We’ve visited Disneyland multiple times with young kids (under 5) and did a week long stay at Walt Disney World in May for the Disney Social Media Moms conference. The cross-country flight to Florida was even a red-eye, with 3 kiddos in tow (a 9 month old, 3 year old, and 6 year old)! We not only survived, but we had a blast–truly memories that our family will cherish forever (even if the littlest members won’t remember). I know there are some that are nervous and overwhelmed at the thought of traveling to Walt Disney World (or even Disneyland) with babies and young kids. But, I assure you that it can be not only doable, but dare I say, magical! The key is being prepared! So, I’m sharing the top 10 tips that helped make our week at Disney World with 3 little ones a blast! In fact, we can’t wait to go back! 1. Stay on property. With little ones in tow, I can’t imagine staying anywhere else but on property. I specifically recommend Disney’s Art of Animation Resort for families with young kids. It’s perfect for keeping you completely immersed in the Disney magic. For the boys, the Big Blue Pool (Finding Nemo themed) was like a water park in itself. We could have easily stayed at the hotel for one full day without even going to one of the theme parks and our boys would have totally been thrilled! Seriously, look at the pool!!
There are so many additional benefits to staying on property though! In fact, I did a whole post about it, that you can check out here –> Reasons to consider staying on property at Disney World!
2. Have a stroller!! This is a hands-down MUST! Yes, even if your 3 or 4 year old is used to walking a lot! In fact, our 6 year old even had some stroller time on our latest trip! This picture pretty much sums it up! 🙂If you’re flying like we did (or don’t want to risk anything with your own stroller), I highly recommend renting a stroller from an off-site company like, Kingdom Strollers! You can rent strollers on property, but this is one area that Disney is NOT the best in! The park strollers are made of hard plastic and don’t recline. In addition, there’s almost no storage space, cup holder space, and you can’t remove them from the parks (so no walking back to buses or hotels with sleeping kids). Renting from Kingdom Strollers on the other hand was a dream! Check out the difference in the strollers: This was a life saver so many different times during our trip! Many naps were had in the City Mini GT we got from Kingdom Strollers. They deliver the stroller to the hotel you’re staying at and all you have to do is leave it with the concierge at your hotel when you leave! It couldn’t be easier or more convenient! I cannot recommend this highly enough! 3. Have baby carrier for babies/young toddlers! For our family, having a baby carrier for Baby Brother (9 months at the time) was also really handy in addition to the stroller. It was especially handy to have for loading up on buses (when you need to collapse the stroller), for shows where the stroller couldn’t come in, and of course, waiting in lines! It was so convenient to just have the carrier under the stroller and pop it on when we needed it! Plus, I don’t fly with a little one without one! Our favorite is the ergobaby carrier. You can read more about them here —> ergobaby review 4. Bring snacks (and a well-stocked diaper bag). Disney actually allows you to bring food & drinks into the parks with only a few restrictions. For families, this is a great thing. It saves tons of money and we all know that snacks are an amazing cure for cranky kiddos! Having snacks (and other essentials for little ones) easily on hand makes the day go that much smoother. Click over for a list of our Disney World Diaper Bag essentials here!
5. Plan ahead & have a rough itinerary. Before you go, do some research and have a rough plan for your trip. I suggest familiarizing yourself with what all the different parks have to offer and what your “must-see” attractions are. One thing I strongly recommend is planning on some shows in the afternoon. It’s a great place to cool off during hot months. Plus, it’s great for naps. Sleepy little ones can rest while the others can still be entertained. A win-win!
6. Utilize kid play areas. Each park has some great play areas for the kids! These spots might not be on your “must-see” lists, but you should make time to fit them in. The boys absolutely LOVED having a place to just run free, climb, explore, etc! Truly, they could have stayed in these fun places for hours! Even though they were our top attractions, I think they were important to give the boys the opportunity for some free play – a break from lines, shows, etc. and just letting them play. It was a nice break for mom & dad too! 😉 The Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure in Hollywood Studios was a favorite (and one I remember from my childhood trip to Disney World).
And, they absolutely LOVED The Boneyard in Dinosaur USA at the Animal Kingdom! So much fun!
7. Use the Rider Switch pass!! This is a great feature for families traveling with kids. On many of the attractions with height requirements/special restrictions, “rider switch” is available. So many people I’ve talked to didn’t know this cool service existed! So, the basic premise is that on rides where “rider switch” is available, your party goes to see the attendant at the entrance and asks them to get a rider switch pass. The pass is then good for the rest of the day and works like a FAST PASS.We used this on a number of rides that Big Brother could go on, but the little guys couldn’t. Mr. Mom Endeavors and Big Brother would go on the ride together. Then, when they were done, Big Brother and I could go on the ride together with our rider switch pass through the FAST PASS line. So nice!
