Disney Tips for Toddlers and Preschoolers at Magic Kingdom and Epcot
Many people suggest waiting to take your child to Florida’s Walt Disney World when they are old enough to remember and appreciate it. While this wisdom does have some merit, especially if it is a once in a lifetime trip, there is a surprising amount of fun, activities and attractions available for families with babies and toddlers as well.
If you are interested in tips for Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, go here.
One of the best benefits of taking very young children to Walt Disney World is the cost. Children under the age of three can enter any of the parks at no cost. Since a trip to Disney is a pricey proposition, this can be a way to economize on that aspect of the trip.
Kids under three also tend to cost less in terms of dining. Many are perfectly happy eating a small amount from their parent’s plate or sharing with a sibling. This can make a meal at many of the resort’s great restaurants an affordable option.
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What You Can Do Together
Because WDW is a family friendly place, there is a surprising amount that you can do together with your child. However, if you want to ride an attraction that has a height restriction, Disney offers a program where two adults can trade-off. One adult can ride the ride while the other waits with the child. When the first adult returns, the other one can then get on the ride while the first rider waits with the child. You can easily get more details about your options by asking one of the workers located at the entrance to any attraction.
There are also many rides and attractions that you can do together. If you are planning or even thinking about a trip to Magic Kingdom or EPCOT, here are some of the most popular attractions, and some hidden gems, that have no age or height restrictions.
The Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland offers a variety of attractions for the younger crowd. There are no height restrictions on rides such as It’s a Small World and Dumbo. Parents can enjoy these rides with their children and create lasting memories.
Fantasyland has also added some great new attractions which include The Little Mermaid themed ride and Casey Jr’s Splash Station (just be sure to bring a bathing suit in your diaper bag and swim diapers). These attractions are fun and interactive and are not scary for young kids.
Also, don’t miss out on the indoor playground behind the Dumbo ride. Young kids can climb and explore and play in a climate-controlled environment while they wait to board the ride.
Space Ranger Spin and Astro Orbiter will give the daring child a thrill. If your child is extra sensitive though, he may be overwhelmed by either the height of Astro Orbiter or the lights, sounds and stimulations of Space Ranger Spin.
Other options include Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover, which is a slow ride in a train car, giving you a view of much of that section of the park, including a peek at Space Mountain, and Carousel of Progress. My kids, even as young toddlers, enjoyed the People Mover, but they did not enjoy the Carousel of Progress. Personally, Carousel is one of my favorite rides because of its history, but it used to scare my more sensitive child when he was younger. Now they just find it boring. I have to bribe them to let me ride it. (But an ice cream from Auntie Gravity is worth getting them to ride it with me!)
One of the hidden gems of Magic Kingdom is Tom Sawyer’s Island. This attraction is open seasonally and only during the day. You simply take a raft that is driven by a cast member over to the island and then are free to explore. There are caves (which are surprisingly dark and scary so they may not be a hit with your child) but also floating bridges, a hidden club/play house and a fort where kids can look at animatronics such as horses and a stable worker. There are also towers with fake rifles to fend of impending intruders. Young kids may enjoy a chance to run, play and explore for a bit if they are tired of waiting in lines.
Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion are all also classic rides located in this part of the park which don’t have height restrictions. My kids enjoyed these from a young age and I even took my three month old on Pirates (surprisingly he doesn’t remember this, but I sure do!). All these rides do require that the parent evaluate his own child’s sensitivities . Younger children who are frightened by loud sounds or dark might not enjoy some of these attractions.
The giant globe just past the ticket gates is actually a ride that takes guests through the history of human communications. This ride is slow and is easy to load your child on. She will enjoy watching the animatronics but there are parts of the ride that are a bit dark so if your child is overly afraid of that, you might want to skip it.
Innoventions West and East
Just past the giant globe, near the fountains, is Innoventions. These attractions include rotating and seasonal displays, hands-on activities and sometimes even crafts. They are often missed as people hurry to other attractions. Just go through the automatic doors on either side of the plaza and explore the latest displays, rides and games.
There are many other attractions that are great for young kids. Go in the exit/gift shop of Mission Space (to the left) and you’ll discover a climate-controlled playground with an outer space theme and other hands-on exhibits.
If your kid loves Nemo, she can ride the Nemo and Friends ride and then exit to explore the Living Seas with manatees and dolphins and sharks. (If you want to skip the Nemo ride, just head to the left of the exhibit and enter the aquarium portion of the exhibit through the gift shop).
Living with The Land is a slow boat ride that is located in the same building as the popular Soarin’. While the boat ride also has no height restrictions, my kids found it mostly boring and lengthy since a good portion of it is spent looking at plants. However, if your child needs a quiet break, this might be an option.
Journey Into Imagination is also a fun ride but I found that my kids were scared of certain portions. It ended up being more fun for them when they were a bit older.
While World Showcase is known for its great food and beverages, young kids can enjoy it as well. Each country has Kidcot stops where kids can color and create crafts while learning about the country. While it may not be interesting to a one year old, those approaching the age of three might be enjoy it.
Some of the rides such as Mexcio’s Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Cabelleros have no height restriction and are fun without being scary. Kids may also enjoy interactive shows such as the rambunctious Off Kilter and the Fife and Drum Corp which appears in front of The American Adventure.
In A Nutshell
If you are traveling with kids under the age of three, Magic Kingdom offers the most attractions that can be enjoyed by all the ages in your party. But EPCOT can also offer a fun day’s worth of experiences if you are creative.
Remember that each of the parks has an area dedicated to baby care needs such as nursing and diaper changing. Each of the attractions also has designated stroller parking so keep that in mind as you are approaching the exhibit.
Remember to be flexible with your child and plan plenty of breaks and snacks. Find out what works for your family and relax. Not everything has to go exactly as planned. Sometimes it is important to just have fun.
Even families with young kids can enjoy a magical and fun trip to the Walt Disney World Resort.