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Disney

Guide to Walt Disney World Attractions: Height Restrictions, Fright Factor, and Motion Sickness Potential

height restrictions in disney

Wondering how tall your child needs to be to go on the rides at Walt Disney World, Florida? Here is the complete guide to height restrictions in Disney World including all 4 parks and the 2 water parks!

The good news for us Moms is, Walt created Disney World with families in mind. Even the “thrill rides” at Disney are mostly geared towards children. You won’t find the biggest or fastest roller coasters in the world here. His vision was for the whole family to enjoy the parks together. For this reason, there are plenty of attractions have no height restriction. And most of the rides with a height requirement are 40 inches or less, which means a typical 5 year old can ride all but a handful of attractions.

Height Restrictions

Here are the specifics for each park:

Magic Kingdom

height restrictions in disney
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: Somewhere in between a thrill ride and a kiddie coaster
  • Tomorrowland Speedway- must be 32″ to ride and 54″ to ride without an adult
  • Barnstormer (Great Goofini)- must be 35″ to ride
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train- 38″
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad- 40″
  • Splash Mountain- 40″
  • Stitch’s Great Escape- 40″
  • Space Mountain- 44″

Epcot

  • Test Track- 40″
  • Soarin’- 40″
  • Mission: Space (Earth/Green Edition): 40″
  • Mission: Space (Mars/Orange Edition): 44″

Hollywood Studios

  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror- 40″
  • Star Tours- 40″
  • Rockin’ Roller Coaster- 48″

Animal Kingdom

height restrictions in Disney
Nope, it’s not a zoo! Several attractions have height restrictions
  • Kali River Rapids- 38″
  • DINOSAUR-  40″
  • Avatar Flight of Passage- 44″
  • Expedition Everest- 44″
  • Primeval Whirl- 48″

Blizzard Beach

height restrictions in Disney
Don’t forget, water parks have height requirements too.
  • Chair lift- 32″ (no infants)
  • Tike’s Peak- Must be UNDER 48″ (children’s play area)
  • Downhill Double Dipper- 48″
  • Slush Gusher- 48″
  • Summit Plummet- 48″

Typhoon Lagoon

  • Ketchakiddee Creek- must be UNDER 48″ (children’s play area for ages 2-5)
  • Bay Slide- must be UNDER 60″ (children’s slide)
  • Crush n’ Gusher- 48″
  • Humunga Kowabunga- 48″

Guidelines for pregnant women

All of the rides that have a height restriction also come with warnings for expectant mothers. If an attraction doesn’t have a height restriction, anyone can ride including infants and pregnant women. Always use your best judgement and consult your doctor beforehand if you have concerns.

Fright factor

height restrictions in disney
The haunts of Disney’s Haunted Mansion may be silly to some but scary to others

The elaborate theming of Disney attractions is designed to give you an emotional reaction, and some may be scary for children. You know your child best, so use your judgement about what they might find spooky. And please, don’t be that parent who forces their child on rides when they are screaming they don’t want to go on! That’s not fun for anyone.

Magic Kingdom

  • Haunted Mansion- ghosts, ghouls and creepy music can scare children
  • Pirates of the Caribbean– pirate scenes may be frightening to some small children as well as skeletons and canons being fired
  • Splash Mountain– even if they aren’t afraid of the drop, the dark part where the animatronics get creepy might get to them
  • Space Mountain– not the most intense roller coaster, but still potentially frightening since it’s completely in the dark

Epcot

  • Mission Space- either version may induce claustrophobia
  • Spaceship Earth- this ride is slow and tame but there are prolonged periods of darkness
  • Soarin’– scary for those who are afraid of heights

Hollywood Studios

  • Fantasmic (evening show)- villains, loud noises, and special effects may frighten small children
  • Tower of Terror– creepy voice and imagery, this ride is designed to scare you
height restrictions in Disney
Hint: if it has the word “terror” in its name, it might frighten your child

Animal Kingdom

  • DINOSAUR– In-your-face angry animatronic dinosaurs are intense, as well as periods of darkness
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug– 3D movie features bugs and spiders jumping off of walls and dropping from the ceiling; can even frighten some adults
  • Kali River Rapids- some riders will get a little wet, while others will get completely dumped on with water. If your child is afraid of having water poured on their head, don’t chance it.
  • Expedition Everest– your 5 or 6 year old may be tall enough to ride, but that doesn’t mean they should! It is intense, jerky, appears as though the track has been ripped up, then goes backwards, and is centered around a scary monster (the Yeti) in the mountain.

