Our Top 10 Tips for a Day at Disney California Adventure with a Toddler
Updated: Aug 19, 2019
If you follow us, you may have seen our piece featured in Lifehacker detailing how to survive a day at Disneyland with a toddler in tow. If you know SoCal theme parks, you know about Disneyland’s younger sibling, Disney California Adventure (DCA). While this park is smaller, with fewer attractions, more of the fun is geared toward older kids and adults, so we wanted to give a quick list for those traveling with toddlers. From shows to rides and more, DCA still has a lot to offer little ones, if you know where to look!
As mentioned, more of the attractions are geared toward older guests and have restrictive height minimums (think the Incredicoaster or Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout), but little ones can still join in on the fun. Here are a few of our favorites that Mouseketeers of any age and height can ride.
Ariel’s Undersea Adventure: Cozy up in a clamshell and take a trip under the sea for this bright and lively ride detailing Ariel’s story from the movie, told with all your favorite songs and some great animatronics (look out for the larger than life Ursula – one of my faves!).
Pixar Pal-A-Round: This one is our son’s favorite and he asks to ride it on every visit. Previously, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, this ferris wheel with cars themed to various Pixar friends is a great way to relax and see the park from the sky! Just make sure to choose the swinging or non-swinging side. Personally, we prefer the stable non-swinging side, but if you want a little more adventure, you can choose the other line!
Toy Story Midway Mania!: No trip to DCA would be complete without a ride on Pixar Pier’s Toy Story-themed game-like ride. Take a spin with your favorite pals and try your aim at various 3D objects like balloons (filled with confetti!) and plates. While the highest score wins, everyone is sure to have a blast!
Though rides are fun, sometimes you just want to relax (and maybe escape the heat for a bit). DCA has a wealth of great entertainment both indoor and outdoor that everyone in the family can enjoy.
Frozen – Live at the Hyperion: This stage show, running about one hour, beautifully translates the story from the movie to the stage, featuring all the songs you know and love (or maybe just have stuck in your head). Not only are the production values great, but the theater is also air conditioned, so it’s a great way to take a break during the heat of the afternoon.
Tale of the Lion King: This show, running just under ½ hour, is held on the plaza outside Ariel’s Undersea Adventure with Pixar Pier as its backdrop. Don’t let the short runtime fool you – the cast is all-star caliber. We suggest grabbing a cool treat or drink before settling in for the show. And make sure to have the little ones close to the front so they can dance along with the cast!
Mickey’s PhilharMagic: This indoor 3D show has long been a favorite at Walt Disney World and finally made its way west this spring. This immersive show, featuring music from some of your favorite Disney movies, showcases Donald Duck (despite the show’s name) attempting to take over for conductor Mickey and hilarity ensues!
No trip to a Disney park would be complete without a few treats and we wanted to highlight some of our favorites, from savory to sweet, to try during your day at Disney California Adventure with your toddler.
Corn Dog Castle: Daddy Paul and Ander both love a corn dog doused in mustard, and the dogs at Corn Dog Castle do not disappoint. They are piping hot on the inside and crispy on the outside. Grab one to enjoy while walking around Pixar Pier after your journey with Ariel!
Jack-Jack Cookie Num Nums: Just like in the movie, Incredibles baby Jack-Jack’s favorite cookies are sure to settle any moodiness. Look for the stand near the Incredicoaster, where you can dig into a shareably-sized warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie that tastes fresh out of the oven. Don’t forget the milk!
Schmoozies!: Finally, you will need something chilly to cool down. We love the Mangonada smoothie. It features pieces of Chamoy and mango and is topped with chili candy for just a bit of a kick.
Bonus Tip: Bring your own stroller. While it is convenient to rent one from Disney for the day, we find the park's strollers to be a bit too reclined and unshaded, leaving your little one in more of a sunbathing position than you might like.
We’d love to hear about your favorite attractions, fun and eats while spending a day at Disney California Adventure with a toddler! And if you see us in the park, say howdy!
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