Disneyland or California Adventure Park: Which is Better for Young Kids

The Disney theme parks in California are truly magical places that every family should experience at least once. It’s no secret that people of all ages can enjoy Disneyland and California Adventure Park, but is one better than the other when it comes to bringing very young children? The answer varies from person to person. Before you make a choice, it may help to consider each park’s unique features.

The Enchantments of Disneyland

If you only have one day to visit the Disney parks, you may want to opt for the classic. Disneyland is terrifically engaging, and the bounty of characters will certainly mesmerize little ones. When you first arrive, head straight to Sleeping Beauty Castle. You’ll see some Disney characters strolling around, and there is an assortment of kid-friendly rides nearby, including Peter Pan’s Flight.

5 Disney Face Characters

The park is divided into eight lands based on various themes. A train travels from land to land, providing a nice break for tiny feet. Must-sees for young kids include Critter Country, Fantasyland, Frontierland and Mickey’s Toontown. In one day, your young adventurers can chat with fairytale princesses, sail with scurvy pirates and discover the wonders of outer space. If your tots need to rest, hop on It’s a Small World and ride your way through a vibrant animated universe.

Driver at Disneyland California MainSt in 2013

The one sight you cannot miss in Disneyland is Main Street, U.S.A. You’ll get a sensational castle view, and if you arrive at the right time, you can experience the electrifying Soundsational Parade. Disney favorites are brought to life in this stunning procession. At night, be sure to head toward the castle for the most extravagant fireworks display you’ll ever witness. Just these two attractions alone make the argument for bringing young children to this remarkable park.

The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland in 2010

The Thrills of California Adventure Park

California Adventure Park is essentially the hip big brother of Disneyland, and it has some very distinct special qualities. You won’t see as many children there compared to Disneyland, but there are still various points of interest for young minds. This park is also divided into eight themed sections, including the recently developed Cars Land. Other standouts include Hollywood Land, Paradise Pier and A Bug’s Land.

California Adventure Park Entrance

Although many of the rides at this park are more dynamic than those at Disneyland, some are clearly geared toward young ones. The adults in your party can meet their scream quota on rides such as California Screamin’ and The Tower of Terror, while the kids can giggle and jiggle their way through Toy Story Midway Mania, Jumpin’ Jellyfish and Flik’s Flyers.

Inside California Adventure Park

The inviting atmosphere of this park makes it an enjoyable getaway for everyone, but the interactive attractions really bring the family together. You can discover even more about beloved Disney and Pixar heroes and heroines at numerous sites. The most notable stops are Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, The Sorcerer’s Workshop and Turtle Talk with Crush. Wrap up your festivities playing some games along the boardwalk or drawing your favorite characters at the Animation Academy.

Paradise pier Sunset at California Adventure Park

The Best of Both Worlds

If you have several days to play with, you can purchase Park Hopper passes, which allow you to cross between the two parks day to day. Because there are so many rides, shows and attractions at each, this is a worthwhile option. You can select the most appealing areas without having to squeeze too much into one day. Before you buy your passes, research the park hours, busy times and Extra Magic Hours to optimize your visit.

Whether you purchase Park Hoppers or you choose one park over the other, you may want to factor in your children’s interests before making your checklist. California Adventure Park has quite a few lands dedicated to more recent Disney films such as Cars, Frozen and Monsters, Inc. Disneyland has more salutes to the classics, including Fantasmic, which is an epic combination of music, video, pyrotechnics and lasers.

At both parks, young visitors can become fully immersed in the wonder of Disney. The lands at each location are filled with characters performing and greeting guests. Disneyland does have a more nostalgic kid vibe because of the classic tunes playing around the park and the vibrant colors of each attraction. During the Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, the visual effects and holiday traditions are incredible at this park.

Each of these Disney parks are equally matched when it comes to entertainment, so your decision should come down to what you and your family find the most exciting. California Adventure seems to be more about the energy and thrills, while Disneyland centers on youthful charm. No matter which option you choose, you and your little ones will create a treasury of memories that will last a lifetime.

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