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  • Writer's pictureBrenda

Disney with Babies and Toddlers

Updated: May 5

We've done it all, from babies, kiddos, teens, multi-generational trips, and adult only vacations. Traveling with littles - the under 3 crowd - can be enticing. Kids under 3 are free, and free is always good. It takes a little bit of extra planning to make a magically vacation for the whole family when traveling with a little one. Let's look at how to best prepare and execute a successful vacation with those 3 and under.

Although our children are grown now, we were fortunate enough to travel with them many times to WDW when they were babies and toddlers. Our oldest daughter took her first trip to WDW when she was under a year old, though we waited with the other two until they were closer to 18 months. Let’s look at our best advice on how to have a successful vacation with your little ones.

How long do toddlers get into the Walt Disney World Parks free?

Children get into Walt Disney World Parks for free before their third birthday. Though if you book the trip so their third birthday occurs during your trip, they will be free for the length of the trip.

When traveling with a toddler or baby what is the best time of year to plan your WDW vacation?

If your children are young enough you are not yet tied to a school-year calendar we recommend going in the fall or January/February. Keep in mind, any three day weekend within those times will still be crowded. It is hot and humid in the summer, and while it is possible to still have a wonderful vacation at WDW despite the heat, if you have the option to go at another time of year, take advantage of it. The holiday season is beautiful at WDW, but it is the most crowded time of year (Except maybe the first week of December - that’s a good time to schedule too.) From March on, spring break crowds keep the park pretty busy as well.

Where is the best hotel to stay at with small children?

If you do not have a car, staying in a resort where you can return to your resort faster will make your trip smoother. We found the Disney's Contemporary Resort to be an excellent choice when our kids were little and we spent a lot of time at the Magic Kingdom. Another favorite was Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort. These are super pricey now, so we would recommend for a Moderate option Disney's Caribbean Beach or for a Value option DIsney's Pop Century for the ease of access to Epcot or Hollywood Studios via the Skyliner. If you need a bigger room we would recommend the Art of Animations Suites for the same reason. Plus the theming is top notch, especially when traveling with little ones.

Can you rent strollers at the Walt Disney World Parks?

Yes. We have a whole post about renting strollers in the park or from an outside vendor here.

Can I take my stroller on Walt Disney World Transportation?

Yes, you can take your stroller on all forms of transportation. You will need to remove your child and collapse the stroller and hold it upright in front of you on a WDW bus. Depending on the size of the stroller and how busy a time of day it is, you may be able to roll your stroller and your child onto the Monorail or Skyliner. On the Friendship boats that run between Hollywood Studios and Epcot as well as on the Magic Kingdom Ferry you will be able to roll your stroller and your child onto the boat. On smaller boats that run from resorts you may have to collapse your stroller.

How well do character interactions work with toddlers?

That depends on your child. It can be a complicated interaction. Even if your toddler is super excited about meeting Elsa or Winnie the Pooh, the reality of meeting them can be intimidating. We’d suggest watching youtube videos of character interactions before going. This will help your child know what to expect. We found planning character interactions earlier in the day to be better for our kiddos when they were small. They were fresher and happier in the morning, so if they were feeling shy at first, it was less likely to lead to tears. Also, if the interaction went poorly, we had time to come back and try again later if it was important to that child. We found character meals, for us, to be the best way to manage meeting characters when our kids were little. See our post about character dining here.

Read about the different character interactions in the parks here.

What are your best attraction recommendations for families with toddlers and babies?

Remember there is rider swap available, so even if your child is too small for an attraction, the adults (or adults with older kids) can take turns riding while only standing in line once - or scheduling one genie+ time or virtual queue. See our post of rider swapping here.

Beyond that, here are our recommendations of “Must Dos” for younger children These are some of the best attractions that will both appeal to small people in your family. Most of these rides do not have a height requirement.

Magic Kingdom -

Peter Pan’s Flight

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Under the Sea ~Adventures of the Little Mermaid

Magic Carpets of Aladdin

Jungle Cruise

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Mickey’s Philharmagic

* Both Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean do not have a height requirement but they can be intimidating for little ones.

Epcot -

Frozen Ever After

Grand Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure

Journey into Imagination with Figment

The Seas with Nemo and Friends

Hollywood Studios -

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Toy Story Mania!

Alien Swirling Saucers - 32” height requirement

Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage

Frozen Sing Along

Animal Kingdom -

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail

Maharajah Jungle Trek

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Na’vi River Journey

TriceraTop Spin

Is there a private place where I can nurse my baby in the park?

There are Baby Care Centers at every park. The Baby Care Centers are typically on the left side of the park, close to the entrance. Each of the Baby Care Centers has a nursing room, plus supplies like diapers that are available for purchase. The Baby Care Centers can be found on the MDE app in the interactive map by hitting the down arrow under Guest Services. Look for the pacifier icon.

Are there family restrooms available?

There are companion restrooms available at every park. See out post here on where to find them.

What other recommendations do you have?

  • Have Realistic Goals. We are big proponents of this no matter who you are traveling with, but we especially recommend this when traveling with toddlers or babies. They will only have so much stamina. Pick a few things that are important to your family, and do not try to do it all

  • Take Breaks. Everyday. Even if things are going swimmingly and your family is having the best time. Leave the park, go back to the resort. Nap. If they are too big for naps just let them play or take them swimming. Give them and yourself down time away from all the crowds and the over stimulation of the parks. Then go back in the evening. Going early, leaving at lunch, quiet time, then back to the parks in the evening was our best strategy at Disney for years. Overtired and overstimulated little ones lead to meltdowns, so we found it best to create breaks before anyone got to that point.

  • Snacks. Bring what they are used to eating. All the goldfish or apple sauce packages. Keep them at hand. Even if they are having the time of their lives, sometimes asking a toddler to be flexible in their food choices is more than they can handle.

  • Make sure your little one - and you - are staying hydrated. This may seem like a no brainer. It’s often very hot in Florida, and drinking water is pretty obvious. But even if you go in the winter months, it’s easier to forget. When you are spending so much time out of doors on your feet, staying hydrated is very important. Kids will need to be reminded to keep drinking.

  • Strollers are your friend. Even if your child is 4 or 5, (maybe even 6) bring one or rent one. Walt Disney World is a lot of walking. Let me say that again a LOT of walking. No matter how much energy your toddler, preschooler, or even kindergartener has, they will be exhausted. Have the option for them to ride available. It’s also a fabulous way to lug around all of your stuff. But remember Strollers larger than 31” (79 cm) in width by 52” (132cm) in length are not permitted, and wagons are not permitted including stroller wagons.


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