When we first started visiting theme parks as a family, back when Tad was a small frog and Lily wasn't even an egg waiting to hatch, we were always unsure just how much we'd get to do at the parks. Nowadays, we don't worry about this at all — and not because everyone's all grown up! Tad's tall enough now for even the biggest coasters, but Lily still doesn't meet every height requirement. It's simply much easier now that we know to do our research on height requirements before our visit. If you're planning a visit to The Happiest Place on Earth with tadpoles of your own, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with Disneyland height requirements.
Understanding what your children can and cannot ride goes a long way toward having a stress-free visit. Preparation begins at home. For example, when we start planning our visit to a new park, one of the first things we do is familiarize ourselves with the rides. We check out any that have height requirements or rides that may be too scary for Lily. We review park maps and videos from the comfort of our own lily pad.
The Disneyland Resort goes out of its way to make sure all guests have fun, even if they can't experience all of the rides. Let's start with the Disneyland height requirements and then we'll hop to Disneyland Rider Switch. If you want to see any of the Disneyland rides in action, check them out on our Undercover Tourist YouTube channel!
Complete List of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Height Requirements
32 inches (81 cm) or taller
- Autopia - Disneyland (when accompanied by another rider 54 inches or taller)
- Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters - Disney California Adventure
- Mater's Junkyard Jamboree - Disney California Adventure
35 inches (89 cm) or taller
- Gadget's Go Coaster - Disneyland
38 inches (97 cm) or taller
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run - Disneyland
40 inches (102 cm) or taller
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - Disneyland
- Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT! - Disney California Adventure
- Jumpin' Jellyfish - Disney California Adventure
- Radiator Springs Racers - Disney California Adventure
- Silly Symphony Swings (tandem only) - Disney California Adventure
- Soarin' Around the World - Disney California Adventure
- Space Mountain - Disneyland
- Splash Mountain - Disneyland
- Star Tours — The Adventures Continue - Disneyland
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance - Disneyland
42 inches (107 cm) or taller
- Goofy's Sky School - Disney California Adventure
- Grizzly River Run - Disney California Adventure
- Matterhorn Bobsleds - Disneyland
- Redwood Creek Challenge Trail (rock wall and zip line only) - Disney California Adventure
46 inches (117 cm) or taller
- Indiana Jones Adventure - Disneyland
48 inches (122 cm) or taller
- Incredicoaster - Disney California Adventure
- Silly Symphony Swings (to ride in a single swing) - Disney California Adventure
54 inches (137 cm) or taller
- Autopia (to ride alone) - Disneyland
Disneyland Age Requirements
Whether rides have height requirements or not, they all have age requirements for riding alone. While people of any height may enjoy many of the rides at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, the rides require children under 7 to ride seated next to someone who meets a certain height requirement (see Autopia) or is at least 14 years old.
This can present problems when you are traveling with several children under 7. If you have three children under 7, you’ll want at least two adults who can ride with them (or help supervise) because children under 7 cannot sit alone. Many Fantasyland rides (and rides for all ages) allow for one adult and two children in a seat, so just make sure if you have several small children (or are bringing all your tadpoles and nieces and nephews or friends) that you have enough adults to supervise and ride with the children.
If you want to take advantage of Single Rider lines with kids who meet the height requirements, they need to be at least 7 years old. Two rides at Disney California Adventure — Monster’s Inc. and Toy Story Midway Mania — have a more family-friendly version of a Single Rider line for small groups. Groups of 1 or 2 (or maybe 2 adults and a small child on Toy Story Midway Mania) can get a Buddy Pass to wait in a separate line to fill in empty rows. An adult needs to ride with any child under 7 and there’s no preferential seating, but a Buddy Pass can be a way to shorten the wait with a child under 7 for those rides. Buddy Passes are not always being used, but when they are, it makes a nice option for smaller parties to potentially skip a line.
Some rides require one-on-one supervision. On one multi-generational trip last year, Leap and Grandma Frog tried to take a group of four froglets under 7 on the Matterhorn Bobsleds (while Lily and I took a spin on the teacups). They were taking forever to return. We hopped over to see what the holdup was, and poor Leap was taking turns riding with each child, one at a time. We learned that one adult can supervise only one child under 7 at a time on that ride (same with Space Mountain). Grandma Frog was happy to stand on the loading area sidelines to supervise the other 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds as they waited for their turns. Leap stayed on the ride and they swapped out the tadpoles each time the ride circled back because they did not have enough adults to ride one-on-one with the tadpoles. That’s something to be aware of so you don’t encounter any surprises.
