Disneyland® Resort is the most iconic location for a family vacation. I had never been before, but longed to go since I was a small child. After our son was born, people told us to wait until he was 5 or 8 or even 10 before taking him. However, when we were looking for a family vacation destination that was a short flight from Seattle, Disneyland® Resort kept coming up. So, we threw caution to the wind and booked our tickets.

We had about a month between when we decided to take a vacation to Disneyland® Resort and when we were actually going. It was in this time that we realized our 2-year-old son might not recognize characters at Disneyland® Resort and that really bummed us out. Part of the fun of traveling for me is preparing for the trip, so I was determined to prep my son in all things Disney.

7 Ways to Prep Your Toddler for Disneyland® Resort:

1. Watch Disney Movies

This may seem like a no-brainer. The important thing is to figure out what rides or activities (like Character Dining) you are planning on doing and making sure you show your child movies involving those specific characters. We knew we were going to Cars Land, so we watched Cars and Cars 2 multiple times and it did make our experience there even more fun, especially when we got to meet Lightening McQueen and Mater!

2. Watch Mickey and Minnie Mouse Video Clips

Since these are the main characters at Disneyland® Resort and they are everywhere, it’s nice for your child to understand that they are a big deal. I found a few vintage clips of Mickey Mouse online and would show them to my son on my phone when he needed a distraction. We also found some compilations of Mickey and Friends on Netflix and that gave our son a great overview of the Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto. He really recognized them when we got to Toon Town and was excited to meet Mickey in person!

3. Buy Disney Clothing

I ended up getting my toddler several Mickey shirts, a hat and pajamas a couple of weeks before the trip. He was so excited to see them and it became a game for him to spot Mickey Mouse on his clothing and on other people. This was fun when we got to the park and he was pointing non-stop at people’s clothing shouting “Mickey!” or “Goofy!” This really played into the magic and excitement of being at Disneyland® Resort.

4. Listen to Disney Songs

Again, keep in mind the rides you are planning on doing. Many of them play a well-known song from the movie. The Mad Tea Party ride plays “Mad Tea Party” and Peter Pan’s Flight plays “You can fly, you can fly, you can fly!” Some rides like “it’s a small world” have their own theme music and are easily recognizable.

5. Watch YouTube Videos of the Rides

My toddler is scary good at maneuvering YouTube to watch videos of trains. Somehow he found a video of the Casey Jr. Circus Train and he was entranced. So, I started pulling up videos of other toddler-friendly rides at Disneyland® Resort to gauge his reaction. This helped me figure out which rides he’d like and which he wasn’t that interested in.

6. Hit the Dollar Store

I found soft-cover Disney books (Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book, Peter Pan, etc) as well as hard-cover books about Mickey and Minnie Mouse. These were great as bedtime stories and helped my son identify characters and give some insight on their personalities. They also had Disney coloring books, stickers, crayons, activity books, figurines and more! These were great to take on the airplane and have on-hand in the park so we could distract our son in line.

7. Disney Plushies

I was nervous that my toddler might get scared of the characters at the character meals. I was right. We bought him a plush of the main characters of the Character Dining experiences. We gave them to him ahead of time so he would not only be comfortable and recognize the character. It also gave him something to use to interact with the character. By the end of the trip, he was much more comfortable being around them. He still raves about high-fiving Goofy and Minnie Mouse kissing him.

More posts about Disneyland® Resort

What I Pack in my Diaper Bag for Disneyland® Resort
Disneyland® Resort with a Toddler Tips & Itinerary
Disneyland® Resort Character Meal Review
Anaheim Fairfield Inn at Disneyland® Resort Hotel Review
Disney’s Paradise Pier® Hotel Review
How to Create a Mickey Mouse Collage Picture Frame





  1. essay for you Reply

    Than you fort his tips. This will be very helpful to all of the parents that have still needs guidelines and tips for their children. This will be a good reference for me and we can now enjoy our day at the Disneyland.

    • Marcie in Mommyland Reply

      Thanks! It’s always fun to be extra prepared to get the most out of Disneyland!

  2. Julia Dent Reply

    I went to Disney World as a toddler, and I remember having a great time! The character meals were actually my favorite thing haha

    • Marcie in Mommyland Reply

      Hi Julia! Yes, character meals are a blast! I haven’t done at Disney World yet but hope to next year!

  3. Such a great list of tips! We’ve been to Disneyworld recently. We’re not yet parents but wondered how we would bring a little one with us. We defo want to bring our future family ASAP! We saw so many young children asking who characters were so watching movies is a great tip!
    Rebecca x

    • Marcie in Mommyland Reply

      Rebecca, yes it took me awhile to realize that my son didn’t know a lot of the characters. I think a lot of younger kids know Pixar movies more than classic Disney films. I’m so thankful for YouTube because it’s easy to show clips of movies so that kids are familiar. It’s just so much more fun when they are excited to see the characters come to life!

  4. Great tips! Never really thought about the work that would go into making sure a child gets the best experience out of Disney world, but makes sense!

    • Marcie in Mommyland Reply

      Thanks, Ashley! I think we all just assume that kids know who all the Disney characters are and will be excited to see them. I was shocked that my toddler didn’t know who Mickey Mouse was until I showed him some YouTube videos.

  5. Such great tips ! Have so many friends with toddlers and will pass it along !!!!!!

  6. Pingback: Disneyland Toddler Itinerary and Tips

  7. We are planning our second trip to Disney for the fall. Your tips are great! I feel every time you go is a learning experience. I wish I had these tips the first time we went!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Disney is such a fun place! I can’t wait to go back in June!

  8. We do Disney World because we are East coasters and my kids have been going since they were babies. We are actually heading back for the 8th trip next week.

  9. We can’t wait to go to Disney some day!! We already do most of the items mentioned in your list, so I guess you could say that we’re ready? LOL

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes! Sometimes kids are a bit young for some Disney movies, so it’s nice to find ways they can connect with the characters!

  10. When we were at Disney, my favorite thing was to see all the kids dressed up in Disney gear. It was really fun to see all the handmade Disney outfits, too.

  11. Disney does offer a lot of great rides and activities for toddlers. It can be exhausting but if you prepare for the trip and book some fast passes you can have a great time.

  12. I love Disney so much, I think that’s why all my kids grew up loving it as well. We try to go to Disney every year and I have this goal to go to all the Disneylands around the world. This is a pretty awesome guide for parents who are taking their kids there fore the first time!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Disney is super fun! We’ve done Disneyland and Disneyland Paris so far. Hoping to do Hong Kong and Shanghai in the next few years!

  13. aww this is so sweet! Haha I wouldn’t be trying to prep the toddler with Disney movies though, I would be prepping myself :p

  14. Thank you for sharing . I will definitely use these strategies for my nieces and nephews. These are great way to prep them, I will forward this link to my friends as well.

  15. Your post reminded me of my daughter’s first trip to Disneyland! She was a year old and so full of energy and excitement! She loved repeating rides! I daresay we finished past 10 p.m. and she was still ok!

  16. I wonder how kids would go at Disney – afterall, we visited as adults and found it tiring!! But I more so wondered how they’d go with the overwhelming crowds! These tips are great

  17. We have been to Disneyland hundreds of times but our last visit over the summer was the absolute best. Our youngest daughter is two and she had the most fun!

  18. First off, you have a beautiful blog! I so couldn’t imagine taking my little ones to Disney. My husband and I decided that we would consider it when they are six, so just two more years!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh thanks so much! Traveling with littles is nice because they are portable! I hope you have a fabulous Disney trip whenever you decide to do it!

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