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Disneyland California Adventure Theme Park: Disney With Toddlers and Preschoolers

After having obtained a degree in biochemistry, Leah works for a small biotechnology company and enjoys writing about science.

Toddler Rides at California Adventures

There are many areas young children may enjoy in the California Adventure park. The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is a toddler favorite!

There are many areas young children may enjoy in the California Adventure park. The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is a toddler favorite!

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. With the closure of the Bug's Life themed area, many toddler favorites have been dismantled to make way for a new Marvel themed land. 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. Some very young children may be frightened by any ride in the dark, for example, so take your child's temperament into consideration before riding a ride like "Monster's Inc." 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.

Disney California Adventure Rides with Height Requirements: A List

The following rides have height requirements, preventing toddlers and preschoolers from riding:

  • Jumpin' Jellyfish: 40" (102cm)
  • Silly Symphony Swings/Tandem Swings: 40" (102cm)
  • Silly Symphony Swings/Single Rider: 48" (122cm)
  • Soarin' Over California: 40" (102cm)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout: 40" (102cm)
  • Grizzly River Run: 42" (106cm)
  • Zip Line and Rock Wall at Redwook Creek Challenge Trail: 42" (106cm)
  • Incredicoaster: 48" (122cm)
  • Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters: 34" (86.4 cm)
  • Mater's Junkyard Jamboree: 32" (81.3cm)
  • Radiator Springs Racers: 40" (102cm)

Radiator Springs Racers Ride Through Video

Cars Land Expansion

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 Rollickin' Roadsters: This ride is extremely fun and not scary in any way. Sit in classic cars as they perform a line dance to a fun musical tune. This was one of our kids' favorite rides in Car's Land (though Radiator Springs Racers is the ultimate favorite)!

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.

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree is a fun ride, and is not scary in any way.

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree is a fun ride, and is not scary in any way.

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!


Flik's Flyers - a Relic of Bug's Land

Flik's Flyers can be enjoyed by very young children. This ride  used to exist in Bug's Land, but this area of the park has been closed to make room for a new Marvel themed area.

Flik's Flyers can be enjoyed by very young children. This ride used to exist in Bug's Land, but this area of the park has been closed to make room for a new Marvel themed area.

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!

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!

Riding on one of the sliding cars on the Fun Wheel is thrilling for older children, but smaller kids may prefer the stationary cars.

Riding on one of the sliding cars on the Fun Wheel is thrilling for older children, but smaller kids may prefer the stationary cars.

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

Tiny nets for tiny feet - there are plenty of places for toddlers and preschoolers to play at Disney's California Adventure.

Tiny nets for tiny feet - there are plenty of places for toddlers and preschoolers to play at Disney's California Adventure.

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.

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!

Toy Story Midway Mania is extremely fun for all ages (as long as the height requirement is met)!

Toy Story Midway Mania is extremely fun for all ages (as long as the height requirement is met)!

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.

Monster's Inc: Mike and Sully to the Rescue

This fun dark ride takes guests on a tour of Monstropolis, looking for Boo, the small girl from the movie. The ride vehicles travel through the Child Detection Agency as the agents there continue their search for Boo - culminating in the hall of bedroom doors. The character Randall wants to destroy Boo's bedroom door, but is thwarted by Mike and Sully. This ride is quite fun and has no height restrictions. Children who are frightened by the dark or by audio-animatronics may be fearful of this ride, but most preschoolers enjoy it.

Mike and Sully to the Rescue!

The Best California Adventure Ride for Kids: A Poll

© 2011 Leah Lefler

Comments

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on October 18, 2015:

We love Disney. It is a fun place to go! I need to update this article since there are new rides at California Adventure (the Little Mermaid and Radiator Springs Racers) that small children would enjoy.

Nope on July 24, 2015:

I like reading the secrets of disneyland

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on February 08, 2011:

Thanks! Both of my little guys are too small for many of the rides at theme parks, but we went to Disney in California last July and we were surprised by how many things they could do!

freecampingaussie from Southern Spain on February 08, 2011:

I don't have young kids anymore but its a great hub!