Call it a “babymoon” or my son’s last hurrah of being and only child but this past spring we took a trip to Disney World. It was my son’s first time (outside of the womb since I was pregnant with him the last time we were there). I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve been there. However, there was something about this trip that was special. Maybe it was because I got to go with three generations of family members. Maybe it was seeing Disney through the eyes of my child. Whatever the reason, it was a trip I will never forget.
However, from one parent to another, when you take a toddler to Disney World (or Disneyland), there are some things that I highly recommend doing. Here’s my list of “10 things parents of toddlers must do at the happiest place on earth”.
Yes they are not cheap but so worth it. I was worried after I booked this since my son was slightly cared of any mascot or character. However, he LOVES Mickey Mouse. I saved the dinner for our last day of the trip. This allowed him to meet other characters throughout the days prior and get more comfortable with them. By the night of the dinner, he was so excited. Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, and Goofy all came over to our table twice (I think because we were one of the last times to get seated which I recommend since it meant more one-on-one time). My little guy was giving them all hugs and doing the “Hot Dog Dance” along with them. With all the memories made at that dinner, probably one of the best things we did the entire trip.
How can you sleep at the happiest place on earth? There’s just so much to see and do. However, I knew my little guy would need one. Of the three days we were at the parks, he only slept for an hour one afternoon. This was definitely not his normal routine at home but then again none of this was a normal day. While he didn’t sleep as much as I would have liked, I did learn a few tricks for next time (and for you to use). Find a show to watch in a dark theatre to help them fall asleep. You can also feed them a big lunch prior to nap time. The only day my son napped was after he had three helpings of spaghetti in Italy at Epcot.
Make Use of Fast Passes
Nobody likes waiting in line for a ride least of all a toddler. While I think the experience did make him realize we have to wait our turn and take turns, the quicker you can get through a line the better. Disney allows you to book 3 fast passes per person ahead of your arrival at the park. Take advantage of this and schedule them early in the day. Once you use one, you can find a kiosk and book another. Of the dozen rides we went on while at Magic Kingdom, we used fast passes on 8 of them. The others had minimal wait times.
Watch A Parade
Yes, you’ve probably seen a dozen parades before but your child/children have not. What’s better than seeing their favorite characters ride down Main Street and wave at them? Pretty much nothing or I’m sure that’s what my son thought was he watched. This is one of those experience you will not want to miss out on seeing through the eyes of a child.
Go On “Adult” Rides
Disney World isn’t just a great place for kids to go. There are lots of cool things for parents to do. However, when you are there with your toddler you may forget about them. Do not forget to go on some adult rides. Go on the roller coaster or tower of terror if you’d like. Disney offers parent swap options. How it works is one parent rides while the other stays with the child who’s too young for said ride. Then the other parent is given a pass that allows them to immediately go in the “fast pass” line. I highly recommend doing this when they are taking a nap.
Usually when you’re going to Disney World you want to cram as much fun in as possible. However, don’t forget to schedule some down time. Whether at the hotel pool or even at a park, take time just to relax and enjoy. You don’t want to come home from your vacation in need of a vacation.
Disney World has so many delicious options for dining. However, it can get expensive especially if your child is like mine and needs to eat ALL the time. Prior to going to the parks, stock up on individual size snack packs. I brought animal crackers, goldfish, and crackers. These were all snacks that wouldn’t melt in the hot weather and we’re also great for the adults in our group to munch on. I also made sure to have yogurt and apple sauce pouches.
Bring Water Bottles/Sippy Cups
Just like snacks, buying a bottle or two of water can add up over the course of a vacation. In the Florida (or California) sun, you need to stay hydrated. My suggestion, bring a water bottle for yourself and a sippy cup for your toddler. There are lots of water fountains throughout the park where you can fill them up, saving you money to put toward that much-needed souvenir.
Over the many years I’ve been to Disney, this is the first time I’ve ever bought the Memory Maker picture package. Why? Because I knew we’d be taking lots of pictures with characters during our trip. Yes, you can take them with your own phone and upload them, instantly sharing them with friends and family on social media. I decided to splurge on the package and recommend you do too. That way you are free to enjoy the moment with your child and their favorite character or try to help comfort a scared kid (let’s be honest, probably both).
Each morning before we left for the park I made sure to pack pajamas. We planned to stay until the fireworks show every night which was well past my little guys normal bed time. Prior to leaving the park, and sometimes prior to the firework show, we’d put him in his pajamas. That way, if he fell asleep on the way home, it would be 10 times easier putting him to bed.