Tips for Disney World with Two Small Kids

Hi friends! How are ya? Hope the day is going well so far! Thank you so much for all of your wonderful comments on the house pics yesterday. We’ll likely move unpacked boxes with us to our next spot, but we definitely feel settled. 

Even though we just got back from Atlanta, I’m already looking forward to our next little road trip! One of the great things about Valdosta is that it’s so close to many nearby cities. We’ve already been to Orlando and I know we’ll be back very soon. I thought I’d share some of our Disney tips and what helped us on our recent Disney World trip. I always love to hear your suggestions, too, so please shout them out in the comments below! 

HUGE list of Disney World tips for families with young kids! Where to stay, what to pack, Fast pass tips + how to make the most of your time. fitnessista.com

Tips for Disney World with Two Small Kiddos:

Determine your vacation strategy. I feel like for vacations you can be Type A (plans everything out in advance), Type B (go with the flow but have a general idea of some things to do each day) or Type C (totally go with the flow). Do you like to have everything planned in advance? Do you like to be up and hitting the parks when the sun comes up? We don’t do either of these (we sleep until the last possible second), but we will have a general idea of things we want to do each day. On vacation, we don’t like it to feel like too much work, and minimize additional stress in the equation. If everyone sleeps, eats, and has fun, we consider it a huge win.

Teacups

This brings me to the next tip:

Drop your expectations and just enjoy. I read this on a friend’s blog, but once we’re on the road to our destination, I tell myself that we’re technically “on vacation.” “The Pilot isn’t working! We’re all together! Enjoy it.” This keeps me from getting stressed about packing up, getting to the hotel, and all of the other logistics that come along with traveling together.

Disney gear

(My shirt is here, the Pilot’s is here, and the girls’ are from the Disney Store <— ordered online a few weeks before our trip)

MY OTHER VIDEOS

Make a packing list in advance, but remember that if you forget anything, you’re in Orlando. They have everything. 😉 Some of the items we have to have on hand in a backpack: water bottles for all, sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, diapers/wipes, and small utensils. (Liv can use the regular sized ones now, but P still needs the little ones.) I ordered some of these small mister fans from Amazon, which were awesome for the hot summer days, and we also learned to have an umbrella and ponchos. (We brought an umbrella, but ended up having to buy ponchos. They’re $10 a piece at the park, and super flimsy material, so I’d hit up Amazon beforehand.)

Poncho party

Disney World can be as budget-friendly or as expensive and luxurious as you want to make it. Tips on saving money: bring snacks, water bottles to refill throughout the day, and breakfast staples. We’ll keep fruit, pouches, packs of oatmeal (just add hot water in the am), Annie’s bunnies, bars, jerky and trail mix in the hotel room. Each day, I’ll just refill the stash in my backpack to take to the park. Having snacks in the hotel room is clutch for the mornings, when it takes a bit of time to get out of the room and head to breakfast. This way the kids have enough to hold the hanger beast until we can eat a full meal.

Mickey crispy

(Another pro tip: always save room for at least one Mickey-shaped dessert or churro)

Once you have your tickets, book your dining reservations and Fast Passes online. Be sure to check back often, and also during your trip, because things tend to free up at the last minute. Some of the Fast Pass-worthy choices:

Attractions and Rides:

Buzz Lightyear

Snow White Mine Train

Frozen Ride

Enchanted Tales with Belle

Pandora’s Na’Vi River Journey

Pandora’s Flight of Passage (for the adults)

Peter Pan’s Flight

Character dining:

1900 Park Fare 

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Be Our Guest

Hollywood & Vine (<— this is where we ate one night and the girls LOVED it. The food was great, too)

Cinderella’s Royal Table

‘Ohana

Character experiences:

You can get Fast Passes to meet your little ones’ favorite characters. Here’s the great list!

Don’t go too crazy buying toys/souvenirs at the park. They’re hard to keep track of, and while they’re fun, they’re overpriced. We usually let the girls each pick out one special thing on each vacation, and that’s it. Beforehand, I’ll pick up their matching outfits online at the Disney Store and I ordered our shirts from Etsy. All of our mouse ears were from one of our previous trips to Disneyland. 

HUGE list of Disney world tips for families with young kids! Where to stay, what to pack, Fast pass tips + how to make the most of your time. fitnessista.com

Disney World Q&A:

Would you bring a stroller?

Yes x 100000. You can rent one at the park, but it’s a bit of a hike GETTING to the park. I like our BOB for theme parks because it’s more rough and tumble – I don’t like the bugaboo runner getting scratched up- and Liv can ride on the small triangle on the front with her legs up. I used to think it was weird seeing *older* kids riding in strollers, but Disney is a LOT of walking. We park the stroller at each ride or show, and they still walk a ton through the lines. I also like the stroller because I can keep dibs on P, who is usually all over the place. (She is one of the children who would probably benefit from a leash backpack haha.) 

Do you go back to the hotel for naps?

