Disneyland with Toddler and Preteen

Updated on April 06, 2010
A.S. asks from Henderson, NV
10 answers

We are headed to Disneyland and California Adventures for 2 days later this month. I have a 2 year old girl (in LOVE with Disney Princesses) and 12 year old stepson. I'd love some advice on what to not miss for my 2 year old and how others have managed with having 2 totally different age kids. I want to make the best of our time, so everyone has a good time. Any advice would be great! Thanks!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

plan on splitting up for part of the day

if you are staying at the resorts ask which days you can get into park early-plan accordingly

Ca Adv has a big run around play area. I highly rec!

dont plan on doing everyride-or staying from open-close.

for the 2 yr old-she'll never know what she is missing. so dont worry about it

no line is worth it

do not miss soaring over CA-do a fast pass

ca adv allows single rider-so for the big roller coaster the line can be so much shorter

the 2 yr old will have height restrictions. i think the Disney website should help w/ planning

fantasyland can have seriously long lines-they move very slow

winnie the pooh is next to splash mtn

bring multiple cells so you can find each other

e mail me w/ specific q's. I have been a pass holder for over 15 yrs.

More Answers



answers from San Diego on

We went last year with our 2 daughters (2 year old and 17 year old)
We stayed 3 days at a local hotel to have enough time to visit both parks.
To our surprise we find out that California Disney Adventure offered more activities to satisfy the entire family (shows, rides,etc)
During our next visit we will use at least 2 days to visit California Disney Adventure and probably just one to go to Disneyland.



answers from Reno on

The age spread between my oldest and youngest is 12 years, so I hear you! Don't try to do too much, and realize that sometimes someone will be bored or tired or whatever. The guidebooks all suggest a midday break - if you can make it back to your hotel, your daughter can nap while your son gets pool time. (My kids always wish they had more time in the pool.)

For Princesses, look at your map and schedule (they hand it out as you walk in) and find out when story time with Belle is. You can also see and get photos with at least 4 princesses by standing in one line at the Fantasy Faire (just outside Toontown.) The line will be long, but your daughter will love it. Maybe your husband can take your son to Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin while you're in line - it's nearby, and not TOO little kiddie. ;) Also, Ariel's Grotto offers princess breakfasts. It's pricey, but you're guaranteed 1-on-1 time.

A lot of the "storytelling" rides - Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan, Nemo Submarines, Soarin' Over California - are fun for all ages. California Adventure has some great all ages shows. Try the live Aladdin show, MuppetVision 3-D and the live show in front of the Monsters Inc ride - I can't recall the full name, but it's something like, "Drawn To The Magic." It's a fun live show, hardly ever crowded, and afterward you can get photos with Cinderella & Mickey.

The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail (in California Adventure) and Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer's Island (Disneyland) offer great places to get out of the heat, play, explore and meet fun characters, with far fewer crowds and far shorter lines than most places. There are things for both your kids' ages.

Have fun! Don't try to see and do it all, just try to make a few great memories! Don't stress - just enjoy! :)


Something I didn't add yesterday - there are a few places where there's a toddler friendly spot next to something for older kids, so it might be good to split up, one parent with one child. For instance, in California Adventure, the 3-D show "It's Tough to Be A Bug" is too scary for your daughter (trust me), but your son will enjoy it. It's next to the Bug's Life fair area that the 2 year old will love, so you can take her there while your husband takes your son to the show, and meets you afterward. California Screamin', the big roller coaster, is next to King Triton's Carousel, so one parent can stay with the 2 year old while she rides (probably 2 or 3 times in a row) while the other goes on California Screamin' with the 12 year old. On the gondolas on the huge wheel with Mickey's face on it, one group can do the swinging gondolas while one does the stationary ones. You can be apart but close, and have more fun than insisting that everyone do every ride together. Have fun!



answers from Seattle on

Personally, I wouldn't ever let my 12 year old be on his own in Disneyland with a cell phone. Sure, it's the happiest place on earth, but it's also a breeding ground for icky people - lots of kids, lots of distractions, big crowds, easy to sneak away with someone else's child. I think the idea of splitting up is great. Have hubby do big rides with his son and you have some mommy daughter time in Fantasyland. Toon Town also has a lot of self-guided "rides". They have character houses where kids can crawl on the furniture, etc... That will be fun for the 2 year old and there are things for the 12 year old, too. Just don't send the 12 year old alone anywhere. One of you could also go back to the hotel for an extended period for pool time and/or nap with your 2 year old. Have fun - I love Disneyland!!



