Taking My Toddler to Disney

In just a few days, we depart for the “Magical World of Disney.”   I don’t want to sound like a party pooper but…I am kind of stressed about it.  I can barely survive a trip to the grocery store with my three-year-old.   But my husband has a work conference in Orlando next week so we had to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to travel together as a family.   Besides, I made a vow to myself after my daughter made it through the infant phase that I would relax and enjoy motherhood more.   The great unknown doesn’t always have to be stressful.   Every new adventure can actually be…FUN??

To my daughter, this is the Happiest Place on Earth!  To me, it's like climbing Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen.
To my daughter, this will be the Happiest Place on Earth! To me, it’s like climbing Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen.

To alleviate some of my fears, I turned to friends who have been there and asked for some advice.   Here are some tips they provided that I thought I would share for any Disney rookies like me who will be making the trip:

Bring your own stroller.  I was planning to rent a stroller once we got there since my toddler would rather walk through fire then sit in hers.  I thought, “What is the point of lugging one on the plane when I could rent one when we actually needed it?”  When I stated this to a mom friend who has conquered Disney several times with THREE kids in tow, she laughed in my face.   She proceeded to tell me that I needed it not only to survive the airport, but that the average miles walked around Disney parks are NINE MILES.  OH.MY.  I could barely walk down the street with my toddler so, I probably should bring a stroller.

Download theme park apps.   Thank goodness for these free apps that provide a schedule of the day’s events for each of the parks/resorts, a guide map, and average wait time for the rides.   How cool is that?

Let's hope this will help.
Let’s hope this will help.

Schedule of Events

Apparently, the right time to go to "It's A Small World" is right NOW!
Apparently, the right time to go to “It’s A Small World” is right NOW!

Bring our own stuff. While all the basic necessities can be purchased at the parks, we should avoid paying the premiums and definitely bring our own snacks, beverages, sunscreen, medical supplies (you never know ), etc.  and use the stroller to store it all.  Also, you are saving yourself the $15 for single strollers and $26 for doubles.

Start at the back of the park and work your way forward.  We (along with the rest of the world) plan to arrive at each theme park as early as possible.   If we walk to back of the park first, the less crowded it will be.   As wonderful as this may be in theory, I am wondering if this is possible since my daughter will likely be distracted by everything on the way to the back.   If anyone has had success with this strategy, please let me know!

Think positive thoughts and have fun!  Fortunately we will also be traveling with friends of ours who have a three year old daughter too, so I know these girls will have a blast.  Most importantly, my daughter will remember and cherish this trip for the rest of her life.  The good moments will certainly outweigh the stressful ones.  Every day I am psyching myself up to be fully present in the moment and just relax.

Ok, I am excited now! 

Are there any tips you could share with this Disney rookie mom?  Any must see attractions?  Thanks for your help!

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17 thoughts on “Taking My Toddler to Disney

  1. Have a wonderful trip!!! And share your tips when you get home because I want to take the boys!! 🙂

  2. I have no words of wisdom to offer you, but i know you’ll have a great trip and make lots of memories!! Actually, yes i do have a tip- they don’t serve alcohol in the Magic Kingdom. Plan for many days going ’round the world in Epcot 😉

  3. My husband and I have been to Disney together at least 4 or 5 times, but at the end of July we will be heading down there with the kids for the first time. I consider us Disney-pros…but adding kids to the mix is probably going to make a whole different trip! And then adding a child in a wheelchair…eek!!! We booked at the end of July (not because we’re crazy, I swear!) because the Angelman Syndrome Foundation conference is there that week, but turns out no one wanted to come with us to help with the kids, so we probably aren’t going to get to attend any of the conference. We’re really looking forward to making some new connections with other families though. I’m interested to hear some tips other people have! Have fun on your trip!!!

    1. Sounds like you Disney Pros have a wonderful trip ahead of you and I hope you have fun with all the other families! I’ve been to Disney as a kid in the ’80s (eek) and in college in the ’90s (gasp!) and I remember having a blast both times. I’m sure it’s very different now. But it will definitely have more meaning to see it as a mom with my daughter 🙂

  4. I agree with a few people, Epic and Animal Kingdom do not really have a lot of things for a 3 year old. My daughter was 6 and my son was 2 when we took them to Disney. My son loved it. It depends on how long you will be down in Florida, by the first day we stayed at the resort and the last day we stayed at the resort allowing the kids and us time to relax.

    I also agree about bringing your own stroller and marking it so you know which one is yours when you get off the rides. My son was able to nap in the stroller which made it easy for everyone.

    Don’t stress out and take it a day at a time. Go at her pace and do not worry if you do not see everything. Go back in a few years when she is 6 or 7 and really enjoy the full experience.

    1. Thanks for the words of support, Sofia. All of you moms who have taken two or more kids to Disney deserve a medal! We are planning to relax the first few days and enjoy the beach in a different town and then head over to Orlando. So hopefully everyone will be chill before the chaos ensues!

  5. I would reccommend leaving Magic Kingdom for the end of your trip. Once your daughter sees that she won’t like anything else! Also Animal Kingdom and Epcot have very little for a 3 year old to do. Don’t plan your day bc it’s never going to go as planned and we always take a day to spend NOT in the parks. Disney is great but I unferstand your apprehension. Our first trip there with our boys is in Oct. They will be 15 months. I’m already freaking out!!

    1. Yes! Great point. I am such a planner by nature so it’s good to know I can relax on having everything figured out in advance. I appreciate the tips about Animal Kingdom and Epcot. We may forgo those if we don’t have enough time. Have a great trip with your boys!

  6. I highly recommend getting the unofficial guide to Disney. It’s about $15 on Amazon & if you buy the electronic version you can have it on your phone. It has tons of great tips & ideas for how to maximize the rides you get on and avoid waits.
    I don’t agree with the “start at the back” advice at all because you really want to tackle most popular rides first thing and get fast passes right away for other popular rides. Also, the parks really don’t have a back – they have different lands that will be of more or less interest to your toddler. Focus on the areas of most interest and don’t go crazy trying to see everything. We have been four times with the kids (now 8 & 5) and we see new stuff every time.

    1. Thank you for the book suggestion! I am definitely going to download it. And thanks for the reminder about not trying to see everything.

  7. Leaving in 24 hours for our first trip to WDW with our 4 and 6 year old…I am so freaked out….I just want to enjoy it, but all the money spent makes me want to catch everything. I know the kids don’t knot the difference or care that I paid over $3500 for the week, but it is always in the back of my head! There is a book thru Amazon, digital copy is less than $5 and it has 200 tips in it, I would get that….it is a quick read, man, I don’t have WIFI access on my so I can’t check the name, but just search for WDW Tip book and it will come up, it gets great reviews.
    Good luck!!

    1. Omg have a great time! I feel the same way about the $ but that is all the more reason just to enjoy every minute. Good luck and safe travels to you and your family!

  8. Buy a balloon (or several) when you walk in and tie it to the stroller’s handlebars. Disney employees are assigned to “stroller cleanup,” and they are constantly rearranging and straightening the stroller drop-off zones. When you get off a ride, your stroller is NOT where you left it, and you have to try to find it in a sea of strollers.

    1. Brilliant! I am so doing this. It’s the worst feeling in the world when you can’t find your stroller. Thank you.

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