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Disney World with Toddlers: 22 Tips & Tricks for a Perfect Trip

Disney World is a magical place for everyone, but taking your little ones can be quite an adventure – and a challenge.

With so much to see and do, you’ll want to make the most of your trip without overwhelming your tiny tots, which is just a recipe for a meltdown.

That’s why I’ve put together a list of my top tips and tricks, so your trip to Disney World with toddlers will be filled with fun memories, instead of frustration and dread.

Kids age 3 and under are FREE

Toddlers on the younger end of the age group can get into the parks for FREE.

So if you’re thinking of going when they’re a tot, why not save some money and go before they turn 3? Seems like a no brainer to me!

Best time to visit Disney World with toddlers

Photo of a young girl dressed as Cinderella, standing in front of a stroller.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Take advantage of lower crowds by visiting at the beginning of school terms and just before school ends.

Overall, you’ll avoid the throngs of crowds, long wait times on rides, and can move more comfortably throughout your day.

September, January, and May (before Memorial Day weekend) are all top months to visit if you have toddlers and kids that aren’t in school yet.

September is also great for getting tickets to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party!

October and February are also nice, but some school districts have breaks during that time, so you’ll have to be strategic about which week you visit.

When my family and I visited with my niece when she was a toddler, we went in September for this very reason!

The only downside to September is that it’s the tail-end of hurricane season, so we had 1 big rainy day while we were there.

Luckily it’s super easy to have fun at Disney World in the rain!

Best Disney hotels for families with toddlers

Photo of a young girl hugging a stuffed Nala toy, posing next to a drawing of Sebastian the crab on a wall at Disney's Art of Animation resort.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

My favorite Disney hotel for families with toddlers and young kids is the Art of Animation Resort, as seen above in the photo with my niece when she was still in preschool.

She LOVED seeing all of the artist sketches on the lobby walls, the Finding Nemo pool, and the giant sculptures from Finding Nemo, Cars, and The Little Mermaid.

However, there are lots of great hotels at Disney World that toddlers will enjoy.

Check out my post about the best hotels for kids at Disney World for more tips on which hotel to pick.

Book dining reservations 60 days ahead

Photo of a young girl in a princess costume posing with Princess Jasmine at Cinderella's Royal Table restaurant.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Character meals are a great way to meet your toddler’s favorite Disney characters without a long wait in line. Plus it leaves more time for rides, shows, and swimming in the resort pool!

And that’s probably why they are the most sought-after dining reservations at Disney World! Luckily, you can book a reservation ahead of time.

If you’re staying at a Disney resort and select neighboring hotels, you can book your dining reservations 60 days ahead of the first day of your trip.

Everyone else can book reservations 60 days ahead of the desired date.

Themed restaurants are also a ton of fun, especially for kiddos, so if you can’t get a character meal (or just aren’t interested), aim for something with a theme your kid is interested in, like space (Space 220), marine life (Coral Reef Restaurant), or Sci-Fi (Sci-Fi Dine-In).

Visit other resorts

Photo of a young girl posing with Pluto at Chef Mickey's restaurant.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

While the easiest option for meals are to eat at restaurants from your resort or the parks, if you don’t mind going to other resorts, you’ll open up your options for some delicious dining.

Plus, you might find a fun souvenir shop or cool photo ops to add to your collection.

To make it more convenient, choose a hotel that is on the Monorail or Skyliner, so you can easily hop to and from one of the parks on whichever mode of transportation you chose.

So when you go on Epcot or Hollywood Studios, you can hop on the Skyliner to go to Topolino’s Terrace at the Riviera Resort or visit Art of Animation for fun photos.

Another option is to walk to the BoardWalk area, which is quite easy to get to from the International Gateway at Epcot.

There you can access restaurants at the BoardWalk, BoardWalk Inn, Beach & Yacht Club Resorts, as well as the Swan & Dolphin.

When you go to to the Magic Kingdom, you could start with breakfast at Ohana’s at the Polynesian or Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary. I love the gift shops at both of these resorts, too!

