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Disneyland Park Plan for Toddlers and Preschoolers

by Mommy Frog on July 14, 2023 Los Angeles

Disneyland Park Plan for ToddlersWelcome to your park plan for Disneyland with toddlers and small children. A Disneyland vacation is a special time indeed for families. There is so much to do that it can feel a little overwhelming ... but it does not have to be. Our park plan helps break down a visit to the "happiest place on Earth," for families with small children. We will help you make the best use of your time with the rides, foods and experiences that even your tiniest tadpoles are bound to love. Consider it your step-by-step plan in the best order to accomplish all of the must-dos.

Traveling with little ones means moving at a slower pace and doing more exploring. Plus, you want to give your toddlers and preschoolers a chance to dive into things they love. In our case, Lily doesn't ever want to leave the newly reimagined Toontown. Tad never wanted to leave the Disneyland Hotel pool area when he was a little tadpole himself. You may have to let go of any perfect visions of how your visit will go, accept riding a new favorite ride over and over, and just enjoy the journey, wherever it leads you.

Allowing time in the schedule for your little one to do the things they love keeps everyone hoppy. It also means we may cover less than if we were traveling without a toddler, but you probably already know that that is life with a small child! If you only have time for one park, focus your time on Disneyland Park. It offers the most for young families.

How to Do Disneyland With Toddlers - Toddler with Pluto

We’ll also dive into a few things you need to know to pull this off and offer a few other suggestions and tips should you find yourself with extra time or if you have wider interests. Keep in mind that you'll need to take more breaks with small children. Don't let a schedule add any stress to your day, but instead, let your kids be the gauge of how fast you go. Your kids will never know if you cross a few items off the list and will be happy with as much or as little as they see no matter what. They will not, on the other hand, be happy if you push them past their limits, so don't skip nap time if your toddler needs a rest. Our toddler, Lily, would like to add that allotting some bubble wand time is a must!

Our tips for taking a baby to Disneyland post has advice and ideas to help you if you have toddlers and babies with you. You may also find our guide to height requirements and rider switch to be hopful so there are no surprises and tantrums ("But why can't I ride Big Thunder Mountain?!"). Is your toddler a picky eater? You'll want to hop over to find out our top kids' foods at Disneyland.

Visiting Disneyland Park with Toddlers

How to Do Disneyland With Toddlers - Breakfast with Mickey Pancakes

We've come up with a park plan for Disneyland with toddlers. For young children, Disneyland is more than about getting on the most rides in a day. Some rides can be scary (hop here for the scariest Disneyland rides you might want to avoid). But there are many other magical moments to be had, so we have added a few of those to our park plan.

This is a busy day for young children. You can split this up over two days (and hit the rides after the Disneyland Railroad on the second day if you need to). Ideally, with small children, you can take a break in the afternoon to nap or swim at the hotel.

Disneyland Park Plan for Toddlers and Small Children:

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Mobile Order a Mickey pancake breakfast at Red Rose Taverne
  • Dumbo
  • Casey Jr. Circus train
  • Snow White’s Enchanted Wish – The newest refurbishment makes this a happier and less scary ride than before.
  • Enjoy breakfast and Mobile Order Lunch ahead of time at Café Daisy
  • Get dusted with pixie dust from a Fairy Godmother’s Apprentice at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
  • Bring pennies to make wishes in the Wishing Well
  • Take your photo in front of the castle before food spills and windblown hair take over
  • King Arthur Carrousel
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Story Book Canal Boats
  • Head to Toontown for some free play time and visit the character’s houses. You may see some characters along the way, especially near "it's a small world."
  • Chip ‘n’ Dale’s GADGETcoaster (height requirement of 35 in.)
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (available as an individual Lightning Lane)
  • Lunch at Café Daisy (have a picnic on a lawn)
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car TOON Spin (available on Genie+)
  • “it’s a small world” (available on Genie+) — a tadpole favorite
  • Tale of the Lion King show (available select days)
  • Watch the Magic Happens Parade near “it’s a small world” (that is where the first parade starts and second parade ends)

One-Day Disneyland Park Plan for Families with Small Kids - Young Kids on Disneyland Railroad

Disneyland Railroad – Take Disneyland Railroad from Toontown Station to the park entrance if exiting the park for a nap, or to New Orleans Square if continuing on. (Either way, you will pass by the Grand Canyon and Dinosaurs dioramas, which are the secret hit of the Disneyland Railroad.) You need to fold up a stroller to bring it on the train.

How to Do Disneyland With Toddlers - It's a small world

Disneyland Park Plan for Toddlers and Preschoolers-Kids play with EeyoreYou can do the following on day two if you want to split up your days or after exiting the train at New Orleans:

  • Haunted Mansion (available on Genie+)
  • The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (and maybe get to meet Pooh and friends in Critter Country from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., but sometimes they appear early!)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Dine at Plaza Inn or Jolly Holiday Café (Jolly Holiday has mobile order, and it’s recommended to order in advance)
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (available on Genie+)
  • Autopia (available on Genie+ and has a height requirement of 32 in.)
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

Disneyland Park Plan for Toddlers and Preschoolers-Ariel with toddler and preschooler

 

Additional options: Catch Storytelling at Royal Theatre (10:45 a.m. until about 5:30 p.m.) and meet princesses at Royal Hall (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Keep in mind your toddler may run in for a hug from a favorite character or be terrified and not want to get too close. Add these activities in if splitting your visit over two days.

