Disneyland with a Toddler: 5 Things They Will Love

On Monday, Hudson had his second trip to Disneyland!  He had a blast, slept for a total of 30-minutes, and was on a sugar rush for most of the day.  I wrote about our first trip to Disneyland with Hudson when he was almost 11-months, which you can read here.  That first trip was still a lot of fun, but now Disneyland is way more fun.  A lot has changed with Hudson in those 4 months.  Since our last time at Disneyland, he is now walking, using sign language to communicate his needs, and honestly just a whole lot more fun.  His level of excitement and interest over rides and especially the characters was so fun to watch. Hudson would literally cry every time it was time to say goodbye to the character we were visiting.  He loved Eeyore, Tiger, Buzz, Goofy, Pluto, Minnie, and the Chipmunks. He literally would attempt to walk back up to them and break up their time with the other little kids. As a parent, it was so fun to see the pure awe and joy of the Disneyland experience through the eyes of our crazy, little toddler.  I am pretty sure I had a similar line in my previous Disney post, but now at almost 15-months, the awe and joy and amazement is in full-force. If you are a parent with a baby and are debating the right time to take your little one to Disney, I think this toddler time is the perfect time. If your baby is younger than a year, I would wait even just a few months.  So much will happen in the matter of 4-5 months. It is worth the wait. Of course you can take your little, little baby, but if you are looking to really see them get super excited and into the rides and characters, I think that 15-month mark is the perfect time. We had such a fun time with Hudson’s Nanny and Poppy, even though we definitely missed daddy as he was away on a work trip. Last post on Disney, I gave tips on traveling to Disney with a baby.  Today, I want to give you my top 5 things to do in Disneyland + California Adventures with a toddler. Side note, this is through the experience of what Hudson (15-months) really loved and enjoyed. Obviously all babies are different and what really appealed to little H, might not be your little one’s thing. Adjust accordingly! 

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One of the many sugar-filled things Hudson ate on our Disneyland trip!

1. Meal with Characters

We went to Goofy’s Kitchen and Hudson had the very best time.  These character meals are super expensive, but it is the perfect setting for your toddler to get in some really special moments with the characters.  Hudson’s Nanny and Poppy were with us and it was their idea to go. Initially I was worried that after barely napping all day, Hudson would have a meltdown, but it was actually the opposite. He loved all the food, which is very much tailored with the taste buds of kids in mind. His favs were probably the Mac n Cheese, PB & J pizza (yes, pizza), and the raspberry cream puffs.  Let’s just say, Hudson had a cheat day. Not only did he love munching on all the yummy options, he loved all the characters coming up to greet him. He was waving and clapping all over the place. At one point, he got so excited when all the characters were doing a dance in the middle of the restaurant that I put him down and he literally walked right up to one of the chipmunks (Chip or Dale, not sure which) and started clapping and dancing. Of course I didn’t have my phone to capture the moment, but the cuteness of that memory will never fade.  

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Hudson loved his time hanging out with the characters at Goofy’s Kitchen!

2. The Tiki Room + Dole Whip

Of course, Hudson loved all the moving rides we went on (some of his favs of the day included: the rockets, Dumbo, Nemo, Alice in Wonderland, and Winnie the Pooh); however, no ride captured his enthusiasm quite as much as the Tiki Room.  Hudson is currently obsessed with birds and points them out anytime we are out, so that was probably a large reason he loved it. This little 15-minute show really is the perfect thing to do with a toddler. The color, the music, the lights, and of course the talking birds and plants make this a toddler’s dream.  As you wait to enter the show or on your way out, you should grab a dole whip and let your little one have a few bites. This was a huge hit for Hudson. 

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Waiting for his dole whip and talking birds with his nanny!

3. Jessie’s Critter Carousel (DCA)

While California Adventures is very much limited on baby rides, there is one that was a huge hit for little H: Jessie’s Critter Carousel.  This ride is literally just a merry-go-round, but instead of the typical horses there are fun animals like turtles, bunnies, and skunks. The funny thing is Hudson typically hates riding on merry-go-rounds, but for some reason he loved this one. I have a few theories.  It is much slower than a typical merry-go-round and the music is more Wild, Wild West-like. Whatever it was, Hudson loved this ride. So much so that immediately when it stopped he signed “more” and then began to cry as I had to pull him off his little, green turtle. We then went immediately back through the line and popped him back on and the happiness was restored.  As I am learning daily, it is often the simplest things that satisfy and entertain Hudson. If you are over in California Adventures, I would definitely take your little one on this ride.

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Of course the simple merry-go-round was one of Hudson’s very favorite rides!

4. Redwood Creek Challenge Trail (DCA)

This one is a bit unexpected, but this challenge trail is actually the perfect setting for your energy-filled toddler.  Obviously parts of this course are not suited for toddlers, (the tire zip-line, rock wall, and netted bridges) but Hudson thoroughly enjoyed running around, sliding, and exploring in the cave.  We spent a good amount of time here and Hudson was so happy. He was giggling and running all about. As a parent, this is the perfect setting to take a break. There are picnic benches and rocks that make good seats.  It is also a beautiful setting and you actually feel like you are in a Redwood forest. This is the perfect place to break up the day and give your little one some time out of the stroller.

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Hudson loved his free time roaming through caves and crawling through tunnels.

5. Toddler Meals

Who knew this was a thing?  I am not sure how many places within the parks offer it, but Rancho Del Zocalo, in Frontierland, offers the regular kid’s meals, but they also have a toddler meal option.  This is 2 dollars less than a kid’s meal and is the perfect size for a picky toddler. Right now, kid’s meals are too big for Hudson, so this toddler meal option was the perfect alternative.  It came with a small serving of beans and rice, a Go-Go Squeeze pack, and a milk or apple juice. The perfect meal size for our little guy.  

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Hudson was extra shy around his very favorite character, Buzz!

Disneyland is a blast, but the magic really does increase when you get to experience it all through the eyes of your toddler.  This is such a fun age that Hudson is entering. Yes, there are some challenges, the tantrums and food throwing are at an all-time high right now, but it mostly is fun.  The world really is opening up to Hudson and as his mom, it is so fun to watch him delight in it all. Hudson will definitely not remember this trip, but I can’t wait to show him the pictures and tell him about how he walked up to Chip or Dale and clapped and danced and basically had his best day ever.

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