I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Disney World with my 20-month-old son, Jack and we all had a blast! If you’re waiting for your kids to grow up before heading to Disney World, you could be missing out on many wonderful memories. Disney with little ones may seem like a daunting task, but it can be done – and even enjoyed!
Just because they won’t remember the trip doesn’t mean you won’t remember the way their faces light up when they see Mickey for the first time. Here are a few ways to make that first trip with your toddler extra special.
When to Go
If you can swing a trip while older kids are in school, you can bypass a lot of the crowds. The good news is this is when Disney often offers the best deals, like room discounts and free dining plans. We just came back from a weekend trip and spent all day going on rides with very few lines. Because we stayed at a Disney resort, we also had access to Magic Hours, the dining plans and Magic Bands, which make it much easier to customize your trip with the experiences that are right for you. If you can handle a few raindrops or adjust your schedule to avoid peak holidays or school vacations, you get to spend more time at the attractions and less time dealing with crowd-induced meltdowns.
Disney offers more than enough rides to entertain you and your little ones. In fact, there are 32 attractions at the Magic Kingdom with no height restrictions. Our son, Jack, was so excited for the Dumbo, Aladdin and AstroOrbiter flying rides. He also enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan. The rider switch program means mom and dad can take turns riding the bigger rides while the other waits with the littles. Kids under three enter the parks for free!
Each Disney park has its own complimentary Baby Care Center. These centers have changing tables, feeding areas, private nursing rooms with rocking chairs, and much more. I was very impressed with the center and used it to change our son’s clothes after a rainstorm. Be sure to bring a stroller your child – even your preschooler – can nap in. I love our Maclaren umbrella stroller, which reclines when needed and folds down easily for bus trips. Heading back to the hotel for naps would have eaten up half our day, so this stroller was a lifesaver.
Remember waiting for hours in a boring line to go on the Dumbo ride? Not anymore. There are two Dumbo rides now. One is for Fastpass+ guests and the other is attached to a circus-themed indoor play area. A cast member will give you a pager that will buzz when it’s your turn to ride. Kids can get out all their energy while they wait and no one is stuck in a boring line. If only every ride did this, right?
At Animal Kingdom there is a huge fenced in playground with slides and even a fossil dig with sand. It was nice to let Jack run free (supervised of course!) without worrying about him getting lost in a crowd.
Food at Disney World can be expensive, but right now Disney is offering free dining plans for select dates between August and December. These otherwise slow times do tend to book up with this promotion, but I can help you get the best restaurants and character experiences during your trip. You can put a deposit down now to start making your dining reservations 180 days before your trip. One additional tip – kids under three eat for free at the buffet meals. This works our great if the rest of the family is on the dining plan.
Planning a trip to Disney doesn’t have to be overwhelming, but you need to be prepared before you head to Florida. Character experiences, dining reservations and even FastPasses need to be reserved in advance so you don’t miss out. Contact me at my website, Vincent Vacations, give me a call and we’ll work through it together. I will hold your hand as much as you need me to to ensure your Disney trip is one for the books!
Lia Vincent is married to a wonderfully patient husband, Chris, and they have a son, Jack, who will be two soon. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Lia has lived in Oklahoma City for almost 15 years. She has worked in travel since 2002, when she started with Southwest Airlines. She has been a travel agent for 9 years. When she’s not obsessively traveling – she’s been to more resorts than she can count – she enjoys cooking, photography and entertaining at her home. She also blogs about her travels at www.LiaVincent.com. You can contact Lia at [email protected] or 405-418-4180.