While planning a trip to Walt Disney World with children in tow can be super exciting, some parents can find the task daunting and might even wonder if bringing young kids could wind up being more of a hassle than anything. Many folks even wonder if bringing kids under the age of three is even worth it because “they won’t remember it anyway.”
Today, I thought I’d share my top six tips for vacationing at Walt Disney World with kids. These tips can be applied to children of all ages and of course, you can adapt them to what works best for your family.
The first tip I want to start out with is to use a service such as Amazon or Instacart to deliver bulky items you’re going to need during your trip instead of trying to pack and schlep them with you. For anyone who has kids, you already know that going somewhere, anywhere really, means hauling all kinds of things with you for the kiddo. Going through an airport with kids in tow is hard enough as it is, but to add extra luggage containing items you could have shipped instead might not be the best plan ever. Typically, a Disney Resort hotel will charge a fee to hold any items you have shipped, but the minor fee can be incidental compared to the hassle of carrying it. I personally recommend shipping things like diapers, wipes, swim diapers, cans of formula, and cases of water bottles.
My next tip is to bring your own snacks. Kids like what they like and familiarity is a big deal when you’re traveling. While there are tons of snacks available all over the Walt Disney World Resort, they might not be what they’re used to and proactively avoiding meltdowns is the only way to go. You know your kids best, but if you’re not certain that Mickey-shaped cheese crackers are not going to cut it over the fish-shaped ones, I wouldn’t risk it.
If your kids are looking forward to meeting some of the Disney characters during your vacation, consider a character meal instead of waiting in the individual lines at the theme parks. Time is money when you’re on vacation and waiting in lines is one of the most time-consuming parts of any trip to Walt Disney World – likely only second to transportation. Making FastPass+ selections for character meet and greets can definitely help, but guests who have character dining reservations can meet several characters during their meal – basically killing two birds with one stone. If you’re looking for a less-expensive option, try opting for breakfast as opposed to lunch or dinner where the prices are higher. There are many options to choose from, too, so do a little research on which character meals might be best for your family.
Next, I want to talk about YOUR fun. Don’t feel like you can’t ride some of your favorite attractions just because your kids are too small or they don’t want to ride them. Disney has this great service called Rider Switch and while it’s not available for every single attraction, you’ll find that it is available for most of them. Just get in line with your child and let the first cast member you see know that you’d like to use the Rider Switch option. They will scan your MagicBands or park tickets and assign a one-hour Rider Switch time that will allow the person who stays with the child while the first parent rides, to get on the attraction with little or no wait once the first parent finishes riding. The cool part about this is that you are typically allowed to bring one person with you when you ride so it can work really well for those with another adult or child who wants to ride and meets the height requirement.
To go along with the whole avoiding meltdowns bit I mentioned above, another recommendation I have is to pack a complete change of clothes in your day bag for your kids. One of my fondest memories of my toddler’s first trip to Disneyland was letting her have a whole Mickey Bar to herself. She was in her little glory and it was so much fun to watch! Having a change of clothes was of the utmost importance to have been able to do this. Disney also tempts kids with their awesome splash zones that can typically be found in every theme park and children will no doubt have a hissy fit if you tell them they can’t get wet. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a parent who gives in to anything my kid wants simply because they throw a fit, but I choose my battles carefully and prepare for things so I’m not put in a predicament. Those splash pads are a lot of fun and kids can get all their wiggles out too.
Lastly, but certainly an important one on my list is to take advantage of utilizing the Baby Care Centers that are located in each theme park. Don’t be confused by the word “baby” in their name either; these fabulous respites are available for all guests with kids of all ages who need to take a break. There are comfortable rocking chairs for nursing, changing tables, and even a TV with Disney movies playing for the older kids. Additionally, there are jars of baby food, cans of formula, diapers, and wipes among other things for sale in case you find that you’ve run out of one of the necessities while you’re out. The cast members are incredibly helpful with anything you might need while you’re there, so don’t hesitate to ask.
There are many more tips I could share, but I’ve decided to stop at just six today. What are your tips for vacationing at a Disney theme park with kids? Share them with us in the comments!
Senior Editor for the DIS and DCL Fan | Disney Vacation Club Member | Thrilled to have been a '13/'14 Disney Parks Moms Panelist (now planDisney) | Lover of all things Disney; the Magic of Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disney Cruise Line | ºoº