Knowing where to start is a big part of planning a trip to the parks! Below we’ve shared a typical route we take through California Adventure with our kiddos. These routes can vary from person to person depending on what attractions you’re into or the ages of your kids/family members! We typically go on rides for our kids’ age groups/heights – toddler age to 5 years.
Suggested Route for Young Kids
- We START in CARS LAND to ride Luigi’s Rollicking Roadsters and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (both 32″ to ride). If we have our parents with us, or an extra adult, we will sometimes grab a Fast Pass for Radiator Springs Racers (40″ to ride) – this is something we DEFINITELY recommend if you want to go on this ride with a shorter wait – it’s one of our favorites, but unfortunately, all of our kids don’t meet the height requirement yet! If you have young kids who don’t meet height requirements for these rides above, start with Toy Story Midway Mania (read on for more info about Toy Story Midway Mania)!
- Next, head to Paradise Pier to ride standby OR grab a Fast Pass for Toy Story Midway Mania (depends on wait time, but we would suggest getting a Fast Pass over riding standby), King Triton’s Carousel, Mickey’s Fun Wheel (NON-swinging gondolas), Golden Zephyr, Jumpin’ Jellyfish (40″ – we actually really love this ride!) and The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.
- After Paradise Pier, we head to Grizzly Peak Trail to explore at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail & ride Grizzly River Run (on warm days – must be 42″), and if we have extra adults with us, we might grab a Fast Pass or use Rider Switch to go on Soarin’ Around the World (the 5 year old in our group is over 40″ & loves this ride).
- Then we make our way back through Buena Vista Street (at some point in the day our kids like to watch the Red Car Trolley Newsboys on Buena Vista Street) into Hollywood Land to play in the Animation Academy & ride Monster’s, Inc. Hollywood Land is also home to Frozen Live on Stage & Disney Junior Dance Party (opening end of May), so you can decide based on showtimes when to head into this area.
- Lastly, we take the walkway past the Hyperion Theater into A Bug’s Land & ride Flik’s Flyer’s, Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train, & Francis’ Lady Bug Boogie. Also home to Tuck and Roll’s Drive ’em Buggies (36″ to ride – basically bumper cars, not one we go on much)!
Suggested Route for Thrill Seekers
Before reading on, be sure to check out Fast Pass information here! Fast Passes will cut down your wait times significantly – such a life saver!
OPTION 1 for the morning:
- Grab a Fast Pass for Radiator Springs Racers (these Fast Passes get pulled the fastest, so getting there in the morning is best to guarantee you’ll get one!) OR head straight to the ride at park opening to ride standby. If you grab a Fast Pass, then we recommend walking to Soarin’ Around the World to ride standby before the line gets too long. Once you’ve used your Radiator Springs Fast Pass, we recommend heading to Guardian’s of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout to grab a Fast Pass.
OPTION 2 for the morning:
- Grab a Fast Pass for Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout (when it opens on May 27), then take the back way through A Bug’s Land to Cars Land to ride Radiator Springs Racers standby. You can also do the other way around – grab a Fast Pass for Radiator Springs Racers, then walk through A Bug’s Land to ride Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout standby. Once you’ve used whichever Fast Pass you pulled first, we suggest heading to Soarin’ Around the World next to either grab a Fast Pass or ride standby, depending on the wait time.
After you’ve done either one of the two options noted above, we suggest either riding the other two attractions in Cars Land (Luigi’s Rollicking Roadsters or Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree – these aren’t necessarily super thrilling, but they’re fun!) OR head down to Paradise Pier to grab a Fast Pass for California Screamin’ or ride standby, depending on the wait time. If you ride standby, then head to Toy Story Midway Mania to get a Fast Pass next. After you get your Toy Story Fast Pass, we recommend riding Mickey’s Fun Wheel or Silly Symphony Swings. If you ride Mickey’s Fun Wheel, we prefer the non-swinging gondolas, but a thrill seeker might enjoy the swinging gondolas!
If your Toy Story Midway Mania Fast Pass return time isn’t up yet, then check the Disneyland App for Goofy’s Sky School’s standby wait time. We feel like Goofy’s Sky School is easily missed or forgotten about! Ha! It’s kinda tucked away in the corner at the very west end of California Adventure, but it’s SO fun! If the standby wait time is under 30 minutes, then we recommend riding (if it works with your Toy Story Midway Mania return time). If it’s over 30 minutes, then you can wait until your Toy Story Midway Mania Fast Pass return time, ride Toy Story, then head to Goofy’s Sky School to get a Fast Pass.
After you’ve enjoyed the attractions on Paradise Pier, check the wait time for Grizzly River Run on the Disneyland App. If you’re visiting on a warm day, Grizzly River Run is super fun, and the perfect way to cool down! Also, on warm days, the wait is typically much longer, so if that’s the case, you can grab a Fast Pass for it, then maybe watch a show while you’re waiting for your return time (but maybe it’s worth it to you to wait in the standby line if it’s too warm outside ha – desperate for water!)!
Even though most of these attractions noted above are for guests 40″ and above (with the exception of a couple that everyone can ride), there are lots of other really fun attractions to enjoy that would be labeled as “little kid” rides. Some of our favorites include The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, Monster’s Inc., Mike & Sulley to the Rescue, Flik’s Flyers in A Bug’s Land, and Jumpin’ Jellyfish (kiddo ride, but must be 40 inches).
We know this is a lot of information, but we hope it helps! If anything, try to just pick a few rides to get done if it’s too overwhelming (trust us, we get it…it’s a lot to organize!) to plan out Fast Passes vs. standby wait times!
Goofy’s Sky School – so fun!