Heading to Disney World with toddlers and young kids this year? Awesome! Little kids will have such a great time in the Disney parks! As you are planning your Disney vacation your little one’s first trip, consider the age and attention span of young children and keep reading for some great tips on how to have fun with toddlers in Disney World!
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Disney World with Toddlers: Make a Plan
To ensure having the best time in Disney World, you really need to make a plan. This is especially true toddlers and young children.
First off, please be sure to make a park reservation in your desired park for every day of your park tickets. Park hopper tickets enable you to hop to another Disney World park in the afternoons, so if you want to experience one more park, be sure to purchase tickets with that option.
One of the best tips is to plan to get to the park early! Use the My Disney Experience app to check park opening and closing times. If you are staying at a Disney resort hotel, you will be able to get into the parks early. Take advantage of this great option!
Small children tend to wake early anyway, so pack your backpack the night before, check to see what time resort transportation will start, lay out your clothes, pack a portable breakfast and get out there!
If you are staying off site, it is still great advice to arrive early. You will stay avoid the longest wait times for the best rides which tend to peak from about 11AM-4PM. Long lines and toddlers do not go together well!
If you are in Magic Kingdom, consider starting in Fantasy Land and knock out popular favorites like Peter Pan, It’s a Small World, and Dumbo before long lines form. Magic Kingdom park is probably the best Disney World park for little ones and my favorite to start with for my children.
If you are in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, consider heading to Kilimanjaro Safaris early on in the day. The animals tend to be more active in the cool mornings and your little ones will love taking it all in!
For Disney’s Hollywood Studios, small children love Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway so consider heading to this one first. Toy Story Land is another fantastic area to walk through with young kids. This area tends to warm up during the day, so it is best to head to Toy Story Land in the morning or later in the evening.
If you are heading to Epcot with a toddler, head to Frozen Ever After first to avoid long lines. Little ones may also enjoy Gran Fiesta Tour, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Journey into Imagination with Figment, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Spaceship Earth and Living with the Land.
Consider purchasing Genie+ for Your Visit
When traveling with younger kids, consider purchasing Genie+ for your visit. This allows you to essentially enter the fast pass lane for your next scheduled attraction. You can also purchase individual lightning lanes for the most popular rides in each Disney World Park.
Be sure to be up and ready to select your first ride in the app at 7 AM EST. Take into account the height requirement for each ride before you select, if you wish to ride with your toddler.
If you decide to purchase Genie+ before your trip, you will need to purchase it for each day for your trip. If you decide to pick and choose which days you will use it, you just need to purchase it the day of your visit, after midnight EST.
Plan for Meals
One of the best things to do to avoid meltdowns with toddlers, and even older kids, is to plan for meals. No one wants to be “hangry!”
If you want to plan a sit down meal, you can begin making dining reservations 60 days before your Disney World vacation. Consider making a dining reservation for character meals with your favorite Disney characters with young kids. When our girls were little, we booked a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table and it is one of my favorite memories!
My favorite sit down meals with toddlers include:
- Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary (great for a non-park day!)
- Topolino’s at Riviera Resort
- Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom
- Tusker House at Animal Kingdom
- Hollywood and Vine with Disney Junior Characters, Hollywood Studios
- Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom
If you want to go for a quick service option, use the My Disney Experience app to order ahead of time. You can select your arrival window, order your food and pay all within the app! Go ahead and order lunch as soon as you arrive in the parks. It’s a great way for the whole family to have a sit down break on a busy day in the parks. All of the dining options in the Disney World parks will be in your My Disney Experience app.
Take a Break
If you plan a Walt Disney World vacation with toddlers and young children, plan to take a break! From early mornings, hot weather, long lines, and constant stimulation, little ones (and kids of all ages) can use a break. If you stay at a Walt Disney World resort, take a boat ride, the Skyliner or the bus back to your hotel and let your little one get some quiet time in.
You can always back to the parks in the late afternoon when lines go down and it gets cooler. Typically, our goal with little ones is to start early, is to have lunch and then head back to the resort around 1:30-2:00. Then, we may come back to the parks in the late afternoon for dinner, more rides and the night time entertainment.
Our older children always appreciate an afternoon break for some pool time. Be sure to look for a great pool or splash pad area for your little ones, if they want a different experience from the parks. Always a good idea!
