Wondering how to conquer Disney World with a toddler? This guide will help you make the most of your time at Disney World with babies, toddlers, or preschoolers.
We visited Disney World with a toddler for the 1st time this year and had a blast. We’ve learned several lessons, so we decided to write a guide to help parents plan a trip to Disney World with toddlers.
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Trust us; you’ll want to save this page for later. You may need to reference it a few times as you plan to take your little ones to the most magical place on Earth.
Here is everything you need to know about visiting Disney World with babies, toddlers, or preschoolers.
I’ll start by saying, we aren’t Disney experts. We’ve been to two parks this year, but we are travel experts when it comes to traveling with babies and toddlers.
We’ve been traveling since our son was 8-weeks-old, and he’s now 3-years-old. Plus, being full-time travelers, we’ve picked up some quick tips that make going anywhere with a toddler easier, which is crucial at Disney.
WHEN TO VISIT DISNEY WORLD WITH TODDLERS
We’ve been to several theme parks over the last few years, so we’ve learned that the best time to visit any busy theme park is during the week while kids are in school.
The best time to visit Disney World with toddlers is typically the middle of the week during the school year.
Since kids have school and most parents have to work, the middle of the week is the best time to visit Disney World with toddlers.
If possible, avoid Mondays and Fridays because many people take long weekends and turn them into mini-vacations.
There weren’t too many people during our visit to Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom with our toddler. We went on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, which was perfect.
A great time to visit Disney is in the spring, but avoid April, which is when most kids have a week off school for spring break.
Since spring break is different throughout the country, I recommend skipping April and visiting in May.
The weather is enjoyable, crowds are moderate, except for Memorial Day, but holidays are always busy.
Summer is also a no-no because it gets HOT in Orlando. We went to Magic Kingdom in June for my birthday and were lucky that the weather is the high 80s.
The heat can get unbearable, which isn’t exactly the best condition for a baby or toddler.
The fall is the perfect time to visit Disney with toddlers. School-age kids are back in school, the weather is mild, and there are fewer crowds.
Take advantage of the fall and head to Disney with your toddler. After Labor Day to mid-November is perfect, just before the holiday rush.
Although it will be relatively warm, it’s going to be hectic, even with the reduced capacity.
The busiest time at Disney World is Christmas and New Year’s. If you want to avoid crowds these are not the times to go.
If you really want to go to Disney World during the holiday season, I recommend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a special event at Magic Kingdom during select nights throughout November and December.
The event is from 7 pm to 12 am, but you can enter the park at 4 pm to get a jump on the rides.
WHICH DISNEY WORLD PARK TO VISIT WITH TODDLERS
There are four different parks at Disney World. Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios.
In our experience, the most toddler-friendly parks at Disney World for toddlers are Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.
We had a blast at Magic Kingdom, and it’s a lot more manageable than I thought it would be, in terms of conquering one section at a time.
We explore more in our post on Magic Kingdom with toddlers and Animal Kingdom with toddlers, so if you need more information check them out.
PLANNING A VISIT TO DISNEY WORLD WITH TODDLERS
There are a lot of things to consider when planning a trip to Disney World with toddlers.
One of the most important things is deciding where to stay. Here are the things to keep in mind when looking for accommodation for your Disney trip.
Staying at a Disney Resort
Staying at a Disney resort for most families is a once and a lifetime experience. The Disney properties are very expensive, especially for larger families, so I am not promoting staying at a Disney property.
I am only here to provide information so you can decide what’s best for your family. Here are a few advantages of staying at a Disney resort.
- Magic Hours – As a guest at a Disney property, you get to take advantage of magic hours, which means getting into the park 30 minutes early and staying 2 hours after the official closing time. This perk gives you even more time to enjoy all of the fun rides, but keeping a little one up that late isn’t ideal.
- No rental car needed – Another great perk of staying at a Disney property is that you don’t need a car. You can take the complimentary Disney Magical Express from the airport (must book in advance) directly to your resort.
- Easy access to the parks – There are several convenient ways to get to the Disney World Parks that don’t include dealing with parking and walking a mile to the entrance.
- Mid-day naps – You can get back to your room during the day for your little one to take their nap comfortably plus you can get a little rest. You can always return and stay a little later to catch some of the rides you missed during naptime, but sometimes those naps or breaks are much-needed.
We prefer to stay in alternative accommodation because we love to travel on a budget. Many hotels offer a quality stay at a fraction of the price of Disney resorts.
We elected to stay at an Airbnb, which was inexpensive and had a kitchen to cook on our non-Disney days.
Here are a few things to consider when staying off-property.
- Parking – The cost of parking can add up quickly. The price is $25 for regular and $45 for preferred.
- Shuttles – If your hotel is near Disney World, your hotel may offer a shuttle bus to and from Disney World. Be sure to ask, as they may require reservations.
- Magic Hours– Certain hotels offer magic hours for guests. You can get some of the benefits for less money.
- Driving time – You have to factor driving time into your estimations when you stay off-property. It will likely take you 20-35 minutes to get to the park from your hotel or Airbnb. If you want to get to the park early, be sure to leave by 7:30. You also have to factor in the drive time when leaving Disney World. It took us nearly 45 minutes each day to get back to our Airbnb, and that’s with no traffic.
