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The Best Disneyland Rides for Toddlers & Preschoolers for 2022

The Best Disneyland Rides for Toddlers & Preschoolers for 2022

We all want our children’s first Disney experience to be a magical one and definitely don’t want to make the mistake of taking kids on rides that may seem “scary” in the eyes of a small child. So, what are the best Disneyland rides for toddlers and preschoolers?

If you are taking your tot to the Disneyland Resort for the first time and unsure about which rides are best for new little parkgoers, this list is for you. As a local who has been to Disneyland more times than I can count, I have ridden them all.

These are the best Disneyland rides for toddlers as well as older kids who are still afraid of their shadow. Luckily, Disney does a great job offering lots of options that are great for the whole family.

Don’t head to the parks without first reading all of our best Disneyland tips.

18 Awesome Disneyland Rides for Toddlers and Preschoolers

It’s a Small World

Its a Small World is one of the best Disneyland rides for toddlers
It’s a Small World Facade

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: Yes. This ride has a Disney Genie+ Lightening Lane Entrance

Yes, its a slow moving boat through a world of singing dolls- and kids LOVE it! The song may play over and over in your head for a couple weeks, but seeing your toddler’s eyes light up is a memory that will stay with you forever. This is absolutely one of the best rides at Disneyland for toddlers.

If you visit during the Christmas season, you will get to experience the holiday version of the ride which has lots of holiday-themed decor and the cute dolls will be singing Jingle Bells. Plus, the exterior facade of the ride is lit up with thousands of lights in celebration of the season.

Dumbo

Dumbo is a great ride for toddlers at Disneyland
Dumbo

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No 

What is not to love about Dumbo? He’s an elephant that flies! Little kids tend to love rides where they can see exactly what is going to happen before it happens, and Dumbo fits that bill.

The nice thing about this ride is that it is out in the open so kids know exactly what to expect. They see other kids their own size smiling and having fun, and know that mom or dad can sit right next to them so they feel safe.

Plus, parents can control the elephant’s ascent and descent from inside their elephant, so a kid that might be nervous about going up high can stick closer to the ground.

I love this ride as an adult because it has great nostaglia and I love catching views of all the joy happening in Fantasyland as we whirl around on Dumbo. Plus, this ride doesn’t give me motion sickness, despite going in a circle, because it moves slowly and riders are out in the fresh air.

Astro Orbiter

Astro Orbitor ride at Disneyland

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No 

If your kids like Dumbo, they are sure to like Astro Orbitors, and vice versa. This ride, which sits at the entrance to Tomorrowland, is actually very similar to Dumbo except it is rocket themed!

When I was young, Astro Oribitors used to be on top of the old People Mover pavilion, so the rockets were much higher in the air. This made the ride more thrilling and the views more interesting, but it surely scared off lots of little riders as well.

The People Mover is long gone, and the base of the Astro Orbitor is now firmly planted on the ground. There are no height requirements, so feel free to take even the smallest members of your family aboard this rocket ship.

Disneyland Railroad

The DIsneyland Railroad is one of the best rides for toddlers at Disneyland
Photo via Flickr/Harshlight

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No 

One of the original Disneyland rides from 1955 also happens to be one of the best rides at Disneyland for toddlers. This ride is also 18-minutes long, so if you need to get some quiet time in, this is a great place to do it.

Toddlers and preschoolers are known train enthusiasts, so its no surprise that this attraction has been a hit with youngest guests for almost 70 years.

There are four different places to board and depart the train– Main Street, New Orleans Square, Mickey’s Toontown, and Tomorrowland. You can also opt to stay on the train should your little one fall asleep.

The most exciting portion of the train is when it goes behind Tomorrowland and there are some cool dinosaur scenes to enjoy. The entire ride is still fun, and a nice way to enjoy views of the park.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Woinderland ride at Disneyland
Caterpillar Cart from Alice in Wonderland Ride, photo via Flickr

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No 

Many of the rides in Fantasyland may seem scary to small children even though they are geared to that age group. They have darker themes with appearances by villians. This is not one of those rides.

