There’s just something so exciting about going to Disney World with toddlers. Maybe it’s the way they see things; everything is still so magical to them. And really, if you look at it through their eyes, you start to see things differently too!
And when it comes to planning a trip to Disney World with toddlers, there are more than a couple things to keep in mind. While tots are able to enjoy more of the parks than babies, there are still some things to take into consideration.
First, of course, is knowing which rides are good for toddlers, and which of the Disney Parks are the most toddler-friendly. Second, you gotta know the best times to go. It’s nice to be able to avoid the most crowded times of the day and of the year, especially with a toddler in tow. Planning a trip where everyone wants to skip rides? There’s a lot that you can do at Disney World while avoiding all the rides.
And then, there are all sorts of neat little tips and tricks for making the most out of your Disney vacation with a toddler. From character meets to special places around the park for them to enjoy to where to find free stuff! (but if you want to just skip to tips for taking a 2 year old, you can do that too)
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Best times to go to Disney World with a Toddler
Walt Disney World is such a popular resort that it can get a little crowded.
I’ve been on some of the busiest days of the year, and while it is still magical, it’s not very fun waiting in a two hour line… especially with little kids! What you can do is check the best weeks to go and pick the week that works best for your family!
The park is pretty busy with all of the fun 50th Anniversary Celebration things going on. This means that the heightened demand with the labor shortages gives the impression that the parks are busier (because the resorts are full), but you can always stay off property (as almost 75% of visitors do)
The Very Best Weeks to take the kiddos to Disney World are…
- The week days in January
- First Week of February and several week days in February (not race weekend tho)
- Early to Mid May
- September (there are hurricanes here, but lower crowds)
- Weekdays in early October
- Random Days in November (see a price calendar for November, as those dates fluctuate)
Ideally, you’ll avoid RunDisney Weekends, and any weeks where there is a large tournament or new addition (like a ride opening).
Thankfully, Disney World is large enough that you can move around the resort without having too many issues… but certainly avoid Spring Break and Christmas Break if you can help it.
Remember to book park passes *with* your tickets (this is a new thing!) or you wont be able to get into the parks.
Packing For Success on a Toddler Disney Vacation
I highly recommend getting a packing list together- at least a month ahead of time, so that way you can get everything you need. This especially helps when you’ve got a toddler to pack for, too!
The top 3 items I recommend to Toddler Parents and Caregivers:
1. Portable Phone Charger– your phone WILL go dead using the MyDisney App, and some of the rides will drain your battery as your phone looks for signal. The alternative is good ole pencil and paper- just make sure you can access your plans and reservations for the day!
2. A Good Stroller with a Rain Cover (just in case!). You can average up to 10 miles a day on a Disney World trip, and a good quality stroller (not an umbrella one) will be a life saver for you and kiddo! If you aren’t able to bring your stroller, rent one from Kingdom Strollers (as they have great prices AND you get a complimentary rain cover!)
For Reference… here’s the strollers you’ll find at Disney World. Not exactly toddler friendly.
Related: See what age you’ll no longer need to plan for a stroller at Disney World
3. Activities for your toddler. We actually carry a little ‘toy’ bag full of goodies to the theme parks. There’s crayons in there, WaterWow books and Magic Marker Coloring sheets, and little dinos and sticker books. You’ll want a large array of items and make sure that they are newer items to keep them entertained for longer.
Plus screens are great if you decide to bring them in. We don’t *only* because I’m worried about them getting stolen/lost so we use our phones when needed. Yet another reason to have a portable charger available.
Things for toddlers to do at Disney World
Here’s a quick list of some of the things for toddlers to do at Disney World. Unlike other Orlando Theme Parks (looking at you Universal) Disney World is extremely kid friendly and most of the parks can be enjoyed by toddlers.
- Meeting Characters
- Shows (Lion King at Animal Kingdom, Frozen and Beauty and the Beast in Hollywood, Beauty and the Beast Sing Along in EPCOT, and Philharmagic in Magic Kingdom)
- hunt for hidden mickeys
- play on splash pads
- Enjoy the play spaces and playgrounds
And because there’s so much to do, and Toddlers have such big personalities, it’s recommended to have at least three days in the parks, plus one rest day, in addition to arrival and departure day.
