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Taking kids to Disneyland Resort, you wouldn’t think a playground would be at the top of your list of must-dos. Parents taking kids to Disneyland often come back and rave about the play areas they found at Disneyland, not realizing how much their children would enjoy the free play, and how much energy they would actually have to burn off.
As a parent, I have come to love the Disneyland playground areas for my kids and for me as a parent. It allows us to let our kids have more room to roam. Plus it helps tire them out for a good night’s sleep or a mid-day nap.
My family has had a LOT of experience with the play areas at Disneyland. And while some are no longer there (RIP A Bugs Land) there are new favorites and unexpected hidden gems that we have embraced.
Disneyland Playground: A Parent’s Guide (With My Kiddos Help)
Theme parks aren’t usually a place where you think about playgrounds for kids. But parents that are experienced in Disneyland with Kids will tell you that young children (and really kids of all ages at Disneyland) love free play time, and so do parents.
It can be daunting to try to keep your kids entertained in lines all day. Plus, those lines aren’t exactly a place where kids can get their wiggles out. Heading to one of the Disneyland Resort play areas is a great way to give the entire family a break from the lines and crowds.
Disneyland Resort has three main playground areas (soon to be four) we will cover, but we will also share some other hidden gems that might be a great option to let kids burn off energy.
Disneyland Playground Area: Mickey’s Toontown
Mickey’s Toontown was always a favorite for my kids as toddlers at Disneyland. After the reimagining, the new Toontown is a hit with my now eight-year-olds (and I think secretly even my oldest enjoys it). The new additions to Mickey’s Toontown are also more inclusive for kids of all abilities and include sensory-friendly experiences.
What’s In Mickey’s Toontown
One thing to note is that Mickey’s Toontown is a full land and not just a playground. That means there are Disneyland rides in the land. Those rides are Roger Rabbit’s Car TOON Spin, Chip n Dale’s GADGETCoaster, and the all-new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. So, you could easily spend time in the land doing a mix of rides and free play.
While this is a playground guide, I do want to give a brief overview of the rides, so you can decide if you want to add them to your time in Mickey’s Toontown.
Rides In Mickey’s Toontown
The rides in Mickey’s Toontown are varying degrees of “thrill” but none of them are what most people would consider a true thrill ride. Most kids ages 3 and up will be able to ride all of the rides, but of course, parent discretion is advised. Only you know your children’s comfort level.
Roger Rabbit’s Car TOON Spin
Go with Roger Rabbit on an adventure through Toontown (from the movie, not from the Toontown you are in). You are in a runaway taxi-cab that spins (like the Mad Tea Party teacups you can help control how much).
- Offers Lightning Lane (Included with Genie+)
- No Height Requirement – however, most CMs do not allow lap sitting even for infants. While this is not listed in the accessibility information, it is an important note
- Wheelchairs must transfer
- Strobe lights and other effects may be used
- This ride can be a bit dark/scary for young children
- May cause motion sickness
Chip ‘n’ Dale’s GADGETcoaster
The Chip ‘n’ Dale’s GADGETcoaster (AKA GADGETcoaster) is based off the Rescue Rangers Series. It is a short, 45 secondish, roller coaster. While this is considered an introductory coaster, it actually has quite a bit of speed.
- No Lightning Lane Offered
- 35″ Ride Height Requirement
- Wheelchairs must transfer
- Expectant mothers should not ride
- Drops and turns
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
The newest ride at Disneyland Resort, and in the reimagined Mickey’s Toontown is Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. This ride is a trackless dark ride, with multiple scenes that you travel through. While it isn’t scary for most children, there are a few scenes that could scare some kids.
While the queue can get quite long, there are a lot of things to look at and interactive features. So even when it says a 25-minute wait, you will feel like you hardly waited at all. I also have not heard if they are allowing lap sitting for infants on this ride.
- Individual Lightning Lane Purchase (Subject to change) through the Disneyland App
- No Height Requirement
- Wheelchairs must transfer
- It may cause slight motion sickness for those who get it fairly easily
While the rides in Mickey’s Toontown are great, the real reason I love this area is the open play areas, CenTOONial Park (with open turf), and interactive features.
READ MORE: Disneyland Ride Height Requirements – Complete Guide
Play Areas in Mickey’s Toontown
There are several areas to explore in Mickey’s Toontown. From water play (great for those hot summers at Disneyland) to hidden surprises, your kids will love exploring!
