A toddler-centered Disney World trip plan

by Shannon Albert · 70 comments · Like the Facebook page

(Article last updated: September 1, 2014)

A toddler centered Disney World trip plan from WDWPrepSchool.comOne of my favorite things that I’ve ever done was have a Disney World trip focused entirely on my (then) toddler son.

One of the luxuries of taking multiple trips is knowing that even though I didn’t get to ride Tower of Terror one trip, I’d be back and get to ride it someday.

Toddler son grew up and now rides all of the same rides that we do and enjoys the more mature attractions like The Hall of Presidents and the various movies in the World Showcase.

And I’m so grateful now for the times I let him do toddler things because those days come and go so quickly.

Here’s how to have a Disney World trip focused on your toddler.

Before you leave on your trip

When to tell them?
While you’re waiting for your trip to begin, it’s good to get your toddler involved so they can get excited and know what to expect.

One dilemma for parents of little ones is knowing how far ahead to tell them because every day could become “when are we leaving? are we leaving now? how about now?”

When my son was little, I opted to talk about Disney World (the rides, the hotels, etc.) but without telling him a trip was planned. That way he knew what Disney World was and what you can do there but couldn’t nag daily about if it was time to go yet.

You could decide to tell your child just before the trip begins and use a countdown to count down the final days before your trip.

Here are some ideas I’ve found on Pinterest:

Follow Shannon, WDW Prep School’s board Counting down to Disney World trips on Pinterest.

 What to watch
There are a lot of things you can watch to get your toddler prepped and excited.

  • Order and/or watch the free Disney planning video online
  • Watch ride/attraction videos on YouTube (each of my park guides includes videos of each attraction)
  • Disney World-related videos on Netflix (many of the videos available on Netflix sell for over $20 when you buy the DVDs)
  • The Destination America channel has several Disney theme park shows and AT&T Uverse channels 87 and 1087 do as well

What to read
A toddler centered Disney World trip plan from WDWPrepSchool.comAlthough toddlers can’t read yet, I recommend the Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World for Kids book for all ages. It has big pictures and ratings by kids to give you an idea about what kids will like.

Toddler-friendly trip itinerary
I like having trip itineraries for all kids so they know what to expect. For little ones, that means using more pictures than words to show the daily plans. Check out my itinerary templates which include pics (especially the second one which might be easier for a toddler to understand).

Where to stay

When choosing an on-site hotel that your toddler will love, I’d recommend looking in the Value and Deluxe categories. Moderate theming is just not super toddler-friendly.

For Values, I’d recommend Pop Century or Art of Animation. Art of Animation is especially fun (and maybe worth the extra $$$ compared to other value resorts) if your toddler happens to be really into Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King or Little Mermaid.

A toddler centered Disney World trip plan from WDWPrepSchool.com
Cars section of Art of Animation
As a bonus, most of the rooms at Art of Animation (all of them except for the Little Mermaid rooms) are suites, allowing you to have separate rooms, 2 bathrooms and a kitchenette which could be really handy (and the suites allow up to 6 people – a rarity when staying on-site).

For Deluxes, you can’t beat The Polynesian with toddlers due to the location. It’s super easy to catch the monorail right at the hotel to Magic Kingdom, just a short walk to the monorail to Epcot, in a location to view Magic Kingdom fireworks from your hotel and has on-site child care for ages 3-12.

A toddler centered Disney World trip plan from WDWPrepSchool.com

Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge are 2 other good options in the Deluxe category, especially if the animal/nature theming is more appealing to your family.

General park touring advice

Before I get into the specifics of each park, I wanted to talk about some general park touring advice first.

How many days to spend in each park?
A toddler centered Disney World trip plan from WDWPrepSchool.comStep 3 in my 6-step process is to make a daily plan. That includes deciding how many days to spend in each park.

It’s really hard to tell people how they should spend their days but I’m going to give you my advice and you can adjust based on your family.

For people who want a toddler-focused trip, this is how I suggest splitting up your days.

  • For a 3 day trip, do 2 days at Magic Kingdom and then either Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom.
  • For a 4 day trip, do 2 days at Magic Kingdom, 1 day at Hollywood Studios and 1 day at Animal Kingdom.
  • For a 5 day trip, do 2 days at Magic Kingdom, 1 day at Hollywood Studios, 1 day at Animal Kingdom and 1 day at Epcot.
  • For a 6+ day trip, do the same as a 5 day trip but with a break day (or days) in the middle to rest at the hotel, visit Downtown Disney, swim, etc.

What to do about strollers?
Your toddler may not use a stroller any more but they will very, very likely need one at Disney World (unless they’re ultra toddler marathoners who can go 50 miles a week). Be sure to read my comparison of stroller options to decide how you want to handle them for your trip.

What height requirements affect toddlers?
Since this trip plan is focused on little ones, I won’t be recommending any of the thriller rides which have most of the height requirements. However, there are a few of the non-thrillers that have height requirements and I’ve indicated those below within my discussion of each park.

How do I discipline while at Disney World?
Ahhh, that nasty subject that comes up a lot with toddlers. Believe it or not, they will not magically be perfectly behaved at Disney World so you’ll need to plan ahead.

  • Prevention is sooo important. Don’t overdo it, make sure they are fed, allow everybody enough time to sleep, try to limit lines as much possible, use sunscreen, etc., etc.
  • Leave if necessary. I was always willing to remove my kids from a location if they were acting up.

    Screaming at the grocery store? We’ll leave the cart and go home.

    Crying at a restaurant? We’ll get up from the table and head out.

