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Should You Take a Toddler To Disney?

Updated on December 7, 2014

Will a 2 Year Old Appreciate Disney World?

This past December, we took our almost-two-year-old to Disney World. I put it off for most of 2012 (we did go in 2011) knowing that he'd have no clue what he was looking at. I still thought it might be a bit early, but I came from a Disney family, and I want him to come from one, too! We used to visit the parks every year, and I wanted to start the tradition with my son.

Since I write often about toys for children, several of my readers also requested that I do a piece about a Disney vacation with a toddler--I'm happy to oblige.

So, did my two year old "get" what Disney was all about? Was he a terror to travel with? Read on to learn more.

All images property of the author; all rights reserved.

Taking a Toddler to Disney: The Background

Why did we decide to take him?

I tend to write alot about gifts/toys and children's products, so I've had a few ask about my experience taking my son to "The Happiest Place on Earth". We went when he was 11 months old, but we hadn't been back since. I was up for the challenge of detailing my experience, so we bought a few tickets, packed up the car, and left. I'm lucky that I live within a few hours of Orlando--we haven't braved flying with him yet. I admire you parents that have!

Disney Souvenirs - Cheaper than at the park

Save a few bucks and get some souvenirs ahead of your trip--then, give it to your child while you're there!

Disney Mickey Mouse Plush Toy -- 17''
Disney Mickey Mouse Plush Toy -- 17''

We have one of these, and he carries it all over the house!

 

Magic Kingdom with a Toddler - He loved it!

The second the monorail stopped at the Magic Kingdom, he was mesmerized. It was like he had "Mickey radar", and immediately starting picking out all the Mickey heads in the topiaries, of all things.

When we got onto Main Street (which was pretty busy, even in early December), he had a ton of fun just looking around at all the swarms of people. He really, REALLY wanted a Mickey balloon (there are millions of these for sale on Main Street--what the heck do parents do with these balloons all day? I guess just put them on the stroller?), but we were able to distract him each time he started reaching for one.

Since he's more-than-mobile, I was surprised that he sat quietly in the stroller; usually he wants "out" immediately. But he was having so much fun people-watching that he was quite happy in there!

Magic Kingdom Rides for Toddlers - Rides he loved

Jack on Barnstormer
Jack on Barnstormer

Rides have always been a big part of my Disney experience growing up. I was surprised just how much he COULD go on at the MK. These rides definitely helped to break up the day, and it was great to get him out of the stroller. There are others to go on, but here is what we rode:

1) The Barnstormer (The Great Goofini): Awww, his first rollercoaster. Physically, he met the ride's requirements (he is tall), but I worried that mentally he wouldn't be ready for it. You can see from the pic, he had no idea what was going on. He didn't cry or scream or anything, but he was fairly terrified (I could tell from how quiet he was being!). There were some flashes of a smile, but it's the kind of attraction that would be better when he was a bit older.

2) Pirate's of the Caribbean: I thought the loud noises (cannons blasting) would scare him, but he had no problem with it.

3) Haunted Mansion: He has no concept of fear right now, and he liked this just fine. He especially loved when the car tips back (but was confused that there was a ghost in the car at the end!).

it's a small world
it's a small world

4) It's a Small World: He also went on this on his first trip to Disney World a year ago. He still loves it, and would gladly ride this the entire day.

5) The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: He literally cried when we disembarked--he LOVED it.

Magic Kingdom with a Toddler
Magic Kingdom with a Toddler

6) Tomorrowland Speedway: He rode this with his Dad and loved nothing more than when he would slam the car back and forth into the track (all kids seem to love this, from watching from the spectator area above--and riding it back in the day!).

7) The People Mover: A nice, easy-going ride that he liked. He wasn't so sure about going in the dark around Space Mountain, though.

8) Space Mountain: Just kidding.

What Can a Toddler Eat at Disney?

So many options!

