As all you parents out there know, life with toddlers is a unique experience (interpret that however you like…). They are amazing and learning different things every day, and there is no stage in life quite like it. Toddlers love experiencing new things and places, so what better way to introduce them to new things than with a trip to Walt Disney World!!
Here are some tips to help you plan for that magical trip with your little one: Walt Disney World “Do’s and Don’t’s” when traveling with toddlers:
Involve Them In The Planning: They may not understand it all, and will think when you say “We’re going to Disney!” that means right now even if its months away, but toddlers retain more than we think. Let them help make decisions, but break it down in toddler friendly terms, like “do you want to eat breakfast with Winnie The Pooh, or with Mickey Mouse?”, and “Do you want to go see the animals on the first day, or the Castle?” – thank and praise them for their input, and then when you get to Disney, remind them that they chose this meal/park/ride – they will love getting to make “big people” decisions!
Prepare Them: Show them pictures and videos of the rides/parks and explain to them how it all works – The Parks, the lines, the rides, the characters, etc. Especially the characters – try and get them some character interaction (like at a local theme park perhaps?) before you head to Disney, so you can get an idea of how they might react. If that’s not possible, just show them videos of other kids their age meeting and hugging and getting excited to meet their favorite characters
Pack Smart: Make sure you have plenty of snacks, drinks, and toys for the plane ride, ride lines, bus/boat rides – basically, be prepared for all the time you will spend waiting with lots of toddler-friendly distractions. New little toys/books can be bought cheaply at the dollar store – think things like bubbles, matchbox cars, coloring books, stickers, etc – these are all very useful in helping to prevent toddler meltdowns. Make sure you also back an extra change of clothes (or 2!) for your little one when you head off to the Parks, plus all the standard necessities like sunscreen, hats/hoodies/sunglasses, water bottles, extra wipes and kleenex, etc
Stray TOO Far From Your Toddler’s Regular Schedule: Obviously you’re on vacation, and in a new place, so you can’t expect to always stay 100% on schedule when it comes to naps or meals, but do the best you can to keep meals/snacks around the same time, and while you might not really get a chance to “nap” while touring the Parks, you can definitely make “quiet time” a reality – find a shady spot to spread out with your toddler, and bring a few books and their stuff animal or blanket, and encourage them to lay down in their stroller/on your lap for a bit, and if they nap, great, and if not – at least they got to unwind for a bit. If you’re able to leave the Parks somewhat easily (like if you’re staying on-site at a WDW Resort), then you can head back to your hotel for quiet time/naptime/pool time after lunch, and then be refreshed and ready to head back out to the Parks for dinner!
Do Too Much: On your little one’s first trip to WDW you want them to be able to see and do as much as possible, so it’s easy to try and overplan or to try and squeeze in just one last ride before lunch – and that’s where things can get dicey. Keep a close eye on your toddler – notice when they seem to be dragging, and assess the situation – maybe they just need to be carried for a bit, or maybe a break is in order – take LOTS of breaks – for snacks, drinks, or just to sit down for a few minutes. Your toddler is probably on sensory overload – so any chance you can take to do nothing while at WDW is a plus, gives them a chance to recharge, and the frequent breaks will keep you from overwhelming them
Expect Everything To Go As Planned: No matter how much you prepare for your WDW trip – the reality is that nothing with a toddler ever goes exactly as you plan it – and that’s ok! My best advice is to have a plan, but to be willing to be spontaneous too – it’s ok if you don’t ride every ride or meet every character, and if your toddler likes the train the best and wants to ride it 8 times – then do it! That’s how you make the best memories sometimes, by throwing the plan out the window and letting fate decide your day!
What about you – have you traveled to WDW with toddlers? What are your best tips and tricks for making the most out of your vacation with them?
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