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Parenting in the Park
Tips and ideas for the traveling family
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Adrienne Krock, editor

Keeping Kids Cool at the Disneyland Resort

Don't let the summer heat get to your kids

Wednesday, June 23, 2004
by Lisa Perkis

Judging by how warm springtime has been in Southern California, people are predicting a steamy summer at the Disneyland. Recently, my family headed to the parks with sole purpose of visiting our favorite cool spots. We had a great, wet time, and compiled our list of favorite places to beat the heat.

Before hitting the parks in search of cool spots, it pays to be prepared beforehand. Lani Teshima has written a wonderful article about being prepared for hot weather at the parks (link). In addition to heeding her advice about warm weather, plan to do some extra planning for children. They will more than likely be soaking wet before the day is through, so you will want to pack the following:

  • Change of clothes
  • Small towels (we brought dish towels)
  • Large Ziploc bags or plastic grocery bags (to hold wet clothes)
  • Sunscreen
  • Plastic sandals (for getting wet)

Yes, it seems like a lot of stuff to carry around, but believe me, you will be thankful for it when your child is complaining that her clothes are sooo uncomfortable. Parents have mixed opinions about letting their children wear bathing suits or even diapers or underwear alone in the water play areas of the parks. I prefer to let my children play in shorts and T shirts, but children wear all manner of clothing and non-clothing to splash around. I'll rate the cool spots by soak factor:

One towel: Just a nice shady spot to cool off. No water involved.
Two towels: Just misty enough to feel nice. No change of clothing needed.
Three towels: If you or your children hate walking around bowlegged in wet pants, better bring a change of clothes.
Four Towels: You will be able to wring at least three cups of water from your shirt when it's all over. A change of clothing very recommended.

Disney's California Adventure

For whatever reason (lack of dark rides? Lack of shade trees?), the new park provides many areas for children to get soaking wet.

Bountiful Valley Farm

Most guests pass by Bountiful Valley Farm to head into A Bug's Land, but there are a couple of good opportunities for kids to splash water on each other. I'm not sure what the technical farm terms for these gadgets are, but the short yellow columns squirt water periodically and encourage children to run through them screaming with happy terror.

Who will it spray next? Bountiful Valley Farm provides a fun refreshing spot for the kids. Photo by Lisa Perkis.

Next to the yellow squirting things are large concrete water containers overflowing enough to allow children to get pretty wet if they stand close enough. These water activities are just a teaser for the sheer soaking power they will find in A Bug's Land.

Rating: Three towels.

Dot's Puddle Park

This is the first place my children beg to visit when they're in the mood for cooling off. The Puddle Park in Flik's Fun Fair is a creative space with an enormous sprinkler head showering at odd intervals, and sprays of water popping up out of the ground. There are benches for parents constructed to look like used Popsicle sticks surrounding the area, and close enough to get the odd splash of water.

Do not even attempt to keep your kids dry at Dot's Puddle Park in Flik's Fun Fair. Photo by Lisa Perkis.

One of my favorite things about Dot's Puddle Park is the concrete flooring instead of the typical squishy rubber floor. Rubber floors are great for playgrounds, but add a constant flow of water and chlorine to the base and it immediately becomes decayed, shabby and just plain unattractive. Just have your children keep their sandals on so they won't slip as they cavort from one fountain to another. Don't forget to visit the huge leaky water spigot behind the main Puddle Park.

The hose is leaking, and they don't care. The faucet at Flik's Fun Fair is another great spot. Photo by Lisa Perkis.

This is an excellent place to rest in the shade while getting lightly misted with water from the hose that's not screwed on quite tightly enough.

• Main puddle park: Three towels.
• Leaky faucet: Two to three towels, depending on how dedicated your children are to getting totally wet

Grizzly River Rapids alcove

This little gem of a place is as entertaining to the adults as it is to children. Walk past the lockers at Grizzly River Rapids and head up the path to the overlook for the final waterfall of the rapids ride. The very last section of the path gets a healthy dose of water each time a raft hurtles by.

Bull's eye: kids find just the right spot for maximum soakage under the alcove of Grizzly River Rapids. Photo by Lisa Perkis.

Parents can stand in the shade a bit farther up the path and watch the onslaught. Our children spend a good hour watching the rafts slide down and finding the perfect spot to get completely doused.

Rating: Three or four towels.

Animation Building—Hollywood Backlot

This is a nice, cool, dark place to hang out for a while and let the kids dance about to the great collection of soundtrack clips in the spacious lobby. During some of the songs, little light effects play on the floor and make most children delirious with happiness (go figure). One recent drawback to the lobby is the removal of several of the overstuffed couches weary parents could collapse on. The carpeted floor will do in a pinch.

Rating: One towel.

Misters at Soarin' Over California

The huge rocket jets in front of Soarin' Over California give the best dose of misting at the whole resort, which is a good thing since Condor Flats is extremely lacking in trees and shady spots on the whole.

What Condor Flats is missing in trees, it attempts to make up for in mist. Photo by Lisa Perkis.

