Heading to Walt Disney World with toddlers? Find out 8 ways to keep your cool when taking a toddler to Walt Disney World in Florida.
This tips for traveling to Walt Disney World with toddlers post was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Visiting Disney World with toddlers can be a magical experience. It can also be overwhelming to think about planning a trip with a toddler.
We took our youngest to Walt Disney World when he had just turned 2 years old and I almost had a panic attack when I started figuring out our schedule.
You’ve got naptime to consider, navigating the park with a stroller or finding meals that your child will actually eat.
The last thing you want to do is jump into a Disney vacation with young kids unprepared. Trust me!
These suggestions ease some of the anxiety that comes from planning a trip to Walt Disney World with toddlers, keep reading!
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Walt Disney World blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Disney World with kids.
Where to Stay at Walt Disney World with Toddlers
Before you book your Walt Disney World vacation, it helps to know which Disney resorts to look into.
We usually book our Disney World trips through Get Away Today and we package our hotel with our theme park tickets to save money.
Here are the top 5 places to stay at Disney World with toddlers and what makes them great for families:
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
This Disney property features family suites with plenty of space for toddlers to play, as well as themed pools and playgrounds.
We stayed here and it was so easy to get to Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Check the latest rates and availability.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
This resort offers a relaxed, tropical atmosphere and easy access to Magic Kingdom via monorail.
There are also character breakfasts (with the tastiest food) and luaus that toddlers will enjoy. Check the latest rates and availability.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
This Disney property offers the opportunity to see exotic animals right from your balcony or while dining at the resort’s restaurants.
There’s also a great pool with a waterslide. We stayed here on our first trip and it’s definitely a bucket list hotel! Check the latest rates and availability.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
This resort has a sandy bottom pool with a lazy river that toddlers will love.
The location is also great, with easy walking access to Epcot and Disney’s Boardwalk. Check the latest rates and availability.
The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
These cabins offer a rustic, outdoorsy feel and plenty of space for toddlers to run around.
There’s also a great pool area with a waterslide and playground, and this Walt Disney World resort offers campfire sing-a-longs and carriage rides. Check the latest rates and availability.
11 Tips for a Successful Trip to Walt Disney World with Toddlers
Have a Plan in Place, But Be Flexible
Often first-time visitors to Walt Disney World will go into the parks not knowing what to expect.
They arrive with no plan in place and are left with a less-than-stellar experience.
Walt Disney World requires planning. It just does. Even if you can usually “wing” other vacations (even Disneyland), you really do need to have a bit of a plan here.
Before your trip check crowd calendars to determine which parks you’ll be visiting and on what days. With that said, it’s important to be flexible.
You don’t need to account for every minute in the park. Having a general outline of what you want to do is helpful, but be flexible.
Much of the magic that happens at Disney cannot be planned or prepared for.
The magic lies in the unexpected and at Disney, there’s a lot you won’t find written in books. Keep your rough plan but be open to what is around you.
You may discover something you didn’t even know you were looking for.
Spring for Character Dining
A large part of the joy in visiting Disney Parks with a toddler is when they get to meet their favorite Disney characters.
There are countless Disney character dining experiences to be had at Walt Disney World.
From breakfast or dinner with Winnie the Pooh and Friends at Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom to breakfast at Chef Mickey’s, the options are endless.
Character meals are one way to let your toddler meet her favorite princess without having to wait in long lines.
Watching your child’s face light up as they meet Mickey Mouse for the first time is a magical experience.
What better way to experience the magic of Disney than in a relaxed setting over a yummy meal where the characters come to you?
Often the costs of the character meals beat waiting in long lines with a less-than-agreeable toddler.
With that said though, some young children may still be uncomfortable with characters. If this is your child, don’t try to push them into anything they’re comfortable with (even if you really want that photo)
I recommend watching videos of the character dining to get a feel if it’s right for your family.
Stick to Your Child’s Schedule
If your child is still at the glorious nap stage, consider keeping that schedule when you do visit the parks.
Leave for your designated park early in the day and then head back to your hotel around lunchtime.
