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Disney’s Magic Kingdom with Babies, Toddlers or Preschoolers…in One Day

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One day to conquer Disney's Magic Kingdom with a baby, toddler and/or preschooler might seem intimidating, but with a little planning and juggling, you will experience a wondrous world with your young ones. You have to be more flexible with your timing, but if you prepare well in advance and know what to expect, you'll be ahead of the game. Here are five tips to make the most of a trip to Disney's Magic Kingdom with babies, toddlers or preschoolers.

Magic Kingdom with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers

My toddler twins snooze while my preschooler poses with Pluto at the Magic Kingdom

My family of twin 2-year-old boys, their 3-year-old big brother, my husband and I had just one day to spend at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. To make the most of our visit, we decided to visit just one of Disney World's four theme parks, the Magic Kingdom. The question is, how to make the most of a one-day Disney visit with three young children? The answer is all in the preparation. Based on my family's experience, here's what we did right, and what we would do differently next time when visiting the Magic Kingdom with young children:

Minimize time spent waiting in lines.

Arriving at the Magic Kingdom when the park first opens will save time waiting in lines for characters and rides because the lines grow as more guests arrive at the park throughout the day. Although we were able to take a spin on many of the rides on our must-do list, I'm sad to say we missed taking the boys on the Peter Pan ride. Next time, we'll get a FastPass for our favorite rides so we can squeeze in more fun without the misery of waiting in long lines with little ones.

The Magic Kingdom offers a FastPass option on these baby and toddler-friendly attractions:  Jungle Cruise, the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan's Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, and Town Square Theater.

Bring the right gear.

I knew we were going to need a stroller, which could carry our kids as well as snacks, drinks, diapers and an extra set of clothes. What I didn’t realize was that taking the tram from the parking lot to the park could pose a real challenge for someone without a light travel stroller. There’s no way a big double stroller will fit on the tram, so we ended up walking a significant distance. If traveling with more than one young child, I recommend bringing two compact strollers rather than one giant double. Another option is to rent a stroller inside the park.

Magic Kingdom teacups

A joy-filled spin the Mad Tea Party ride

Schedule ahead for meals and snacks.

If you have a family of four or more members, it might be difficult to find seating together if you try to eat at peak meal times. Try to dine a little bit early or later, rather than right at noon. Also, be sure to stay hydrated and keep your kids supplied with healthy snacks along the way so no one will be ravenous and unruly while you are trying to order food and find seating.

Squeeze in naps.

Who needs naps? We do! Every day I go out of my way to ensure naps take place no later than 2 p.m. and they are never in a stroller or the car, with very rare exception. I had to face it—a trip to the Magic Kingdom was called for such an exception, and I let my schedule obsession go while the twins napped in the stroller. They were hot and didn’t sleep well, but leaving the park mid-day was not a practical option for our one-day visit. Some kids nap well in strollers or baby carriers while others do much better back in the hotel room in a travel crib. You will need to decide which nap-time method works best for your family, but I highly recommend finding some way to make sure young children get their daytime snooze in, if at all possible.

Magic Kingdom crowd

Cinderella's castle and Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom

Make the most of the time you have.

If I could do it all over again, I would have gone the second half of the day. The Magic Kingdom was miserably hot and absolutely busting with a crowd that I did not expect during our visit. In retrospect, I wish we had gone later in the afternoon, after naps so that we could have enjoyed the park at sunset and stay until it was dark. We would have had to forego our typical 8 p.m. bedtime—but it would have been worth it. Being hot and sticky at Disney World with little flushed faces isn’t exactly the most fun. We arrived early and had to leave by 2 p.m. to get back on the road home that afternoon. That left us with exhausted kids (too tired to sleep in the car) and totally wiped out parents who still had to drive eight hours home. Better yet…next time we'd stay an extra day!

All in all, we were glad we visited the Magic Kingdom with our young children. Sure, at this age our kids might not remember much of the trip, but it was incredible to see the boys’ reaction to the wonders of Disney and the characters they love so much.

What tips do you have for visiting Disney's Magic Kingdom with babies, toddlers or other young children? Let us know in the comments!

All photos by Farrah Ritter.

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About Farrah Ritter, The Nomadic Travel Mama

Farrah Ritter is an adventure-seeking mama to a 4-year-old son and twin 2-year-old boys. Her family of five moved to the Netherlands in October of 2012. Originally from Michigan, she and her husband relocated to the South in 2006 and jumped over the pond with their boys in tow. She blogs at The Three Under when she can and is looking forward to documenting and sharing their European journey with anyone interested in travel with multiple small children. An Instagram and Twitter junkie (@Momofthreeunder), Farrah loves to see perspectives of others and experience the beauty of old towns and historic places.

Comments

  1. Great tips for visiting Disney World with small children! I think the same advice always holds when traveling with small children whether it’s to Disney World or anywhere else – parents need to recognize upfront that they aren’t going to see or do everything with little kids in tow and that’s okay. It’s best to just relax and enjoy whatever you do fit in rather than try to do too much and exhaust everyone. And I couldn’t agree more that it doesn’t matter how much they remember – the joy of the moment makes it completely worthwhile!

  2. Thanks Lisa- and yes- so true in so many ways. It actually takes some of the pressure off knowing it isn’t going to happen, you know?

  3. Making exceptions to regular rules is the lesson I got from your post…good advice.

  4. I’m currently planning a visit to Disney world with my 2 year old twin boys! My question for you…how did you go about letting them get out of the stroller to run around with so many people around and so many things going on. I’m afraid one with get caught up in the crowd, but I know I can’t expect them to stay in the stroller all day.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Amy – Although Farrah no longer writes for Travel Mamas, I hope I can provide some help. Have you ever considered buying a toddler safety harness? I found a harness to be a great option for giving my kiddos some freedom when they were little. A harness makes life less stressful for parents, too, because it’s easy to lose sight of, or grip of, a little one in big crowds. Here are a few safety harness options: http://astore.amazon.com/travmama03-20?node=1&page=7

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