On this classic “dark ride” families will hop aboard a caterpillar and follow Alice down the rabbit hole to enjoy an upbeat adventure filled with scenes from the classic film.

Peter Pan’s Flight

Peter Pans Flight at Disneyland
Peter Pan’s Flight. photo by Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No

Peter Pan’s flight soars high above scenes from the movie in a magical boat. Despite the darkness, this is still one of the best rides at Disneyland for toddlers.

Even if your kids do get scared of the dark, they should still come out enjoying the ride because there are no scary moments and plenty to look at along the way.

Peter Pan’s Flight is easily the most popular ride in Fantasyland. Lines get long in a hurry (thanks in part to a slow ride loading system and no Lightening Lane), so make this one of the first rides you experience when you get to the park.

Why is Peter Pan so popular? Part of the reason might be that there is no minimum ride height or scary scenes. Another might be that Peter Pan appeals to both girls and boys because it isn’t a princess-themed movie.

Honestly, I think the real reason is that riders get to fly through the sky in a pirate ship above Neverland. I mean, who doesn’t want to do that?

Casey Jr. Circus Train

Casey Jr Circus Train in Disneyland

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No 

“Casey Junior is coming down the track!” Remember that classic song from the movie Dumbo? Well, there is a ride celebrating that jovial tune located next to the Dumbo ride. This is one of the original rides from 1955 when Disneyland opened.

This ride was built for toddlers. Kids get to ride around in a mini circus train and pretend they are elephants or monkeys. As they ride around they will catch glimpses of the miniature scenes from classic Disney movies in Storybookland and experience an “I think I can” moment as the train chugs up a hill.

The ride is outdoors and toddlers and preschoolers can see exactly what they are going to get before they board the train, so they should be happy to ride this ride.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is one of the best Disneyland Rides for toddlers

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No 

Heffalumps and Woozles! Heffalumps and Woozles! Explore the Hundred Acre Woods with Winnie the Pooh in his friends from the comfort of a beehive-shaped car. 

Most toddlers are very familiar with Winnie the Pooh which is why they will enjoy this slow moving ride. I have never seen a toddler come off this ride without a smile.

This ride enters the colorful dream of Winnie the Pooh who ate too much honey and features favorite characters like Eeyore, Piglet, and Tigger. The line tends to be fairly short which is always a good thing for little kids.

King Arthur Carrousel

King Arthur Carrousel is a good ride for all ages
Photo via Flickr

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No 

King Arthur’s Carrousel is another one of the original Disneyland rides. This ride sits in the center of Fantasyland and has a classic, vintage feel.

This is one of the best rides at Disneyland for toddlers because they can see exactly what is going to happen on this ride. Plus, Mom or Dad can stand next to them on a horse to help them feel secure. If they are still skittish, there are also horses that don’t go up and down as well as a couple sleighs to sit in.

Jungle Cruise

Jungle Cruise is at Disneyland
Elephants Playing in the Water on the Jungle Cruise, photo by Disney Parks

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No 

Jungle Cruise has been taking passengers on cruises through the world’s rivers since 1955. Yes, it is cheesy, but that is part of the fun!

Ride a slow-moving boat through the jungle and encounter animals along the way. Part of the fun is narration from corny but funny guides.

Kids who are easily scared should be reminded that the animals aren’t real. Neither is the cap gun that the tour guide uses.

Did you know that some famous folks once worked the corny joke scene as Jungle Cruise boat skippers? John Lasseter, Kevin Costner, and Steve Martin have all worked on this ride. 

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Photo vis Flickr

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: Yes. This ride has a Disney Genie+ Lightening Lane Entrance

Every little kid loves Buzz Lightyear and this ride even gives the kids an astro blaster to shoot at targets. The ride is slow moving, has energetic music, and plenty of neon, so this dark ride isn’t scary at all.

Even if your kids are too young to understand how to shoot the gun, they will be happy to hold it and look at all the Buzz Lightyear excitement. My kids first rode this ride when they were infants and loved all the flashing lights and colors.

Parents and older kids will still have a blast on this ride because it is really fun to shoot the targets and compete against one another for high points.

