Is it worth trying to do Walt Disney World with young kids? "They won't remember it, wait till they are older," people say.
I disagree. If your child can just about walk, they are old enough!
We have a 16-month-old and a 5 1/2 year-old. We just survived and thrived on a 14-day Disney World vacation . I am so glad we did it (even if it meant 2 flights totaling over 10 hours to get here!)
If you are staying "off property", i.e. not in a Disney Resort Hotel, then there are some disadvantages to overcome. However, these top tips should help you to make the best of your time in the parks! (And most are relevant for hotel guests as well)
1) Staying off property? Just pay the parking!
I hate paying $20 a day for parking. However, it is the most flexible, and you can use your ticket at any park. Having studied free ways to get to a park, it is not worth it. Price your time and stump up the cash!
2) Free ice water at every quick service location
My new discovery this year; brilliant for keeping your kids favorite cup or bottle topped up with cool water . I refuse to pay 3 dollars for bottled water! (Nowhere near as good as Scottish tap water) Iced water at Disney is perfectly drinkable. Disney doesn't advertise this, but simply queue, get a receipt and collect.
3) Baby care centers - Disney's best secret!
My favourite places in the parks; a normally quiet place to change your baby and give them a cool down. Also great facilities for private breast feeding, high chairs etc., for food you have brought, or simply chilling! Free water available also. (And supplies to buy. Hey, it's Disney, what were you expecting?)
A place to read your kids a Disney book or watch a Disney DVD, the centers are great to break up a long day in a park. Strollers need to be left outside, however, so not great for naps!
4) Get to the park for opening
It's coolest, quietest and your kids will be on their best form. Aim to arrive at the gate at least 15 minutes before official opening.
Go straight for the most popular attraction.
5) Parent swap - rider switch
Attractions where there is a height limit offer this. E.g. Soarin: My wife and daughter rode and asked for a parent swap - you get 2 people officially (though we got some passes for 3) so I was able to ride again with my daughter, going in the FastPass entry. No parent missed out and my daughter got to ride twice!
6) Have reigns or a toddler backpack with a "handle" ready at all times
This is a lifesaver for kids who want to "toddle" and escape the stroller. It will be a slow walk to an attraction but can be a good way to burn some energy prior to a sleep.
7) Buy a fan for your stroller
Mickey fans are on sale at most park entrances, and are especially good when your toddler is asleep. Designed not to harm kids' fingers when they inevitably put them through the holes.
Make sleeping more comfortable for young ones.
8) Sort your FastPasses!
Although it is harder to be spontaneous, you can book 30 days out. You can't book for more than 1 day at a time, but it is worth booking for every day.
I was not convinced when my wife and family wanted to take my 18-month-old daughter to Disney World in 2013. "She's too young, she won't remember it," I said. My mother in law replied emphatically, "But I will!"
And now I see what she meant; She was only 18 months once! (And now she has been 3 times before she is 6!)