    (We’ve done both of those things.)

    But at Disney World…notsomuch. It’s difficult to leave a park and get back to your hotel room. It often takes an hour and includes a lot of waiting. That’s really hard to do with a toddler in meltdown mode.

    Instead, you might want to consider “leaving” in a different way – leave the line you’re in (or the gift shop you’re shopping at or whatever it is) and head somewhere more private for a little downtime.

    You can head to a restroom but you can also find a baby care center which can be a great option because they are clean, air conditioned, have some seating, private rooms, sink, microwave and changing tables.

  • A toddler centered Disney World trip plan from WDWPrepSchool.com
    Baby Care Center at Magic Kingdom
  • Use positive reinforcement. Using rules attached to positive things like Tinker Bell gifts or an afternoon treat can often work the best.

Let them lead (kinda)
Although this site is all about planning, it’s really important to be flexible. Your toddler wants to ride Buzz Lightyear over and over again? Do it!

Have a tot that really likes parades? See them all!

That’s the benefit of having a trip focused around them: you can do the things they like to do.

Using FastPass+ with toddlers
I’ve included touring plans for each of the parks below which include the use of FastPass+. The FastPass+ system is a bit of a challenge for people with toddlers because it’s hard to know what they will want to do before your trip. The plans below include all of the attractions that I think most toddlers will enjoy, as well as suggestions for which FastPass+ reservations to get.

For parents who want to ride bigger rides
Although each of the touring plans is focused on doing just things that toddlers would like to do, adults may still want to enjoy some of the bigger rides as well. Disney provides a perk called Rider Switch which allows adults to take turns riding which can help you do that.

For incorporating characters into your touring, be sure to check out KennythePirate.com (and I’d suggest paying for his app so you have current character times to use during your trip).

Magic Kingdom

A toddler centered Disney World trip plan from WDWPrepSchool.comMagic Kingdom is tot mecca! So much for them to do and this is the perfect age to do it.

Note: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain and Space Mountain all have height requirements of 40-44″ so they aren’t included here. If you want to ride those, get FastPass+ reservations for those ahead of time.

Get FastPass+ reservations ahead of time for Enchanted Tales with Belle, Peter Pan and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

  • Arrive at Magic Kingdom about 30 minutes before the park opens
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (38″ height requirement)
  • Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • It’s a Small World
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Lunch (Quick Service suggestion: Columbia Harbour House or Be Our Guest – but arrive by 10:30 to avoid lines at Be Our Guest or use a FP+ for lunch there)
  • Rest of the day:
    Use FP+ for Peter Pan (suggested FP+ time: early afternoon)
    Use FP+ for Enchanted Tales with Belle (suggested FP+ time: early afternoon)
    Use FP+ for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (suggested FP+ time: afternoon)
    Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
    Carousel of Progress
    Mad Tea Party
    Tomorrowland Transit Authority


A toddler centered Disney World trip plan from WDWPrepSchool.comIt pains me to say this, but Epcot is the least toddler-friendly of all of the parks. It happens to be our family’s favorite park now, but it wasn’t as fun with younger kids.

The 2 main attractions here – Soarin’ and Test Track – both have 40″ height requirements and they’re fairly mild and non-scary (as long as your child can handle a car traveling at a high speed for a lap around the track on Test Track). If your child is at least 40″, I would suggest including Soarin’ and Test Track but maybe skip Mission: Space (which has height requirement of 44″ and could scare some kids).

If your child is under 40″, follow a touring plan like the one below.

There isn’t a big need to show up early here if you’re just doing the things listed on the touring plan below (especially if visiting during a less busy time of year) so you could use this as a late arrival day if you’re touring with little ones. The earlier you show up, the easier everything is, but it’s not super important in this case. I’ll assume a park opening arrival for this plan but feel free to adjust as necessary.

Get FastPass+ reservations ahead of time for Turtle Talk with Crush and Spaceship Earth (during less busy times, you will likely not need any of those and could tour Epcot with a little one without any FastPass+ reservations).

  • Visit Character Spot if interested in characters
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends
  • Explore The Seas pavilion
  • Use FP+ for Turtle Talk with Crush – may not be needed (suggested FP+ time: the first hour you’re at Epcot)
  • Living with the Land
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
  • Taste sodas from around the world at Club Cool
  • Explore Innoventions East and West
  • Lunch (Quick Service suggestion: Sunshine Seasons)
  • Rest of the day:
    Gran Fiesta Tour
    Use FP+ for Spaceship Earth – may not be needed (suggested FP+ time: any time in the afternoon or evening)
    Ellen’s Universe of Energy (takes 45 minutes)
    Explore the World Showcase
    Illuminations (night show)
  • Hollywood Studios

    A toddler centered Disney World trip plan from WDWPrepSchool.comHollywood Studios is the hardest park to plan because of all of the show times but it does have a lot of toddler-friendly things to do.

    Note: Rock N Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror are way too scary or have too high of a height requirement for little ones so they aren’t included here. If you’re interested in doing those, do them right after Toy Story Mania and then continue with the rest of the plan.

    Get FastPass+ reservations ahead of time for Toy Story Mania, Star Tours (40″ height requirement) and The Great Movie Ride (Great Movie Ride has a shooting scene in the middle which scares some little ones but if you tell little ones ahead of time, I think they’ll be able to handle it).

