Disneyland With Preschoolers.
Many parents ask what can my preschooler do at Disneyland? They know Disney has child friendly rides and attractions. They are unsure of what is appropriate for their child.
Visit California Adventure first when the park opens. When they open the crowds are thin. Both theme parks get busy after ten in the morning.
The Disney Junior Dance party which the first performance is at 10:30 most days has people lining up early. Later in the day you’re in line with the bunch of parents with toddlers and preschoolers who missed nap time. The dance party is the one show preschoolers should not miss.
The Animation Academy is where your child can meet Elsa and Anna at Anna and Elsas Royal Welcome. Turtle Talk with Crush and the Sorcerer's Workshop inside the Animation Academy are a do not miss. You can skip them if pressed for time.
Then head to the Heroic Encounter with Spiderman Captain America. Hop on Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! it's a dark ride but kid friendly.
Later in the day, the lines for the Hollywood Land meet and greets are longer. I like to get them done early on while the kids still have energy and they have not stained their clothes yet.
Head to Buena Vista Street for the Red Car Trolley newsboys. The performances start at 10:30 a musical show that's cute and under 15 minutes, Mickey Mouse comes out at the end, and the kids will love it.
Do not skip Bug's Land. It’s Tough to be a Bug show is always fun. Every ride is for toddlers and preschoolers, and they are not scary or fast.
Carsland is fun and looks just like the movie. Tow Mater's Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi's Rollickin Roadsters fantastic. Lightning McQueen or Tow Mater meet fans at the Cozy Cone. I don’t recommend Radiator Springs Racers for any small child. Radiator Springs Racers goes fast.
Most weekdays Elena of Avalor is at the Gazebo at what will be soon Pixar Pier know as Paradise Pier. None of the rides over there such as the Silly Symphony Swings the Golden Zephyr or even the Jumpin Jellyfish are for any child under the age of five or six. Goofy's Sky School is mild roller coaster and not for first-timers. Toy Story Midway Mania and Ariel's Undersea Adventures are a safe bet.
Soarin Over the World is awesome. Some children might feel scared even though it doesn’t go fast. It’s not a thrill ride you will sit in a chair that's hoisted up. I always recommend before going to Disneyland that you go onto YouTube and watch ride through videos of the attractions you’re wondering whether your child will go on if you’re concerned your child will get scared.
Redwood Creek Trail is a great place to take preschoolers and toddlers. The rock slides are popular with children. This is a great place to go when your child has too much energy and needs to play.
Where should you eat in California Adventure? I suggest you try Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta over by what will be Pixar Pier is a safe bet. They offer pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, and Uncrustable sandwiches by Smuckers.
Award Wieners in Hollywood Land sells a power pack with fruits, crackers, and yogurt. Another option is the all beef hotdog. Award Wieners is quick service with simple kid friendly food.
Flo's V8 Café in Radiator Springs. For lunch and dinner, they have roast beef and cheddar, a turkey dip, a quarter chicken, a veggie potato bake, and barbecue ribs. For children, they have a roast beef sandwich, a turkey sandwich, and macaroni and cheese. I recommend coming here if your child is hungry and you know they will not eat very much because you can get the macaroni and cheese as a side for $2.99.
Before you head out, meet Oswald on Buena Vista Street. He is not always there. He is easier to find in the morning and afternoon.
I recommend that you head on over to Disneyland after California Adventure for many reasons. When you arrive if your child is tired and needs a break you can always ride the Disneyland railroad around the park and take a nice break. The Dapper Dan’s are performing live on Main Street. They are a barbershop quartet, and the children enjoy dancing and listening to them sing. Main Street USA there’s also the horseless carriage, the fire engine, the horse drawn streetcars, and the omnibus right now is not being offered due to the renovations of the track on Main Street.
If it’s a hot sunny day, the movie house on Main Street is an excellent place to cool off for a few minutes. Black-and-white old Mickey Mouse cartoons are always playing it’s a good place to take children give them a little break.
