What It Was Like Going To Disneyland For The First Time With A 9 Yr Old Girl And Anxiety

Listen, before a few weeks ago, if you even mentioned the word Disney to Riah, she was gonna tell you the story about how we were supposed to go to Walt Disney World and never went. That story, is a few years old now, and she still likes to remind me that I “failed her”. But having anxiety as a parent is HARD! And it made traveling “solo” aka just me and my girl, even harder. So when I told her we were going to Disneyland for the first time while we were hanging in Cali last month, she flipped!

And her excitement made me feel good!

How’d I get over my “traveling alone with just my kid anxiety”? Well … it wasn’t so much the travel to Cali that bothered me. Since we’ve flown on a plane before – when we went to Chicago, more about that trip later, we were prepared for the flight, and so was my anxiety.

However, we had never visited an amusement park ALONE before going to Cali! So that’s where the anxiety kicked in. Gratefully, I’m over it now. As over it as one can be when they have anxiety. And it’s all thanks to our trip to Knott’s Berry Farm. Which again, I’ll tell you about that later!

Just know that the thought of going to Disneyland with just my daughter, still gave me a bit of anxiety, because we had never visited before.

So what was it like going to Disneyland for the first time with a 9 year old girl and anxiety?

Scary, but lots of fun!

Yup! We had a blast!

Despite my anxiety and despite the fact that it was just us, going to Disneyland for the first time, was still incredibly fun! Way more fun that I thought it would be. For me especially!

Once we got out our Uber and I saw all the other parents walking with their kids, I instantly felt calmer. We visited both parks in one day, and split our time between the two parks evenly.

Here’s how I calmed my anxiety about going to Disneyland alone for the very first time …

As someone who’s very self aware (and should have been a psychologist) once I figured out I had anxiety, I spent time figuring out what my triggers were!

Welp … my anxiety trigger is “not knowing things”.

So when it came to going to Disneyland for the very first time, my anxiety was triggered by the fact that I had never been there before! So I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know where to go, or what would happen once we left the Uber.

Even buying tickets online scared me. What if I bought the wrong one? What if it rained, or if I didn’t feel good and we needed to change the tickets because some random thing happened and we wouldn’t be able to go anymore? All the what ifs popped up.

I almost didn’t buy our Disneyland tickets with all the damn what ifs!

After a few days of worrying, I realized that it was do or die … so to speak. We had one week left in Cali, and we were gonna miss out on Disneyland if I didn’t just BUY the damn tickets! So I bought them, so my daughter could go!

After I bought our tickets, I downloaded the Disneyland app!

Since I knew nothing, I was determined to figure out something!

I’m a planner at heart, and making lists, and itineraries is my jam. So I looked at everything on the app, made sure our tickets were accessible, and began planning.

Planning is key for my anxiety!

It gives me some control back!

So when I travel, and the anxiety kicks in, I find ways to calm it by planning what I’m scared about.

The Disneyland app helped me get a sneak peek of all the rides that were available!

The app also gives you an idea of what the ride will be like.

So if they’re slow, dark, loud, or involve spinning you’ll know!

The app also has a map.

In case you’re worried about being lost, or don’t know how to find a ride, or FOOD!

I barely used the Disneyland app while we were in the parks, aside from looking at wait time estimates for rides and food. But it calmed me to know that I could easily find something if I needed to because I had a map.

Riah holding hands with a friend she made in line. Yes, covid is out there, and it’s scary to be in line with strangers, but kids have had a hard time, so they kept their masks on while hanging out. They even went on rides together.

But planning doesn’t take away all the anxiety, the only thing that gets rid of my anxiety is DOING the thing I’m scared of.

Thankfully, as I mentioned above, Disneyland wasn’t our very first amusement park ALONE. Knott’s Berry Farm was. So I was already used to walking around a big park, with just my daughter, and I made sure to remind my anxiety that this would be just the same.

Luckily for me, even though we technically went to Knott’s alone, we met friends at the park. So knowing I had someone there was comforting. But they left early, so we spent 80% of our day alone and that really helped me get over my fear of being alone in a park.

So all there was left to do was GO. And we did! Now I’m completely prepared for our next Disneyland visit and I can’t wait to go again!

Here’s what it’s like going to Disneyland for the very first time with a 9 year old girl …

Well … if I’m being honest, it’s a lot of fun! Going with just my daughter meant that we didn’t have to wait for anyone to catch up. And we didn’t have to stand in line for rides we didn’t wanna go on! Sometimes when you go with others, kids don’t want to separate, even if they wanna do different things. Which can be a tad bit frustrating for adults, as it’s a huge time killer.

However, we picked where we wanted to go, and just went with the flow.

I will say though, having a kid with you can make things a bit more difficult. Their patience level for things isn’t the same as ours. So if they’re hungry, or hot, you’re gonna hear about it!

Thankfully … we were sorta prepared because we already knew what it was like standing in the heat all day because we went to Knott’s days before. We also got a small taste of what it was like to stand in line for rides!

While walking to lunch, Riah asked for a slushee. It’s her favorite thing when it’s super hot out, and with all the walking we did, it helped.

Bonus: Here are a few things I learned about visiting Disneyland with kids on our first visit.

  1. Getting there EARLY, means the park is a bit emptier, and the ride lines are a bit shorter. Riah got to ride one of her favorite rides 4 times because we got there so early.
  2. It gets HOT in Cali, which means you’ll need a LOT of water. But the water also gets hot FAST. So bring a water bottle of your own that can be filled, and will keep your water cold.
  3. Ride wait times can get LONG! Like, more than an hour long! Having snacks in your bag can be very helpful for this long wait, and Disney even has a PLAY app you can download so your kids can play games while they wait.
  4. Waiting in line is hard, but the ride is usually worth it! There was only one ride we went on during our first visit that I felt would have been underwhelming if we had waited longer than 30 mins. Luckily we didn’t.
  5. Contrary to what you think, you’ve got time for snack breaks, so take them! Having a hangry kid is not going to work, and the heat will make you feel sick if you’re not eating and drinking enough.
  6. If you have any concerns about a ride, ask, don’t assume! However, I am going to post our experience for each ride, and what our faves are, so you’ll have that to look forward to as well.

There’s a few more things I learned, but I’ll put everything into a separate post!

Once I get that post up, you’ll be able to click here to read everything I learned about going to Disneyland for the first time.

So yeah, I think that’s it. If you have anxiety and have any questions about going to Disneyland for the first time feel free to let me know! You can DM me on Instagram, tweet me on twitter, or leave a comment below!

Also, if you’re also a Disney mom of color, join us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, for more park tips in a Black safe space!

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  1. I’m going to DL for the first time this summer with my own family and my in laws. We will have 3 days at the parks. I’m not sure what to do or how to even wrap my head around it. How did you decide?

    • Download the APP! I went through both parks on the app, checked out all the rides to see what we could get on, and made a list of what we wanted to do. So that way when we walked around and SAW a ride, we instantly knew what was on our list and what sounded good enough to try. I did also try the Cars race ride because the line was at like a 100+ min wait from the moment we got into the park so I wanted to know WHY! LOL

      But yeah, I plan! I’m a list maker, so that’s what we did. For Disney World we also planned snacks by going through the restaurant menus on the app.

      Sorry this is so late, but that’s how we do it. I’ll write it up for others who have issues.


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