Disneyland or Bust

Updated on April 28, 2008
N.S. asks from Folsom, CA
6 answers

My family and I are heading down to the magical place on Earth next week. I was hoping anyone had any ideas on travel tips with a 21 month old-girl and a 4 year old-boy? We are driving. I have never been to Disneyland with kids so if anyone can share what they did with theirs I would love to hear them, such as what rides are the best for little ones and what rides we can ride all together. We are also going to Universal Studios as well and Hollywood Walk of Fame. Thank you for your ideas!!

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So What Happened?

Hello All!! I want to thank everyone that gave us such great suggestions for our vacation. We had such a wonderful time I have to say. Disneyland will always have a soft spot in my heart. It was extremely crowded which was stressful for us, but we did ride some great rides like Dumbo our first ride the kids loved it very much. I did notice that most of the rides in tunnels were pretty scary, but my kids handled it very well even my daughter, she just would peek out a few times to see what was going on and then hide her head under my arm. I was just so thankful to get to ride all together that was so fun. We actually spent Wednesday and Friday there-- very very busy even on a Wednesday. We saw the Fantasmic show (not bad, but pretty scary for little kids) which my husband now wishes we would have saw the fireworks on Main street. We were trying to leave during that time and it was like running with the bulls. There were millions of people running into us it was hard not to hit anyone. It's almost like it should be called the crowded place on Earth. California Adventure Park was a great time we got to do so many rides that day my son just loved all the roller coasters he could ride and his favorite was Grizzly River Run. We rode that one time early in the day then went back and rode it two more times. The last ride I got so soaked even my shoes were soggie all day. What you do for our children. I now wish we would have rode that more because my son had such a great time on that ride. Oh we even did splash mountain he really loved that one as well. We only could ride that one once or stand in line for more than an hour..Yikes! We did wait for the Nemo ride that was pretty cool I must say too long of line, but it went by fast playing with my son in line and talking to a lot of young people from India. We also loved downtown Disneyland loved all the shops and music so nice want to go back again. On Saturday we headed for Legoland and we are so glad we got that advice thank you for that. We have to say that was our most favorite time because it wasn't as crowded. I felt more relaxed and it was so much fun to see all the legos build it amazed me how they did that. Also my son and I went on that really big roller coaster I thought it might be kind of scary for my boy, but I have to say he was a tropper. When we got off the ride he wanted to go again, which would have been great not long lines, but when I saw his picture when coming down the steep hill I laughed so hard he had fright all over his face. It might not be funny to laugh so hard, but the look on his face was so scary I had no idea. I loved it because he wanted to ride it again. It was so precious to have the time with my son on all the rides we got to go on together I'll treasure that forever. I noticed that he is getting older a little excited about it, but want him to stay young as long as possible. Thanks again all for the great info!! Happy Vacations to all Summer is coming or is it here already?! P.S. We did catch the Disney Parade which was awesome! My son and caught the last part of Ca parade, we got out of Soarin Ca too late. At least my hubby got lots of pics!! ;-))

More Answers



answers from Sacramento on

Just got back with my group of 3. 7, 4, and 16 mos. Had a great time... I would bring a stroller for both or a double one if you have it ....a must. Also pack in lots of water...we would bring in 12 to 15 bottles each day. You can also bring in kid snacks...do that too. You can give them snacks when you go from one side of the park to the other, but we also found lots of good snacks at Disneyland too, like fruit and prezels ect.... The the two younger ones liked the parades and shows. My 4 year old like the 3d shows. Toontown is great for kids to get out and walk and play. California Adventure has water play for the small kids too. Great place to cool down. Get there when the gates open and play until about noon...then it starts getting hot and if your kids need a nap head back to the hotel to rest... wake up eat an early dinner or late lunch and head back for the parades and fireworks. We stayed all day and rested at lunch, 3d movies and water places ...my baby sleeps well in the stroller. In the car if you have a dvd player it work great for us. Stay calm and go with the flow and you will have a great time.....
Dont worry there are lots of little kids rides everywhere to go on..... and most of the rides you can hold the baby. Have fun.....:)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Hi N.,

I have taken my 2 boys to Disneyland a couple of times, would love to go back again someday. my boys are older so they can go on all the rides. for your 2 little ones, I suggest a small world they will love the music and all the movement in there. also through Cinderella's castle.

as far as the drive, it's been awhile since I drove with my boys when they were that young, but we did alot of stops just so they could stretch their legs and not be cooped up in a car for a long time. bring their favorite books, music and stuffed toy to keep them occupied in the car. non messy snacks help alot too.

have a wonderful time,




answers from Sacramento on

You might want to skip Univeral Studios. Your kids won't enjoy it. Perhpas Knots Berry Farm or (my favorite for the preschool set) Legoland would be a better use of time and money.

