Ultimate Disneyland guide for a trip with young kids
I always wanted to visit Disneyland with my kids: I imagined it being fun and colorful and I knew there would be some rides and a princess or two. But what we have experienced on our trip last week have exceeded my wildest dreams! And now I know why people call Disneyland the most magical place on earth!
See, I used to hear friends saying they won’t go to Disneyland before their kids hit a certain age, and I even used to think that it’s not a fun place for adults without kids.. But let me start with saying that Disneyland is so much more than a place with Disney characters walking around and some rides!
What I have experienced is that Disneyland has something for everyone- young and old, crazy or calm, adventures or reserved! There is plenty of exciting rides for the thrill seekers, there is lots of calm attractions for the calm types, there is plenty to do for both little and big kids, and the food scene is amazing! And if you’re an adult who likes to travel to beautiful cities and sightsee, like I am, then you’ll be amazed too!
Actually the food is so good that I’ll be sharing a separate post all about Disney food- stay tuned!
We traveled with our three young kids, who where 7 months old, 5 and 7 years old, and we have mostly focused on the little kid attractions. Before going though, here’s what I suggest to do:
- Upload the Disneyland app– it will help you plan your days in Disneyland, help you know the park, show you the waiting times for the rides, let you make food reservations and order your food ( yes, you can order your food on the app and then just pick it up! Such a great life hack with kids!)
- Make dinner reservations– while there are plenty of snacks on the go, some of the more fancy restaurants do need a reservation! Good news is that sometimes you can do it even the day before!
- Check the weather and pack “layered” clothing– it tends to get a bit chilly in the evening, so it’s good to have a jacket or hoodie! And don’t forget comfortable shoes! You will be walking a lot!
- Get your tickets online, and get the Max Passes too– they will let you skip the waiting lines ( very important with little kids!) and once you’ll get them, make your ride selection in advance too!
- Check if your travel stroller/umbrella stroller is in a good shape. If your kids are younger than 4 years old then I would suggest a stroller, though you can always rent one in the park!
- Note where are the Baby Centres– if you’re suddenly out of diapers or baby food you’ll be happy to know where’s the closest Baby Centre!
- Plan which Disney characters you want to meet and check on the app where they are!
So if you are wondering if you should go to Disneyland with your little kids, and if so, what are the best things to experience while there, here’s my top 10 :
1.Pixar Pier – this new beautiful part of Disneyland has everything – from the ultimate thrill ride to the best ice cream, it’s simply lovely and was my favourite place to hang out both by day and by night! What not to miss :
- The Pixar Pal-A-Round Ferris wheel – perfect for kids and anyone who enjoys a beautiful view – bonus- the not swinging cabins are a great attraction to experience with babies, and you can even breastfeed while on the Ferris wheel in peace!
- The Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff – absolutely the cutest shopping and treats spot!
- The Incredicopter – definitely THE ride for the thrill seeker ( my hubby went on three times!)
- Lamplight Lounge & Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats- The foodies dream spot- with the amazing menu, over the top drinks ( both alcoholic as non alcoholic) and a beautiful sunset water view- definitely a must ! ( and it’s kids friendly too!)
- The World of Colour – breathtaking after dark show!
2. Paradise Garden Parks – best little kid friendly rides! What not to miss :
- The Little Mermaid Undersea Adventure– my girls did it twice and where begging for more- and this in another ride that you can do with a baby on your lap!
- Golden Zephyr and Jumping Jellyfish rides- perfect for the preschoolers ( they just need to be higher than 40 inches)
- Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta– with all the palm trees and the loveliest of architectures this place feels like a destination dining experience on it’s own!
3. Mickey’s Toontown: The cutest place for toddlers and preschoolers, full of little kid friendly rides and yummy snacks! What not to miss:
- Mickey and Minnie meet and greet – while you can meet all of the Disney characters throughout the park ( use the Disney app to plan who and where to meet) meeting with these two who started it all is an experience of a lifetime !
- Visiting Mickey’s and Minnie’s house– your kids will feel like in a cartoon while discovering the singing kitchen appliances and all the cuteness hidden inside!
