Disneyland & San Diego Travel Tips for Toddlers

We spent last week with my family in San Diego and L.A. and had an amazing time!

Last time we went I posted a Tot Travel Guide and now I have a few additions 🙂

San Diego Zoo

We had a lot of fun but overall I would say it isn’t really worth the money. We enjoyed it but Anne enjoyed the Boise Zoo just as much and our tickets were 1/4 of the price. If you’re on a budget I wouldn’t feel too bad skipping it but if you do here’s a few tips:

Check the San Diego Craigslist for tickets. We got ours for $25 including bus tour and skyfari. Regular price $55

  • October is free kids month (not sure if this is every year or not)
  • You are allowed to bring in food so go ahead and pack lunches
  • Zoo is super hilly and huge so wear good walking shoes
  • Plan on a full day. We did it in 4 hours but we’re pretty quick
  • We brought 2 single strollers instead of our big double and it was a bit easier to maneuver the kids through the crowds
  • See the pandas and polar bears earlier in the day. They’re the most popular and the exhibits get crowded
  • Pay attention to your map. The zoo really is huge and you won’t want to backtrack to something you missed

California Adventure Park
I was pleasantly surprised at how many kids rides they had! Lots and lots fun 🙂
My tips:
  • As soon as you get in the park head to the Grizzly Rapids area to pick up a fast pass for the World of Color Show. This gives you reserved seating and it’s super neat! You can still get fast passes for rides
  • Next go get a Fast Pass for the new Cars ride. If you don’t the wait is going to be very very long…
  • The Toy Story ride is super fun and everyone can go on it. Will loved it 🙂 It also gets very long lines and doesn’t have fast passes so I would do it early in the day. It’s over by the big roller coaster
  • Child Swap! Best thing ever! Just ask the attendant at each line for a child swap pass and they’ll give you a special pass that lets you go the front of the line. So you wait with your kiddos while the rest of your party enjoys the ride and then you can go ride it real quickly instead of having to wait again. It’s good for 2 people so if you’re in a big group you can still ride with someone else while the rest of your party watches the kids
  • Good Toddler Rides: all of Bugs Life Land, most of Cars land, Ariel’s Adventure (although Anne thought Ursula was scary), ferris wheel, carousel, flying zepphers
  • There’s also a big adventure playland area over by the rapids ride and we had a lot of fun exploring. Even the adults 🙂

A few tips for enjoy the happiest place on earth 🙂
  • Child Swap! Read more in the California Adventure Tips
  • Fast Passes! You can read all about how to use these. Just Google it 🙂 We hardly waited for any of the big rides because we got fast passes all through the day. 
  • The parade is fantastic!
  • You won’t have long lines for the first 1/2 hourish so make sure you hit up some popular rides right away. From my experience Small World, the Carousel, Teacups, Pirates, and Haunted Mansion normally have pretty reasonable lines all day so I would save them for later in the day
  • If you want to meet characters make sure you check the schedule and go right at the beginning. We hit up Pooh Bear just as he got there and hardly waited. We didn’t get to the princesses until the afternoon and waited an hour. They rotate every 1/2 hour so don’t get your kiddo too excited about seeing who’s up there because it may change before you get to the front of the line. They have 3 at a time and you get to meet them all and your kid gets plenty of time to take photos, give hugs and kisses and chat for a minute. Tangled has a separate line over by the carousel and the wait for her gets very very long. This was probably the highlight for Anne so I would take time to do it if your toddler is a big fan of any of the characters. 

Be prepared for your kids to look like this by the end of the day 🙂
If you are flexible on the time of year you travel I would definitely recommend October! Early November would be beautiful too but I would avoid Thanksgiving week. We had perfect weather and the crowds were manageable. Much less busy than when we went in February during our winter break. 
Don’t miss the rest of my tips in Tot Travel Tips Part 1
If you have any other tips please leave a comment 🙂 I’m sure others will appreciate it!


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