Some may say that tackling Walt Disney World with a toddler is a bad idea. We happen to think traveling with a toddler just takes a bit more planning and flexibility. In fact, doing Walt Disney World with a toddler will likely result in some priceless family vacation memories. This article highlights a few tips and tricks we recommend when traveling to Walt Disney World with a toddler.
1. Research Rides Ahead of Time
Some rides are just not the right fit for each park guest, this holds especially true when traveling with toddlers. Not only will you need to make sure each child in your party is tall enough to ride attractions in the parks, you will also want to preview the details of attractions on the Walt Disney World website prior to visiting if you have little ones that are easily frightened or motion sick. Not to worry, the Disney website does a great job categorizing ride intensity and scare level so you can plan your park days accordingly. Thanks to the Rider Switch System in the parks, there is no need for grown-ups in your group to skip an attraction because the kids are too small to ride. Simply alert the cast members at the attraction you want to ride and they will assist you in a rider switch so each adult can experience the attraction individually while the other adult accompanies the kids.
2. Pack Snacks
No one likes being hungry but a hot theme park, sore feet and a rumbling stomach can make for an especially angry toddler. To ward off the hangry tantrums, pack bottled water and small snacks you can enjoy between attractions. Peanut butter crackers, fruit snacks and easy to peel oranges and bananas are favorite park snacks in my family. A light and uncomplicated snack that can be doled out on-the-go without the need to stand in a snack cart line or stop attraction hopping is key to keeping the peace during a park day with toddlers.
3. Consider the Walking
Packing or renting a stroller might seem like it isn’t a must if you have an older or more active toddler. That said, we recommend you budget for stroller rental if you are traveling with toddlers and choose not to pack your own stroller or wagon. The bottom line is, the parks are huge and very stimulating for little ones. Your park day will be more enjoyable for your child if they can sit back and enjoy the magic, instead of walking around the parks.
4. Cash in on the Toddler Magic
Just how many years will your kids think that dancing on the streets in Animal Kingdom’s Harambe Village with mom is fun? Can you ever relive the pure joy that is a little face seeing Princess Anna for the first time? There really is nothing like the magic of experiencing Walt Disney World with a little one. Soak in all the Disney firsts and cash in on experiences with your little ones while they still believe in magic. Decorate your resort room, leave hidden treats when they go to sleep at night for the next day, bring pizza back to your resort room for a pizza party. Sometimes it’s the little things that make some of the biggest memories.
5. Take Advantage of Early Risers
Little ones are often up early, an asset on a Disney vacation. Toddler parents will be the ones hitting the parks at opening with happy little ones ready to go. Lucky for you, arriving at park opening or “rope drop” in Disney lingo, means you can enjoy shorter attraction wait times for the first half hour, to full hour after park opening. Plan which ride you want to dash to after entering the park and ride it first thing with no wait time. Peter Pan’s Flight is a great first ride of the day with a toddler as it often has long wait times and is an attraction little ones enjoy.
6. Respect the Afternoon Slump
Repeat Walt Disney World visitors know what I mean when I mention the afternoon slump, also called nap time, the hottest part of the day and the “Disney Witching Hour”. The midafternoon is often the time when little ones melt down. Our advice is not just to roll with this timing but to embrace it. Plan to return to your resort for a midday break in the pool or nap in the hotel room. If you would rather stay in the park, save the 2-4PMish time window for longer attractions like shows or slow down on a bench in the shade to let your little one nap in the stroller. Your little Mouseketeer will be much happier after an afternoon break.
7. Turn In Early
Early mornings and late nights on vacation can get tough for anyone, especially a toddler. In the spirit of getting an early start and helping your little ones have a ton of Disney fun, turn in earlier than you normally do at home. Laying out clothes, breakfast, toiletries and park bags for the next day will make for an easier morning and get your family out the door and to the fun in no time!
8. Do the Parks Your Way
Traveling with kids, certainly with little ones, calls for a dose of grace and flexibility. Make a plan to help your family enjoy each park but be ready to change the plan if needed. While gathering tips and tricks for traveling with a little one is a must, there is not one right way to do Disney. You need only be concerned with doing Disney the right way for your family. If you have children that range in age, think about rider switch, splitting for different attractions in the park or heading back to the resort room at different times if you have night owls and morning people in your family. Abandon ideas about rides that cannot be skipped, or rigid must-do’s vacation your way. Choose meals, attractions and park plans that make your family happy.