I got back last week from Southern California and while I was there I took my 10 month old to Disneyland and California Adventure. My Mom, sister and 4-year-old nephew were with us and we had a blast. I wanted to share some tips and helpful hints for hitting the parks with a baby and toddler!
First, set your expectations really low. You probably won't go on many rides, you won't see a whole lot or stay the entire day but that doesn't mean you won't have fun! My only goal was to be there and maybe go on the Dumbo ride. That's it, no agenda, no expectations.
Second, try to score a deal on tickets to avoid the sense that you have to so everything to get your money's worth. My sister lives in SoCal and found tickets at the local grocery store that were basically 2 days for the price of one. It helped me feel like we weren't wasting money and I didn't feel pressured to go on as many rides or do as much stuff.
Third, take advantage of the baby care centers in each park! It was so nice to have a place to go and nurse and relax and unwind when you are hot and kids are getting cranky. They have any baby item you could possibly need along with all of the facilities and conveniences of home. The cast members in there were also pretty darn awesome.
Fourth, take a stroller and a carrier if you have a small one that doesn't walk or stand. The stroller is great but you can't take it in line with you and some of the lines can be a little long to do while just holding your kid. I liked having my Ergo and being able to stand in line without killing my back. It was also nice to have to go inside restaurants and stores where a stroller is a bit cumbersome. Also, take a wallet that can easily be pulled out of the diaper bag/stroller so that you can take it with you on the ride and don't accidentally leave it on the stroller for someone to walk away with.
Fifth, don't expect your child to love the characters! They can be a bit scary for a small child. Test out how your baby/toddler will do from a distance and if the line is short try to get a picture with a character but definitely don't wait in the 4 hour long line to see Elsa and Anna from Frozen!
Sixth, on super hot days bring swimsuits or a change of clothes and head over to Bug's Land and the little splash pad there. There are also things like the Aladdin Show and the Turtle Talk with Crush at California Adventure. Also, anywhere that sells soda in a cup (fountain drinks) will give you free cups of ice water so save your $ and stop buying bottled. If you bring a water bottle you can refill it with filtered water in the baby care area.
I'm sure that I'm forgetting lots of things but mostly, don't be afraid to take your baby to Disneyland! Relax, have fun and just go with the flow.