Albert Hammond may make beautiful music, but he was a little off with “It never rains in Southern California.” The truth is, it does rain, most often during the winter months. Then, of course, there’s the Southern California summer when average temperatures can easily surpass 100 degrees fahrenheit.
So, whether you are visiting the parks in summer or winter chances are you might encounter some extreme weather pattern that may send you and your child with autism indoors. But guests to Disneyland California need not worry; there are plenty of indoor activities!
To help families with autism plan their trip we have compiled a list of the top Disneyland indoor rides and attractions.
Disneyland Railroad (most relaxing)
The railroad is a great way to see Disneyland without having to walk around as well as get from one part of the park to another when you are tired. Though the passenger cars aren’t closed they still provide enough shelter from the elements.
The train has four stops: Main street USA, Tomorrowland, New Orleans Square and Mickey’s Toon Town. Aside from superb views of the park guests will be surprised to see (we sure were!) the Grand Canyon and Land of the Dinosaurs delightfully depicted in the typical Disneyesque fashion.
The Enchanted Tiki Room -Adventureland (tastiest)
At Adventureland’s the Enchanted Tiki Room, you will get a 15-minute break as you sing along with the parrots and watch the show.
The upside is you can enjoy a delicious Pineapple Dole Whip drink available at the nearby Tiki Bar. The downside is that it might take days to get that infectious ‘in the Tiki tiki tiki room’ melody out of your mind.
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle- Fantasyland (best exercise)
Have an antsy kid that needs some exercise?
The Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough in Fantasyland is an excellent way to let off some steam. Guests walk through Aurora’s Castle and can see the fairytale highlights in unique displays. There are some stairs to navigate and some dark areas but overall fun to check out.
Peter Pan’s Flight – Fantasyland (favorite animated)
Fantasyland is the ideal area for avid Disney fans as it still houses many of the park’s original indoor rides.Rides like ‘It’s a small world,’ ‘ ‘Mr. Toad’s wild ride’, and ‘Pinocchio’s Daring Journey,’ are all mild rides with no height restrictions.
Our favorite is ‘Peter Pan’s Flight’ that follows the animated movie’s storyline which makes it easy for even younger kids to understand. With that said, these rides do use darkness and some loud noises as special effects which might bother some kids on the autism spectrum.
The Star War Tours -The Adventure Continues in Tomorrowland (for thrill seekers )
Tomorrowland’s indoor rides and attractions are geared towards the older thrill-seeking kids and adults. The Star War Tours -The Adventure Continues attraction features a simulator with state of the art 3D technology incorportaing movie characters from the latest movies.
The fun starts while waiting in line as you are ‘pre-boarding’ the spacecraft at the Star Wars spaceport. It continues when guests get to join the Resistance with a reluctant C-3PO in charge. Be advised that this is a thrill ride with drops, loud noises, and darkness which may not be suitable for those with noise or motion sensitivities. Furthermore, riders need to wear special 3D glasses.
California Adventure Park’s Animation Academy (best activity and souvenir)
The animation academy is a fantastic place for a child with autism as it is a quiet environment. It offers free drawing classes every 30 minutes with no reservations required!
While waiting for their turn for the art lesson guests can wander about the animation court and watch animated movies clips, explore the Magic Mirror Realm in the Sorcerer’s Workshop or live chat with Crush the turtle from Finding Nemo.
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters – Tomorrowland (best O.T. experience)
Based on Disney Pixar’s Toy Story movies this indoor ride is all about fun. Guests get to battle the evil Zurg (who steals batteries from toys to power his new weapon ) with fire lasers. Some guests with autism will enjoy the spinning aspect of the XP -40 space cruiser while practicing their hand-eye coordination.
The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure – Paradise Pier (best karaoke)
The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is a ride that brings out the singer in everyone. After you sit comfortably in a clam -mobile ( what else?) you get to visit Ariel in her undersea abode.
All the favorite characters make an appearance and take you on a musical adventure that includes all the movie hits. Be prepared to belch “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and “Kiss the Girl” at the top of your lungs while enjoying the ride.
Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! – Hollywood Land (funniest)
Children of any height can enjoy Monsters, Inc Mike & Sulley to the Rescue as they ride through the Monstropolis Transit Terminal and help get Boo back in her room.
Soarin’ Around the World – Grizzly Peak ( most educational)
Though this ride does have a height requirement of 40 inches, it is a slow ride the entire family can enjoy. No passports required this ride is a great way to introduce kids to the wonders of travel.
Soaring Around the World guests ride over famous landmarks in multiple countries; starting with the Swiss Alps and ending with what else Disneyland! Be on the lookout for the subtle sensory enhancements like mist and pine scents featured during the ride.
Frozen at the Hyperion Theater (best musical experience)
This meticulously choreographed show at the Hyperion Theater became a crowd pleaser overnight. The production showcases the movie story and brings favorite characters to life with elaborate costumes and special effects.
Autism Travel Tips
- For rainy days, purchase some inexpensive ponchos from the local dollar store. Since they rip easily, I make sure to have extra ones in my purse.
- Have your children wear shoes with anti-slip soles. Anti-slip soles will give them an extra layer of protection if they walk on a slippery surface. Also, pack extra socks since it is no fun to walk around in wet socks after a downpour.
- For super-hot days, make sure to have a hand-held fan that has a water bottle attached. This way kids can mist themselves off as they walk around the park.
- Many of the rides mentioned are very popular so the wait times can be high particularly during the summertime. Make sure you use the DAS pass to help plan your visit.
Have you ever experienced Disneyland during hot or rainy weather conditions? How did you keep your family comfortable and enjoy your day?