Disney World is the ultimate family trip to do with your kids, but does travelling to Disney World with kids worry you a little bit? You want to make magical, long lasting memories and knowing a few things in advance could help to make sure you have a smooth vacation. The key to a successful Disney vacation is doing your research and planning for your family’s needs. I am going to share with you some tips for parents travelling with young kids that will help you get better prepared so that you can have a magical vacation 🙂
Here are some of the top things you should know when travelling to Disney World with kids:
Under 3 are Free
If your child or children are 2 years old or under when you arrive at Disney World, then you will not have to pay for them! Children under 3 do not need a park ticket to enter, nor do you need to pay for them at any of the buffet meals. That is a huge cost savings!
Also, if your child turns 3 during your trip, they will still remain free. No one ages at Disney, so the age you are when you start your vacation is the age they count for the entirety of your vacation. It’s a great reason to try and time your vacation so that you celebrate your child’s 3rd birthday there, just make sure he/she is still 2 years old when you first arrive and check-in. If you are staying off-site and are looking to save a bit of money on park tickets, head over to UndercoverTourist.com. You’ll save some money on tickets that are 3 days or longer. I’ve used this company several times, they are well-known and very reputable.
If you are travelling with a young child that may not reach the minimum height requirements of some of the rides you would like to do, then don’t fret, Disney has you covered! They have a “rider swap” option that you can ask for, which will allow some of the party to ride, while one parent stays back with the child that is not riding. Once the first ride is done, then the parents swap and the one that stayed back will get to ride without having to wait in the regular line again.
I think this option is genius! Disney really does think of the entire family and sometimes the bigger kids and adults want to ride something that the little ones may not be able to. This option makes sure that everyone is happy and gets to do what they want to do! To use it, just walk up to a cast member at an attraction and ask them if it is offered at that attraction, and if it is, they will give you a ride switch pass.
Here is a complete list of rides that offer rider swap:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Tomorrowland Indy Speedway
- Frozen Ever After
- Mission: SPACE
- Test Track
- Rock n’ Roller Coaster
- Star Tours
- Tower of Terror
- Flight of Passage
- Expedition Everest
- Kali River Rapids
- Primeval Whirl
Baby Care Centres
In all 4 theme parks, you will have access to a Baby Care Centre. It is a designated area where you can change your baby, feed them and even nurse them in a private room. The facilities are fully staffed and a comfortable escape when you need to tend to a young baby/child. There are several changing tables so that you don’t have to wait for one to be available in one of the regular washrooms.
They also have high chairs and small tables so that you can feed your little one comfortably. There is also a room dedicated to nursing mothers, where you can sit in a rocking chair and breastfeed in privacy. Take a look at this video that gives you a small tour of one of these facilities:
Also, something else important to note – if you become separated from your child in the park, the Baby Care Centre is where a cast member would escort them to. A cast member would mind your child until the parent comes to claim the child.
Strollers & Stroller Parking
Before arriving at Disney World, it’s a good idea to really think about whether you will need a stroller for your child or not. Disney involves A LOT of walking and children who may be out of a stroller at home, may still require one at Disney. There are kids at Disney that are 6, 7, or 8 in a stroller. If you don’t think your child will be able to handle all the walking (you can easily do up to 10 miles a day), then make sure you have arrangements for a stroller. You don’t want to ruin your vacation because you have a tired child that cannot walk any longer. Having a stroller just may help you avoid those meltdowns.
If you do not want to bring a stroller with you, there are several options to rent at Disney. You can rent them in the parks, they have both single and double strollers. The cost for a single is $15/daily or $13 for a multi-day. The cost for a double is $31/daily or $27 for a multi-day. While convenient, the only thing I do not like about the Disney strollers is that they are a hard plastic. They do not look very comfortable to sit in and if you have a child that wants to nap, I can see it as being very uncomfortable.