At the end of this ride be sure to stop and check out the picture taken of your group while on the ride. You can email it to yourself for a fun keepsake.

Good to know- three people can fit on this ride but there are only two guns. Split up your group if everyone wants to play the game.

Storybook Land Canal Boats

Storybook Land Canal Boats in Disneyland
Photo via Flickr

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No 

Another original 1955 ride that also happens to be one of the best Disneyland rides for toddlers. Like the Casey Jr. Circus Train, this ride makes it way through Storybook Land.

After boarding a boat and sailing your way through Monstro the whale’s mouth, riders will enjoy a slow, calm ride on the boat past miniaturized versions of scenes from favorite Disney movies.

This is a wonderful ride for those who love art and all the attention to detail in the miniature scenes filled with castles and towns from beloved Disney stories.

Some kids might see Monstro and get scared (I did as a kid) but hopefully with the reassurance of Mom or Dad that it is just a tunne which leads to a joyful scene, they can get past the intimdating whale.

Autopia

Autopia is a great ride for toddlers
Photo via Flickr

Minimum Height Requirement: 32 inches

Lightening Lane Enabled: Yes. This ride has a Disney Genie+ Lightening Lane Entrance

Kids love this ride because they finally get to sit in the front seat of the car and drive! While you must be 54 inches tall to drive their own cars in Autopia, children only need to be 32 inches tall to drive with an adult.

Since the ride is on a track, there is no real danger of driving off the road. Little ones might have a hard time with the gas pedal so Mom or Dad may want to push on the gas while their little driver steers.

The cars use real diesel gas and kids even get to print our their very own drivers license, so the experience feels quite “real” to the youngest drivers. The line for this ride can be on the slower side, so definitely take advantage of the Disney Genie+ Lightening Lane.

Fun fact- Autopia is the only original ride still operating in Tomorrowland.

Finding Nemo Submarine

Finding Nemo Submarine
Photo via Flickr

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No

This ride take kids under the sea to discover Nemo’s world. Families will board a submarine which moves very slowly past scenes starring Nemo and his friends which can be viewed from the portholes.

The scenes are exciting for kids, expecially if they have watched Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, and other than one brief section of darkness there is nothing to be nervous about.

The line for this ride can be slow, so pay attention to wait times. I wouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes wiating for this ride.

Trekaroo tip– Look for the seagulls sitting on a bouy in the the water where the submarine ride is located. Prepare to giggle when they suddenly start shouting, “Mine, mine!” just like the birds in the movie.

Monorail

Monorail Disneyland
Photo via Flickr

Minimum Height Requirement:  None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No

Most may see the monorail as simply a way to get from Downtown Disney to Disneyland and vice versa, but little kids still love this ride.

Most people use the monorail to head to Downtown Disney for a couple hours of lunch and shopping, or as a way to enter the parks while staying at one of the Disneyland hotels. But who says you can’t just hop on board and enjoy the ride? If you opt for a round trip experience, it will take about 13 minutes.

Disney California Adventure Rides for Toddlers and Preschoolers

The Little Mermaid- Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

Disney California Adventure Little Mermaid Ride

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No

If your kids are a fan of Ariel, they will surely be a fan of this ride. The line is usually quite short thanks to the continuously moving clamshell vehicle passenger boarding system. Each clamshell fits two adults or one adult and two small children.

At the beginning of the ride you are greeted by Scuttle the seagull who let’s guests know they are about to take a journey under the sea. Disney magic helps you imagine that your clam is going down into the depths. Be sure to look above you to catch a glimpse of Ariel (one of my favorite parts of the ride).

The ride is filled with classic songs and scenes from the movie, including Under the Sea, Ursula conjuring up the “winds of the Caspian Sea”, and the iconic Kiss the Girl Scene.

The animation of the animatronic characters is incredible and the ride is slow paced and appropriate for all ages.

Monsters Inc., Mike and Sully to the Rescue

Monsters Inc Ride Disney California Adventure

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: Yes. This ride has a Disney Genie+ Lightening Lane Entrance

This ride has a monster theme but the monsters in this movie are nice and there is nothing scary about them. If your kids have seen the Monsters Inc. movies, they will be thrilled to see Mike and Sully.