    • Arrive by 8:30 so you can be toward the front of the line when the park opens
    • Ride Toy Story Mania without FP+
    • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
    • Disney Junior – Live on Stage
    • Use FP+ to ride Toy Story Mania again (suggested FP+ time: 10:00-11:00)
    • MuppetVision
    • Lunch (Quick Service suggestion: ABC Commissary)
    • Use FP+ for Star Tours (suggested FP+ time: 11:45-12:45)
    • Rest of the day:
      Use FP+ for The Great Movie Ride
      Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
      Lights, Motors, Action
      Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular

    Be sure to check WDWent.com for all of the show times for your trip so you can fit all of the shows into your schedule.

    Animal Kingdom

    A toddler centered Disney World trip plan from WDWPrepSchool.comAnimal Kingdom is usually a short day and since you can eliminate many rides when touring with toddlers (Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, Dinosaur and Primeval Whirl), you can expect the day to be fairly short.

    Get FastPass+ reservations ahead of time for Kilimanjaro Safaris, Festival of the Lion King (allows you to get inside the theater before people in the standby line and choose one of the front seats which are the best view), Kali River Rapids (38″ height requirement).

    • Ride Triceratop Spin (multiple times, if you like)
    • Visit the Boneyard (may not open until 30 minutes after the park opens)
    • Use FP+ for Kali River Rapids – if standby is short, skip the FP+ line and just ride standby (suggested FP+ time: 9:15-10:15)
    • Flights of Wonder
    • Use FP+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris (suggested FP+ time: 10:30-11:30)
    • Take Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch for the petting zoo and animal exhibits
    • Have lunch (Quick Service suggestion: Pizzafari or Restaurantosaurus)
    • Rest of the day:
      Use FP+ for Festival of the Lion King (suggested FP+ time: early afternoon)
      Finding Nemo – The Musical
      Flights of Wonder
      Maharajah Jungle Trek
      Pangani Forest Exploration Trail


    A toddler centered Disney World trip plan from WDWPrepSchool.comI’ve already mentioned dining suggestions for dining in the parks. Here are some other suggestions for places to eat at Disney World outside the parks:

    • Chef Mickey’s - located in The Contemporary, this buffet character meal is just pure fun. The fact that you get there by monorail makes it even better.
    • Beaches and Cream Soda Shop - located in The Beach Club, just outside the International Gateway entrance/exit at Epcot, this place offers cheeseburgers and ice cream, always a hit with little ones.
    • Whispering Canyon Cafe is located at The Wilderness Lodge and serves down-home style food and a rowdy atmosphere. Ask for some ketchup and see what happens!
    • The T-Rex Cafe Restaurant is located in Downtown Disney and is perfect for a dinosaur-loving tot.

    A toddler centered Disney World trip plan from WDWPrepSchool.comA toddler centered Disney World trip plan from WDWPrepSchool.comA toddler centered Disney World trip plan from WDWPrepSchool.comA toddler centered Disney World trip plan from WDWPrepSchool.com
    Enjoy this article? Sign up to get updates (it's free).


    { 70 comments (add yours) }

    Christine January 15, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    Hi! Fantastic website, thank you! Have a quick question – we are taking my 3 year old and 1 year old to Disney in about 2 weeks. We missed out on getting FastPasses for Anna/Elsa and the Mine Train Ride (boo! but that’s what happens when you go rather last minute, right?). Anyway, I am looking for advice on how to still fit those into our schedule without waiting in line for hours. For our time at MK, we have allotted — Wednesday afternoon (we arrive around lunchtime), Thursday morning (extra magic hour at MK that morning) and all day Friday. I was thinking we could just get there early on Thurs/Friday mornings and beeline it for those attractions. Am I being naive? Any tips? Total Disney novice here. I haven’t been in nearly 20 years . . . we are SUPER EXCITED! :) Thanks for your advice!


    Amy January 18, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    I have never even been to WDW, but we are planning a trip, and I did read on another blog that getting in line early at MK and making a beeline to Elsa & Anna just like you said, is the best way to get to see them in a reasonable amount of time. Hopefully someone can chime in and confirm :)


    Lauren January 7, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    We are planning a trip to Disney with our 4 year old (first time for her!). I really love all your posts and suggestions, especially for traveling with little ones and the crowd calendar. In particular, your you tube recommendation was a great one! My LO has been raving about Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but when we watched the videos it totally freaked her out. Knowing now that she is unlikely to want to ride has saved me one of my precious FastPass options. I do have a few questions that I would love input for: First, we are staying for 6 days (5 day park hopper pass), and I am definately committing 1 full day to MK and 1 full day to Disney Studios. I am planning to split two of the other days between MK and Epcot. My husband and I really like Epcot for dining and we are doing the Princess Hall breakfast in Epcot one morning. Are there any good websites/apps/maps/guides we should get now or when we arrive to locate the Princesses in World Showcase? (LO loves the princesses). Second, I am thinking about skipping AK completely given my LO’s age. It seems to me that AK doesn’t have that much to offer a LO (especially one that’s not really into dinosaurs) and that we might do better spending the time in another park or at the pool. Thoughts here? Third, any recommendations for guides/apps/websites on princess meet-n-greets? In particular, I have heard Merida is hard to get. Also, is AK the only place that Pocohantas appears? Lastly, since I haven’t been to WDW in some time, can you make any suggestions about how much time I should estimate for travel between parks? Right now, we are planning on using only the WDW transportation system (buses) and not renting a car (just not in the budget!). We will be visiting this Spring (but after Spring break rush) and staying in Art of Animation Resort. Since I expect to spend the bulk of our time in Epcot and MK, any estimates on travel time from the Resort to those parks would be much appreciated. Thanks again for all the great recommendations and advice! You have been a big help in my planning!


