How to Disney with a Toddler
With a toddler?!
Now, I know I’m gonna hear it all(I already have) but hear me out.
First of all, they’re FREE! 3 and under are free in Disney World.
Second, they believe the magic, that IS Mickey (Mostly, unless you’re my daughter who questions why they don’t talk)
And third, it really is amazing watching them interact with the characters,whether its a live person aka Princess or costumed character.
Some of you are saying, “Aren’t you crazy? Isn’t that crazy? You’re asking for it bringing a toddler to Disney, Well they’re never going to remember” etc etc
And I kid you not, to this day, Evie talks about stuff from our first trip we had no idea about.
Here’s the thing, and maybe this is because my husband and I have been there so many times before with out a child(even baby mooned there!) They force you to slow down, to take in every sight, every smell, the magic. It makes you see the “World” through their eyes. You definitely start to notice things you may have never noticed before.
That alone is why my husband and I took Evie to Disney World. Not once, but twice before she turned 3.
She was 1.5 years old when we first went. Walking her down Main Street U.S.A. was the most surreal experience, I even almost cried. But that’s also the thing, we’re Disney people. We love Disney. In fact, my first time I ever went there I was 27 years old. I swear that has something to do with it. The magic is still there, I’m not sure it will ever leave. I certainly hope not!!
I do think it boils down to personality, to preference, what you enjoy or don’t enjoy.
There are people who hate Disney, who would much rather go to Busch Gardens or Universal. Go there instead. You know yourself.
All I can say to that is, don’t go to Disney. Your kid won’t remember it, or likely you’ll be spending all this time trying to cram everything in this expensive trip, NOONE is going to enjoy it.
However, if you are considering taking your child there, toddler age is awesome!
And I have some tips to help make it easier for all of you!
- before your trip, whether it be 10 or 30 days out, create a countdown calendar to get them excited about their trip. They even have Disney themed stickers at the Dollar Store to place on each number as the day gets closer.
- And if your toddler is anything like mine, they need fair warning of things they will be doing in the future to avoid a meltdown.
Pack Disney items
- Pack a small carry on for them, we found a small Minnie back pack with wheels for Evie the first time we went. I filled it with snacks and activities to keep her busy on the plane. Ie: coloring books, play doh, stickers
- For each day you’re there or even every other day, set out a small toy, t-shirt or PJ’s at night to get them excited for the day. This also helps cut down on things you have to buy at the parks.
- You can pack glow sticks/necklaces for at night at the parks, sunglasses, little individual fans, necklaces etc. Stuff they will use while they’re there.
- A lot of things you can find at the Dollar Store like I mentioned, but also the dollar bins at Target or Toys R Us. The glow sticks we found in bulk at Bj’s Club, I’d assume Sam’s or Costco may have them too!
- Bring a small water bottle for your child you can fill at the parks. You can even ask at most counter service places for a cup of ice water.
- Snacks- any snack you know your kid will eat in a pinch. Sometimes they’re hungry or even a little bit bored waiting in the queue. Those snacks come in clutch during those times!
- I feel like this goes without saying but you don’t want to carry a 30lb toddler around all day either. They even have them to rent if need be. We brought our lightweight umbrella stroller with us. Easy to pack up to get on buses, boats etc.
In the Parks
- If you feel your toddler becomes over stimulated at any point during your park time, there are baby centers in each park. You can go there to relax in air conditioning, watch a little Disney cartoons, even microwave a meal. It is very important at their age to allow them to have downtime. Even if you find a quiet area in the park(they’re there!), stop and let them run around and let off steam.
- Take your time. You aren’t going to do everything you want to do. And you need to be okay with that. Choose a few things you absolutely want to do, plan on doing them and playing the rest by ear. But don’t be upset if you miss them, taking it slow is key. Disney is a lot for a toddler to take in, see, smell, everything!
And the biggest one of all, for us anyway:
Go back to your room in the Afternoon
- One of the biggest things I have noticed while enjoying Disney is the amount of melting down, obviously tired or hungry toddlers. The biggest thing to do for them is take them back to the room, and let them nap. Or even go back to the pool and relax. Sometimes a nap isn’t in the cards but by taking them to relax makes a world of difference.
I think for us, sticking to a “Vacation” routine was very beneficial. That meant waking up at our normal time, eating breakfast whether it be in room or at the food court. Heading to the parks for whatever we had planned that day, eating lunch and heading back to the resort to relax, swim and/or nap. Then we would head out at night to dinner, well rested and ready for the evening!
No rushing involved. We did what we wanted planned loosely around things we wanted to see and do, knowing it could change and that was okay.
I know not everyone can plan this way with time, money and ticket constraints but even understanding your child and what they need can go a long way in Disney!!
Maybe I’m one of those crazy Disney “Freaks” but I will always tell everyone who is considering it, “YES! You should bring your toddler/young child to Disney!”