Posted in Family

Taking your preschooler to Disneyland

We’ve been taking our girls to Disneyland since our oldest daughter was just 15 months old. Since then, we’ve been hitting the parks with both of our kids on a regular basis. Our oldest daughter is now eight years old, and our younger daughter is four. Our older daughter is fearless and will try anything. Our younger daughter is much more cautious and timid. Regardless, taking them to Disneyland at early ages has been such an awesome thing for us, and given us really precious memories.

We’ve heard friends that think they must wait until their child gets older before taking them to Disneyland. But in our opinion and experience, taking your preschooler to Disneyland is a must. There’s so much for them to see and do, and you can really get the best value at Disneyland when your kids are this young.

On a recent trip to Disneyland, we were reminded about all the things you can do with a preschool-aged child. From Character dining to the Hollywood Backlot, every corner of the park has something just for these curious kids.

Addie, our youngest, hasn’t had as many Disney experiences as her big sister. Their awe and wonder and shared interests are still plentiful enough that we haven’t needed to split up as much as we thought. It wasn’t until this trip that we realized how much they both still love seeing the Characters. And Emma, our eight-year-old, gets to experience the magic with us through the eyes of a four-year-old all over again. Regardless of their age difference, the magic that lit up their faces was still there. There was a moment when both Doug and I had tears in our eyes when we saw the legitimate joy in both of them.

We like to start our trip with a Character dining experience at Goofy’s Kitchen. The Characters come by and try to eat your breakfast, or take your ears, which our kids think is hilarious. They asked asked for autographs to fill their books and took time to pose for multiple photographs. In true Disney fashion, there was something for everyone to eat from the buffet, including cakepops for breakfast!

After a fun breakfast, we make our way into the park. Walking down Main Street, U.S.A into Fantasyland is still my favorite way to enter Disneyland. Who wouldn’t be in awe of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle? Fantasyland can be one of the busiest areas of the park. But it also has the most rides for our preschoolers. If you’re staying at one of the Disney hotels, or have a minimum 3-day park pass, make sure you take advantage of early admission options, which gives you a full hour entrance into the park before the rest of the guests are allowed in. Aside from some longer lines at Peter Pan (the most popular attraction in Fantasyland), you’ll accomplish a lot in that first hour before the park gets more crowded. Both of my girls were beaming when they saw Dumbo, their favorite ride in Fantasyland still to this day. Fantasyland brings all of our favorite classic Disney movies to life. This area is great because you can really utilize your time best here. If one ride’s line is too long, another ride is right next door to try instead.

One of the special treats planned for this trip was a visit to the Bippity Boppity Boutique for Addie and Jedi training for Emma. Neither of my girls have ever experienced these things before and couldn’t wait for our reservation time. While our oldest daughter was off to Jedi Training, Addie got to get her hair and nails done. I was a little apprehensive going in, but she loved it. They make every little girl (and boy) feel like a true princess. If you want to incorporate this into your trip, you’ll need to make a reservation far in advance.

Doug took Emma over to check in for Jedi Training. Emma was nervous. But she can’t wait to do it again. She says fighting Darth Vader was a little scary, because he was so much bigger in real life. The kids get to wear a Jedi robe, are handed a light saber, and get instructed in some basic moves they end up using to face and defeat Vader or another character from the Dark Side. Jedi Training has become so popular at Disneyland, it now has it’s own reservation system too. Get to the park early on the day you want to participate, head over to Tomorrowland Expo, just to the right of Autopia. There you can sign up to be part of one of the daily shows. You must have your child with you at the time you sign up. If the time slots are full, they have a waiting list, and frequently pull from it when other families don’t show up.

The kids got to make peanut butter and jelly pizzas with Disney Chefs and cook them in a Magic Oven at PCH Grill in the Paradise Pier Hotel. They have a very casual dining option which is perfect after a long day in the park. Although making pizzas isn’t available as a typical option yet, your family can experience Jr. Chef at the Food & Wine festival starting March 10, 2017 at the Food & Wine festival in Disney California Adventure.

Our second day in the park was just as magical. We started off with Mickey waffles from Tangaroa Terrace before heading into California Adventure for the day. Tangaroa Terrace is a quick serve option by the pools at the Disneyland Hotel, and is perfect if you’re up early and ready to get going. We’ve found that if we don’t eat before going into the park, it can throw off the schedule for the rest of our day. After breakfast, we met up with our friends Emelia, Half Crazy Mama, and waited for the Disney Junior Live on Stage! show to begin.

I love watching my kids as they fully immerse in the lives of their favorite Disney Junior friends. When the Gold Doubloons fall from the sky, ever child is on their feet singing to Jake and the Neverland Pirates. I don’t think it matters what age you are, this show is really for everyone. We’re still at the age where Doc, Sophia, Jake, and of course, Mickey are still in our living rooms each day. It was especially exciting when we know we were going to meet Anna & Elsa next. Even my eight year old couldn’t contain her excitement when seeing her favorite Frozen sisters.

After a visit with Anna & Elsa in the Animation Building, we walked across the street to meet a couple of our favorite Super Heroes. Both Spider-Man and Captain America were waiting on Sunset Boulevard. You can find out the time and place for Character meet and greets in the Disneyland App. The app is really helpful for schedules and times, and for planning out the rest of your day. You can find ride wait times, make dining reservations, look up entertainment options, and most importantly… find your nearest restroom!