Goofy’s House and How-To-Play Yard
One of the biggest changes at Toontown was at Goofy’s House. Goofy’s yard was always a play area but previously featured mostly climbing options and tunnels to crawl through with a slide only accessible via stairs. This is the main Disneyland Playground as far as a “traditional style” playground is concerned.
The new Goofy’s How-To-Play Yard features more accessibility and sensory-friendly playground features. From a bridge that squeaks as you go over it, to slides that are accessible, to spinning cups, and teeter-totters, there is a lot to do in the yard.
There are rope bridges, to climb up, but also ramps that can be used for those in mobility devices. The slides end with a bench, with room to slide a child over in order to help them back into a mobility device.
Inside Goofy’s House is a great place to let kids explore different activities, such as using a crank to send balls through tubes around the house, and pushing buttons to create similar results. This area is small, so it may be hard to bring a mobility device in this area if there are a lot of people inside.
For Goofy Movie fans, you will find photos from scenes in the movie and more inside Goofy’s house. There is even a doorway where Max and Goofy’s heights are marked.
Disneyland Insider Tip: In the back area of Goofy’s yard, between his house and Donald’s Boat, is a small play area for kids 6 – 23 months. The area is a padded, soft play area with a few padded cushions for kids to climb on. This is also a great place for mothers to sit and nurse/feed their babies.
Donald’s Duck Pond – A Splashing Good Time
One change in Toontown that gave me mixed feelings was Donald’s Boat. The boat is no longer something you can enter and explore. But I think the changes will end up being quite positive.
For starters, there are interactive features at each of the windows to Donald’s Boat that feature his nephews and Webby Duck (the character from Duck Tales). These are available now.
Coming soon (hopefully for the summer), Donald’s Duck Pond will also feature a splash pad (water playground) area for kids to cool off. This is one of the biggest features I miss from a bug’s land, so I am happy to see a splash pad option return to the resort.
Guests can explore Mickey’s House and see lots of fun interactive features. While I love this house, I do find it has the least amount of interactive features (at least that capture my kids’ attention).
This house is mostly an extended, interactive queue to meet Mickey Mouse. If you want to walk through the house but do not wait in the screening room to meet Mickey, you will have the ability to exit back to Toontown.
Insider Tip: This is one of the more intimate Mickey Mouse meet-and-greet options, and you will often find him in one of his classic outfits (Steamboat Willie, Fantasia, or classic Mickey Tux). The room is not the best lighting, so if there is a photopass photographer I definitely suggest utilizing them.
Remember: Photopass is included with your Genie+ Purchase, one of the reasons I suggest buying tickets with Genie+ already included.
READ MORE: Genie+ at Disneyland
Minnie Mouse – Visit Her Home and POSSIBLE Meet-and-Greet
Next door to Mickey’s house you have Minnie’s. Her home is definitely more interactive than Mickey’s and has a lot of fun features to explore. While you may be able to have a Meet and Greet with Minnie behind her house, she is not always there.
Other Play and Exploration Areas in Mickey’s Toontown
While the character homes are amazing, you don’t have to visit them to explore. CenTOONial Park’s fountain is a great place for kids to splash and play (this may be blocked off at times due to weather or other reasons). Additionally, the area between Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Roger Rabbit’s Car TOON Spin is filled with handles, buttons, and other interactive features.
Pick up the phone to hear someone speak to you.
Pull on a door handle and you may get a surprise. There is a ton to explore in Mickey’s Toontown which is why it is one of our favorite Disneyland Play Areas.
Good To Know Info and Tips for Mickey’s Toontown
There is so much to know about Mickey’s Toontown, really, this probably could have been its own article… That said, here are some more things you might want to know before visiting Toontown in Disneyland Park.
Food Options in Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland Resort
Mickey’s Toontown offers a few dining options. Additionally, since there is lots of open, green space, it is also a great option for those that bring their own food into Disneyland to spread out and have a snack or even a full meal.
- Good Boy! Grocers – Offering snacks, bottled drinks, and frozen slushies
- Café Daisy – Offering specialty beverages, fountain drinks (including Coke Zero), and more. All day you can purchase Daisy’s Goody-Goody Donuts. For lunch and dinner, you have options of wraps, hot dogs, and my personal favorite – the Flop Over Pizza. Mobile Ordering is available for this location
Best Time To Visit Mickey’s Toontown
Mickey’s Toontown is extremely popular with its new offerings. For the least crowds, visit first thing in the morning, or late at night (after Fireworks at Disneyland).