Motion sickness potential

height restrictions in disney
The teacups: innocent kiddie ride, or your worst nightmare? Photo credit: Disneydining.com

If you or one of your kids is prone to motion sickness, look over this list and figure out which ones you’ll want to avoid. Some people are bothered by spinning, while other people can’t handle simulators or going upside down. You likely won’t need to avoid this whole list, just the ones with the type of motion that bothers you.

Magic Kingdom

  • Mad Tea Party (the Teacups)– Spinning. Lots of spinning.
  • Space Mountain-  fast roller coaster with some sharp turns
  • Dumbo, Astro Orbiter, Magic Carpets– these are all tame, but may affect those who can’t take spinning

Epcot

  • Mission Space (Mars/Orange Edition)– most notorious ride in all of WDW for inducing “protein spills”. Centrifuge ride with G forces can make people sick who aren’t normally prone to motion sickness.
  • Soarin’– gentle ride but might be problematic to those very sensitive to motion simulators

Hollywood Studios

  • Star Tours- a jerky motion simulator that makes you think you’re traveling wildly through space
  • Tower of Terror- sudden drops, free-fall sensation
  • Rock n’ Roller Coaster– high speed roller coaster with 3 inversions

Animal Kingdom

height restrictions in Disney
DINOSAUR could leave you queasy AND terrified
  • DINOSAUR- super jerky and rough with sudden stops
  • Primeval Whirl– nicknamed “Primeval Hurl” due to spinning and hairpin turns
  • Expedition Everest- high speed roller coaster which also goes backwards, leaves lots of people green
  • Flight of Passage– motion simulator with some drops

For more on Disney attractions, check out my list of 5 most underrated rides at Disney World!

5 Awesome Disney Souvenirs (and 5 Not Worth Your Money)

Disney world: it’s fun, it’s magical, and… it’s expensive! Parents save and save just to get their kids there. Then you finally set foot inside the parks, and the kids have the audacity to ask for MORE! The reason? There are fun and exciting toys and souvenirs around every corner! The kids don’t stand a chance against the genius of Disney marketing. The key is to figure out which Disney souvenirs to buy and which to skip (or buy ahead of time for a better price!)

Disney souvenirs RealMomRecs

5 Awesome Disney Souvenirs

1. Make your own light saber

A huge hit with all the Star Wars fans visiting Disney World! The price varies depending on how elaborate you want to get, with the simplest single blade design selling for about $25 and the most elaborate double blade designs (like Kylo Ren) going for around $45. There are several locations in WDW where you can make your own saber. Tatooine Traders in Hollywood Studios can be very busy since it attracts most of the Star Wars crowd, so check out Once Upon a Toy at Disney Springs for the same experience with a shorter line. Another cool option is the Build a Droid available at the same locations for about $15.

Here is a fun video showing the process:

2. Photo Autograph Book

This is an easy and inexpensive way to capture the memories of meeting Disney characters. Instead of just getting the basic autograph book for characters to sign, buy one with slots to put photographs in. Then when you meet a character, snap a photo of the kids (or yourself, who am I to judge?) with the characters to put in the book alongside the autograph. We actually filled two books with all the characters we met on our last trip, so we did one for just princesses and one with all other characters.

Disney souvenirs autograph bookDisney souvenirs princess autographs
Disney souvenirs photo autograph bookDisney souvenirs photo autograph book

My kids ADORE looking through these! It helps to preserve their memories of the trip too. (Have I ever mentioned how I can’t stand it when people say not to take young kids to Disney World because they won’t remember it?)