answers from Los Angeles on

lets see heres what i did with my daughter whos 3 at disney land-

disney princesses first (littlerally first or you will have a 2-3 hour wait the rest of the day).
pixie hallow (tinkerbell)
peter pan
snow whites scary adventures
alice and wonderland
haunted mansion
story time cruise
small world
pirates of the carribian
jungle cruise
winnie the pooh
you can take your 2 year old on just about anything.



answers from Los Angeles on

the 1st thing you want to do is go to Disneyland.com and download a map of the parks. When you get there (main park), have your son get on the bigger kid rides 1st. they usually take the longest. Feed your 2-yr-old some fruit or a lite snack while he does this. After a few for him, head over to Fantasyland so she can ride and take Princess pictures (near the Castle). I have a 19, 17, 10, 4, and newborn. this has always worked for us. When the 2 gets sleepy, your son can continue his rides. CA Adventure can be done in a few hrs. Don't miss the show with Crush (Finding Nemo) which they will both love, and you will too after all that walking!
Have fun and I wish you a great trip!



answers from Kansas City on

One thing we would do is split up for part of the time. My husband loves roller coasters, which I dont, so I'd do some of the little kid rides while he rode the roller coasters with my little bro. And at 12, your stepson may want to do some things on his own, so you might want to make sure he has a watch and/or cell phone and a plan of where to meet up and when if you split up.



answers from Los Angeles on

Be sure not to miss the walk-through tour of Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland! It can be easy to miss if you don't know it's there, because it's walk-through and there's never a line. When you walk through the middle of the castle the door to enter is on the left on the backside of the castle. The 2-yr-old will love walking through a castle and seeing the 3D depictions of scenes from the film.



answers from Los Angeles on

The worst mistake we see parents make at Disneyland is when they try to cram too much into one trip- we all know that kids can only take so much stimulation, and inevitably there are tears and disappointment. Instead, schedule lots of little breaks, snacks, and don't let any of your group get too frantic. Pick maybe 3-4 attractions for each of the kids that you MUST do, and anything else can be icing on the cake.
There are numerous areas where a girlie can get her "Princess" on! Do look at the website and get info on the Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Bootique in Fantasyland (you can make reservations for this) as well as the Princess Fantasy Faire in the far end of Fantasyland.
Having had my own kids in similar age-ranges, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much they will both enjoy the same things. Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters in Tomorrowland is a good one they can do together- as are the Toy Story ride, Muppet 3D, and other "kid" rides in California Adventure. Depending on the "scare level" of the 2 year old, even Pirates of the Caribbean is really fun for some little ones (2 of mine loved it, 1 didn't). Toon Town has some fun things for little kids, but the Roger Rabbit ride might be fun for both.
Hopefully, you will have another adult with you to let the 12 year old do some of the more active rides (most rides allow one adult to stay with the non-riding child, then trade out so he/she can ride when the other is done...ASK a Cast Member, this is very simple and convenient).
Other than that, bring lots of money, an extra change of clothes for the 2 year old, and set your goal as "JUST HAVE FUN!"



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi A.,

If you are not already staying at a Disneyland park hotel, you might want to consider it. I think on Fridays and Saturdays, you are allowed in the park an hour early. It's a great time to stand in line for rides that are normally mobbed with people. Also, although you will probably get a lot of advice for Ariel's Grotto (in CA Adventure) for a meal, I'll mention it anyways. It's pricey, but when we went, we had five princesses, including Ariel, of course, come to each table, spend quality time with my daughter, and pose for all sorts of pictures. It sure beats having to stand in line and being scooted off after a quick picture and autograph. It was a great way for kids that are into the princesses to get an up close, personal visit with them. When we went, Ariel, Aurora, Snow White, Mary Poppins and one other that I can't remember came table-to-table that day.

As for the age difference, I'm sorry I don't have any good ideas for you. However, a lot of the rides can be fun for both ages. The Jungle Cruise, the Buzz Lightyear ride, and Star Tours in Disneyland are three that come to mind, and in CA Adventure, don't miss Soaring Over California.

Have a great time!


For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions