Disneyland California Adventure Theme Park: Disney With Toddlers and Preschoolers
Toddler Rides at California Adventures
California Adventure: Not Tall Enough?
While Disneyland offers a plethora of rides targeted to toddlers and preschoolers, California Adventure is a different story. Many of the current rides have strict height requirements, which makes touring the park difficult with young toddlers (or any person below the height of 40") difficult. Even the bumper cars require a minimum height of 36", which prevents most young toddlers from riding. The park has added several new attractions which allow the entire family to ride (Ariel's Undersea Adventure and Toy Story Midway Mania, among others), and has recently added an entirely new section to the park: Cars Land.
With that in mind, there are still plenty of rides and attractions to fill a day with the smallest family members.
A Word of Warning: Consider More than Height Requirements
Height requirement alone does not determine the appropriateness of an attraction for young children. The "It's Tough to Be a Bug" 3D movie, for example, has no height requirement, but will frighten the daylights out of any toddler or preschooler. With dangling black widow spiders and a "wasp sting" in the back, this attraction is not meant for young children.When a ride lacks a height requirement, read the attraction details by the ride entrance or talk to a Cast Member to determine the appropriateness of the ride for young children.
Tuck and Roll's Buggies
Disney California Adventure Rides with Height Requirements: A List
The following rides have height requirements, preventing toddlers and preschoolers from riding:
- Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies: 36" (91cm)
- Jumpin' Jellyfish: 40" (102cm)
- Silly Symphony Swings/Tandem Swings: 40" (102cm)
- Silly Symphony Swings/Single Rider: 48" (122cm)
- Soarin' Over California: 40" (102cm)
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: 40" (102cm)
- Grizzly River Run: 42" (106cm)
- Zip Line and Rock Wall at Redwook Creek Challenge Trail: 42" (106cm)
- California Screamin': 48" (122cm)
- Luigi's Flying Tires: 32" (81.3cm)
- Mater's Junkyard Jamboree: 32" (81.3cm)
- Radiator Springs Racers: 40" (102cm)
Cars Land Expansion
Disney California Adventures recently completed a massive renovation. The centerpiece of the theme park expansion is Cars Land, a 12 acre area based on the Pixar movie Cars. Cars Land opened in 2012 and is now open to the general public. The rides featured in Cars Land include:
Luigi's Flying Tires: These tires hover on a cushion of air. The minimum height to ride is 32", so most preschoolers will be able to enjoy this ride with an adult. Steering the ride vehicles is easy - simply lean in the direction you wish to go! Older Disney fans may fondly remember the flying saucers at Disneyland - this ride uses a similar technology.
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree: This spinning ride features Mater. The minimum height to ride is 32". Riders sit in a trailer behind Mater, and are pulled in circles.
Radiator Springs Racers: This fast racing ride covers half of Cars Land - a six acre race around Radiator Springs thrills adults and children. The minimum height to ride is 40", which means that most very young toddlers will not be able to ride. This is considered a thrill ride, so pregnant women and those with health considerations should also not ride.
Rides Appropriate for Toddlers and Preschoolers
The following rides and attractions have no height requirement, and will be loved by most toddlers and preschoolers:
The Disney Animation Building
This building might be overlooked by a first-time visitor, but it is packed full of air-conditioned activities and shows for preschoolers. Turtle Talk with Crush is an amazing, interactive show with the beloved turtle from the Finding Nemo movie. The animation building also contains the Animation Academy, where children can learn to draw their favorite Disney characters.
Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular
A Broadway style show, this musical is sure to thrill young children with familiar songs and a known storyline. Aladdin's magic carpet literally flies into children's imaginations!
This is a circular flying ride that is mild in thrill level and appropriate for all young toddlers and preschoolers. Riders hop into food cartons and soar above the Bug's Land area of the park. Watching the movie "A Bug's Life" will help create a familiarity with the characters in this area of the park. There is no height requirement for this ride.
