Disney Itinerary Tips 101 – Families with Young Children

There’s nothing more magical than seeing Disney though the eyes of a young child. Here are seven tips to help make your Disney vacation the best it can be with little ones…

7. Resort Tips – If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can rest assured that your little one will feel right at home. Cribs are available to borrow (reserve yours before you arrive) and there are plenty of high chairs wherever you go. Be aware that your little one will “count” in terms of the overall number of guests allowed in your room, whether or not they are actually using a bed. Don’t forget to schedule a free character call to your room – so special for small ones!

6. Park Tips – Did you know that kids under three are FREE at Disney? Yep! No park admission needed! Magic Kingdom is the best park for small kids with plenty of rides and shows for them to enjoy. Epcot and Animal Kingdom also offer lots to do and see. Hollywood Studios is fine, but probably the hardest for little kids to enjoy, especially since most of the park is under construction. While in the parks, take advantage of the Baby Care Centers where you can warm bottles, change diapers, or find a quiet spot to nurse. And be sure to build in some “wiggle time”, meaning, time and space for little ones to escape the stroller and run free. The playgrounds and green areas are great for this! (Playground examples: Dumbo’s queue, Tom Sawyer’s Island, Boneyard, Mission Space)

5. Packing Tips – You know what your crew needs for the trip, and anything you forget is available for purchase somewhere on property, so don’t stress too much over packing. I would definitely recommend bringing your own reclining stroller if you’re able, and possibly a carrier for babies if that’s the way you like to roll. In the parks, be sure to bring lovies, pacifiers, snacks/feeding supplies, and an extra change of clothes. (VERY important if you plan to enjoy the splash areas!)

4. Ride Tips – Most rides at Disney (especially Magic Kingdom) are suitable for little ones. However, as you’re planning your itinerary, make note of the rides with height restrictions. If your child is not tall enough for a ride, take advantage of the Rider Swap program. One adult can stay out with the little one, while the rest of the party waits in line. When they’re through, the adult that stayed behind (plus one other person) gets a special pass to skip the line. (Psst – older siblings love this—they get to ride twice!) Make sure to approach the cast member at the entrance before anyone rides to take advantage of this awesome program. For larger families, also note that a child must be seven years old to ride without a parent in the same ride vehicle (e.g. with a sibling). This rule has proved complicated for our family on rides like Barnstormer. All four kids were tall enough to ride, but only one was over seven (meaning three kids needed to sit with an adult, and we only had two adults). The over-seven rule can be managed though with some creative swapping—just something to be aware of.

3. Character Tips – Sometimes the larger-than-life characters can cause small children to get a little afraid. Before you leave, you may want to check out some online videos of other children greeting characters. That way, you child is prepared for the size difference. After all, who would expect a mouse to be more than five feet tall? Also, remember to pack a chunky marker for autographs. You’ll get a better autograph that way, since some characters have a hard time gripping a thin pen.

2. Nap Time Tips – At some point during the day little ones will usually need to take a nap, especially if you plan on staying late for the fireworks. Some families opt to take a mid-day break back at their hotel. Others prefer to have their small ones nap in the stroller while the rest of the family continues to enjoy the park. For my own little kids, when I start to notice that they need a nap (parents, you know what I’m talking about), I will strap them in the stroller and take a long walk to an attraction on the other side of the park. A long stroller ride lulls them to peaceful sleep and a fun destination helps the older kids stay focused. Find a nearby spot with shade or air conditioning and camp out for a while, or browse the souvenir shops. (I’ve gotten many surprise birthday gifts this way!)

Bonus Tip!

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 Disney travel deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius! Discover More >

1. Meal Tips – Disney’s kids meals are the bomb. At most counter service places you can get a complete meal with a drink for a reasonable price. And in my experience, there’s usually enough food for two littles to split a meal! At buffets you do not have to pay for children under three, which makes character meals that much more affordable and fun!

Have fun with your little ones!

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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About Melissa

Melissa resides on Florida's beautiful Space Coast with her husband and four Disney-loving boys. She frequently allows skipping school for Disney World visits...because making memories is more important than math. Their family has also been seen on HGTV's hit show "My Yard Goes Disney."

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