3. Silhouettes

Ok this one isn’t exactly the most Disney-esque of all Disney souvenirs, but it is probably the best bargain around for a truly lovely keepsake. For only $10 per person you get TWO portrait silhouettes (the way they are cut leaves you with two copies, one facing left and one facing right). They are done extremely quickly! We were in awe watching the process, and even our toddler was able to sit long enough to get hers done. It was shocking to me how wonderful they came out. They captured our children’s profile at that age perfectly. I absolutely cherish these silhouettes!

The carts selling silhouettes are stationed in several locations throughout WDW. We did ours in Liberty Square because we weren’t able to find the one on Main Street near Town Square (maybe the artist was missing that day?). You can also get them done in Disney Springs and sometimes in the France pavilion at Epcot.

Disney Souvenirs Silhouettes
Silhouette Cart in Magic Kingdom (photo credit: touringplans.com)

HOT TIP ALERT! Learn from my mistake and make sure to bring cash or credit card with you when you get these done! We are so accustomed to just putting all expenses on our Magic Bands when we’re in WDW that we don’t even bring a wallet to the parks. But the silhouette makers are considered independent contractors and can not accept Magic Bands! I almost had to run all the way back to our hotel to get money after we had ours made, but luckily I was able to recite my credit card number for memory and they ran the transaction by typing it in.

My husband was a little alarmed by my ability to recite my entire credit card number, but that’s another story for another day 😜

4. Personalized Mickey Ears

The most classic of all Disney Souvenirs has got to be the Mickey Mouse ear hat. Go with the classic or pick your favorite character: Buzz Lightyear, Piglet, R2-D2, and tons more. They have sparkly Minnie Mouse ears attached to a headband, an ear hat with a bride’s vail attached, and even light up ears that change color to the beat of the fireworks music. Prices range from $15-$25 depending on the style you choose.

Disney Souvenirs Mickey Ear Hats

While these may not be the most practical choice for theme park attire, there is just something special about a kid wearing them on their first trip to Walt Disney World. And it makes for all kinds of iconic photo ops.

One way to make these extra special is to have them embroidered with your child’s name on the back. Choose your font and stiching color, and within the hour your Mickey ears will have their owner’s name on them for only $3. You can also add two lines of text for $7.

Disney souvenirs embroidered Mickey ear hat

You can get your Mickey ear hat embroidered at The Chapeau on Main Street of Magic Kingdom or at Disney’s Wonderful World of Memories in Disney Springs. If you want to order them ahead of time for your trip, you can order them through Disney Floral and Gifts.

5. Pressed Pennies

All over the parks, restaurants, and Disney hotels you will see pressed penny machines. Normally this is the kind of thing I try to steer clear of, but when traveling to Disney World with small children it’s one of those tools to keep in your arsenal. When there is downtime, things like this are a great distraction for kids and they get SUPER excited about it.

Here is the book we use to store them in:

Disney souvenirs pressed penny book

They love going back and inspecting each one to see the different characters and rides on them.

Disney Souvenirs pressed pennies

5 Disney Souvenirs Not Worth Your Money

1. Mickey balloon

I feel like such a Disney grinch saying this, but I just can’t bring myself to spend $12 on a souvenir that won’t even survive the duration of the trip. While they will delight your kids for a moment, they will likely drift into the sky minutes later causing a flood of tears. Best case scenario, they end up tied to a stroller that gets parked somewhere for the day while you go on rides.

Disney souvenirs Mickey balloon

HOT TIP ALERT! If you are staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, they do not allow balloons of any kind on the premises. They are hazardous to the animals on property. Avoid disappointment if you are staying there and don’t try to bring one back to your room!

2. Princess dolls

For the 12 inch (Barbie size) Disney Princess dolls, buying in the parks will cost you around $20. The same dolls are sold at any Disney Store nation wide for $10 when you buy two or more. Delight your kids by taking that same $20 and buying two at home before you leave for your trip and surprise them when you get there 😃

Disney souvenirs princess dolls

3. Princess dress up dresses

One thing every little girl wants to do in Disney World is Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Girls get princess makeovers with hair, nails, and shimmering makeup by cast members called “Fairy Godmothers-In-Training”. The basic package costs a hefty $65 for the experience lasting 30 minutes to an hour. If you want the package that includes a new princess dress, it will set you back $200!