    Jenna January 6, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Thank you so much for all this information! We are taking my 3 year old to Disney end of April 2015. We are not staying onsite which I regret, but is already a done deal. We fly in on a Friday afternoon and leave on the following Wednesday early evening. One day will be committed to Universal Studios (without our son). So with traveling, we only have 3 days at Disney. We were thinking one day at MK, one day at Animal Kingdom and one day at Hollywood Studios. Is it worth buying tickets ahead of time? Should we do two days at MK, and skip Hollywood Studios? I feel pretty overwhelmed. I am going to skip park hopper since I do think it will be too much for our son (and my parents who are coming with us). For dining, we weren’t going to plan anything ahead of time since we will probably do quick stops to eat. As for fast pass, since we are not staying onsite, it appears I can only reserve them 30 days in advance, so I will tackle that at that time. Thanks again for any advice!


    Ally January 11, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    We are also heading to Disney around that same time for our second trip. I have 3 year old twins and a 2 year old. My girls LOVED Hollywood studios- this is where you can meet the Disney Junior characters as well as see Disney Junior Live. I think its a pretty pre-school friendly park. We usually use our park hopper option because we take a break for a few hours at our hotel before heading back out- sometimes to the same park but usually to a different park, but we usually stay onsite somewhere on the monorail line to make this going from the parks to hotel and back more convenient. It might not be worthwhile since you are staying offsite. The only advantage to buying your tickets ahead of time is you get to make your fast pass selections. Also, I would really consider making at least one character dining reservation- it was definitely one of my girls favorite parts- they particularly enjoyed Hollywood and Vine at Hollywood Studios (it has Jake, Sophia, Doc McStuffins, and Handy Manny) but this time we will be trying Chef Mickeys since it comes highly recommended. Most of all- don’t stress and use the resources to make a plan before getting to the park, its pretty overwhelming without a plan since there are so many options.


    Emma December 31, 2014 at 10:55 am

    I loved reading this! We are taking our little lady to Disney World for the first time next Christmas (2015/2016) and she will be 13.5 months at the time. We are huge WDW fans (DVC members and AP most years) but we haven’t been with a little one since we were little ourselves, so I am so looking forward to it.

    I do have to say, and maybe this is just our family, but Epcot was our favorite park growing up. We used to love playing in all the world showcase pavilions and I always feel that, that was a large part of fostering in me a love of travel. It’s true there aren’t a lot of attractions there for the little ones, but the world showcase lagoon is a wonderland for tiny minds who so easily make believe they are in fantastical far off lands anyway. Growing up our (the kids) favorite ride was actually Maelstrom and now that I mentioned it I has the sad… :(


    Noelle Wilds November 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Regarding the character greetings – I wasn’t able to get Kenny’s app for some reason. So here is my character greetings advice:

    1. Use the My Experience app online or mobile to determine which characters are available at each park and rank them according to who your child wants to meet the most. Set up Fast Passes if and when you can.
    2. Arrive at the park before it opens and snag a times guide. That times guide will have the character greetings schedules.
    3. Be at the character spot ready to line up at least 20-30 minutes before that character is scheduled to appear.

    Otherwise it will be very difficult to meet all the characters you want to meet. I wish I had known beforehand how important this was going to be to my 5YO. She didn’t end up wanting to do many rides, but she did want to fill her autograph book. Missing Merida and Pocahontas (Pocahontas is really tough to get, people) was a huge let down for us. We will put them at the top of our list for our next visit!


    Tesha November 11, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Thank you so much for this post! We are planning a Disney vacation for July 2015 and I am sooooo excited! I feel like I am living vicariously through the kids (who will be 6 & 7 by the time of the trip) since I’ve never been and I’ve always wanted to go! We live in NJ, and we may actually drive down because its way cheaper with a family of 4, so unfortunately we will most likely be at the parks M-F (I’ll keep checking plane tickets though, if we can keep the budget low for the flights we will much rather take that option!). Your breakdown of what places are best for young children REALLY helps (they obviously won’t be toddlers, but I think some of the same rules still apply)! As much as I want to see Epcot (and I really, really do LOL), I know the trip is mostly for the kids so we’ll probably skip it this time around- but we’ll be back. I’ve been leaning towards Art of Animation since the Disney themed rooms will really resonate with the kids, and your co-sign just confirmed it! I am still on the fence of telling the kids at Christmas because the count down would be wayyyy too far, I can just imagine their delight as we pull into Orlando and see the Magic Kingdom castle, or pack their bags and tell them- we are going to Disney- NOW! Awesome!!!


    Joey December 12, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Do NOT miss Epcot; despite what the author says Epcot is far too unique and interesting to miss. Your kids will love it.


    Emma December 31, 2014 at 11:34 am

    I second this, Epcot is not to be missed. Bellow is a list of attractions I think your kids, and the grownups as well, would really enjoy, in case you find that helpful.

    1. Ellen’s Energy Adventure – This is a must for kids, there is a section where you travel through a fantastical world of dinosaurs and I remember as a kid feeling as if I were really riding through the Cretaceous period. The video is a bit hokey but kids that age should still enjoy it.

    2. Journey into Imagination – While this may be a bit like a bad trip, it’s also really fun, brightly colored and has almost no line. This was another fave of ours growing up, although it’s changed since then.

