Tips and tricks to make your visiting Disney World with toddlers as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.
Disney World is one of those places you automatically think of when planning a family vacation. It’s perfect for both kids and kids at heart. In fact, toddlers under the age of 3 get free entry! However, visiting Disney World with toddlers in tow can still be a challenge. To help make your next trip to ‘The Most Magical Place On Earth’ as stress-free as possible, here are the tips and tricks I picked up on our recent visit.
In my opinion, the best age to take your little ones to Disney World would be between 6-8 months (before they start walking and wanting to be independent) or once they’re over 3 years old. Having said that, we still had an amazing time, and I really think these tips played a big part in that!
You don’t want to bring too much with you. Don’t forget, everything you bring you’ll need to carry around! But there are a few essentials that we packed that really helped us out on the day. You’ll want to make sure you have…
We bought this travel stroller. It was great to move around the park easily, but I would recommend bringing whichever stroller your little one is most comfortable with. Next time, we’ll bring our main larger stroller because it’s more comfortable. Sage can be in it for longer day trips and there’s a great sun canopy add-on that we use for the summer months to shield from the sun and have shade for naps. If you don’t have an appropriate stroller or can’t bring it with you, you can rent strollers from the park if needed as well. Be aware that you can’t bring strollers into the lines. You have to park them at designated stroller park sections outside each ride.
You’ll want to bring a small backpack (similar one to ours) with you. Lines can be long and you want to have snacks, water and entertainment with you for your little ones while you’re queuing. Plus, for most of the rides in the Magic Kingdom (the park we went to) there is room by your feet to easily place your bag. Of course, you’ll also want to bring your main diaper bag, and you can see what I pack in mine right here.
There’s a good chance a shoe might get kicked off on one of the rides, so bring an extra pair of shoes to be safe! Make sure the shoes you have your kids wearing are already broken in and you know they are comfortable.
Since you can’t bring your stroller into the lines, I highly recommend bringing a toddler carrier for when you’re queuing. They might also get sick of the stroller while you’re walking around the park, so you can switch it up and use your carrier instead.
I packed Sage 2 new toys (this one and this (similar) one) for her to have that she’d never seen before, so that they were super exciting for her. Honestly, there was so much to see that we barely used them in the park, but it’s good to have them anyway just in case. Mostly we used them in the car rides there and back.
If you need to cover their legs from the sun you can drape a lightweight blanket over them while they’re in the stroller. You could also use it to darken the stroller if they need to take a nap.
If you’ve been here for a while you’ll know my top tips for going ANYWHERE with toddlers is to bring food. Pack heatless meals like sandwiches (I packed a cream cheese and cucumber sandwich on sprouted bread with strawberry and cucumber cut up on the side) as well as lots of snacks. I recommend packing hydrating snacks like cucumber and fruit as well, not just dry snacks. These silicone bags are perfect for keeping these snacks contained. We also brought a homemade cereal trail mix, freeze dried strawberries and squeeze food packs. This snack pot is perfect for travel because little ones can help themselves without spilling them everywhere.
You can purchase Preferred Parking (which is $50 instead of the usual $25) which gets you parked right up and close to the entrance. This is great if it fits within your budget, however I would only suggest this if you’re going at peak times of the year (the busiest times are around the Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays).
I definitely suggest taking the ferry since it’s a nice ride into the park. Otherwise there is the monorail. Take photos at the beginning of the day, because everyone will have more energy and be happier – trust me! You can swap with families so that you can take photos of each other and avoid using professional photographers that are at the park which take great photos but come with a heavy price tag! If you are going to use one of the photographers at the park, get lots of photos at different sections because you pay a flat rate for the whole lot, not selects.
Once you’re in the park be sure to let them know if it’s a special visit (like your first visit, anniversary or birthday) so you can get your special button. You also want to make sure to grab a Genie Pass.
The Genie Pass gives you access to the lightning lanes, which basically means you have to queue up for less time. You can only pick your first ride at 7am the day of your visit, so be sure to set your alarm as things book up quickly. As soon as you check into your ride, book your next one. That way, while you’re riding, the countdown has already started for your next ride. I wouldn’t recommend booking your first lightning lane for the first hour because at that time the lines are pretty short anyways.
Note: The Genie Pass doesn’t work for certain rides like the 7 Dwarfs
What’s great aboutMagic Kingdom (the Disney World park we went to) is that for 90% of the rides you can bring a baby or toddler on your lap, which makes it fun for the whole family. For rides that have height restrictions that you want to go on but can’t bring your toddler (such as Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom), I highly recommend taking advantage of the Rider Switch option. It means you can switch out with another adult in your party so that they can stay with your toddler and you can ride without having to line up again.
Speaking of lines, as well as bringing a few toys, having a preloaded video to watch on a tablet or phone is a good idea because WiFi is pretty bad. This comes in handy for when your toddler starts to get bored while in long lines. The good thing about Magic Kingdom is that on some rides, like Dumbo the Flying Elephant and the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, there is actually toddler sized entertainment in the lines. Dumbo even has an entire indoor play space!
I recommend mobile ordering your food. Pick a time slot and let them know when you’re there, and if you’re on your way to the area hit the “I’m here, start my order” button so that it’s ready by the time you actually arrive. If you want a character breakfast or meal, book your dining reservations in advance, as these fill up quickly! Also, if you’re after Mickey Waffles you’ll need to order early since they only serve them during breakfast.
Pro tip: Have lunch before the lunch-time rush. We ate lunch at 11am to beat the peak lunch hours (12-2pm), which meant it was much less busy.
They’re not just for babies! Each park has a baby care center and they’re decked out with restrooms, changing tables, movies, rocking chairs and nursing areas. You can also pick up extra diapers or wipes if you need them! It can get pretty hot wandering around the park, so getting out of the sun and into some air conditioning can do wonders for parents and kids alike.
While you parents may be desperate to hit the gift shops, they’re likely to be boring for your toddler. Or they’ll want you to buy everything they see and get upset when they can’t. To avoid these battles, wait until your little one is taking a nap in their stroller. This is the perfect opportunity to shop and grab snacks peacefully.
A big part of Disney is the characters, and while you may be desperate to get a cute photo of your little one with a character, remember that toddlers may get overwhelmed, scared or uncomfortable, even if they love the character! Don’t force it if they’re not happy.
Also, be aware that the characters aren’t just roaming the park. They’ll be in certain places at certain times. At Disney’s Magic Kingdom, here’s where you can find the princesses:
If you’re not able to stay until the end of the night for fireworks, they also have them a few times throughout the day at the show at the castle. We saw the 5:35pm show and it was truly magical (I may have even shed a tear) and the perfect way to wrap up our day.
There you have it – your guide to visiting Disney World with toddlers! Obviously I have a one year old, so things may well change when Sage is a little older, but for now we’re learning as we go!
What are your top tips for visiting Disney World with toddlers or as a family? I’m always looking for new tips, so let me know in the comments below!