Many families that take a vacation to Walt Disney World are taking a toddler along with them. If you are one of these families, I have some great tips for enhancing the magic for your little one. Don’t worry, there are some Disney hacks in here for you as well! Every step of your trip is different with a toddler on board.
To help make sure your Disney vacation is perfect for everyone you are traveling with, I have included some helpful packing tips, great resorts, ideal attractions and restaurants, as well as a few other tips and tricks along the way!
So, here are your Disney tips for toddlers:
Let’s start with packing for the trip. If you are able to pack your own stroller, definitely take advantage of that luxury. Many families also order a new stroller and ship it directly to their room at the resort or ship their current one! That takes a lot of pain out of packing the stroller with you. I typically recommend grabbing one that folds really easily so getting on and off the buses to each park is a breeze.
Expect to get rained on at least once during your trip. The stroller weather shield will help keep your little one nice and dry during these periods of rain! A cooling towel or stroller fan attachment is also a must if you’re visiting Florida during the warm weather months. This will keep your toddler cool and comfortable during your days at the park!
If your younger one enjoys specific snacks, needs Pull-Ups, or any other grocery item. You can order it online and also ship it to your room. This is a great way to save hassle and space while preparing for your trip to Disney.
Another great idea is to pack them their own backpack with activities for the journey. In this binder, you can pack educational items, printable coloring pages, and more. Add a pencil case with crayons and other needed items to make sure they have everything they need to stay entertained and calm for the whole ride. If you have a DVD player in your car, I love picking their favorite Disney movies to really get them excited about the trip!
When planning your trip to Disney with a little one, there are couple of things you’ll want to consider. First, the resort you are staying in can make the trip even more magical. Here are my top five Disney resorts for toddlers:
- Disney’s Art of Animation – This resort brings Disney classics to life. Featuring rooms modeled after The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and Cars, there’s a movie for everyone!
- Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort – This resort also brings incredible Disney movies to life including Fantasia, 101 Dalmatians, Mighty Ducks, Toy Story, and Love Bug.
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort – This one is just a short monorail ride to Magic Kingdom and features a character dining experience, perfect for toddlers!
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – This is a unique experience for toddlers. Sleep next to the safari and watch their eyes widen as giraffes, gazelles, and more animals stroll right past your window!
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort – Enjoy short rides to Magic Kingdom and character dining opportunities at this deluxe resort.
If your toddler needs bed rails or Pack ‘N Plays, don’t worry! Call 407.934.7639 to have one added to your reservation. You can also visit the concierge and request these items upon arrival!
Now, it’s time to plan your visits to the parks. The best Disney park for toddlers is by far Magic Kingdom. Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom are runner ups and Epcot is probably the least interesting for toddlers. However, the new Anna and Elsa meet and greet and Frozen Ever-After ride have sparked some interest for younger ones here!
Park days can be long and exhausting for both adults and children, so it is always my recommendation to purchase the park hopper add on for your tickets and break up your days. For example, you can start the day with breakfast, rides, and characters at Magic Kingdom, then head back to the resort for some lunch and a nap. After everyone is well-rested and cooled off, head back out and visit Hollywood Studios for more rides and the Fantasmic! show that night. This helps everyone enjoy the entirety of the trip and never feel grumpy or exhausted at the parks.
There are so many awesome attractions for little ones in the Disney World parks, but I am just going to name a few of my favorites. Let’s start with rides, because there are tons. My top rides for toddlers are at Magic Kingdom are Astro Orbitor, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Jungle Cruise, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Under the Sea, Journey of the Little Mermaid, and Peter Pan’s Flight.
In Animal Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Na’vi River Journey, and the TriceraTop Spin are all great options. Epcot’s Frozen Ever-After ride is awesome for little ones as well Journey into Imagination with Figment, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and Turtle Talk with Crush. If you’re visiting Hollywood Studios, there aren’t many rides for children, but the shows are really awesome here.
If you’re ever worried about whether or not your child can ride on a specific ride, search the ride on your MyDisneyExperience app, click on it and scroll down. There, you will find all the info you need on your child’s eligibility for that ride. If they aren’t quite ready for some rides, but you would still like to enjoy them, Disney has a perk called Rider Switch.
