Have the Best Time at Disney with Toddlers
All right y’all, I am FINALLY sharing our experience at Disney with a toddler and a baby!!
This is my most requested post, because if you were following me on social media when we went to Disney World (at the beginning of November 2018), you know it was not that fun a trip for anyone.
I repeat, it was not unicorns and rainbows!! Here are my tips on how to have the best time at Disney with toddlers, from my experience.
First, I want to do a little disclaimer and say that I was completely prepared for this trip.
I researched all the blogs, all the YouTube channels, I listened to the advice from other people who had recently been to Disney World with young children…
I didn’t over schedule us. I did not have any expectations about this trip at all.
I knew it would not be fun for us parents. I did not expect my kids to have a super great time because they were young and unfamiliar with Disney World!!
I scheduled time in for naps. I scheduled time at the resort. I got the fast passes and the dinners a month in advance, per our tickets, if you want to see all of my prep and planning I did for this trip ahead of time, you can visit that post here.
What I did not expect was that my oldest, basically the reason we were going to Disney World, would be sick and hate every ride.
You heard me. He. HATED. Every. Ride.
The only ones he actually enjoyed, were the outside ones… which spin and turn upside down and do all the crazy things, which he couldn’t ride the first day because he was sick.
So let me just break down our trip and give you my tips on attempting to go to Disney World with preschoolers and how I think you can have the best time at Disney with toddlers.
Don’t attempt a park the same day you arrive!
We took the whole day to drive before attempting any of the parks and that part actually went really well! We left on a Saturday and took that whole day to get there.
The kids were totally fine. No sickness or illness or anything. Everyone was FINE. We got a good night's sleep at the resort and we were all refreshed and ready to go to the first park on Sunday.
Plan to arrive way earlier than you think!
Fast forward to Sunday, traffic was insane. We were literally five minutes away from the theme park and it took us 30 minutes to get to the parking lot and actually parked.
We chose the Magic Kingdom because no one in our family cared about Epcot and I wanted the kids to have an extra day at the fun park, in case we weren't able to do everything on the first day (disclaimer: we weren’t).
Prepare for sickness!!
We finally park our car and the minute we get out, my oldest throws up (he’s 3). Then he throws up again. He threw up twice and we had just paid the $25 parking fee and parked the car. It might have been some kind of motion sickness from riding so much the day before, but he’s used to long car rides... So I’m not 100% sure.
Make sure your equipment is good to go.
Then, we load them all up in the stroller, which I had to wipe off with almost all of the baby wipes I brought for Ginny, because it had mildew on it.
I didn’t realize it had mildew on the actual seat of the stroller. I thought it was underneath the stroller. So that was super fun to do in the 87° heat (in the beginning of November) and after my son had just thrown up.
Carry the stroller, kids and stuff to the parking lot tram
So once everyone and everything is loaded in the stroller, we get to the tram... You have to hold the stroller across your lap.
Seeing as how we did not know this and we had just loaded everybody and everything completely cozy in the stroller (and we had a sick little guy), we decided to walk from the parking space to the entrance.
Take the parking lot tram
Big mistake. Four trams passed us. We did not make that same mistake at any of the other parks for the rest of the trip. And Magic Kingdom has the biggest parking lot…
Everything will take way longer than you think
By the time we got to the ticket check-in for the park, yeah we’re not even anywhere near the park at this point...
We were so tired. We didn’t even have tickets yet, so we still had to wait to exchange our vouchers for tickets.
Then we had to get on the monorail. That took another 30 minutes waiting in line to get on the monorail, off the monorail, through security to the main park. And finally into the main park.
We’re looking at about an hour or more that it took us to park our car and actually get into the Magic Kingdom. I knew it would take a while, but I had no idea I would take that long.
And we’re all hot and tired at this point and Silas has a fever.
Expect the unexpected
Literally nothing I could have read, could’ve prepared us for this trip. And this was just the first two or three hours!!
We ended up staying at the Magic Kingdom on the first day, when Silas was sick, for about four hours and then we left because he was miserable and tired.
Don’t go during holidays!!
Oh yeah, and we were there on Veteran’s Day weekend. We knew to go during the off-season, but we didn’t realize when we scheduled our trip it was partly on Veterans weekend. That means a lot of extra people at the park when we were at the park. No Bueno.
Your kids may not like the rides
When it came to the rides he didn’t like anything that was in the dark and closed spaces where you ride on something.
Small world, hated it.
Winnie the Pooh, hated it.
Disney’s Magic Philharmonic, hated it.