Even when it is crowded, you will still be able to enjoy the area, but it will take some patience.
Characters in Mickey’s Toontown
Toontown is also a great place to meet some of your favorite, classic characters.
In addition to Mickey and Minnie often meeting at their houses, you may also find Goofy, Donald, Daisy, and an all-new Disney character meet-and-greet with Pete the Cat. So far, Pete has not been out while I have been there, but I will meet him… someday.
Amenities & Facilities In Mickey’s Toontown
- Restrooms – there are small bathrooms located next to Good Boy! Grocers
- Water Fill Stations – one is located by the bathrooms, and the other is located in the grassy area between Mickey’s house and the GADGETcoaster
- Stroller Parking – Stroller parking is located before you enter Toontown for most of the day. They do sometimes offer a valet, covered stroller parking near Roger Rabbit’s Car TOON Spin
- Picnic Tables – While there are no actual picnic tables, there are plenty of tables in the area around Cafe Disney that guests can sit at. You are not required to purchase food from the dining options to use these tables
All in all, Mickey’s Toontown is a great playground area and land for young kids and families.
READ MORE: Strollers at Disneyland – Renting, Stroller Parking, and More!
Disneyland Playground Area: Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
I am super excited about this play area because it is my kids’ absolute favorite. They ask if we can go here on every single trip. This is a great area for kids of all ages that enjoy exploring the great outdoors.
Pirate’s Lair is on Tom Sawyer Island, which is in the middle of the Rivers of America. It is accessed via a raft that cast members transport guests to and from the island. The raft loading area is in New Orleans Square, across from the entrance to Haunted Mansion.
Unlike Mickey’s Toontown, this is not a full land, so the guide will be much simpler.
Note: Portions (or all) of Tom Sawyer Island may be closed due to the Fantasmic Fire issues.
What Is Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
Pirate’s Lair is an area filled with trails, caves, and interactive features on Tom Sawyer Island. The play area is not super accessible to mobility devices, but the main trail around the island is accessible.
Personally, I wouldn’t suggest taking an ECV over, but if anybody that reads this has experience taking one over, I would love you to comment with your experience.
Favorite Features at Pirate’s Lair
Here are some of my kids’ and others’ favorite features on Tom Sawyer Island:
- Trails, rope bridges, caves, and more to explore – My kids just love being able to run around the island and explore the area
- Interactive Pirate activities – interactive activities include pumping water to uncover a treasure, raising treasure, trying to walk across a bridge held up by barrels in water, and trying not to get wet
- Find the pirate treasure on the island – somewhere on the island is a pile of pirate treasure, waiting to be found
Characters at Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
While rare, sometimes a character can be seen on Tom Sawyer Island. The characters that may possibly be there are Captain Jack Sparrow and Red.
Amenities & Facilities on Tom Sawyer Island
Tom Sawyer Island does not offer any dining options or rides, but there are amenities/facilities that are worth mentioning:
- Restrooms – There are restrooms located on both ends of the island. The Companian Restrooms are located on the back part of the island (away from the Fantasmic stage area) inside the “fort”
- Picnic Tables – Picnic tables are located on the front area of the island near the restrooms. These are great for guests who bring in food, or perhaps purchased items and want to go eat on the island
- Water Fill Station – There is a water bottle fill station near the picnic area and main restrooms
Coming Soon: Adventureland Treehouse in Disneyland
If you have been to Disneyland anytime in the 2000’s you might know this as Tarzan’s Treehouse. Before that, it was the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.
Walt Disney Imagineering has reimagined the treehouse located in Adventureland, near Indiana Jones Adventure, as the Adventureland Treehouse.
Inspired by Walt’s original Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse that was built in 1962.
The Adventureland Treehouse will include wood and rope stairs, themed rooms, and more. We can’t wait to update this section when the Adventureland Treehouse opens later in 2023. This will be just one of many fun places for families to explore in Disneyland Park, but I also love getting a bird’s eye view of the lands surrounding the treehouse.
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in Disney California Adventure Park
In California Adventure Park, near Grizzly River Run, is another one of my family’s favorite play areas at Disneyland Resort. The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail takes you into the Redwoods and has plenty of interactive play items, playground features, and more.
One great thing about Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is that there is plenty of shade. The trees help keep this area cool, even in the heat of the afternoon. Both older kids and young children will find plenty to do.
Much of the area is accessible for mobility devices, however, the rope/swinging bridges, and other areas are not.
