I recently went to the Disneyland Resort with my 5 and 3-year-old kids. This was the first time since we’ve had kids that we didn’t have a baby with us at Disneyland! Where we would typically be pushing a sleeping baby around in a stroller around a store or some such thing while waiting for Rider Switch / Child Swap / Baby Swap* – this time we had wide-awake and raring-to-go toddler/little kid who didn’t so much like being left out of the big kid fun (she was only 1 inch too short to go on the bulk of the height restricted rides!). So with that new experience under my belt, here are my Top 10 favorite things to do with my toddler while we were waiting for Rider Switch!
1. Head to Fantasyland. Depending on what attraction the big “kids” were going on, if we were close to Fantasyland my daughter and I would head there and more times than not, we would end up on the Carousel. The line was always quite short, and she loved it. But she also enjoyed watching Olaf on the roof of the Anna & Elsa meet and greet location, and walking through the castle.
2. Play with the Tomorrowland Water Ball. It’s such a simple thing – a giant granite ball on a water fountain – but it’s so fun for kids (and adults) to try to turn it and play in the water. It’s little things like this, that Disneyland has, that make wait times easy and fun.
3. Find a snack to share. Sometimes my daughter was really upset that she couldn’t go on something with her dad and brother, and I felt like a treat was in order. She was particularly pleased with the Premium Mickey Ice Cream Bar we shared. She ate the chocolate, and I ate the ice cream – per her instructions.
4. Seek out a character. If we were wandering on our own, during swap time, I tried to keep my eyes peeled for characters walking through, or would guide us in the direction of common character meeting spots. Character hugs and waves seriously made her day!
Disney California Adventure:
|She LOVED Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train|
6. Head to A Bug’s Land. The lines here are generally very short (as are the rides themselves), and are all for the younger / shorter set. There’s plenty of tame rides to do while the bigger kids are next door on Tower of Terror.
7. Check out the Animation Building. One of my all-time favorite places to chill out in the park, also happens to be perfect for taking little ones while you are waiting. The zoetrope, walking through the Sorcerer’s Workshop, and best of all the movie montages in the animation courtyard – you can sit on the couches, spread out on the carpet, and the kids love to chase the spotlights that dance across the floor to the music.
8. Walk along the Midway / Boardwalk area. There are many things to do right at the base of California Screamin’ – first of all, you can stand at the launching spot for the Screamin’ coasters, count-down, and watch them take off! Or next door you can take a spin on King Triton’s Carousel – super short line, and lets you ride cute sea creatures. You can also watch and play the Midway Games along the way.
9. See the sights in CarsLand. During daylight, we enjoyed hanging out at the Cozy Cone, getting a cool drink and watching Lightning McQueen or Mater out front. But in the evening it’s magical to your little one to watch the neon come on at nightfall and join in the fun at DJs Dance and Drive!
10. Let them loose at the Redwook Creek Challenge Trail. All kids love this one, it’s super fun, active and in just the right spot for folks waiting for the rest of their party on Grizzly River Run.
Spending all of this “Baby Swap” (what we call it) time with my daughter was actually one of my FAVORITE parts of our trip! I loved being with her one-on-one and sneaking in fun little activities instead of just waiting around. I feel like we shared many special and memorable moments, just the two of us. A week after we had returned, Carolina was still asking “Are we going to do Baby Swap?” So I think she liked it too 🙂
*Rider Switch / Baby Swap / Child Swap (commonly called one of these three names) – When you have a baby/child that cannot ride a certain attraction due to a height restriction, you are able to get a “baby swap” pass from the attending Cast Member that allows part of your party to wait in line for the attraction and ride it, and once off swap the child, and use the pass for the rest of the party to go to the front of the line – similar to a fast pass. Click here for more information.