable experience with your family.

Weekday vs Weekend Visits

Families enjoying calm weekdays at Disneyland with small children, contrasting with crowded and bustling weekends

When planning a trip to Disneyland with small children, it is important to consider the best time to visit. One of the factors to consider is whether to visit on a weekday or a weekend.

Crowd Levels on Weekdays

Visiting Disneyland on a weekday can be a great option for families with small children. The crowds are typically lower on weekdays, which means shorter wait times for attractions and less time spent navigating through crowds. This can be especially beneficial for families with young children who may become overwhelmed in large crowds.

In addition, Disneyland offers special discounts and promotions on weekdays, which can help families save money on their trip. For example, the park often offers discounted tickets and hotel rates for weekday stays.

Entertainment Options on Weekends

While weekdays may offer lower crowds and discounts, weekends can provide a different type of experience for families with small children. Disneyland typically offers more entertainment options on weekends, including parades, shows, and special events.

Families can also enjoy extended park hours on weekends, which means more time to explore the park and all it has to offer. However, it is important to note that weekends can be significantly more crowded than weekdays, which may mean longer wait times for attractions and more time spent navigating through crowds.

Overall, whether to visit Disneyland on a weekday or a weekend depends on the priorities of the family. Those who want to avoid crowds and save money may prefer weekdays, while those who want more entertainment options and longer park hours may prefer weekends.

Daily Timing Strategies

Park Opening Hours

One of the best ways to maximize your visit to Disneyland with small children is to arrive early. The park typically opens at 8:00 AM, but it's recommended to arrive at least 30 minutes before the opening time. This will give you enough time to park, go through security, and get to the entrance before the park opens.

Once inside, head straight to the most popular attractions such as Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. These areas tend to get crowded quickly, so it's best to ride them early in the day. If you have young children, you should also consider visiting the park during the weekdays when the crowds are smaller.

Typical Schedule for Families

Families with small children should plan their day around nap times and meals. It's important to take breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge. Here's a typical schedule for families with small children:

  • 8:00 AM - Arrive at the park and head to the most popular attractions
  • 10:00 AM - Take a break and have a snack
  • 11:00 AM - Visit the attractions in Fantasyland and Toontown
  • 12:00 PM - Have lunch and take a break
  • 1:00 PM - Visit the attractions in Adventureland and Frontierland
  • 2:00 PM - Take a break and have a snack
  • 3:00 PM - Visit the attractions in Tomorrowland and Mickey's Toontown
  • 4:00 PM - Take a break and have a snack
  • 5:00 PM - Watch the parade or catch a show
  • 6:00 PM - Have dinner and take a break
  • 7:00 PM - Visit the attractions in Fantasyland and Toontown
  • 8:00 PM - Watch the fireworks show

By following this schedule, families can ensure that they get to experience all of the major attractions while still allowing time for rest and meals. It's important to remember that this is just a suggested schedule and families should adjust it based on their own needs and preferences.

Special Events and Seasons

Families enjoying Disneyland during peak seasons with small children

Halloween Time

For families with small children, Halloween Time at Disneyland can be a fun and exciting experience. The park is decorated with spooky decorations and there are special Halloween-themed events, such as Mickey's Halloween Party. During this event, children can dress up in costumes and trick-or-treat throughout the park.

It is important to note that some of the decorations and events may be too scary for very young children. Parents should use their discretion when deciding if their child is ready for Halloween Time at Disneyland.

Holiday Season

The holiday season is a magical time to visit Disneyland with small children. The park is decorated with festive decorations and there are special holiday-themed events, such as the Christmas Fantasy Parade and "it's a small world" Holiday.

In addition, there are special holiday treats and merchandise available throughout the park. However, it is important to note that the park can be very crowded during the holiday season, so parents should plan accordingly.

Off-Season Events

While Disneyland is known for its special events during peak seasons, there are also off-season events that can be enjoyable for families with small children. For example, the Lunar New Year celebration in January and February features special food, entertainment, and decorations.

In addition, the Food and Wine Festival in the spring offers unique culinary experiences for adults, while still providing plenty of family-friendly activities. These off-season events can be a great way to experience Disneyland without the crowds and long lines.

Age-Specific Attractions

Toddler-Friendly Rides

One of the most exciting things about Disneyland is the abundance of rides and attractions for kids of all ages. However, not all rides are suitable for toddlers. Luckily, Disneyland has plenty of rides that are perfect for little ones.

One of the most popular toddler-friendly rides is "It's a Small World." This slow boat ride takes you through a world of singing dolls, representing different countries and cultures from around the world. Toddlers will love the bright colors and catchy song, while parents will appreciate the chance to sit down and relax for a few minutes.