Passengers board a cab which goes on a slow-paced adventure through Monstropolis and enjoy recreated scenes from the popular movie. The monsters save Boo and there is always a happy ending.

Keep your eyes and ears open for Roz who sits at the end of the ride and often talks to passengers in their cabs.

Toy Story Mania

The Best Disneyland Rides for Toddlers & Preschoolers for 2022 1

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: Yes. This ride has a Disney Genie+ Lightening Lane Entrance

Toy Story Mania has long been one of my favorite rides in Disney California Adventure and it also happens to be a great ride for toddlers and preschoolers as well. Kids will love wearing 3D glasses and using Spring-Action Launchers to shoot objects and play a variety of carnival games virtually.

It is so much fun! And, if the kids are too young to understand how to shoot the targets, they will still enjoy watching you play the games (and probably think they are actually playing correctly) and watching the characters interact.

Some games even have 4D elements like exploding water balloons that gently mist riders with water. At the end of the ride your point total is displayed, so you can compete with your friends and family.

There is nothing scary or intimidating about this ride. It is sure to brings smiles to the faces of everyone in your family.

Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters

The Best Disneyland Rides for Toddlers & Preschoolers for 2022 2
Photo via Flickr

Minimum Height Requirement: 32 inches

Lightening Lane Enabled: No

When Cars Land first opened in Disney California Adventure, the Luigi themed-ride had people riding around in hovercraft-like giant tires. It was a cool concept but the ride had lots of problems and seemed to closed for repairs more than it was open.

So Disney decide to give the attraction an overhaul and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters was born. These cars dance and glide to fun tunes like “The Tire-antella” and “Mambo Italiano” in a slow-but-fun fashion.

It is one of the best rides at Disney California Adventure for toddlers because kids can see exactly what is happening before they get on the ride. Plus, Mom and Dad can sit right next to little ones. Do keep in mind that children must 32″ to ride this attraction.

Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree DCA
Photo via Flickr

Minimum Height Requirement: 32 inches

Lightening Lane Enabled: No

This is another ride at Disney Claifornia Adventure that may be geared towards young children but is sure to put a smile on the faces of everyone who rides it.

Climb aboard Mater’s tow trucks as they whirl around the yard. The ride is giggle inducing and the music is part of the fun. Like at Luigi’s, it is easy for kids to see exactly what will happen before they ride. And again, like Luigi’s, children must be 32″ to ride this ride.

Jessie’s Critter Carousel

The Best Disneyland Rides for Toddlers & Preschoolers for 2022 3
Photo via Disneyland Resort

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No

Jessie’s Critter Carousel is located on the Pixar Pier boardwalk near the Incredicoaster. While the big kids ride the coaster, parents can take turns taking the littles on a carousel filled with character from the popular Toy Story films.

This ride is colorful and joyful and a great option for young kiddos.

Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind

The Best Disneyland Rides for Toddlers & Preschoolers for 2022 4
Photo via DIsneyland Resort

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No

Once upon a time, there was a land in Disney California Adventure called “A Bug’s Land” (where the new Avengers Campus is currently located) which was filled with rides geared toward the youngest park guests.

Disney loves to breathe new life into old attractions so it is no surprise that the old Flik’s Flyers ride was given a makeover to fit into its new home on Pixar Pier. Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind is a slow spinning ride that is good for all ages.

Children can see the entire ride while they are in line which is always a comfort.

Golden Zephyr

The Best Disneyland Rides for Toddlers & Preschoolers for 2022 5
Photo via Flickr

Minimum Height Requirement: None

Lightening Lane Enabled: No

The Golden Zephyr is one of the few leftovers from the original California Adventure concept. This is a classic ride that you could imagine seeing at a California pier of yesteryear. Disney describes it as a “gleaming retro spaceship inspired by science fiction stories of the 1920s.”

The rocket ships spin around a tall central spire, with great views of the Pixar Pier area to enjoy. This ride is a good option for everyone, and the ride is rarely long. It does close if it gets windy.