Walt Disney World with a toddler can be thrilling, exhausting, scary and amazing all at the same time. Your toddler may be ready to hit every roller coaster, or scared of every ride, including the Dumbo ride. Your toddler may need some downtime, and to get to bed on time at night. Feeding and hydrating is also important, but this doesn’t mean you won’t have fun. Adjust your expectations to what your toddler (and you) can handle and you will have the time of your life at the "happiest place on earth."
Don’t force the rides
Rides are exciting, but can also be scary if you are small. Disney has a way of putting dark sections in many of their rides, which can terrify small children who can’t even sleep without a nightlight. Roller coasters may be too much of an adrenaline rush for their systems to handle, and even the tea cups can be disorienting as they spin around and around with not much to hold onto. Don’t force rides on your toddler, or kids of any age. Let them tell you how brave they want to be that day. It is OK to just wander around the parks, meet the characters, and go to shows.
Plan some pool time
It is so easy to get overwhelmed at Walt Disney World. You want to see and do it all. Your kids, even your toddler, will think they need to race from place to place, but their bodies, and yours for that matter, just can’t keep up with that pace. Plan to spend time in the park in the morning and head back to your hotel in the afternoon for some downtime. Babies and toddlers who still need a rest can nap, while older kids can hit the pool to cool off and chill out. Mom and dad will just be happy to put their feet up. You can always head back to the parks in the evening for the fireworks shows.
It is so easy to forget to drink water when you are in any of the Disney World parks. There is so much excitement around you and your kids, not to mention all of the soda, juice and junk food at your disposal. And Starbucks. Coffee is a must for most parents (lines seemed to be longest in the morning and later in the afternoon). Water gets forgotten, when really it is the easiest (and cheapest) drink to procure. Bring water bottles with you every day and you can continue to refill them at water fountains and any fountain service station at grab-and-go restaurants throughout the parks.
Remember to eat real food
Just like it is hard to remember to drink water, it is also hard to remember to eat a full meal when you are racing from ride to ride or standing in line. You should always have snacks in your day bag, but plan on sitting for at least one meal per day. Feed your kids some fruits and vegetables, and a healthy protein that hasn't been fried. Your stomach and energy levels will thank you.
Remember the Tinker Bell Rules
A friend recently forwarded a photo of the Tinker Bell rules she and her family lived by while they were in Disney World. She had found it on a website, and swore it made her trip better. The rules included that everyone visit the bathroom at the same time and try to at least go, whether your kid felt like they had to or not. No whining or complaining was also on the list. If you followed the rules, Tinker Bell left a little something for you overnight. Genius. My toddler was sold. He couldn’t wait to see what Tinker Bell brought him. The whining was at a minimum during our trip. I packed a few cheap Disney trinkets to put at the foot of his bed each night, which made for a happy wake up each and every morning.
What are some of your best tips for visiting Disney with young kids?
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