Francis' Ladybug Boogie
A spinning ride on a figure-8 track, this ride is just wild enough to give preschoolers a thrill. Some toddlers will also enjoy this ride, but be aware that the spinning motion might be a bit much for the youngest toddlers.
Golden Zephyr Video
The Golden Zephyr
This ride looks impressive, and is surprisingly smooth and mild. The silver zephyr cars glide above the park, and children love flying high! There is no height requirement for this ride, and children can sit right next to their parent on this ride. This ride also gives a lovely view over the park, allowing guests to view the rides from a high-flying perspective. This is a ride the entire family can enjoy together.
King Triton's Carousel
The ocean-themed carousel is beautiful and beloved by toddlers and preschoolers. Ride a whale, seahorse, dolphin, and more!
Heimlich's Chew Chew Train
This caterpillar train is extremely (some would say excruciatingly) slow, but the youngest toddlers will absolutely love to ride Heimlich through watermelon slices and cookie boxes, smelling the food as they go. We found that our children enjoyed this ride the most from infancy to the age of four years. Once children are older than four or five years old, this ride may prove to be less entertaining (and not worth the long wait in line).
Mickey's Fun Wheel
A massive Ferris Wheel on Paradise Pier, Mickey's Fun Wheel is visually appealing to kids. Families with younger riders can ride in a stationary car, while families with adventurous preschoolers can try one of the "free mounted" cars that slide along a track!
Monster's Inc., Mike and Sully to the Rescue!
A ride themed to the popular Pixar movie, this dark ride follows Mike and Sully as they attempt to return Boo to her bedroom. With a new Monster's Inc. movie on the horizon, this ride will remain relevant to young children for quite some time to come. Like all dark rides, this ride might frighten very small toddlers. Keep your child's temperament in mind before deciding to ride.
Muppet Vision 3D
The Muppets are a long time family favorite, and this 3D movie doesn't disappoint. Young toddlers may not keep the 3D glasses on, but this movie experience will be loved by everyone in the family. Kermit, Fozzie Bear, and other favorite characters are featured in this fun movie, with plenty of classic 3-D effects (a flying banana cream pie, cannon balls, and a fire truck ladder popping out of the screen)!
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
Disney Jr., Live on Stage!
The perfect show for young children who love the Disney Channel's morning programming, kids can watch their favorite television characters live in action! Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Little Einsteins are all included in this show for preschoolers.
Princess Dot Puddle Park
It might be a good idea to pack a spare set of clothes, because kids will get absolutely soaked in this water play area. Toddlers and preschoolers will have the time of their lives running and jumping through the sprinklers in this area!
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
Cargo nets, slides, bridges, and the ability to run free: a recipe for Kid Paradise. This area also has a toddler-safe cargo net area, with a smaller weave so little feet don't get caught in the nets. A word of warning: children love this area so much, they may not want to leave!
Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies
Preschoolers must be 36" high to ride this ride. Children under the age of seven must be accompanied by a responsible adult in the ride vehicle. This ride is located in the Bug's Land area of California Adventure, next to the Ladybug Boogie ride. A classic bumper car style ride, children love spinning and "crashing" their cars into other vehicles.
Toy Story Mania
A headline attraction with amazing effects, this ride has no height requirements. While young toddlers may not keep the 3D glasses on, they will still love this ride as it zips around a midway filled with Toy Story themed midway games. Preschoolers will love "shooting" 3D rings, darts, and more at the various game stations. This is a ride the entire family will adore, and want to ride again (and again, and again)!
The Little Mermaid Ride Through Video
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Adventure
Guests travel "underwater" in this new dark ride. Ariel's grotto, Sebatian's orchestra, and Ursula's lair are featured in this ride, and each "shell" ride vehicle turns backwards and head "under water" through a series of special effects. There is no height requirement for this ride, and all children may ride with their parents through this gentle, entertaining ride. The seagull Scuttle helps to narrate the story through the ride, to fill in any gaps for people who may not have seen the movie.
A "meet-and-greet" area has been set aside next to the ride, for young children to meet Ariel and get autographs.