So let me start out by saying that no matter how you do Disney, it will always be magical. The lights, the music, the people...it is truly a happy place. Having said that, there are a few things to consider when taking a toddler. If you are anything like me, you love to plan and get the most out of your day. These are the things that made that possible.
1. What is the toddlers schedule?
This is probably the most important thing. It determines what time you arrive to the park, what time you plan your meals and, most importantly, what time you make your fast passes. Take into consideration park opening and closing hours. Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios open at 9:00 AM while Magic Kingdom opens at 8:00 AM.
2. What to take with you:
Pack light. Having now gone three times with Nicky I've learned that packing the fewest things possible is always best. For most attractions, you have to leave the strollers parked outside, meaning you probably don't want to leave your personal items unsupervised. My rule of thumb is whatever fits into one backpack. If necessary, two backpacks, one for me and one for my husband. A backpack is easy to carry when waiting in lines while still having free hands to tend to the children. In all of the Disney parks there are Baby Care Centers packed with all things a baby and a toddler would need. Click HERE for a direct link to find the centers. Whatever you cant fit, yo can find in the parks.
3. Download the Disney World App to your mobile device.
Making dining reservations, getting/changing fast passes, park maps, attractions, photo pass, where to find characters and just about EVERYTHING can be found here.
4. Make lunch and dinner reservations far in advanced.
This is where schedules determine what time to make dinning reservations for. If you're looking for healthy food options, you just aren’t going to find great options. In every restaurant that you need a reservation for you can find a semi healthy option (salad, baked chicken, etc.). If you don't have reservations, you will not find good eating options. In that case it is best to pack lunch and dinner to take to the parks with you, otherwise you will run into long lines at the cafeterias, scarce tables to sit at and pretty unhealthy food options. Do not wait to do this last minute, reservations fill up quick. Try and eat breakfast at the hotel. If not you can grab some at the park but same issues apply.
5. Pack snacks
Although you will have your big meals planed, pack plenty of snacks. The days are long at Disney and there is a lot of walking and physical activity. Also pack plenty of water. This alone will save you a lot of money. I suggest taking small but willing items such as nuts, cereal bars, fruit and so on. You can also take water bottles and fill them up at water fountains that can be found in most cafeterias or bathroom areas.
6. FAST PASSES
Probably one of the most underestimated features that Disney offers. Once you have purchased tickets online (which I recommend doing), you can plan your Fast Passes. Disney allows you to select three fast passes for attractions. Once you have used up all three passes, you can get more but only one at a time. This is why planning is very important, you can lose your whole day waiting in long lines with very antsy children which just makes the whole experience unsatisfying. I usually reserve my first three fast passes before lunch, for example 9 AM, 10 AM and 11AM. It is best to make the fast passes one after the other so that you get the most out of this system. As soon as I check into my third fast pass attraction, I go onto the Disney app and start making my next fast pass selection for the next attraction that fits my schedule and is closest in distance. I do this for the rest of the day. This allows me to go on more attractions without having to wait more than 15 minutes in each one.
More information on Fast Pass HERE
There is no onsite parking for Magic Kingdom so it usually takes about an hour (sometimes more) from the time you arrive to the metro rail or the ferryboat. The distance is not the problem, it is the amount of people. It is best to prepare for an hour of transit just in case. Bring lots of snacks and maybe a few entertaining items for the little one because it can get hectic before even entering the parks. Once you arrive to the park, if you don't already have your tickets, you will have to wait in the will call line which is also usually crowded so plan for that as well. The park opens at 8:00 AM. If you want the most out of your day, plan to leave the hotel an hour before the park opens (there will be a lot of people).
HERE is Disney’s guide to planning a trip to Magic Kingdom with preschool children.
If you've never been before or are taking young children for the first time I recommend going to the parks in this order: Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood studios and Epcot.
These are some pictures from our trip to Orlando this past weekend. We went to Universal Studios (which is not Disney), Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood studios. We didn't go to Animal Kingdom or Epcot because we had gone there 6 months back. Everytime we go, we always go to Magic Kingdom. Disney Springs is a great place for dinner and a stroll at night. more on Disney Springs HERE
Please feel free to write me any questions. Hope I was able to make your Disney plans easier :)