One of the most common questions I received when I announced my first Disneyland trip with me and my son was, ‘Wait, you're going alone?' It can be daunting to take on the challenge of Disneyland as a single parent (or traveling alone with your kids for whatever reason- single parent or not!) on a vacation but when it comes to the Happiest Place on Earth it is entirely possible. All you need is some planning, patience, and pixie dust to have a magical vacation even if you're the only adult along for the ride. Here are my top five tips for any parent looking to visit Disneyland with their kids without having another parent or companion there to help!
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1. Plan in Advance
So much of the success of my first time taking my son to Disneyland alone was due to the amount of planning I did in advance. I researched everything from hotel safety to park tips to what to bring into the park. It took so much of the stress off my shoulders when I felt truly prepared for any catastrophe that might come my way. And catastrophes can happen, even on vacation!
One of the hardest things about traveling alone with your kids is that no one else is around to give you a break if you need one. It is all resting on your shoulders from the moment you pack your bags to when you return home. Being prepared is essential for any successful trip but it is necessary for any parent traveling alone with their children. I recommend starting with our Disneyland Trip Guide which includes all the information you need to know for visiting Disneyland as a single parent.
2. Utilize MaxPass and Mobile Ordering
MaxPass is a required splurge when I visit Disneyland alone with my son. It makes life so much easier to be able to book FastPass reservations on my phone. If you are the only adult traveling with kids, you don't have an extra person to send to grab FastPasses and without MaxPass you'd have to drag the kids to each FastPass distribution point throughout the day. Those little legs do double the amount of walking we do- any way to cut back on their walking will be in your best interests.
Another great reason for MaxPass? The unlimited PhotoPass downloads! You won't have to worry about asking random people to take your picture- the PhotoPass photographers will do it for you and you will get high quality pictures.
As for Mobile Ordering, any way to beat the lines is essential when visiting Disneyland as a single parent. And even more crucial when traveling alone. Again, you don't have an extra person to send to grab food while one of you grabs a table with the kids. Learn how to use Mobile Ordering (it's free!) and you will thank yourself later.
3. Be Prepared to Ride What Your Kid Wants to Ride!
This seems pretty self explanatory so let me elaborate here. You don't have another adult to take kids on rides that you don't want to go on. And you don't have another adult to stay with the kids so you can ride things they don't want to! You and your kiddos are in this together! This will differ based on age and the child's sense of thrill but it's good to come prepared knowing what rides you both will enjoy. And what ones you will have to endure for the sake of your child's happiness.
Case in point, this past summer at Disneyland my eight year old son convinced me to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! with him even though I hate rides with big drops. Well, I still feel like I owe a few more apologies to the teens sitting near me with the amount of shrill screaming I did. But guess what? If your kiddo is seven and up, along with meeting the height requirement, they can ride alone! So when it came to the Incredicoaster (I'm a wuss- I don't do upside down rides either!) I was able to stand in line with him until he boarded, get him settled on the ride, and wait for him by the exit. We did this multiple times with no issues. Something to consider if your kid is braver than you!
4. Utilize the Dining Packages
When it's just you and your kid(s), you don't have another adult to go save a spot for shows while one takes the kids to ride attractions. It's all on you to save a spot and keep everyone entertained. The best way to make that experience less stressful? Splurge for a dining package and spoil yourself.
It's our tradition for every trip when we see Fantasmic! to book the Blue Bayou Fantasmic! Dining Package. We enjoy a great dinner, my son eats plenty of food, and I know we have a reserved spot for the show. The bonus of watching the first showing of Fantasmic! is that you are totally set up to see the fireworks after which is great when traveling solo with kids. You get two things crossed off your list with ease.
5. Strive for Convenience to Stay Relaxed
Everyone's situation will feel different but for me as a woman traveling alone with her child, I always strive for safety and convenience when I visit Disneyland as a single parent. I always try pick hotels that feel safe (luckily, I think the close proximity around the Disneyland Resort is quite safe) and are close to the park. In addition to picking a hotel that feels safe and close, I always like picking a hotel with a breakfast option so we can eat breakfast before we get to Disneyland. This scratches another thing off my list before we even leave which is great. The last two visits we stayed at the Clarion because it's so budget friendly but also for the free breakfast option we got for booking with our travel partner Get Away Today. I also like to use the ART bus system that goes between all the hotels and Disneyland rather than walking. This helps me save energy, the bus system works great, and then we don't have to walk back at night alone.
It is entirely possible to take a trip to Disneyland with your kids as the only adult and still have a fantastic trip. One thing I love about doing these trips alone with my son is the one on one time we get. With no distractions we really get a chance to bond and create memories he will remember for the rest of his life.
Ready To Plan Your Trip to Disneyland as a Single Parent?
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You can discover more about planning your trip to Disneyland on a budget from these links:
- California Adventure Touring Strategy: Guide to Maximize Your Mornings
- Disneyland Morning Touring Strategy: Guide to Maximize Your Mornings
- How to Plan Your Disneyland Trip
- Lamplight Lounge Dining Review
- 40+ Places to Find Cheap Food in Disneyland