Between the four of us, we have kids ranging from 1 – 11, and so our experiences are all different. Disney’s California Adventure does tend to have more thrill rides as a general rule, and so that is something to consider if you have younger kids. Though with Pixar Pier being revamped, there will be more things for littles soon!
This side definitely does not have as much for 1 year olds especially (all of Car’s Land was for more 3+ size wise), so mine only had 3 favourites here.
Kel’s Top 3: Age 1
- The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure – I love that it’s in the old style of the rides on the other side, but smoother and not as scary! (The villain scene is very short, and the defeat subtle for it focuses more on the outcome of the victory than the defeating of the sea witch).
- Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! – When she saw the ride she immediately started to clap, and when it ended she would sign “more please”. During a slow period I went on this with her 4 times in a row.
- Toy Story Midway Mania! – She hated the glasses but enjoyed the rest.
Agreed, there isn’t quite as much to do for the littles, especially now with A Bug’s Land gone. Once your child hits 40 inches, a lot opens up on this side of the park.
Cai’s Top 5: Age 3
- The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure – I love how short this line up is. It’s just a feel good, family friendly ride. You can squish a small family of four if one is a lap sitter and the other is a toddler.
- Toy Story Midway Mania! – Toddlers love to shoot things. Add in Toy Story and you have a match made in heaven.
- Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree – This is a spinny ride, so if you get motion sickness, I would not recommend this one. This is another one of the rides that I think about and just hear Cai’s giggles as we got thrown about.
- Flik’s Flyers – Now, this ride is no longer, since they have closed A Bug’s Land to make way for Marvel Land. Never fear! It has been re-purposed to become an Inside Out ride on Paradise Pier.
- Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! – A classic dark ride with excellent story telling that engages the senses (take a deep breath when you hit the restaurant!) (Gingery goodness, mmmmmmm).
Finley’s Top 5: Age 1
- Francis’ Ladybug Boogie (closed now)- This one is like the tea cups. I cannot tell you how adorable his little face was on this ride. We had the pleasure of doing this ride with my niece and nephew. We squished into one bug, and it was one of my very favourite moments of the entire trip.
- The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure – The lights and colours make this one a delight for littles.
- Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue! – This one is enjoyable for all parties involved.
- Redwood Creek Challenge Trail – I know, I know, this one isn’t a ride. HOWEVER, there are slides, so it is ride-ish? For a little man who just learned to walk, this area was heaven! We were forever throwing off his groove in the line ups picking him up and holding him. But here was a place where we could just let him loose. It was particularly helpful when doing the Rider Switch Pass for Grizzly River Run. (For more info on Rider Switch Passes, click here).
- Flik’s Flyers (now called “Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind) – Anytime he could look at us, he seemed to really enjoy the ride. I hope I never forget the proud look on his face as he sat beside us on this ride.
Our kids are age 7 & 10 and they absolutely LOVE California Adventure park. I think my son actually prefers it to Disneyland even.
Ava started out as a timid child and didn’t really like anything. It was either “too fast”, “too loud” or “too high”. Over the years we encouraged (and bribed) her to try new things. It always took some coaxing but now the big rides are her favourite!
Ava’s Top 5: Age 10
- Incredicoaster – It’s fun and it’s fast and it’s really cool.
- Grizzly River Run – When it’s hot and you go on it, it makes you feel nice and cold.
- Guardians of the Galaxy ~ Mission: BREAKOUT! – I like it because when you go up and down it feels like you’re flying.
- Soarin’ Around the World – It smells good and it makes me feel calm.
- Toy Story Midway Mania! – It’s so fun playing all the games.
Evan didn’t immediately take to big rides, just like his big sister. This was the first time he was tall enough to ride the Incredicoaster. It took bribing him with a churro, but it made his top 5! Goofy’s Sky School has been a consistent fave since he was tall enough to ride it (42″, I think he was 3).
Evan’s Top 5: Age 7
- Grizzly River Run – Because there’s a big drop and it’s wild.
- Incredicoaster – I love this ride, it smells like cookies!
- Goofy’s Sky School – It turns at the edge in the air.
- Toy Story Midway Mania! – It’s like video games (classic).
- Radiator Springs Racers – I like the racing part, it’s fun to beat the other car!
We went to Disneyland in April 2017 and we had park hoppers. Surprisingly, we spent more time on the DCA side this time around. We found California Adventure with kids to be the BEST! Everyone loved it and it was less crowded. Audrey is the oldest, and loved showing our first time friends around!
Audrey’s Top 5: Age 11
1. Guardians of the Galaxy ~ Mission: BREAKOUT! – It’s super cool and gives you a tummy drop and is super fun!
2. California Screamin’ – It’s fast and it gives me happy memories, as it was our favourite ride with our friends.
3. Goofy’s Sky School – It was our second favourite ride with our friends. (They must’ve ridden it 20 times over all)!
4. Grizzly River Rapids – You get wet and you can connect with people and laugh.
5. Radiator Springs Racers – Fun, fast, and lots to look at!
Addie’s Top 5: Age 8
- Radiator Springs Racers – It’s fun and fast!
- Soarin’ Around the World – You can see lots of different places in the world and it makes you feel like you are flying.
- Pixar Pal-a-Round (swinging carts) – It’s fun as a family and it makes you laugh!
- Grizzly River Run – I like that it gets you really wet and you can sit with lots of friends at one time.
- Goofy’s Sky School – It’s really fast and I was tall enough to go on it!
Lexie wasn’t 40″ yet, but neither was her friend. This is one of the fun things about going with family or friends, if you can have kids similar ages they don’t feel as left out. She still found lots to love about DCA!
Lexie’s Top 5: Age 5
- Soarin’ Around the World – It was like you were actually flying!
- Redwood Creek Challenge Trail – I liked running around everywhere and exploring!
- Toy Story Midway Mania! – It was fun to play and ride at the same time and the glasses looked silly.
- Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue! – The characters are so funny!
- Frozen ~ Live at the Hyperion – I could eat popcorn and see Elsa, Anna and Olaf!
DCA definitely has lots to offer, especially now that they have finished Pixar Pier, and there’s lots more to look forward to. You definitely have to be a bit more strategic with lots of different ages, but there’s still lots to see and do!
Did we miss any of your kids favourite rides? Have you done California Adventure with kids?
Let us know in the comments!
Have a magical day!
Erica, Heidi, Elisia and Danielle