Last week I shared some tips for bringing your toddler to Walt Disney World, and that got me to thinking about mealtime with toddlers. Dining with tiny ones can certainly be a challenge, especially when you’re at Walt Disney World where there are distractions everywhere you look. But fear not – as I am here with more tips – this time on how to tackle Disney World character meals with toddlers:
Let Them Help: Toddlers love doing “adult” things – so when you’re planning out your WDW Itinerary, and figuring out where you might want to eat (and planning for your ADR day of course – right?), let them help with the planning! I’m not talking about letting them dictate the whole trip – but giving them simple options like “would you like to eat with Mickey, or the Princesses?” would be a great way to let them feel like they are a part of the planning
Time It Right: It can be tricky to book those popular character meals – and while your instinct might be to take that 7pm time at Cinderella’s Royal Table because it’s the only time slot available – I urge you to reconsider! You should try to book your character meal as close to your toddler’s regular mealtime as you can – it will make life easier on everyone, trust me. And if that means you have to trade dinner for breakfast, or that you don’t get to go to your first choice restaurant – so be it. Routine is everything with little ones – and so is food – so best not to mess with either one
Pack Wisely: I talked about packing for the Disney Parks with toddlers in my post last week, and I mentioned bringing snacks and drinks along, but when it comes to getting them to sit through a meal, extra provisions must be brought. When we go out to eat with our little one, I try to bring along all the “comforts of home” – bib, kid utensils & plate, sippy cup, and plenty of wipes, too. I also like to basically bring a full meal’s worth of things I know he will eat in case he rejects everything at the restaurant (not likely but you never know!). Activity items are a must, too – crayons and paper, toy cars, his toy “laptop” – they can all buy you some peace and quiet, and who knows, you might actually get to eat, too!
Pro Tip: Download some shows/movies on your phone/tablet as a last resort – just in case your little one decides to enter full on tantrum mode before the waiter even brings over the drinks
Don’t Expect Perfection: Toddlers don’t have it easy – they can’t always express what they are feeling, and that can frustrate them greatly, and as with anything else – you just can’t expect them to behave perfectly and sit quietly through a whole character meal. They might cry when Mickey comes around and not want their picture taken, or they might throw 15 chicken nuggets on the floor – and that is all ok. Just because they are at Disney World doesn’t mean they are going to act like angels – and just as with any other place, I take the stance of “I expect this to go poorly and if it doesn’t, I will be glad” when it comes to toddler life
Here are my top picks for toddler character dining spots at WDW:
- Crystal Palace
- Chef Mickey’s
- Tusker House
All of these are extremely kid friendly, and are also all buffets – which means you’re almost certain your toddler will find at least one thing he/she will eat!