Disney California Adventure Tips for Little Ones

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Okay, mamas – get ready for my Disney-theme follow-up – this one is all about my tips for visiting Disney California Adventure, a fabulous park that has LOTS of toddler-friendly, fun rides and activities. In case you missed my last post, here are my top 10 tips for visiting Disneyland with toddlers.

Here they are in no particular order…I hope these tips and tricks for visiting Disney California Adventure (or DCA) in Disney lingo!

Don’t Miss These Rides!

1.  “A bug’s land” is a great area for toddlers.  The rides are similar to “Fantasyland” at Disneyland – the Francis’ Ladybug Boogie is like the teacups, the Flik’s Flyers are like Dumbo, and so forth.  My munchkins love this area, and can easily spend awhile here.

Bonus?  There is a small splash pad to let the kids cool off on hot days, so make sure to pack a swimsuit, towels, sunscreen, etc. if you plan on getting wet

Note to mamas – the bug’s It’s Tough to be a Bug “live show” can be scary for little ones – it’s a cute show, but is “underground” and the majority of it is in the dark with…well…bugs.

2.  Cars LandA super fun “land” that tends to be one of the busiest places in the park to visit since its grand opening.  A word of advice – if you know that the Cars “Radiator Springs Racers” ride is really important to you and your kids, go straight to the FastPass line, like first thing when you enter the park (walk straight in, pass the Carthay Circle Restaurant on your left, and it is tucked in on the left). The ride is pretty awesome, but is typically a 90-minute+ wait.  FastPass is the only way to go, but they run out quickly.

I also have to give a shout-out to Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.  Super cute ride, cute music and cute things to look at in line.

Note to mamas– most of the line is covered – important in warm weather!

If you can, try to be walking along the Cars Land “main drag” at dusk…they light up the streets and play music like they do in the movie (you know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen the movie 83 times, like I have).  Super cool and super cute.

3.  Take a ride with the Little MermaidI have never waited more than 10 minutes for this ride (usually five minutes!).  It is air conditioned, adorable, and my kiddos want to go on it multiple times.  Works for me!

Note to mamas – if your kids are uncomfortable in the dark, this ride is not for you.  I wouldn’t consider it scary at all, but you are “under the sea,” and there are pockets of darkness in between the singing and character displays.

4.  Love Toy Story?  My kids do.  The 4-D “Toy Story Mania!” is a must, but always has really long lines…with no FastPass option.  So if you know you want to do this, head over after you pick up your Cars Land “Radiator Springs Racers” FastPass and try to avoid the crowds.

Need a Break?

5.  Disney Junior – Live on Stage.  THE show to be at, according to my kids.  Yes, mamas.  There is an actual “live” show that  features Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First – interactive, air conditioned, and lots of room to squeeze in people (you sit on the floor…lots of room and I’ve never actually been turned away from a show…there always seems to be enough places to sit).  This show is so cute…and such a fun way to get off your feet, cool off, and enjoy seeing your kids go nuts over their favorite Disney Junior characters!

6.  The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.  This is a cute play area next to the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa and is a GREAT place to let your kids run around and burn off some excited energy.  There is an obstacle course for the kids, caves to walk through, slides for little ones, a “zip line” for older kiddos, and even a chance to earn a “Wilderness Explorer badge,” by searching for clues (on a guided map).

Note to mamas – no strollers allowed, they must be parked outside of this area.

7.  The Grand Californian Hotel and Spa has cute little rocking chairs with fun, black and white Disney cartoons on televisions in their lobby, if you and your kids need a break to cool off.  You can enter from the DCA park, but remember – make sure to get your hand stamped for re-entry!  Also, the entrance to DCA from the hotel is reserved for hotel guests, so beware that you may have to re-enter the park from the main entrance if you plan to return.

Rumbly in our Tumblies

8.  We took our daughter to Ariel’s Grotto for a “princess lunch” on her birthday (they also do breakfast).  Oh.my.word.  This was SUCH a cool experience for both of my kids.  The food is fabulous (several courses from a fixed menu), the atmosphere is beautiful and Ariel and her princess friends are announced to the room, enter, and actually walk to each table to chat with you and take as many pictures as you want.

My little girl was in heaven.  When we were there, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Cinderella, and Snow White were part of this experience (in addition to Ariel greeting each family as we walked down the staircase and into the dining room).  Make sure to call ahead for reservations (I would make them as far in advance as you can) – (714) 781-DINE or (714) 781-3463.  It’s a little pricey, but it is WORTH it!

9.  Disney California Adventure has lots of yummy places to eat, so you really can’t go wrong.  My personal favorite is the Pacific Wharf Cafe on the “Wharf” – they have great salads, fresh bread bowl soups, fruit, nice, plump sandwiches…yum! (Note to mamas – seating is outside on the wharf).

Keep an Eye Out for Characters

10.   On “Hollywood Lane,” we typically find the Disney Junior characters right outside of the Disney Junior – Live on Stage area.  Toy Story characters are usually on the Paradise Pier in the little gazebo across from the carousel.  We’ve seen Buzz Lightyear, Jesse the Cowgirl and Woody – super cute and rarely long lines.

Who else loves Disney California Adventure as much as my family does?  What tips and tricks do you have?  Please comment below and share your ideas!

 

9 Comments

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9
  1. 1
    Jen says:

    I never would have known about the Redwood Creek! Thank you! Makes me want to go to “DCA” like today!

  2. 2
    Haley says:

    The Monsters Inc, ride! Hardly ever a wait, as it is tucked away in the front corner. My little one would go on this ride 3 to 4 times in a row because of the short wait. Also, Sully can often be seen posing for pictures in that area.

  3. 3
    Jessica says:

    Also, behind “ghirardelis” in fisher and wharf there is a toddler station with small toddler potty, changing tables, and a place to sit and cool down while watching a Disney movie. Also there is a first aid center and breast feeding rooms. When you leave, you walk straight into cars land on the right or fishermans wharf on the left. (Grab a free ghirardeli chocolate on your way to wherever though first!)

  4. 4
    jen says:

    Didn’t know about the toddler station! Thank you for sharing!

  5. 5
    Christy says:

    Awesome tips mamas! Thank you! I will keep those in mind for my next DCA visit 🙂

  6. 6
    aimee says:

    Such great tips. We just went to California Adventure a few weeks ago and took the kids to the Aladdin show. It was a great way to break up the day. We’ll be sure to try Disney Junior next time.

  7. 7
    Christy says:

    Good idea Aimee! We’ve never been to that show…we’ll have to check it out.

  8. 8

    Is California Adventure better than Disneyland for Toddlers?

    • 9
      Christina says:

      In my personal opinion there is more to do at Disneyland for kiddos. We went last year in August, my son was 2 at the time, his favorite ride just happened to be Pirates of the Caribbean :-D. I was very happy we had a park hopper because that ended up being our last ride every night of our three day trip. I should mention we didn’t spend much time in a Bug’s Land, but he did love the Little Mermaid ride. But if I were to choose a park for little ones I believe Disneyland is the better choice. DCA tends to be geared more towards adults. But we had tons of fun at both parks!

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