I feel my love affair with all things Disney is pretty well known around here – so it's no surprise when I say Disneyland is basically our home away from home. And before the kids run off to school for the new year, this is the time to get your whole family in on a trip to visit everyone's favorite mouse. Taking littles along can be equal parts magical and stressful if you don't have a game plan. Which is why I've got a rundown of all our favorite Disneyland rides for toddlers along with a few tips to getting the most out of your day AND my girls' favorite activity that involves sitting. Yep, you read that right…SITTING!
Best Toddler Rides at Disneyland
I'm pretty sure most of us parents can agree this is one of, if not the most, loved ride for munchkins. A 10 minute trip with Peter and Wendy what's not to love? The line! That's what's not to love guys! So here's a little Disneyland tip…if you can get there right when the park opens this is a super easy ride to get one before the crowds roll in. Do not pass go, do not stop for a churro just head straight on back to Fantasyland and off to Neverland! It's the difference sometimes between a 20 minute wait and an hour wait!
Another Fantasyland hit, with a line that can seem less than fantastical! The good news? In our experience, it always seems longer than it actually is. This one moves pretty fast, so go ahead and jump on in because it's always worth the wait. The girls LOVE controlling their own elephants and seeing how high up in the sky they can go! Warning: it can be a little risky for those (like me!) who get motion sick easily.
An instant Disneyland classic, my favorite, and my mom's favorite too. Also, the BEST air conditioning on a hot, summer day haha! Kids love the atmosphere and that song we've all been singing for years. Adults love the idea of being able to sit for 15 minutes and catch a breath! A little trick we've learned over our nuuummmerous trips around the world, if both sides of the ride are open at the end right before you board and it splits, go to the right because although it LOOKS shorter, the left lane also loads from the handicapped lane so it can take much longer to actually get into a boat and enjoy the ride! BONUS: at Christmas time they change the whole entire ride to be holiday themed and it's my very favorite thing at Disneyland!!
How many times have you been to an aquarium and sat in front of a fish tank while your kids scream for joy for Nemo!? Well, this ride guarantees a run in with the famous fish. I'm tall, so for all the rest of my tall gals out there, all I can say is watch your head! While a part of me will always miss the original Submarine ride, bringing Nemo and the gang on board for this new adventure is a sure fire hit with the littler ones in your crowd! I also personally love how long this ride is (14 minutes!) for the welcome air conditioned break from the sun, but it can be a little claustrophobic feeling, if you're someone who doesn't like small confined spaces!
Pirates of the Caribbean
This is one the ENTIRE family loves. And did you know there's a hidden Mickey inside? In the room with the big pirate ship and the scary captain shouting at the village, if you look at the reflection of his hat on the sail behind him it creates the reflection of a Mickey head. Which I think is a totally cool Disneyland secret! It's another amazing escape from the sun and even feels a little misty. Both Ani and Lyla get scared easily but aren't afraid of this ride, so it's the perfect Disneyland ride for the whole family!
The Little Mermaid
If you and your people are heading over to California Adventure at all through the day, this is one of our CAN'T MISS stops. It's always so easy to just walk right on it and the girls never tire of all the fun animations and graphics. Plus, who hasn't wished at least once in their life that they could be a mermaid?
Toy Story Mania/Buzz Lightyear
You guys, I have ridden both of these rides several times and I try to love them but I just don't! Haha, sorry!! Don't hate me. They're just not my favorite, BUT a lot of people absolutely love them. What I do know is that a fastpass is going to be your family's best friend when it comes to getting on one of these rides. Try getting them as early in the day as possible because sometimes they run out!
Chances are, part of your group will want to go on the new Tower of Terror and that part doesn't include your toddlers! Instead of sitting outside on a bench trying to entertain them with a churro (not that there is annyyything wrong with a churro break or two of five!), skip on over to Monster's Inc. It's perfect for even the littlest littles in your gang, and another major score for skipping out of the sun for a bit since the line is inside with AC.
And, if you have the stomach for it…the Teacups!
So no pun intended, but this one just isn't my cup of tea. Obviously, that means the girls loooovvveeeee it! It's one of their favorite rides! I have to admit, hearing their giggles and screams to go faster is worth the dizziness. I think? If you're still around after the sun goes down, this one is a BLAST at night with all the fun lights above. I've asked several times and have been told each time by cast members that none of the cups go slower/faster, they're all exactly the same BUT you do have control over how much/little you spin by how much you're cranking the wheel. So if you get queasy easily just lay off that steering wheel 😉
The Frozen Show
Let's get really real here for a minute, the unpredictability of Disneyland with toddlers is as predictable as rush hour traffic on the 405 in LA! Even our best laid plans usually go right out the window as soon as we hit the first ride. This is why one of our favorite things to break up the day with is the FROZEN show! It is nothing short of totally amazing!!!
Navigating the best way to do this can be a bit tricky. If kids are tired of rides for a bit, this might actually be your new best ally in helping them through that afternoon lull. They don't open the doors to the area until exactly one hour before the show starts and they don't let you line up outside. So about 5 minutes before that hour-before-the-show mark hits, go and linger around until the clock strikes and they let you in. You'll stand in line for about 45 minutes until they let you into the theater prior to the show. While you're waiting, if anyone in your party has to use the bathroom you have to find a Disney cast member and get a bathroom pass. If you leave the area without this pass they absolutely will not let you back in, so don't let that happen!
Another little note is there are no bathrooms inside the theater, so do a check on your group before you find your seats. The best news? They do sell concessions inside! Because what's a show without a snack? And I can promise you it's so so SOOO worth it! The show lasts about an hour and even Lyla will sit all the way through it and sing along! Then after the show is over, everyone is ready to start running around our happiest place on earth again!
We actually went on a little hunt to find some cute Disney clothes that aren't too cheesy Disney (I prefer the more subtle Disney apparel) and found some WAY cute stuff for really great prices!!