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Disneyland Recap: Our first trip (and going pregnant)

When we were in Disneyland I received a lot of messages from people wanting to hear any tips and tricks for going our first's a little late, but here it is! I tried to make any tips BOLD so that they are easier to find if you want to just scroll through quickly. I know this post is long winded.

We went for Sloan's third birthday and at the time I think I was around 14 weeks pregnant...maybe earlier. Needless to say the below pictures show me looking beat, and it's not from Disney. Ha.

I think one of the hardest parts was not being able to carry Sloan as much, and I would get really intense almost like a contraction feeling when I pushed the heavy stroller for a long period of time. Chris ended up carrying Sloan a lot on the second day and pushing the stroller almost all day too! The second day was a long one for him.

Anyway, we knew Sloan would absolutely love it (what kid doesn't) because he was super into Halloween and obsessed with all things "Cars". I showed him several youtube videos of Cars Land at California Adventure so he was so pumped up.

Disneyland App:

First things first, before you even arrive to your hotel, download the Disneyland app. It doesn't cost anything yet it is very helpful. Here you can:
  • see wait times for rides - so important
  • see height requirements for rides - great when you have a toddler
  • see if a ride is ok for pregnancy 
  • book reservations for food
  • upload your tickets so you never have to search around for them
  • buy a fast pass ticket for $10.00 (so you don't have to wait in lines)
  • keep track of any photos you take in the park with a professional photographer
I'm a nerd when it comes to things like this. I prep before I even get to a place so I don't waste time while I'm there researching stuff. I knew using the app a week before which rides I could ride pregnant, and which rides Sloan could ride with his height. 

I also used the app all day. When we were in a line for a ride, I was on the app planning out the next ride. It made things go much smoother. I'll dive more into this below. 

What to pack (this isn't everything, just a few things that I was glad to have):
  • Layers for kids and parents (light sweatshirts and sweats {my favorite joggers for kids latelyfor the kids are perfect)
  • Extra set of clothes in your backpack (I love this backpack- it's light and cute- here is the link to the black one) for the kids - there are rides where you get wet and if you really needed to you could swap out their pants so they don't get cold, throw on that sweatshirt if you're staying late
  • Comfortable shoes (love these shoes for Sloan)
  • Bathing suit if you're going to the pool at your hotel
  • Snacks and Waters- the lines can be really long at Disneyland for food. Sloan went through his snacks and it was hard waiting for an hour for food.
  • STROLLER even if you don't use it a ton at home - Chris did not understand why we would be bringing our stroller into the park and then about an hour in he was saying, Thank God we brought this stroller :) and it honestly wasn't a pain to navigate or park. I heard horror stories around that and it was totally fine. Here is the stroller we used. 
  • Light blanket, swaddle blanket, etc. Sloan passed out in the stroller around lunch and we threw the blanket over the stroller and were able to have lunch while he napped
  • glow in the dark toys that are super expensive in the park, but cheap at Target- I bought a few Mickey glow in the dark headbands that were fun
What ticket to buy:

Again, after a lot of research I decided to go with a 2 day Hopper Pass

In hindsight, we probably didn't need a 2 day hopper. We could have gotten away with 1 full day at Disneyland, and 1 day hopper pass that allowed us to go to California Adventure and Disneyland. We spent a majority of time at Disneyland because California Adventure only has a few things for the little ones. After we made it over to California Adventure to Cars Land for Sloan (and the Monster Inc. ride), we didn't really need to be over there anymore. There wasn't much else for him to do. I know there is the famous "Frozen" show here so you would want to hit that up too if you're heading over there. 

Where to stay:

We wanted to stay in a Disney themed hotel, we just weren't sure which one. I researched all three Disney Resorts and decided on the Disneyland Hotel. The reason for this is because it was the most "Disney" hotel out of all three resorts. I watched a few youtube videos on all of them. It is not the cheapest option by a long shot. Other reasons we picked the hotel were it's proximity to the park since I was pregnant, and in case our family needed to go back to the room for a break. The Disneyland hotel was extremely close to the park and definitely worth it in our eyes. 

Right when we walked up there were several characters there to greet us. This was awesome because we immediately could check these characters off Sloan's list of a meet and greet. 

You also get "magic hour" with your stay which means at the Disneyland Park you can go in an hour earlier than the public. Great for skipping those longer lines.

We arrived a little early so our room wasn't quite ready yet, so we headed to the pool. The pool is massive with waterslides, etc. and so fun for the littles. 

Downtown Disney after dinner


That night we did dinner in Downtown Disney (side note: Downton Disney is a secured area where you will need to be prepared to have all your bags checked, stroller checked, etc. to get in and out of) which was steps from our hotel. At this time I did not book a reservation which was a bad call. Had no idea how booked the restaurants got. We got lucky and walked up to Cafe Orleans and were able to sit at the bar. The food was great and everyone was happy. There is a kids meal offered at every one of these restaurants which is awesome. 

This is where the app comes in handy. You can book your dinner reservations at any of the Downton Disney restaurants ahead of time. 

The next day was Sloan's actual birthday so we splurged and took him to Goofy's Kitchen which had all the characters. Not only did he get to meet all the characters, but they also brought him out a cupcake and pin + sang Happy Birthday. 

