I need ALL the toddler tips!

So my mom was supposed to watch my almost 2 year old little boy for us so that we could take an adults only trip for my husband’s 40th birthday. However, due to some unforeseen health issues, she can’t watch my kiddo anymore :frowning: So we scrambled and are now taking a last minute trip to Disneyland, August 3rd-6th and little man is coming with us! I’ve always said I’ll never take a toddler to a disney park and will wait until he is at least 5 (my little man is very active lol)… but alas, here we are! I am so unprepared and need ANY tips you can give me!

Last time we were at Disneyland was 2018 and we stayed at hotel that had a shuttle to the parks. This time we are staying at SpringHill Suites by Marriott at Anaheim Resort/Conv. Cntr and we are renting a car. The walk to Disney parks/downtown disney seems to be around 15 min from the hotel. Should we walk to parks? Drive and park? Should we walk to downtown disney and enter the parks through there rather than on harbour blvd? Are we able to park at downtown disney and enter through there?

I feel so lost and i’m typically so structured and plan these trips far out so that all the details are in place. I feel like i’m scrambling! adding my toddler to the mix isn’t helping either. I want this to be a fun 40th bday trip for my husband and I’ll take any suggestions you have!

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I’m not a Disneyland expert so don’t have any specific advice but that age is SO fun at Disney (in my opinion). We even took DD5 to Disney World twice in her second year because it was so magical :upside_down_face:

You won’t be able to do some rides unless you rider switch but it wasn’t an issue for us. We just moved at a slower pace and mostly did rides without a height requirement.

Have fun and don’t stress too much - just have lower expectations! :smile: Side note - we’ll also be there some of those days (8/1-8/4) with DD5, DD2, and DS3mo in tow. I’m hoping for some nice weather!


Similar to @bmscott I’ve not done Disneyland with littles but I’ve done Disney World with them. My basic advice - lots of snacks, build in breaks, be prepared to adjust course as needed, and don’t stress.


At nap time I would take my little ones on the Carousel of Progress sit in the back row, hold them, and STAY on the ride until they woke up. Yep, true story… 2 hrs of spinning through time. It was dark, quiet and had AC. These were the days when we didn’t stay on property and couldn’t pop back to a room (38 years ago now). Naps are essential to sanity.


Yes, naps are essential! We always plan a 3 hour rest in the middle of the day. It gets us out of the park at the most crowded/hot time of day and then the kids can stay up late.


Unless / until they resume tram operation, I would walk. You are going to have to walk from the Mickey & Friends parking lot anyway at the moment. (Unless @93111tink has more recent info?!) It’s about a 3/4 mile walk along Harbor Blvd to the esplanade, which isn’t too bad assuming you have a stroller.

Some people used to walk to the Toy Story lot and grab a shuttle bus there (see red X), but that would probably be more trouble than it’s worth from your location (plus I don’t know if that works in Covid times).

Other tips:

  • Disneyland is GREAT for toddlers! So many rides that they love - Carousel, Dumbo, Snow White, Peter Pan, It’s a Small World, etc.
  • DCA is a little tougher - try Jessie’s Critter Carousel, Ariel, Monsters’ Inc., Emotional Whirlwind - but the adult rides are worth switching off for.
  • Kids love Tom Sawyer Island (DL) and Redwood Creek Challenge Trail (DCA)
  • Use the single rider lines, if available. If not, make sure to use Rider Swap. You can sometimes even get both a RS pass and use Single Rider (sometimes you have to be a little sneaky to make this work).
  • Use a gallon sized ziploc (or two) instead of a diaper bag to get through security easier, if you have room to store them in your stroller.

Disneyland is so fun with kids! Just take things easy and make sure to have nap time if your toddler needs it, or let them rest in the stroller in an air conditioned or shaded area in the afternoon. Don’t push them too hard and be willing to go with the flow. (Flow = whatever the toddler wants. Lol)


This is the latest parking information. Everything Jeff said😊 Where your hotel is it is an easy walk that looks farther than it is. Friends staying just a bit farther down on Harbor would take a Lyft at the end of the night.


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!


THANKS SO MUCH for this! I think we will definitely walk, based on this and what everyone is saying. And yeah, my toddler definitely needs a nap. I think we will attempt a nap in a shady or air conditioned spot on day 1 and if that goes poorly we will go back to hotel for nap on day 2. Got a recommendation for a good nap spot? Haha!