Disney souvenirs BBB
Photo credit: disneyworld.disney.go.com

My advice would be to buy a dress elsewhere and stick to the basic package. Disney store, JCPenney, Amazon, Etsy, etc all have similar dresses. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a special experience due to the interaction with cast members and feeling of being pampered. It really doesn’t matter much where the dress comes from.

FYI: Without considering BBB, just to buy the dress alone that they sell in the parks goes for $70. This dress is considered “deluxe” meaning it is a bit more ornate than the regular Disney store dresses. But I truly don’t think most kids would notice the difference between that and the $45 Disney store dress that is still shiny, sequined, and has the Disney label.

4. Light up Toys

When the sun goes down in Walt Disney World, the light up toys come out. Glowing swords, necklaces, spin toys, etc are everywhere you look. Of course every kid will want one and of course they are way overpriced. I have fallen for this one before but then I got smart and came equipped with this:

Disney souvenirs light up toy

Light Up Galaxy Spinner with Flashing LED Lights

The kids were enthralled and I spent $7 on it. WIN!

Amazon also has a light up princess wand that would do the trick:


Light Up Princess Wand

Then when it breaks or gets lost in an hour, it doesn’t ruin your night 👍

5. Large stuffed animals

Please try to talk your kids out of buying a big stuffed animal in Disney World. First of all, you can get them anywhere. Choose a souvenir that is more unique to the Disney parks. Secondly, what are you going to do with the thing while you walk around the park and go on rides all day??? Yes, Disney has thought of everything so they do offer the service of holding it for you or sending it back to your room. BUT, how many kids are going to be ok with shipping off the giant Mickey they just talked you into buying? Then you know who is going to end up carrying it around… MOM!

Disney Souvenirs stuffed animals
Don’t be stuck carrying these guys around

What are some of YOUR favorite Disney souvenirs?

5 Most Underrated Attractions at Walt Disney World

5 Most Underrated Attractions at Walt Disney World

If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, chances are you’re planning on riding the biggest, fastest, newest, and most popular attractions. While some of these are spectacular, there are also some underrated attractions you probably overlooked in your guide book. Whether not as new or not as thrilling, these are still fantastic attractions you don’t want to miss! (Bonus: These underrated Disney attractions will have shorter lines!)

1. The Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover (Magic Kingdom)

Peoplemover Disneyworld
Photo Credit: wdwinfo.com

Where to find it: Walk down Main Street USA and take a right when you get to the hub. This is the entrance to Tomorrowland. Continue straight and go just past Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, but not as far as Space Mountain. You will see escalators going up, and this is the entrance to the Peoplemover.

Why we love it: Walt created this to the be mass transit system of the future, hence the name “Peoplemover”. In reality it isn’t used to get anywhere because it just goes around in a loop. But the Peoplemover is one of my favorite rides in all of Disney World, and here’s why:

  • The whole family can ride together. We can fit all 5 of us in one section comfortably. Considering most rides we needed to break up into 2 and 3 (and with 3 people being squished), it was really nice to all be together.
  • It is 10 minutes long. Perfect for when you have a little extra time to kill before a FastPass or dining reservation.
  • You can rest comfortably. Everyone lets out a nice “Ahhh” when sitting down in the comfortable seat. It’s totally relaxing with the breeze hitting you as you spin around Tomorrowland. Your feet will appreciate a break from all the walking too.
  • It has some cool history. This ride has been around since 1975 and was the brainchild of Walt Disney himself.
  • The views of Tomorrowland are really cool! You can usually see characters like Buzz Lightyear signing autographs below, you ride right over the cars of the Tomorrowland Speedway, and best of all: riding through the building that houses Space Mountain.
  • No wait! The Peoplemover runs continuously and people just get on and off. I have never seen a line here at all, which is pretty huge for Magic Kingdom! They will even let you stay on and ride again after the loop is complete. My two year old and I once rode 3 loops back to back without getting off while my husband and 2 older kids went on Space Mountain.
  • Toddlers will love it. My 2 year old absolutely adored this ride. With a short stretch in the dark and a couple gentle turns, it was just fun enough for her. She loved looking at all the sites going by. Just look at her joy in this shot I got:

Tomorrowland Transit Authority people mover

For more tips on surviving Disney World with a toddler, don’t miss this post!