I always recommend that if you’re going with small children, you head on over to Pixie Hollow at the end of Main Street to meet Tinker Bell or one of her Fairy friends. Tinker Bell goes home at 4 PM every day. Make sure you make it on time. I always exit Pixie Hollow and head straight for the Disney princess meet and greet at the Royal Hall.
Then I recommend you go to storytelling at the Royal Theater. The performances run until 6 o’clock at night. You’ll either see Tangled or Beauty and the Beast.
The theatre is also in Fantasyland now if you go through the castle you can go straight to the rides in Fantasyland. Your child can throw change for Snow White's Wishing Well which is a great photo opportunity, and as a bonus, you can hear Snow White Singing.
All the rides in Fantasyland except the Matterhorn which is a Bobsled that goes fast and does not allow the child to sit next to a parent are appropriate for children. However, many of the rides are dark rides such as Mr. Toad, Snow White, Pinocchio, and Peter Pan. These may frighten children they are dark rides and there are scary themes in each attraction.
I always recommend going online to YouTube and watching videos of each ride to determine if the ride could scare your child. Your child’s reaction to the video may help you decide or ease their fears.
Stop in front of Snow White’s Scary Adventures and look at the main window the Evil Queen opens the curtains every once a while. As you enter the line for Snow White touch the golden apple.
Frontierland does not have many child friendly rides. There’s Big Thunder Mountain which I don’t recommend for small children. However, you can go to the Sailing Ship Columbia and the Mark Twain. Tiana and Dr. Faclier are often doing meet and greet at the Mark Twain. The Golden Horseshoe has a live show several times a day. However, the Golden Horseshoe serves ice cream so you may not want to visit until after lunch. Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island in Frontierland is the most fun option this land has to offer. Kids could play on the Island for hours.
New Orleans Square which offers Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. Both are dark and may scare small children. Pirates of the Caribbean has drops. If your child does not like loud noises, the dark, or drops skip Pirates. It is a long ride. Haunted Mansion may also scare smaller children. I would watch a video of the Haunted Mansion before your visit.
Tarzans Tree House in Adventure Land has interactive play for younger children at the end of the walk-through. Do not skip Tarzan's Treehouse.
Search for the Little Man of Disneyland. Skip Indiana Jones a dark thrill ride. The Jungle Cruise, however, is a great ride for children. Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room is also a lot of fun. Even though it is in the dark, the singing birds are delightful. Try a Dole Whip.
Critter Country in the earlier hours of the day you can meet with Winnie the Pooh and his friends which is always fun. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh though it is dark ride it is s a fun ride for children of any age. Splash Mountain I don’t recommend for any child that does not like heights. The themes may upset small children. Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes are fun, but rowing may be hard for small children.
Toontown is excellent for small children. Toontown is right next to It’s a Small World. I recommend checking the show times of Mickey and the Magical Map in Fantasyland and planning on which Showtime is most convenient for you. It’s a great show for families and children of all ages and it's smack dab between It is a Small World and Toontown.
Toontown can be a little lackluster. It offers more for younger children than anyone else. Try Gadgets GoGo Coaster if your child shows interest in going on the thrill rides It’s about 45 seconds long, and it’s a miniature roller coaster, and if they don't like that ride forget the rest of the roller coasters. Roger Rabbit Cartoon Spin is dark ride it’s not very scary, but some children might have an issue with it.
Also, visit Mickey and Minnie in their houses in Toontown. Goofy's house also has a small park for children to play in. Donald Duck's boat is another great place for children run around.
Tomorrowland is full of fun attractions. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters might scare children just because of the darkness, but it’s a fun game it’s where you shoot targets. I’ve never seen a child have issues with this attraction.
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is perfect for children. It's themed well. It is dark, but it is fun. However it may be hard boarding the submarine.
Autopia is a classic ride for children and adults. Most children enjoy this attraction and insist on driving. Push the pedals though as it is hard for children to reach them.