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I thought this podcast had some good suggestions for quiet/cool spots. I’ve also been really impressed with the baby centers for times when it’s really hot or the little one is overstimulated. They have quiet corners with rocking chairs.

I think outdoor rides in fantasyland are absolutely magical at that age. I would add Casey Jr to the list the others have shared. The indoor fantasyland rides (besides Peter Pan) can be scary for that age (and queues overwhelming) so I don’t recommend them.


This is really solid advice. I have a sensitive 4 yr old who today brought up to me how scary he found Ursula on our trip (one month ago) and that he would be ok not riding Little Mermaid next time to skip out on that. He does love Winnie the Pooh, Monsters Inc, Peter Pan so I would start with any of those to gauge their dark ride tolerance and if they do ok you can move up to try out Alice. My little guy will put up with the scary bit (cards and Queen of Hearts) on Alice because that’s one of his favorite Disney movies, but he refuses to go on Roger Rabbit’s, Mr. Toad’s or Snow White (we have told him it’s new now and not scary but he still remembers and believes its the scary adventure version). He usually also isn’t willing to do Pinocchio either, but suggested we try it this last trip (same trip as when we rode Little Mermaid) and in the whole month since he hasn’t mentioned it was scary but historically that is one of the scariest ones for my kids. And I was super surprised he ended up being ok with the Monstro part on the dark ride because every time we passed the Storybook Land Canal boats he would point at the Monstro that the boats go through and comment on how scary that was. The boats were closed our last trip so we never had a chance to remind him how not scary it is, but he has told us since we’ve been home that he does NOT want to ride them next time we go because of how afraid he is at going through Monstro.


Omg, thank you for taking the time to type all of this out for me! I find it very thoughtful and I really appreciate it! Yes, hubby loves Star Wars! We have done Savi Workshop at Disney World but we haven’t done the Droid Depot yet so maybe i will schedule that for him. Good idea!!!

Is Web-Slingers worth trying to get a boarding group? I had considered trying for Rise both days since we love it but maybe i should attempt Web Slingers since my son can ride.

Good to know about walk up lists! No ressies have been available when I’ve checked… I’ve been trying to score an Oga’s since my hubby loves it but I haven’t been able to snag one yet.

My little man loves Mickey’s Clubhouse! So it sounds like Toon Town is where we need to be haha

and yeah, I have no idea on rider switch since we’ve never had to employ that before! I know we plan to use the single rider lines this time… Mostly i’ll let hubby go ride whatever he wants since it’s his bday! But rider switch would helpful on Radiator Springs and Guardians (my two faves haha). Where do I wait with the kiddo while waiting for my turn?

again, thanks so much for all of your tips!

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omg thank you for posting this! Totally going to check this out. And thank you for the tip on the indoor rides! We will try Peter Pan and see how that goes i guess before we try the others! Pirates is one of my fave rides so maybe we need to rider switch it if my kiddo gets scared on Pan HAHA!

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I remember thinking Snow White was scary as an adult! Haha! So it’s not scary anymore?! I think my kid will like peter pan and winnie the pooh for sure… but who knows! He’s never ridden a ride before! Fingers crossed he will love everything (haha selfish thinking i know but i love all the fantasyland dark rides!)

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FWIW, my kids have no problems on any of the Fantasyland dark rides, even at age 2. I mean, they get a little spooked by some of the scary scenes, but I have never hesitated to take them on, and overall they have a positive experience. It helps them expand their tolerance for scary stuff. But I would definitely keep an eye on them and honor their desires if they don’t want to go. There were a couple times that we skipped HM and Pirates when my son was younger.


DLR hasn’t ever implemented Droid Depot reservations, so you can just walk-in and build one at your leisure.

Short answer, yes absolutely and even better you can can get the best of both worlds and try for (and get) a BG both of the 7am AND 12pm drops if you:

  • Have park hoppers
  • Are lucky with scoring a low BG at the 7am drop for the ride in the park that you have reservations that day at
  • Your low BG is called AND you return to scan in before noon
  • You stop what you are doing from 11:55am-12:00pm to grab a BG for the other ride in the opposite park

This is the best case scenario and if you are familiar with how to get the BG on the app and have both of you trying for it on each of your phones then you’ll be in great shape to get the 7am drop each day and then it’s a bit of luck of the draw to see if that BG gets called in time for you to do the noon drop, but again, the better you know how to score the BG, the better chances you’ll get in this position.