A bug's life, which we kind of figured he would, hated it…
The only ride he actually enjoyed was the mini roller coaster at the kids carnival land (the Barnstormer, go figure).
When we went the first day, we had fast passes for the Mad Hatter and Dumbo rides but because he was sick, he couldn’t ride those.
That part of the trip was a real bummer because most of the fast passes I got were inside.
When you’re a middle schooler, teenager or adult, you know how important it is to get out of the heat and have a nice cool dark ride to just sit and relax. When you’re three, it’s scary.
Strollers are a huge pain
Another thing that was pretty ridiculous was weaving around with the double stroller.
Everyone says “bring a stroller for your kids, even if they’re past stroller age.” So pretty much until they’re six, bring a stroller.
And we thankfully already planned on bringing our double stroller, but it’s really hard trying to find stroller parking for the rides. Because everyone else has already parked their stroller. It also means that moving around the park is a lot harder.
I will not go back to Disney with kids that need a stroller again.
So that was the brief explanation of some of the things we ran into on our trip.
Obviously, I had no way to predict that my child would be sick on the trip before we even entered the park and that he would be afraid of all of the rides.
So here are my basic words of wisdom and thoughts on going to Disney with preschoolers in general. I truly think this will help you have the best time at Disney with toddlers ;)
Don’t go if they’re 3 or under
Do not pay to go to Disney if your child is three or under. It’s really not worth it for you and it’s definitely not worth it for them.
If you get tickets for free, by all means, GO! Live it up. You’re not paying, so why do you care.
It might still be a fun experience and you won’t have to worry about “staying at the park a certain amount of time” because you didn’t pay to be there.
In case you didn’t know, Disney let’s kids under three in for free… but adults still have to pay full price. It’s. Not. Worth. It.
Honestly, like I said, even if your kid is three, it’s still not worth it! And you’ll still have to pay for full price adult tickets no matter their experience. Save your money!!
Don’t go if your children need strollers.
If your children will need strollers, skip it. Refer to above. The only way I could see justifying this, is if you live in the area and you can go for a day and don’t have to worry about trying to do a certain amount of rides in one time.
Wait till EVERYONE is potty trained
Don’t go if you are going to have to change diapers. My son was potty trained. That part actually worked out pretty well for us.
We didn’t even have to take him out of those long lines to go potty! He just went before we got on the ride and after we got off the ride and it was fine. We did have fast passes too… so the lines were considerably shorter.
But we still had a baby with us. So we still had to find a place to change her diaper randomly. And that didn’t always coincide with when we had to go.
Check their height
Don’t go if your kids can’t ride all the rides. There is very little tiny 3 year olds can actually do at the parks to make it worth the price.
By the time they can ride all the rides, they will probably be in middle school. That is the time you want to go.
They don’t need a stroller… They will hopefully, most definitely be potty trained. And they can actually enjoy all of the rides and remember it.
Consider bringing additional help for littles
If you are going to attempt Disney with kids three and under, consider bringing a third person with you. Whether it’s a grandparent, an uncle, a friend, bring someone with you! We had my mom with us and having a third adult really helped.
Disney is not for the faint of heart.
I remember Disney from when I was younger. It was bad then... It’s 10 times as bad now.
Honestly, just don’t go with toddlers unless you can get in for free. Go when everybody can take care of themselves.
All in all the trip was memorable and there were some fun moments, but it just wasn’t worth it for the price we paid and ages we took.
My one-year-old had a ball. We just held her or pushed her in the stroller and it was like any other day for her. A really expensive day…
I wouldn’t say my three-year-old was necessarily overwhelmed either, but he was sick, tired and cranky. Being overwhelmed might have had something to do with that, but I think it was mostly because he wasn’t feeling good.
And since we did pay for our tickets, we couldn’t just not go, you know? So that meant he was pretty miserable for the whole trip.
The bright spots
The silver lining? Since we did have a third adult, my husband and I were able to go on a date to Hollywood Studios (kid free) while my mom stayed at the resort with the kids.
And we got the opportunity to go to Universal Studios to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley at the end of our trip while my mom stayed with the kids again.
So the trip wasn’t completely terrible for everybody. Pretty much just Disney with the kids...
Have you been to Disney recently? Did you take young children with you? I would love to hear other moms experiences and thoughts!
I’m sure our experience is not the norm, but I’m betting it’s not completely uncommon either! Hopefully your trip to Disney will be much better than ours and our experience can help some poor unsuspecting family be a little more prepared!