Favorite Features in Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
My kids always have the best time in Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. I love that there is only one exit and entrance to the area, so I can sit near the entrance and let them play freely without worrying that they will leave the area without me.
The area includes lookout towers, swinging bridges, rock climbing walls, small ziplines, and slides. This is the perfect place for kids with a lot of pent-up energy to explore.
In addition to the physical activities, the trail includes information about animals found in the redwoods, and takes you on a guide to learn about them.
Important Information About Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is an amazing area, but there are important things to be aware of when visiting the area.
Height Requirements In Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
While there are no “rides” in Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, there are activities that have not only height requirements but also age restrictions.
- Hoot n’ Holler Log Slides have a height requirement of 32 inches (81 cm).
- Cliff Hanger Traverse Rock Climb has a height requirement of 42 inches (106 cm).
- Sequoia Smokejumpers Training Tower (zip line) has a height requirement of 42 inches (106 cm) minimum and 63 inches (160 cm) maximum. Guests must be under 13 years old to ride.
Characters in Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
During January – August, Raya from Raya and the Last Dragon does meet and greets in this area. In September and October, this is suspended because the area is set up to transform to Villain’s Grove during Oogie Boogie Bash.
In November – First week of January, this area is a meet and greet for Santa during this time of year.
Amenities and Facilities – Or Lack Thereof
- Restrooms – One important thing to note about the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is that there are no bathroom facilities in the area. The closest restroom is the Bay Area Restrooms. These are located by the Water Wheel and the main incline of the Grizzly River Run attraction.
- Picnic Tables – There are a few picnic tables in the area, but they are hard to snatch up
- Dining options – There are no dining options inside this play area or super close. The closest snack option is the Redwood Creek Churro Cart
Other Fun Areas For Kids at Disneyland
While the above are the playground areas in Disneyland, there are a few other areas with lots of fun things to do for kids that can keep them active and engaged, when they need a break from the lines in the rest of the park.
Bounty Hunting in Galaxy’s Edge – Disneyland
If you have MagicBands you can play the bounty-hunting game in Galaxy’s Edge. Ask Cast Members in the area for the location to start the game. You get directions and an assignment of who you are bounty hunting. Your Disneyland MagicBand+ helps you track down your outlaw, and capture them for “credits.” (The credits do nothing… sorry)
You can also use the PlayDisney app for even more fun in Galaxy’s Edge, like hacking droids, decoding the signs, and more.
Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes – Disneyland
A lot of people avoid this thinking it is too much of a workout… but I love it. My eight-year-old twins recently did this for the first time and really enjoyed it.
There is no age requirement for this attraction, but smaller kids may be required to wear a life jacket. Older/taller children, and adults – life jackets are optional.
I had one child that chose to wear one because he has some anxiety, even though he is a good swimmer.
Tomorrowland Dance Parties – Disneyland
Seasonally, Disneyland will have dance parties in Tomorrowland. The parties take place on select nights, near Galactic Grill, at the Tomorrowland Terrace. Here kids of all ages can dance along to music with some of their favorite Disney Characters.
The dance party is usually held on weekends, but may also be nightly during select seasons. Check the Disneyland App to see if a dance party is being offered during your visit.
Games of Pixar Pier – California Adventure
Head to Pixar Pier to play the boardwalk, carnival-style, games. These games are an extra charge, but everyone is a winner at these games. There are multiple games available.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off! – California Adventure
Every hour beginning in the mid-afternoon, the Guardians of the Galaxy have a dance-off near Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! There are no age limits to guests that will enjoy this show. Dance with the Guardians and help get the wiggles out.
Disney Junior Dance Party – California Adventure
If you want to get out of the heat, or just see some of your favorite Disney Junior characters, the Disney Junior Dance Party is a great option. The indoor show includes music, dancing, and visits from Mickey and some of his Disney Junior friends.
While the main seating is on the floor and kids are encouraged to get up and dance, there are also benches in the back of the room for those who do not want to sit on the floor.
These Disneyland Resort offerings are just some of the fun ways for kids to play and get out energy around the parks. From shows to more Play Disney fun, there are plenty of things to do besides rides at Disneyland. Whether it is because you aren’t into rides, or because you just need a break from the lines, there is plenty to explore.
2 thoughts on “2023 Disneyland Playground Areas: A Parent’s Guide”
We’ve found that giving our kids some time to run and be free has cut down on meltdowns. Giving them that time also gives you a break too. These are some great suggestions.