Another option is to rent it from a local rental company. You make arrangements in advance and they will drop the stroller off for you at your hotel and then pick it up when you are done. I’ve used a service like that before and was very satisfied. The quality of the strollers are good and comfortable for the child. Another plus is that you can take them with you when you leave the park as opposed to a Disney stroller. If you have a child that is sleeping in the stroller as you leave the park, then you can just continue pushing them to the bus or your car. A company that I highly recommend using is Magic Strollers.
Food & Snacks
While Disney has many options for food and snacks in their parks, did you know that it is okay to bring in your own outside food? If you would prefer to pack your own meal and/or snacks, then that is okay. This is important information for anyone that is travelling with a child with allergies or would just prefer to save on their food expense. Packing your own meals is one of my tips in How to Plan the Cheapest Disney World Vacation Possible. Just make sure that anything you bring in is not on their restricted items list.
If you are interested in packing your own meals, you could use a grocery delivery service so that you can order groceries for your hotel room. If you use this referral link for Instacart, you will get $10 off your first order. I’ve used their services in the past and was satisfied with my delivery.
Go With The Flow
One of the most important pieces of advice I ever received was to go with the flow of your kids. Nothing worse than fighting with a tired child and then everyone ends up just having a horrible time. If your child is showing signs of being tired, then take a break. There are plenty of places to rest in the parks. Or perhaps a nap back at the hotel is what they need to recharge. Going back to the hotel mid-day for a break and then returning at night is a great idea to avoid burnout. Taking breaks and resting when needed will keep everyone in good spirits so that you can keep your vacation as magical as possible!
If you are staying at a Disney hotel, then you will have other opportunities for fun activities right at your hotel. When you check-in, make sure to ask the cast member for the recreation calendar. You’ll get a detailed calendar of all the activities they have at the hotel. Most of them are usually by the main pool, which adds to the fun for the kids while parents can sit back and relax.
Most resorts also have movie nights by the pool. Depending on the time of year, you will have to check the calendar to see when they are being offered. Nothing better than ending your evening by the pool watching a Disney classic 🙂
Some resorts even have marshmallow roasting activities in the evenings. We enjoyed it at All-Star Sports on our last stay. Marshmallows were free for roasting and we were allowed to roast as many as we’d like. They have the same activity at Fort Wilderness and I believe Chip n’ Dale make an appearance at that one.
Use Fastpass+ Wisely
Knowing how to use the Fastpass+ system will be key to avoiding any long lines. The first thing you want to do is to make sure you have your 3 Fastpass+ reservations made before you arrive. At the very least, you will have 3 rides that you can walk on for the day with little to no wait. I always recommend making those reservations as early in the day as possible.
Once those 3 are used, then you can begin to select others one at a time. This method works best at Magic Kingdom, since there are so many rides to choose Fastpasses for at that park. I explain the method I use in detail, which allows me to get 6+ Fastpasses per day, in Tips for How to Get the Best Fastpasses.
Buy Some Items Before You Travel
No doubt that your children will see many items in the gift shops that they will want to buy. Disney is full of fun merchandise and it can be very tempting. One way to avoid those temptations is to stock up on a few items beforehand. Popular items like autograph books, Mickey Ears, and Disney clothing can be purchased online before your vacation. That way you can avoid buying them in the park at the high cost.
Don’t Skip Epcot
I often hear of parents with young children skipping Epcot because they feel that it won’t appeal to their kids. If they only knew what they were missing! Don’t rule out Epcot, there are so many fun rides and activities there, you would be surprised at how much young kids like it. Before making a decision, make sure to check out my blog post Top 12 Things to do at Epcot with Kids.
Do you have any other helpful tips for parents travelling to Disney World with kids? If so, leave them in the comments below 🙂
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Laura is a mom of one adorable girl with a love of all things Disney. She traveled to Disney World with her family in 2010 and was hooked. They have since been a total of over 15 times. With all her knowledge of planning Disney trips, she now wants to share that with others. She loves giving guidance, tips and advice to others planning their magical vacation!