Disneyland and kids – nothing goes better together. But let’s face it – navigating excited little Mouseketeers through all that magic isn’t always easy, especially if you’re the only “big person” on the trip. Recently I headed to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure with my two kids, who are 6 and 4, in tow. We spent ten hours at the parks figuring out these handy tips to doing Disneyland solo with kids. Here’s what you need to go before you go.
Height and Age Limits
Before planning a trip to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure solo, you’ll want to check the height of your kids. Although Will is 48 inches tall, he was not permitted to ride any ride alone because he is under the age of 7. This meant that we could enjoy the rides where we sat in a line of 3, like Radiator Springs Racers, but couldn’t ride some other rides, like Toy Story Mania, which only has seating for two.
Rider Switch Pass for Autopia
Autopia is one of the best rides in Tomorrowland and is a hit with kids as they get to actually drive the car. We were very excited to learn that three people fit in the car and we headed into the lineup. About halfway through the line, Will asked me if he could drive the car and it occurred to me that we would need to ride the ride twice. I spoke to a ride attendant who handed me a Rider Switch Pass which meant one kid wouldn’t miss out on the driving and we didn’t need to line up twice. Will and I let Charlie drive first and then when the ride was over, we simply stepped out of the car and were assigned another car immediately for Will to be able to drive.
I recommend asking for the Rider Switch Pass before getting in line as they are not always available from other ride attendants. Buckle up because if your kids are anything like mine, you are in for a bumpy ride!
Stay at the Disneyland Hotel
Staying on Disneyland property is a great decision whether or not you are visiting Disneyland solo with kids. We loved the Disneyland Hotel and found it easy to get to and from the parks. I loved that the waterslides at the hotel only go into small splash pools and didn’t require a parent at the bottom of the slide. My kids spent hours going up and down the slides while I watched from the nearby hot tub with other parents.
When checking into the Disneyland Hotel, it is key to ask for a room that faces the fireworks. The crowds at night at Disneyland are quite large and it is a lot easier to head back to the room for an incredible private fireworks show. My two stood at the window while the soundtrack to the fireworks played through our television. I was truly able to enjoy the show instead of worrying about keeping an eye on both of them and worrying about the crowds dispersing through the park as the park closed down.
There are also a lot of food options in the hotel which made it easy when my youngest was tired. We enjoyed dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen while chit chatting with Minnie, Goofy and Chip and Dale. I also found it easy to get breakfast onsite as in the morning there are three restaurants to choose from as well as room service.
Pick Rides Not Parks
Unlike Walt Disney World, the two parks at Disneyland are incredible close together. Charlie at 4 was actually able to walk the entire two parks and I did not need to rent a stroller. It is easiest if you consider Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure as one park and plan your day based on the rides and shows you want to experience. We were easily able to go back and forth between the parks and did not need to worry about transportation or timing.
Experience the Parades and Shows
Disneyland is not just about the rides. In fact, our best moments were had sitting and watching parades and shows. Currently, Frozen Fun is happening at Disney’s California Adventure and we had a blast singing along with Elsa and meeting Olaf. The biggest smiles on my kids faces were seeing their favourite characters in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade. I recommend getting to your spot early and grabbing a snack before the parade. It’s important to know that 10 minutes before the parade starts Anna and Elsa pass by on a Frozen float that is not part of the parade. After that happens, it is very difficult to maneuver through the crowds to find seats. I found it easiest to arrive early, grab some popcorn and give our legs a rest.
Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Solo with Kids
We had a very enjoyable day exploring both parks. I recommend taking it slow and knowing that you won’t get it all done. If your eldest child is under 7 whether or not they are 48 inches tall, there will be some disappointments in the day if you don’t prepare ahead of time. I suggest checking Disneyland’s Rider Height Guide before arriving and simply crossing out the rides that you are not able to do. Go by the basic assumption that if there are less than 3 seats in a row or in the ride car, your child will need to be 7 to ride alone. It saved me a lot of grief over heading to each ride to determine if we could ride it. Know that there are still a lot of fun rides you will be able to ride as a family and schedule in some down time at the parades and shows.