10 Must-Read Tricks For Tackling Walt Disney World With Young Kids

Ohana Lilo Baby Child
Credit: Disney Dining

Traveling with young children is never easy. It can be particularly difficult on the family dynamic if you head to Walt Disney World, where most people want to squeeze in as much as possible each day of the vacation. Here are ten tips to help make a Disney vacation fun for everyone, including the smallest members of your family. If you have other tips or suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.


10) Buy Souvenirs at the End of the Day

Unless you want to spend way more than you planned, don’t buy souvenirs until the end of the day or even the end of the trip. The “I want it now” item at 10:00 in the morning might be forgotten by the fireworks at night. If you purchase things early, your kids will think that they can get what they want, whenever they want. If the kids are old enough, give them a souvenir budget. Walt Disney World shops are all like giant toy stores. Limit how much you’ll buy.

9) Use Sunscreen

Sunscreen is important for every member of your family, even if you think that someone won’t burn. You don’t want the Florida sun to damage young skin. Use sunscreen generously all year long, even during the winter or on cloudy days. Don’t take a chance with your child’s health down the road.

8) Keep an Eye on Toys

Many young children have a toy or an item that they must have with them at all times. If you can’t convince your daughter that her stuffed Dumbo would be better off back at the hotel, keep an eye on it. Kids live in the moment, and they can’t be expected to hold onto personal items when everything around them is new and exciting. Keep a close watch on any toys that you bring into a park with you. (That goes for shoes, socks, jackets, etc. as well.) If Dumbo does get lost, talk to a cast member immediately to see what the next step to find him is.

7) Slow Down

A Walt Disney World vacation is expensive, and it’s human nature to want to get the most that you can for every penny that you spend. If you want to survive a few days in Central Florida with young children, it is imperative that you don’t rush through everything. Trying to do it all will make the kids tired and cranky, and that will make the whole family miserable. Go at a slower pace and save some things until your next visit. Everyone will be happier.

6) Take Plenty of Restroom Breaks

This might seem obvious, but logic flies right out the window too often at Walt Disney World. Young children can’t always tell how long they’ll be able to hold it. Keep asking if they need to find a restroom, especially before getting into a line that’s 20 minutes or longer. If your child isn’t yet potty trained, keep checking that diaper. It’s hot in Florida. Don’t forget swim diapers for the pools and water parks.

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5) Plan a Daily Nap

Even if your kids no longer take a daily nap, they’re going to need a break in the middle of the day. If at all possible, head back to your hotel for a couple of hours in the middle of the day so that everyone will have a chance to rest and recharge. If that isn’t possible, find a quiet spot to sit for a little while. Don’t think about all the fun that you’re missing because the kids close their eyes for a few minutes. Instead, enjoy the break yourself. Also, if the kids don’t normally stay up late, don’t force fireworks on them each night. Let them get their sleep.

4) Bring Snacks and Keep the Kids Hydrated

Hunger and thirst have ruined many vacations. Part of the problem is that with dining reservations and lines at quick service options, the normal eating schedule is thrown way off. A major meltdown can be averted by a pack of crackers or half a bagel. You and your children also should drink extra water in Central Florida, especially if you visit during the summer. You don’t even have to worry about the water costing anything extra. There are plenty of water fountains, or you can ask for a free cup of ice water at most quick service food locations. If your child needs a sippy cup, you should bring that yourself.

3) Be Careful With Strollers

Strollers are both a blessing and a curse. You’ll have a place where the young ones can sit between attractions, so their little legs won’t wear out. You’ll also have something that you can use to carry extra items like a diaper bag and water bottles. The problem is that many strollers are heavy, and they can be awkward. Remember to use common sense and follow the rules with your stroller. It is supposed to be transportation for your children, not a weapon to clear a path through the crowd. Children are not legally allowed to ride in strollers on buses, so have the kids out and the stroller folded before the bus arrives. Don’t put too much on the back of the stroller, or else it could tip over; possibly with your child in it. If your child is not big enough to see over the top of the stroller, don’t let him or her push it. If you want a stroller but don’t want to deal with it on the plane, you can rent them at the parks and also from several different companies in the area.

2) Follow the Rules

You need to follow the rules in the parks, and your small children do as well. Don’t tell your child that he can ride something, only to discover that he’s not yet tall enough. (If that happens, don’t blame the cast member who won’t let him ride. Better yet, learn the height restrictions before you leave home.) Don’t cut in line, and make sure that your kids don’t try as well. Walk, don’t run. You want your kids to behave at home, and they should behave while on vacation as well.

1) Introduce Characters Slowly

Characters can overwhelm young children. Your daughter may think about nothing but Cinderella at home, but meeting her face to face is a totally different story. Mickey is cute and adorable as a stuffed animal, but when he’s larger than Dad and talks your toddler may want to hide. Don’t expect an instant connection between your kids and the characters. A great way to get them used to the characters is to book a character meal early in your trip. That way, introductions can be made slowly in a comfortable setting, and your children will soon grow to love them as much as you do.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.