Disneyland may be the happiest place on Earth, but when you’re dealing with particularly young children, it’s not always easy to make everyone happy. With rides like the Incredicoaster or Mission: Breakout! popping up, it seems that Disneyland is moving more towards a big kid haven. With the impending closure of A Bug’s Land, it seems that there might soon be even less for preschoolers to do. If you’re a family with kids five and younger, here are some attractions you should be checking out.
1. Cars Land
Cars Land in California Adventure can be a great area for the whole family. While the average four year old could go on Radiator Springs Racers, any children who are younger could go on Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. If you have a family with multiple preschoolers, you could spend all day here. With Mater and Lightning McQueen rolling around, your little one can also meet his or her hero. Also, with several dining options in this area, even your pickiest eater who’s going through that “I won’t eat anything green or yellow or red phase” can find something to eat.
Toontown is always a safe place for the little ones. There’s a lot to see and do that keeps the kids pretty active. Actually, the rides themselves aren’t all that great for the youngest of your group. Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin is great if you have a child that doesn’t mind the dark and Gadget’s Go Coaster is good for the mini-thrill seekers. And you can check out Mickey and Minnie in their houses, but, if you have particularly young kids, please, please skip this. Yes, it’s cute to have a picture of your kids with Mickey, but you’re looking at a wait that is always over an hour, unless you’re going right at rope drop. Preschoolers are going to have a hard time waiting that long. Instead, explore Toontown! Preschoolers will love how it engages all their senses. They can climb on Chip ‘n Dale’s treehouse or play around on Donald’s boat or Goofy’s playhouse.
3. Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
When you’re looking for attractions for preschoolers, the more interactive, the better. They’ll love exploring new places in the Pirate’s Lair. While Dead Man’s Grotto might be a bit too dark, there’s plenty more to see and do. And it’s a chance for the whole family to play together. They can climb up to Castle Rock or find buried treasure in the Treasure Dig. For slightly older preschoolers, perhaps four or five, they can inspect the Blacksmith Shop and find secrets in Smuggler’s Cove.
4. Tarzan’s Treehouse
Much like Pirate’s Lair, this option is a great one because of the interactivity of it all. Your preschoolers might be too young to remember when Tarzan came out, but I certainly hope you’ve introduced it to them by now. If not, please go do it now. Your little ones can explore the treehouse, climb ropes and bounce along the bridges. All of that is fun, but the base camp is where they’ll find the most entertainment. They can pull the vines for fun surprises and make music while “trashing the camp.”
5. Turtle Talk with Crush
Here’s a more relaxing way for your kids to be entertained. This option is particularly great if you have already had a bit of an active day and you need a break but your kids don’t. Take a break while your kids talk to Crush. They’ll love the attention and the opportunity to feel like they are the star of their own show. Plus it’s always a new show so you can take come back each time you go to Disneyland and your kids won’t be bored with it.
When I say Frozen, I mean all things Frozen. So far, five years after the movie’s premiere, the hype is still going strong. You might be a bit tired of “Let It Go” but the kids aren’t. And if you’re not able to see Frozen on Broadway, you can still see it at the Hyperion in Hollywood Land in California Adventure. And if your kids are really big fans of the musical, they can meet the princesses at Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome inside the Disney Animation building or learn to draw Olaf in the Animation Academy. Plus they can meet Olaf on the streets of Hollywood Land!
7. Disney Junior Dance Party!
Your preschooler watches Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First at home, but they’ll be so excited to see them in person. This show encourages kids to be involved in the story. They can sing and dance along with their favorite characters. All of the major characters of Disney Junior are a part of the party, from Kion of “The Lion Guard” to Mickey in his “Mickey and the Roadster Racers” look.
8. Heroic Encounters and Princess Encounters
Face character encounters are always more fun than characters that can’t talk back when you have a talkative and extroverted kid. Your little one can learn how to fight crime with Captain America or how to sing with Rapunzel. They’ll always remember when their favorite character told them stories about their home and their magical history.
If you have a shier child, it might be better to avoid situations where you put them on the spot. As a shy child, I did not like talking to the princesses because I got scared when they started talking to me in front of others. I was totally fine with characters who couldn’t talk to me. As I said earlier, meeting Mickey is great and all, but try to avoid Mickey’s house. If you really want your little one to meet him, aim to meet him on Buena Vista Street instead. The lines are always much more bearable. Many of the fully costumed characters can be found throughout the day in California Adventure, like Nick and Judy on Pacific Wharf or Pixar Pals on Pixar Pier.