Planning on taking your toddler to Disney World? Here are 8 things you need to know before you go if you want to prevent meltdowns from ruining your family vacation!
Taking a toddler to Disney World is a great way to spend your family vacation. I’ve met many moms who say “but they won’t remember it!” To that, I always say that it doesn’t matter if they remember the vacation 20 years from now, all that matters is the fun they have in the moment. I’ve taken my kids on so many vacations that they’ll never recall, but I’ll always remember the way their faces lit up when they saw something new and exciting. Disney World is a magical place for kids of all ages, but when you’re traveling there with toddlers, there are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your getaway. Check out these must-know tips for taking a toddler to Disney World!
Tips for Taking a Toddler to Disney World
1. Don’t leave home without important items
Before you even leave home for vacation, make sure you have packed the essential items that your toddler will need for the duration of your vacation. Don’t just assume that you can buy whatever you forget. If you buy essentials in the park or at the hotel, you’ll pay a hefty premium for the convenience. Even if you’re staying near a Target or WalMart, no one wants to take time out of their vacation to trek around an unfamiliar town to find shampoo and toothpaste!
Disney by Age has a customized packing list for toddlers, including clothing, toiletries and gear. If your child has a “can’t sleep without” lovey, make sure you pack that, too! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost forgotten my kids’ lovies. For some reason that we may never understand, they just don’t sleep as soundly without their fists wrapped around a little chunk of a special blanket or their favorite stuffed puppy. Just make sure you remember to bring it back with you as well!
Check out 13 Must-Haves to Pack for Your Disney Trip for your whole family!
2. Make a trip itinerary
Having a trip itinerary is important because it helps little ones know what to expect each day. You can find a ton of Disney itineraries online, or make up your own! Knowing what to expect every day not only helps avoid meltdowns, but also helps you make sure your tot sees all the best sites at the park. Don’t forget about these hidden Disney World treasures!
3. Choose on-site lodging
This is an option that should be included in your vacation budget. While you may find some good deals on off-site lodging, you really can’t beat the benefits of staying on-site. When your little one needs a break or a nap, on-site lodging is so convenient. You also get top-notch treatment at on-site lodging that you probably won’t get at any off-site lodging. The Art of Animation Resort is great for toddlers because it features characters from movies that toddlers love to watch- Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. WDW Info has a complete list of Walt Disney World Resorts.
4. Plan character meals for breakfast
Character meals are the ideal way for your toddler to meet their favorite Disney characters, without waiting in the long lines for ride times. One good character breakfast for toddlers is the Disney Junior Play and Dine Breakfast Buffet. This breakfast buffet is held at the Hollywood & Vine Restaurant at Hollywood Studios. Kids get to eat breakfast with their favorite Disney Junior characters, like Princess Sofia from Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins from Doc McStuffins, Captain Jake from Jake and the Never Land Pirates and Handy Manny from Handy Manny.
5. Select fun places to eat
Each of the 4 parks at Disney World- Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom- have fun places to eat that toddlers will love. Need a few ideas? The Plaza Restaurant at Magic Kingdom, the Coral Reef Restaurant at Epcot, the ABC Commissary at Hollywood Studios and Pizzafari at Animal Kingdom. All Ears has a complete list of The Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants at Walt Disney World and you can usually find online menus for the restaurant that you pick. I suggest looking over the menu before you go so you’re ready to order right away. That cuts out the amount of time your tot has to sit still while you wait.
6. Pick age-appropriate rides
Disney World has an array of rides, but some of them may be too fast, too high, too intense or too scary for toddlers. At Magic Kingdom, check out Peter Pan’s Flight. At Epcot, try The Seas with Nemo and Friends. At Hollywood Studios, check out the Toy Story Midway Mania. And at Animal Kingdom, try the Kilimanjaro Safaris. Take some time to do a virtual tour of the park and rides. Make a list of your top choices and map out your course on one of the free visitor maps that you get at the park (or order one before you go if you want to be even more organized).
7. Rent a stroller
While your toddler may not need a stroller anymore at home, they will likely need one at Disney World. Why, you ask? Because most visitors to Disney World will walk an average of 50 miles during a 7-day vacation. Also, the last thing you’ll want to do is lug around your child’s stroller from home, through the airport. So, you’ll want to rent a stroller from a Disney World featured stroller provider, like Baby Wheels Orlando or at the park entrance of the 4 parks- Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.
8. Pack a daily backpack
Yes, a backpack! Why a backpack, you ask? Well, because they are easier to carry around than a diaper bag. When visiting the parks with your toddler, there are some absolute necessities you’ll need for the day. While it varies by age (some toddlers still need diapers, some don’t, for example), you’ll want to make sure you include basics like sunscreen, wipes (even if your tot is out of diapers), water bottles or juice boxes, and so on.
Taking a toddler to Disney World isn’t without its challenges, but the benefits far outweigh any downsides! Seeing your tot’s face light up when you turn the corner and see that giant castle is all the reward you need.