Disney Dining with a Toddler Part One

Disney Dining with a Toddler

Part One: The Plan


I am blessed to have visited Walt Disney World enough times that I’ve stopped trying to count, but my next trip in in late October is a new type of trip for me.  We are celebrating my youngest son’s 2nd birthday and it will just be my husband, our little guy, and me.  Now, this isn’t my first time traveling with a toddler, my middle son visited at three times before he turned 4, and this little fella has Disney in his blood—he turns 2 in October, but has visited Walt Disney World 4 times already.  This is, however, my first time with ONLY a toddler on a trip where, for the most part, I am concentrating on him.  A plan is a must and some thought must go into how to make this fun and easy on him and on us.

  • The Resort:

With a toddler there are several good options.  You could stay at a value resort: it is budget friendly, with a toddler you don’t need a lot of space, and toddlers would certainly love the larger than life icons around the resort.  Art of Animation would be a great choice, even in a standard Little Mermaid room, because the splash play area at the main pool is great for young kids.  The moderates are viable options as well; they offer a little more space and a few more amenities.

For me, I chose to go Deluxe.  Here is my reasoning.  I like a nice, big room.  We all need space to spread out and I think we will be spending more time than usual in the room this trip.  I also know that some of the time spent in the room will be with my toddler napping, so the option of having a private patio or balcony attached to the room is very appealing.  And, most notably, I was looking for convenience in location and transportation.

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My first choice was the Polynesian.  The ease of traveling via monorail to Magic Kingdom and Epcot (where we plan to spend most of our time) with a stroller, the ability to watch Wishes on the beach then walk back to our room for bedtime, the beach itself to play on and the zero entry pool are huge selling points for the Polynesian with a small child.  Then the construction news and rumors got to me and I decided it wouldn’t be worth it to pay so much money when a lot of what I love about the Polynesian would be interrupted.  So, now we are staying at the Yacht Club.  Yacht & Beach Club are probably my favorite resorts for a lot of reasons, but with a toddler I love their location to walk to Epcot, walk or take the boat to the Studios, and to be able to enjoy so many resorts all in one place.   Stormalong Bay is great for little ones with the sandy play area, the kiddie slide and the wading pool.  Then we still have a beach where we can play.

  • The Itinerary:

This trip is all about low-key, relaxing and taking things at a toddler’s pace.  When we visit the World with my older two sons (10 & 14) we are often dashing around to thrill rides that my little guy has to skip.  Not this trip.  This time we will ride it’s a small world until he knows the song by heart, soar with Dumbo until we are dizzy, find Donald over and over on Gran Fiesta Tour, and watch Disney Junior Live until we can’t possibly stand it anymore.  With a toddler we also need to take breaks—longer and more consistent breaks than our usual trip.  My plan is to hit the parks in the morning, eat lunch and return to the resort for the better part of the afternoon for a nap, swimming, or playing.  This is where the Yacht Club location comes in handy.  We are close to two parks to return for our break, and it is easy to go back to those parks after our breaks for dinner or just some relaxed touring.  I should note that we do have Annual Passes, so park hopping is not a problem for us.

I should also note that we are eligible for Magic Bands and FastPass+ during our vacation.  Although I had no problem customizing our Bands, there is a glitch with our APs and I have not been able to make any FastPass+ selections yet.  I am hoping to be able to use this option for a few of the key todder must-sees, maybe a thrill ride here and there for my husband, and possibly some reserved viewing spots for fireworks.

We have one late night planned with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but we’ve offset that with a later morning after and easy day before.

We are spending 4 full park days, and maybe a partial day on our departure day, so we will hit all 4 parks for at least a little while.

  • The Dining:

Planning dining is essential with any Walt Disney World trip. With a toddler I think it is important to balance that with playing it by ear.  You never know when a toddler is going to want to eat immediately.  For our trip I checked a few articles like this one [INSERT LINK TO THIS ARTICLE: https://www.disneydining.com/top-ten-restaurants-for-the-four-and-under-crowd/] and my past experience to pick the best toddler-friendly places.  Our main dining experience will be breakfast/brunch at Play & Dine at Hollywood & Vine.  This character meal features Disney Junior characters and is definitely NOT something my 10 & 14 year-olds would enjoy, so this is a great chance to do it with our little one.  We have a FastPass scheduled for lunch at Be Our Guest.  Beyond that I plan to play it by ear.  Since we are going during the Food & Wine Festival we will definitely be eating around the world once or twice (hence the convenience of the Yacht Club).  I already know my son enjoys this as we can stop at various places around the water and he can watch the Friendship Boats, along with enjoying the live entertainment and concerts around World Showcase.  At Animal Kingdom he enjoys the atmosphere and food at both Restaurantosaurus and Flame Tree Barbecue.  If we weren’t having a late breakfast at the Studios I would consider a reservation at 50’s Prime Time or Sci-Fi Dine In Theater—both are great for kids from the menu to the atmosphere to the TV or movies playing throughout your meal.  I am open to ordering room service for a quiet evening in the room, or walking over to the Boardwalk for counter service from the Bakery or Pizza window where we can enjoy people watching, the entertainment and the activity on the water.  So, although it doesn’t seem like I have a lot set in stone, I have in mind the restaurants that are toddler friendly at each park.

Many people say they want to wait until their child is older to visit Walt Disney World.  I definitely understand that line of thinking.  Even though we are frequent visitors of WDW, I think there are advantages to taking a toddler, the greatest of these are the memories my husband and I will have of the trip.  Not to mention, children under 3 are free!  I am so excited about our upcoming vacation and look forward to sharing the results with you in November!

About Sarah Chapman

I am a long time Disney fan since I was hooked on Walt Disney World with my first trip in 1987. Since that time I’ve tried experiencing everything I can in the parks, with a total of 30 visits and counting (I’m always planning my next trip) to Walt Disney World—not to mention Disney Cruise Line and even (shhh!) Universal Orlando and Sea World. I’ve turned my Disney obsession into a profession helping others plan their magical vacations as a Dream Vacation Maker at LBAC Travel. I am a work at home mom to three wonderful boys, and each one has been properly indoctrinated with all things Disney. Walt Disney World is definitely our “Laughing Place.” Look for me on Facebook at Facebook.com/SarahLBAC for updates, discount announcements, tips, tricks and planning advice for your next vacation. You can also find me on Instagram (sarahdreamvacationmaker) and Pinterest (sarahlbactravel).