Disney World with a Toddler

Like I mentioned in my Disney recap, Tim and I went back and forth on whether or not we should go to Disney World now or later. (insert why don’t we have both? gif here) Once we were sort of kind of impulsive, it felt like a smart decision. Charlotte turns 3 at the end of July, so her time as a free “infant” was running out. But still, I knew taking a toddler to Disney World was going to be a totally different experience than our 2014 adult-only trip.

Adjusting Expectations

Disney has this neat thing called Rider Switch, where one parent can wait with the child while the other parent rides, and then you just swap without needing to go through the line again. It’s super convenient, but for our trip, it just didn’t make sense. Neither of us wanted to ride anything alone, and we also didn’t want to spend that precious time in the park making Charlotte just wait on us. So, this meant we were sticking to toddler-friendly rides and attractions this year! On top of that, we prepared ourselves: we were not going to get to do everything we wanted to do. When it was just us in 2014, we absolutely did everything we wanted to (except when Tim wouldn’t ride the Tower of Terror with me). We knew we may need to leave the park early sometimes or take an unplanned break. You know, basic kid stuff.

Taking Breaks

We built in a break for each park day. Since we were staying in a resort, we were able to go back to our room easily and have Charlotte nap (or at the very least, rest in a quiet, dark room). I firmly believe this helped us avoid more meltdowns. We did see a lot of small kids napping in their strollers in the park, but I doubt Charlotte would have done that!

Helping Dad catch Pokemon

The No-Park Day

We planned three park days broken up with one day spent at the resort. We slept in later, played at the pool and splash pad, and took a longer nap. This day was MUCH needed. And if you’re staying longer, you might as well take some time to enjoy the place where you’re paying to stay! This is also a good day to visit Disney Springs.

Touringplans

This was such a great resource! Touringplans let us know what days were the best (less crowded) to go to each park, and alerted Tim when dining reservations opened. It also optimized our day for us so we knew about where to head first.

Prioritizing

Like I said before, we knew we were not going to get to do everything. We knew ahead of time the things we really wanted to do, and we did those first whenever possible. There were several characters it would have been fun to meet, but we prioritized meeting Charlotte’s absolute favorites.

Character Dinners

Book those character dinners! We met so many characters (some more than once) while we were eating. Minimal wait time and Charlotte was (usually) happy with a full belly.

No Waiting!

We used our fastpasses wisely, and didn’t stand in any lines that were longer than 15 minutes. You can pull all the snacks and tricks and bubbles out of your bag, but your toddler will fly through everything quickly. It’s not worth the meltdown… Unless it’s meeting Elsa and Anna.

Packing Smart

Going to Disney with a toddler means you have STUFF. A stroller, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, extra clothes, a fan, snacks, glow sticks, etc. I had a regular Jansport backpack to hold everything. I divided things into gallon ziplocks, so when we went through security, they could just lift out the bags and put them back quickly. Then once we were in the park, I took out the bags with diapers, wipes, and extra outfits (anything I didn’t worry about being stolen) and put them in the bottom of the stroller.

The Stroller

I don’t know how many CityMini GTs I saw, but just about every stroller looks the same when there are 50 in a row. Tie ribbons on the handle or get a big name tag and you’ll find yours faster, and no one will mistake it for theirs. We got a lot of comments on ours.