8. Plan a down day. Now, I’m not suggesting you need to just forgo any park time on a particular day. But, maybe just have a day in your itinerary that’s a little more open. Since the Art of Animation hotel was so cool, we made sure to come back early from the parks one day just to have play time at the hotel. The boys absolutely loved this and it was nice to have some fun, but relaxing time!
9. Take lots of photos & utilize the Disney PhotoPass service. For most people, this probably goes without saying, but be sure to take lots of photos (and some video too!). These little ones won’t remember their time there, but I can guarantee they’ll love looking at the photos & videos! Disney’s PhotoPass service is awesome and a great value if you purchase the PhotoPass+ ahead of time. The PhotoPass photographers are great about taking photos with your own camera too! I love it because it enables the photographer in your party (in that case it’s me) to actually be in some of the photos. We got some absolutely wonderful family shots while we were there because of it! This one is my favorite: And, then there are these of the boys in their DIY Mickey Shirts. I love them (the boys, the shirts, and the pictures 😉 )!
10. Be flexible!!! Remember the goal is to have fun, enjoy each other, make family memories. Stuff happens, kids get cranky, rides breakdown, so being flexible (and patient) is vital to making sure the trip is full of good memories!
Most importantly, have fun!!
Have YOU visited Disney Parks with young kiddos? What are your best tips?
Disclosure: My family was invited to the 2013 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. I paid a conference fee to attend and received discounted & complimentary items from Walt Disney World as part of the experience. I was not asked to write about our experiences at the conference or our family trip that followed. All opinions and experiences are entirely my own!
We leave for Disneyland on Thursday. Baby brothers first trip and flight. Seems to be a tradition to take the boys at 21 days old. I’m running the Disneyland 10k on Saturday, what was I thinking??
Yay! How fun is that?! Have a blast on the run! That’s on my bucket list!!
These are such great tips, I agree with all of them! We loved Kingdom Strollers too. I can’t wait to take my girls next year!
Excellent advice! I love that you included a down day tip. It is so easy to forget to plan a day to rest and do all the activities at your hotel that you might not get to fit in otherwise!
Your pictures are adorable! What great tips (especially the stroller one!) for any family going to Disney World.
Thank you for coming and linking up to Travel Tuesday!
Great tips! We are taking our almost 3 year old next month. We will only have 2 park days. I am trying to decide if we should spend both days at Magic Kingdom or one day there and one day at Animal Kingdom. Any thoughts?
Ooh! That’s tough! If you want just the iconic Disney experience, then do both days at Magic Kingdom. But, if your 3 year old is into animals, the Animal Kingdom is REALLY fun! My boys LOVED the safari ride and the Lion King show. And, they thought the Bone Yard in Dinosaur USA was great too! Whichever you decide will be a great time! 🙂 Have fun!
Thanks. Your post is so helpfully. We r planing our first trip to WDW coming april for 4 days. I have a 4.5 year old n 16 months old. So nervous.. I hope my kids enjoy to the max. Oh..n ur kids r tooo adorable. I love the matching shirts idea..going to get on that right away. Thanks :)))
We’ve gone to Disney World twice now, and I’m hoping to go again either Dec 2015 or January 2016. The first trip we were lucky enough to win! We were off Disney property and went with our 2 (almost 3) year old and one year old (right at his birthday, too). We were in the parks 7 days, and we had such a fantastic time. It was a bit stressful to try to keep down costs (we had to pay food and since we extended our stay we paid for one 7 day pass for an adult and half our hotel stay, but our vehicle rental and flight was paid for, which is huge), and I found that the counter service restaurants were perfect for us (we went to one character meal, and honestly, while it was nice to be in the a/c and have the buffet, it was not as good for us as the counter service as neither of us adults could sit together to eat as we were always up trying to get food for us or the kiddos.
