20 Preschool Picks at Disneyland and California Adventure

by jessicaturner on May 12, 2014

20 preschool picks for Disneyland and California Adventure

Typically I am a vacation plan-every-minute sort of gal. But our Disneyland trip for the Disney Social Media Moms event hit in the middle of a crazy season for us and I didn’t spend as much time planning as I would have liked. So we sort of learned as we went.

DisneylandThankfully, we had four days at the parks, which gave us plenty of time to do just about everything we wanted.

If you are headed to Disneyland and California Adventure with young kids, just print this list and you’ll be set! It has all our favorite rides that we could do with both Adeline (36”/age 2.5) and Elias (44”/age 5.5).

I was surprised that we actually liked California Adventure (especially Cars Land) a little better than Disneyland. It just had more young kids activities and rides. In no particular order:

Disneyland California Adventure Kids Rides
1. Luigi’s Flying Tires (Cars Land, California Adventure): It’s like an air hockey ride. Super fun!
2. Toy Story Midway Mania (Paradise Pier, California Adventure): You wear 4D glasses for this ride and do five different shooting arcade style games on it. Very cool.
3. Gadgets Go Coaster (Mickey’s Toontown, Disneyland): This was my kids’ first roller coaster and I think we did it four or five times. SO fun and not too scary.
4. Hemlich’s Chew Chew Train (Bugs Land, California Adventure): This is not very exciting ride, but it is perfect for little kids. Adeline especially liked it.

5. Flik’s Flyers (Bugs Land, California Adventure): A simple ride in which you sit in “food” boxes and spin around.
6. Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘Em Buggies (Bugs Land, California Adventure): Bumper cars shaped like bugs! This was the first time my kids had driven bumper cars and they loved it. Super cute.
7. Monster’s Inc. Mike & Sully to the Rescue (Hollywood Land, California Adventure): This is a really cute ride that takes you through the Monster’s Inc. story. It is just like the movie and very magical
8. Golden Zephyr (Paradise Pier, California Adventure): You fly in a spaceship inspired by the 1920s. Any age can ride this. Really beautiful sights to behold from this ride.

It's a small world disneyland
9. It’s a Small World (Fantasyland, Disneyland): It’s the 50th anniversary of this charming boat ride that takes passengers on a waterway with moving characters from around the world. My kids loved it!
10. Storybook Land Canal Boats (Fantasyland, Disneyland): This is a quaint boat ride where you see miniature scenes from classic Disney stories.
11. Merry Go Round (both parks!): You can’t go wrong!

12. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (Cars Land, California Adventure): A really cute ride similar to the teacups in that it spins around and around, only instead of teacups you are in car trailers.
13. Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters (Tomorrowland, Disneyland): This is a shooting gallery attraction where you fight Zurg! Elias LOVED this.

teacups Disneyland
14. Teacups (Fantasyland, Disneyland): This classic ride is a Disneyland MUST! We did them several times and the kids laughed and laughed the whole time.
15. Meeting the Princesses in Fantasy Faire (Fantasyland, Disneyland): Seriously, if you want to meet Disney princesses this is where you want to go. In one building we met Aurora, Cinderella and Mulan, and in the general area we also met Belle (did you read that story?) and Snow White. Adeline was in princess heaven. (The shows are also supposed to be excellent there, though we didn’t have the chance to see one.)

Additionally, these experiences were excellent for slightly older kids

Jedi Training Academy
16. Jedi Training Academy (Tomorrowland, Disneyland): I can’t say enough about this. A huge highlight of our trip. (Read about it here.)
17. Radiator Springs Racers (Cars Land, California Adventure): This is one of the best rides I have ever ridden on. Absolutely amazing. It is like you are in the movie cars. A MUST!!
18. Goofy’s Sky School (Paradise Pier, Disneyland): A kids’ coaster that was really thrilling for Elias.

Grizzly River Run 19. Grizzly River Run (Frontierland, Disneyland): A whitewater rafting ride full of fun. Elias adored this! Matthew and I each did it with him. You WILL get wet.
20. Soarin’ Over California (California Adventure): A flight-simulator that makes you feel like you are flying over California. Elias thought it was amazing.

Our whole family also loved the Aladdin Show, the Disney Junior show and the Pixar Play Parade (all at California Adventure). The parades are amazing and a great way to ensure your kids SEE everyone. Even though we didn’t meet Woody and Buzz for instance, the kids still felt like they had because of the parades.


Also, be prepared that if you right on the street’s edge, parade members will come up to your kids. I was thankful for our wide angle lens because we got some really, really wonderful shots during the parade.
Pixar parade

The only thing that we would not recommend is the Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, unless your family is a big fan of that movie. It was dark and a little creepy for my kids.

Also, I recommend checking out the book 101 Disneyland Tips. I didn’t learn of it until after our trip, but it looks excellent!

Anything you would add to this list?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah K May 12, 2014 at 9:19 am

Wow. This is incredible! Oh how I wish we could take our kids here, because this looks like a fantastic amount of fun. I think people are going to really love this list!


jessicaturner May 12, 2014 at 10:57 am

Thanks so much, Sarah. I’ll admit, it probably took 5 hours to write + link +photos… :) Hoping it helps a lot of people.


Nurse Bee May 12, 2014 at 10:33 am

Thanks! We are thinking about a trip next year (our kids will be 6, 4, and 2.5 by then). I will be sure to look up this post again!


jessicaturner May 12, 2014 at 10:57 am

Perfect ages!


Stephanie May 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Our girls enjoyed the Gadget’s Go-Coaster too. Perfect for preschoolers.

And Radiator Springs Racers is a family favorite!

I agree about Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin! Disneyland should replace that ride with something more modern (and more kid-friendly).


Dale Best May 12, 2014 at 2:33 pm

I loved doing TeaCups with Elias and Caedmon on Friday. A blast!

The Winnie the Pooh ride is great for little ones and although it was closed when you were there, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is worth checking out if you’re not freaked out by enclosed spaces.


Kate @ Songs Kate Sang May 12, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Such a great list and great memories!


Dionne May 14, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Thanks so much for this list Jessica. We’re heading to CA this weekend and will be at Disneyland for 2 days at the end of our trip with our 6.5 year old son (he doesn’t know yet). Your list gives us the inside scoop on which rides he’ll likely enjoy and are worth it and which we can skip. I already know that Luigi’s Flying Tires will be a big hit.


jessicaturner May 14, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Have fun!


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