On other vacations, and even at Disneyland, one of us will usually take P back to the hotel for an afternoon nap, while the other parent stays with Liv. This didn’t work at all for Disney World because the property is so huge, and getting back and forth wasn’t as easy as I anticipated. So, P ended up napping in the stroller and was completely fine. I’d find an air-conditioned shop and hang out with her in there as she napped, and I was usually with a few other mamas doing the same thing.

How do you share a hotel room with your kids? Do you get a suite?

This depends. When we travel, if we’re going to an amusement park or know we’re going to be out and about until late, we all share a room. If we plan on relaxing more at the room, we’ll get a suite so we can put the girls to bed and hang out in the living room and drink wine. In this case, we all shared a room, and it ended up being perfect. We got back to the hotel past the girls’ bedtimes and they were completely zonked, so we could put them to sleep and still enjoy a cocktail in the room. 

Disney food

Is the meal plan worth it?

We didn’t end up getting the meal plan, and I’m glad. When the Disney rep told me the price, I was like thanks but no thanks. (Keep in mind that they always start with the most expensive package, which was $100+ per adult per day.) While Disney food is good, it didn’t seem like it would be worth it. We ended up grabbing quick meals and snacks at the park and enjoying one larger, sit-down meal each day. I liked that our eating felt more casual instead of trying to keep track of how many types of meals and snacks we had left. You can read more about the Dining Plan here.

Eating at Disney World

What are the pros and cons of staying property?

I have mixed feelings about staying on property. It was expensive, and it wasn’t as convenient as I was anticipating. We stayed at the Boardwalk, which is a boat ride to Epcot, and a bus ride to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. I specifically told the Disney rep I didn’t want to do the bus thing -it’s just a hassle with the stroller and getting the girls back and forth- but she assured me that the boat was convenient and we could walk 11 minutes to Magic Kingdom. We ended up taking the bus every.single.time. It rained each day, so walking and the boat were out. Sometimes the bus took 20 minutes to arrive at our pick-up, which is a long time to wait when it’s pouring and you’re chasing a toddler around the bus stop.

Boardwalk Hotel

I REALLY like the Magic Bands. If you stay in property, you get these bands, which enable you early park access, and store your room key, Fast Passes, and dining reservations. They’re linked to your credit card, so you can scan your wrist to pay for everything. I loved the convenience and am excited to use them again for our next trip.

HUGE list of Disney world tips for families with young kids! Where to stay, what to pack, Fast pass tips + how to make the most of your time. fitnessista.com

What are some must-dos for kids under age 6?

Enchanted Tales with Belle

Character Dinner (ALL of the character dining options have great reviews and book out quickly, so pick the park you’d like, find a character option and book in advance. You can book online, and also many of the resorts have dining options at the hotel.)

Little Mermaid ride, and any of the Fantasy Land rides

Lion King Show

Finding Nemo the Musical

Disney Junior Show

Character interactions

Frozen ride

Pandora Na’Vi River Journey

HUGE list of Disney world tips for families with young kids! Where to stay, what to pack, Fast pass tips + how to make the most of your time. fitnessista.com

Any tips for Fast Passes or beating the lines?

A reader friend gave me this awesome tip on Facebook: 

You can only get two fast passes per person at a time. Also, you can only book them at one park online each day. SO, you get your Fast Passes for early in the day because once they’re used up, you can get new ones. If the parents want to ride something that’s more intense or has a height requirement, have one parent get Fast Passes for these rides, also early in the day. When you get to the Fast Pass line, tell them you want to do a rider swap. One parent can ride while the other stays with the child, and then you swap out!! If the child has a Fast Pass, too, you can do even more rides this way. There is an awesome post on how to get the most out of the Fast Pass and rider swap system here.

HUGE list of Disney world tips for families with young kids! Where to stay, what to pack, Fast pass tips + how to make the most of your time. fitnessista.com

So I think that’s it! The great list of Disney tips. Now to convince the Pilot we need to go back asap.

xoxo

Gina

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16 Comments

  1. Christina @ montessoriishmom.com on August 2, 2017 at 7:17 am

    This is great!! We’re going to DW in December, when our little guy will be 15 months. I was particularly worried about the whole nap situation so that’s great to hear that napping in the stroller worked so well. I’m really hoping he’ll nap in the stroller, going back and forth to the hotel seems like it would take all afternoon. Great fast pass tips too!

  2. Laura @ Laura Likes Design on August 2, 2017 at 9:58 am

    I love the idea of the wristbands to avoid having to carry extra items! Okay, that Mickey krispie treat looks amazing and now that’s all I can think about!! haha

  3. Kelli @ Hungry Hobby on August 2, 2017 at 10:05 am

    These are really great tips!!! I’d love to hear what you think disneyland vs. disneyworld – pros/cons prices differences, travel friendliness etc.

  4. Catherine on August 2, 2017 at 10:46 am

    These are awesome tips! Thank you so much! I’ve only been to DW once (and I was an adult), but I would love to bring my kids! I’m pregnant with my second but I’ll definitely remember this post and refer back to it when baby #2 is old enough to enjoy the happiest place on earth!