Start in Fantasyland with Dumbo. Right next to it is a cute train ride (Casey?). Alice in Wonderland are and Peter Pan's Flight are winners. Skip Snow White and Pinocchio but the rest of the rides in this area and Toontown should be good. Nearby Toontown has Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, which is a little much for the toddler. Gadget's Go-Coaster might be fine for the 4 year old.

Small World is closed, I think. Go to Autotopia. Is your 4 year old a Star Wars fan? THen don't miss the show.

The Jungle Cruise is fun. The Enchanted Tiki Room can be relaxing. OTOH, the nearby Tarzan's Climb, (and Tom Sawyer Island and Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in CA Adventure) are a great antidote to waiting in long lines.

Pace yourself for the evening parade.



answers from Sacramento on

Hi N.,
My family is cuckoo for Disneyland (have been numerous times and have a sister whose family still goes annually, the whole family even though her "kids" are now 24 & 28 and one lives across the country, lol). My son is 13 now, but the first time we went, he was 4, and the first time I went (at 14), my niece was 3. Here are my tips:
Best rides for little ones and rides you can all go on:
If you can, head out as early as possible and go straight to Fantasyland before the lines get too, too long (and they will early into the day). Hit Peter Pan first b/c that particular ride is always the longest line. You'll ALL love it and you can all fit on it together. It's one of my favorites. Then just hit all the Fantasyland rides you want, but know that some are scary for some kids (almost always, those have the shortest lines... or even no line). We love them, but they can scare some little ones (Snow White and Pinnocchio, in particular --but not ALL little ones get scared). They're all worth experiencing if your kids are up for it, though. In Fantasyland, you should be able to ride most of them as a family, given the ages of your kiddos. Btw, a great spot for pictures, either your own or ones the Disney staff take of you to purchase later, is in front of Cinderella's castle off the side, Snow White's grotto area. You can get pics there, most often, w/o strangers in the background of your shots (a nice bonus). Also, Ariel's grotto area between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland is good for this, too. Unfortunately, Small World is closed right now (and for several more months, I think), but whenever you go back to Disneyland, make sure to take the kids on that one --it's ideal. Snaking up to Toon Town, ride-wise there's a kiddie coaster and Roger Rabbit, but they might not be your kids speed (my son liked them by 7-10; he wasn't into speedy or jerky rides as a little one). There are some things to check out there, though, that your little ones might enjoy playing on, w/, & around. Plus, the characters come out at certain times there (another pic opportunity). On another day that you can head out early, go straight for Tomorrowland and hit Finding Nemo before that line gets long (boy, does that line get long). It's an enclosed submersed ride, so if any of you aren't sure about that, know ahead of time --but, it's a really fun one for little ones b/c they watch a Nemo 'show' as you move through the ride in the water (all together). We love it. Also, definitely take them on Buzz Lightyear's Astro Adventure in Tomorrowland --great fun! I think you might have to split 2 & 2 for that one, unless you can lap each child and ride that way. Know that, just before the end of the ride, the ride takes your picture in the astro vehicle and when you exit, walk to where the computer terminal are to find your family's pic(s) and enter your home email address. They'll email the pictures right to your home computer --every time you ride it. Star Tours is in Tomorrowland and might appeal to your little ones, or it might be too much, depends on the kid. You can all ride it together. It's a simulated ride and a jerky one, but if your kids like that, they'll enjoy it. It takes you on a pretend space tour w/ some pretend 'uh oh' moments. We think it's fun -and you can all ride together. More Tomorrowland, the Honey I Shrunk the Audience show might scare your little ones. There's a 'can scare you' think w/ a snake in the visual show. You can all go together, but it might scare them. Innoventions is in Tomorrowland and it will either bore your kids at their age or they'll love running around to touch and play on the different computers and things they have there. Autopia is right by it, though, and they'll probably enjoy that one. It's a slow-paced car ride and I think you can all fit in one car (maybe). Space Mountain is out for their age, but if they don't mind heights, there's an Astro ride in the front of Tomorrowland they might like (kind of like Dumbo, but higher up). They do shows in an outdoor area in Tomorrowland that might interest your 4yo, so check what's listed for when you're there. They do a Jedi show and involve kids in the audience ---if your son likes Star Wars. The Pizza Port is there, too, if you want tasty, giant pizza slices for lunch or dinner. In New Orleans Square, you HAVE to ride Pirates of the Carribbean --you can all fit together. My son was a little nervous about some of the figures and a 'spooky feel' when he was 4, but still loved it. We just diverted his attention from the things that gave him chills. He really loved it, though. And, so do we. It's our #1 fave. Look for the Blue Bayou Restaurant when you're in New Orleans Square (it's near the exit to the Pirates ride) and book reservations for lunch or dinner the following day (you have to book before noon to get reservations for the following day, almost always). If you do, you can all dine inside the Pirates ride for a meal (the kiddie menus are also a pirate hat your kids can wear). If your budget is tight, do it for dessert only, b/c it's one of the pricier restaurants. If you do get dessert, order the pirate ship brownie --the whole thing is edible, sail, mast, and all (sail is spun sugar, I think). The Haunted Mansion is in New Orleans Square also, but may scare your little ones, depends on the kiddo. My niece LOVED it when she was 3, the whole thing. My son, at 4, loved it AFTER the beginning in the elevator only. It's another you can all ride on, too. The treehouse connects New Orleans Square and Adventureland and your kids will probably love climbing it (be cardio ready for the climb). Then, in Adventureland, they'll probably enjoy the Jungle Cruise -another 