    3. Soarin – The average 6 year old is 42 inches and the ride restriction here is 40”, so I’m gonna say that this is worth the trip to Epcot alone as all the kids who come off this ride leave with their jaws hanging open. *** Tip: If case you didn’t already know, Epcot has a tier system for FP+, this is up there with Test Track and Mission to Mars in Tier one and you can only book one of the three in this category. Neither of the other two rides book up like Soarin though or get the ridiculous standy lines Soarin does. If you want to ride this ride you MUST get the FP+, preferable well in advance of your stay. Then you can ride the other rides on standby at a time when there are shorter lines, such as park opening.

    4. Test Track – Again at only 40” restriction your kids should be able to ride.

    5. Spaceship Earth – I think this ride is mandatory when you go to Epcot, like they won’t let you leave if you don’t ride it. That said, this was a fave of the family kids growing up and we still love riding it today.

    After you’ve done that there are of course many other rides that kids might like, such as living with the land or the seas with Nemo and friends.

    Then, there is World Showcase which really is not to be missed. If you don’t think your kids would automatically enjoy it, consider doing what my folks did, telling them about all the countries you will visit while you’re there. Discuss the “cool history” of one country at a time and tell them they will get to visit it while in Epcot. I remember my dad told us all about Samurais and we watched a movie about them so when we got to the Japan Pavilion my brother and I spent hours pretending to be Samurai warriors and running around. Yes, there is a lot more to Japan than Samurai, but to kids, that is the cool history lol. Each country has something similar.

    Still, even if they aren’t into it, at the very least they will be into the Pizza in Italy which is amazing and the ice cream in France which is also fantastic. Also, a lot of the countries have shows at regular intervals, if your kids like that sort of thing then this is another fantastic opportunity to get them into it.

    As far as accommodations go, with a family of 4 it’s often easier to stay at a resort with a kitchen or at least a kitchenette. The Art of Animation is a great choice but so are the Deluxe Villa Resorts. Now, I know what you’re saying, they are expensive and yeah, if you book through DisneyWorld.com you bet they are. However, if you book via dvcrequest (dot) com you get to rent points from DVC members who don’t want them/can’t use them (who these people are I have no idea as we use all our points and then some). We have used them in the past and they are outstanding. I would recommend Animal Kingdom Lodge, they are the most affordable and yet, in my opinion, have the best staff, food and amenities on property. The only down side is that they are further than the other resorts, but if you were staying at Art of Animation, that was already the area you were in to begin with. As a point of comparison, for July 6-10 A Standard View 1 bedroom at AKL is $1790 and a suite at Art of Animation is $1650.

    Hope this was helpful and that you have a fantastic trip!!


    Michele January 1, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    I took my 3 1/2 year old to Epcot and she loved the seas with Nemo and friends ride so much we did it 3 times in a row. She also loved turtle talk with Crush and there were some crafts she was thrilled with (and they didn’t cost me anything extra-Kidcot Fun Stops). I don’t think it’s a bad idea to bring younger kids to Epcot. If you have the time do it. There is also lots to see at the Epcot World Showcase and we ended up seeing some characters. I think this next time around we’ll do the Epcot World Showcase Passport kit. I might suggest making Epcot one of the first parks you go to because once they get a whiff of Magic Kingdom it might take a little more effort to entertain the young kids Epcot for an extended period of time.


    Jessica November 10, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    We have two options for one of our days with Park Hopping and I can’t decide which is best. We have lunch scheduled at Tusker House at 1:40pm. Our options are as follows:
    1) Start the day at MK and use Fast passes there for the attractions we really want to do. Head to AK for lunch and attempt to get a Fast Pass for the safari when we arrive.
    2) Start the day at AK (it’s a morning extra magic hour day). Get in all we can by using stand by lines. Head to MK in the afternoon and have our 3 Fast Pass + reservations for late afternoon/early evening times.
    *I should add we are going during one of the busiest times of year.
    Any input is appreciated!


    Tarryn December 23, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Hi Jessica, hope this isn’t too late for your trip…

    It all depends on which attractions you want to hit in both parks, and I’m assuming you have other day(s) planned at MK too? Not knowing the specifics, I would suggest you hit AK early (EMH is even better!) and work your way through that park all morning while it’s cooler and less crowded. AK is the easiest park to do without FPs, in my opinion. Finish the morning at Tusker (possibly even looking for a slightly earlier ADR, but the time you have will also work). Then head to MK where your FPs will be waiting for you so the crowds aren’t such a big deal. If you want any of the major headliners like Anna & Elsa or 7 Dwarfs MT then definitely FP these if you can.

    If you do NOT have at least one other full day planned for MK, I would strongly suggest you reconsider, as a few hours won’t get you far in that park, there are way too many fun things to see! :) Have a great trip!


    Kimberly June 22, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    So exciting! I’m just pregnant now but I’m trying to get some family vacation ideas in mind when baby is about 2-3, I really appreciate this article!


    David June 20, 2014 at 7:56 am

    It’s really hard to tell people how they should spend their days but you gave such a nice idea that you can adjust based on your family.


    Tina May 20, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks for the tips. We used this page to plan the trip we took last week. We loved Epcot with our toddler (27 months) and could have stayed longer. There is so much to do between the rides, playgrounds, aquarium and Innoventions. My thoughts: Maelstrom is overrated and very short – I wouldn’t waste a FP+ on it if you would rather rider-switch some of the “adult” rides that typically have longer lines. Just my two cents. Thanks again for your dedication!


    D Stroup May 18, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I heard your podcast about flying to Disney but wasn’t sure if renting a car seat from the airline is a good idea or should we just bring our own?


    Jana Wisthoff May 11, 2014 at 6:50 am

    Thanks so much for the tips! I used a lot of them and we had a great trip. We just returned with our three kids yesterday.