2. Kali River Rapids (Animal Kingdom)

Kali River Rapids Animal Kingdom
Photo credit: disneydaybyday.com

Where to find it: Enter Animal Kingdom and go straight. Veer right at the Tree of Life and follow signs for Asia. When you get to Asia you will hit Yak and Yeti and Kali River Rapids is tucked around the corner. (Sidenote: am I the only one who finds Animal Kingdom confusing to navigate even with the plethora of signage???)

Why we love it: This ride gets NO love on popular Disney forums and I can not figure out why! It has been the highlight of Animal Kingdom for me on each of my trips there. A great hybrid of thrilling and family-friendly, this attraction has a 38 inch height restriction, so an average sized 4 year old can ride.

In addition to the excitement of bobbing down the “river” (which does have one pretty thrilling drop), there is also a thrill in how wet you might get. It is a bit like Russian roulette because of the 12 riders in each boat, ten will get a little bit splashed and two will come out completely soaked like they showered with their clothes on. As the sign says upon entering: “You will get wet. You might get soaked.”

If getting wet is a great concern for you, just pack a change of clothes in a backpack and enjoy this ride!

3. The Great Goofini’s Barnstormer (Magic Kingdom)

Barnstormer Disney
Photo credit: disneyworld.disney.go.com

Where to find it: In the New Fantasyland section of Magic Kingdom. It’s tucked in the back corner of the Storybook Circus area where you’d never see it unless you were looking for it. Look for a small roller coaster where the car looks like a little airplane. Casey Junior Splash n Soak station is directly across from it which is great for toddlers who are overheating or just need to hop out of the stroller and burn some energy.

Why we love it: Known as a “junior roller coaster”, this short and sweet coaster is great for many reasons. The height restriction is only 35 inches, meaning a typical 3 year old and even some tall 2 year olds can ride. This makes it a great consolation prize for the little ones who can’t ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (40 inch height restriction) or 7 Dwarfs Mine Train (38 inch height restriction).

Barnstormer is also great because it can be a “test coaster” to see how small children react to thrill rides. While it is a kiddie coaster, it does have some speed. If your child has never been on a roller coaster before, this is a great one to start them out on and see if they will be able to handle the bigger, faster rides. It’s also super short, about 1 minute long, so if your child panics at least it will be over with soon.

My son who was too afraid to go on Mine Train absolutely loved Barnstormer! And with the short line, he was able to ride it several times with only a few minutes of waiting in between.

4. Living with the Land (Epcot)

Epcot the Land Pavilion Living with the Land
Photo credit: allears.net

Where to find it: Go straight through the entrance and veer right at Spaceship Earth (the giant silver golfball looking thing, or as my kids call it “The Epcot Ball”). Take a right into Future World West and follow signs for “The Land”. Once inside the land pavilion, don’t follow the herd that’s running to Soarin’. Instead head to the right and you’ll see the entrance to Living with the Land.

Why we love it: This gentle, 14-minute long boat ride is both educational and fun. A nice break from the hustle-and-bustle, this attraction focuses on farming and sustainability rather than characters and movies. Glide along through four greenhouses and an aquacell. Don’t worry, the voiceover isn’t too dry! Disney is even able to make crops interesting for kids. Mine loved seeing pumpkins and tomatoes grown in the shape of Mickey’s head and inspecting the huge tanks of strange-looking fish. The adults marveled over the “Creative House” section which shows how to grow crops in different ways including hanging in the air and with no soil.

Living with the land Epcot Disney world
Photo credit: bestoforlando.com

Overall, just one those really neat, engaging, underrated Disney attractions.

