How many of you are here because you love Disney?! And how many are here because you have a toddler?! Now, how many of you are here because you love Disney and have a toddler, but are scared of visiting because, well, terrible two’s or threenagers, etc?
My thoughts when my husband and I decided we desperately needed a vacation was (a) where can we go with a toddler that is fun and also caters to kids and (b) what are we thinking taking a toddler on a trip that involves plane rides and crowds?!
Of course, the answer to thought “a” was Disney! Because not only is it magical for kids, it’s double the magic for adults. (We get to be kids again and still enjoy all the adult magic they have to offer! Think good food, drinks, lounging by the pool, you get the idea.)
Now, thought “b” was a little tougher to talk ourselves into. Fortunately, the thought of Disney more than made up for our fear of traveling with our two year old. We decided to do a cruise, and at the last minute, we booked the weekend at a Disney resort for after the cruise. By the end of our trip, we had signed up for Disney’s Vacation Club and was already planning our next trip! Below, I share my experience and some tips about the Disney parks we’ve learned along the way.
Use Disney’s own line of transportation!
After our cruise, we took the Disney bus from the port to Disney’s Wilderness Resort (which I absolutely recommend!). I would definitely recommend all transportation with Disney. It may be more expensive, but in the long run, it is so worth it. They take care of EVERYTHING. I guess that’s part of the “magic”! We didn’t have to worry about our luggage or getting from point A to point B. We literally just boarded the bus and showed up to the resort and got to our room, and everything was there. LIFESAVER with a toddler. Who wants to be lugging around suitcases (Because, toddlers require so much even though they are so little!) and a stroller and a toddler who suddenly refuses to walk? Not this lazy mom!
Get the dining plans
When staying on Disney property and visiting the parks, sign up for their dining plans. They save a lot of hassle and end up being cheaper in the long run. They have all kinds of different plans for different budgets and dining preferences. If you go to their website, you can pick the one right for your family. We liked it because you didn’t have to worry about what/where to eat when it came time to eat. As much as I like food, being at Disney is so exciting and overwhelming that stopping to eat almost felt like a chore. With the dining plan, you just pop into a restaurant, grab your meal, and it’s prepaid and you can be on your way. We did the quick service plan because we aren’t so good at grabbing breakfast so we only needed two meals, and we didn’t want to go to a full service restaurant with a toddler who would most likely be tired and grumpy.
Check out Disney Springs
After we got settled in, we decided to check out Disney Springs (formerly, Downtown Disney) for some light shopping and dinner. It’s a taste of Disney without having to pay to get inside a park. There’s nice restaurants and all kinds of Disney themed shops. When you don’t have a full day to spend at a park, this is a nice option because it’s basically everything you can get inside a park minus the rides. And it’s free. Spend some time there and just relax in all things Disney.
What to pack for park day
One thing about Florida, it is HOT. We went in September so it was pretty bad. So if you are not used to the heat, be prepared to be miserable physically. Not only is it hot, but there is a lot of walking involved. Fortunately, there’s enough indoor areas that can help you get some relief. You can also freeze a water bottle (I think all rooms at the resorts have a mini fridge) so you can have ice-cold water to keep you hydrated, and when you run out, you can always refill your bottle at the various restaurants inside. Here are some other things we brought as well.
- Diaper bag
- Water bottles and Sippy cups
- Camera (We brought a GoPro and used our cell phones, but I saw a ton of people there with professional DSLR cameras too.)
- If you love pictures, consider getting Disney’s PhotoPass. It’s pretty cool because they sometimes do animated pictures! There are “stations” all over the park in front of iconic Disney backgrounds, and it’s nice because you can get the whole family in the picture. (For some tips about photos at Disney, see my post here.)
- Cooling cloths (My husband tends to be hot natured!)
- Comfortable shoes
- Extra change of clothes (There are some rides where you can get a little wet, so unless you are ok with walking around damp for a while, I would recommend bringing extra clothes.)
- Raincoat (I don’t know why, but it seems like every time we have ever been to Disney, it has rained at least part of it. There are plenty of places you can buy a cheap raincoat or an umbrella so if you don’t want to carry one around, you can just skip this one.)
- Autograph book and pen (if your kid is into Disney characters)
Plan your FastPass+ ahead of time
One thing I really like about Disney is they really try to make your day as magical as can be; this includes their free FastPass+ program. We try to pick as many for the early morning as we can because you can get more FastPasses once yours are used up. This is especially great with toddlers because we all know how patient they can be! For other tips and tricks, check out my other post here.
Download the Disney app. It will tell you which characters will be where and when. The lines fill up fast so you will want to get there a few minutes early. This is a good time to rest and fill up on snacks and drinks if you are hungry.
If you are interested in character dinings, research the ones you want and make sure you put it in your calendar to book as soon as it becomes available. These are extremely popular and fill up fast! Our toddler was still too afraid of anything in costumes to want to do this, so we opted out, but I think next time we go, we will probably try to book at least one.
Have you ever attempted Disney World with a toddler? What advice do you have to give to parents? Let me know in the comments below!