September 23, 2013
Disney World is a great destination for both the young and young-at-heart. There is nothing like stepping into a fantasy world like Disney to take you back to your childhood, but what about toddlers? Can a toddler handle these massive parks without major breakdowns and is it worth the expense? As a family of five that includes two toddlers, we recently embarked on a Disney World vacation. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the toddlers did on the vacation, but have a few pointers for getting the most out of your Disney trip with your littlest vacationers.
Bring Your Own Stroller
A stroller is a must-have for Disney World. The parks are huge and getting from point A to point B without a stroller would be unimaginable. Bringing your own stroller can save you hassle and money. Stroller rental at Disney Parks run $15 per day. That can eat away at souvenir money fast.
If you are driving and don’t have space for a stroller in your luggage, weigh your options at the park. If you are going to be at the park for 4 or more days, purchasing a stroller at the park is cheaper than renting one. A stroller can be purchased for $58 and is yours to keep. We did this and , at the end of our visit, we gifted another family our stroller. We saved a little money and were able to pay-it-forward.
Consider the Weather
Central Florida can be hot. Toddlers are more prone to being affected by the heat so you will want to take it slow. Do not plan a full day of activities. For a toddler, 4-5 hours in the park is going to be more than enough. If you can wait until the cool evenings, that is even better. During peak heat, consider indoor activities and attractions such as theater shows. If you plan to do a lot of outdoor activities, be sure to take frequent water and shade breaks.
Character interaction is one of the main attractions at Disney World. Getting a photo with Mickey, Minnie or any variety of characters can be fun for toddlers. However, it can also be scary. Remember the characters are quite large and many times do not speak. If your toddler is frightened to approach the character, try having the character come to them. My youngest would not go to the characters on her own; however, if the character came to her she was fine.
With toddlers I would highly suggest character dining. You can knock out eating and character interaction all at the same time. The toddlers won’t get bogged down waiting in line, instead they can eat their meal and wait for the characters to approach them. The dining setting also makes for extra special interactions. We ate at Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom where the toddlers got to dine with Winnie the Pooh and friends.
We also ate at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Epcot. Akershus is a banquet in honor of Belle from Beauty and the Beast. It takes place in a castle-like atmosphere and various other princesses are in attendance.
It is important to remember to schedule your dining reservations for character dining experiences in advance. You can reserve your reservation up to 180 days in advance.
Height Restrictions and Warnings
Remember height restrictions and heed warnings! Before you wait in a long line, make sure your toddler meets the minimum height restrictions. These restrictions can be found at the entrance of the attraction as well as on the map. Warnings for frightening material should also be considered. Some attractions such as It’s Tough to Be a Bug at Animal Kingdom have no height restrictions, but have warnings that material may be frightening to some children.
A Disney vacation can be lots of fun for toddlers. Planning ahead for lots of breaks and knowing that you will most likely not see the majority of the park is crucial. Choose the attractions your think your toddler will like most and go from there. Don’t push seeing “everything”, but rather the highlights your child would most enjoy. Have you tackled Disney World with a toddler? What tips do you have? And don’t forget these 15 Don’t Miss Disney World Attractions!