Plan Your Toddler’s Favorite Rides
Consider your toddler’s favorite rides when you plan your Walt Disney World vacation. Here are a few of our favorites from each park for younger kids.
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- It’s a Small World (my little ones love a boat ride!)
- Jungle Cruise
- Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- Winnie the Pooh
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Prince Charming Regal Carousel
- Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
- WDW Railroad
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Na’vi River Journey
- Wildlife Express Train
- Frozen Ever After
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
- Gran Fiesta Tour
- Journey Into Imagination with Figment
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends
- Spaceship Earth
- Living with the Land
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Toy Story Mania!
- Alien Swirling Saucers (just hold onto them because it can throw you around!)
- Slinky Dog Dash (38″ height requirement)
- Smugglers Run (38″ height requirement)
Disney Resort Hotel
If you travel to Disney World with toddlers and young children, you may want to consider staying on site at a Disney World resort property. You receive the added perks of longer hours, transport to the park, great pools and splash pads, and just the Disney magic of staying “in the bubble.”
You can choose from value resorts, moderate resorts, or deluxe resorts. Each resort offers different amenities, room sizes, and distance from the Orlando theme parks.
My favorite resorts for families with young children include Pop Century (value), Art of Animation (value/moderate), Caribbean Beach (moderate), Wilderness Lodge (deluxe) and Polynesian (deluxe).
If you stay on Disney property, be sure to plan time to hang out at the pool, explore the play area, and dine at your hotel. If you forgot any items at home, you can stop by the resort gift shop for most basic items.
Meet Favorite Characters
Character meet and greets have returned to Disney World! When you travel with toddlers and young children, be sure to make time to hug Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and the whole crew. If your little one is a bit overwhelmed by meeting a character the first time, allow them to stand back and just give a wave at first. They may warm up quickly!
Magic Kingdom is a great place to start to meet plenty of princesses and the Fab Five. The cast member with the character or princess can also help facilitate conversation between the character and your child.
Pack Toddler Essentials
Come to Disney World prepared with the essentials. Bring a stroller or rent one from a local company. Attach a colored bandana to the handles to easily identify your stroller in a sea of strollers at the ride’s exit. Often, strollers may be moved by cast members, so having a marker will make it easier to grab it and go. Of course, do not leave valuables in the stroller when you leave it unattended.
Pack toddler friendly snacks that will not melt in your diaper bag. Our favorites are Goldfish, Puffs, applesauce packs, and fruit snacks. Also, include a sippy cup or bottle to stay hydrated. Here is one of my favorite bags and water bottles for Disney!
If your little one has a special lovey or toy to keep them happy, throw it in the diaper bag. Remember, the diaper bag essentials like diapers, wipes, pacifiers, bibs, and hand sanitizer. Here are a few that we prefer.
If you travel during the warmer months, pack sunscreen, a battery-operated clip fan, and sunglasses to beat the heat.
A change of clothes (or two) can be essential when traveling with a toddler. Staying until night time? Throw some light up glow sticks and necklaces from the dollar store in your bag to keep them entertained while waiting for the nighttime show.
If you forget anything, a great option is visiting the baby care centers. They stay stocked with diapers, wipes, medications, and offer a quiet place to change diapers, nurse, and take a rest from the noise. You can find them in all of the parks, throughout the entire park.
Use Rider Switch
If your little one isn’t quite ready for some of the most popular attractions like Space Mountain or Big Thunder, be sure to take advantage of rider switch. You can avoid waiting in line the second time when you and another adult use rider switch at rides like:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Frozen Ever After
- Mission: SPACE
- Test Track
- Smugglers Run
- Rock ‘n Roller Coaster
- Tower of Terror
- Flight of Passage
- Expedition Everest
- Kali River Rapids
Stage Shows for a Break
When your toddler needs break, consider sitting down to watch a stage show. Often times, sitting down to see one of these live shows (hopefully in an air conditioned theater!) is the perfect way to rest and rejuvenate.
Some of our favorite shows include:
- Festival of the Lion King (Disney’s Animal Kingdom)
- Finding Nemo – the Musical (Disney’s Animal Kingdom)
- For the First Time in Forever – Frozen (Epcot)
- Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
I hope this post helps you prepare for your trip to Disney World with toddlers and little children. Enjoy your trip and take loads of pictures. Consider purchasing Memory Maker to have plenty of pictures with mom and dad in them!
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