'all-ride-together' ride. I don't think that would scare them, but maybe startle at first -if they aren't sure the animals are fake. Indiana Jones is there, but, like Space Mountain, I think you have to skip it. My son always loved the gift shop in Adventureland -the animals and things they had there.. he just always loved that one. Oh, the riverboat rides on the water --you can all ride together and sail around the 'river' inside Disneyland.. your kids might like that. The island, too --my family hasn't been there since they changed it from Tom Sawyer's Island to Pirates, but my son LOVED it as Tom Sawyer's Island when he was 4. He would have spent one entire day there alone if we could have. You should definitely check it out for run-around, climbing, exploring play. I'm sure it's still super fun even though it's changed now. Back over the water from the island, you move into Critter Country. You can't miss the Winnie the Pooh ride, there! Your kids will love it. My family still loves Pooh even though we're 39, 36, & 13 yo. It's one of our favorite rides, takes us 'back'. You can all ride together, too. And, don't miss the sweet shop and gift shop outside the exit of the Pooh ride --yummy and fun to look through, too. Also, there's a photo op area there for the Pooh characters --check when they're available for pics and autographs (gotta meet Pooh, Tigger, and Eyeore, after all). The Country Bear restaurant is a nice lunch stop (I love that they have tasty Boca burgers, but they have great 'real' burgers, too). Splash Mountain is in Critter Country, too, but may be too steep or wet for your kiddos. I'm not sure what the height restriction is -my son has refused to ever ride it b/c of the steep drop (even at 13.. sigh for me). Also, I swear it's almost always closed when we're there. But, when you ride the train that takes you all around the park or from Land to Land, you can see inside the Splash Mountain ride and your kids will likely enjoy that. Definitely catch that train and ride all through at least once --to see the Dinosaurs and Grand Canyon 'then and now'. Also, use the train if you get tuckered and need a way from one Land that's from another w/o walking. Frontierland is left --Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is not to the speed of your little ones, so skip that, but there are great areas in Frontierland for pics and they have shows/activities, too. Your son (and husband) might like the shooting gallery there, too. Mine both love it. I am probably missing something, but I think that's a good rundown for rides for little ones and rides you can all ride on together (and some food thrown in). Oh!~~your kids might enjoy the old silent Mickey cartoons on Main Street. My son discovered Mickey Mouse at 4yo w/ those and was hooked. It's one of his favorite things to do when we go. The Penny Arcade and Gibson Girl ice cream parlor there should entice them, too. There's an old firetruck they can climb on (and take pics on) just inside the park on Main Street and they run old fashioned vehicle rides to take you to Cinderella's castle (double-decker bus is my son's favorite). The First Aid station, should you need it is to the right of Main Street walking toward Tomorrowland, tucked around the corner of the corner photo shop (the shop you go to later in the day to check on any Disney pics the staff have taken of your family). If you have any medicine you need to bring w/ you, they will hold it for you there, if you'd like (refrigerated meds, too). My son has medical issues and we always have meds to bring w/ us.
Also, on Disney Walk, outside the park, you might want to hit the 2-story Build-a-Bear workshop and the Lego store. Btw, if you can swap Universal Studios for Legoland, that would be much more 'little one friendly'. If Legoland is too far, what about the LA Zoo? We spent half a day there easily.
If you're going to California Adventures, I'd advise you skip the Bug's Life show --scared the buhjeebuss out of my son at 4yo (we had to leave during the show), but the Muppet Movie show is a fun one to take in instead. Even though your kids are little, see if you're allowed to go on the Soaring Over California ride there --it's so worth it, but I don't know about the height restrictions. I'm not as into CA Adventure, but there are some great areas in there for the little ones w/ little one rides and an area for running around and just playing on stuff, too.
Travel tips --bring stuff to amuse them, lol. :o) And, pack snacks and water. They sell both healthy and sugary snacks and water in the Park, but it's costly. Refill your water bottles at the fountains if you can (and if you don't mind the taste.. it's not that bad). Eat at off times, but know there will always be lines and crowds even then. Oh, shoot, and when or if you book that Blue Bayou reservation --after you arrive for your reservation, tell them you'd like to wait for a table near the water (as long as it won't be a ridiculous wait --or you'd rather not). My family prefers a table by the water inside the ride for the ambience, so I thought I'd suggest it. Another "OH!" --The Rainforest Cafe on Disney Walk --you should try really hard to get a reservation there b/c your kids would LOVE it!! The entire restaurant (ceiling, walls, everything) is decorated as if you are inside the rainforest, complete with animatronic jungle animals that go off every 20-30 minutes (and the rainforest has a 'storm' every 20-30 minutes, too). Make sure your kids know the animals are fake, so they won't be startled, but it's really, really cool --even the giant 'bridge' fish tank inside is cool --and the gift shop (of course, lol). When you book your reservation (same thing --book a day ahead), ask for seating near an animatronic animal (it's worth it, if you can get it). They're open for breakfast, too, so consider it for any meal of the day. The Disney monorail stops and starts right next to it --you can ride it out of Tomorrowland to the Cafe or vice versa (and you can ask to wait for seating in the front of the monorail--they usually let you if you're willing to wait for the next train). Nevermind going ahead to book reservations, I found my #'s and will give them to you --(714) 781- DINE is the # to book reservations for Disneyland restaurants (Blue Bayou incl) and ###-###-#### is the # to book the Rainforest Cafe on Disney Walk. Also, if you should need it, here's the # for Disneyland's Guest Communications -###-###-####.
Have a GREAT trip! I can't wait 'til my family can go back next year. :o)
M. B



