Walt Disney World.
A magical place. The funnest place on earth. That recognizable trademark on many of your kids toys or movies.
Well, we too have joined the ranks of millions that choose to vacation in this fabulous world where imagination explodes.
Yes, we took our children, ages 2, 3 & 4, to Disney World in February of this year. We all had a marvelous time! My parents and my mother-in-law also went with us, which certainly helped. And it was my husband’s first time as well. So that was a bonus!
Although I personally have been to Disney World many times in my life, I knew that we would have to make some adjustments with my 2, 3, & 4 year old. So, I did a little research-on Pinterest of course- about the “Do’s and Don’ts” of traveling with little kids. Very helpful!
However, I discovered a few things that would have been helpful to know in advance. So, now having lived the experience, I would love to share my thoughts with you.
All You Need to Know About Disney World With Little Ones
1. Do NOT plan to go to the parks on the day of your arrival. This is HUGE! Use this day to relax and settle into your hotel. The kids have most likely been traveling all day and it’s good to let them unwind before heading to the parks the next day. We made this mistake. Heed my warning.
2. Plan to spend most of your time at Magic Kingdom. This is the most popular park and has the most for children under the age of 5, in my opinion. All the parks have attractions for their ages, but Magic Kingdom was our favorite.
3. Try to avoid traveling during the busy times of the year. A good travel agent can help you with this. My good friend, Leslie, is a certified Disney Vacation Planner. And late February, turned out to be a great time. We had warm weather and, although always filled with people, the lines were very manageable.
4. Avoid going to Magic Kingdom on the weekend if possible. This will be the busiest time for this park, as more of the locals will head out on the weekends. We went on a Saturday and then again several times during the week and it does make a difference. Less congestion during the week.
5. Get cheap prizes at the Dollar Tree before you leave. This was a tip I gleaned from someone else. Saved us a ton of money. At their ages, they just like to get any little trinket. And a simple surprise periodically kept them satisfied. They honestly didn’t ask for anything at the parks. Buy the glow in the dark necklaces and wands from Dollar Tree for night time. That way they won’t ask you for the expensive ones sold at the parks.
6. Bring rain ponchos from Walmart. You never know when it will rain in Florida. Thankfully, we only had 1 afternoon of mild rain, but having those ponchos saved us money from having to buy them at the park.
7. Consider having a day of “NO PARKS” mid week where you can enjoy the hotel. This is one thing I would have done differently. There is usually a lot to do on site at your hotel. And it would have been nice to just have a day in between to just relax and reset.
8. Plan to have their nap schedules off. We tried the first day to have them come back and nap at the hotel. Are you kidding me? It was like a crazy house. They were so wired from the excitement of the day, there was no way they would take a nap. We still came back usually everyday for a few hours, but there was no napping. If they napped, it was usually later in the afternoon, or early evening in the stroller at the parks. Which then enabled us then to stay out later at the parks when it was less busy at the attractions.
9. Rent a stroller from Orlando Stroller. A friend recommended this the week before we left. What a life saver! The strollers that you rent from Disneyworld are just old and not comfortable to sit or nap in. The stroller we rented was a nice Baby Jogger Double stroller. We spent about $100 for the stroller for the week, but very worth it.
10. Put a flag or bandana on your rented stroller. There are a LOT of strollers at the parks and there are only certain designated stroller parking areas, so the workers tend to move your strollers around without you knowing. This will help locate your stroller much easier. Also, we put on a flashing bike light that worked great to find our stroller at night.
11. Plan for the kids to to get 1 prize at the end of the trip. We told them upfront they could get 1 thing before we left. They were completely satisfied to pick out one thing. We got ours on our last evening at the Magic Kingdom. Totally did NOT have an issue with them wanting things. The little $1 trinkets they got daily, were sufficient. Probably wouldn’t even need to give them one daily.
12. Purchase the Memory Maker from DisneyWorld. This allows the Disney photographers to take your photos throughout the parks. This will allow you to enjoy many of the moments without having to battle your kids to stop and take a gazillion photos. Keep you enjoying the moment instead of digging in your camera case. And you can add fun characters and stickers to your prints!
13. Purchase the dining plan. We were lucky enough that Disney was offering FREE dining plans for the month of February. Score! But it was so nice NOT to have to fork out cash every time we wanted to eat or knowing that we were racking up a bill on our debit card. They just scan your wrist bands to deduct the meals. We got 1 quick serve meal, 1 sit down meal and 1 snack for every day we were at the parks. This was more than sufficient.
14. Reserve character dinners in advance. We spent 5 days at the parks so we had 5 sit down meals to plan with or without Disney characters. I recommend eating with the characters for sure. We planned this 2 months in advance and there were still some we couldn’t get. So, do this as soon as you book your trip at MyDisneyExperience.com. If you have a daughter, plan for the Princess Lunch at Epcot. My daughter loved it!
15. Pick one thing each day that you really want to do. The rest is then bonus. This helps to calm your spirits a bit and not try to do EVERYTHING at each park and feel overwhelmed. You got that one thing done…awesome. Walk slowly. Enjoy your time.
16. Sign up for the attraction Free Passes to help cut down with wait times. This was very helpful. Again, this is done on MyDisneyExperience.com. Very easy to do. You are allowed 3 per day for each family member. Sign up as soon as possible.
17. Bring snacks from home. We brought these in a separate suitcase, along with our prizes, blankets, rain ponchos, etc. These helped tremendously at this age when they are hungry every hour.
18. Take a backpack to the park. This kept all of our kids snacks, prizes, sweatshirts, sunscreen, hats, etc. Much easier than carrying around a diaper bag.
19. Buy the Hopper pass. I was hesitant about this one, but indeed it proved to be very beneficial. Like I said, we only went to Hollywood Studios and Epcot for half days, then went back to Magic Kingdom in the evenings. Very worthwhile, especially if you have character dinners planned at multiple parks.
20. Go to the Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom. I am pretty set on my kids going to bed at their bedtime of 7:30pm, however, at Disneyworld, everything was changed up a bit. This parade is way worth it. Also, during the parade it’s a great time to hit up the rides you missed or ones your little ones want to ride again.
21. Download the My Disney Experience App on your smart phone. Very helpful to organize before and during your vacation. Also helpful to check wait times for attractions while at the parks. Cool technology.
22. Pre-plan your days at the parks. I used MyDisneyExperience.com to plan which parks we attended each day and I mapped out where all of the Free Pass attractions were. That way we had somewhat of a plan each day and weren’t just wandering aimlessly through the parks.
23. Stay on Disney property. If you are able, I highly recommend staying at one of the Disney hotels. There is something magical about the Disney atmosphere. There are a wide range of affordable hotels there. A place for everyone.
24. Go ahead and buy the toddler leash. Quit feeling guilty about putting your child on a leash. No they are not a dog, but do you realize how many people there are? Do you know how quickly those little little buggers can get away from you? Let them play with it beforehand and it won’t be an issue. Well worth the money. I bought mine from Amazon. It had a little backpack on it, so Cruz thought it was cool.
25. Lastly, and most importantly…HAVE FUN! Be flexible. Do not try to get it all done the first day. Nor do you need to hit every attraction in each park. Smile! Laugh! Be goofy. Let them blow milk bubbles, stay up late, eat chocolate! Enjoy this time! Although you may always be able to come back to Disney in the future, you will never have this time again when they are these ages.
We had so much fun. There are so many people with young children there and we all survived and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
So, there you have it!
ALL you need to know about Disney World with little ones!
If you have any suggestions that I may have missed please add to the comments! Also, if you have any questions for me, please feel free to contact me.