Heading to DLR the last week of August with my wife and two daughters (8 and 4). The older one should clear all heights but unfortunately the younger one will likely only be 39 (maybe 39.5 with shoes).
With that said any advice on how to conquer the park with such a disparity on the rides able to be done?
Working on some personalized plans but so difficult to line up times for the shared rides to ride together and that’s without even considering LLs which will change day off.
Any suggestions or tips appreciated.
Generally speaking, the rides with height restrictions are coasters. Luckily one of our adults doesn’t care for coasters, so doing something else with the kid is more fun than solo waiting.
Our other plan of choice is to figure we’ll all do it next time. We routinely have a kid that doesn’t like dark rides. Or very noisy rides. We pretty much always have someone waiting. Or we don’t do particular rides.
Our worst experience with disparate heights was at Typhoon Lagoon. Someone missing something was going to happen since we don’t do a water park very often. We did try to focus on the fun we were having doing what we could.
I would suggest taking turns who stays with the younger one so everyone gets time together. Its not the worst thing to have to split up because it gives quality one on one time.
I would do a lot of photopass opportunities when i sat out with our youngest. Have some great photos from doing that.
For Goofy Sky School and Incredicoaster, there are a lot of rides for younger kids on pixar pier to do while split up.
DW and I take turns going with DD8 on the “height requirement” rides. The other will take DS5 on a ride he can do. For a few rides during each trip, we use RS so each adult can have a turn to ride the same ride with DD8, but because of the time involved we generally limit RS to one ride a day. Each of DW and I end up missing some of the “height requirement” rides, but we are ok with that.
It can be complicated making G+ work with 2 schedules for some rides plus riding other rides together, but we were able to manage it relatively well on two trips in 2022.
I also found that DS4 loved characters, so he would do those while DS8 did something else.
If your younger daughter somehow magically gets to 40 inches that it what I like to call the “Magic Number” for height at DLR. It opens up many new attractions to them and then you’re left with just a small handful of rides that only the older one can do.
That said, even if she doesn’t meet 40 inches, or even the few 38 inch requirements, there’s more to do than not, by far. Especially if you consider things like the characters or getting treats like we have learned our kids at that age enjoy more than stacking up any ride count.
One really great way to tackle RS quickly if you & your wife would like to make use of it is to do all the rides you know you both want to do, early on when the LL lanes are clear. If you can zoom around & knock out the majority of those by 10:30am then you’ll be in a good position to take it much slower the rest of the day. The downside is this may cause a lot of zig-zagging depending on what exactly you both want to accomplish.
As for ideas of what to do with the younger one, here’s what we usually do along with a some alternatives nearby if what we do doesn’t quite fit your family.
Incredicoaster (48 inches): We like to ride Jessie’s Critter Carousel, get a Jack-Jack Num-Num cookie & watch for the riding party to blast off along the pier.
Other things you can do: Meet Pixar characters along the Pier, play the Boardwalk games, get an ice cream treat at Adorable Snowman or confectionary treat at Bing Bong’s. Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind and Pixar Pal-Around are also in the vicinity but their lines can back-up so wouldn’t be my first choice especially if using an LL for Incredicoaster. They’re also both a little far so if you’re going earlier the day, the party riding Incredicoaster is likely to finish by the time you walk the younger there & do the ride even with little to no wait. There is also one of those Pixar ball-fountain that kids love to push the ball and play in the water just past the Boardwalk games.
Goofy’s Sky School (42 inches) Jumpin Jellyfish & Silly Symphony Swings (both 40 inches): Theses are all close together also adjacent to the above pier suggestions so the above things could work as well. What we do is ride Golden Zephyr, several times even if the line isn’t long (if it’s open, it goes down a lot for too hot temperatures or any slight breeze as the ride was not designed to withstand either of those things). If it is down, then depending on where we will head next, we either pivot to all the stuff on the pier that also works for Incredicoaster listed above or go to Little Mermaid, also riding it several times in a row if the line allows. There’s also the Paradise Garden Performance Garden space and there might be some midday entertainment/small shows that could fill the time and sometimes they will even have kid activities (like coloring or crafts) along that space. We also happen to like a lot of the food around this are (Corn Dog Castle, one daughter loves the Boardwalk pasta & depending on the seasonal fare at Paradise Garden Grill, we like that too). So lots of options to do lunch & the non-riding parent can work on getting lunch & getting the younger ones set up to eat & be ready for the riding parent & older kid to be back & more quickly move along the day.
Grizzly River Run (42 inches) & Soarin’ (40 inches): My kids always look for any excuse to go to Redwood Creek Challenge trail and so it’s hands-down what we do with the younger ones here. It has a playground area with a few picnic tables as well as a number of benches that adults can sit & watch the kids play. There’s also the whole trail which is lovely to walk through and enjoy the incredible (and relaxing) theming. If for some reason we can’t do the trail (I don’t think it opens as early as the park does), then our next favorite thing here is to go to the viewing area along Grizzly River Trail (that is a less frequented pathway through/behind the Grizzly River Run entrance & ride path) and watch for rafts to possibly get hit by the geyser. It’s great fun even if you don’t know the people in the rafts. Immensely more fun if it’s your own family.
