Planning a Trip to Disney with your Toddler

Melissa - posted on 05/25/2009 ( 12 moms have responded )

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Hey Ladies! I am beginning to research and plan a trip to Disney World for May 2010. My Boy will be 3 years and 5 months. I am just looking for feedback. Have any of you taken a 3 year old to Disney? What was your experience, and would you have any suggestions on a how to make this the best trip with my favorite boy, while keeping it easy breezy? Where did you stay? How long did you stay, what was your favorite moment?



Thanks Ladies!!! :)

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Becky - posted on 08/31/2009

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We went to Disney World when my daughter was 9yrs and my step-sons were 8 and 10 yrs. IT WAS FANTASTIC!!! We stayed in a villa with our own pool and went to all the Disney parks plus others. The best things we did were swimming with dolphins and going to see 'cirque de soliel'. We are intending to go again when our youngest is 6yrs (He is only 7 months at the moment!) as it cost us so much money (we come from England), that we want the kids to be able to remember it. Our other children are now 15, 16 and 17yrs and still talk about it. I think the only things we would do differently next time are, stay in a Disney hotel (we didn't enjoy the driving), and we'd go for longer than 2 wks so that we can do all the parks but also have some days to just relax. My top tip is PLANNING! A friend of mine who has been many times with small kids reccommended this and she was so right. You can get lots of up to date books covering all aspects of each park - rides, shows, places to eat, time saving tips etc. We also picked a good time of year to go, October, we often didn't queue for long and the weather was good. I researched each ride to see if it was appropriate for my kids and then did a daily plan of which park we were visiting and what rides and shows we wanted to do. This worked really well as we didn't queue for anything we wouldn't have enjoyed. I think you will just have the best time no matter what age. We can't wait to go again. Have fun. xx

Jennifer - posted on 07/17/2009

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i have been taking my daughter to disney every other year since she was 4. she remembered some of it back then. we just went in june with our son who is 1. my daughter is now 11. anyhow it was really hot and really crowded but even though my son won't remember any of it he had fun. just take your time and enjoy it. even if you don't get to see everything or do everything you wanted. just allow for flexability and you'll be fine.

Kimberly - posted on 06/11/2009

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Hi, Melissa! I used to work at Disney, and I still live in Orlando. We have taken my son, who is 2 1/2, to Disney about 4 times already, and here's a little advice that might help.

Of all the parks, we had the hardest time finding things to do at Hollywood Studios for a really young child. However, the few things they CAN do are really fun, so if you can get a park-hopper option added to your passes, it will help a lot. Hollywood Studios has Playhouse Disney Live! and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Play Area. Both of these are a lot of fun for small children. In addition, the animation area near Playhouse Disney Live! has lots of characters (including a rare Sorcerer Mickey) with relatively shorter lines. I bet the UP characters are there, too. You don't have to go through the entire tour either since small children may get bored. We always walk through the animation store and nonchalantly travel back to the character area.

Animal Kingdom was the next best spot for us because of the Festival of the Lion King show (easily the best show on property) and the tons of animals there. Visit Rafiki's Conservation Station to ride the train and see the petting zoo. This park tends to be the least crowded of the four, and it opens the earliest, so my advice would be to go here as early as possible.

Magic Kingdom is great for kids, but there are a LOT of lines, especially in Fantasyland, where most of the little kids' rides are. We made sure we used a stroller there because the crowds are so heavy, and we had lots of snacks in line to keep our son occupied until the line thinned. This park seems to thin a little at night, and the parades there are great!

We haven't taken my son to EPCOT yet, so what I can say from an adult's perspective before I had my son is that they have the best restaurants there, and they do have a Finding Nemo ride as well as a boat ride in Mexico for kids.

As far as hotels, staying on Disney property offers buses, boats, and possibly the monorail as connections to the parks instead of cars. On certain days, certain parks open early JUST for guests staying at the resort hotels. Although the more economical resorts aren't bad (All Star and Pop Century Resorts,) I have heard that the middle-priced ones are the best value for the money. Some of them have great pools, too, especially the Caribbean, the Coronado, and the Yacht and Beach Club.

My favorite moments with him at Disney were him going on Small World and the train at Magic Kingdom and meeting the characters! If there is one thing that kids who enjoy the characters will love, it's a character breakfast. If your son has met characters before and seems fine with them, I'd highly recommend a character dining experience. The one I went to back in October was at the Yacht and Beach Club, and it was soooo good! The characters were great, and we didn't even eat lunch from eating so much! Most of the resorts and parks have character dining, but you need to book a few weeks ahead of time, especially if you go near the summer.

Let me know if I can help any more!

Melissa - posted on 06/05/2009

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Aww well thank you all for your feedback. I really do appreciate hearing all of your experiences! I am so excited. I do know that I can't get my expectations and hopes up too high for the "reaction of a lifetime" because it is possible I may not get it.

Jayne - posted on 06/04/2009

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Hi!

We're off to Florida next Friday - only 8 more sleeps!!! I'll let you know how we get on - i have 2 daughters, 4 and 2... not sure who's the most excited about it all... probably me actually!!

i can't ait to see their faces whn the castle that's on the beginning of EVERY Disney film is actually there in real life in front of them!!



Lots to organise before next friday - not even got the cases out yet!!!