5. Mickey’s PhilharMagic (Magic Kingdom)

Mickey's Philharmagic Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom
Photo credit: disneyphotoblog.wordpress.com

Where to find it: Go straight down Main Street and through the castle. When you hit the carousel, turn to your left and you’ll be looking at Mickey’s PhilharMagic.

Why we love it: When you hear “animated 3-D movie”, you might think this attraction is skippable. Don’t make that mistake! It is a delight for the whole family (and yes, I even enjoyed it during my adults-only Disney trips). My kids always want to see it several times each trip and I’m happy to oblige.

The show is funny, fast-paced, and incorporates sights, sounds, and smells. With your 3-D glasses you really feel like you’re in the center of the action. You might even get water spritzed on you as part of the show.

Similar to the Peoplemover, Philharmagic is a fantastic way to escape the heat and rest your legs. You also shouldn’t have much of a wait. At 15 minutes long, even if you enter the waiting area when a show has just started, you won’t have to wait too long for the next one.

Mickeys Philharmagic
Photo credit: disneyworld.disney.go.com

Make sure to add these 5 underrated Disney attractions to your touring plan, and come back here and tell us what you think!

 

For more help with planning your Disney vacation, check out my 7 most useful websites for planning.

7 Best Resources for Planning your Disney vacation

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World?  Want to maximize your magic but feeling lost with all the details that go into it? Here are the most useful sites to help you every step of the way!

Best site for when to go: Yourfirstvisit.net

Yourfirstvisit.net has an awesome crowd calendar that takes all 52 weeks of the year and rates them on a easy-to-read chart based on whether crowds will be low, moderate, or high (and varying degrees in between).  Thinking of going the week of Easter or Christmas?  This handy tool lets you see right away that those weeks rate an 11 on the 1-10 crowd calendar scale.  Yikes!

Best site for where to stay: wdwinfo.com

This site, also home to the popular Disney discussion boards called “DISboards”, gives detailed descriptions of every Disney-owned resorts as well as off-site Orlando hotels.  Each hotel listed has tons of photos including a walking tour, food pics, amenities, resort maps, room categories, and more.  Seriously everything you could want to know about your Disney resort is easily found here.  I also recommend jumping over to those discussion forums where thousands of Disney fans are there to answer any question you could come up with.

For families of more than 4, your options of Disney resorts is somewhat limited.  Definitely check out yourfirstvisit.net, specifically this guide to beds and # of sleep spaces.  All your options for larger families are outlined here, complete with floor plans so you can perfectly plan who will sleep where.  Little Susie will thank you when she doesn’t end up having to share a bed with Grandma!

Best site for budgeting tips: Mousesavers

Looking for Disney discounts and deals?  (Who isn’t?)  Saving money on your trip is no easy feat but Mousesavers has truly thought of everything.  In addition to the big ones like park tickets and resort discounts, they also have deals on things like stroller rental, grocery delivery, car rental, and trip insurance.  Every little bit of savings can get you closer to your dream vacation.

Best site for all things characters: Kenny the Pirate  

 Do not underestimate how much joy your children will get out of meeting their favorite characters face to face!  Kenny the Pirate is the guru of Disney characters.  Check out his blog, follow him on facebook, or download his Character Locator app to find everything you need to know about where to find your kid’s favorites, what their meet schedules are, and how to minimize time waiting in line for your meet and greet.

Meeting characters was a major highlight for my kids on our Disney trip. And don’t forget to pack costumes!

 

Best site for Fastpass+ info: Touringplans.com

 Touringplans.com is a mecca for tons of detailed info for your Disney trip, however they do charge a subscription fee for some of the most useful components, like the crowd predictor and customized touring plans.  Without a subscription however, you still have access to tons of useful information about Fastpass+ and the best way to use it.  Instructions on how to book them, how to get more than 3 per day, and which attractions are your best use of Fastpass are all there to help you spend more time riding and less time waiting.

Best site for where to eat: AllEars.net

Allears.net has a comprehensive dining section complete with menus and reviews for EVERY restaurant in all of Walt Disney World and the resorts!  You can easily find a list of restaurants in each location and compare them by average rating and price point.  Have kids with food allergies?  Be sure to check out the section “Special Dietary Needs” for the answers to all your questions.

