I’m going to triple-down on the advice to walk on Harbor. It’s 15 min if you get long lights/walk a slow pace but if you catch the lights right/walk at a brisk pace it’s closer to 10. When we had an SPG rewards card most of our trips to DLR were at the Sheraton Park hotel kitty corner to the Springhill. We found it a very easy walk in the morning and we loved the proximity to both the CVS on the corner and the 7-11 just across Katella.
At the end of the day it definitely can feel long but still not bad. If you really wore yourself out though you can take a ride share as suggested or make use of the free Toy Story shuttles. With the shuttles there will still be a 5ish min walk back to a hotel on that Harbor/Katella corner and we always find that the walk from the parking lot to the hotels across the street is long enough that it’s not worth waiting in line to board the shuttle, having to fold up the strollers, shuttling tired/sleeping kids to still have to walk back, so we always walk the full way back. Plus we also like to stop at the CVS or 7/11 on the way back to gear up for water/drinks snacks for the hotel room and next day in the parks so walking just makes the most sense.
The walk from the DTD parking is the shortest of your options but the parking rate is steep (it’s hourly parking meant for those coming mainly for eating or shopping at DTD) so unless you have budget to burn or a mobility concern, I’d rather take the $50+ it would cost to park there & spend it on more snacks/nicer meals, more rounds of drinks in the park or towards a souvenir.
Speaking of which, for fun things in the parks (thinking specifically of it being hubby’s bday). Is he a Star Wars or Marvel fan? If Star Wars he can build a droid in the Droid Depot and/or you can make sure to get drinks at Oga’s to celebrate. And for Marvel fans, the new Avengers Campus has a lot of good atmosphere for fans with lots of the characters being visible and some really fun shows too. And of course the Web Slingers (and that’s one your little man can do so you can enjoy it as a family). My hubby is a huge Iron-Man fan and so he was very excited for the Iron-Man repulsor-cannon arm attachment that enhances your score/abilities on the Web-Slinger ride and we loved all of the shows that we caught in Avengers Campus. So definitely things specific to either of those IPs will make a fun bday trip if he’s a fan.
And if he’s not really a fan of either there’s still a lot to do. In our family we make sure that the birthday person picks one celebratory sit-down meal (we usually opt for a character meal with the 4 kids, but there’s lot of great non-character meals too in the parks and hotels). If you don’t have a reservation, you can still check-in with the hostess stand day-of to and ask about walk-in availability and if there is, they’ll set you up to get on it and receive a text notification once your table is ready. And they’ve added a feature in the DL app to join walk-up lists for some of the sit-down restaurants. You do have to be within range of the restaurant if using the app but it just means they’re keeping the availability to those who are most likely to want and make use of the availability. We used this walk-up list to eat a meal for Father’s Day/our anniversary at Carthay Circle on a Sunday in June, so we were big fans this new feature (our trip was also last minute & so we didn’t have any reservations made in advance).
And then for the toddler: Two is my most favorite age to take them to Disney and if he hasn’t already been exposed to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse at home (and if you allow him any screentime) I would introduce it. Once upon a time I too thought it would be crazy to take such small kids to Disney and so when my hubby’s family planned a trip to take all their kids (slightly older than ours) we at first declined to go along because we didn’t think we would have any fun with our kids (they were going to be 23 months and 3 months old for the trip). And then last minute, we decided, you know, we don’t want to miss this chance to go with the family, because who knows how many more times they’ll all want to go together, so we’ll go & make the best of it. And we so decided to suck it up & go (we ourselves were dying to go, but had just taken a trip the year before to Orlando to see the new Harry Potter World and added one day at MK when we decided 4 days of Universal would be to much, so we weren’t ready to leave the kids again for an adult theme park trip). We had only watched a very few Disney movies with our kids (because they were still babies) so we introduced them to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse just a couple weeks before the trip and the whole highlight of the trip ended up being seeing the look on our almost 2 yr old’s face on our last day when we were next in line to met Mickey & Minnie together on Main St (and that’s when he realized that’s what we were doing). And he loved the whole trip and soaked it all in and ever since then we’ve taken all our kids, as young as 2 months and anywhere in between. It’s definitely more work, but 2 is really an age where they can start to capture the magic of the place and if you learn to go at their pace, can be some of the best times at Disney.
So with that, I’ll 100% echo the advice to take it at the toddler’s pace/flow & highly, highly encourage a nap to make it enjoyable for everyone! If you go back to the hotel then it’s a nice bonus for the adults to get a bit of a break too. When had just toddlers we always made sure to take a midday break with them & most of the time we would take a nap with them at the hotel. Or we would take turns with one of us doing the naps and the other parent getting to take a dip in the pool during naptime.
If you’re more go-go-go (and won’t need a nap yourself) and if your little guy will nap in the stroller then that’s a great time for you & the hubby to take turns doing single rider lines and rider swap for all the things he won’t be tall enough for. If he’s 32" he’ll be able to ride Mater’s and Luigi’s in Carsland and those will be fun to do as a family. Autopia might also be 32" but I can never remember if it’s 32" like the Carsland rides or 36" like Gadget’s Go Coaster in ToonTown. But then everything else with a height requirement will most definitely be out of his range so when he’s napping (or running off steam somewhere) will be a good chance for each of you to take turns riding everything with a height requirement.
I’ll also add to be sure that you take snacks and a sippy cup or water bottle that you can easily rinse out for him. With Disney’s move to paper straws any juice, ice water or soda you get him will be given with a paper straw and a toddler plus a paper straw is never a good combination. You could also bring your own more durable reusable straws or wrapped disposable straws.
And I know you mentioned he is active so setting aside some time in the day for him to run off some steam will be key. You’ve gotten advice on Tom Sawyer Island and Redwood Creek Challenge Trail and both of those are excellent and even interesting and fun as a parent see those areas through your kids eyes. Another great area is Toontown, especially if by the time you go they open up all the character houses/play areas. But when we were there last the area by Roger Rabbit’s (Firestation/Post Office) and Chip & Dale’s treehouse were open and all the toon’s cars parked outside their houses are a huge hit with the kids (and a really fun photo opp for you to get).
And then the last bit, how to do lines with a toddler. When my kids were at that squirmy age I had a limit for what I was willing to wait in with them (for our older kids it was 25 min because I swear at minute 26 they went from being pretty decent little human beings to chain-swinging monsters- for my younger two it’s about the same, but they’ve surprised me with some 30-40 min waits even, depending on their energy levels). So gauge what his is limit is on waiting and try to stick to lines with him that are within that. And bring a small toy or stickers or similar activity that can occupy him in the line and if all else fails, snacks (or snack bribery like a promise of popcorn/ice cream at the end of the ride if they stay in line). And then in the middle of the day when nothing is that short, then take the time to enjoy the railroad, sail on the Mark Twain, ride a Main Street Vehicle, or get a Mickey bar & search for characters to wave to.
If you still have any questions, especially on how to use rider switch or if you’re not sure about boarding groups (you’ll need for both Rise of the Resistance and WebSlingers), ask away! And if not, wishing you the best for a magical birthday trip for hubby & that seeing Disney from your little guy’s point of view gives you a whole other layer/reason to love the place!