Taking kids to Disney World is a huge undertaking. Well worth it, yes, but a huge undertaking nonetheless. Disney World is enormous, and for little ones, it’s even bigger. It’s filled with magical experiences, favorite characters, and a heaping helping of sensory overload. These facts, coupled with too little sleep and a messed-up eating routine, are the perfect recipe for a kid meltdown. Luckily, parents can help remove some of those ingredients and avoid the meltdowns altogether. What are our best tips for doing this? Well, we highly recommend sticking as close to your regular schedule as possible. This will probably mean leaving the parks for a mid-day break, and will likely mean sticking to the same eating routine. This alone will work wonders. However, there are even more things to know. Below are the top 10 questions parents ask before heading to the most magical place on earth, along with our best answers. Go into your vacation equipped with this knowledge, and get ready to have an amazing time!
1. “Do I need a stroller?”
The simply answer to this is a resounding “YES.” The more complicated answer is that yes, unless your child is over the age of ~6yo, you’re going to want a stroller. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to bring your own. Instead, you can rent one. Disney offers stroller rentals, but honestly, they aren’t the best. Therefore, our recommendation is to go through a third party and rent a high quality stroller that will provide you the comfort, ease of use, and storage space needed for a trip to Disney.
2. “What should I pack?”
Of course, knowing what to pack in that stroller storage space is also important. Here’s what we suggest:
- Water and/or sippy cups
- Diapers and wipes
- Extra clothes
- Autograph book and pen
- Pain reliever
- Hand sanitizer
3. “Can my kids ride everything?”
Despite Disney World’s reputation for being for little kids, there are actually several rides that the younger set cannot ride. For your reference, below is a list of all attractions with height restrictions:
- Barnstormer — 35″
- Big Thunder — 40″
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train — 38″
- Space Mountain — 44″
- Splash Mountain — 40″
- Tomorrowland Speedway — 32″
- Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run – 38″
- Mission: Space (Orange side) — 44″
- Mission: Space (Green side) — 40″
- Soarin’ — 40″
- Test Track — 40″
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster — 48″
- Star Tours — 40″
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – 40″
- Tower of Terror — 40″
- Slinky Dog Dash — 38″
- Alien Swirling Saucers — 32″
- DINOSAUR — 40″
- Expedition Everest — 44″
- Kali River Rapids — 38″
- Flight of Passage — 44″
- Primeval Whirl — 48″
Preparing kids in advance by letting them know some rides will be off-limits to them could potentially prevent a meltdown. Therefore, we highly recommend talking about the height requirements beforehand.
4. “Where can I nurse, change a diaper, rest, etc?”
Of course you are welcome to nurse anywhere in the parks, and diaper changing stations are available in every restroom. That said, many parents prefer a quiet little nook for feeding baby, cleaning them up, and letting them get a break from the hustle and bustle of the parks. That’s where the Baby Care Stations come in. One of these stations is available in each park, and they are an awesome place to take a little one for a bit of down time. Find the stations on park maps before your trip, so you know where to go if the need for a break arises.
5. “How does ‘Rider Swap’ work?”
Because there are some rides that little ones can’t experience, Disney has put a pretty neat program in place called Rider Switch—and if you call it “Rider Swap”, they’ll still know what you’re talking about—which helps ensure all adults in a party get to ride the attractions with height requirements. To use this system, riders should approach the ride as a group with the small child in tow and let a Cast Member know they will require Rider Switch. The Cast Member should then provide a Rider Switch pass to one adult in the party while the others wait in line and enjoy the ride, while the person with the pass waits with the child. Once the first group of riders returns, the Rider Switch pass can be used by the person who waited out the first round, while the second adult watches over the child. This second rider will not have to wait in line, and is allowed to bring up to 2 guests along.
6. “Where can my kids play?”
Kids need to have opportunities to run around and use up excess energy. Unfortunately, theme parks don’t often lend themselves well to this. For this reason, Disney put a few playgrounds in their parks. Looking for a place to let your kids run freely? Currently, there are playgrounds in the following locations:
- Near the entrance to Splash Mountain
- On Tom Sawyer Island
- In the queue for Dumbo
- Splash area near Barnstormer
- At the exit of Mission: Space
- Splash area on the bridge to the World Showcase
- Occasionally in other locations during special events
- The Boneyard in DinoLand U.S.A.
7. “What if my kid gets lost?”
It’s hard not to worry about your kid getting lost when you’ll be surrounded by so many people. Luckily, Disney has you covered. The MagicBands which hold your ticket information also hold information on your child and who they belong to. Therefore, lost children will have their MagicBands scanned and parents will be contacted using the number recorded on the band.
8. “How do I handle food allergies?”
Food allergies are tough no matter where you travel. However, they aren’t quite such an issue in Disney World. This is because the people at Disney are great at ensuring everyone can have a delicious and safe meal, no matter their restrictions. Yes, you will have to let employees know about your dietary needs, and yes, you’ll need to double check ingredients every time. However, you can rest assured no matter what restaurants you choose, you will be able to feed your food-allergic child in Disney World. Additionally, it should be noted that Disney does allow outside food and drink to be taken into the parks. Therefore, if you’re very worried about finding food that your child can and will eat, you can always pack something from home just in case.
9. “Can my kids dress up?”
Yes! Kids 14 and under may dress up when visiting the parks, and this is definitely something you’ll want to do if your kids are at all interested. That said, no toy weapons are allowed. Therefore, you will want to leave the pirate swords at home. Also, it is important to point out that many costumes can become uncomfortable after a while, meaning you will want to pack a change of clothes.
10. “How can I find extra magic for my kids?”
Everyone wants their Disney World trip to be extra magical. Luckily, there is magic around every corner in this amazing place, and finding a bit of extra magic is no problem at all. Those looking to make the experience especially magical for their kids should consider one of the following:
- A special character meal or tea party with favorite Disney friends
- A makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or the Pirate’s League
- A fireworks dessert party or cruise