Best site to sum it all upEasyWDW

EasyWDW has a fantastic summary of each park that can help make your day there easy breezy.  If you do nothing else, check out these cheat sheets for each park.  They have a map that allows you to get your “lay of the land” with restrooms, restaurants, rides, shows, and snack locations.  They outline what order is best to hit attractions in with the best way to maximize your Fastpasses.  There are various plans for how to attack your day, whether you are doing a full day, half day, arriving late, etc.  Wondering how long the line for an attraction will likely be at a certain time of day?  There are charts for that included.

These sites helped our family have an amazing and stress-free first trip to Walt Disney World (yes, even with a toddler)!  What are some of your most useful Disney planning sites?  Drop a comment!

How to survive a day at Disney World with a Toddler

A day at Disney with a toddler CAN be fun! No, really!

1. Get there early.

Like, before the park opens early.  Not only will you beat the heat, you will also beat the crowds.  The first hour the park is open is by far the least crowded hour of the day.  Hit as many attractions as you can during this critical time.  That way when your little one has a meltdown at 11am, you’ve already done enough that you don’t feel bad about hitting that bus back to the hotel.

2. Do NOT neglect the nap.

A day at Disney is enough to exhaust grown adults and completely overwhelm a small child.  Don’t expect a stroller nap to happen, and even if it does happen it probably won’t be enough to recharge the little one.  Go back to the hotel for a nap and a swim, you will be thankful you did.

3. Come prepared.

Make sure you have a “bag of tricks” prepared to help you get through the inevitable waiting periods you’ll encounter while in line or waiting for a parade, etc.  A container of bubbles, some dollar store toys, stickers, snacks, or treats will go a long way to avoid a meltdown if you feel one brewing.

For some great lesser-known rides toddlers will love, check out my list of the 5 Most Underrated Attractions in Disney World

4. Allow magical moments to happen.

You’ve put in your research and come armed with an optimized touring plan to get the most out of your day at the parks.  That is a great strategy and I wholeheartedly recommend it.  But if your toddler decides a spin on the merry go round, stopping to get a balloon, or frolicking around a fountain is their heart’s greatest wish, don’t refuse them that just to rush to your next stop.  Leave time to let magic happen naturally.

The characters are FANTASTIC at interacting with little ones

5. An overheated toddler is a cranky toddler.

Avoid visiting Florida during the summer months if at all possible.

If going to Disney during the months of May-September (when the sun beating off the pavement can make you feel like you’re literally going to get cooked and served up for some giant’s next meal) is your ONLY option, you need to be smart about it.

Restrict your time in the parks to morning and after sundown, taking pool and nap breaks in the afternoon sun.  Rent a stroller and keep the little ones well shaded.

I also recommend bringing misters like these that also have a fan built in.  My kids used theirs constantly when we had a day at Magic Kingdom where temps reached over 100.

Also, don’t forget about the water parks!  My kids absolutely loved their day at Blizzard Beach- JUST as much as they enjoyed the regular parks.  There is a great area just for little ones called Tike’s Peak where my two year old spent most of her time while the older kids went off to more thrilling slides.

Should I just wait until my child is older?

If you’re thinking about taking your toddler to Disney World, just go for it!  People love to tell you to wait until some perfect age to take your child.  In my experience, there is something magical about every age.  Our 2 year old loved Mickey Mouse clubhouse and Frozen went we brought her.  Seeing her face when she met these characters for the first time was PRICELESS.

Elle in awe of seeing her favorite princesses from Frozen

BONUS:  Kids under 3 do not pay for tickets!  This is a huge savings that you should take advantage of.  Even if your child turns 3 during your trip, the entire trip that child is FREE.

With a little advanced planning and following these tips, you can avoid meltdowns and increase the magic of Disney with your little one.

Add a comment!  What are some of your tips for taking your toddler to Disney World?  If you haven’t done it yet, what are some of your concerns?