And be sure you triple check which park you are reserved for on the 7am drop (I learned the hard way on this one not realizing we were reserved for DCA one day instead of DL and we found out at 7:00:05am when none of us could get through to a BG after having had 3 fully successful days before that).

Rise is amazing and the most technologically advanced ride Disney’s done, but I absolutely loved Webslingers because not only could my little 18 month old baby girl & 4 yr old son ride they both got super into it, even the baby was slinging webs with everyone else and scoring almost just as much as her 4 yr old brother. And then 4 yr old came home obsessed. Dresses like Spider-Man everyday now, watches the ride video on YouTube constantly, and when he’s not watching, chances are he’s playing “WebSlingers”. This entails him acting out the pre-show as Peter Parker (and he has the key parts memorized) which then leads to having anyone who’s in the room with him board a webslinger video and start fighting spider-bots with him. So if your little guy is at all predisposed to video gamey rides and super-heroes he will love it!

Alternatively, if no one is a big Avengers/Spider-Man fan, then you may be able to still prioritize Rise (I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t think it was awesome) and your 2 yr old might not be any the wiser that he missed out. But with how much my kids loved Webslingers I would’ve been sad to miss out. Webslingers is also unique to DLR and not at WDW so if you’re going back there sooner you’ll be able to see Rise sooner, but not Webslingers. Haha can you tell I’m biased?

Definitely check with them early in the day if you still can’t snag one because they do tend to have at least some walk-up availability.

The ToonTown area is fantastic as play areas and can have lots of characters out but the absolute best thing (at least for my Mickey Mouse Clubhouse lovin’ kids) is the Disney Jr show in Hollywood Land in DCA. It has Mickey & Minnie as Roadster Racers plus a bunch of whoever the current Disney Jr. headliner shows are and it’s a dance party with lots of music and energy and the kids are encouraged to stand up and dance. This is a great diversion for the kiddo while one parent does Guardians. It hasn’t yet reopened though, so it might not be an option. But if it is, it’s so fun for that age group.

Also, the fab 5 characters are out in a lot of places around the parks so just keep your eyes peeled as you walk in and & through. When we went in June there were almost always characters on the train station platform facing towards the flag pole and at the Carthay Circle hub. And if he takes to characters while the way they are doing it now is a little chaotic and doesn’t give you much 1:1 time and you can’t hug them, it is SO much easier to snag a pic if that’s what you’re after & you have almost zero wait, especially if you’re bold and just go right up to the rope, which they encourage to keep people flowing through faster.

Radiator Springs has a single rider line so if that is open and the line isn’t backed up to the bridge, it’s a very short wait and you could each take a turn while the other waits nearby with the kiddo. If it is backed up then you have the option for the rider switch.
Once you get the rider switch setup with the CM at the front of the standby line, the riding parent will wait in the stand-by line but the non-riding parent & child are able to go do something different and return once the rider switch window opens for you. They scan what is essentially a FP onto your ticket with a return window of an hour that starts when they estimate the first parent riding will be done with their wait and ride. And if something goes awry, they have in the past been willing to be flexible with that window, but not sure how flexible they are lately and rider switch might be something they are cracking down on, but definitely ask and the worst they can say is no.

If he’s tall enough you can ride Mater’s and/or Luigi’s while waiting for whoever’s riding Radiator Springs Racers or you can meet Mater or Lightning if they are out in Carsland. Near Carsland you can also ride Little Mermaid or run off some steam on the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.

For Guardians there isn’t a single rider line so you’ll have to rider switch it if both of you want to do it. And things to do with the kiddo while the riding parent waits the standby: ride Monsters Inc, watch Mickey’s Philharmagic, Turtle Talk with Crush or the Animation Building lobby loop of art and clips of Disney animation, or of course (if it’s open) the Disney Jr live show in HollywoodLand. And there are usually lots of characters that come out to the Carthay Circl hub area right now that are no wait to meet, you just run up to the rope for a quick hi, snap a pic.

And you’re quite welcome!! I love talking about Disney and sharing what we’ve done helps me remember fond trips & hopefully you can get a better trip out of all my rambling!


Completely agree with @lolabear_la regarding Webslingers advice. We used the advice in the forum to secure early boarding groups and were blessed to be able to do both rides each day. Webslingers is not epic or awe-inspiring, but we absolutely had a blast and the technology of slinging is both accurate and really fun (especially since your little guy can go). If are able to do only one, certainly I would pick RotR, but Webslingers was worth the extra effort IMO.

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