By Character Diva
It seems as soon as I finish one Disney vacation, I’m ready for the next one. Having only traveled to Disneyland and California Adventure once with toddlers, there’s definitely a lot of strategy and planning involved. Honestly, there’s a lot of stuff that you’re probably not going to get to do unless you go for at least 3 days. Some things are closed for refurbishment (aka routine maintenance) and others are closed because they break down for part or all of the day. Then some things just have really long lines, or you’re so busy doing other stuff that you just don’t get around to it. To help you get through as many things as possible, I suggest making a list of everyone in your group’s top 3. Hopefully, if nothing else, you’ll be able to get these things checked off your list. And while I’m listing more than 3, here are the top 11 attractions I hope to take my kids on our next Disneyland vacation. Why 11? Well I was going for 10, but I just couldn’t pick. There’s too many great choices!
1. Dumbo. This is the number one thing I want to do with my kids. The last time we visited Disneyland (which was my kids’ first trip), Dumbo was closed for maintenance. Although I had checked the website ahead of time and knew it would be closed, this was a major disappointment, since I had really wanted to take my kids on it, particularly my daughter. I wanted those classic Dumbo pictures you see in all the commercials, or that I have with various family members when I was growing up. My three year old daughter even talks about it constantly, with lines such as, “We need to save money so we can ride Dumbo!” or “Grandma ride Dumbo with me?” and “Dumbo bring us money so we can go Disneyland!” Yes, Dumbo is definitely the number one thing I want to do.
2. The Disneyland Railroad. Mainly so my kids can experience it (again, this is something that was on our “To Do” List last time that didn’t make the cut… When you combine trains and dinosaurs (two of my kids’ favorite things), not to mention the chance to ride continually over and over again (yay for sore feet or people needing a rest!), to me, this is a no brainer. Disney Diva Tip: This is also a great spot to breastfeed since you can stay on the train until you choose to get off.
3. The Teacups. Twice. And one of those times, I want to be in the plain, purple teacup. I’m sure most of you have heard the rumor, but apparently the purple one is the fastest. I don’t know if this is actually true or just a placebo effect, but I’m happy to take one for the team and test the theory. Plus my daughter absolutely LOVES the teacups. She could ride that and the Astro Orbiter all day. So riding the teacups (in both the purple one and some other random one) is definitely on my to do list.
4. Peter Pan’s Flight. Okay, so I know this one of the most popular rides at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom (the line is always ridiculously long), so you’re probably surprised why I didn’t get to it until number 4. While I like Peter Pan, I’ve never understood why this ride has such a longer wait than some of the similar rides surrounding it (Snow White’s Scary Adventure, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Alice in Wonderland, and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey). To me, they’re all pretty similar. However, my kids DO LOVE Peter Pan. So I suppose I’ll put up with the long line and take them on it. I’m also a big Kathryn Beaumont fan (the original voice actress for Wendy and Alice, and it’s her voice on the Disneyland attractions), so that’s a fun Disney fact.
5. Gadget’s Go Coaster. Rescue Rangers was one of my all-time favorite shows as a kid. I loved Gadget! And we had Rescue Rangers EVERYTHING! When they built Toontown back in the mid-nineties, they did make one tribute to the show and specifically, the character Gadget. Known as an inventor, Gadget’s Go Coaster is compiled of all kinds of things lying around that Gadget constructed into a mini-roller coaster (just perfect for little ones who meet the 35 inches (89 cm) or taller height requirement). It’s very tame… but it’s a roller coaster. And one that I can take my kids on. So while I do wish they’d have a Rescue Rangers Meet & Greet (at least occasionally), this is a way that I can relive a little bit of one of my favorite childhood shows and share it with my kids.
6. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Okay. So this is not something you would usually take your toddler to. I get that. But this is my dad’s all-time favorite attraction, and whenever we went to Disneyland as a family, as long as it was open, you could guarantee we’d be going. Or at least my dad and I would. So I have a very special place in my heart for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (besides the fact that I think he was probably the best president our nation has ever had). And while I’m not quite sure how my kids will feel about this attraction, it’s tradition (though sadly yet another one we didn’t get to do last time), so I’m extremely determined to do it this time around. Disney Diva Tip: This is also a great attraction to go see if you’re hot, tired, it begins to rain, etc.
7. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. There are many great things about this ride when it comes to toddlers or babies. First, Winnie the Pooh and his friends are characters that almost every toddler knows. Second, maybe I’m just really lucky, but whenever I go, the wait time is always ridiculously short. And by that I mean it’s usually like 5 minutes. So you can ride this ride over and over again. There’s also the Winnie the Pooh characters Meet and Greet nearby, so after riding the ride, you can take your toddler over to greet the famous characters from the 100 Aker Wood or you can pause for pictures near “Pooh’s Thotful Spot”. Disney Diva Tip: It’s also right next door to Splash Mountain and Hungry Bear Restaurant, so if you have people in your group who want to ride Splash Mountain but your kids don’t meet the height requirement, this is a good alternative to do while you’re waiting. And if you need a bite to eat, Hungry Bear (and a flock of hungry ducks) are right there too.
8. Carsland in California Adventure, I’m just going to group all of it and count it as one big thing. While Carsland was open on our last trip, we had a pretty disappointing experience. Radiator Springs Racers were closed for maintenance, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree broke down and was closed all afternoon (so we were unable to ride it), and the line for Luigi’s Flying Tires was INSANE, and seeing as we were on a time crunch to meet people, we definitely weren’t about to wait through that. So while it was fun walking around, and we did get our pictures taken with Mater, Red the Fire Truck, and a few other random Carsland stuff, it was really a disappointment and I don’t really feel like we truly “experienced it”. So that’s a big “To Do”. Disney Diva Tip: Note, there are height restrictions on all of the rides mentioned above. You must be 32″ (82 cm) or taller and accompanied by another rider 54″ or taller to ride Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree or Luigi’s Flying Tires, and you must be 40″ (102 cm) or taller to ride Radiator Springs Racers. So unless my kids miraculously hit major growth spurts, this will be something just me and the hubby ride.
9. Wilderness Explorers. Up was the first Disney movie my husband and I saw in theaters together, and it has always had a special place in my heart. And the kids get to collect badges, and who doesn’t love a fun souvenir? Plus it’s obviously really interactive, and I love the idea of having to do challenges or go on a scavenger type hunt to collect everything. So we definitely want to test that out.
10. Disney Junior Live Show! Again, this isn’t a ride attraction…. It’s a show. But a very interactive one at that, involving popular characters such as those from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Sofia the First, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Doc McStuffins. All shows which my daughter absolutely loves. We took the kids to this show on their first trip, and both of them were very engaged. They spent a good portion singing along with the shows’ theme songs, clapping, and dancing throughout the show. Toodles (from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) gives you Mousekatools (one from each of the other shows) to help you along the way, and my kids walked out with tons of tissue paper gold doubloons. Disney Diva Tip: This is also a great attraction to go see if you’re hot, tired, it begins to rain, etc.
11. Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train. As stated, my kids love trains. And who doesn’t love Heimlich? I think he’s my favorite character from “A Bug’s Life”. And I think my kids will absolutely love this ride (even if it is very short). After all, who wouldn’t love riding inside a giant caterpillar while he gives you a commentary on how much he loves candy corn? And when you’re done, you may feel like you’ve eaten as much as Heimlich too!
So those are my top 11 attraction choices for the next time we go to Disneyland and California Adventure. What are yours?