Jayne

Cassie - posted on 06/04/2009

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Hi Melissa,
I just returned from Disney World on Saturday. It was the biggest waste of money! It's commercialized, and over priced crap that you can buy at Target. The lines were 55minutes or longer. 3 year olds don't understand why they have to wait in line that long!! It's NOT a place for small children... It's not geared towards kids at all, and I was extremely disappointed. My 3 year old only had 7 rides that he could get on in the Magic Kingdom. What type of magical place only has 7 rides, and hour long waits. I was looking for a bar to drink! I needed to calm my nerves, but there were no drinks in the Kingdom. The adults were rude, and the bathrooms were horrible (l had been told they would be clean, but there was pee on all the toilets). I'd change my plans if I were you, but if you can't... best of luck to you!

Rachel - posted on 06/04/2009

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I just took my 2.5 yr old and 10 month old to Disney World and it is perfect for kids that age. Animal Kingdom (Boneyard) and Disney MGM (Honey I shrunk the kids) have great play areas but Magic Kingdom has the best rides for kids that age. I think that staying in a Disney Property Hotel is key, you can head to the parks in the morning and if someone has a meltdown you can head back to the hotel in shifts. We usually took a break after lunch and headed back to the parks for an early dinner. We stayed at the Boardwalk/Beach Club area and they have movies on the beach and performers (magicians etc) at night. It was a total hit with the kids but still fun for Mom. Have fun!

Ashley - posted on 06/03/2009

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I'm thinking about taking my son to Disney World next year after I get my tax money back... he'll be 3 years and some odd months (his birthday is in March.) I think, however, that I will be far more excited than he will.



We're going to take him to Cedar Point this year.

Melanie - posted on 06/03/2009

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Hey Melissa,

I just wanted to suggest to stay at the Fort Wilderness Cabins located at Animal Kingdom. It is a great place for small kids. You can go to their website and look at the cabins. It is in an rv/ camper park they have so much for the kids to do. It is a community of it's own. You can walk to the bus pick up and they will take you to each park you want to go to. They also bring you back. This campground has a little play area in each different location. They also have activities at different places that you can either walk to or take a bus. You stay inside the camp ground. They have swimming pool, bike rentals, boat rentals, Arcades at the pool area and @ night they show a different Disney miovie through the week at Chip and Dale's sing along @ the Camp site where they appear for pictures and a sing along and then the movie starts along with you and the kids being able to go to the fire pit to roast some marshmallows or make smore's. You can actually take your own in a backpack or buy it there. I will tell you that they are expensive. The kit for smores was $10.00 not counting your drinks or any other snacks.

Also they have Mickey mouse's BBQ show. It's food and a show. I didn't get to go to that but I will this time.

The Animal Kingdom was great, Also Epcot & they have so many cute rides for them in Epcot - like Winnie the Pooh, Finding Nemo, & It's a small world ride. You go to the website and you can print a map. When you stay at Fort Wilderness or other properties you can get into some of the parks early or later than other peopple, so check out the Magic Hours at the parks to see which one's that you can go earlier or later on different days. I have another suggestion is to plan a character meal with your kids and to also ahead of time if you can (you have to pay ahead of time for it) but I would suggest getting the Dining Plan it will save you in the long run. If you have any other questions, let me know.

Melanie Shanks

May - posted on 06/02/2009

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Hi Melissa,

We just went on our trip to WDW back in the end of April. We did 3 days land and 4 days cruise on the Disney Wonder. My 3yr old had an awesome time. My 9mos old did pretty good too but I don't think he will remember any of it though. We had planned this a whole year in advance since we had a big group. We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resorts. It was very nice and we wished that we had more time there. We took the internal buses to all the parks. It was very convenient. I definitely recommend using the Fast Pass on the popular rides. We used it for the Safari Ride in Animal Kingdom and it was so nice to just wait only 5 minutes to get on the ride! Also the live shows are amazing. My son is a big fan of the Lion King and the live show did not disappoint.

I think my favorite moment was seeing the wonder on my son's face when entered Magic Kingdon!! It was priceless.

Have fun planning!

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Hi Melissa! I am in the final planning stages of our trip to WDW. I am taking my 3 1/2 yr old twin boys to WDW in October for their 4th Birthday. I have a friend who has taken her kids every year since age 1. I have purchased some books that have been helpful with our planning. PassPorter's Walt Disney World, Disney World with Kids 2009, and the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. The last book has online resources as well that you can print off plans for your trip according to age. We are planning on doing 4 parks. Starting with Animal Kingdom, then Epcot, then Disney Studios, ending with 2 days at Magic Kingdom. There are tons of things for kids at this age to do at WDW. We there over Mickey's Not SO Scary Halloween Party so we will be adding that to our stay as well. An important thing to remember is to be flexible. Kids will need a break about mid day. That is why we are staying on WDW property. We are preparing our kids for the trip this summer by getting them use to rides, and waiting in lines, going to parades, and seeing movies and live shows at zoos. Have fun planning!!
Marie

Malissa - posted on 06/02/2009

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Hi, we have not been to Disney World with our kids but a travel agent mentioned when I inquired that Disney Land is good for young kids about age 5 and Disney World is better for kids a little older. This doesn't mean your son won't have fun at either, its just what I have been told. Some friends of ours just recently took there 3 year old and 10 month old to Disney Land and had a blast. Good luck on planning yor trip.

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