Purchase the Memory Maker package

Photo of a young girl in a princess shirt and tiara, looking at Tinkerbell in her hand.
Disney PhotoPass photographer, courtesy of Meg Frost. All rights reserved.

I cannot recommend the Memory Maker package highly enough!

Without it, we would not have captured all of the stellar moments that the Photopass photographers created for us, like the photo above with my niece marveling at Tinkerbell in her hand.

This pass gives you free, unlimited downloads of all photos for 45 days after they are taken.

Memory Maker is a great way to get everyone in the photo, as well as to get professional-looking photos.

It also includes Magic Shots, where PhotoPass photographers can add in a secret element like Tinkerbell in your hand (see above) or Stitch busting out of the ground.

You can also add cool borders and stickers to the photos before you download them.

Get your tot their own luggage

Photo of a young girl carrying a princess backpack and suitcase at an airport.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Toddlers love imaginative play and carrying their own luggage at the airport definitely falls within that!

My niece felt so grown-up with her own Sofia the First suitcase and Disney princessbackpack. She insisted on carrying both, even though she didn’t have to carry either.

The backpack was stuffed with things to do and other comfort items for the flight, while the carry-on had a change of clothes and swimsuits for the four of us.

For more Disney luggage recs, check out my post about the best Disney luggage and travel accessories.

Best Disney World park for toddlers

In my opinion, all of the parks at Disney World are great for toddlers. There are pros and cons to each, so let’s go over what they are with little ones in mind so you can decide which one to go to.

Animal Kingdom

Photo of the Bambi and Thumper statue at Animal Kingdom with the Tree of Life in the background.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Part zoological park and part amusement park, Animal Kingdom is great for toddlers because it offers lots of hands-on experiences that your little ones will love.

For example, they can dig for fossils at the Boneyard playground or pet farm animals at the Affection Section in Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

Child development experts say learning about and interacting with animals can be very beneficial during the toddler stage. For more information, visit this PBS Kids section about learning about animals with kids, which can be filtered for age-specific information.

However, if your child is easily frightened by animals, this park might be too much for them.

When my family and I visited Animal Kingdom when my niece was still a toddler, she was terrified of the animals at the Affection Section and made it VERY CLEAR that she wanted to leave.

So we did, but she still loved visiting the rest of the park. For her, seeing the animals close up, but behind some kind of barrier, was more than enough!

For more insight, check out my post about visiting Animal Kingdom with toddlers.


Photo of Spaceship Earth at Epcot lit up at night with blue, purple, red, orange, and yellow, with sparkles.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Epcot has both an indoor and outdoor playscape areas that are great for letting toddlers burn some energy.

Plus they have a bunch of great rides and interactive experiences that don’t have height requirements, like Journey of Water, a walk-through water trail inspired by Moana, and two Finding Nemo attractions.

In addition, some pavilions in the World Showcase have character meet-and-greets associated with that country, like Winnie the Pooh at the UK and Belle in France!

And the Kidcot Fun Stops in each country allow children to create their own souvenirs while parents take a break from the heat. I feel like a lot of toddlers enjoy a challenge and also ask a lot of questions – and this activity will definitely scratch that itch, so to speak.

For more insight, visit my post about visiting Epcot with toddlers.

Hollywood Studios

Photo of Jessie and Woody posing in Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Abigail Nilsson / Disney

Toddlers will love seeing their favorite Pixar characters in Toy Story Land and competing in the Toy Story Mania Ride or blasting away on the Alien Swirling Saucers ride.

The Frozen Sing-Along is always a hit with the young kids, as is the Beauty & the Beast stage show, and Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy.

I will say – Hollywood Studios has a lot of dark and loud attractions that may be overwhelming for some toddlers, and others that they just aren’t tall enough for.

But with some planning, it might end up being your tot’s favorite park!

For more insight, visit my post about visiting Hollywood Studios with toddlers.

