At the Disneyland Resort in California, there are many areas where your toddler can run free from the stroller, play, or just relax in a more quiet environment. Especially in peak season, it can become loud and overwhelming for a small child and frequent quiet periods will help your child to remain calm and have fun.
For quiet rest periods, you can either take your child back to your hotel for a nap or a swim, or you can find a place to relax without leaving the Disney Resort.
One place to let your stroller bound toddler run free without the crowds is the Disneyland Hotel. The grounds there are immense, with many interesting things for both adults and children to look at on a walk. There is a play area for children in the sand pit next to the Cove Pool. This is a great area for children to expend energy while parents can sit and relax. It is typically very quiet, without the crowds of the Parks or Downtown Disney. In addition to this playground, there is a large area of waterfalls that is beautiful to walk through. This area is loud because of rushing water, but it is a constant sound. A note of caution though: The rocks and paths do become slippery when they get wet. Hold your childs hand through this area. As you continue walking around the Disneyland Hotel grounds, you will see plants that look like Disney Characters. A fun game for a toddler is to see how many they can find and name. There are many grassy areas to lie down and relax on, let a baby crawl around, or even take a short nap. If you are not staying at one of the three Disney Resort Hotels, and don't want to make the trek back to your own hotel, this is a great place for some quiet time.
Another place for some quiet time are the Baby Center's at both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. Is your toddler potty trained, yet afraid to go in a noisy bathroom? Take your child to the Baby Center, where you will find child size toilets. This is also a great place to change a diaper in a more relaxing setting. Breastfeeding? The Baby Center has an area for breastfeeding moms that is quiet, comfortable, and quite relaxing. No dad's are allowed in this part of the Baby Center.
Disney Resort Baby Centers
The courtyard at the Disney Gallery, above Pirates of the Caribbean is also a nice relaxing place to rest for a few minutes. This is simply an area where you can sit down for some quiet time before moving on to the next attraction.
At Disney's California Adventure, the main room of the Animation Building is typically cool and quiet and shows Disney pictures on a big screen for your relaxation pleasure. You can spend a lot of time in here resting while still having the Disney Magic surround you. Many times, characters will even come in for pictures and talking.
There are two great places at the Disneyland Resort where you can let your children run and expend some energy that are fun for both toddlers and older children alike.
The first is Tom Sawyer's Island at Disneyland Park. A raft will take you to the island, and there are rope bridges, caves to explore and trails to follow. Children tend to get loud here as they are having fun running around, so don't go here for peace and quite. It is a less crowded area than just walking around the park so as long as you keep track of your child, and a close eye on your toddler, this is a great place to run around and explore. This is also the home of Sutter's Mill, where Fantasmic! is staged from. While the mill itself is usually locked, it is still a fun place to walk around. When you are ready to leave Tom Sawyer's Island, simply take a raft back across the Rivers of America and you are back to the main park.
The other place to run around and have fun is at Disney's California Adventure. Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is an enclosed area with trails to walk among other fun items for children. Like Tom Sawyer's Island though, you will want to keep a close eye on your child in here, as it has many areas a quick toddler can run to. For the older children, there are rope swings and rock walls to climb, ropes to climb to reach the top of the fort, a cave, and a tunnel slide. For the younger set, there are small slides in an area with a soft ground surface in case of falls. In this area your child can play in water, go into the small cave, do the slide or just run around. If you have a toddler or baby and two adults, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is also great to facilitate the adults riding the attractions. Leaving an adult with a child while the other rides the rides works out great for us and other parents.
Finally, there are a few areas in which you child can combine running with getting wet. At Disneyland, there is an area in Tomorrowland that will spray water on occasion. This area is located right outside Redd Rocket's Pizza Port.
Disney's California Adventure has two wet areas for kids. A swim diaper is a good idea for both areas, as they can get totally soaked. The S. S. Rustworthy, on Paradise Pier is fun for toddlers and older children. This is an area where they can run, climb, and simply get wet. It is great on a hot day. In addition to that, in A Bug's Land there is an area amidst the rides called Princess Dot Puddle Park that sprays water mists. This is great for children and adults alike to quickly cool off!
2006 Update to Toddler Play areas
Goofy's house, formerly Goofy's Bounce House has been made into a toddler playground.
This area which has things to climb on, over, under and around as well as a slide has only one way in and one way out. This is a great security feature so parents can relax while children play keeping an eye on only one entrance/exit to make sure your child doesn't get out while you are watching another entryway. Children can exercise here getting up to play instead of sitting in a stroller while parents can finally sit for a few minutes themselves.
In addition to this seating you will be happy to note that in the morning this is a shaded seating area.
Goofy's house is also part of this play area but it is basically empty. In typical ToonTown fashion there are things on the walls to touch, look at, and laugh at while enjoying the nice shady interior of the house.
At the entrance/exit to Goofy's Playground you will also find a Cast Member standing guard. This is a very comforting feeling even if they are just in place to answer questions.
The best thing about this play area is that it is enclosed, and aside from the interior of the house, the whole playground can be seen from the benches for parents to sit on. Unlike other areas for kids to run and play in at the Disneyland Resort this one is truly a place for kids to play while parents relax.