    Christina April 16, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Is Mickey’s Jammin Jungle Parade no longer happening after June?


    Shannon Albert April 16, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Correct. It’s going away at some point in June.


    Krock19 April 7, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Oops I meant kids not kudos…. Darn autocorrect.


    Iman April 6, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Hi Shannon,

    We are planning our trip for the last week of October 2014. My daughter is 6, my son 4. We initially planned for 2 days at Magic Kingdom, 2 days at Epcot, 1 day at Hollywood Studios, and 1 day at Animal Kingdom. Now after all the research, I am contemplating doing just 1 day at Epcot and 3 days at Magic. We will not be doing any of the Water Parks. What would you recommend for a 6 and 4 year old?


    Krock19 April 7, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Why don’t you leave one day open and just figure the park on the day of…. If you feel like you need more MK, you can go there but if you feel like you still have a lot of ground to cover at Epcot and your kudos enjoyed it…. do that instead. Also, you may want more downtime or consider doing MNSSHP and taking a morning off.


    Kristy A April 7, 2014 at 9:39 pm


    I would probably cut Epcot down to 1 day and add a 3rd at MK if I were you. We had 8 days in the parks with our 4- and 2-year-olds in Dec 2012, and we spent 4 of those at MK! And the kids would have been thrilled with even more MK time. Just like Shannon says, they liked Epcot OK, but it was probably their least favorite park. Hollywood Studios was probably their second least favorite, just because they kept wanting to ride rides and there’s just not much there in that department. But they did love the shows and characters. But with small kids, half the vacation in the MK is not crazy; it’s probably the best plan.


    Jennifer April 5, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    My family is going on our first Disney World vacation at the end of this month (my first time as well…I’m 35!). As overwhelming as it is in planning it, your website has been so helpful in simplifying it (if that’s possible). I had a couple of questions…we will be there 4/27-5/3. Do you think they’ll allow any riders on the Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train before the official opening date? Also, when Anna and Elsa moved to MK, it opened up one of my fast pass options as I had the ones they replaced as a fastpass option. I can’t figure out how to use my one extra fast pass without having to redo all of the others. I’m afraid I’ll lose my meet time with Anna and Elsa. Any ideas or suggestions? Thanks!


    Stephani Barrett April 5, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    This might be a silly question, but if you’re making fastpass reservations online for a family that has toddlers and big kids, can you get different fastpass reservations for different members of the family? I’m sure we’ll want/need to split up some to make everyone happy.


    Shannon Albert April 5, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Yes, you can customize. You’ll likely have to book everybody as a group initially and then you can go in to individual reservations and modify as necessary.


    Rachel April 5, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I wouldn’t recommend using FP+ for Spaceship Earth. Unless they changed it within the past few years, the ride is non-stop to the point where you get on when it’s moving. Even during the busiest time of day, I was able to get through that line in 20 minutes or less. (Except for the times where the ride will just stop… I don’t know if they fixed that since it’s been revamped but every time I went on it, the ride would stop, ranging from a 30 seconds to 10 minutes before it started again. Though that was a few years ago.)


    Shannon Albert April 5, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    It’s hard to come up with 3 FP+ to get at Epcot but the My Disney Experience system requires you to pick 3 so it’s on the list. We actually have run in to lines there occasionally but I really think the FP+ is only necessary during a peak travel time.


    Markiel Singley April 4, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Great information as always Shannon! Do you think the updates to Fast Pass + which will allow more than 3 fast passes, and the ability to use them at different parks be updated by July or August of 2014?


    Shannon Albert April 4, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Honest answer: I have NO idea. :)


    Zilmita April 4, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Excellent suggestions. I wish that someone would have written this two years a go. My parents, my brother, his wife, their kids, some friends of theirs with their kids, & I went to Disney. We took them to Animal Kingdom one day. We went on one of my favorite rides “Dinosaur.” My eldest nephew was 4 at the time & big enough to ride it. He really loves dinosaurs but, really freaked out that the ride was totally in the dark & extremely bumpy (not to mention also that the Carnatorus looks like it’s going to eat you.) He’s now 6 but, I’m still a bit hesitant to suggest that we go on that ride. We went to most of the other parks too (except for Hollywood Studios.) He wanted to go on Test Track but was to little (back then in height) to go on. Maybe the next time that we go he’ll be able to go on it.


    Treeci March 25, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Thank you so much for this article. We are traveling to wdw soon with our 4 year old and toddler. We are staying 6 nights Sunday-Saturday. We have 5 days of passes so my question is would it be better to save Sunday and Saturday when we are traveling for just settling in, swimming, exploring downtown disney and doing 5 days in a row at the parks M-F? Or should we try to fit in a park the day we are flying in or leaving in order to get a rest day mid-week? Any advice on this would be appreciated.


    Zilmita April 4, 2014 at 10:58 am

    This is a bit tricky. It depends on ur kids. Some kids don’t mind going to the park one day & then the next day going to Downtown Disney. Other kids might not like that idea. What I did once with my parents & my nephew (who was 3 almost 4 at that time) we did part of a park (Magic Kingdom) in the morning, went to the hotel pool in the afternoon, & then Downtown Disney at night. He did also take a nap after lunch. Plus, he’s a well behaved kid. So, if I were you I would split your time to the best of ur ability. One day (or part of the day) at one park, the afternoon at the hotels pool (or any other recreation that the hotel provides), then Downtown Disney at night time. I think that all (if not some) of the hotels provided baby siting services. So, u can go just with your husband/wife to Downtown Disney alone.