You can all enter the queue for the line together, then one adult hops on the ride while one remains with the child. When that person returns from the ride, they can stay with the child while the other person rides. This way your party doesn’t have to go through the queue twice for everyone to ride!
If you want to make time for some great shows, definitely think about The Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Indiana Jones’ Stunt Spectacular at Hollywood Studios. Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage is also fantastic along with For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.
If your child is not a huge fan of fireworks, the Fantasmic! show is performed at Hollywood Studios every night and is a great option. There are still some fireworks towards the end of this show, but not nearly as many as the fireworks show in each park that ends the night.
Magic Kingdom also has a plethora of shows that are perfect for toddlers. Enchanted Tales with Belle, Mickey’s Philharmagic, and the parades here are all great options. There are also tons of character meetups at Magic Kingdom, so keep that in mind if you want to meet your little ones’ favorite characters.
At Epcot, there aren’t a ton of toddler-focused entertainment options, but you can meet Anna & Elsa here in the Norway pavilion as well as Mickey and Friends in Future World. Mulan will be in the China pavilion as well.
Animal Kingdom is awesome for toddlers with tons of viewing areas for many different types of animals. They’ll also enjoy Finding Nemo – The Musical, meeting Pocahontas, Festival of the Lion King, and tons of street parties! The Tree of Life Awakenings is also a great way to end the day at this theme park.
Obviously, character dining is such a magical experience for little ones, but there are a ton of awesome restaurants children will love. Here are a few places that are fun to dine for even the smallest members of your crew!
At Magic Kingdom, a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table is a must! This character dining experience takes place right in Cinderella’s Castle with lovely food to eat and a few princesses to meet. I would also make time for dinner at Be Our Guest. Step into The Beast’s castle for an amazing meal and meet The Beast while you’re there! The Crystal Palace is another great character dining option with characters from Winnie the Pooh roaming about! At Epcot, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is a must-do for princess lovers.
If you’re on a bit of a budget but still have a little one dying to meet princesses, this is a great way to do it! It’s much cheaper than Cinderella’s Royal Table, but you still get to have a great meal while meeting multiple princesses. Reservations here are also a lot easier to acquire! Coral Reef is another cool place for toddlers because they’ll dine in front of a huge aquarium where they can learn about marine life. Ask for a table close to the front to avoid disturbing other guests and let your little one watch as colorful fish swim by!
Hollywood Studios doesn’t have much in the way of character dining, but I still think the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant is a great spot for kids. Dine in an old-school drive-in theater while watching sci-fi inspired cartoons, old movie ads, and more. This is a unique experience that is definitely memorable for children!
Animal Kingdom is home to the Rainforest Café, a mesmerizing dining spot for toddlers. Everyone in your party can enjoy some fun fare while watching as the rainforest comes to life. Remind your little ones to be respectful of the animals though!
When dining at Disney World, meals can get expensive! A great money-saving idea is to share plates. The helpings at Disney are normally huge. An appetizer, entrée, and dessert can feed two people and a child at most restaurants. If your little one isn’t too picky, have them eat off of your plate to save money. If you are traveling with another adult, it may be worth comparing the costs of sharing a three-course meal compared to both ordering an entrée!
Every toddler is prone to a meltdown every now and then, so I decided to add some tips for child care while at the Disney parks. There are Baby Care Centers scattered through every park at Disney. Sometimes the heat and hunger can get to your little one. Taking them to cool off, maybe eat a snack, or rest is sometimes the best way to go. The Baby Care Centers offer a quick way to this. A good nap might also be necessary, so taking them back to the resort to rest is also an option.
One way I’ve found to enhance the magic of a Disney trip for toddlers, is to let them somewhat “lead” the way. While planning your trip is crucial to Disney success, let the little ones choose what to do in your unscheduled time. You might find yourself on Dumbo three times in a row, but the smiles will be worth it!
Lastly, don’t get too worried! Disney is such a magical place, you’re pretty much guaranteed an amazing trip for you and your little ones. If you need anything at all, be sure to talk to your concierge. Disney is very well prepared and can help you with just about anything. Never hesitate to give them a call if you forgot an item.
Also, be sure to download the MyDisneyExperience app. This will help ensure you stay organized between FastPasses, reservations, and more. You can check wait times, find the closest bathroom, and so much more. It’s definitely a life saver during a fun day at the parks. Then, all you have to do is have fun and enjoy the magic!
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