There is also a large Starbucks on your way through Downtown Disney to get to the park. This is a great place to stop for an inexpensive-quick- breakfast before heading into the park. We did this the second day and it was great. 

There are of course places to eat outside of Downtown Disney, but we never went back to our car which was awesome. We just ate whatever they had around the hotel. 

Heading into the park:

From breakfast, we walked over to Downtown Disney and took the Monorail into the park. They check your ticket before you get onto the Monorail so you won't need to get it out again once in the park. It dropped us off right at the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. We immediately hopped on this ride since it was right in front of us. 

We did a ton of rides on that side of the park. The lines were still very short because it was early in the day. It wasn't bad at all. At that time I also was picking our next ride using the Disneyland app fast pass function. 

Note on the Fast Pass: 
  1. You can only book ONE ride at a time using the app so choose wisely :) It allows you to pick a time to come back to a ride from anywhere in the park - awesome. 
  2. There are not that many rides that take Fast Pass but it is still worth it. Some of the big ones for us were the Haunted Mansion - which I couldn't believe how well Sloan did with it. The line had to have been over an hour and a half and we walked right to the front using Fast Pass. That was pretty much worth the $10 right there!

The one mistake I think we made this day was meeting "Mickey" at Mickey's house. We waited for an hour to meet him. We did see Mickey only one or two more times in the 2 days that we were at Disney so perhaps it was a good call, but it still was a long wait for a meet/greet and photo. Sloan was pretty antsy in that line: 

The highlight of this day for Sloan was 100% seeing the Pixar Parade. I would highly suggest getting a good spot at least a half an hour- or more- before the parade starts! I'm so happy we did and that would be something I would do again. You see all the famous Pixar characters - which Sloan loves.

During the parade, I set us up using Fast Pass to ride Haunted Mansion right after. It was a breeze like I said earlier in the post, we just walked up and got onto the ride. This was a ride that is listed as "safe for pregnancy" but I will still a little bit worried to ride. Once I got on I realized it was fine...

After our day at Disneyland we headed over for the rest of the day to California Adventure Park. Sloan got to meet McQueen even though we waited in line to see Mater for a half an hour and they pulled Mater away right when we were heading up to take a pic :( 

At this point, everyone was BEAT. We only did Monsters Inc. ride because we knew we had a hopper and could come back the next day. We headed back towards our hotel and rested and then went to dinner at Tortilla Joe's in Downton Disney. 

We should have just turned in for the night after dinner. Everyone was tired after a long day, BUT, we knew Disneyland was closing at 7PM the next day for a special Mickey Halloween Party so if we wanted to see the big light show this was our moment. 

We packed up and headed to the show. 

Here is where we made the mistake:

If you want to see the Fantasmic Nighttime Show‎- make sure you get a fast pass hours before the show or you will not have any place to see it. The staff is not messing around on this. If you try and stop they will not let you watch the show. Get one earlier in the day at Frontier Land. This is not a Fast Pass you can get on your Disneyland app. 

Because we didn't have a fast pass we had no place to see the show. We found a super sketchy spot to stand and put Sloan on Chris' shoulders, but he still couldn't see much. We did not stay long and headed out. 

Second Day:

Our second day we walked to the front of the park and took the train. Sloan loves trains so we thought he would be really into that. It drops you off all over the park. I don't think we realized this until this moment. I highly recommend using the train if your family is tired from a day of walking. It's very convenient. Oh, don't leave your stroller so that you can get off the train in another area of the park. Pack it up with you onto the train. 

We hit up all the kids rides on this day at Disneyland - checked them all off the list. The famous kids rides do not have fast passes. Sloan was not into the long lines. Dumbo was a longer one and he had a hard time with it! 

This particular day we had lunch planned at Club 33. We came into a reservation through Chris' work so we took it. It was very kid friendly despite being an upscale lunch. The food was delicious. 

We were done with all the Disneyland rides, so we headed over to California Adventure Park. The rest of the day was spent in Cars Land (being pregnant - all of these rides worried me- most were fine but they were so jarring and jolty that I decided against them). Again we had a very hard time with the lines here. Each Cars Land line was an hour and it was so hard to keep Sloan put! He did get a new toy in Cars Land which did keep him busy for a bit. 

Line tips:
  • Snacks
  • Pack a small bag of toys, book, anything they may distract them and keep them busy
  • If the kids are a little bit older, we saw people playing "Heads Up" on their cell phones which seemed to keep the kids busy
  • We did see some parents splitting up and taking a kid out of line and then meeting the other parent at the front of the line. That didn't always look convenient because you had to sometimes have staff let you in at the front. 
  • We saw people bring their strollers in the line so the kid could at least sit the entire line. Once they got to the front they passed their stroller to the staff. I don't know how many rides allow this though...

That night we got rained out and ended up going back to the hotel early. 

We had no idea it was going to rain but it wasn't that big of a deal because we were (semi) close to the hotel. We grabbed cheap/fast food at a Earl of Sandwich on our way back through Downtown Disney. It did the trick. 

That's it! Recap of our two days at Disney. All in all we had a GREAT time and we are so happy we did it. Sloan had the best birthday there!

Please let me know if you have any questions that I can answer. Like I said, I did a lot of research before this trip!

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