Disney has changed quite a bit when it comes to children's options for food. Whereas in the past, you could find a lot of hotdogs and hamburgers, etc., now there is so much more to choose from. You can even find gluten-free options at Disney (if I recall, they are clearly marked on the menu)!

The choices are now quite a bit healthier--all come with milk or juice (or a soft drink) and healthy sides such as grapes, apples or carrot sticks. We often opted for the Uncrustables PB&J.

We brought a small cooler into the parks to keep a sippy of water and a sippy of milk cool. It was also great for packing snacks so that he'd always have something to munch on.

To Nap or Not to Nap - If your child still naps, please participate!

One of the scariest parts of traveling with my toddler is wondering what will happen at nap time (I know, get over it). Going to Disney was no exception.

How do you handle naps while on vacation?

After a Busy Day at Disney - This toddler is passed out!

One thing we learned is that our son does NOT sleep while at Disney. He got drowsy a few times in the stroller, but there was always so much visual stimulation that a nap just wasn't going to happen. He had an hour or so where he was cranky, and then he got over it. Combined with no nap, we kept him up about 2 hours later than usual--needless to say, he passed out in the car on the way back to the hotel. He continued sleeping as we walked him into the house, undressed him and put him to bed. He hasn't done that since he was a few weeks old!

A Tip: Where to Stay

On the grounds, or off?

As much as I would love to stay "on site", we elected for off. Why? Typically Disney hotels (and their partners) only offer rooms that are just that: one room only. Sometimes you can find suites, but that usually includes one bedroom, one living area and a kitchenette. While there are so many benefits to staying on the grounds (extra park hours, transportation to the parks, a whole Disney "vibe"), we really appreciate our son having his own bedroom. We'll let him stay up later on vacation, but there's something nice about putting him in his own, quiet room while we can be elsewhere watching TV and hanging out.

I also love having a full kitchen where we can prepare breakfast and pack up our snacks and such for the whole day. It feels more like home and less "rushed", if that makes sense.

For those of you wondering, we stayed at Vista Cay Resort.

Did they get what was going on? Or was it the equivalent or taking them to the mall (ha!)?

© 2012 Lauren

Have You Taken a Toddler to Disney? - Did He or She Love It?

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    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 4 years ago

      I took the younger half of Goldenrulecomics to Disney after she just turned 5, and that was perfect! She loved interacting with the characters and talking to them!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Yes, Disneyland, Disney World and the Disney Cruise, they love it.

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      BunnyFabulous 4 years ago from Central Florida

      We took a preschooler on a Disney cruise, which was great fun. Was nice to have lots of options of what to do. I think we'll take her to Disney soon now that she's almost 5. She's not a big fan of waiting and lines, so now she'd probably do a lot better.

    • SciTechEditorDave profile image

      David Gardner 4 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      Yeah ... we took our son to Disney when he was about 2-years old.... But he didn't like waiting in the lines... even for the kiddo stuff. After much of a day of fussing... my wife and I were exhausted. He's thirty years old now... so he doesn't remember much of his *vacation* ... but we *do* show him pictures once in a while to remind him that we took him there once. Our daughter never went there when she was a kid... but when she turned 21, she and her girlfriends did a "road-trip" and went to Disneyland. Now my son has a 6-year-old daughter... and grandpa and grandma (me and my wife) are planning on taking her there the next time they come down from Seattle. :-) NIce lens!

    • KathyFirak profile image

      KathyFirak 4 years ago

      Good to know

    • poldepc lm profile image

      poldepc lm 4 years ago

      yes; we took our kids to disneyland paris (2x)...congrats on your purple star lens...

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      I took my toddler nephew to Disneyland Paris when he was about 3. He had a blast, but lost his favourite teddy bear there. It was fun up until that moment, haha! Never again.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      We visit Disney a lot, but I've never tried it with a toddler. I see some of them cranky and over-excited while others are worn out and napping in the stroller. Pace yourself and don't try to fit everything into one day.

