Traveling with a toddler to Disney…lets get real!

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Envision this:  A “magical” trip to Disney with your toddler.  Nothing but smiles and tears of joy.  The outbursts are non-existent, your child’s patience are at an all time high, and waiting doesn’t evoke a concern in the world.  These are the trips that I envisioned, strives for, and dreamed of.  Now don’t get me wrong; our trips have been incredibly magical and filled with amazing memories that are sure to last more than a lifetime.  However reality reared it’s ugly head early on in our trips.  I am hoping that you are able to use my experiences to help you plan and understand what traveling to the most magical place on earth could entail!

I will start by saying not every child is the same.  You may have a prince or princess that is happy to sit in their carriage and relax while they are pushed around by you.  Then there is my child.  Jr doesn’t sit…ever!  He loves to run and jump and skip along.  We must have been delusional thinking that his behavior was going to be any different in Disney.  John found joy dodging and weaving in and out of groups of people and running from mommy and daddy.  He refused to sit in the stroller and refused to hold anyone’s hand.  The minute I grabbed for his hand he went into fish mode…you all know that mode when they literally go limp and start flopping around on the ground like a fish out of water…but now add in the screams, yes friends we were “those people.”  I was so desperate to try to find solutions I walked into a store and asked if they had a Mickey backpack with a leash attached to it.  Yes I contemplated putting him on a leash.  I started to brainstorm and one solution that I have come up with since it to put a little ribbon or handle on the side of the stroller for him to hold on to.  This way he is close to us without us making him feel like he is out of control.  I also give him ample warnings and reminders that he MUST sit in the stroller from the bus to the entrance of the park and vice versa.

This brings me to my next plan of attack…burning off energy!  The first time we went with the 2 year old we were not thinking about all of the waiting and standing around.  The more we stood around the more agitated he got.  In between rides now we make it a point to visit somewhere the kids can burn energy such as The Casey Jr. splash station and play area next to splash mountain in Disney’s Magic Kingdom are two of my favorites.  The kids also enjoy jumping through the water that splashes out of the ground all around EPCOT, and the fountain in Downtown Disney Marketplace.

Has anyone else noticed how hard it is to reason with a 2 year old?  Jr flipped out…and by flipped out I mean he went absolutely crazy when he had to wait to see Mickey at Camp Minnie Mickey in Animal Kingdom.  He was kicking and screaming and crying.  He couldn’t understand why he couldn’t just run up to Mickey and give him a hug.   A cast member came over because she thought he was afraid.  We also had to take him out of the Garden Grill restaurant in EPCOT because he was so upset that Pluto left our table.  We now try to prepare him that he may have to wait and that the characters have to leave to see other “friends.”  We also always try to have a back up distraction method such as a snack or a favorite stuffed Mickey to help diffuse a difficult situation.

Toddler 3

The whole point to this post is to help us all remember that our kids are just that…kids.  However they act at home is how they will act at Disney.  You may even find that your child has more meltdowns, or is more easily scared than normal because there is so much going on at any given day at Disney, it is easy for them to become overstimulated.  Always have a distraction method or scope out a spot to take your little one to cool off or calm down.  Just remember you are at Disney and even in those tough moments, these are the memories that will last a lifetime!

Toddler 2


Heather is a Disney Gal, who loves the chocolate smell of Pop Century in the morning, dreams of being Snow White in a parade, and happily skips down the middle of Main Street USA while wearing Mickey Ears!


Traveling with a toddler to Disney...lets get real!

Traveling with a toddler to Disney...lets get real!

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Traveling with a toddler to Disney...lets get real! Traveling with a toddler to Disney...lets get real! Traveling with a toddler to Disney...lets get real! Traveling with a toddler to Disney...lets get real! Traveling with a toddler to Disney...lets get real! Traveling with a toddler to Disney...lets get real!
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4 thoughts on “Traveling with a toddler to Disney…lets get real!

  1. I don’t think taking a toddler is out of the question, we took our oldest son at 2 and our youngest when he was 1. I like to think I managed my children and didn’t ruin anyone else’s memories. We did take it easy and stuck with a break schedule. Perhaps they won’t remember the trips, but they enjoyed themselves at the time. So therefore my memories of their enchanted faces are what I have on those trips.

  2. I think that so many people forget that Disney is just TOO MUCH. Not in a bad way, and not in a “you shouldn’t bring your young child” way…but, there is too much to see, too much to hear, too much to DO…it’s overwhelming for an adult, it’s beyond overwhelming for a kid. The toddler years were the only times we took breaks. Now they they are older, we are all parks, all the time.

    I’m not against harnesses for kids (yeah, I’m THAT parent) They say that dogs are about as “developed” mentally as a 6 year old, and we put THEM on leashes to keep them safe. Toddlers are impulsive by nature…and it takes a blink of an eye for them to take off…I WAS that toddler, and have a very vivid memory of being lost by the jumping water at Journey of the Imagination…My family headed off, and I was so enthralled by the jumping water, that I didn’t go with them. BUT, I LOVE the ribbon idea, if you can be sure that your toddler won’t be distracted by something, and just go to it. (I have an adorable picture of my now 12 year old, sitting on a bench…holding the end of her OWN harness…because daddy was taking a picture, and she knew someone was supposed to be holding it.

    Another thing…TAKE ADVANTAGE of the baby care areas. They are quiet, they are air conditioned…they have little people sized toilets…it’s a good way to decompress, if decompression is necessary.

  3. So very, very, VERY true!! We waited until our children were 8 and 5 for our first trip, and even that was a little young. When they can walk all day by themselves and behave themselves within reason, then it is a good time to take them. For children who cannot control themselves at home, keep them there until they can at least have a little control so the rest of the guests don’t have to listen to their meltdowns.

  4. There’s a reason they call it the ‘terrible twos’ 😉

    Honestly, I think parent get too caught up into thinking they are creating memories, when it very likely the child won’t remember it. The parents I’ve seen at the parks, tend to look miserable, and it always makes me wonder why they felt it was so important to take their children so soon.

    We waited with our daughters, but mainly due to financial reasons, but had it been more affordable over the years, I don’t think we would have taken them much sooner.

    I’ve seen parents with a completely uncontrollable child, who held up one of the buses for, at minimum, 10 minutes, because their kid was too tired, yet they were going TO the parks (not coming back). I felt sorry for the people who had to share that bus with the screaming child.

    My overall point, I think parents should wait until they know their child is well behaved (using identifiers like you mentioned), and not to force the ‘memories’. You’ll end up with a miserable vacation, and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll ruin a memory for someone else at the parks.

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