The girls wore their new Spider-Man t-shirts, but they were in even more awe of Captain America. Feeling like they had their own super powers, we thought it was time to hit up our favorite ride in California Adventure, Toy Story Mania. We all love it. Our four year old is getting better and better each time we visit. This family-friendly 3D arcade-style ride is a must.

It’s so hard to leave Disneyland after a fantastic trip. We are annual passholders so we try to go as often as we can. For those of you who live in Southern California and want to take your preschooler to the park for the first time, now’s a great time to do so. Disney has a special offer for So Cal residence now through May 29th.

We had a fantastic time. Seeing Disney through the eyes of our four year old brings us so much joy. Disneyland makes it so easy for families to visit. Not only do they have Baby Care centers for families who need changing tables, privacy for feeding your babies, or extra diapers for sale if you forget to bring extra. They also have kid-friendly meals that any preschooler will enjoy. Knowing these services are available can really make a trip with a preschooler stress-free. Download the app before you go and start planning your trip now!

Disclosure: We were hosted by Disneyland to share our preschool experience. Tickets and accommodations were provided by Disney. All opinions are my own.

Skin cancer and how we’re fight it

About a year ago my mother had a small spot on her lip. We really didn’t think anything of it and she had been to the doctor several times. It wasn’t until I noticed the spot growing rapidly that I forced her to see a dermatologist. He was pretty confident it was Basal Cell Carcinoma but would confirm with a biopsy. Regardless of what it was, it would need to be removed.

On Christmas eve, her doctor called with the results of her biopsy. It wasn’t BCC after all but Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Although non-melonma, it’s still a dangerous cancer because it can spread to the tissues, bones, and lymph nodes. SCC tends to be an aggressive cancer. Once diagnosed, it’s important to get it taken care of quickly. Since her diagnosis, she’s had two surgeries and is now in the prevention phase of skin cancer.  continued

The True Magic of Disneyland

Using anything “Disney” and “magic” in the same sentence can sometimes feel cliché to me, especially when I’ve written so much about Disneyland over the past few years. Regardless, I’d like to go back and recount two stories I’ve shared verbally with friends many times, where our family actually witnessed some of that magic Walt intended for visitors to his park. continued

2016: Where do we go from here?

Happy New Year! Yep, it’s January 18th and I’ve been silent for a very long time around here. Mainly because I haven’t been sure about what I want to do with this space. For many of us, 2016 was a year full of high’s and low’s. From the election, health issues, changing ventures, and moving again… I just don’t know where to begin. So I won’t. I would prefer to sweep it all under the rug and focus on what’s to come. Goodbye 2016… at times, you were not the best. Which brings me to 2017… continued

Fresh

Today is a fresh start. A fresh start for writing and bringing back to life the passion that might have been misplaced for a while. Over a year ago, we decided to make some pretty big changes for our family. We were nervous, but thrilled. We relocated and have been busy ever since. I also co-founded a company that didn’t go in the direction we thought it would. After many sleepless nights, I decided to choose joy and find my happy place again.

Close some doors.  Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because they no longer lead you anywhere. -Paulo Coelho

Sometimes being an adult sucks. Making hard decisions is never fun. But at the end of the day, I am much happier now than I have been in a very long time. continued

Halloween at Disneyland

Fall is my favorite time of year. Our kids are back in school and the holidays are just around the corner. We’ve been going to Disneyland around Halloween each year for the last several years. This will be our third year attending Mickey’s Halloween party. For us, this is a great way to start the fall festivities.

HALLOWEEN TIME AT THE DISNEYLAND RESORT (ANAHEIM, Calif.) - The Diamond Celebration continues as guests celebrate Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort from Sept. 11 through Nov. 1, 2015 with dazzling entertainment and decor, in addition to the return of Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. This year, the family-friendly Mickey’s Halloween Party expands to 17 nights throughout the season at Disneyland park, where guests are invited to trick-or-treat in costume, celebrate with favorite Disney Characters and enjoy special presentations of the “Halloween Screams” fireworks spectacular and the all-new “Paint the Night” parade. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

Mickey’s Halloween Party is Disneyland’s annual Halloween event. This year, there are 17 dates available from September 11–November 1. Tickets for the event are on sale now. If you’ve been thinking about going, make sure you get your ticket sooner than later. They sell out fast. continued

Disney On Ice: Let’s Celebrate coming to the Bay Area!

Tracking PixelDisneyOnIce

Disney On Ice is coming back to the Bay Area with a new holiday show, Let’s Celebrate. I was thrilled when we were offered tickets to take the girls to see it. This new show, Disney On Ice, Let’s Celebrate is a great way to see all your Disney favorites in one place. If you haven’t been to a Disney On Ice show, this show could make you take the leap. Or if you’re a fan already, you’ll really like how much they’re changing things up. continued

About me

Cam Bowman @CamBowman
Stay-at-home mother of two, wife, blogger, amateur photographer. Former flight attendant. Lover of all things Disney. Living the dream.
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I wrote a book about Disneyland

101 Disneyland Tips is available in paperback, Kindle, and many other eBook editions.

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