answers from Sacramento on

Hi! I haven't been to Disneyland since I was a kid but we took out 4 year old to Disney World when she was 4 (we were living on the east coast at the time). Here is my advice. Plan to head out to the park in the morning and then go back to the hotel around early afternoon, take a little siesta, and go back to the park in the late afternoon. Epecially if you want to stay until night to see the lite up parades and fire works. Otherwise your kids will never make it the whole day and it will be meltdown central!! Another option is to just head out later in the day but I find the little ones really need a nap or at least some quiet time back at the hotel. My other advice is to axpect a meltdown or two. Be calm, patient and just let it ride itself out. Getting upset will only make it last longer. One issue that we had was that my husband grew up a Disney kid, his family went every year so he was so excited to share every experience and ride with my daughter. My daughter however was apprehensive about anything that went through a dark tunnel (which is just about everything) and would have been happy to just ride the tea cups all day long. Although she did get 18 rides on the teacups, my husband also dragged her on all the rides that she was nervous about which did not help with all with the already overwhelming experience. My advice is to discuss things like this ahead of time and agree that if your child is perfectly happy riding the teacups and Dumbo all day and playing in Pooh's corner then to just let them. It is about them having a good time, right? Good luck, have fun, remember who this vacation is for and be patient with meltdowns - avoid them by taking mid day breaks. HAVE FUN!!



answers from San Francisco on

You have gotten good suggestions about the Disneyland rides, but eveyrone forgot about the Winnie the Pooh ride. It is over by Splash Mountain.
Also, I hope you got park hopper tickets so you can go to Cal Adv Land. The Bugs World is really cute and great for little ones. Also they have a water play area so bring a change of clothes so kids can cool off! There is also a great play area themed after Brother Bear. It is next to the Grand Cal Hotel and the water raft ride. Tons of fun! They are also creating a new Toy Story ride, but not sure if it's open yet. That reminds me, Buzz lightyear ride is fun in Disneyland! Go to Playhouse Disney at Cal Adv Land, and try to see all the parades at both parks. The kids love the parades! And defintiely start early, get there when they open (Main Street opens early) and then take naps in the afternoon. Have fun!

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