Are you looking for some of our best tips for traveling with toddlers to Walt Disney World? Our very own travel agent, Jessica Streeter, is the expert on planning a Disney vacation with toddlers in tow. Here is some of her best advice on how to plan your next vacation while traveling with toddlers.
# 1 Pack Snacks for Toddlers at Disney
While there is certainly no shortage of food at Disney World, we all know that our little ones can be very particular about what snacks they feel like eating. We found that bringing snacks into the parks not only kept our children happy but helped us save money!
We ordered groceries from our friends at Magical Vacation Grocers and they had all of our must-have snacks at the resort when we checked in. Additionally, we loved these collapsable snack cups we purchased here on Amazon. They saved space in our bag, and the kids got to choose what snack went in them when we were heading out to the parks.
#2 Best Disney World Toddler Tips: Rent a Stroller
Unless you feel like you need your stroller in the airport (or have room for it in your car if driving), renting a stroller is the way to go. If you are on the fence about whether your older child would use or need a stroller, my rule is: When in doubt, get it. You won’t regret having it, but you certainly will regret not having it when those little legs get tired out.
Even if your child doesn’t use a stroller at home, it’s a good idea to have one when you are putting in upwards of 7 miles a day in the parks.
#3 Take a break (Or at least give the kids a break!)
You know your children best, and if their moods are dependent on some downtime, make sure to work that into your schedule. Park hopper passes can come in handy when it comes to breaks.
Our kids did well with hitting the parks early in the morning and then going back to the resort for a break (or some pool time). After that, we could head to a different park for dinner and evening park time.
On my oldest’s first visit, he was a champ at napping in the stroller in the parks. This time around with my youngest, not so much. To sum it up, don’t push your toddlers to their max at Disney, a cranky child=cranky parents!
#4 Keep some things a surprise for your toddler!
I always suggest showing first-time visiting children several YouTube videos of the parks to know what to expect. It helps them not to get as overwhelmed when they first see the parks. That being said, keeping some experiences a surprise is a great experience as a parent (this is your vacation too!). For example, a surprise character meal, trip to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, or something as simple as an unexpected mid-day ice cream can make a real “Disney Magic Moment” for your family.
#5 Give your Toddlers their own “money” for Disney World
Once your kids are old enough to know what a gift shop is, you will likely spend a lot of your vacation saying “no” to purchases. There are two solutions to this problem. The first is to try to avoid the gift shops as much as possible (this is not a joke, and we did this as much as we could on our last trip and it really helped!).
The second is to bring along a pre-loaded Disney gift card for each of your children. This strategy works better for older children who can grasp the idea of how much something costs. Once your child uses up their gift card, they are done buying souvenirs! It helps them really think about what they want vs. going for the first thing they see.
#6 Mix up your Dining Reservations for You and the Toddlers
This is the biggest piece of advice I give my clients when we are planning dining reservations. EVERY restaurant on Disney property (with the exception of maybe 1) is child-friendly and has a kids menu. Base your dining location selections off of what the adults want to eat! My kids ate mac-n-cheese at San Angel Inn while my husband and I enjoyed our authentic Mexican cuisine and margaritas. EVERYONE was happy.!
#7 Slow Down! Put your phone down, and let go of your expectations!
I’ll tell you a little story for this one. When we went to Disney this past May. My 5-year-old swore up and down that he wanted to ride Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
We started strong with our first ride on the Mine Train. But after that, something clicked in his brain and he was no longer interested in riding anything that was dark, high in the sky, or that he could get wet on.
My husband had his heart set on riding Splash Mountain with Logan but it just wasn’t happening. We took a minute, pulled the stroller over to a shady area, and talked. Then, we reminded ourselves that a stressed out child on a ride isn’t fun, and that we have our ENTIRE lives to ride roller coasters with Logan.
What we don’t have forever is a 5-year-old who loves to sit on a bench and watch the parades, wave at Mickey Mouse, and ride the carousel. So take those moments to enjoy a break. Don’t rush from one ride to another, because while you have your head down rushing, you are likely going to miss something.
Pull up a bench and watch as the magic unfolds in front of you! Unfortunately, we don’t have these moments of full-on “believing” for long.
This article was contributed by Jessica Streeter, you can contact Jessica here for help when planning your Walt Disney World vacation. Additionally, she has put together an articles with tips on packing for Disney World.
If you are considering a Disney vacation, make sure to check out our full list of the Walt Disney World Resorts or you might enjoy our guide to luxury hotels at Disney World.
Hope this list of Disney tips for toddlers was helpful in your planning! Do you have a favorite tip for traveling with toddlers? If so, leave it below in the comments.