As we all know, Disney is a wonderful place filled with imagination and dreams, but it can be a daunting adventure when you’re navigating through the parks with your toddler.
We’ve found that there are a few key things to do at the parks with your toddler to keep them engaged, to use up some of their energy and to make your life simpler and your park trip more enjoyable. In this post we’re sharing our top five must-dos with a toddler at Disney World and including some tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way.
Top Five Must-Dos with a Toddler at Disney World
1. Meet the characters.
This is by far the top of our list. Tallulah is such a huge fan of the characters, and we love how every experience is totally different which keeps it fresh for us too (you can only do Small World so many times, am I right).
I love talking Tallulah through who she’s going to meet while we’re in line, particularly if she can’t see the character until she’s right there with them.
Sometimes she likes to get down and hug them and dance with them and other times she wants to be held tight while being closer to their eye level to engage.
I try to go with her vibe and let her do her thing which makes the engagements all the more fun.
(TIP- If your kids are a bit hesitant to meet the characters, I encourage you to let them watch some of the outdoor meet and greets so they can see how the characters move, look, and interact with other guests. It’s just about as entertaining and keeps your kids feeling safe if they’re scared. Plus, it’s a great warm up.)
2. Visit the air conditioned play areas on property.
Since Orlando is hot for most of the year, this is one of my favorite tips. There are three key locations… Dumbo’s queue play area at Magic Kingdom, Star Wars Launch Bay at Hollywood Studios, and The Seas Pavilion at Epcot.
All of these locations are amazing places to let your kids explore while both you and they get to cool down. These locations aren’t usually too crowded either which makes the stops well worth the visit.
(TIP- If you want more details on these offerings, you can visit my site TinyThemesBlog.com for a detailed write-up.)
3. Let them run around and explore when the crowds are low.
This tip is really helpful to get those wiggles out from being in a stroller for long periods of time as well as waiting in lines. I usually recommend taking the path less traveled to find these lesser populated areas. Basically, head to the areas other guests aren’t.
For example, at Epcot, most guests start the day in Future World since World Showcase doesn’t open until 11am. However, Canada and some of France open before the 11am start time, and even up until 1pm the rest of World Showcase isn’t crazy busy.
It’s the best time to park the stroller in the front of a chosen country and let your little explorer lead the way on foot. Then you can backtrack to Future World when World Showcase gets busy 🙂
Also, at Hollywood Studios, people tend to head to the big ticket areas first, so checking out Sunset Blvd in the beginning of the day and Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land later in the day tend to give you more open space to explore. Same goes for Animal Kingdom; stop by Pandora later in the day and you’ll have way more room for your toddler to run.
4. Use mobile ordering for meals.
I cannot stress enough what a time saver this service is, especially when you’re taking your kiddo(s) to the park solo. Mobile ordering lets you order and pay for your meals from the Disney World App, and when you get to the restaurant you just go right to the window and pick up your food instead of needing to wait in insanely long lines just to order.
This is a lifesaver when you need to get some food for your hangry toddler (or self) ASAP. It makes the dining experience way simpler. Also, I highly recommend selecting quick services restaurants that allow strollers when you’re doing the park as the solo adult. PizzeRizzo, Pecos Bill and Pizzafari are some of our favs for that.
5. Give your kids the opportunity to dress up at the parks.
I didn’t really understand the beauty of this for both parents and child, but it seriously affects the overall day experience. I love seeing how Tallulah’s demeanor changes when she’s in costume and how the Cast Members and guests interact with her when she’s rocking her look.
The older she’s getting, the more into it she gets, and I’m so here for it.
(TIP – There are amazing and unique costumes for sale all across property that are in my opinion, better and cheaper than the standard princess dresses – although of course those are beautiful too. It’s worth checking out the costumes at the shops on property. You never know what you’ll find.)
Also, if you get the chance to visit the parks near Halloween, I highly encourage you to dress up for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party as a family. You’ll make memories you won’t soon forget.
I hope these tips help you enjoy your Disney day with your toddler all the more. I’d love to hear what your toddler loves most to do in the comment section below.
Guest Blogger – Amanda Batts
Creator of Tiny Themes Blog. I’m bringing what I’ve learned from working at Walt Disney World for seven years along with what I’ve experienced as a mom taking my toddler to the parks, to help make your family’s Disney experience the best it can possibly be! Follow me at @bibbidibobbidibatts on Instagram and at www.TinyThemesBlog.com