The Astro Orbiter, however, I don’t recommend for smaller children. The Astro Orbiter is like Dumbo, but unlike Dumbo the Orbiters lean sideways. I’ve seen little children ride and have no problem. Though I have seen small children ride and cry. You the parent will have to make a judgement call.
I don’t recommend Space Mountain. It’s a dark ride, fast, and scary for most small children. Star Tours is another judgment call since its motion simulator.
Star Wars Launch Bay is a great place to go if it’s a warm day it’s sunny. You can meet Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, or Chewbacca. If you’re a Star Wars fan and your child is the Star Wars franchise, this might be a fun meet and greet. Inside Star Wars Launch Bay kid's can play with Lego's and test out video games.
As far as dining goes with younger children, there are many options. If your child is a picky eater Carnation Café it’s a great place to eat the food's delicious but it’s hard to get a table sometimes. They serve a build your own peanut butter jelly sandwich, fruit plates, a hamburger, and macaroni and cheese.
If quick service is more your thing, Refreshment Corner has hotdogs and turkey dogs as well for the children. Next Door at Jolly Holiday where you can get a grilled cheese sandwich it comes with tomato bisque soup.
The Stage Door Café in Frontierland or the Hungry Bear in Critter Country serve chicken nuggets. They also offer more fried foods if that is what you are looking for.
Stage Door Cafe offers fish and chips which are delicious. If you want to eat at Rancho del Zocalo restaurant and your child’s a picky eater, you could always stop at the Stage Door Café which is across from Rancho del Zocalo and get them chicken nuggets or corn dog. Rancho Del Zocalo serves kids chicken and rice, beans and rice, chicken taco, or bean burrito for kids but for the adults, the real treat is the Burrito. Two people could share it because it's that big.
Mickey’s Toontown Dining is a smart choice if you’re looking for something straightforward Pluto's Dog House has hot dogs. You could also get macaroni and cheese. Clarabelle Cows has a turkey sandwich or chef salad if you’re trying to lose weight. They also have a large fruit salad. Daisies Diner also offers individual small pizzas great for the kids. It’s a great alternative going over to Tomorrowland's Pizza Port.
Redd Rockett Pizza Port is another option for the whole family. Fair warning the children’s past will be whole wheat and the meatballs for the kids are turkey which if you have a picky eater they might not like that. My husband is a huge fan of the Count Down Chicken Fusilli it is one of the most popular dishes they have it is delicious. If you want spaghetti, you will want to read my post on where to find the best.
There are more dining options throughout the park, but I am recommending what has the most simple foods that most preschoolers enjoy with little fuss. My obvious choice to dine would be the Plaza Inn the fried chicken is a favorite. The pot roast is also excellent. They offer pasta for the picky eaters but its Penne Pasta. Plaza Inn is one of the more expensive dining options though with the chicken plate being $17.49. They also have desserts which I think the red velvet cake and carrot cake is most excellent.
As far as nighttime entertainment Fantasmic is something I have noticed that most children enjoy it if they can get closer to it. It’s hard to enjoy Fantasmic from certain angles because you can’t see the projections as well or what is going on the stage. It’s on another judgment call it does gets loud from the fireworks, and there are few villains involved.
At night Pixie Hollow has a nighttime light show. In the water it’s not on a schedule it happens every 20 to 30 minutes it’s not long, but it’s enjoyable it’s also an alternative if you want to get the kids home early.
Right now there are no parades. Paint the Night will come to California Adventure in April and the Pixar Play Parade will come to Disneyland.
There will be new fireworks show together Forever A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular premiering April 13, 2018. If your kids love Pixar movies don't miss it.
Check out my post on Disneyland with babies for a list of Family Bathrooms. You can also visit the Baby Care Centers for child-sized toilets for children five or younger. Most restrooms have toilets lower to the ground towards the back.
Check out my list of freebies here. Many of the free items you can find in the parks are things preschoolers love like free buttons and chocolate.
If you have questions, please ask in the comments below.