  5. Nicole Mariam on August 2, 2017 at 11:00 am

    I’ve been to DW a few times with small kids. I recommend napping in the stroller to a quick jaunt to a hotel near MK if you need a cool down break or re-charge. Grand Floridian has floor outlets in the main lobby you can plug in.

    I always bring snacks and water bottles into the park. You can also bring a small cooler and pack sandwiches, etc. When I traveled with 2 kids under 3, eating and park admission was free. We opted for the dining plan because it was cheaper this way with character meals. Figure a character buffet was $60 pp for the meal. I paid $60 pp for they day on dining plan. I got 1 table service (character meal), 1 quick dining (fast counter option) and 1 snack. You can use snacks at the hotel to get larger sizes of boxed crackers, etc. We were able to feed the boys for free on almost all meals. If you have kids younger than 3, this can be a great option depending on the length of your stay!

    I also purchase glow sticks and other small toys from the dollar store, Target etc and bring with me. Same with shirts and other disney apparel.

    We always stay on property since we have to fly to Orlando. Airport transport is included with your on property stay. We like Art of Animation since it’s a one bedroom suite. Boys get the bedroom and we use the two full size beds in the main room. We can have a night cap and organize bags for the next day.

    By staying on property we have been able to take advantage of extra magic hours so we can visit the parks at night for date night. We’ve either had a family member stay in the room or you can hire a babysitter (we’ve had friends do this). We book a night dinner out and ride all the big rides we couldn’t do during the day with small kids. We have also park hopped during this time and got an Uber ($11) to quickly to get to one park or another so we didn’t have to wait for the bus.

    I def recommend planning our your fast passes for rides and character meet and greets for the mornings. Then go with the flow. There are a lot of hidden playgrounds/structures for toddlers to play on in the parks that help with down time.

  6. Jeni M on August 2, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Thanks for the great tips! It will be years before we head to Disney World, but we’re booked for a Disney cruise next fall. The wait is killing me. I loved your last line about convincing the Pilot to go back soon, sounds like my household, ha.

  7. Becky @ The Bex Factor on August 2, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I’ll definitely be coming back to these tips someday. My son will be 5 in October and I would love to take him to Disneyland and San Diego zoo someday but I think he’s got a few years to go before he’s not melting down after too much activity and being tired. I look at people like you that do Disney with small kids and just wonder how you make it through without losing your mind LOL.

  8. Sarah F on August 2, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    This is so perfectly timed! My boyfriend and I are going to Disney World at the end of the month- and even though we don’t have children we’re bringing with us, these tips are still really helpful! Any other hints for going to Disney (for the first time ever!) as adults?

  9. Emily @ Pizza & Pull-ups on August 2, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I am going to save them for future planning. We are still a few years away from Disney World, but I am trying to convince the hubs that Disneyland should happen this Spring.

  10. Jessica on August 2, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    Gina:

    PLEASE let me know the next time you are in Orlando. LIterally we can see the fireworks from my yard each night. I’d love to share a cocktail and some Mexican food with you and the fam!
    Glad you all had a fun trip!
    Jessica, Team KIT
    Kitlife.net

    • Fitnessista on August 3, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      i definitely will! we’re hoping to be back in october 🙂

      • Jessica on August 4, 2017 at 8:42 am

        Sounds great! I’d love to meet you IRL, introduce you to my hubby and get you, the Pilot and the girls out for some food and fun. We are so close to the parks. October will be great – still HOT as I’m sure you know – but lots of holiday things will already be happening by then!

        Have a great weekend!

  11. Liz on August 3, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Love these tips, it sounds like you guys had a pretty fun and successful trip! I can’t wait to take my kids some day even though the planning seems overwhelming, totally worth it however you’re able to work it. Thanks for the post!

    • Fitnessista on August 3, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      yeah and the planning wasn’t too bad! it was so much fun

  12. Kristen on August 4, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    We went to Disney World last year and had the best time. We opted to stay at a condo right outside Disney (7 min drive, little traffic). It was nice because we ate most of our meals there and feel like we saved quite a bit of money doing that.
    Our son is usually up by 7 most mornings so we’d be at the park by 9 and spend a few hours there. Then around 1 we’d head back to the condo for lunch and just chill/unwind for a couple of hours. I loved that because it made for a more enjoyable evening since everyone felt recharged by not being at the park all day long (it’s exhausting Lol). Then we’d head back out and stay the remainder of the day.
    We also took a stroller and lots of snacks in the park. I highly recommend a stroller. We just took an umbrella stroller for our then 4 yr old and it was The. Best. Decision.
    As far as souvenirs, my son got one thing from the actual park. We actually took him to a nearby Target and let him pick out a shirt and a couple other Disney things and it was much cheaper.
    Love your tips and love Disney. We can’t wait to go back!

    • Fitnessista on August 5, 2017 at 10:45 pm

      these are all amazing tips- thank you!
      we can’t wait to go back, either. disney is the best 🙂

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