Disney with a Toddler
Trying to decide if you should take your toddler with you to Walt Disney World? Afraid it will be too stressful? Before you decide to leave them home with Grandma, or to postpone your trip a couple of years check out these tips on making the most of your trip with your little one, because I promise, you will be so happy you took the trip!
Staying on Property
Staying on property gives you access to many luxuries that will help make your trip less stressful with a toddler. Disney starts the luxuries right at the airport! The Magical Express is your free ride to your resort. You don’t even have to worry about your luggage once you get off the plane. Disney will take care of it, and it will meet you in your hotel room. This is so nice when you are also wresting with a stroller, diaper bag, backpack full of toys etc. you know, everything that comes with traveling with a toddler. Not only are you immersed 24/7 in Disney once you arrive, you will also have access to the busses which pick you up right in front of your resort, and will take you to all of the parks. For even more time saved, and convenience you can stay at a resort that is on the Monorail line. Monorails arrive at each station every couple of minutes, and my favorite part is you don’t have to take your little ones out of their stroller! Yep! You just push your stroller right on and within minutes you will arrive at either Magic Kingdom or Epcot without breaking a sweat. Well, okay, that part may not be true…it is Florida after all! Both the busses and Monorail serve as a huge time saver, because if you stay off property you have to drive to the parks, and then take a tram from the parking lot to the gate, which with small children and stroller is exhausting and can be time consuming depending on the park! You have access to pools, food options, fun activities the cast members host for children right in the lobby of the hotel. You will also have earlier access to booking fast passes which gives you the chance to schedule your must do rides in the morning so you are back in the hotel to cool off in the heat of the day!
Arriving at the parks
My favorite part about taking my toddler to Disney before his 3rd birthday was that he was FREE! Yes thats right, your toddler can experience the magic of Disney for free to include eating for free at sit down restaurants. Your toddler can still ride all of the rides that don’t have height restrictions, meet characters, and be immersed in Disney without the cost. How great is that?! Often, I hear people say; oh my child is too young for Disney, but let me tell you, there is no such thing as too young. From the characters, to the rides, to the theming at the hotels children of all ages will enjoy themselves and there is just something incredibly special about watching the magic through your toddlers’ eyes!
Baby Care Centers
Each park has a baby care center, and they are amazing! Breastfeeding? They have a quiet room free of distractions, in the comfortable AC where you can nurse your little one, and get off of your feet for a bit in the cool air. There are also plugs in the event you need to pump during your time in the park. You can also store your pump at the First Aid Station in the
parks for the day so you don’t have to carry
it around all day! The Baby Care Centers also have an on-site store offering diapers, Pull-ups, wipes, and even clothing for those times you just don’t seem to pack enough. Almost any essential item you may need the on-site store carries! Disney can be overwhelming to little ones, and the Baby Care Centers are a great place to unwind for a bit without having to travel back to your hotel.
Rides and entertainment
One of my favorite things about Disney is that almost all of the rides are kid friendly! For the handful of rides that do have height restrictions Disney offers this great service called rider swap. This is a pass that allows you to take turns riding the bigger rides while the other person/people wait with the kids not tall enough to ride. There is always some sort of entertainment, shop to browse through or yummy snacks to munch on to entertain the toddlers while they are waiting for the rider swap ride to be completed! For those long lines I suggest bubbles, or sticker books to help occupy those little ones who don’t like to sit or stand still for too long. Disney also offers lots of experiences outside of the rides. There are many opportunities for shows, to include The Festival of The Lion King at Animal Kingdom. This show is a must do!
Let them play
Disney involves a lot of walking for us adults, which means lots of stroller time for our toddlers. Disney thinks of everything, right down to fun things that get your kiddo out of the stroller, all while having fun! There are tons of immersive experiences that will get your little one engaged, from the drums in Harambe they can bang on, to the hands on experiences in the World Showcase, there is something for every interest. My favorite toddler approved activity is in the Dumbo The Flying Elephant ride queue.
You can head inside Big Top Circus Tent and receive a circus ticket pager that virtually holds your place and notifies you when its your turn to board the attraction. If there is not a long wait time, you can still enjoy the play area and jump back in line when you ready to leave the play area. Another great opportunity to escape the heat for a bit! Speaking of the heat, not far from Dumbo is the Casey Jr. Splash “n” Soak station!
This is a fun immersive experience for little ones and a great opportunity to cool off! There is also a kiosk that carries swimsuits, water shoes, and water diapers for purchase, if you happen to forget them but your little one wants to join in on the water play! While Epcot may seem like its more of an Adult park, Disney was sure to include lots of fun activities for toddlers and older children alike. One of these is a splash pad area near the World Showcase. Its a great way to get them out of their stroller for a bit, and cool them off.
One of my toddlers’ favorite things to do is eat. Disney is a great place to do just that. While there are tons of character meet n greets around each park, you can also book a Character Dining experience. These are available to book beginning 180 days before your check in date. Not only do you get to eat, you get to interact with characters from the comfort of your own table! They come to you. Isn’t that a dream come true when you have a toddler in tow? The best part about the Character Dining experiences just may be that majority of them are buffets which means little to no wait before you have food in front of your toddler who we all know does not like to sit still for long. There are a variety of food options, as well as characters you can meet at the different restaurants.
When traveling with a toddler there are just a few more tips I want to share. First, your stroller plays a big roll in your trip. You need a stroller that is comfortable for your little one, as well as easy to maneuver as there are always a lot of people at Disney you will be navigating through. Bonus if it has a basket underneath to hold things too! Disney recently changed their stroller policy, so be sure that you measure your stroller before getting it all the way to Florida, just to
not be able to use it in the parks. Your stroller must now be no larger than 31 inches wide, and 52 inches long. Something else you should think about when choosing which stroller to bring is how big is it folded up, and how easy is it to fold up? You will have to fold your stroller, and some times even stand while holding it on the bus, so you don’t want it to be too bulky or a pain to close because sometimes you may have to make a mad dash to the bus so you don’t have to wait for the next one! If you don’t want the hassle of traveling with your stroller there are different companies you can rent one through. Kingdom Strollers, as well as Orlando Strollers are great options. They will even deliver your stroller rental to your hotel for you! My next tip is stop at your local dollar store before you leave! Stock up on rain ponchos, afternoon rain is very common in Florida and there is nothing worse than a wet stroller! I have even seen people bring shower curtain liners, and they work well too. While you are there, pick up some glow sticks. Disney sells lots of cute light up toys, but dollar store glow sticks are just as exciting to little ones, and don’t hurt the wallet as much either! You are likely to also find other little, inexpensive toys, stickers, bubbles etc to help entertain, and keep toddlers happy during those inevitable meltdowns. Dollar store is a great place to stock up on stuff you know you will buy at Disney, but without the Disney price. My final tip is to enjoy yourself. Soak up every moment, because taking a toddler to Disney is unlike anything you will ever do. It will be stressful, but it will also be so very magical. The first time you watch your little one hug their favorite character, you will need tissues! On the other hand, if you have a little one who is unsure of the characters, don’t sweat it! There are so many other ways to find magic in the happiest place on earth!
Ready to try out some of these great tips?! Contact your Key to Adventure Travel agent today to book your very own magical vacation!