You won’t be able to see and do everything, but that helps with making the most of a vacation with a toddler without loosing your cool keeping track of them.
Specific Disney World Activities for Toddlers
There are some actually activities for Toddlers to do at Disney World. In EPCOT, you will find the Kidcot stations. There are little areas in the World Showcase that offer a postcard and sticker for each country. There is also a coloring station to fill in your postcard, and the kids love to color with the markers!
Collecting Stickers is another huge thing that my toddler LOVES at Magic Kingdom. We have a little book that we store all her stickers in… but character signatures are also super fun too! See all the best Disney World Character meets for Toddlers (plus some tips) in this handy up to date guide.
Speaking of little books, the Wilderness Explorer Program at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is wildly fun for toddlers to do. You can see the book and the other free things to do at Disney World in this guide.
Lastly, Pressing pennies! Pressing Pennies is a fun way to get my toddler involved in looking around and observing, decision making skills (as there’s 3-6 available per machine and we typically get 1-2), fine motor skills as they place the pennies in the penny book, and memorization as they have to recall which pennies they’ve already collected.
Tips for Walt Disney World with Toddler
Download the My Disney App!
This handy little app is so useful for planning your trip! Once you’ve got the basics down about the parks, restaurants and transportation, you can begin looking at ADR’s (advanced Dining Reservations) and booking your fast passes (they are free! It’s how you get to skip the line on rides). Super helpful, especially with a toddler!
Please DON’T make plans until you decide what parks you are visiting on what days. WHY? Because you might accidentally make a reservation for a park that you don’t have a reservation for.
With the new Park Passes required for entry, you can park hop (if you purchased that) at 2 pm. Otherwise you’ll stay in your entire park for the day.
Go ahead and pick either the parks you want OR the restaurants you want, get the reservations and then match up the second half of your required reservations. (Disney also offers a walk up wait list option in the app, for the day of)
Plan Photos for the Mornings, or when you first get to the parks
This helps to ‘capture the memory’ you want to put on the wall. But also capture the photos throughout the day- because thats what real life looks like!
We love getting the photopass, but the value has gone down a lot. They are using photo stands in some character greets that really suck. See examples here.
Good news is that photographers can use your phone, and you can have them take pictures and purchase the print afterwards for 20 dollars.
Plan downtime- most touring plans are made by adults for adults
Toddlers are going to need a lot of downtime- especially because they just don’t have the capacity mentally and physically that adults do. Plan downtime into your day with naps, going to the hotel/resort for pool time, or doing only an 8 hour day instead of a 12 hour day.
The park that has the best (and most!) rides for toddlers
This award easily goes to our favorite and most popular park, Magic Kingdom. At Magic Kingdom, you’ll find so many parks for the younger ones to enjoy. (Though Haunted Mansion could be scary- depends on your kid, My 2 yr old is NOT a fan!)
Some of our favorites include the Dumbo ride, (especially because it has a hidden playground inside!), and the Jungle Cruise.
We also love to go on the Pirates of the Caribbean and you absolutely HAVE to do the people mover.
The people mover is Walt Disney’s gift to those people that want a solid 10 minutes to do nothing and just relax!
The Best Disney World park with the most play places for toddlers
We all know that kids love to play. And while Magic Kingdom has quite a few smaller hidden areas for the littles to run around, they are often small and tucked back.
But if you want an actual playground that you don’t have to catch a boat or jump through a ride to get to, head to Epcot!
Yes! Epcot, which is world renowned for festivals catering to adults, actually has a lot of great stuff for the little ones. You’ll find most of the larger play spaces in Future World. There’s a full-fledged outdoor playground in the middle of the world showcase.
There’s also two splash pads in this area (more in splash pads in a bit!) AND if you go in the back entrance to Mission Space, there is a playground indoors with A/C.
The best for Low Stress with a Toddler
I don’t know about you, but after lugging around this stroller and this diaper bag and chasing after too many kids, mama needs a break.
That’s when we get lost in the rain forest and other foreign cultures at Animal Kingdom.
This park is so laid back and easy to explore, with lots of animals and walking paths. There are some super fun and cute shows, and an entire area dedicated to kiddos at DinoLand USA which also has a giant play area!
