My family just got home from our 15-month-old daughter’s first visit to Walt Disney World, and I’m very glad we decided to bring her when we did! Although she might be too young to remember that her first ride ever was “it’s a small world” or that she got to meet Chewbacca, I’ll never forget it. The memories we made are the foundation for a lifetime of family vacations to Disney and we’re already planning our next trip with her.
Here are some simple tips that will help you have a magical time with your toddler at Walt Disney World!
Book a bigger room than you normally do.
A family suite at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort or Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will give everyone some extra room to spread out. But I recommend splurging for a stay at one of Disney’s Deluxe Villas. You’ll enjoy all the comforts of home, plus lots of extra space for your kiddo to play, as well as a dark, quiet room for them to sleep in. The upscale accommodations will make any extra time at the Resort hotel much more enjoyable, too.
For added comfort and convenience, request a crib or Pack ‘n Play for your room. It’s free of charge. Don’t forget to pack some of your toddler’s favorite toys from home, as well as ordering some of their favorite snacks and drinks to be delivered to your resort on your arrival day.
Stay on property and schedule extra breaks into your day.
If you’re staying at Walt Disney World you can use Disney’s transportation to get back to your Resort hotel to cool off and reset in no time! Then you can take a nap, go for a swim, have some lunch, and enjoy your Resort hotel before heading back to the parks later on.
Use the Baby Care Centers when you need a place for your child to rest and cool off in the parks. They have changing tables, a nursing room, as well as highchairs for feeding. You can also purchase any baby supplies you may have forgotten to put in your stroller. You’ll have more fun if you take it easy and keep everyone cool and hydrated.
There are great places for little ones to play in the parks, too. There are interactive play areas at the end of many attractions in EPCOT and a small playground near Test Track. Kids of all ages can enjoy The Boneyard at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.
Book your visit when the Florida heat isn’t quite so strong.
If you can only go in the summer months, be sure to pack cooling towels, fans, and lots of hydration, as well as hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Dress your toddler in lightweight clothing and consider leaving their shoes off whenever they’re riding around in the stroller. We kept cotton booties in our stroller that we could quickly put on our daughter’s feet whenever we were getting ready to go on a ride or in a play area.
Enjoy rides and attractions as a family.
I find that Magic Kingdom Park is the most family friendly, but don’t let that stop you from visiting all four parks. Anyone can enjoy attractions that do not have height requirements. Your toddler can ride in a carrier on attractions that don’t have lap bars or seatbelts, and they can sit on your lap for rides like Peter Pans Flight, Haunted Mansion, and Little Mermaid, to name a few.
When you want to ride something your toddler can’t, use Rider Switch! One adult in your group can wait with the non-riders while the rest of the party enjoys the attraction. When the other adult returns, they’ll switch, and the waiting adult can board the attraction without having to wait in the regular line again! Meet with the Cast Member at the entrance to the attraction to make sure it qualifies, then follow their instructions.
Choose dining locations with your toddler in mind.
Most Quick Service restaurants offer Mobile Order. This will make it much easier to get your food while another adult gets your toddler situated at the same time. Quick Service restaurants typically allow you to bring your stroller inside, too, but highchairs are available.
There are lots of great food options for toddlers, too. Our daughter was partial to corn dog nuggets, fruit, and French fries, water, and milk.
Character Dining is another great option when visiting with toddlers! You’ll be able to meet multiple characters during your meal, saving you from waiting in line to meet them in the parks. Mobile check-in is also available at most Table Service restaurants, and during the mobile check-in process you’re able to indicate whether or not you need a highchair!
Go with the flow.
Pick a few “must-do’s” but be flexible – your plans may change quickly based on your toddler’s needs. My daughter was happiest when she was free to run and play and was frustrated by the amount of time she spent in her stroller, so we prioritized play time over anything else. She loved the play area in the queue for Dumbo the Flying Elephant so much that we didn’t even make it on the ride!
Our toddler also slept through our Genie+ return time for Haunted Mansion, the Festival of Fantasy Parade, and Mickey’s Royal Friendship Fare. She woke up well rested and ready to ride “it’s a small world” which she loved so much. Watching her reaction to that ride was a highlight of the whole trip and it made the things we missed matter even less.
I’m very glad we decided to visit Walt Disney World with our toddler, and I can’t wait to make new memories with her year after year! What memories will you make?