Here is a list of hotels that have magic hours for their guests.
- B Resort Located in the Walt Disney World Resort
- DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando
- Four Seasons Resort Orlando
- Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
- Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace
- Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
- Holiday Inn Orlando
- Waldorf Astoria Orlando
- Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs
- Wyndham Lake Buena Vista
Be sure to present your key at the entrance to confirm you can enter earlier or stay later.
TIPS FOR VISITING DISNEY WORLD WITH A TODDLER
After traveling with a toddler full-time for nearly 2 years, visiting every LEGOLAND Theme Park, and spending 3 days at Disney World with our toddler, here are our tips for visiting Disney World with toddlers.
1. Bring a stroller (or rent)
Walking around Disney World is a lot for a little one, so bringing a stroller will make your life easier.
Trust us; this is not the time to only have a carrier unless you are visiting Disney with a baby (under 7-months-old).
A stroller makes it easy to hold everything you need while waiting in line for a ride. Our Zoe stroller has been all over the world with us, so we brought it to Disney with us instead of renting one.
I would throw my backpack in the stroller while we waited in line for rides. Plus, the storage was perfect for our water, which we needed because we brought an entire gallon.
2. Download the Disney App
Everything you need can be found on the Disney World app. There are wait times, mobile orders, Genie, Genie+, Mobile Pass, and so much more on the app.
Get an idea of the wait times for the rides you really want to hop on with your toddler. We found that most of the rides geared towards toddlers didn’t have much of a wait.
With toddlers, mobile ordering comes in handy. You can order your food ahead of time, and get a notification when it is ready for you to pick up. No waiting in line with a hangry toddler, which is no fun for anyone.
3. Use the Baby Care Centers
If you aren’t staying at a Disney Resort, the next best place to go when your baby or toddler needs a break is the baby care center at Disney World.
The baby care centers have everything you need to enjoy Disney World with a baby. There are wipes, clothes, baby formula, juice, and even over-the-counter medication for sale.
For parents needing warm water for bottles, there is a microwave available for use. If you are breastfeeding, there are private nursing rooms with rockers, so you can comfortably nurse or pump on the go.
Honestly, if you need a break on a hot day, take a trip to the baby care center to get some AC or just relax for a few minutes without the crowds.
4. Bring plenty of fluid & snacks
You will spend a lot of time walking with your toddler at Disney World, so you need plenty of fluid and snacks.
We weren’t prepared for the first day at Magic Kingdom with our toddler because the airline lost our bags, and the shuttle took nearly an hour to pick me up from the airport.
Our first mistake was not having snacks, so we spent a lot of money on food at Magic Kingdom on the first day, but it was fun.
On the second day, we were prepared with lunch. We had included sandwiches, fruit, chips, jerky, tea packets, fruit snacks, and a gallon of water.
We also travel with Pedialyte packets to keep from getting dehydrated it’s a must when out and about with toddlers exerting a lot of energy,
5. Find toddler-friendly rides
Disney World has something for everyone, so no worries, there are rides that your toddler will love.
Our son met the height requirements for a few rides, but we weren’t prepared for them to be as fast as they were.
Although our little guy was a trooper, it would have been great to have known ahead of time, and we may have skipped that particular ride.
Check out the articles below to find the best rides for toddlers at Walt Disney World.
- Magic Kingdom with Toddlers
- Animal Kingdom with Toddlers
- Epcot with Preschoolers
- Hollywood Studios with Kids
Toddlers can get on some of the rides, but they may be scary to a 2-year-old, so that’s something to consider.
6. Split up
To take advantage of short wait times, my wife and I split up a few times, so she could get on a few rides while we watched shows or went on a more toddler-friendly ride.
Splitting up allowed us to get on the rides we wanted without making our toddler wait in the long line.
We’d rather keep him busy, plus it was his birthday, so we didn’t want to waste time in long queues for us when he could be doing something fun.
7. Go before their 3rd birthday
We went to Magic Kingdom a week before our son’s 3rd birthday to save several hundred dollars.
It worked out perfectly because he was tall enough for everything we wanted to ride. He understood better and was a little more mature than when we visited LEGOLAND California, so he had a lot of fun.
Toddlers under 3 can still get on several rides at Disney World, so don’t think they are too young. You are never too young for Disney!
8. Download a few shows on your phone
The lines at Magic Kingdom weren’t bad while we were there, but for a 2-year-old, 30 minutes is a long time to stand in a queue.
We downloaded a few of his favorite shows on Nextflix to keep him occupied while we waited in line for some of the rides.
This strategy worked better than having toys because he would set them down and walk away, so letting him watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse kept him entertained until we got to the front of the line.
8. Skip the Hopper Ticket
Several bloggers recommend getting the hopper ticket, but for toddlers, it’s simply not worth it.
A day at Disney World is exhausting for an adult, let alone a toddler, so sticking to one park a day will be less stressful.
With that in mind, I recommend at least two days at Magic Kingdom and one day at the other parks.
Having two days lets you take your time, so you don’t have to stay until closing both days, and you have a better chance of conquering all the rides.