Magic Kingdom

Photo of toddler girl posing with Merida at Magic Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

This park is always a top choice for families with toddlers thanks to classic attractions that don’t have height requirements, like Peter Pan’s Flight and It’s a Small World.

The Magic Kingdom is also home to countless character meet and greets, making it easy for your little ones to get some face time with their favorites.

There’s even an entire section of Fantasyland that is geared toward toddlers and preschoolers, with a splash pad, rides, and a souvenir shop filled with stuffies and t-shirts with their fave characters.

However, the popularity of the park means it can get crowded and lines for attractions can be long.

Attending an “after hours” event can be a fun way to get around the long lines at Magic Kingdom.

Plus the ones during the Halloween and Christmas seasons have special attractions, like extra meet-and-greets, a special parade, and an excuse to play dress up.

When my family and I went with my niece back when she was still a toddler, we got tickets for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party so we could enjoy a light crowd at the main park.

Plus, my niece really liked dressing up as Cinderella, with my mom, sister, and I as “Princess Security,” and of course, all the candy from trick-or-treating.

For more insight, visit my post about visiting Magic Kingdom with toddlers.

Make time for Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon

Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are great water parks with tons of activities for toddlers and preschoolers.

Both water parks have areas that cater specifically to toddlers, so they can splash and play while they cool down.

Blizzard Beach

Photo of two toddlers playing at Blizzard Beach's Frozen-themed Tikes Peak.
Amy Smith / Disney

While this water park doesn’t offer at ton of attractions for very young children, it does have a designated play area just for toddlers called Tike’s Peak.

With mini-slides and splash pads, this is the perfect spot for your little ones to cool off from the Florida heat. It was also revamped recently to add a Frozen theme.

There’s also a lazy river called Cross Country Creek and for daring tots, the Ski Patrol Training obstacle course.

Lastly, if you and your tot just want to swim and relax in the water, there’s Melt-Away Bay.

Some of the water slides here don’t have a height requirement, but in my opinion they aren’t really for toddlers. Older ones might be interested if they can ride with an adult, though!

Typhoon Lagoon

Photo of a young boy in a tube going down a water slide at Typhoon Lagoon.
Abigail Nilsson / Disney

Typhoon Lagoon has a kiddie area called Ketchakiddee Creek, a water playground designed specifically for children under 48 inches tall, complete with mini slides, water jets, and a sandy beach for building castles.

The park also offers a lazy river called Castaway Creek for when you and your little one want to take things slow and just float around.

Adventurous toddlers might enjoy Miss Adventure Falls and the Bay Slides, which they would have to ride with an adult 18 or older.

Make time for Disney Springs

Photo of a young girl playing in a splash pad at Disney Springs.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Disney Springs can be a great break from the park without leaving Disney itself. It’s my favorite place to go on arrival and departure day!

It’s a free entertainment with shopping, dining, performances, and even a few rides for the kiddos.

Rides include a carousel, small train, and a splash pad. The carousel and train rides are $5 per ride, but the splash pad is free!

There’s also a massive LEGO store with giant LEGO statues outside that toddlers are sure to love. Plus, it’s home to the world’s biggest Disney Store!

Toddlers might also enjoy seeing the latest Disney movie at the AMC movie theater or dining at the T-Rex restaurant which has a Build-a-Bear like experience in the gift shop.

For more tips on things to do, check out my post on what to do in Disney Springs.

Use the My Disney Experience app

Photo of Anastasia, Lady Tremaine, and Drizella from Cinderella posing with a young girl.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

It’s nearly impossible to visit Disney World without using the My Disney Experience app.

Can it be done? Sure.

Will you get more out of your time and money if you use the app? Yes.

This app can do it all: book dining reservations, select Genie+ or lightning lanes, unlock your hotel room, find performance times, look up character meet-and-greets, and so much more.

Do yourself a favor and download it before you leave and have an account set up and signed in. That way you can hit the ground running as soon as you get there!

But the most important reason? Your toddler is probably going to want to meet their favorite characters and the app will have all of their meet-and-greet locations and times.

