When I decided to take my toddler to Disneyland for a one-on-one vacation I was met with a lot of comments and questions. “Why would you take a toddler to Disneyland? They won’t remember anything about the trip and you cannot take them on any rides.” All too often I heard this from people.
You definitely should take your toddler to Disneyland, there are lots of rides they can enjoy with you. My recent trip to Disneyland was filled with memories because I saw Disneyland in a different way, I saw it through her eyes. There’s something extra special about going to Disneyland with a toddler. If you are thinking about going with your toddler, do it!
GOING ON RIDES WITH A TODDLER IN DISNEYLAND
Disneyland is definitely my favourite between the two parks. There is much more for a toddler there when it comes to rides. Both of my daughter’s favourite rides are on the Disneyland side. Both of my girls fell in love with Fantasyland when in Disneyland at this young age. Dumbo the Flying Elephant and the Mad Tea Party became instant highlights. We could also always count on a ride around King Arthur Carousel on Jingles. Jingles is the lead horse and Walt Disney’s favourite. You cannot miss this horse, it is covered in rows of jingle bells and you’ll even spot some paintings in dedication to Mary Poppins.
If you know the attractions in Disneyland, or you’re just starting to do your research, you will notice that there are a couple rides missing that a toddler could technically ride. There are three specifically in Fantasyland that I did not take my daughter on this trip. Those rides are Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Snow White’s Scary Adventure. These rides are older but they are much darker. If your little one is sensitive to scary things skip these rides. Your time waiting in line would be better spent somewhere else. Also missing is the Astro Oribtor in Tomorrowland. While it is similar to Dumbo, I do not like having my child sitting in front of me, I prefer having them beside me. If your child loves rocketships this is one you may want to give a try. Ultimately, you know your child and what they will and will not like. You may even want to take some time observing the rides so they can see what its like from a distance.
DUMBO THE FLYING ELEPHANT
Dumbo the Flying Elephant is great to ride with little ones. They can sit on the seat on the inside with the adult beside the opening to get in, or they can sit on your lap. The belt needs to be across both of you. Flying high above everyone in Disneyland you’ll love the view across Disneyland. There were moments we were able to ride this a couple times in a row because the line was so short. Go during the day, but also go at night. It’s beautiful seeing everything lit up at night while soaring with Dumbo. Every time we road this there was a huge smile on my daughter’s face.
MAD TEA PARTY
Oh the spinning tea cups. I lost track of how many times we went on this. I’m pretty certain that we probably could have made this the only ride we went on in all of Disneyland and my toddler would have been perfectly content. I couldn’t walk or push the stroller anywhere near it without her asking to please go on it. I should mention that she learnt how to say the word please on this trip. Each ride or character she saw she would sign please and say “eeeeaaassseeee!!!” while motioning to what she wanted. The Mad Tea Party is a classic ride. You will leave your trip with the music stuck in your head. If your child is a thrill seeker at home they will love this one and want to help spin the wheel as much as possible to make their tea cup turn faster.
THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH
Both of my girls love Winnie the Pooh so this has been a go to ride when we’ve gone to Disneyland. There’s not a lot in Critter Country, it’s this ride and Splash Mountain. It actually is a great option if you go with more people and only some are tall enough for Splash Mountain, the rest can go to this ride. It’s a great ride to go to and cool down as well. It’s a whimsical little ride that tells the classic tale of Pooh and his love of honey. You go through the ride in a large honey pot, be sure to look at the different names on the front and the “bees” on the back of each one. This ride is also a wonderful one to go to if the temperature has crept up and you need to cool down a bit. We never waited longer than 5 minutes to go on.
“IT’S A SMALL WORLD”
You likely already know the song and have been warned by others that it will be permanently engraved into your mind forever. It’s one of the longer rides in Disneyland at 15 minutes, 15 glorious air conditioned minutes! It’s noted as being “The happiest cruise that ever sailed” and it truly is a joyful one. It takes you through different scenes from around the world and you’ll even find different Disney characters hidden throughout. My daughter was always quick to point out the different characters she recognized. I’d recommend requesting to sit in the front if you are there with a little one, this way no one is blocking their view all around. While this ride does have a longer wait at times it does move quickly because boats are constantly loading and unloading. “it’s a small world” is beautiful inside and out and grabs the attention of young kids the whole time. Just make sure your kiddo stays seated the whole boat ride.