    Anna March 11, 2014 at 9:47 am

    I keep trying to print these plans, but they come out really small. Any advice?


    Leandra February 28, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Hi, this blog post was fantastic. Very detailed. Disney should pay you! I am trying to plan a family vacation and when we go my son will just turn 2 years. How old was your toddler when you made this trip? I think there’s a vast difference between a 2 year old and a 3 year old. Would you suggest Disney for a 2 year old?


    Shannon Albert February 28, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    My son was 3 1/2 on his first trip but our 2 1/2 year old nephew was with us and did well. I think it kind of just depends on the kid.


    Zilmita April 4, 2014 at 11:04 am

    I totally agree. It can depend on the child & also how the parents and/or other adults are around the child. I’ve seen it all. From parents getting really angry at their overtired child to parents that talk to their children to see what the problem is. Just remember to be very patient, reserve ur fast pass rides a.s.a.p., have drinks/snacks with u for the kids, have naptime scheduled in somewhere, & take/rent a stroller just in case.


    Sarah January 4, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Thanks for all this information. You have noted to send a fast pass volunteer to get a fast pass for you. Where can you find these volunteers?
    I am particularly referring to the safari ride in AK.


    Samantha January 24, 2014 at 11:23 pm


    I believe she was referring to nominating a member of your family to run and get fast passes :) while the rest of you move on to standing in line for something else. Hope that helps :)


    Christina February 23, 2014 at 5:45 am

    And don’t forget to send that family member with ALL of the tickets of people who plan to ride! You have to feed the park ticket into the machine to make it work.


    Shannon Albert February 23, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    There’s no more feeding of the park tickets since everything has switched over to FastPass+. I haven’t updated this trip plan to reflect the changes but you can find toddler touring plans on my FastPass+ articles – http://wdwprepschool.com/using-fastpass-plus-at-all-disney-world-parks/


    Zilmita April 4, 2014 at 11:07 am

    I think that it’ll be a good idea to have a friend/family member help reserve the fast pass rides/times that u want/are available.


    Shannon Albert April 4, 2014 at 11:11 am

    That’s no longer necessary since FastPass+ reservations can all be made ahead of time.


    Tangerineplaid December 29, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    This is AWESOME! I’ve been researching how to navigate the parks with a 1 year old… and I feel as if I’ve hit the mother-load with your site!!! Thank you!! :-)


    Jennifer Pence December 1, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    I have made note of these for traveling with small children; however, I just received the new trip planning guide in the mail for magic bands and fast pass + sign up from home. How do I go about choosing times for fast pass + based on the toddler planning guidelines? Example, if I enter MK now and Peter pan will be the 4th thing I do, how will I know what time to request with the new system?


    Cece November 14, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    I would definitely recommend fitting in some character dining experiences with toddlers, if at all possible. The lines to meet characters can be just as long (or longer) as the most popular rides. It really gives the kids a little one on one time with characters without the stress of waiting on line. You get to take pictures and enjoy a meal. Then get back out there to enjoy rides. This worked out well for my 3 year old and 16-month old this past October.


    Blue11759 October 5, 2013 at 12:29 am

    These are great tips for planning a toddler focused trip. They are so important and sweet as toddlers, and they do definitely change so fast.


    Kenzie September 24, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Just got home from our 1st trip to WDW with 4.5 son and 1.5 daughter. Can’t even begin to tell you how helpful this site was to plan our trip in 2 months. We were even able to get in 5 character meals. Both kids rode anything they were tall enough for. Shannon is not kidding about the Stitch ride…my son liked it….it was awful…send your better half with the kids ;)
    Thanks so much! Looking forward to your articles on Disneyland as well.


    Tara January 4, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Kenzie, would you share your schedule for your trip? I am planning a trip for Sept 2014 with a 4.5 and 2.5 year old and the two different ages are frustrating to plan around. Do I Plan some toddler stuff knowing my 4.5 year old might not be into those activities and vice versa?


    Christina February 23, 2014 at 5:43 am

    I’m in the same boat, just larger. My son is 11 and has been to WDW once, Universal once or twice and DL once. This, however, is my 4 yr old daughter’s first trip to WDW. We’re planning on spending 2 days at Magic Kingdom and one at either Hollywood Studios or EPCOT. (It’ll be 2 kids and 6 adults going.) The first day, I’m planning on us spending most of our time in Fantasyland which is pretty girly and full of stuff for the younger kids. But my son’s patience will be rewarded, because the next day is all about being a pirate in Adventureland and racing cars in Tomorrowland. I have planned back-up activities for the 4 yr old while the 11 yr old gets to ride Space mountain (the Astro Orbiter is pretty close), and the arcade is near the speedway. If she decides not to do Big Thunder Mountian, she’ll hop on the Magic Carpets. The trick is going to be to separate for one ride, then have everyone do the next thing together before we split up again so that we don’t feel disconnected on our family vacation. Good Luck!


    Noah's Dad September 14, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Thanks for great post. We’re heading to Disney World this coming weekend with out 2 1/2 year old….we can’t wait!


    Chad September 3, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I didn’t see a lot of character dining recommendations in here. (Royal Table, Akershus, etc). Do you recommend that with toddlers? If so, how would you fit that in with your suggested schedules? If you could possibly add in some suggested character meal timing I think that would certainly help me a great deal.