If you’re staying on property this is a bit easier because you can leave the parks and use Disney transportation to get back to your hotel.
If you’re staying off-property at a Disney Good Neighbor Resort this could also be a good option.
Check park open and close times (or take advantage of Magic Hours) and arrive early.
Leave the park around lunchtime and eat back at the hotel. While the family is eating or older children are enjoying the pool, your toddler can get in their nap.
Heading back to the parks in the late afternoon to enjoy dinner and shows after everyone is adequately rested and happy will ensure a great park day for all.
Splitting up park days saves money and keeps spirits high.
Eliminating over-stimulation and crankiness in toddlers is one way to ensure the entire family has a good Disney trip.
Take Advantage of Rider Switch
If visiting Walt Disney World with a toddler and older kids, you can take advantage of what is known as Rider Switch.
Head to the attraction with your child and let the Cast Member know that you want a Rider Switch passes.
This will let one parent and up to three riders can ride while the other parent stays behind with the youngest.
Rider Switch is a great way to keep everyone happy and your older kids will enjoy the fact that they get to ride the same attraction twice; once with each parent!
EPCOT is More Toddler-Friendly Than You Think
For some reason, EPCOT has a reputation for being boring for young kids.
Thankfully, with the addition of Frozen Ever After and new attractions being added regularly, it is slowly losing this designation.
As any parent of a toddler knows, they find delight in everything new and fun.
EPCOT offers plenty of opportunities for toddlers to interact and learn about the world.
The Germany Pavilion at World Showcase in particular, with its train station replica, will delight littles everywhere.
Preschoolers will love coloring and exploring the Kidcot stations.
And if you go during the Holidays, there are tons of kid-friendly shows and entertainment bound to keep your toddler’s attention!
My kids still talk about the “Barn Santa” from the Norway Pavilion!
Cater to Your Child’s Needs in the Baby Care Center
A Disney vacation doesn’t have to be go-go-go all the time. Be sure to plan some downtime and let your kids just ‘be.’
There are plenty of opportunities to run and play throughout each of the parks and in ride queues.
Within each Disney Park are Baby Care Centers as well.
Moms can change a little one’s diaper, feed or breastfeed while older siblings can sit and watch television or play.
The Baby Care Centers offers a private nursing room, restroom, high chairs, and kitchen with a microwave.
They also sell diapers and pull-ups and other baby/toddler items you might run out of during your trip.
Attend a Hard Ticket Special Event
Events like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are great options when you’ve got a toddler in tow.
These hard-ticket events take place on designated days throughout the year and require a separate ticket purchase.
You can spend a relaxing morning and early afternoon at your Walt Disney World resort before attending the party. Later in the day, head to the park to enjoy the festivities.
The ticket allows you into Magic Kingdom with a special wristband at 4 p.m. and gives access to special events and shows, free hot cocoa or cider, cookies, and various treats at locations throughout the park.
During the Halloween Party, everyone can Trick-or-Treat and dress up in their favorite costumes. This is an ideal way to spend a day in Magic Kingdom with toddlers.
We did the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party last year and regretted not doing it 2 nights because it was so much less crowded than regular park days.
Don’t Try to Do All The Things at World Disney World
In addition to ensuring downtime for your toddler, remember that it is going to be impossible to fit in every single thing on your list.
There’s so much to see and do at Disney and it’s important to realize that you won’t be able to fit everything in.
Knowing this in advance will help you have a more relaxed and enjoyable time. Make a bucket list of everything that you must do or see and stick to that as much as you can.
If you know your toddler loves Vampirina, carve out time to see Disney Junior – Live on Stage!
If you know that your top priority is a picture with Mickey and Minnie, maybe breakfast at Chef Mickey’s is your best bet.
Trying to fit in everything will just stress you out and make your Disney trip overwhelming.
You won’t be able to see and do everything. Simply do what you can and enjoy what you do get to.
There are countless books and websites devoted to theme parks with a family.
Do your research and create an itinerary based on your family’s interests. You’ll look back on your Walt Disney World vacation with fond memories.
Grumpy kids and frazzled adults do not make for a fun Disney vacation.
