Written by Erica V. Ellis – Magical Tripcations Travel Planner
Are you contemplating a trip to Walt Disney World with a toddler? Has the idea of taking someone under the age of 3 also made you question your sanity? Fear not, there are some great reasons why taking your toddler to Walt Disney World before they turn 3 is an awesome idea. We have polled our Magical Tripcations Travel Team and come up with tips that will help you not only stay sane but have a very memorable and magical time!
- FREE TICKET – Did you know that children under the age of 3 do not require a park ticket? That’s right, they are considered an infant until they turn 3 and are free of charge to enter any of the Disney Parks. Please note, if you work with one of our Magical Tripcations Travel Planners to create a vacation package that includes a dining plan, they will NOT be included in that plan, so your child would either eat off of your plate or you would need to pay out of pocket for them during meal time.
- 5 Can Stay for the Price of 4 – Did you know that a portion of Disney’s Resorts have a maximum occupancy of 4 in a room? If you are a Party of 5, in which one is under the age of 3, you still have the option of staying in resort room with a maximum occupancy of 4. Your toddler (under the age of 3) does not count towards the total number of occupants in a room. This is a major plus since it allows you to consider a wide array of resort categories and room types which vary in price.
- You Can Ship That! – Walt Disney Resorts will accept packages for their guests up to 10 days prior to arrival. Simply place an order with your favorite online retailer, like Amazon, and use the resort address as the shipping address. You will also want to include the full name of the lead guest on the reservation & your arrival date. At check-in, let the cast member know that you had items delivered to the resort and they will retrieve them for you. During our last trip to Walt Disney World, we had our then 13-month old’s diapers, wipes, food pouches, yogurt bites, & other snacks for us sent via Amazon Prime. I placed the order about 12 days prior to our arrival & they got to the resort about a week before we did. It was so nice to not have to worry about packing bulky diapers in our suitcase. Clients are advised to have what they need with them for the first 24 hours of their trip in their carry-on bag just in case something happens with luggage or a delivery.
- Little Legs = Tired Legs – A stroller is a must for any Disney travel with little ones. There are several options on how to approach this. The first option is to bring your own stroller from home. If you choose this option, we suggest bringing a larger stroller. Not only will it serve as your child’s chariot throughout the day, it can also serve as great place to stow away snacks, bags, & souvenirs as you go along. The second option would be to rent a stroller once you arrive at your Disney Park of choice each day. The stroller rental locations are at the front of the park entrance & can be used all day within that specific park. You will be given a piece of paper to write your name to distinguish your stroller from everyone else’s, but I also suggest taking a ribbon or something else to tie onto the stroller to help you find it quickly. The third option is to rent a stroller from a third party company in the Orlando area. They will deliver your stroller to you on the day of your check-in & pick it up from the resort upon check out. There are several options that Walt Disney World recommends:
- Carrying Around Your Precious Cargo – When you decide to get in line at an attraction, you must park your stroller at the entrance of the ride. If your child is old enough to walk & stand in line, prepare them for this. If your child isn’t, be prepared to carry them in line. If they still meet the weight requirements for a baby carrier like an Ergo & they are accustomed to using it, make sure you bring it along! It’s a great way to keep your hands free and on most attractions your little one can just stay in the carrier during the attraction if they are carried in the front.
- Know Their Boundaries – While there are plenty of attractions that little ones will enjoy at each of the parks, some might be too much for them to take even if they are tall enough to ride them. Also, keep in mind that there is usually a nightly fireworks show at each of the parks. Some kids love this, others may not. As one of our Travel Planners shared, her son loved the fireworks, her daughter on the other hand thought they were “too starie!” for her taste.
- Keep Their Schedule – During vacation, most of us tend to throw our schedules out the window! While this is usually a great thing for an adult, it might be hard for a toddler. Don’t feel that you need to keep them on their exact schedule, sometimes that just isn’t possible or realistic. Our suggestion is to keep them close to it. If your child is accustomed to eating at noon, but your dining reservation isn’t until 2:30pm, make sure you are prepared with a snack or two to tie them over. Be prepared to be flexible and don’t expect it to be the same trip you took when you were a teenager. Kids get tired & need frequent breaks. Prepare for a meltdown, it’ll happen & it’ll end, hang in there! One of the biggest perks about staying at a Disney property is that it’s pretty easy to get back to your resort for a nap. There are also lots of quiet places in the parks to wander off if a nap is needed. A personal favorite spot of mine is the Carousel of Progress at Magic Kingdom. Another thing to consider is the time change. Walt Disney World is in the Eastern Standard Time Zone. If you’re traveling from the West Coast to Walt Disney World & can’t seem to understand why your child is still going strong at 10pm, remember what time their little body thinks it is.
- Characters Really LOVE Little Ones – Many of our Travel Planners have found that character interactions are a whole lot more magical with toddlers! The characters seem to gravitate towards them & love to make them laugh! Keep in mind that some kids do NOT enjoy these & the characters are usually good about reading the child’s body language and react accordingly. Before our most recent trip to Walt Disney World we did some test runs with costumed characters at both Sea World and Fiesta Texas. Our little one had no issues with these characters and in fact, loved dancing with Elmo at Sea World so we knew she would love meeting her Disney favorites!! Some character interactions can be reserved with the Fast Pass+ service that is free for all ticketed guests. This might not be a bad use of your selections when traveling with a toddler. During our most recent trip we used a Fast Pass to meet Cinderella & Rapunzel. We spent about 5 minutes laughing & playing with Rapunzel, she was hilarious! Another interaction we had was with Donald Duck where he actually stepped out of his spot in between guests to come & say hi to us while we were in line. That is a priceless memory that I will not forget. I never experienced anything like that before & it made for some great pictures on our Memory Maker!
At the end of the day, you will make the best decision for you & your family on whether or not a trip with your toddler is something you want to try. It does take a little extra planning, but seeing the Disney magic through a child’s eyes is truly amazing! A recent Magical Tripcations client shared with us that while her 18 month old “might not remember this trip, she & her husband would never forget it!” Contact one of our experienced Magical Tripcations Travel Planners to help you plan your vacation, and let us help with all the details that come along with toddler travel. We’ve all been there and are eager to share our experience with you. Remember, all of our planning services are completely FREE to you! Learn more about working with a Magical Tripcations Travel Planner here.
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