Many people will tell you not to take your toddler to Disney World. Some people feel it’s a waste of money since the little one won’t remember the trip, while others think it’s simply too much work. In our opinion, if you want to take your toddler to experience the magic of Disney, you should go for it! Seeing their favorite characters in real life will be truly magical for these tiny Disney-goers, and while they may or may not remember it later in life, you certainly will, and these memories are ones you will treasure forever. All that said, there are some things you should know before you jump into a Disney World trip with a toddler. In this article we will discuss some of our favorite tips and tricks for ensuring you and your toddler have an awesome Disney trip you will look back on fondly.
1. Manage Expectations
First and foremost, it is incredibly important that you manage your expectations. If you’ve been to Disney World in the past, you probably already know how tiring it is. You also understand that fitting every ride and show into your schedule is nearly impossible. Adding a toddler into the mix makes things even more tiring, and trying to do everything will only leave you feeling frustrated. Instead, use this trip with your little one as a chance to slow down and really take in the sights and sounds of the parks. Worry less about doing and seeing everything and focus more on being in the moment with your baby. This change in focus will make all the difference.
2. Know What They Can Ride
Part of managing your expectations is understanding that your toddler will not be able to ride everything. Do a bit of research before you go. Measure your child to find out how tall they are and then check out the Disney site to see which attractions they can ride and which ones they will have to skip. This will help prevent meltdowns, as you can avoid those rides they won’t be able to board anyway. It’ll also help you decide which things to see and which things to save for another time.
3. Use Rider Swap
If there’s something you really want to ride but your child cannot, and if you have another adult with you, you can make use of the rider swap system . This service allows one adult to wait with the toddler while the other adult waits in line. Once the first adult returns, the second adult—and up to 2 others who are chosen in advance—can go through a special entrance to skip most of the line and board the ride much more quickly.
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4. Seek Out Characters
Many toddlers love seeing Disney friends in real life. While traditional meet-and-greets aren’t an option right now, it is still possible to find characters throughout the parks and have socially distanced interactions. We highly recommend…
- Waiting along cavalcade routes to watch for mini-parades.
- Scheduling character meals.
- Going to the Disney Junior Dance Party in Hollywood Studios.
- Stopping to wave “hello” anytime you see a character while walking through the parks.
5. Choose Your Stroller Wisely…
A stroller is a necessity when visiting Disney with a young child. Choose yours carefully. You want something that can recline for naps and fold up easily for boarding Disney buses. Something not too bulky is nice, and something with plenty of storage is great. Make sure whatever you choose meets Disney’s standards.
6. …and Deck It Out
Once you find a stroller that works, make it your own by adding a stroller fan to keep your kiddo nice and cool, and tying a balloon and/or sign to the handle so it’s easy to tell which one is yours.
7. Invest in a Stroller Cover
It rains quite a lot in Florida. In the summer, it tends to rain every single afternoon. For this reason, we highly recommend investing in a stroller cover to keep the stroller as dry as possible. This prevents mold and mildew problems down the line.
8. Stay Hydrated
Florida is also hot. Like really hot. This is especially true during the summer months, but even the wintertime has some super warm days. This heat plus the excessive amounts of walking most people do in Disney can easily lead to dehydration. Since toddlers aren’t necessarily going to recognize that they’re dehydrated, this is something you need to stop before it starts by proactively offering plenty of fluids throughout the day.
9. Bring Extra Clothes and Diapers
More water means more diaper changes, so be sure to pack more than you usually would. Additionally, you will definitely want to pack extra clothes because, well, kids are messy and leaving the park because of spilled milk on a shirt is no fun.
10. Carry Favorite Snacks
In addition to being messy, toddlers can also be super picky. Since Disney World doesn’t have a fully stocked grocery store onsite, we highly recommend packing some of your child’s favorite snacks or ordering them to be delivered to your hotel room. Take some of these snacks into the parks each day to ensure your little one doesn’t ever become “hangry” (a toddler mood nobody wants to deal with in a theme park).
11. Buy a Bubble Wand
As you’re wandering Disney, you will almost certainly see kids carrying Disney-themed bubble wands. Buy one. These things might seem like a silly purchase, but they are seriously amazing little distractions when you’re waiting in a line or just need your little guy or girl to sit in the stroller while you get from point A to point B. We also recommend packing extra bubbles to refill the wand throughout your trip.
12. Take a Nap Break
Tired toddlers are never fun, and a skipped nap almost always means a tired toddler. On top of that, Disney Parks tend to get extremely crowded during the afternoon hours, which are the hottest part of the day anyway. Rather than fight those crowds or the heat, go back to the resort room for a nap and return in the evening for more fun.
13. Avoid Late Nights
Lately, the parks have been staying open a little bit later. As tempting as it is, try to avoid keeping your child out past their bedtime night after night. There are no fireworks to enjoy right now anyway, and lots of late nights in a row will just make everyone tired and irritable. If you must stay out late, consider doing it the night before you leave, or the night before a day that won’t be spent in the parks.