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Tips on Taking Your Preschooler to Disneyland
Casey Jr. Train Ride
Disney For Toddlers
There is nothing quite like experiencing Disneyland through the eyes of a child, especially when meeting Mickey Mouse for the very first time. If you're planning a trip to Disneyland with a very young child, here are some tips that will help you capture the special magic of The Happiest Place On Earth.
Always Go Early!
You'll likely be up early anyway, so go to the park as soon as it opens and head for Toontown and Fantasyland. You can also leave the park late morning and have lunch someplace quiet and take a nap before heading back into the park.
While You Wait
Rides at Disneyland
Tips for Choosing Age-Appropriate Rides
Many rides at Disneyland are especially well-thought-out for the preschool to early elementary aged child. The key is to not go just by rider height requirements, but to consider what your child is ready for. Dark rides, scary rides, or emotionally intense rides may be fun for you, but probably not for your preschooler.
Disneyland rides are immersive, they put your child right into the action. Even if your child has watched the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, a preschooler probably isn't ready to be thrust into the middle of pillaging and plundering. So, consider bypassing rides that you know are based upon intense movies or stories.
Parents who want to go on a ride that is not preschooler-appropriate can ask the cast member at the ride for a "baby switch pass" or "rider switch pass." This way, one parent can go on the ride first, then the second parent can bypass the line and go on the ride.
Best Disneyland Rides
Alice in Wonderland
Car ride through Wonderland.
Some dark parts, loud, Queen of Hearts has angry face
Casey Jr. Circus Train
Train ride around Storybook Land
Open train cars.
Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Hundred Acre Woods ride
Some dark parts. Loud.
Fly through the air with Dumbo
Open Dumbo cars, high in the air.
Boat ride through the jungle
Water ride, Corny jokes may go over preschooler's head.
King Arthur Carousel
Main Street Horse Carriages
Horse-drawn streetcar down Main Street to castle.
Can be a long wait.
Main Street Vehicles
Firetruck and old-tyme auto rides
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin
Spinning cars through Toontown
Dark, loud, cars can really spin though parent can control it.
Storybook Land Boats
Ride a boat through miniature storybook land.
Train ride around the park
Attractions at Disneyland
Tips on Choosing Attractions for Preschoolers
Disneyland is a magical place even if you don't go on a single ride. Attractions, street performances, shows, and simply walking down Main Street is fun for a preschooler.
Mickey's Toontown, in particular, is a place designed with the preschooler in mind, and you don't have to ride on a single ride to have a great time. Go early to Mickey's House and to Minnie's House for one-on-one meetings and photo opportunities. The houses are spectacular, with lots to see and to touch.
There are several play areas in the park, such as Chip 'n Dale's Treehouse, Donald's Boat, and Goofy's Playhouse in Toontown. Seek out Tarzan's Treehouse in Adventureland - the musical pots in the base camp area are really fun.
In Fantasyland, look for the Sword in the Stone. With your back to the carousel, pull on the sword and look up at the big windows to your right. You may see the witch open the curtains to peek down on you!
If you're on Main Street, take some time to look at the store fronts and listen. For instance, as you walk by Painless Dentist office, you may hear the dentist's drill! Main Street is also one of the best place to meet characters. Chip 'n Dale have been known to perform in front of the fire station, and Pluto and other characters are often found in the Plaza.
Consider starting a Disneyland tradition surrounding an attraction. Making a wish in Snow White's Wishing Well and listening to Snow White sing is still something I do every time I visit Disneyland.
Travel Products for Preschoolers
Disneyland Parades and Shows
To Parade or Not to Parade?
Some preschoolers don't want anything to do with parades or shows, and that's fine. There is plenty to do and see at Disneyland without watching a single parade. That said, if you really have your heart set on experiencing a parade or show with your preschooler, go ahead and give it a try. Keep in mind, though, that Disneyland really knows how to throw a parade. It will be loud and wonderous, quite mind-blowing for the first time parade goer. Be prepared to leave in a hurry if it is too overwhelming for your child. Otherwise, consider bringing noise-reducing headsets made for young children, or simply plan to experience only a few minutes of the parade.
For the big shows like Fantasmic! You'll still be able to see much of the action without parking yourself at a key vantage point way ahead of time. Keep in mind, also, that the storyline is pretty intense and may be difficult for a young child to understand. It's also louder than you can ever imagine.
Young children may prefer the entertainment provided by the smaller performances that take place around the park at various times. Look for the trash can musicians that often perform in Tomorrowland, or the Barbershop Quartet singers on Mainstreet. New Orleans Square also features wonderful musicians.