As adults, we imagine being pushed around all day in a stroller a wonderful luxury. Even though strollers are a must have for trips with toddlers, they are of course rambunctious little creatures and need somewhere to run free. To a paranoid parent like myself, letting my child walk in the crowds, even with tight hand holding frightens me to no end (and no I refuse to take the child back pack leash route).
Luckily, Disney looks out for us parents of toddlers and places different areas for kids to run free and get the wiggles out. Here are some of my favorite play areas for toddlers:
Goofy’s Playhouse: Located in Toontown, this area is toddler playground wonderland. It is garden themed and has watermelons to crawl through, slides to slide, and plenty of places to climb. Also, the ground is rubber and bouncy so no need to worry about falling on cement! It’s also fenced in and there is only one exit at the front so there isn’t an opportunity for masterful escapes. Goofy sometimes visits the front of this area, so make sure to keep your eye out! This is the best play area for toddlers in my book!
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: Over at California Adventure right outside of Grizzly River Run, is a beautiful replica of the Redwood Forest in Northern California. This area isn’t as easy to let the kids run free, especially on the trail area, but still a wonderful place to blow off some steam. One word of caution, beware of the rope climbing area, it is not a parents friend! This section is not only for toddlers but older children as well, there are many activities for both age groups. It is definitely a great area to slow down. Also, the trail is perfectly located for baby swappers on Grizzly River Run. One parent can go on the ride and the other can wait with their child at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. They are very close in proximity and you don’t have to deal with an antsy toddler while you wait for your partner to get off the ride.
Animation Academy: I’ve previously done a post on this building and I can’t tell you how much I love this part of California Adventure. Right in the middle of Hollywood land is an oasis for both kids and parents. There is a vast amount of space to run, various Disney movie/music clips playing at all times, and (BONUS) Turtle Talk with Crush which is fabulous since he is a very famous turtle especially among toddlers. Unlike the previous two I listed, this area is indoor and air-conditioned which is always a blessing in Southern California.
Big Thunder Ranch: Back over at Disneyland, there is a few furry characters that toddlers can interact with. At this age, farm animals are a huge hit, and what better opportunity than having a barnyard in the happiest place on Earth! Real animal interactions are a close second to meeting the big cheese himself. However, for some toddlers, it’s the best experience because the bigger costumed characters can be intimidating to some children.
Mickey & Minnie’s House: I do love these play opportunities for my daughter, but sometimes you can feel rushed through the house because everyone wants to get to the characters at the end. It is still a notable place for toddlers to climb and play, just beware of the sometimes pushy people inside the houses. It is especially great for older toddlers that can get the concept that they are actually inside Mickey or Minnie’s house. It will be a the main topic of your conversations for many months after the trip.
Taking toddlers to the Disney Parks can be intimidating at times, but if you have a plan to let them play and get the wiggles out then your trip should go a lot smoother.