Disneyland Rider Switch
While the list above of Disneyland height requirements may seem long, we should tell you that most of the attractions at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure don't have height requirements. Indeed, the Disney parks are among the most kid- and baby-friendly parks on the planet. It's possible that you could skip every ride with a height requirement at Disneyland and still have a full day — and a great time! Still, we know that the rides with height requirements are also some of the most amazing and most popular at the parks. There's no way Tad would let us head to the Disneyland parks and not ride Radiator Springs Racers or Indiana Jones Adventure!
Thankfully, Disneyland offers Rider Switch for just this very thing! With Disneyland Rider Switch, families with kids too young to ride can take turns so they don't miss out. An adult (or supervising companion 14 years or older) can wait with non-riders while the rest of the party rides, and then after that, the waiting adult can take his or her turn. BONUS — Up to two kids can ride with the waiting adult! Did you know that there have been changes to Disneyland Rider Switch with the rollout of Disney MaxPass? Here is the official process. Please note that experiences may vary per attraction.
Here is what happens with Disneyland Rider Switch:
- When the rest of the family wants to ride an attraction that Lily can't or doesn't want to ride, we approach the cast member at the queue and let them know we want to do Rider Switch.
- Our group is divided into two parties — “Party 1” includes those riding the attraction first, while “Party 2” consists of non-riders and their supervising guests (and perhaps some of the riders from Party 1 who might want to go again). Party 1 would be Leap and Tad. Party 2 is Lily and me.
- The guests in Party 2 who will want to take a turn to ride later can include a maximum of three people. They will each have their admission passes/tickets scanned. We'll have mine and Tad's tickets scanned as part of Party 2. The cast member will put an extra one-hour FASTPASS return window on our park tickets that is based on the current wait time. If there is a 30-minute wait, our return time will begin in 30 minutes. Lily and I will wait outside the attraction or enjoy a nearby attraction while Leap and Tad wait in line to experience the attraction.
- After Leap and Tad experience the attraction, we switch. Leap watches Lily.
- Tad and I will return to the attraction entrance (e.g., FASTPASS queue or attraction exit) and have our admission pass/ticket re-scanned by a cast member for the Rider Switch entitlement. At this point, we'll enter the appropriate attraction return line and board without waiting in the regular queue.
- If you are using Rider Switch with MaxPass, the Rider Switch is treated like an extra FASTPASS, meaning some party members may get to ride a third time if they work it right! If Party 1 is using MaxPass or FASTPASS but Party 2 does not have a FASTPASS, their one-hour return window will begin at a time that is consistent with the current wait time.
- When you link your tickets linked to the Disneyland app, you can view the Rider Switch return time in the app (which is great for those who froget return times easily).
We love Disneyland Rider Switch because it means that everyone who wants to ride gets to ride. However, it still takes a little prep work on the part of the parent. Back in her younger days, Lily didn't even want to enter the queue of a ride she thought was going to be scary — no thank you, Space Mountain! We'd have to reassure her over and over that she wasn't going to ride. Yes, there were tears. Now, she knows the drill and is often more upset that she still doesn't meet the height requirement! If you're heading to an unfamiliar park with a little one, prepare your tadpole in advance for what is going to happen when he or she is too little or doesn't want to ride.
Note that just because your little one can ride doesn't mean he or she is necessarily ready to ride. Even some of the rides without height requirements can be intimidating to young riders (here's looking at you, Haunted Mansion). Rides such as Toy Story Midway Mania are much easier to navigate when you are not holding a lap child. Thankfully, you can ask to do Rider Switch for these attractions too. This is another reason we like to watch YouTube videos of rides. We also do this to check out the ride configuration, so we'll know whether all four of us can ride together, or whether we may have to split into two pairs.
We hope you find this post outlining Disneyland's height requirements and Disneyland Rider Switch service helpful. Do you have any tips or tricks you've learned for handling height requirements, scary rides and child swap at Disneyland? Let us know in the comments below!
Related: Disneyland Park 1-Day Park Plan
Related: The Ins and Outs of Disney MaxPass