The Busy Giffs: How to do Disney World with Infant and Toddlers and No, Your Kid is Not Too Young for Disney

August 20, 2015

How to do Disney World with Infant and Toddlers and No, Your Kid is Not Too Young for Disney

We've been back from Disney for over a month and I'm still obsessed with the whole thing. Even though I had been when I was younger, this was my first time planning a trip so I consider it my 'first time'. There was so much information that I wanted stream line some for you if you're bringing your own little ones!

When we went, Emma had just turned 4 a week earlier and Tyler was just over 14 months.  We had an amazing vacation, with no meltdowns and no exhaustion post vacation! 

1. Go in with a plan.

To be sure we saw every park at least once, I scheduled all of our character lunches at different parks. We were going to be there for a week with 5 days of park passes, so we scheduled one lunch at Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios, and two lunches at Magic Kingdom.  That way we knew each morning, which park was our "main park" for the day and could schedule our fast passes in that park each morning. 

2. Don't over plan.

Dave wanted to get on every roller coaster so when it came time for Fast Passes, I looked at our lunch plans to determine which park we would be at, and made his roller coaster Fast passes for the morning. Booking the day they were available to me, I was able to get every single ride he wanted with no issues. I mostly used our Fast Passes for Princess meet and greets. That was all we planned! We knew each morning which park we'd head to, we had Fast Passes for that morning and then lunch plans. Anything else after lunch was up in the air.  Having a great time at Animal Kingdom, we stayed until 6 pm. Epcot not as entertaining as we expected? Perfect time to head back to the resort pool. Not scheduling every moment of the day gave us some time to relax.

3. Take time to relax!

Our hotel pool was amazing! Leaving the parks and enjoying it was awesome but even things like grabbing an ice cream and people watching, or meandering through Downtown Disney were great ways to take a moment to breath, rather than rushing from one place to the next.

4. Take cues from the kids.

I wore the 1 year old in my Lillebaby Airflow baby carrier for 70% of our trip. It was perfect. he loves being worn and it gave us the ease of being able to walk right on to rides or let him nap if he needed to and no one had to be left behind to watch the sleeping kid in the carriage.  There were a few times when the 4 year old would show signs that it was nap time and when that happened, we'd let the rest of the group head off to a ride that was too big for her and we'd relax in the shade so she could close her eyes.

The heat index was between 100 and 115 while we were there so we were constantly grabbing water (free from the counter if you just ask for a cup of ice water!) to keep them hydrated.  Small snacks in my bag warded away "Im hungry but the line is too long" melt downs and every meal we ate in the park was delicious.

5. Do the dining plan, especially if you have a little one.

We didn't pay for a single one of Tyler's meals, and seriously, I think he ate more than Emmalee most meals. As an infant he was allowed his own meal (free!) at each sit down restaurant (except for Cinderella's Royal table) and access to every buffet we went to. While it doesn't seem like much, it was a savings! We did the Dining plan that gave you one sit down meal, one quick serve meal and a snack every day and it was TOO much food! I was blown away-- We had so much food and saved a lot in comparision to what those meals would have cost us to purchase!

6. Book character meals.

They were the best! The lines for characters sometimes took upwards of a half hour in the park, but sitting down eating a meal while all the characters came to us was perfect. We dined at Akershurs in Epcot, Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood Studios, and the Crystal Palace, Be Our Guest (not really a character meal at lunch but so so amazing), and Cinderella's Royal Table in Magic Kingdom. Each meal was so delicious but the interaction with the characters was even better.  Each character took time to visit each table and the handlers would check to make sure that we had seen everyone.  Emmalee was not a fan of the Winnie the Pooh characters at crystal Palace so they were respectful and waved from the other side of the table and then were on their way.  Tyler LOVED them, so they took pictures with him, but there was no pressure if you didn't want the characters.

7. See the fireworks, even if it's only one night.

Our kids are in bed by 8:30 every night and we knew messing that up on them would cause undue stress to all of us, so each night we were back in the hotel by 7:30 or so.  We were lucky enough that my sisters volunteered to watch them one night so we caught the Epcot fireworks, and then the Hollywood Studios fireworks from Epcot! The last night of our trip, we went to Magic Kingdom for the second time, went back to the hotel and ventured out for fireworks as a family.  The Frozen Summer Fun fireworks were spectacular and the look on our 4 year olds face was priceless.  Amazingly the 1 year old slept right through them but Emma will tell  you that her favorite part was the fireworks at Hollywood Studios, even though she fell asleep as we left the park.

8. Rent a stroller, even if you think your kids are too old.

My 4 year old never ever uses a stroller but we rented one from Kingdom Strollers and I am so glad we did. When we left the Hollywood Studios fireworks, she curled up in the carriage and went to bed while we waited for the buses.  Yes, I had to lift her out and fold up the carriage for the bus, but opening it up and pushing her back to the room at the resort was way better than carrying her across the resort. It also made a great purse and souvenir holder throughout the day too.

9. Have fun!

Okay, this one is silly, but seriously, have fun. We saw so many parents yelling at kids, or yelling at each other; it was sad. Remember, it's a vacation!

And last thing, no, your kid is not too little for Disney.  They may not remember it when they're older but there's lot of things that I did 10 years ago that I don't remember doing and they were still probably lots of fun. My 1 year old ate for free, stayed in the hotel for free, got his own Magic Band and enjoyed every minute of our trip. C'mon, look at this face... you know he loved it just as much as his 32 year old dad.

What is your "must know" tip for surviving enjoying Disney with infants and toddlers?

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