We went yet again in November 2013 for my 30th birthday, and this time had a 5yo, 3yo, and our daughter who was 9months. We managed to stay on property (Pop Century was fantastic), took advantage of free dining, and it was great! We had a few rain days, and my son got sick (as in really sick… poor guy) but we still had a fantastic time. The day he was sick my husband (who is not as much into rides as I am) stayed with him and I took the two girls to MK. We saw some princesses, rode Ariel’s ride, and mostly did things I could do with a baby (the carousel was a fave). It was raining again, but that was fine. It was so much fun, especially for my 5 year old! The oldest two are still talking about it, and are asking for us to go again. If flights didn’t cost us so much, I’d be doing so in a heartbeat. Next trip we’re planning will see us with a 7yo, 5yo, 2yo, and 1yo. I’m really really hoping to coax my parents into coming along as well! I’m thinking we’re going to be needing a more pricey room this time, as Pop will be out due to the sheer size of our family. My kids are asking me to make them Disney Journals again (they had such fun drawing pictures in theirs! And it is so much fun seeing the trip through their eyes). My oldest was really into the faster rides (she LOVED Kali River Rapids, Splash Mountain, and Thunder Mountain Railroad. My son… not so much. Goofy’s Barnstormer was more his speed, and only if I rode with him). We brought a baby carrier (sleepywrap type) and two umbrella strollers as all our kids needed to ride at some points.
I know most families like to wait until the kids are older to be able to do all the rides, but the character meet and greets are so much fun with youngsters (my favorite is still of my son when he was 1 meeting Mickey. He was just in love! All smiles and giggles, and Mickey even knelt down and put him on his knee for pictures. It was just wonderful), and frankly, with how our family is growing, it seems I’ll be lucky just to find a good time to go when I’m not pregnant! Is it possible to get a room where you can have two pack and plays?
Thank you! Love your tips! I was wondering how difficult it is to get the strollers on and off the buses. I’m very interested in renting one but I’m thinking the convenience of leaving the park strollers at the gate makes up for the lack of comfort. What are your thoughts? I haven’t been to Disney since I was a child, we will be taking a 5 year old and 1 year old next year.
You do have to fold them down and put them underneath. But, honestly, we didn’t find it that bad. We rented the double stroller shown in the post and it was easy to collapse. And, even though that is an inconvenience, I liked still having the stroller with us because then we could use it at the hotel and stuff like that (which you can’t do it if you just rent them at the park). To help, we always had a baby carrier with us (an Ergo). So, when we collapsed the stroller, I just carried our baby in the carrier. Really wasn’t bad!
Awesome! Thanks for all the great suggestions!
How old are your boys? Mine are 4 and will be 7 at the time of going to Disney this spring. The last time we were at Disney they got frightened of some things easily and wicked tired by 1:00pm every day…. lol Im nervous and worried about them scaring easily again – just want them to have fun. Going to try to roll with it – and see what we can talk them into going on……. lol Help!
Here, my boys were 9 months, just turned 3, and just turned 6. Mine were frightened of a few things too (like we thought our 6 year old would LOVE the Dinosaur ride, but it was way too scary for him). We discovered on this trip too that our 3 year old has some anxiety issues with certain rides. But, we still had a blast! They LOVED so many things. The kid play areas were great places to go when we wanted a break and/or the kids needed some time for just some free play!
i know this may sound silly but my biggest indecisiveness is deciding on a stroller. Planning our first trip ever. Have a 4 & 2 year old. Should we rent a single or double? We are staying onsite at POR. My biggest concern is about having to collapse & pack the stroller on the buses which is much harder with a double and maneuvering a double through the crowds. Also, what about a back carrier for our 2 year old? Any thoughts/recommendations on that? We won’t be staying in parks all day. We will take breaks/naps in the afternoon then go back to the parks later. Thanks for any input 🙂
I think this is completely a matter of personal preference. For us, I don’t mine collapsing the stroller and wouldn’t even dream of doing Disney without a double stroller. We’re going later this spring and will have a 2.5 year old, 5 year old, and 8 year old…and we will still be going with a double stroller!!! Also…we will have our Ergo carrier. It’s not a large backpack, but rather one that can be worn on the front or back. I put the little guy in that when needed for line waiting and getting on the buses after collapsing the stroller. This post shows the stroller that we rented from Kingdom Strollers and it was PERFECT for us.
But, that said, I know plenty of people that go with no strollers. That’s just not for us at this point!
Thank you for all of the great tips! My family and I will be going for our first time in September! Your pictures turned out so great! I love taking pictures but don’t seem to have the best of cameras. Do you have any recommendations for a good camera to take to Disney World? What kind of camera do you use? I want something that will take good pictures but won’t be too bulky or become an inconvenience. Thank you!
Would you say that stroller you rented was easy to turn with say, one hand. We have a double jogger and love how easy it is to drive around. I love that one you have since it has feet space separate for each kid. Is it easy to turn in your opinion?
It’s been a couple years now so I can’t speak to if it was one-handed easy. But, in all, we found the rental to be really nice. Easy to use, turn, fold up, etc. We had zero issues with that stroller!