Disney is a child’s dream. But honestly, with all the loud sounds, lines, and general overstimulation, it could be a toddler’s nightmare. Here are a few simple tips to help keep the magic in your whole family’s vacation, including the littlest members.
7. Introduce Characters Beforehand – Nothing promises toddler cry-fest more than a humongous yellow bear trying to give him a hug. But if your little guy recognizes that bear as Winnie the Pooh, there’s a better chance that meeting him might be the moment you’re hoping for. (No guarantees…I mean, he’s still gigantic.) Try reading your toddler some Disney books or letting them watch appropriate movies before you go. The big Disney Storybook Collection books are great for getting an overview of several stories with colorful pictures that will be familiar.
6. Pack Like A Pro – You know the drill – snacks, sunscreen, pacifiers, extra clothes, snacks, lovey, diapers, a jacket, snacks, sunglasses, hat, wipes…and more snacks. Toddlers need a lot of stuff. But you definitely don’t want to lug all that stuff around everywhere. Consider packing two bags – the Go-To and the Mother-Load. Put ALL THE EVERYTHINGS in the Mother-Load – a huge backpack, diaper bag or cooler bag. Then get a compact, comfy, cross body that you will keep with you in lines. Put in one diaper, a few wipes, the sippy cup, a small toy, and one of the snacks…your Go-To. Refill from the Mother-Load as needed.
5. Have a Flexible Plan – Toddlers are obviously not permitted on every ride, and even the ones that are permitted may not be to the liking of your particular tot. Take some time to map out what you think your little one can do and will actually like doing. Magic Kingdom is by far the most toddler-friendly, but with a little pre-planning the other parks can be fun too. Try to alternate between something high energy (like a ride) and something where they’ll be required to sit quietly (like a show). However, don’t over-plan. We all know that toddlers are…unpredictable. Hold loosely to your plan – if something isn’t working, be OK with moving on to another option.
4. Be Line-Ready – You ask a toddler “Are you ready to meet Elsa?”, and what does she think? Yes-Take-Me-Right-Now-Immediately-or-Sooner. Newsflash: there are lines at Disney. Lots of waiting for all the AMAZING is just not understandable to our sweeties. So try your best to make the lines something fun. Yes, the snacks. But also, prepare a mental list of interactive favorites…patty-cake, this little piggy, favorite songs, tickle spider, peek-a-boo, upside down swinging, etc. Sure, it’s exhausting, but it’s way more fun than listening to whining. If you’re really feeling like a superstar, bring something small and sharable in your Go-To like bubbles (for outdoor lines), and the other toddler parents will name you Line Hero.
3. Strollin’ Sense – It’s fairly obvious that a toddler will not be able to walk around Disney all day. You’ll need a stroller. If you need to rent your stroller, then hey, that’s just what you’ve got to do. But if you can bring your own, the best stroller for a toddler will be one that is small, reclining, and has a snack tray (!!!) and canopy. You do not want your huge double jogger (there are too many tight places to maneuver), and you do not want your umbrella stroller (where will you put the Mother-Load and where will they nap?).
2. Utilize Nap Time – Speaking of naps, it’s fairly certain that at some point your toddler will just crash. If not…I’m so sorry. While you’re doing your flexible pre-planning, try to estimate when you think your toddler will sleep, and schedule Fast Passes for the bigger folks during that time. Depending on your party’s make-up you may need to rotate who stays out with the sleeping tot, but you can figure that out. Also, a longish ride in the stroller may be just the thing to settle seemingly untired toddlers into a deep sleep. Think through possibly just taking a casual walk around the park while the rest of your party sees a non-toddler show. By the time they are done, you’ll have a sleeping toddler – and maybe a chance to trade off and ride Space Mountain.
1. Remember Who You Are – It’s not just a pep-talk for Simba. Remember: you are the adult. You set the tone. If you are stressed and frazzled and rushed, your toddler will notice, and it will not be good for anyone. Relax. Slow down. Enjoy. And they will too. If your toddler prefers feeding the pigeons to riding the Teacups, just go with it – at least for a little while. You didn’t pay for their ticket anyways. And yes, tantrums may happen, but you don’t have to let it ruin the magic. You know your little one. Assess their needs calmly and meet them the best you can. And if you can’t, and people stare…who cares? Everyone’s been there, or will be there eventually.
So there you go! Enjoy your Disney visit with your toddler! They’re only so small once…soak up those little memories!
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best price for your vacation, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!