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How to Travel Solo to Disneyland with (grand)Kids and Actually Survive Without Losing Them

Updated: May 9, 2023

Let’s face it. You have one job while you have these kids and all your attention should be focused on “let nothing happen on your watch.” Plus, you also have another goal of being the coolest grandparents ever so you want to have a good time, too, right?

That means from start to finish, you’re concentrating on a good time for you and a good time for them. I’ll tell you right now, this isn’t going to be cheap, but it will be cost-effective. And it will be the best time ever.

Several criteria here to start with before you jump on that vacation. These children must be old enough to not be in a car seat, but a booster seat at the minimum. And, if they’re little, you’re first Disney experience is going to be at Disneyland in California where the crowds are smaller and access to Mickey is soooooo much easier. Seriously easier. It’s. Worth. Every. Penny.

So that means the first thing you will do is buy that airplane ticket and choose those seats wisely. Bulkhead is best for that five-hour flight we had from the east coast. You read that right. Buy bulkhead. Those little feet can’t help but keep moving and won’t kick anyone in that seat in front of you. Nothing worse than the glares from people and you’re a considerate person after all, right? (As well as having been that person that was kicked on a flight or two). You won’t need to get up and down that much for your stuff above, I promise.

Have them pack some special things in their own backpack they will bring, but you’re going to pack an iPad fully downloaded with children’s movies and entertainment with headphones. I know — the parents say only 30 minutes a day, but remember we’re in emergency mode on a five-hour airplane flight so you do what you must! But get headphones that are equipped with child-limiting sound levels. That way you can point out what an aware/protecting grandparent you are. You might also want to bring some lifesavers or chewing gum.

Keeping their mouth full of something they are chewing or sucking stops the constant talking (we love them, but five hours could get to be too much) and, for the REAL reason, it helps the air pressure in their little ears. But don’t tell them that. You want to be the fun grandparent that brings the fun snacks.

So now you’re getting off the plane and heading to baggage claim.

That’s where your precious little one decides to throw his Mickey Mouse doll on the conveyor belt as we wait for our baggage and watch it go around. Don’t panic. It’s actually hysterically funny — that is until the airport staff yells at you. Then it becomes your own private joke.

You don’t have a lot of choices on transportation from the airport to Disneyland and it’s all private. You can either hire a driver or rent a car. I was not up for navigating through traffic and watching kids. I chose a driver and reserved them ahead of time.

I also chose a hotel that was directly on the resort. It was fantastic and this is where your cost-effectiveness comes into play. You walk out your door and there you are — right on the Disneyland property. No navigating streets or transportation with a little one.

So. Absolutely. Fantastic.

For inquiring minds, it was the Disney Grand California Hotel where Disney reigns 24 hours a day and the pool is so fun that it deserved a few afternoons instead of the resort

We spent our vacation walking out of the door in the early hours of the morning, getting breakfast, and taking time to let my little one “read” the map to take us to the desired area (only grandparents can be this patient, btw and it helps to find a seat while they discover). Disneyland is not a place for fantastic rides — it’s for finding Mickey and his friends at their houses. Between that and other fun times with Minnie, Goofy, and a cast of other characters, we had the best time! And, most importantly, we learned how to find out which one was Chip and which one was Dale (I’ll save that for another time)! Afternoons were spent by the pool (where the staff is quite attentive) and evenings with our character dinners. So. Much. Fun.

But now you have to go home and you now have a totally travel-wise little one on your hands. So you board the plane to go home, settle into your seats, and then you find that this plane doesn’t have wifi. The plane you thought you booked did have it but these days they’re switching planes on you like underwear. Everything’s ok till your adorable little one yells, “What? No wifi on this plane? “ and you realize you gave this child too good of a vacation. Life will never be the same again.

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