GOING ON RIDES WITH A TODDLER IN CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE
California Adventure is a different feel than Disneyland. Sure you have the classic appeal of Buena Vista Street, but it changes quickly. Everything feels more modern. Rightly so because it’s only 16 years old. I also do a lot more walking in this park to get to the different rides that are toddler-friendly because there are fewer in each area.
Recently Fastpass became on option for Toy Story Mania! and you will want to make use of this if you are not planning to hustle over to the Fastpass area for Radiator Springs Racers. California Adventure is a place where you need to make good use of Fastpasses if you are travelling with all ages in your group.
With it just being my toddler and me, my only concern was getting a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania. We were at the park for rope drop and headed right to this ride. When we got there Toy Story Mania! already had a 45-minute standby wait… no thanks, not with a toddler! Grabbed my Fastpass and we went to Mickey’s Fun Wheel instead. Don’t wait longer than you have to for a ride especially with little kids.
KING TRITON’S CAROUSEL
Paradise Pier is a great place to start your visit at California Adventure in. There are a couple rides all relatively near each other that toddlers can go onto, with King Triton’s Carousel being an immediate favourite. Your child can pick from over 50 different hand-carved sea creatures that are all brightly coloured. What’s also neat is that all of the sea creatures represented on the carousel can be found in the waters near Southern California. Disney is always thinking of the little details. You need to put the waist belt around your child if their feet do not touch the foot rests. You can either stand beside on the carousel or if you know your toddler can hold on no problem, you can go on the sea creature beside them and enjoy the ride too.
MICKEY’S FUN WHEEL
9 minutes to go around on Mickey’s Fun Wheel and those 9 minutes are long enough for me, but not for my toddler. She loved being able to see high above everything in California Adventure. I am not brave enough to go on the swinging gondolas so I stick to the traditional ride. This is a great ride to escape to if your little one needs a spot that is quiet for a bit. I pull out the snacks for her to enjoy and we both take in the views as you go up to 150 feet in the air. h
TOY STORY MANIA!
Thank you, Disney, for implementing Fastpasses here, it’s a game changer for parents that’s for sure. No more crazy rush to get over to this ride and still have to wait a long time to get on. Instead, check the wait time and go get a Fastpass instead if it’s a long wait. Head to another ride with a shorter wait time and come back to this. Toddlers can either sit on your lap or on the seat. My daughter sat on her own and the spring-action shooter was brought down to her level. While she did not fully understand what she needed to do to get point on the ride as you travel about and aim at targets she still had a lot of fun on the ride with seeing all her favourite Toy Story characters.
This is another attraction that has you soaring in circles, but now you get to ride in take-out boxes and other discarded food cartons. This ride is one that Flik from A Bug’s Life created and you’ll get to see above the tall grass and clover leaves in “a bug’s land”. We never had to wait long for this ride and sometimes there was no line at all and it felt like the cast member running it would let us have an extra long spin around on the flyers. Your toddler can sit in your lap or on the bench beside you, the lap belt needs to go across both of you. There are a couple other rides in “a bug’s land” that are also good for toddler’s, like Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train which is a short train ride, but this was our favourite.
THE LITTLE MERMAID – ARIEL’S UNDERSEA ADVENTURE
If you haven’t noticed there’s a theme of us looking for rides to cool down on, The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is another that you can do just that. You journey down under the sea, far below the waves, as you travel in a giant clam shell. Everyone in my family knows the songs from The Little Mermaid so going on this ride brings out all the bopping and clapping along. Now, Urula does make an appearance but it isn’t overly frightening like the rides we do not go on over in Disneyland. Her scene is short. I will also warn you that this ride often stops (or at least it did every time we went on it) and you’ll hear a little recording play blaming the sea witch. I asked about this and it stops when the cast members stop the ride to allow guests to get into a clam shell with mobility issues. The ride does get going again very quickly, it also is a ride that the line in general moves quickly because it’s constantly moving. Be sure to point out all the details as your heading into the ride, my daughter noticed the sea shells in the path right away.
Disneyland and California Adventure have plenty of rides for toddlers to go on. Your toddler will certainly figure out their favourites and want to go on them multiple times. Enjoy the moments with them. Spin the tea cup as fast as possible. Sing-a-long to the songs from The Little Mermaid. Fly over London and off to Neverland with Peter Pan. Disneyland is much more magical through the eyes of a child!
HAVE YOU BEEN TO DISNEYLAND WITH A TODDLER?
WHAT WAS YOUR TODDLER’S FAVOURITE RIDE?