The Best place to meet toddler friendly characters
Meeting characters is so incredibly fun for the little kids! While I’m a big fan of doing character meals with my food allergy babies, I also know it’s fun to meet characters at the parks!
The best place to do this is also the home to all things Star Wars, Hollywood Studios. Here you’ll find lots of crowd favorites like Mickey and Gang, plus the only place you’ll find our lovable snowman Olaf.
AND this is the ONLY place you’ll find some of the beloved Disney Junior Characters to get their signature and a big hug!
On that note, let’s talk more about character meets with a toddler!
First off, timing matters
You know this because you’re probably trying to get 5 minutes of sanity to read a post about how to make this vacation more magical for your little tike that you’re trying to get 5 minutes of peace from.
Nap time? Bad idea to meet characters.
Evening time? Probably even worse.
So, the best time we’ve found between our three kids and watching other people with theirs is in the morning time, when the characters first come out (and it helps to be at the best parks for character meets too!)
Because it’s less time for meltdowns and crazy outfit changes. More time to meet the characters without feeling rushed. And this ties directly into my very last tip for getting the most out of your character meet.
Prepare for long lines (or go to character dining)
Something that many people aren’t expecting are the lines to see characters. Especially at places like Magic Kingdom where it’s mostly in the A/C, character meets can get well over an hour even on the slower days.
Then if you think about somewhere like Epcot, or Animal Kingdom, where many of the meets are totally outside, and it’s no surprise why people pick the A/C!
It’s also one thing to wait in just one 20 minute line to meet one character.
But most people aren’t going to want to meet just one person- what’s Donald without Daisy? And Goofy really is one of the funniest characters we’ve ever met!
So the alternative to the longer lines is to:
- Go to Character Meals where you can meet 3-5 characters while you eat (yes, you can go to character meals with food allergies!).
- Go to a special additional ticket event like the Halloween and Christmas Party.
Free Stuff for Toddlers to enjoy at Disney Springs- no park ticket required
While Orlando has the Lego Theme Park (with all it’s fun things to do!) Disney Springs has some pretty fun things at the Lego Store. There’s little interactive things, from building stations with Duplo blocks to more complicated stations for the older kids. There’s little interactive computer stations, places to build mini Legos, and Lego RACES!
And yes, you can design your own vehicle and compete against the other people in a semi outdoor arena.
This has to be one of the big secrets at Disney!
Dun dun dun…
They have hidden little splash pads around the parks.
Yes, they have areas where you can get wet from rides, have water shot at you from hidden things, like a spitting camel, and they have fans with misters in certain places.
What I’m talking about, are full on, water shooting, designed with kids in mind, splash areas.
These little splash areas can be found throughout the parks.
There in on at EPCOT, right by test track.
There is one in Magic Kingdom, all the way in the back by Fantasyland, called the KC juniors splash pad and this area by big top is all kid themed.
Another splash pad is in Disney Springs, in the back by Goofy Candy Company.
Samples and treats (chocolate, hand washing)
So many samples! From complimentary eats at the goofy candy store, to free chocolate at the Chocolate Shop, to playing with the bubbles and soap over at Basin soap shop! It’s got something for everyone!
Inside of the T-Rex Restaurant, you’ll find one of our favorite free activities! The Paleo Dig! It’s a fun kid friendly spot to cool off and play for a minute. But parents beware–there’s a ‘Dino Build-A-Bear’ inside the shop.
There are so many amazing and kid friendly photo spots! For one–if you have the memory maker option, there’s a few spots around Disney Springs for some good photos (no lines) and there’s a photoshop studio. We love stopping here to grab some updated pictures. The wait line is small, the props are plentiful, and there’s lots of room for everyone to get in the shot without the weather acting up.
You’ll also notice spots all around for pictures. Many life sized Disney Characters are found throughout the Springs–too many to name!
Inside of the Disney stores there are many cast members giving out stickers- even better is that they aren’t all the same stickers! You can go to the big store, World of Disney, and go to the smaller toy store and get totally different stickers.
Conclusion: Toddlers + Disney World = Fun!
With the right planning and the right know-how (which you now have:) you can have an awesome time at Disney World with your toddler. It truly is a magical time for all ages, but when they’re that little and everything’s so new and exciting, it’s that much more fun!
Have you been to Disney World with toddlers? Tell me about your experience in the comments!