Disneyland, California: Rides and Attractions for Young ChildrenDecember 30, 2010 1 Comment
Growing up in Southern California my family and I had many opportunities to visit Disneyland. I spent most of my teenage and early married years with annual passes to the Magic Kingdom so needless to say I thought I knew it inside and out. However, on our recent family trip to “The Happiest Place on Earth”, (a trip with six adults, one preschooler, and two babies), I learned that Disneyland as a single person and Disneyland as a parent are two very different places. Our vacation took us to parts of the Magic Kingdom that I’d rarely visited before but that quickly became favorite spots for our three-year old son. Below I’ve highlighted some of the kid-friendly rides and attractions that we enjoyed the most during our vacation with The Mouse.
1. Fantasyland- The majority of the attractions in Fantasyland tell the stories of many of Disney’s most popular animated movies and include rides such as Peter Pan’s Flight, It’s a Small World, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and the King Arthur Carrousel to name a few. Since there are no height requirements for any of them they’re ideal for families with small children. On our most recent trip to the park, we not only took our three-year old son on all of them but I also wore our then three-month old daughter on most of them as well.
Our son enjoyed seeing some of his favorite Disney cartoons up close as we went through the rides and loved walking across the drawbridge of Sleeping Beauty’s famous castle. I have no doubt that when our daughter gets a bit older we won’t be able to drag her away from all the Princess themed stores and attractions!
I do have a word of warning about Fantasyland though: our son did fine on all of the rides this year but many of them are in semi-darkness with characters that pop out as you ride by and on our last visit a year ago, some of the attractions scared him. The witch in Snow White and some of the images in Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride particularly bothered him at that time. We’ve found that most of our friends with children between the ages of about 1-2 1/2 years have similar issues so if you have a child that age or one who is a bit sensitive to that type of environment you might want to go on a test run without them first to make sure it’s okay!
The only other thing to be aware of in Fantasyland are the long lines. Since the rides are so kid-friendly, they’re on almost every family’s list when they come to the park. The summer months, and the weeks surrounding the major holiday’s and school breaks are of course, the most crowded throughout Disneyland so make sure to keep that in mind when planning your trip!
2. Mickey’s Toontown- This section of the park, (added in 1993) is one of our son’s favorite places to visit since he can actually go into the houses of most of his favorite Disney characters. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Chip ‘n Dale all have interactive homes to walk through. Our son particularly enjoyed Minnie’s house with the refrigerator loaded with food, the oven complete with baking cake, and the dishwasher full of bubbling water. He also enjoyed the tour of Mickey’s house where he got to meet Mickey at the end and have his picture taken! Donald’s boat and Goofy’s Playhouse both have a playground feel to them with all the toys that can be played in, on, and around.
For older children, Toontown also has a small roller coaster called Gadget’s Go Coaster (from the Disney cartoon series “Chip ‘n Dale’s Rescue Rangers”) but it does have a height requirement of at least 35”. Though Toontown is at the very back of the park, the Disneyland Railroad makes a stop here providing a more restful way to get to your next destination.
3. Kid-friendly rides outside of Fantasyland- Though Fantasyland may be the most well-known spot for family attractions, there are a number of other rides throughout the park that also work well for young children. In Adventureland there’s the Jungle Cruise; Critter Country has The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh; Frontierland has The Mark Twain Riverboat; New Orleans Square has Pirates of the Caribbean, and Tomorrowland has the Astro Orbitor, Finding Nemo Submarine, Voyage, Autopia, and Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, (a favorite with our son)!
All of the rides listed above have no height requirements which make them great for the whole family. The fire engines, double-decker busses, or horse-drawn carriages on Main Street are also a lot of fun for little ones! Then of course, there’s always the Disneyland Railroad which stops at Main Street, New Orleans Square, Mickey’s Toontown, and Tomorrowland and The Disneyland Monorail which circles the Resort and has stops at Tomorrowland and Downtown Disney. These last two attractions are great ways to sit back and relax for a few minutes while still enjoying the Disney scenery. If you’ve got strollers though, beware! You either have to leave them behind at the monorail or the train station where you boarded. The other option is to collapse the stroller and bring it along.
4. Attractions other than rides- Rides are certainly one of the best parts about being at Disneyland, but there are a number of other attractions and activities for families to enjoy as well. Tarzan’s Treehouse, located in Adventureland, is a fun place for kids to explore as is Tom Sawyer Island in Frontierland, (accessed by taking a raft across the Rivers of America). Parents of young children will want to stay close by on both of these attractions though, as little ones can get pushed aside by older kids or separated in the winding lay-outs. Tomorrowland has Innoventions which houses a number of fun, interactive exhibits and also the Starcade, an arcade full of video games that can be played by kids of all ages.
On our last trip, our son especially enjoyed petting all the farm animals at Big Thunder Ranch located in Frontierland and the original Disney cartoons playing at the Main Street Cinema.
Disneyland has so many fun rides, shows, and attractions that even after spending three days at the resort we still weren’t able to fit everything in. We certainly had fun trying though!
For more information on Disneyland, California including a complete list of rides, attractions, and height requirements, please visit their website the Disneyland Website where you can find a wealth of valuable information for your vacation.