You can also move the parade to day two and see the second parade of the day, which is less sunny and hot compared to the first parade. If Peter Pan's Flight is a must for you, do it during Early Entry or you can walk through the castle and hit this at rope drop, but if you are running late, then skip this ride because the line gets long really quickly and you do not want to start your day with a long line.

One-Day Disneyland Park Plan for Families with Small Kids - Minnie Mouse at Plaza Inn

Minnie and Friends Character Dining at Plaza Inn is a great breakfast option if you have the time. Make reservations at Plaza Inn for a breakfast buffet with several characters. If you cannot get a reservation, check the Disneyland app to see if there is any walk-up availability in the park.

Where to Start Your Day With Toddlers

We just love Fantasyland in the morning with small children. It's less crowded for the first hour of park opening. Plus, you never know which characters may come hopping by for surprise visits!

How to Do Disneyland With Toddlers - Boy on slide

Another great spot is Mickey's Toontown. We have a whole post on Toontown with kids. It's obviously less crowded in the morning, which makes it easier to keep track of your toddler. But we like to head there for some unstructured play after we've visited a bunch of rides in Fantasyland. The kids can decompress and have a break from our park plan in Toontown. The hard part is getting them to leave the park-like setting.

You can sit on the lawns to have a picnic, play on the slides, splash in water or interact with characters in new and creative ways. Your little ones will love ringing doorbells, lifting lids to listen for sounds or making things explode. Toddlers have a lot of energy, and this is the time and place to let them climb, rock and spin to burn it off so they will sit still for a show or parade later. On a hot day, go to the cave past the popcorn stand. You can rest there and have a picnic or snack in that area when you need some downtime.

How to Do Disneyland With Toddlers - Toddler area

If your very little toddlers need a safe or controlled area to play in Toontown, there is a fenced area behind Donald's Boat. It's for "Little Goofs" ages 6 to 23 months.

Park Hopping at Disneyland With Toddlers

How to Do Disneyland With Toddlers - Boy in hatWe usually recommend park hopping at Disneyland on a multi-day visit because the park entrances are so close to each other. But when traveling with babies and toddlers, skipping park hopping will save money and your sanity.

It's usually a better idea to stick to one park per day with smaller tadpoles and go at a slower pace. If you do decide to park hop, make a theme park reservation for your starting park at Disneyland (you are allowed to hop after 11 a.m.).

No matter if you are doing one day or two, you'll want to arrive before park opening. Parking lots open one hour before park opening, and security for people walking in from on-site or off-site hotels opens about 45 to 60 minutes before park opening. Then, the park turnstiles open about 45 minutes before park opening. Ropes will contain you at the hub, and, at official park opening, the rope will drop so you can head to your first attraction.

If you are staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel and have Early Entry access, you can go past the ropes into the park. We highly recommend taking advantage of this. You can cover a lot of Fantasyland before the park even opens and the people move in. You do not want to start your day with a long line.

Disney California Adventure with Toddlers

Disney California Adventure is generally better for bigger kids and adults, but there is still plenty to do with a toddler.

Sling Webs and Visit Super Heroes at Avengers Campus – WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure has no height requirement. Your little ones may want to ride, especially if they are Spider-Man fans. It's available on Genie+ if you want to skip the line. It's a great one to ride during Early Entry. Be sure to catch The Amazing Spider-Man later (find showtimes in the app but catch him before 4 p.m.) to see him leap from the rooftops and then meet him afterward.

How to Do Disneyland With Toddlers - Monsters Inc

Monsters Inc. – A human child — a toddler no less — is loose in Monstropolis, and the monsters are all hilariously terrified. Follow Mike and Sulley on this slow dark ride as they try to get Boo back home safely.

Animation Building for Turtle Talk with Crush and Anna & Elsa's Royal Welcome

One-Day Disneyland Park Plan for Families with Small Kids - Turtle Talk with Crush

This is where you can chat with Crush during Turtle Talk and maybe even meet Anna and Elsa.

One-Day Disneyland Park Plan for Families with Small Kids - Disney Junior Dance Party

Disney Junior Dance Party – Showtimes are only from about 10:15 a.m. until 4 p.m., so check the schedule and move things around to plan around this must-see show.

Mickey's PhilharMagic Show – Just across the street from Disney Junior Dance Party is a 3D show that gives you a chance to sit and rest in AC. Shows run continuously.

Eat at Flo's V8 Café – Find kid-friendly foods (such as chicken fenders, micro burgers and mac and cheese) and a table out back where you can watch the cars of Radiator Springs Racers zoom by.

One-Day Disneyland Park Plan for Families with Small Kids - Boys look at Mater

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree – This one has a height requirement of 32 inches or taller. Also, in Cars Land, don't froget to say hi to Lightning McQueen or Mater in front of the Cozy Cone Motel. The Cozy Cone has yummy soft-serve ice cream, as well as mac and cheese in a bread cone.

Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters – This ride has a height requirement of 32 inches or taller.

How to Do Disneyland With Toddlers - Kids holding hands

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail – Get all the wiggles out for some unstructured time in this climbing area.

The Little Mermaid — Ariel's Undersea Adventure – Sit down in a clamshell and go for a musical adventure under the sea.

Have dinner at Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta

Enjoy several Toddler-friendly rides of Pixar Pier

Pixar Pier has a few rides your toddler will love:

  • Toy Story Midway Mania! (available on Genie+)
  • Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind
  • Jessie's Critter Carousel
  • Golden Zephyr

World of Color is an amazing water show if your tadpoles can stay up for it! You'll want to join the virtual queue at noon for a reserved viewing area or ask about standby viewing that night. Our World of Color post has all the deets!

Baby Care Centers and Potty Training

Each park has a Baby Care Center. It's a great place to change diapers or take your potty-training toddlers to use the tiny potties that are just their size. It's also a distraction-free spot to feed or nurse your little one or purchase needed baby care items. At Disneyland, it is located to the right of Plaza Inn near First Aid. At Disney California Adventure, it is tucked away between Cars Land and Ghirardelli in Pacific Wharf. The centers have a vending machine where you can purchase supplies, such as more diapers, wipes or pacifiers.

 

If a Baby Care Center is not in the area, the next best thing is a companion restroom. You can bring a stroller in with you or safely contain several small people while you use the restroom yourself. Plus, like the Baby Care Centers, the companion restroom toilets have a manual flusher. Toddlers seem to be particularly sensitive to the loud sounds of the toilets flushing in the restrooms. With automatic flushers, the toilets going off when you least expect it can be very scary for toddlers. If you cannot find a companion restroom, try covering the sensor with some toilet paper while your toddler goes. We carry Post-It Notes to place over the sensor. Find out more in our best Disneyland bathrooms post.

How to Do Disneyland With Toddlers-Boy with popcorn

Tips for Doing Disneyland With Toddlers

You'll want to employ the following tools at Disneyland to make your toddler happy and your day easier:

  • Bubble wands — Lily is always hoppy to sit in the stroller when she can hold the bubble wand.
  • Take advantage of the sensory break area in the back of Toontown for a rest or snack. It's just past the popcorn stand and offers some shade.
  • Time your souvenir shopping right. Sometimes a well-timed souvenir purchase can get our toddler to stay in the stroller without a fuss. Sometimes it backfires when all the toddler wants to do is play with the toy and not see or do anything else.
  • Take break time with snacks — Mickey ice cream bars, fruit bars, Mickey pretzels and popcorn are a hit, but there are many places to pick up healthy snacks such as cheese, yogurt and fruit. We bring snacks from home to save money and guarantee we have something the tadpoles will like. You can even get Mickey-shaped Goldfish crackers to stay on theme.
  • Don't. Skip. Naptime! Whether you can get your toddler to snooze in the stroller or need to go back to your hotel room, do not skip this important part of your toddler's day. We have some tips on taking a Disneyland nap.
  • Live entertainment — Slow down to watch small musical acts or characters from afar. Sometimes characters seem scary up close but are just fine from a distance.

How to Do Disneyland With Toddlers - Girl with Power Pack

  • Parades — Take a seat on a curb and enjoy the show. Mobile order a meal or snack, such as a Power Pack (Danimals yogurt smoothie, mandarin orange, vegetables, crackers and small beverage), and make wait time a picnic.
  • Watch wait times — You can see ride wait times in the Disneyland app. Hop in line when wait times are the shortest.
  • The Baby Care Centers — Take advantage of the tiny potties with a manual flush or a place to change or feed your little one.
  • Use Rider Switch — If you or your older kids want to ride a ride with a height requirement, ask the cast member at the ride entrance about Rider Switch. That way everyone can ride while someone takes a turn watching the little one.

How to Do Disneyland With Toddlers - Girls with sippers

  • Keep your toddler well-hydrated — Bring familiar insulated sippers and cups to encourage your kiddo to drink fluids. When in doubt, a souvenir sipper might do the trick.
  • Disneyland Park Plan for Toddlers and Preschoolers-Dance PartyBring spare clothes, and dress your family in layers.
  • Apply sunscreen and bring hats.
  • Have a ball — Play with the large balls at Space Mountain or near Pixar Pal-A-Round.
  • Dance Parties — If there is a character dance party hoppening when you are there, don't miss it! The dance parties that take place seasonally in Tomorrowland from 7 to 11 p.m. are a hit with toddlers and preschoolers. Characters, music and dance moves? Count us in!
  • Hop over to our Disneyland stroller post for tips on navigating Disneyland with a stroller.

Hopfully, our park plan and tips for Disneyland with toddlers help your family have a magical day at Disneyland. If you have more than one day to spend in the parks you can save on a multi-day theme park ticket and slow down the pace.

Related: Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland

Related: Complete Guide to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Height Requirements

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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