Toddler and Preschool Disney World Planning Tips

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It can be done! Not only can you plan a successful trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth with a toddler or small child in tow, you can have fun doing it!  I’ve been on  trips to Disney World with children ages 8 weeks through teenage years.  When planning a trip with the tiniest  family members in mind, following some tips discussed in this article will help you have the most magical experience possible.

First is the pre-planning stage

Bring out the Disney movies!!  Play them in the car, or listen to Disney CDs.  Even the youngest Disney fans will recognize the characters and learn the songs.  

When planning a trip when my youngest daughter was two I purchased the Disney sing-along DVDs.  The great thing about these is that they feature the actual characters singing with actual children.  By watching these before they will know what size to expect the characters to be.  When they see a gigantic Chip and Dale they will be less likely to freak out and more likely to walk right up!  Do know that these DVDs are a bit dated in clothing and hairstyle, but my kids do not even notice.  They just see Disney!

Another thing to do is get the children involved in the planning.  We make countdown charts or paper chains as a family.  Even toddlers will look forward to taking down a countdown each day and it helps with the “how long until we leave?” question.

Another great thing to do is make a “Disney Box”.  Ours is a wicker basket in my closet.  When we come across any Disney stickers, coloring books, or travel items we throw them in.  The kids and I have a great time filling up our box with treasures!

Second is the planning phase

Plan your park days.  Plan what attractions  your children might want to experience and what attractions you or your spouse might like.  You can order maps of the parks off the Disney web site.  These are beautiful and FREE!

Plan downtime!  If your young children usually nap at a certain time it may be beneficial for you to go back to the room and nap during the day.  Chip discusses this and more park tips in the article about toddler trips here.

Plan resort/pool days if time allows.  Sometimes (crazy enough!) a young child’s favorite part of the trip was the resort or the pool.  My family enjoys this down time in the middle of a crazy week!

Next is the packing phase

Get the kids involved!  Toddler and preschool age children usually have favorite clothing items.  Let them have a say in some of the things to pack and let them pick a few favorite stuffed animals or small toys.

Pack entire outfits into a gallon ziplock bag.  This should include underwear, outfit, socks, and if the child is a girl a ponytail and bow if they wear them.  This cuts out the “What to wear today” debate.  I even write the day of the week or “extra”  on each bag.  In the morning I tell the kids “go grab a bag!”  No fussing!

A Disney World trip can certainly be a magical experience for the entire family, from the tall to the small starting with planning and preparation.  These are just a few examples of the many ways to plan for families with toddler or preschool age children.  What are some of your favorite tips or planning tricks not mentioned?

Samantha Nichols


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6 thoughts on “Toddler and Preschool Disney World Planning Tips

  1. We generally go to Dollar Tree to get small inexpensive snacks like goldfish or peanut butter crackers and juice boxes to help with little appetites. We keep it small and light weight. lunchables are also great. You can carry a sippy cup and get free ice water from most quick service places. #ymbada

  2. Great ideas, I think talking about Disney and what you are going to do before you go, every day, helps a lot to build the excitement. Also showing pictures of past trips and telling stories about them really helps, My 3 yr old grandson loves to look at them and say “what that?”#ymbada

  3. My daughter had her first Disney trip at age 22 mos…she LOVED it (& still does!) Great info, TY….would also like to say those space saver type bags (you vacuum the air out) are great for packing, been going carry-on only a lot…..and if your toddler can handle it, they ARE entitled to fly with a carry-on if you buy them a seat, so the little rolling (preferably Disney!) Carry-ons are great, my daughter handles her own since age 2! #YMBADA

  4. Food! LIttle ones’ appetites are usually more sporatic than ours. Snack packing and meal planning are a MUST when taking the munchkins to WDW. A cooler bag is good, but if your little ones can make it on non-refridgeratables, then you’re better off. If you can, plan a meal or two with character dining (but only if your toddler is cool with characters approaching them; otherwise, skip it and have a happier meal). You may want to avoid ADRs altogether if your child is regularly finicky about eating times (or if they don’t do well with sit-down places). But, there are plenty of quick serve options that will keep them (& you) happy.

    You will know your kids best when it comes to what they eat and the atmosphere they need to enjoy it.

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