- Little kids rides: Chip “n Dale treehouse, Gadget’s Go Coaster and Donald’s boat- all are perfect for little kids!
4. Cars land– is the home to the the beautifully made Grand Canyon, the best ever Car’s inspired ride, a 50ies style diner with amazing breakfast lunch and dinner, and a family friendly ride that will delight all Cars lovers- definitely a must see ! Here’s what not to miss:
- Radiator Springs Racers– is a fun ride for anyone higher than 40″ -With the desert landscape of the Disney·Pixar movie Cars and a fast but not too scary it’s a perfect family attraction!
- Flo’s V8 Cafe– a perfect spot for breakfast lunch or dinner- with the most on the spot 50 decor, will make you feel like you traveled back in time!
- Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree– great little kids ride ( from 32″ and up! )
5. New Orleans Square– my personal favorite, and a biggest surprise of our trip- the beautifully recreated Louisiana inspired setting, with the loveliest architecture, the most amazing food and fabulous atmosphere! What not to miss:
- Cafe Orleans– Best lunch spot ever with the most epic fried grilled cheese and best fancy fries I have ever had!
- Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island– this is a great place for little kids (there’s no height requirement) and especially great for toddlers and preschoolers who need to run around!
- Mark Twain Riverboat- a lovely sight seeing tour on the old-fashioned steam-powered vessel, is yet another attraction that you can do with both little kids as babies!
- Haunted Mansion- a must do ride with no high requirements!
6. Fantasyland – an absolute must with little kids! Here’s where you’ll meet the princesses, hop non a ride with Alice In Wonderland and experience the fairy tale magic! What not to miss:
- Mad Tea Party– this classical spinning attraction that is perfect for everyone-there’s no height requirement do you can even go with your baby ( though my baby was napping so he missed the pleasure!) This one is an absolute blast and a great photo spot too!
- Alice in Wonderland ride– another great ride for young kids and toddlers, with the storytelling agde!
- King Arthur’s Carousel– an old fashioned carousel that my girls loved!
- Dumbo the flying Elephant– also a great ride for the young kids!
7. Pixie Hollow– a fairytale house and literally a hidden gem! Also, a great place for snapping the instagram perfect shoots! Why visit? :
- Meet and greet with fairies
- Calm down and rest in the shade ( good option for tiered toddlers!)
8. Hollywoodland– this is where you’ll feel like you’re visiting the glamorous city, listen to life jazz music and watch the best shows! What not to miss:
- Frozen show- need I say more?
- Superhero meet and greet – my girls loved meeting Superman!
- Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue ride- any age and any high ride! Perfect for families with little kids!
9.Grizzly Peak– if you’re in to camping and forest adventures, you’ll feel right at home! But also, it’s a really great place to explore with the little kids! Here’s why:
- Redwood Creek Challenge Trail– after braving the rides and sitting in the stroller, little kids will love to run and explore this forest trail ( and if you have a busy toddler you’ll love how calmed down he’ll be after that!)
- Soarin’ Around the World – absolutely beautiful and surprising ride, feels like flying over the continents and was definitely one of my favourites! Bonus- it’s good for kids as small as 40″ so most likely you can do it with your preschoolers too!
- Hot Fresh Churros- do I even have to say anything more?
10. Character dining– breakfast or dinner with one of your favourite Disney characters? Happy and amazed kids? Yummy food? Should I say more? Here’s where you can experience it:
- Storytellers cafe
- Goofy’s Kitchen
- Napa Rose Restaurant
- Plaza Inn
I really hope that this list will be a great starting point for your first family trip with little kids to Disneyland! Though of course Disneyland has so much more to do, see and experience – you just need to go and see for yourself!
And to help you plan your Disneyland trip I prepared this printable planning checklist:
Also, if you are a Canadian Resident, then there’s a great promotion happening now : you can purchase an adult 3-day, 1-park per day ticket in advance for as low as $207 USD total―that’s just $69 USD per day! See here for more details!
And for all things food and drinks- stay tuned for the ultimate foodie guide to Disneyland, coming soon!
Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Disneyland Canada, all opinions remain exclusively my own!