How to do Disney World with little ones – PREP029

Taking little kids to Disney World can be lots of fun but there's a lot to take into consideration when making plans with them.

Today, I have tips on how to plan trips that include little kids, including when to go, where to stay and how to tour.

I also have a quick tip about flying with little kids and making sure that you're seated together.

These are notes from this episode. There's much more info included in the audio so be sure to listen to the episode for a better explanation.

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Planning a Disney World trip with little ones

To prepare kids ahead of time, I suggest not telling kids too far ahead of time but talking about Disney World so they can learn. Watching videos and reading the Birnbaum's for Kids book are great ways to prepare young kids.

Step 1: Choose when to go
I recommend going after Halloween but before mid-March when the times have changed because some nighttime entertainment (such as Fantasmic) is offered earlier, making it easier for little ones to stay up later to see it. During busy times like Christmas and Thanksgiving, the parks are open later to accommodate crowds so nighttime entertainment would be scheduled later on those days.

In addition, sometimes discounts are offered during this time, such as the "Families with Little Ones" promotion that covered January and February dates in 2014.

Step 2: Where to stay
I recommend Pop Century, Art of Animation, The Polynesian, The Contemporary and Animal Kingdom Lodge for families with little ones.

Step 3: Make a daily plan
Families with little ones should primarily focus on Magic Kingdom and maybe even consider skipping Epcot.

Step 4: Pick your dining
Character dining (such as Chef Mickey's or Tusker House) can be a great way to introduce kids to characters. I would avoid making too many Table Service dining reservations because it usually takes 60-90 minutes per meal which is a lot of sitting for many young kids.

Step 5: Park touring
All of my FastPass+ guides include touring plans for little ones so I would start there. You might want to consider letting kids re-ride things if they really like them.

There's a 40" height requirement on many of the bigger rides. Parents or older kids who want to ride can use Rider Switch to take turns.

Even if kids are tall enough to visit an attraction, they might get scared so please consult my list of attractions that could scare little ones to see if you want to visit certain things.

My general advice on strollers is that if you still use one at home, you should probably bring it on your trip. Little ones who don't normally use strollers at home will likely still benefit from having one during a Disney World trip so I recommend renting a stroller for those kids.

Step 6: Add extra magic
Consider playing Tinker Bell and/or having a date night and using childcare during your trip.

Quick tip of the day

If you're flying for your trip, make sure you have reserved seats (or boarding group if you're flying Southwest Airlines). Without it, there's a good chance your family will be separated during your flight.

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Will be you traveling with a little one? Do you have more info or questions to add?

Please feel free to share them in the comments.

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I just came back from a WDW trip and I am an avid WDW and hate taking breaks during the day and love opening and closing the parks. My husband loves being there with me but because we don’t stay on site we don’t have the time to go out of the park for a nap. We have 2 kids, 4 and 6, who need naps though. So much like the rider switch we started a nap switch where my husband will take the kids, or kid, and find a quieter place with our stroller and let the kids nap… Read more »

Jen L

I think this is the podcast that you mentioned getting the Royal Table reservations for first thing in the morning so that you can get a photo of the castle without people. I am wondering if that holds true if you have seats at the Crystal Palace at 8am? Been enjoying these podcasts as I am working on my plan! thank you!

Jen L

oh, yay!!!! thank you!

Shannon

I wouldn’t overlook Caribbean Beach with little ones. If you book a preferred room you’re close to the food court and their pool has an amazing fenced in pirate themed water playground complete with a big dump bucket and little slides. It has it’s own lifeguard and lounge chairs for parents. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. I’m usually a deluxe kind of girl but this pool area is so awesome I may stay there again in November with my little ones. Also compared to Wilderness lodge the rooms are/seem larger and a pack n play would fit better. Too bad… Read more »

jill

I just wanted to say thanks for posting all of this info! I found your site last fall when we planned a trip to Disney a week in advance (seriously! but we are military so that’s kind of how it panned out) and took so much of your advice. I don’t think I saved much on Tinker Bell gifts because I went overboard, but it was a really fun way to encourage good behavior. Our boys were 4 and 2 and we went in September so luckily we never had to wait more than 20 min for a ride. It… Read more »

Jody

Just a suggestion for the older kids – we rented a stroller from Kingdom Rentals. They offer a larger stroller for the bigger kids and, like your experience, the stroller was a vacation saver for us. We had 5 year old twins and it was HOT! We had clip on fans and they “chilled” in the stroller while we walked.

Maria B

I agree about EPCOT! My son was 5 years old when he first went to EPCOT and he LOVED it. Test Track was his favorite ride! He also (surprisingly) loved Spaceship Earth – he actually believed we were time traveling (he’s 7 now and I think he still believes the ride actually takes you back in time lol). My daughter, who is 4, still talks about the Seas with Nemo and Friends and Turtle Talk with crush. It’s adorable! Also, if you go early in the day, even in the summer, the Character Spot is never busy! It’s a great… Read more »

Brenda

We took your idea of playing Tinkerbell and I believe that really helped to make our trip a bit more special. Plus, it saved us money because instead of buying Disney souvenirs at the parks, I got the Tinkerbell gifts at Dollar Tree, Big Lots or Target.

Angela from Ohio

We really liked Wilderness Lodge with little ones. It’s the cheapest of the Deluxes. With all the rooms in one large building , it was easy to get to the food court for pancakes. Also loved wheeling the strollers right off the boat after a long day.

Kristina Valcarce

Really great list and I agree with almost all of them – but I should point out that my daughter was 4 when she first visited Epcot and she loved it. Going to each country and learning how to say Hello, Thank You, and Goodbye made her day. So I think it depends on your kid and their age.

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