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!