When people see our Disney pictures or hear about our vacations, the question we hear most often is some version of how do you do that with your kids? They are so little. Honestly the questions make me laugh a little now because we get it so often, but it speaks to the concern that many people have about taking young kids to Disney World. We have been huge Disney parks fans since before we had kids so we enjoyed several kid free trips to Disney parks, (which is super fun and we highly recommend that too). When we started to plan our first trip with our son and daughter, I even had some apprehension about how we were going to juggle everything it takes to travel with little kids and how challenging it could be. We decided to jump in and take our first trip when our son was 2 and our daughter was 1. What we discovered is that Disney has gone above and beyond to make it’s parks the happiest place on earth for little kids and their parents. From Baby Care Centers to Rider Swaps, Disney has set up their parks to be fun and easy for families. We have learned from all our trips and there are a few things we’ve discovered that can really help make any trip to Disney with young kids a little easier for everyone.
Come prepared: We always take a park bag with us when we hit the parks and we always take things specifically to help the kids, like favorite snacks and comfort items. It’s also a good idea to have rain gear, sunscreen and cooling stuff if you are going when it’s hot. You can read more about our park bag packing here.
Have a plan: Disney is a magical place for sure but it can be overwhelming especially to little ones. It is helpful to have a game plan before going in. Different people like to plan more or less than others but at least having a general plan of attack can help you not waste time deciding what to do or going the wrong directions and having to back track. We have found that our kids do better if we give them an idea of what we are going to do before we get there so they know what to expect. This might mean a conversation in the bus on the way there or even the night before. We tell them what characters we might see or what rides we are going on. This gives them something to look forward to as we are trying to navigate our way through the parks.
Be flexible: There are countless things to do and see at Disney and it’s impossible to do everything. Yes it’s good to have a plan but know it’s not going to go exactly like you plan and be ready to change and go with the flow. Kids might fall asleep right as you want to go on a favorite ride or something might take longer than expected causing you to have to adjust your next plan. But sometimes plans changing isn’t a bad thing, you might stumble upon something better you weren’t expecting.
Use the Disney apps: Disneyland and Walt Disney World both have apps that you can use on your phone to find everything you need to know in the parks. You can check wait times, book a fastpass, look at maps to find attractions or bathrooms or find show times. It can be a lifesaver when you need to quickly find first aid or a bathroom. Trust us we know.
Give them a role: Kids can feel out of control when they are out of the their normal routine, so we have found that if we can give them a role to play they can handle everything a little better. This doesn’t have to be anything big but it helps them feel like they have a little control of what is going on. In the past, we have put our kids in charge of swiping their magic bands for photopass. Or choosing between 2 characters to go meet or picking what ride we go on first. Looking for hidden mickeys is always one of their favorite jobs.
Take advantage of rider swap: Disney has a great system in place to allow parents to ride the rides their kids can’t without having to wait in line twice. One of your family members can wait with your little ones while the rest of the group rides. While you wait you are free to go do something else, grab a snack, meet a character or shop for souvenirs. Then when the first group is done, you switch and the second person who stayed with the little ones can ride without waiting with up to 3 other people. Our big kids love it because they get to ride twice, once with each parent. You can find more info here.
Visit the Baby Care Centers: Another gift to parents from Disney are their awesome Baby Care Centers. This is great spot to change diapers or feed your baby. There is a a room with seating and a tv with Disney movies playing. Our preschoolers love to take a break in the air conditioning and watch a show while we take care of the baby. There is a quiet room to nurse or rock babies too. They also have a little store where you can purchase diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, clothes, sippy cups and other baby essentials in case you forgot something or lost something. More information about the Baby Care Centers can be found here.
This list isn’t a complete list, but hopefully these ideas will help your family enjoy your trip to Disney with Young Kids. What’s your best tip for Disney with little ones? It might just help us on our Disney trips.