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7 Best All-Age Attractions at Disneyland


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Disney has built its theme park empire around knowing how to please both parents and kids. Even so, on our recent* trip to Disneyland Tiny Traveler pulled me toward Toon Town while I looked longingly at the towering Matterhorn ride. Still, over all it’s easier to find things that will amuse our whole family here than at any other theme park we’ve visited.

Here are seven things Tiny Traveler and I agree are totally cool in Anaheim.

Animation Academy

animation academy at DisneylandYou sit in a small auditorium while an imagineer sits at a desk on stage with a screen overhead. She instructs you take your pencil and paper and draw a few lines here, a couple of curves there and finally a dot and a dimple over there. Voila! You’ve drawn a Disney cartoon character all by yourself. Tiny Traveler, 7, and I were both able to draw a recognizable Piglet.

They do different characters every 20 minutes or so and I really could have sat there all day.

Notes: This is one of those attractions that is a little under the radar and never too crowded. If you sit in the front row, the imaginer might give you her drawing at the end!

The Classic Story Rides

Mr Toad's Wild Ride at DisneylandThe best Disneyland rides, I think, are the ones that immerse you in the imaginary worlds of the classic cartoons.

Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan’s Flight, Snowy White’s Scary Adventure, The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh and even the slightly dated Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and the newer Ariel’s Undersea Adventure have enough to delight older riders without scaring younger ones.

Note: Some of these are Disneyland’s oldest rides and none have room for a FastPass line. Alice and Peter Pan always have lines. Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Mr. Toad and Snow White tend to be manageable.

It’s a Small World

it's a small world at DisneylandTiny Traveler hits this ride four or five times each time we go to a Disney park. The original one in Anaheim is a ten-minute journey. If you sit back and relax, maybe sing along, there really is something irresistible about it—lucky for me, since my kid can’t get enough of it.

Note: This line is sometimes long and sometimes short, but the boats hold 10 to 12 people and it always moves fast. At park opening we rode three times in a row without getting out!

Nemo’s Submarine Voyage

Waiting in line for this underwater ride, a cast member told me it uses some of the most high-tech effects of any ride. And I believe it. Intellectually you know you’re two feet under water, going around a large pond. But the scenes out the window convince you you’ve journeyed far and deep into the ocean. It’s not scary despite the under water aspect.  We were both amazed.

Note: If you are using the monorail this is a good ride to to do on your way into or out of the park. It’s  right next to the Tomorrowland stop.

The Enchanted Tiki Room

The enchanted tiki room at DisneylandI don’t like to tell much about this attraction because it’s one of those things you have to see for yourself. Wikipedia describes it as a, “Musical animatronic show drawing from American tiki culture.”

The first time we saw the Tiki Room’s five-minute floor show we were slightly nonplussed and highly amused. This was probably a high-tech attraction when it opened in 1963. It’s entertaining for its retro vibe but also because it’s still whimsical and fun.

Note: The show is indoors so it’s a handy to join José, Michael, Pierre, Fritz and Fiji when need a few minutes of air conditioning. There is rarely a line, but you do need to wait for one show to end before they let in the next group.

Walking around California Adventure Park

California Adventure park at DisneylandI know this park has its critics, but I really liked the feel of it evokes of California in the early 20th century.

Tiny Traveler and spent a few hours walking around, taking in all the details  and talking about which part of California each section represents. The Pacific Wharf and Paradise Pier areas are colorful and it was fun to watch the giant Ferris wheel and the swooping roller coaster, even if we didn’t dare ride either.

Note: The World of Color evening show is well worth staying for. The California theme lends itself to some good dining options, like the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and wine-country themed restaurants. Unless your kids are huge Pixar movie fans, skip the afternoon parade and grab an early dinner reservation at one of the more popular restaurants.

The Resort Pools

Grand Californian Hotel pool at DisneylandDisneyland  has three beautiful on-property hotels (rack rates state at $250 a night), all with great pools. They each offer some combination of regular and wading pools, slides and whirlpools. There are plenty of lifeguards on hand. During peak weeks staffers will lead kids in pool games in the afternoon.

Taking a pool break after lunch, especially on a hot day, recharges everyone’s batteries and helps prevent (or cure) those over-excitement meltdowns. We make a point of it nearly every day at the parks, but especially when we plan to be up late.

*We were guests of CityPass when we visited the Disneyland. We did not agree to cover the park or CityPass or to write about them in any particular way in exchange for our CityPASS cards. Our opinions are always our own. 

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6 Comments

  1. Maureen
    June 5, 2016 at 10:51 pm — Reply

    One of these days we will get our kids to Disney! I have been to Disney World (before kids) and I did something similar to Animation Academy. I LOVED it! It was super fun. It’s a Small World is definitely a classic and a must do!

    Maureen
    maureen.tenney@gmail.com

  2. Zaria Papa
    May 24, 2016 at 6:34 pm — Reply

    Hi Eileen,

    First time I’ve heard about the resort pools in Disneyland. I would totally love to visit! Thank you for the review!

  3. May 17, 2016 at 6:11 am — Reply

    Taking our boys to Disneyland for the first time was such a magical experience. They loved the rides and we loved the trip down memory lane to the Disney TV shows of our childhood.

  4. May 15, 2016 at 4:39 am — Reply

    I like the idea of the drawing, how cool to learn how to draw the Disney characters.

  5. May 15, 2016 at 1:02 am — Reply

    I think I would like to go to Disney Land. It looks like fun for all ages. I would like to wander and watch, and check out the people’s reactions.

  6. May 14, 2016 at 7:08 am — Reply

    Disney! I do think they do kids right! (Kids of all ages as you point out.) Love it.

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