Taking an 18 Month Old to Disneyland: Part 1

After a request for tips on Disney travel I started writing down what I assumed was a limited amount of information, but it just kept growing, so here is part 1!

Now that we are clearly experts since we have taken our single child to Disneyland one time, I thought I would venture forth on our tips for taking a squrimy, wild, non verbal, walking child to the happiest place on earth!

Disney Prep:

Obviously at this young age, Eli isn’t going to have any idea what it means for us to say “We’re going to Disneyland!!” so our method of prep wasn’t a build up surprise, but getting him comfortable with Disney life.  We tried to focus on shows, movies, books that corresponded with rides or main characters.  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Cars, The Little Mermaid.  I didn’t want Eli to be afraid of the chairacters, so anything that I could think of that would make him more comfortable in the park, I tried.  He has a stuffed Mickey and we had him hold hands with Mickey, give kisses, basically stress that Mickey is a friend.

We tried to pack as light as possible:

no toys, totally unnnecessary

extra set of clothing for each person


(We stayed off property, if we had stayed on property where stocking up on snacks and milk would be more challenging, I would have brought more snacks and those Horizon shelf stable milks)

*What I would have done different?

Packed more clothes, it was quite hot when we went (mid 90s with about 50-60% humidity) therefore when we went back to the room to rest, it would have been nice to change each day.

Airplane Ride:

It’s tempting to rent a stroller there so that you have less to travel with, but they are free to fly with, they cost money to rent, AND do you really want to try to get through airport security and to your gate while chasing your toddler or trying to carry them when they want to run? No, just no.

We lucked out on our flight and for 3 out of the 4 legs of our flight, the plane wasn’t full and we were able to give Eli his own seat (in case you haven’t heard before, children under 2 can fly for FREE!! on your lap).  However, even when he was on our lap, he did great because we had a…. wait for it…. IPAD with us.   Listen, whether you’re against or for screentime, if your child likes tv or movie,s do yourself and your fellow passengers a favor and download something for your precious offspring to watch.

In regards to the above “tip” Eli’s attention span was not long enough for an entire movie, up until about a month ago, we started playing Disney movies in the background while we were playing and he started to love them more and more, moving up to  sitting still for almost an entire movie!  Train your baby to sit for hours in front of a screen! 🙂

Couple things about boarding the plane; before we boarded the plane, we would ask if the flight was full, if it was, Kenny would board early and get us settled while I let Eli run around until we could be the last ones to board.  Letting Eli get out his wiggles and thus spend less time crammed into a plane seat with his parents.  On the flights that weren’t full, we opted to all three take advantage of the young children boarding early and get settled into a row that allowed us to steal a seat.  This way people would walk right by us thinking that all three seats were ours, instead pf hoping no one would try to sit by us and letting an empty seat on the plane just go to someone’s laptop case.

Our flight to Anaheim had a layover in which we were just picking up people, no plane change.   Typically no one is allowed to get off the plane in these kind of situtaions, however during our layover, I simply politly asked the flight attendants if I could go change Eli’s diaper in the airport versus that super tiny airplane bathroom stall.  It never hurts to ask about something that makes your travel a little easier; as someone that works in the service industry, I want to give polite people anything they ask for simply because I want to reward polite people.  Niceness works wonders on everyone.

As far as carry-on bags go, don’t bother.  I have never had a bag lost, so this is obviously something that some people won’t feel comfortable with, but travelling is a breeze the less stuff you have.  We traveled the flight with my big purse, the stroller and a backpack for Eli.  Easy, breezy!

In Eli’s backpack: extra clothes, lots of diapers, wipes, snacks (goldfish, fruit leather, chocolate chips, pistachios, graham crackers, squeezy packs), juice, milk, water, books, pill box (put snacks in there, Eli loves to open and close things), that weird golf tee game from cracker barrel, ipad, headphones (headphones, not earbuds, we got the kid ones from Target that don’t allow the volume up to high), blankie, stuffed animal.  *a quick note: food/drinks for infants are exempt from the 3oz fluid rule, but they do need to be heavily examined by security, so allow extra time.

*Different? not packed squeezy packets… or packed extra clothes for myself… or perhaps just not have set it on my seat while looking for the lid and then sat on it, exploding a brown colored squeezy packet, all over my backside and seat 🙂 live and learn!

*At a baseball game earlier this summer, a mom gave a fussy Eli a dum dum and it kept him still and content for 25 minutes!  I spaced and didn’t pack these, but I would next time.


If your child isn’t used to sleeping in a pack and play, do yourself a huge favor and practice.  Disneyland is exhausting, teach your child to be comfortable somewhere other than in their own crib.  It took us severeal out of town trips before Eli was good to go in a pack and play.

If your kid loves to swim, go to the pool.  It can be hard to miss Disney time, but one of my favorite parts from the trip was the hour we spent in the hotel pool.

Tune in tomorrow for the actual park tips!


It’s going to be full of pictures, but the absolute best pictures because it’s all Disneyland!    IMG_2364IMG_2487

Kenny was gifted this amazing, super generous trip to Disneyland and we could not have been more excited or grateful to take Eli to one of our most favorite places.  We were extra pumped that my parents came down to Disneyland as well; it’s amazing to not only have extra hands, but we were also able to sneak away for the “e-ticket” rides as well.  The first day was a stressful travel day and we ended up in the ER!! that night, but everything ended up being all good (a possible shouder/elbow dislocation, that resolved in the cab to the hospital).  We got really lucky with our plane rides though and had an extra seat to stick little man in, between that and the iPad, flying was a dream!


Eli was so much fun and was way more into everything that I had expected.  He loved the characters and got super into the immersive rides, like finding nemo and the little mermaid (so much that he now enjoys the little mermaid)

IMG_2394 IMG_2448 IMG_2389 IMG_2446 IMG_2443 IMG_2384 IMG_2379 IMG_2371 IMG_2401 IMG_3353 IMG_3354 IMG_2529 IMG_2537 IMG_2549 IMG_2532

It was amazing to watch him grow up by practicing patience and learning that he doesn’t get everything he wants whenever he wants.  We only had a couple of little fits, but for the most part he was wonderful to take and I can’t wait to go back with him.