I cannot tell you how much I love trips to Walt Disney World with my son. Seeing how excited he gets and how much fun he has is worth more than all the Dole Whips in the world. That said, planning a trip to Walt Disney World with a toddler was a whole different game than I was used to. As with everything, toddlers have their own set of special things to consider when planning your magical vacation to Walt Disney World.
1. Bring a stroller, or a baby carrier, or both! There is nothing worse than carrying a 30 pound, sleeping toddler, through Magic Kingdom in the middle of July! Even if your little one doesn’t use a stroller much when you’re at home, the amount of ground you’ll cover during your Walt Disney World vacation is huge! Little legs are sure to get tired. Plus, when they are walking, or in the carrier if you bring one (I’m partial to a Toddler Tula) the stroller is great to hold all of your stuff. We brought a soft cooler with us and it fit perfectly into the basket of our stroller.
2. Plan Character Meals. Character meals are a great way to introduce your toddler to the characters in a more laid back environment. There is no waiting in line which is great at preventing boredom and crankiness. Plus, if you plan a breakfast, your child will be at their most well rested, which is great for meeting characters. And the bonus – there’s food! There are some wonderful character meals at Walt Disney World, my favorites being Breakfast at Cape May Cafe and lunch at Tusker House.
3. Plan for naps, or just breaks. Making sure your little one (and you!) stay well rested is key to having a great vacation. Our plan is to hit the parks at opening, leave after lunch and either nap or just relax in our resort, and then head back for the evening (and dinner). This works out really well for us. If your toddler would nap at the parks there are some dark (and air-conditioned) attractions that are perfect for napping. Our favorites were Hall of Presidents (Magic Kingdom), American Adventures (Epcot) and The Great Movie Ride (Hollywood Studios). Yes, my son napped for the entire ride once!
4. Bring in snacks and small toys like stickers or bubbles. This is two-fold. First, there is nothing worse than a “hangry” toddler who can’t wait the five minutes it would take to get a snack from a vendor or quick service restaurant. Disney allows you to bring in your own food and drinks so take advantage of that. Second, some lines are just too much for the smallest Disney fans to handle. I like to have a few small things to keep my child entertained in line. My favorites include stickers, bubbles, a small stuffed animal and glow sticks. We’ve also made some fun friends sharing what we’ve brought with those around us.
5. Watch videos from the parks. Again, a two-part suggestion. First, allow your toddler to watch videos of character meet and greets, parades and shows. It’s still not the same as seeing them live but it adds a little more perspective. And second, watch videos of the attractions so you can determine if it’s appropriate for your child. Some children may be fine on The Haunted Mansion, but others may not. You know your little one best and, while it’s hard to predict the somewhat unpredictable, you should be able to get a good idea of whether or not your little one will be frightened.
Have you traveled to Walt Disney World with a toddler? What tips would you share with fellow Disney go-ers?
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