Buy Genie+

Purchasing a Genie+ pass can make your day at the park run smoothly and ensure you get all your must-do attractions done without running ragged.

You can skip the long lines, book your rides ahead of time, and leave more room for exploring and going at your own pace.

Sounds like a recipe for avoiding meltdowns and crankiness, too!

Lastly, you’ll get free downloads of your ride photos for 45 days after the photos are taken. So if you don’t want to get the Memory Maker package, this is a great alternative.

What to pack in your park bag

Photo of a toddler girl in a Doc McStuffins costume sitting on the ground while playing with a stuffed Pascal toy.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Visiting Disney World with a toddler can be a bit like going anywhere with a baby.

That is, you’re going to need to pack a bag with some essentials to ensure a smooth, meltdown-free day.

Firstly, definitely bring some snacks for your little one to munch on.

While there are plenty of places to get food at the parks, sometimes you just can’t wait or your little one will start to fuss.

The same goes for a water bottle or sippy cup to help ensure they stay hydrated. No one wants a sick kiddo!

Next, a small toy or stuffed animal is great for keeping busy in long lines, if they are feeling anxious, or for snuggling during nap time.

My niece always had a small Pascal stuffed toy or a baby Rapunzel with her all day when she was a toddler!

A portable charger will definitely come in handy, as you’ll likely be using the My Disney Experience app to book Genie+ selections, mobile order food, or find the nearest bathroom.

Sunscreen and other sun protection, like a hat or sunglasses, are also a must-have in your park bag.

If you’re not used to the heat and humidity, I recommend bringing a hand-held fan or cooling towel, as well.

My niece was a big fan of the misting fan, so we got her her own so she didn’t have to share with the adults.

Next up, an extra outfit in case of spills, water rides, or other messes will help avoid wasting time running back to the hotel room to change.

And while you’re at it, depending on which park you’re going to, you may even want to bring their swimsuit.

A towel is great for drying off after water rides or sitting on during a parade.

Lastly, if you’ll be at the park into the evening, bring a light jacket or sweatshirt that can easily layer over their clothes so they can keep warm.

For more tips on what to pack, check out my ultimate packing list for Disney World.

Bring or rent a stroller

Photo of a young girl in a stroller posing with a Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwich.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Renting a stroller can save a lot of trouble and help avoid tantrums or crankiness. Your toddler can rest when they get tired and you can avoid having to carry them for long distances.

Plus, you can use the basket underneath or an organizer on the back to stash the essentials for the day.

My niece also liked having the tray where she could stash a snack, misting fan, or water so she could access them independently whenever she wanted to.

Get a balloon on your first day

Photo of a young girl in a tutu asleep in a stroller at Disney World.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Your toddler is probably going to beg for a balloon as soon as they see the cast member holding an Up-sized bundle of colorful balloons near the main entrance of the park.

We caved and got a Frozen-themed one for my niece. It was actually helpful for quickly finding her stroller when we had to park it in a giant sea of strollers.

The only park where you can’t do this is Animal Kingdom, but other than that, it was a time saver for sure!

Get an autograph book

Photo of a young girl watching Marie from Aristocats sign an autograph book.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Without a doubt, your toddler will be begging to meet as many characters as possible.

My niece was so excited to meet her favorite princesses, as well as some non-princess characters, like Marie from The Aristocats, too.

Before your trip or as soon as you get there, pick up an autograph book and a big-barreled pen or Sharpie marker.

I prefer the autograph books that have space for photos so you can add photo prints after your trip for an easy souvenir that your toddler can flip through when they are missing Disney.

Utilize the baby care centers

At Disney World, you don’t have to worry about changing your toddler in just any old bathroom.

They have baby care centers available to change, feed, and rest with your little one. There are even private nursing rooms with rocking chairs, if you toddler is still nursing.

Plus, if you run out or forget any essentials like pull-ups, toddler snacks, and kid-friendly sunscreen, they’ve got a shop stocked with everything you need.