Another great option for toddlers is the "Dumbo the Flying Elephant" ride. Kids can sit in one of the elephant-shaped cars and control how high they go as they fly through the air. This ride is perfect for parents with young children who want to experience the thrill of a ride without anything too scary.

Shows and Parades for Young Kids

In addition to rides, Disneyland also offers plenty of shows and parades that are perfect for young children. One of the most popular shows is "Disney Junior Dance Party!" This interactive show features characters from popular Disney Junior shows like "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" and "Doc McStuffins." Toddlers will love dancing along with their favorite characters and singing along to the catchy tunes.

Another must-see for young kids is the "Disneyland Parade." This parade features all of your favorite Disney characters, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Cinderella, and Buzz Lightyear. Toddlers will love seeing their favorite characters up close and dancing along to the music.

Overall, Disneyland offers plenty of age-specific attractions for toddlers and young children. With so many options to choose from, parents can rest assured that their little ones will have a magical time at the happiest place on earth.

Practical Tips for Parents

Families enjoying Disneyland at sunrise and sunset, avoiding midday crowds. Children laughing on gentle rides and meeting characters

Stroller Rentals

Disneyland can be a tiring experience for small children, so it's a good idea to rent a stroller for the day. Strollers can be rented at the Disneyland Resort Main Entrance, and at the Pixar Pals Parking Structure. The cost is $15 per day for a single stroller or $35 per day for a double stroller. It's important to note that strollers cannot be taken outside of the Disneyland Resort.

Baby Care Centers

The Baby Care Centers located in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park are a great resource for parents with small children. These centers offer private nursing rooms, changing tables, high chairs, and a feeding area with a microwave and sink. They also sell baby food, formula, diapers, and other baby essentials.

Using Rider Switch

Rider Switch is a great feature for parents with small children who are too small or scared to ride certain attractions. One parent can wait with the child while the other rides, and then they can switch places without having to wait in line again. Simply ask a Cast Member at the attraction entrance for a Rider Switch pass. It's important to note that the Rider Switch pass is only valid for up to three people, so plan accordingly.

By following these practical tips, parents can make their visit to Disneyland with small children a more enjoyable experience.

Dining Options for Families

Character Dining Experiences

Disneyland offers a range of character dining experiences that are perfect for families with small children. These experiences allow children to meet and interact with their favorite Disney characters while enjoying a meal. Some of the popular character dining options include:

  • Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park: Enjoy a breakfast buffet while meeting Minnie and her friends at the Plaza Inn.
  • Ariel's Grotto: Meet Ariel and her princess friends while enjoying a three-course meal at this restaurant in Disney California Adventure Park.
  • Goofy's Kitchen: Meet Goofy and his friends while enjoying a buffet-style meal at the Disneyland Hotel.

It is recommended to make reservations for these experiences in advance as they can be quite popular.

Kid-Friendly Restaurants

There are also many kid-friendly restaurants throughout Disneyland that offer a range of cuisines and dining options. Some of the popular options include:

  • Pizza Port: Located in Tomorrowland, this restaurant offers pizza, pasta, and salads.
  • Carnation Cafe: This restaurant on Main Street USA offers American comfort food such as burgers, sandwiches, and salads.
  • Rancho del Zocalo: This Mexican restaurant in Frontierland offers tacos, burritos, and other Mexican dishes.

Many of these restaurants also offer kids' meals and special dietary options. It is recommended to check the Disneyland app or website for menus and dining options before visiting.

Accommodation Advice

When traveling with small children to Disneyland, choosing the right accommodation can make a big difference in the overall experience. Here are some tips to help families decide between on-site and off-site hotels, as well as what room requirements and amenities to look for.

On-Site vs Off-Site Hotels

Staying on-site at a Disneyland hotel can have its advantages, such as early admission to the parks, proximity to the parks, and Disney-themed rooms. However, on-site hotels can also come with a higher price tag. Off-site hotels can offer more affordable options and may include free breakfast or shuttle service to the parks. Families should weigh the benefits and costs of each option before making a decision.

Room Requirements and Amenities

When booking a hotel, families with small children should consider room requirements and amenities. Some hotels offer rooms with bunk beds or sofa beds, which can be helpful for families with more than two children. In-room refrigerators can also be useful for storing snacks and drinks for the kids. Additionally, hotels with pools and play areas can provide entertainment for children when they need a break from the parks.

Overall, when choosing accommodation for a Disneyland trip with small children, families should consider factors such as cost, proximity to the parks, room requirements, and amenities. By doing so, they can ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay for the whole family.