Stay in a Nearby Hotel
Staying at a nearby hotel when visiting Disney World with toddlers can offer several advantages such as reducing your travel time, easy access to the park, and providing a comfortable place to rest during midday breaks.
This can help parents better manage their children’s energy levels and overall experience.
Personally, I’d avoid staying near Disney Springs simply because it’s not close to any parks.
Staying at Disney Resort hotels can make your trip more convenient and offer perks like extra magic hours and transportation to the park.
As much as we all might gripe about the high costs of a Walt Disney World trip, sometimes it’s worth throwing a bit more money to alleviate stress and save you time.
This is one of those situations.
While this service was a little glitchy at the start, Genie+ has been such a lifesaver for us at Disney World parks. It’s sort of like the old FastPass system, but it costs extra.
However, I think it’s worth it because you’ll minimize your wait times which will most likely reduce toddler meltdowns.
Bring a Stroller
Disney World is a large park and toddlers can easily tire out from walking, so bringing a stroller is a good idea.
It also serves as a place to store essentials such as snacks, drinks, and diapers.
I actually recommend using a stroller until kids are 6 or 7 years old because it’s exhausting for little ones to walk that much if you’re moving at a quick pace.
If you don’t want to bring your own stroller, you can rent one at the parks or go through a private company to use it throughout your entire trip.
Disney World Park FAQs
Is Disney World suitable for a 2-year-old?
Yes, there are many attractions and activities suitable for 2-year-olds at Disney World, such as character meet-and-greets, parades, and shows, as well as rides and attractions that are gentle and appropriate for young children.
Kids ages 2 and younger are also free, which helps reduce your Walt Disney World budget.
I suggest checking the height restrictions for certain rides BEFORE you go to minimize tears at the ride entrance.
Is Disney World worth it for a 3-year-old?
Yes, Disney World can be worth it for a 3-year-old, as there are many attractions and experiences that are geared toward young children.
However, whether or not it’s worth it ultimately depends on the child’s personality and interests, as well as the family’s budget and priorities.
What part of Disney World is best for toddlers?
There are several areas in Disney World that are best for toddlers, including Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom, Pixar Place in Hollywood Studios, and the Boneyard in Animal Kingdom.
These areas have a few rides and attractions that are suitable for young children and offer plenty of interactive experiences.
What’s the best Disney World park for toddlers?
If you are only visiting Disney World for one day, I suggest going to Magic Kingdom. It has the most toddler-friendly rides out of all the Walt Disney World parks. You’ll meet classic Disney characters, see the Cinderella castle, hang out with Disney princesses, and so much more.
What are the best dining options for families with toddlers at Walt Disney World?
Walt Disney World offers a variety of dining options for families with toddlers, including character dining experiences and quick-service restaurants with kid-friendly menu options.
Some popular options for families with toddlers include Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom, and Be Our Guest in Fantasyland.
It is recommended to make advanced dining reservations in advance as these restaurants can fill up quickly. And no, the Disney dining plan isn’t a thing anymore.
What are some strategies for keeping toddlers entertained and engaged during the trip?
Bring items such as books, toys, and coloring books to keep your toddler occupied during waits and breaks. You can also download movies and shows on a tablet or phone for them to watch. These are great for waiting for food at restaurants.
There are many interactive experiences at Walt Disney World, such as character meet and greets, parades, and shows. Engage your toddler in these experiences to create magical memories.
What are the best accommodations for families with toddlers at Walt Disney World?
There are several great accommodation options for families with toddlers at Walt Disney World, including Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
These Disney World hotels offer a variety of amenities and activities tailored to families with young children, such as splash pools, playgrounds, character breakfasts, and convenient access to the theme parks.
How to Visit Disney World with a Toddler Wrap Up
Spend a little time in advance of your trip determining how you’ll navigate the waters with your toddler.
It’s possible to have a special family vacation with little to no stress if you’re prepared.
Consider doing Walt Disney World with toddlers even if you don’t think they’ll remember the trip. The experiences and photos captured will keep those memories alive for a lifetime.
I hope you love visiting Disney World as much as we do! And say hello to your favorite Disney characters for us!