The misters are a good stopping point on the way to the brutal stand-by line of Soarin' or Grizzly River Rapids.

Rating: Two towels.

Challenge Creek Trail

It doesn't look like much, but the little creek that the whole attraction is supposedly named for draws children in droves. Occasionally a cast member is stationed by the creek to politely request that children leave their shoes on while they splash around, but more often one finds kids kicking off shoes and getting good and wet.

Rating: Two to three towels.


Disneyland boasts many more dark rides and air conditioned show buildings to keep guests chilled. Obvious choices are the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, It's a Small World and Honey I Shrunk the Audience. In addition to the air conditioned buildings, Disneyland possesses more shady alcoves for parents and kids to refresh themselves. Here's just a sampling of our favorite cool-down spots.

Marble ball in Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland seems to be the least shady area of Disneyland, but it does have one thing going for it: the large marble ball, once part of the Cosmic Waves “attraction.” All that remains of the large interactive fountains is the ball, located in front of Pizza Port, turning slowly on water power and kid's determination.

Not as thrilling as the Observatron, but the marble ball in Tomorrowland is much damper. Photo by Lisa Perkis.

If your children are desperate to splash water on each other, this is one of the only places at Disneyland that will accommodate that wish. Most of the other water in the park is dark green or inaccessible.

Rating: Two to three towels.

King Triton's Fountain

A lot prettier than the marble ball, King Triton's Fountain is located in between the entrance to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. Jets of water shoot right over the winding path that leads to Ariel's meet and greet cave. If someone has a mind to get wet, standing with arms outstretched patiently in the water's path will do the trick. Children enjoy running up and down the path shrieking at the top of their lungs, hoping to get splashed. Good clean fun.

Rating: Two to three towels.

Critter Country

Critter Country boasts the most shade in the park, as well as the very damp Splash Mountain. Lines for this attraction get very long in the afternoon, so head over early in the day to secure Fastpass tickets. The towering pine trees in this corner of the park nearly block out the sun entirely on warm days. Unfortunately, the long lines for the Pooh and friends meet and greet often crowd this area.

Splash Mountain in Disneyland's Critter Country provides respite from the heat. Photo by Lisa Perkis.

On very busy days, head up to the Hungry Bear restaurant and enjoy the trees and shade next to the Rivers of America.

Rating: One towel.

Disney Gallery Balcony

When energy levels are low and the sun is blazing, head up to the Disney Gallery in New Orleans Square, above the Pirates of the Caribbean entrance, to sit for a while and recharge.

Even on busy days, the Disney Gallery balcony is quiet. Photo by Lisa Perkis.

Our kids like to have a game of crazy eights on the balcony overlooking New Orleans Square. The exhibit areas of the Gallery are air conditioned as well.

Rating: One towel.

Fowler's Landing

Fowler's Landing, located across from the Haunted Mansion at the edge of New Orleans Square, is another nice shady place out of the main traffic flow to sit and relax—buying MacDonald's fries are not required.

A nice little alcove at Fowler's Landing, off the beaten path between New Orleans Square and Critter Country. Photo by Lisa Perkis.

Just through the trees one can spot the Mark Twain sailing by, and if the kids drop pieces of bread into the dock of the Sailing Ship Columbia (when the Columbia is out sailing), they will see thousands of minnows emerge out of the opaque green water.

Rating: One towel.

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln

This underrated attraction in the Town Square area of Main Street, USA, is a must-visit in the sweltering heat of summer. Talk about your air conditioning—this attraction will have you iceberg cool by the time you leave, plus you will have a spiffy new virtual haircut thanks to the surround sound headphones during the Mr. Lincoln presentation.

Come on in; the air is cool in the Great Moments of Mr. Lincoln attraction. Photo by Lisa Perkis.

The pre-show lobby is also a nice, cool place to relax, and kids usually like to ogle the replica of the capitol building and watch the short film on Walt Disney and the development of animatronics.

Enjoy it while you can; the 50th anniversary celebration next summer includes removing this attraction in place of a historical Disneyland exhibit.

Rating: One towel.

Tom Sawyer Island

Sure, it can be dusty, and yes, your children will make you jump across the barrel bridge repeatedly, but Tom Sawyer Island has some of the best tree coverage at the resort. My kids like to bounce across the suspension bridge while I watch from a nicely shaded bench.

Rating: One towel.

Here's hoping all our MousePlanet readers and their children will stay cool this summer. If you have a favorite chilly spot at Disneyland, share your discoveries with us.

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Lisa here.


Adrienne gathered experience taking children to amusement parks when she worked as a day camp counselor and director. She was an elementary school teacher before she started her favorite job: being Matthew and Spencer's mom.

Adrienne, Matthew and Spencer visit Disneyland several times a month, usually with Daddy.

Besides Matthew and Spencer, Adrienne and her husband Kevin created and maintain the award-winning Happiest Potties on Earth here at MousePlanet.

You can contact Adrienne here.


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