    Raichael August 17, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    I don’t agree with only 1/2 a day at AK. We got there at 8:30(EMH) and didn’t leave until 1900. We rode 1 ride in DinoLand USA and never even SAW all of DinoLand. We started on the Africa side of the park and spent all day there. Never made it to Rafikis Planet watch either. We could have easily spent 2 entire days at this park. We got the little Nature watch activity book and spent the whole day looking for clues and getting ‘badges’. Our kids loved it! We did do the Safari ride and did the character lunch at Tusker house as well. But for animal loving kids definitely plan more than a 1/2 day at this park! :)


    Oswaldo a Corrales jr August 16, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Excellent and sound advice. I now feel more confident in our trip and am also getting a sense of excitement with a number of worries out the way.


    Cheri July 31, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    This was very helpful! We’re taking our 2 1/2 yr old in two
    weeks. I’m pretty sure we will do magic kingdom, but I want him to
    do the dinning thing as well. I want to be clear on that. Is there
    a fee to get into the area before going to the restaurant or is
    chef Mickey place at magic kingdom?


    Shannon Albert July 31, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Chef Mickey’s is in The Contemporary Resort, very close to the Magic Kingdom. You can get in there without a ticket.


    Diana O July 14, 2013 at 8:23 am

    This is AMAZING!!
    Thank you so much for this informative and reassuring article.
    I’ve been debating whether taking my 3 year old boy next year would be too soon for him. Although I still remember my first trip to DisneyLand at age 3.
    Again, thank you so so so much :)

    Diana in NY


    Michelle June 20, 2013 at 6:38 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! We just got back from a 7 day trip to WDW and your plans for visiting the parks with little ones were spot on. We have a 7 yr old (non-coaster rider) and a 3 yr old, so the plans were perfect for our family. We followed them pretty closely with a few variations and they helped us have a fun, stress-free time since we knew what the plan was before we even got to the park. There was no running around, confusion, back tracking, or long waits. Thanks to these plans and all your tips, we had a magical vacation. Thanks again!!!


    Terra June 4, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks much for all the great info! My husband’s parents have been vacation club members since day one (for almost 30 years now!)- so they’ve been almost every year since!! But this is the first time the whole family is going together in Oct 2013 -both their “boys” and their families – our niece will be 6 months old and our girls will just have turned 2 and 3. We’ve all been many times and have seen/ridden it all – so we’re pretty excited to make it a casual, relaxed, and baby/toddler-friendly trip this time. Your lists of what to do in each park – and in what order -are priceless and will really help. And we were back and forth about brining our own double stroller or renting one there, but the off-Disney-site place looks cheaper for nicer strollers! And I love the stroller sign template you’ve created!! Your mind has to completely think differently when you’re bringing little ones and it’s not about all the adults anymore! Again, thanks so much – you rock! :)


    Harsha Reddy May 25, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    You rock! I am currently in Orlando and extremely overwhelmed on where to take my 3 year old boys on their first Orlando trip. I am so glad I found your page. Now I have a plan. Thanks for all your hard work.


    Courtney May 15, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I think your best advice is to remember that this trip is for the toddler. We’re planning our 2 year old’s first trip to Disney this September (free food plan!!!) and I think we’re going to spend most of our time hunting down the characters because she just LOVES them. We have the rest of her life to go on rides, see shows, etc. I will be downloading those touring plans though! Thank you!


    Kara May 7, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I have booked our room, character meals, extra special activities such as the NSSHP and breakfast in the castle…I did it backwards and I’m now planning our days in the specific parks around our meals. (Lesson learned!) Being that this is our family’s first time to go for all of us, I’m not sure what touring plan to use, with little ones or without little ones. My kids will be 5 and 7 when we travel which seems to fall between both touring plans. Any suggestions? I want to email our plans so far but it’s still a little unorganized!


    Chelsea April 4, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Your itinerary says that Disney, Jr. Live on Stage is closed till Feb. 15 — is that Feb 2013 or 2014? We are going Memorial Day weekend and want to see it if possible!


    Ashley Brown April 6, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Went in March (2013) and was open. My daughter turned 5 a month before and she is in LOVE with the Disney Jr. We watch everyday! But I have to say we were very disappointed :-( its a puppet show, not real life characters. All she wanted is to se Sofia the First and it was not a “real princess” just a puppet on a stick.


    Santiago July 5, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Really??? My girls LOVE Sofia, my younger daughter’s name is Sofia too, so she’s even more in love with her. I showed them you tube videos of the show and they liked anyway (the video was with out Sofia), but do you know id this “puppet” thingy is also replied on the Hollywood & Vine Disney Jr. character breakfast too? If it is, I must prepare them so they know what to expect and don’t be disappointed.


    Shannon Albert August 19, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    That was for 2013. It’s now open and I’ve updated the info above so it doesn’t say that anymore.


    daisy April 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I love everything about your website and tips. S UPER helpful!!
    Been there a gazillion times but my first time with my 3 year old. We are celebrating her birthday. Any tips?


    Chantel March 2, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I have seen on other sites that there is a petting zoo at Animal Kingdom. My 15 month old would love that. I don’t know for sure because whn I have gone the other times it was with my nephew when he was 8 and 9 so he wanted to ride all the scary stuff. This was great info. I really appreciate you putting it all together so we can make our decision on a cruise or the park.


    Christina February 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Thank you so much for this detailed version. Its a bit
    overwhelming when your trying to plan everything at once (dining
    plan, days at each park etc). Thanks again for all your hard


    Leave a Comment

    If you want your own pic to show up next to your comments, sign up on gravatar.com and your pic will automatically appear here and on most WordPress sites.
    Note: first time commenters are moderated.


    Current ye@r *

    2 − = 1

    Previous post:

    Next post: