We take the kids to Disney about every other year. There is a world of difference between taking one girl solo and taking 3 kids, two of them toddlers. The boys have gone at ages 2.5 and 4, where as my daughter started at age 4. Obviously taking twin wild ones is more of a challenge then one easy girl with two parents to lead her. My daughter is the kind of kid that made us think we were genius parents, she was so easy going and always pleasant that we did an 8 day trip and came home refreshed. We assumed her good disposition was due to our stellar parenting. Then came the boys. They aren’t bad kids, just a whole different kind of kid. So we learned how to do Disney in the least stressful way, so that everyone went home happy.
- I can’t stress this tip enough. Repeat after me, “We will have fun no matter what. We won’t do everything we want, but everything we do will be fun.” Don’t make a list of 100 things to do, including 3 sit down meals in two different parks a day. Don’t expect to be at rope drop and the good night kiss, with no breaks and a family who has no one in tears. Do your best, don’t over schedule and lower your expectations. Pick 3 things a day that you MUST do, then 3 you hope to do. Check out park maps. When FP+ came I looked only at what rides we wanted and thought I was smart to put them right after each other in the morning so I could add more later. In theory that’s not bad, but when you schedule 3 in 3 different sections of MK you’re dragging your kids from place to place unable to stop and do anything else in that area. And constantly telling 2 year olds no because you have a reservation does not make for a stress free trip.
- My other no fail tip is the mid day break. This works for 90% of people, but maybe you have 1 of the 10 toddlers who don’t need a break. I don’t know any personally. In good weather we have had extended trips without any meltdowns (in heat it’s a whole other ballgame). I have early risers, so we get there at rope drop. Then around lunchtime we leave. Sometimes we eat in the park, sometimes we eat at a resort on the way back. Then it’s chill out time. We often take a nap, and I mean all of us end up passing out as soon as I turn on the tv in the room. Or the pool is another great place for some down time, especially if you hit up one of the quiet pools at the resorts. It’s the time away from the go go go of the parks that is important. Later, when everyone is feeling a bit refreshed go back to the park. You’ll still be in a good mood when the fireworks start.
- Pack snacks. We don’t often have the cheap fruit snacks at home, so they are a special treat for the parks. They are great to get toddlers to sit down in a stroller or stave off a hunger meltdown. And snacks add up at WDW, the small cups of Cheerios are almost $5.
- Bring Dollar Store stuff. Bubbles, stickers and glow in the dark necklaces all have a special place at WDW. Bubbles and glow in the dark stuff are great for entertainment while you wait for a parade. If you bring extra for the kids around you, you’ll be the Belle of the ball. Stickers are great for time in line, just make sure they don’t stick them to the queue railings or Mickey himself!
- Character meals are easier on toddlers then in line meet and greets. Most toddlers are slight wary of large fuzzy costumed people who are 6x the size of them. And standing in line is also not a favorite toddler activity. The character meals are an easy way around that. They work the room in a pattern fashion, being sure not to miss a table (if something does happen and you are missed ask a castmember for help. Do not chase down the character, they will mostly ignore you unless you are at your table). It’s a pretty smooth system. Kids are less intimidated having characters come to them instead of the other way around. They also get to see other kids interacting with their “friends” before they meet them, it helps ease any anxiety.
- Take advantage of the free stuff. Here’s some good ones to help keep kids entertained.
- And last but certainly not least-take lots of pictures!! They will never have another first trip and if they are a toddler they likely won’t remember this firsthand. So take advantage of Photo Pass Photographers, even if you don’t want Memory Maker they are happy to take your picture-even with your own camera. If you do want the best souvenir ever ( in my opinion), then pre buy Memory Maker. You save money and if you know ahead of time you paid for it you can take full advantage. Stop any Disney photographer you see for a picture, ask for magic shots everywhere. One of our best photos ever came from a photographer who was outside the exit of Kilimanjaro Safari. We all look fantastic and the background was beautiful, I never would have thought to take a picture there either. It wasn’t a standard “Disney” photo spot.