Perhaps no amusement park on earth is better suited to small children than the Magic Kingdom. It’s an incredible blend of kids’ favorite things and characters all rolled into one. But any outing with little ones, especially an outing as overwhelming as Walt Disney World, takes a little planning. These tips should help you have a fantastic time with your little children at Magic Kingdom!
1. Get an Early Start
Your day in Magic Kingdom is not one to start too late! Get up and get moving to the park to be there in time for the rope drop. Not only will you get there before it’s too hot, lines are typically shorter first thing in the morning. Also, if you get there a few minutes before the gates open you can catch the welcome show, featuring songs, dancing, and your favorite characters. There are even daytime fireworks! It’s a great way to start the day for little ones.
2. Use a Stroller
I know, I know. Your kid hates the stroller. He screams if you put him in it. Bring one anyway, or plan to rent one. The Magic Kingdom is huge and those little legs are going to get tired at some point. It is hot and exhausting to carry a small child for hours on end, so you’ll be very glad to have that stroller! Consider it even for older kids who have outgrown a stroller for most other situations – you’re going to be walking for miles! Magic Kingdom has several stroller parking locations, so you can leave your stroller when it’s not needed and use it when your child is too tuckered out to walk any further.
3. Bring Your Own Snacks and Drinks
While there are plenty of opportunities to buy snacks and drinks all around the Magic Kingdom, it’s always good to have a few favorites available when a child’s hunger or thirst strikes RIGHT NOW. It can also keep your budget in check! Just be sure to keep those snacks closed up when you leave them in the stroller – the birds and squirrels at Walt Disney World are famous for robbing strollers for their snacks!
4. Pack Your Bag Carefully
How you pack your bag can truly make or break your day in Magic Kingdom. Of course you’ll want your usual diaper bag contents, but add in a full change of clothes (you really don’t want to have to go back to the hotel in case of diaper failure) extra wipes (which do double duty for diapers and cleaning sticky hands after a Mickey Bar), sunscreen, the aforementioned drinks and snacks, and ponchos and stroller cover in case of a sudden Florida thunderstorm. It’s also a good idea to have a few tricks in the bag to handle unexpected situations. My favorite is bubbles! Bubbles are great when waiting in a long line, staking out your spot for a parade, or distracting your little one should a crisis occur. A bottle of bubbles saved us from a twin meltdown when we missed a resort bus and had to wait in a thunderstorm for the next one.
5. Stay on Schedule
I know you’re on vacation, how are you possibly supposed to stay on schedule? I know that it’s not exactly practical (or desirable) to do everything like you do at home, but trying to keep meals, bedtimes, and naptimes around the same time as usual will keep kids happier and more comfortable. If you usually eat lunch at 11:30, maybe a 2:15 lunch reservation isn’t a good idea, even if it is the only time available for your first choice restaurant. Don’t expect a child who usually naps from 1:00 to 3:00 and goes to bed at 7:30 to power through the day and stay up for Wishes fireworks at 10:00! As hard as it is, sometimes the best thing to do is skip experiences that will keep your kids awake when they should be sleeping. And if you absolutely must keep them up for the nighttime activities, make sure it’s before a “down day” so they can catch up on their sleep. An over-tired, cranky child isn’t fun for anyone.
6. Avoid Long Lines
Parents can be so excited to see and do everything in Magic Kingdom that they push little ones beyond what can be expected of them. Standing in line for an hour is boring for an adult, but it’s intolerable for a small child. I know that my kids will love the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but I haven’t managed to score a Fast Pass during one of our visits and I know that an hour plus wait isn’t going to make my kids happy. Instead we spend our time hitting the rides with short wait times or for which we have a FastPass+ reservation. Your three-year-old won’t care that they skipped the newest ride in the park, just that they spent all day having fun!7. Check Height Restrictions in Advance
There is no disappointment like finding out that the ride your parents have been telling you about for weeks is off limits because you are too short. Know how tall your child is and which rides she can ride before you get there. Magic Kingdom is fantastic for kids because only a few rides have any height requirement. They are:
Tomorrowland Speedway, 32”
The Barnstormer, 35”
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, 38”
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, 40”
Splash Mountain, 40”
Stitch’s Great Escape, 40”
Space Mountain, 44”
And please, if a cast member says that your child is too short to ride, don’t argue. The cast members have your child’s safety as their top priority. There are plenty of other fun things to do in Magic Kingdom no matter how small your small fry.
8. Don’t Force Character Interactions
“But my son LOVES Mickey! He watches him every day!” cry countless parents as their children scream in terror at photo-op time with their favorite characters. Understand that there is a big difference between a six-inch tall Mickey on the TV screen and a 5 ½ foot tall Mickey standing in front of you. Characters can be overwhelming for children, and there’s no need to push it. I know your friends posted the most adorable pictures of their kids hugging Minnie, but if your kids are scared there is no point in torturing them by forcing character photos. In a few years they’ll be more comfortable and you can get those fun shots.
9. Nap on the Go (If You Can)
Another great reason to bring a stroller to Magic Kingdom is that you have a chance to get your child to take a stroller nap! Not all children will do this, but some will conk out for the afternoon right in their strollers, leaving you free to walk around the park. Another tried and true trick to get toddlers to nap is to ride the Walt Disney World Railroad around and around the Magic Kingdom. You can either enjoy the ride for a few hours, or transfer your child to a stroller and continue on with your day. Consider bringing a light blanket to drape over the stroller to block out sun and stimulation and help your child sleep.
Or, if you’re staying on property or close by, take a hotel break for nap. The small child can sleep and older kids can swim in the pool or relax in the room until later in the day. A bonus of this approach is avoiding the park during the hottest part of the day.
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10. Don’t be Afraid to Visit with Young Children
I’ve often heard people say that you should wait until kids are old enough to remember a trip to Disney, and that bringing young children is “a waste.” I couldn’t disagree more. Our first Disney trip as a family was to Disneyland, CA. My boys were 22 months old, and we had an incredible time. We made our first trip to Walt Disney World just before they turned 4. Maybe my kids won’t remember those first trips, but I will never forget the look of wonder on my son’s face the first time our boat set sail in “it’s a small world” or his brother’s giggles as we soared above the park on Dumbo. There’s something really special about a visit to the Magic Kingdom before kids know that those characters are really people in costumes, or that the boats in Peter Pan’s Flight don’t ACTUALLY fly. Enjoy the magic while they’re young!
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!
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