I list the location of each baby center in my toddler guide for each park, but in a pinch, you can also use the My Disney Experience app to locate it.

Take advantage of rider swap

Worrying about who’ll watch the tot while you hit your favorite ride?

Fear not – with rider swap, you can take turns swapping spots. One adult goes on the ride, while the other watches the toddler – and then you switch.

It’s the perfect solution for families with young ones who may not be tall enough to ride or are too scared.

Join a dance party

Photo of a group of young kids dancing with Daisy Duck at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

I don’t know what it is, but toddlers love to dance!

That’s probably why you’ll often find a dance party or two at the parks, often geared toward the Disney Junior crowd.

For example, there’s the Disney Junior Play and Dance! at Hollywood Studios, located in the Animation Courtyard.

However, you can sometimes find pop-up dance parties at the other parks, especially during special events.

If your tot has some energy to get out, a dance party is a great way to do it – plus they might even make a new friend or two!

Take a break in the afternoon

Taking a break in the afternoon will help keep you and your toddlers from getting overwhelmed by all the excitement.

Plus with all the walking and the heat, you’ll get tired more easily.

So take a midday nap, have a quiet meal, or go for a swim back at your hotel.

By the time dinner rolls around, you’ll be ready for a delicious meal, perhaps with a few of your favorite characters, and a few more rides before bed!

Consider the Minnie Van

Photo of a red SUV with white polka dots from the Disney World Minnie Van service with Lyft.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

While the public transportation at Disney World is well-run, it can get crowded at key times, like in the morning at resorts and at park close.

If you don’t want to deal with long commutes or crowds, especially with kids, budget for a few Minnie Van rides.

This private transportation is available via the Lyft app.

It’s a bit more expensive than other Lyft options, but these cars are allowed closer to park entrances than regular ride shares.

Plus there’s the added Disney magic sprinkled in, like watching Disney cartoons during your ride. What toddler wouldn’t be entranced by that?

Consider doing Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

If budget permits, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a magical experience for kids age 3-12.

Basically, your kiddo can get a princess or prince makeover, with packages that might include hair styling, costumes, makeup, and more.

Afterwards, your mini will even get their own photo shoot!

This experience fills up super quick, so I highly recommend booking ahead.

If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can book 60 days in advance of the start of your trip for up to a 10 day stay.

If not, you can book 60 days ahead of the date you want – so there’s a bit of an advantage for Disney resort guests.

What to do if your toddler gets lost at Disney World

Photo of a young girl wearing a Minnie Mouse zip up hooded sweatshirt with ears.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Just in case the unfortunate happens and your toddler wanders off, head straight to the Baby Care Center if you can’t locate them right away.

Any time a cast member happens upon a lost kiddo, that is where they are taken to until they are reunited with a parent or guardian.

If you see a cast member on your way there, let them know so they can be on the lookout, as well.

In addition, consider adding a contact bracelet or lanyard to your kiddo with your name and cell phone number. I’ve also heard of people having their kiddos wear AirTag bracelets or necklaces.

That way the cast member at the Baby Care Center can call you immediately to let you know they are safe and can be picked up.

It might also help to take a picture of what your kid is wearing each day before you leave the resort. That way you can show a cast member what they look like if they haven’t been located yet.

And remember – Disney World is a crowded place and toddlers are prone to wander. Please don’t be too hard on yourself if it happens.

How do you manage Disney World with toddlers?

Disney World can be a place of wonder and delight for the whole family even with your little ones.

Just remember to plan ahead, utilize Disney magic, take breaks when needed, and above all, enjoy all the moments.

Hopefully, these tips and tricks will make your trip a memorable one. Have fun!

About the author

Photo of Meg Frost on Buzz Lightyear: Space Ranger Blast at Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Meg Frost is the creator of The Park Pixie, where she covers Disney World, Disney+, and Disney fandom.

She holds an M.A. in Journalism from Northeastern University and B.S. in Communication & American Studies from University of Miami in Florida.

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This post was originally published on August 24, 2023. It was last updated on March 10, 2024.