Heading to Walt Disney World with toddlers? Find out 8 ways to keep your cool when taking a toddler to Walt Disney World in Florida.
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Visiting Disney World with toddlers can be a magical experience. It can also be overwhelming to think about planning a trip with a toddler.
We took our youngest to Walt Disney World last year when he had just turned 2 years old and I almost had a panic attack when I started figuring out our schedule.
You’ve got naptime to consider, navigating the park with a stroller or finding meals that your child will actually eat.
The last thing you want to do is jump in to a Disney vacation with young kids unprepared. Trust me!
These suggestions ease some of the anxiety that comes from planning a trip to Walt Disney World with toddlers, keep reading!
8 TIPS TO DO WALT DISNEY WORLD WITH TODDLERS:
1) Have a Plan in Place, But Be Flexible
Often first-time visitors to Walt Disney World will go into the parks not knowing what to expect.
They arrive with no plan in place and are left with a less than stellar experience.
Walt Disney World requires planning. It just does. Even if you can usually “wing” other vacations (even Disneyland), you really do need to have a bit of a plan here.
Before your trip check crowd calendars to determine which parks you’ll be visiting and on what days. With that said, it’s important to be flexible.
You don’t need to account for every minute in the park. Having a general outline of what you want to do is helpful, but be flexible.
Much of the magic that happens at Disney cannot be planned or prepared for.
The magic lies in the unexpected and at Disney there’s a lot you won’t find written in books. Keep your rough plan but be open to what is around you.
You may discover something you didn’t even know you were looking for.
2) Spring for Character Dining
A large part of the joy in visiting Disney Parks with a toddler is when they get to meet their favorite characters.
There are countless Disney character dining experiences to be had at Walt Disney World.
From breakfast or dinner with Winnie the Pooh and Friends at Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom to breakfast at Chef Mickey’s, the options are endless.
Character dining is one way to let your toddler meet her favorite princess without having to wait in long lines.
Watching your childs’ face light up as they meet Mickey Mouse for the first time is a magical experience.
What better way to experience the magic of Disney than in a relaxed setting over a yummy meal where the characters come to you?
Often the cost of the meal beats waiting in long lines with a less than agreeable toddler.
With that said though, some young children may still be uncomfortable with characters. If this is your child, don’t try to push them into anything they’re comfortable with (even if you really want that photo)
I recommend watching videos of the character dining to get a feel if it’s right for your family.
3) Stick to Your Child’s Schedule
If your child is still at the glorious nap stage, consider keeping that schedule when you do visit the parks.
Leave for your designated park early in the day and then head back to your hotel around lunchtime.
If you’re staying on property this is a bit easier because you can leave the parks and use Disney transportation to get back to your hotel.
If you’re staying off-property at a Disney Good Neighbor Resort this could also be a good option.
Check park open and close times (or take advantage of Magic Hours) and arrive early.
Leave the park around lunchtime and eat back at the hotel. While the family is eating or older children are enjoying the pool, your toddler can get in their nap.
Heading back to the parks in late afternoon to enjoy dinner and shows after everyone is adequately rested and happy will ensure a great park day for all.
Splitting up park days saves money and keeps spirits high.
Eliminating over-stimulation and crankiness in toddlers is one way to ensure the entire family has a good vacation.
4) Take Advantage of Rider Switch
If visiting Walt Disney World with a toddler and older kids, you can take advantage of what is known as Rider Switch.
Head to the attraction with your child and let the Cast Member know that you want a Rider Switch passes.
This will let one parent and up to three riders can ride while the other parent stays behind with the youngest.
Rider Switch is a great way to keep everyone happy and your older kids will enjoy the fact that they get to ride the same attraction twice; once with each parent!
5) EPCOT is More Toddler-Friendly Than You Think
For some reason EPCOT has a reputation as being boring for young kids.
Thankfully, with the addition of Frozen Ever After and new attractions being added regularly, it is slowly losing this designation.
As any parent of a toddler knows, they find delight in everything new and fun.
EPCOT offers plenty of opportunities for toddlers to interact and learn about the world.
The Germany Pavilion at World Showcase in particular, with its train station replica, will delight to littles everywhere.
Preschoolers will love coloring and exploring the Kidcot stations.
And if you go during the Holidays, there are tons of kid-friendly shows and entertainment bound to keep your toddler’s attention!
My kids still talk about the “Barn Santa” from the Norway Pavilion!
6) Cater to Your Child’s Needs in the Baby Care Center
A Disney vacation doesn’t have to be go-go-go all the time. Be sure to plan some downtime and let your kids just ‘be.’
There are plenty of opportunities to run and play throughout each of the parks and in ride queues.
Within each Disney park are Baby Care Centers as well.
Moms can change a little ones diaper, feed or breastfeed while older siblings can sit and watch television or play.
The Baby Care Centers offers a private nursing room, restroom, high chairs and kitchen with a microwave.
They also sell diapers and pull ups and other baby/toddler items you might run out of during your trip.
7) Attend a Hard Ticket Special Event
Events like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are great options when you’ve got a toddler in tow.
These hard-ticket events take place on designated days throughout the year and require a separate ticket purchase.
You can spend a relaxing morning and early afternoon at your resort before attending the party. Later in the day, head to the park to enjoy the festivities.
The ticket allows you into Magic Kingdom with a special wristband at 4 p.m. and give access to special events and shows, free hot cocoa or cider, cookies and various treats at locations throughout the park.
During the Halloween party everyone can Trick-or-Treat and dress up in their favorite costumes. This is an ideal way to spend a day in Magic Kingdom with toddlers.
We did the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party last year and regretted not doing it 2 nights because it was so much less crowded than regular park days.
8) Don’t Try to Do All The Things at World Disney World
In addition to ensuring downtime for your toddler, remember that it is going to be impossible to fit in every single thing on your list.
There’s so much to see and do at Disney and its important to realize that you won’t be able to fit everything in.
Knowing this in advance will help you have a more relaxed and enjoyable time. Make a bucket list of everything that you must do or see and stick to that as much as you can.
If you know your toddler loves Vampirina, carve out time to see Disney Junior – Live on Stage!
If you know that your top priority is a picture with Mickey and Minnie, maybe breakfast at Chef Mickey’s is your best bet.
Trying to fit in everything will just stress you out and make your vacation overwhelming.
You won’t be able to see and do everything. Simply do what you can and enjoy what you do get to.
There are countless books and websites (like this one!) devoted to theme parks with a family.
Do your research and create an itinerary based on your family’s interests. You’ll look back on your Walt Disney World vacation with fond memories.
Grumpy kids and frazzled adults do not make for a fun Disney vacation.
Spend a little time in advance of your trip determining how you’ll navigate the waters with your toddler.
It’s possible to have a magical family experience with little to no stress if you’re prepared.
Consider doing Walt Disney World with toddlers even if you don’t think they’ll remember the trip. The experiences and photos captured will keep those memories alive for a lifetime.