Other things you can do: Meet characters near Carthay Circle & down Beuna Vista St. Get a churro from several nearby carts or ice cream from Clarabelle’s.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout (40 inches): We like to take the younger kids to the Animation Building & connecting Once Upon a Page store. In the animation building, if it’s timed right, there’s Turtle Talk with Crush (plays every 30 min on the top & bottom of the hour). My kids also love doing the drawings in the Sorcerer’s Workshop and taking the personality quiz in the Beast’s Library (it’s through the back of the Sorcerer’s Workshop & is a bit of a hidden gem in that it’s not obvious that you can go back that way to another room of activities beyond the main Sorcerer’s Workshop).
Other things you can do: Monsters Inc & Webslingers are both close rides that are younger kid friendly but both are ones that you would need LL’s for so it could be tricky. There are also plenty of characters in Avengers Campus & even a few extending back to the Hollywood Backlot area near Monsters Inc if you wanted to take advantage of character meets. Anna & Elsa do also meet in the Animation building. Also the two non-headliner rides in Carsland (Mater’s & Luigi’s) aren’t too far (use the shortcut in Avengers Campus that goes directly into Carsland by Luigi’s) if you want more rides than other things & if the waits for those are not too long.
Radiator Springs Racers (40 inches): Since your younger daughter will be tall enough for both Luigi’s and Mater’s rides those will be easy options to fit in. Usually Mater’s is not too bad a wait & is a popular favorite so that would be first choice. But if Luigi’s isn’t too backed up, it’s a fun one. We usually use single rider since our older kids are old enough so whoever stays behind with the younger plans to stay close. If both Mater’s & Luigi’s are a long wait, we’ll buy the little kids a snack and watch the cars race by at the back patio of Flo’s or go meet one of the Cars characters.
Indiana Jones (46 inches): With the treehouse being under refurb this has gotten harder to split up with the younger & older kids. If the line for Jungle Cruise or Pirates is 15 min or less, we’ll do those. But we really miss the treehouse. If the lines are long for rides then Tiki Room is also a good back-up but my kids don’t love Tiki Room so it’s not one we do often.
Other things you can do: Princess Hall and characters near the hub are not too far away. There’s plenty of live entertainment & shows that happen in front of the castle/along Main St that would also be pretty close to Adventureland. There’s also the Mark Twain Riverboat or Sailing Ship Columbia.
Big Thunder & Matterhorn (40 inches): We usually do these early so that we can pair it with the plentiful kid friendly options of Fantasyland such as Casey Jr, Carousel, Dumbo, Teacups, and maybe some of the dark rides like Pinocchio, Snow White or Mr Toad’s before any of their lines are very long. Big Thunder is close enough to Indy that most of the Indy suggestions work really well especially Mark Twain or Sailing Ship Columbia is also one we like to do because it’s so close. Matterhorn is close enough to small world that that’s a good option too, but my oldest LOVES it’s a small world the most so we usually don’t go on it without him.
Space Mountain & Star Tours (40 inches): We have kids that love Buzz and Astro Orbitor so those are usually easy enough for the younger one to do. Although, my husband isn’t big on Space Mountain & I am totally ok with skipping Star Tours so we’re more ok taking the kids further away to do things. Anything from Toontoown to Fantasyland rides, to taking the raft to Tom Sawyer Island, to meeting characters anywhere on Main Street or at the small world promenade or Fantasy Faire to meet princesses.
You could also do: Autopia (we don’t love it so it’s not one we usually fit in), Finding Nemo Submarines are close as well but unless it’s early & the line is less than 15 min, I wouldn’t recommend it and I personally do not care for the submarines (too claustrophobic). There is also the Tomorrowland fountain-ball (similar to the Pixar ball I mentioned earlier) and that is always a fun diversion for the little ones & good for the non-riding adult to get a sit down breather as well.
Rise of the Resistance (40 inches): The easiest thing we have found is ride Winnie the Pooh. But usually you’ll done with Winnie the Pooh much faster than Rise so either we’ll do a mini-marathon on Pooh (our kids all love Pooh) or we’ll get a snack from the confectionary inside the shop just next to the ride exit or we’ll meet the Pooh characters just near there too until the first group is done with Rise. And Rise is one that we will switch the most often on so we do try to stay close. Fantasyland is also doable, but it can be tight to even do the walk to Galaxy’s Edge, then to Fantasyland, do one (maaayyybbeee 2 things if lines aren’t long) and then make the hike back to Rise before the rider switch window is up. If we stay in Galaxy’s Edge our favorite thing to do is get blue milk and sit down & enjoy watching whatever characters are coming by (Chewie, Rey, R2-D2, Stormtroopers & Kylo Ren are the ones we have seen the most of, but I do hear that they have Mando & baby Grogu now & once or twice we’ve spotted Fennec Shand).
You could also do: Play the bounty hunter game & complete missions for it on your datapad (phone that has the Disney Parks Play app game downloaded). Explore Galaxy’s Edge in general including all the fun shops that don’t require buying anything to enjoy their atmosphere (Droid Depot & Dok Ondar’s & the entire market area).
Hope this helps & happy planning! If you’ve got any questions, especially about kids and Disneyland, I’m happy to help! We started going regularly to DL as out of state annual passholders when we had just 2 kids that were almost 3 and just barely 1 yr old and now we have 4 that are 11, 10, 6 and 3 so we’ve done a whole range of different ages and mixes.
I would definitely measure when you’re there. Our youngest was just shy of 39.5 when we left but ended up measuring tall enough at all the rides besides space mountain