Taking a toddler to Walt Disney World? Whether it’s your first visit (or theirs!) we’ve got some tips that can help make the experience run as smooth as possible for the whole family, all while creating the most magical memories:
1. Triple check that you’ve packed everything you need
Toddlers tend to need a lot of things…things that we recommend being sure to pack so you don’t find yourself buying replacements for triple the cost while at a Disney theme park. Orlando is hot for much of the year, so make sure you have adequate protection from the sun for the kids, including hats, sunblock, and fans. You can find diapers, pull-ups and baby powder for sale in the parks (typically in Baby Care, which does have THE BEST air conditioning) but those are other items we’d recommend bringing with you to save some money.
2. Pack your own snacks
While you’re packing your park bag, bringing snacks is always a good idea when traveling with toddlers. If hunger strikes while you’re in line for an attraction, waiting for the bus, or stopping on Main Street hoping to catch a character cavalcade, you may not be in a position to drop everything and buy a snack. Before you head out to the parks, be sure you have some of your toddler’s favorite snacks on hand just in case.
3. Bring your own stroller
Renting strollers in Walt Disney World can add up over the course of your stay. On top of that, all of the strollers available for rent in the theme parks look exactly the same. Of course, yours would have your family’s name on it, but chances are you’d have an easier time spotting the stroller you use all the time at home. (Bringing your own stroller can also be more comfortable if it’s something you’re used to pushing for long distances.) If you can’t bring your own stroller, you may want to compare the price of renting one from a third party company (so you can also use it at your resort) with renting it from the parks before you make a decision.
4. Plan for a midday break
Afternoon pool breaks help restore some energy in most Disney Guests, toddlers and parents included. The time between lunch and dinner tends to be the busiest and the hottest time in the parks, so it’s a great time to head back to your resort for nap time or some time by the pool. If you’re planning a short day in the parks but still need to get a break in, head to a quick service restaurant and cool down with some air conditioning, water, and maybe a snack.
5. Don’t push late nights and early mornings
Late nights and early mornings are great times for adults to take in favorite Disney attractions with shorter lines, however they are often not the best times for toddlers whose bedtimes and sleep schedules are sure to be disrupted on a Disney vacation. Of course, every child is different so some kids may tolerate more of a change here than others, but in general sticking to a reasonable sleep schedule will come in handy while touring the parks as a family.
6. Take advantage of rider swap
Rider swap means multiple parents or caregivers can experience a ride while some of the party waits with kids too small to ride, all without waiting in line a second time. Simply have the first person wait in line and ride the attraction, and alert a Cast Member that you’ll need a rider swap. The Cast Member will give you a paper pass that you can give to the other adult so they can experience the ride with little to no wait time.
7. Know your child’s limits
Again, every kid is different so there isn’t a clear answer for this one, but knowing when yours has had enough is important for making the most of your visit. For instance, some kids are terrified of meeting characters– If they’re used to watching Disney Junior, their favorite characters are going to appear much larger in person, and to some kids that can be scary! Other kids just don’t do well straying from routine, so keeping that sleep schedule could be non-negotiable. And while we’d love for everyone to have a great time on the rides, it may do more harm than good by pushing a child to a ride they think is too scary.
8. Get the whole family excited before you travel
Going to Disney with a toddler or two is super exciting! The kids might be too young to remember much of the trip when they’re older, but you’re sure to find memories you’ll treasure forever so you might as well make the most of it! Planning a trip countdown or conversely springing the trip as a surprise are all fun ways to get the whole family excited that a Disney vacation is coming soon!