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 4 years ago

      I've taken an 19 month old and a 2 year old to Disney. We were going anyway, since we are rarely in Florida. They loved it!

    • BAMditty profile image

      BAMditty 4 years ago

      I used to live only two or three hours from Orlando, so I too grew up on yearly trips to Disney. But I also lived less than ten minutes away from a local theme park, Busch Gardens, and my mother & her cousin would take us four children (two double strollers. Oh yeah. ;P) almost daily. My mother says we loved it and it was great because it kept the house clean and wiped us out so we couldn't tornado attack when we got home lol. Definitely fun and a good idea.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Oh for sweet, I think Mom and Dad will enjoy the memories.

      Congratulations on the Purple Star. - Blessed!

    • dawnsnewbeginning profile image

      dawnsnewbeginning 4 years ago

      Mine went to Sixflags and yes they had fun!

    • profile image

      motobidia 4 years ago

      Toddlers can find enjoyment wherever you take them. They are happy to spend time with their parents and explore new places. It's important to realize that it makes little difference to them whether it's Disney or Vegas, so parents shouldn't kid themselves that they are not doing it for themselves... I loved your story!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      It sounds like the positives far outweighed any negatives there were on your trip. I'm happy for your son that you took him! I know everything at the Magic Kingdom is expensive, so your idea to buy souvenirs ahead of time and then take them with you is really smart.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Our son had a fantastic time at Disney as a toddler. He thought the whole thing was there for him and him only. The next year he was a little sick and we gave him some medicine and unfortunately he slept through Epcot. You've done a great job on this lens and it will be helpful to others wanting to take their toddlers to Disney. Congrats on your purple star.

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your story about Taking a Toddler to Disney.

    • Louidam1 LM profile image

      Louidam1 LM 4 years ago

      I have taken my daughter when she was about 2 years old and she was confused and couldn't get on most of the rides so either me or her dad had to sit out with her. Now she is 5 and doesn't even remember it.

      We all went back to Disney World for the New Years Eve and she loved it!

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image

      Missmerfaery444 4 years ago

      Because we're in the UK it's much more of a one-off, "big" holiday for us to save up for, so I'd wait until my daughter was older so that she could really appreciate it. She's three right now and apart from Toy Story and Winnie the Pooh, she's not overly into Disney yet. She's more interested in going to Thomas Land to see Thomas the Tank Engine, of all things! :) Great guide for those who are able to go with their toddlers though!

    • ksrpraj profile image

      Sriram Raj 4 years ago from New Delhi

      Awesome lens. I think your kid will love after he becomes big and read this lens

    • ksrpraj profile image

      Sriram Raj 4 years ago from New Delhi

      Awesome lens. I think your kid will love after he becomes big and read this lens

    • heartycindypen profile image

      Hearty Cindy Penaranda 4 years ago from Ormoc City

      wish I could be in Disney someday...

    • JumpinJake profile image

      JumpinJake 4 years ago

      Enjoyed the review of your blog this morning, I'm a pro Disney fan.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 4 years ago from New Zealand

      We took each of our girls just before their 2nd birthday and the magic of Disney really came alive for all of us through their eyes. Squid Angel Blessed.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 4 years ago

      No ... but my 7-month-old nephew will be going for the first time soon, so I'll pass your tips along!

    • profile image

      aishu19 4 years ago

      I first took my son to Disneyland in CA when he turned 3..since he was watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.. he had a blast!! I think kids who have watched and enjyoed Disney shows would appreciate this happiest place the most! I am hoping we can go again soon

    • profile image

      Joan4 4 years ago

      I took our son to Disney one of the first years it was open. He was about 3 years old. My husband was playing golf nearby and it was a dreary winter day with some sprinkles of rain, but we had a ball! we did all the rides we could at Magic Kingdom, saw everything, took lots of photos and in general had a wonderful day. He really does not remember it - he's a dad himself now, but the pictures are so cute! I am glad I did it!