A visit to Walt Disney World with a toddler can be a wonderful experience. Many toddlers love the sights and magic of Walt Disney World. Parents enjoy watching their toddlers faces as they see Cinderella’s castle for the first time and hug Mickey Mouse. With some careful thought and planning, you and your toddler can enjoy your Walt Disney World vacation.
Visit During the Off-Season
Since the summer months (June, July and August) are very hot and crowed, avoid taking your toddler to Disney World during these months. Although the crowds are fewer during May and September, these months can also still be very humid in Orlando. The months of October, November (before Thanksgiving), January and February are typically less crowded and provide pleasant weather.
Stay Onsite or Near Walt Disney World
Since you will probably return to your room for a break during the day, consider staying at a Walt Disney Resort with your toddler. All Walt Disney Resort guests can ride the Disney Transportation to and from the parks. If one parent has to return to the room with the toddler, staying on site allows the rest of the family to easily stay at the parks. The on-site hotels are divided into categories of value, moderate and deluxe. Some popular hotels for families with toddlers include the All-Star Resorts, Caribbean Beach Resort and the Animal Kingdom Lodge. If you do not want to stay on site, the Holiday Inn Nickelodeon is kid-friendly and provides transportation to the parks.
Plan Out Your Days at Disney World Before You Leave
Before you leave for your vacation, make a plan for how you will spend your days at Walt Disney World. Since the Magic Kingdom is the most toddler-friendly park, be sure to schedule plenty of time in this park. Many toddlers also enjoy Animal Kingdom. While there are a few attractions at Hollywood Studios that are geared to toddlers, many roller coasters and shows are not toddler-friendly. You may only want to schedule half a day at Hollywood Studios. Although Epcot is a favorite with adults and older children, toddlers cannot go on many of the rides, and the educational content is over their heads. Try to spend only a half day at Epcot. Remember that your plan should be very flexible.
When planning your touring schedule, be sure to schedule plenty of time for breaks. Try to go back to the hotel every afternoon for a nap or swim break. You may also want to schedule a day where you do not visit any parks and simply relax at the hotel.
Make Reservations for Kid-Friendly Restaurants
If you are purchasing the Disney Dining Plan, toddlers ages 2 and under eat free if your family purchased the plan. If you want to eat at any sit-down restaurants during your vacation, you need to make reservations well in advance because the early dinner times fill up fast. Try to get reservations as close to your toddler’s normal meal times as possible. Since toddlers may be tired after a day at the parks, consider scheduling only one sit-down meal per day.
A great way to introduce your toddler to the characters is to go to a character meal. Chef Mickey’s (breakfast) and 1900 Park Fare (breakfast and dinner) are good character meals for toddlers. Some popular sit-down restaurants with toddlers are Whispering Canyon, Coral Reef and ‘Ohana.
Visit Toddler-Friendly Attractions
While most toddlers do not meet the height requirements for the roller-coasters, there are many rides and attractions that your toddler will enjoy. At Magic Kingdom, be sure to take your toddler on Dumbo, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, It’s a Small World, Jungle Cruise, Country Bear Jamboree and Buzz Lightyear. Mickey’s Toontown Fair is also a great place for toddlers to play and meet characters. At Animal Kingdom, most toddlers enjoy the Kilimanjaro Safaris and the Festival of the Lion King Shows. When you visit Hollywood Studios, make sure to visit Playhouse Disney Live on Stage, the Honey-I-Shrunk-the-Kids playground and Toy Story Mania. Be aware that many toddlers become frightened on Snow White’s Scary Adventures and during the 3-D movie “It’s Tough to Be a Bug. ”
If you want to ride attractions that your toddler cannot ride, take advantage of the baby swap option. One parent rides the ride while the other parent waits with the toddler. The other parent is then typically given a Fast Pass to avoid standing in the line again. Since baby swap works different at the different attractions, check with the cast member at the ride you want to go on.
Have Fun and Be Safe
Bring a backpack with you to the park each day that contains spare clothes, diapers and snacks for your child. Be sure to bring a hat and sunscreen to protect your toddler’s skin from the sun. You may also want to bring a small toy for your child to play with while waiting in lines.
When you first get to a Disney park, show your toddler the name tags that each cast member wears. Explain to your toddler that if she becomes lost, she should go to a cast member. You may also consider putting a tag with your cell phone number on your toddler.