Toddler Travel Tips for Walt Disney World

by Tara Rack-Amber | Release Date: July 7, 2016 | Availability: Print, Kindle

Planning a Magical Vacation for Toddlers

The best thing about a trip to Walt Disney World is bringing your toddler. But sometimes, the worst thing about a trip to Walt Disney World is...bringing your toddler. Unless you're prepared. With Tara Rack-Amber's Mousekatots, you'll learn how to get maximum magic, with minimum meltdowns.

The crowds, heat, noise, and strange surroundings can overwhelm even the best-natured toddler at Walt Disney World. A miserable toddler leads to a miserable vacation for the whole family. To make sure you're not that family, Tara Rack-Amber suggests ways to turn your Disney vacation into a toddler-proof nirvana.

From planning the trip and arranging for stress-free travel, to scheduling tear-free days in the parks, Mousekatots is full of practical advice. Plus, every major ride, show, and restaurant is reviewed from the perspective of a toddler. What a tween or a teen or an adult might enjoy is often not what a toddler will enjoy, and you'll learn how to avoid the terrors and tribulations that can afflict even the stoutest Mousekatot in the most magical place on earth.


Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Planning

Chapter 2: Packing and Traveling

Chapter 3: Arrival

Chapter 4: Preparing for a Day in the Parks

Chapter 5: Exploring the Magic Kingdom

Chapter 6: Exploring Epcot

Chapter 7: Exploring Disney's Hollywood Studios

Chapter 8: Exploring Disney's Animal Kingdom

Chapter 9: Troubleshooting

When you walk into the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, there is a sign greeting visitors that reads, “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.” This sign gives visitors a taste of the magic that awaits them once they pass under the railroad station to enter the Magic Kingdom.

Where else are you able to fly with Peter Pan, travel around the world in a single day, step into the movies, and go on an African safari and be back in time for dinner?

Whether it is your first or your 100th time visiting Walt Disney World, each visit is unique and offers a wonderful opportunity to share time with loved ones.

For years my husband and I traveled to Walt Disney World in a group of six adults. These trips consisted of sleeping in, staying in the parks until closing, and enjoying dinner at several of Disney’s gourmet restaurants.

However, things change quite significantly once you start traveling with a toddler.

The mornings usually start before the crack of dawn, you go back to your hotel room a little after dusk, and you base your restaurant choices on whether the menu includes chicken nuggets.

“Mousekatot” trips are also 10 times more magical.

The first time your tot sees their favorite character face to face or the spires of Cinderella Castle can only be described as breathtaking. It is like you are introducing this fantastic world to their impressionable minds—where magic still co-exists alongside reality—for the first time.

Unfortunately, all the pixie dust in the world cannot make a perfect vacation. There will be some hiccups along the way. Shoes might get lost on “it’s a small world” and meltdowns will most likely happen in line waiting for food at Electric Umbrella.

However, if you plan ahead, you’ll know what you want to accomplish each day and have ideas in place for how to handle issues as they arise.

Planning starts when you make the decision to go to Walt Disney World. You plan when you want to go, where you want to stay, what to bring, and what you want to do when you arrive.

For other vacations, like trips to the beach, after you figure out when and how to get there, most of your planning is done. However, with Disney, because of the crowds, the weather, the FastPass options, the restaurant choices, and so many other things, if you don’t plan, your vacation will seem like a chore and will overwhelm you.

If you approach it the right way, planning for a Walt Disney World vacation can be nearly as much fun as going on a Walt Disney World vacation.

There is a vibrant and wonderful Disney community on the internet full of people who love to talk about the Mouse and share their experiences through message boards, Facebook groups, and even podcasts. These places have much information that can help take your vacation to the next level. Plus, Disney fans are so passionate that their excitement will catch on.

But there’s no “go-to” source for planning a Disney vacation specifically with toddlers. That’s where this book comes in.

Tara Rack-Amber

Tara Rack-Amber is a graduate of Waynesburg University and a reporter for a newspaper in southwestern Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband, Mousekatot daughter, and two cats. When she isn’t planning or researching her next Walt Disney World vacation or Disney cruise, she can be found dreaming of vintage camping trailers and idolizing J.B. Fletcher from Murder She Wrote.

For toddlers, a change in their surroundings, especially after a long trip, can be frightening. Here are some ways to make their arrival in Orlando a happy time.

You can now breathe a sigh of relief. You’ve made it! You can start enjoying your vacation with your little one.

The first reaction for a lot of families is to check in and go straight to the parks, but there is plenty to do to help you settle in and relax a little first.

What to Do First

When you arrive at your resort, in either your own car or on Disney’s Magical Express, you get your first taste of Disney magic. Just like the theme parks, the detail at the resort is amazing. If you are staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, you will feel like you stepped into a hotel on a game reserve in Africa. At Disney’s Port Orleans: French Quarter, you’ll feel like you dropped in to the heart of New Orleans, complete with wonderful Southern hospitality.

Whatever resort you have decided to make home for the next few days, you will need to check in. For a toddler, this is one of the most boring aspects of their vacation. My suggestion would be to have one parent go and check in while the other takes the tot around. The check-in building usually has a gift shop and restaurant. You can always grab a snack, make a pit stop at the restrooms, or do some shopping to keep them entertained.

If it looks like check in won’t take too long, you can always play a quick game of I-Spy in the lobby. There is plenty of detail to keep it interesting.

When checking in, if you didn’t have your MagicBands delivered your home, you will pick them up at the front desk. Even your toddler will have a magic band. They will get the biggest kick out of wearing them just like the adults.To add to the excitment, let them use the MagicBand to open the door to your room.

If you arrive before your room is ready, you can check your luggage with bell services; that way you don’t have to drag it around the resort.

Room Requests

The Walt Disney Resort is huge. There are 36 hotels, with over 30,000 rooms, about 3,000 Disney Vacation Club units, and almost 800 campsites within the boundary of the resort. This gives you a lot of room choices when you check in at your hotel.

Before you leave for your vacation, you will have the ability to do online check-in. This will help expedite the process when you reach the resort.

During this check-in, you can make a room request such as wanting to be closer to the pool or having a room on the first floor. While you can make the request, there is no guarantee it will be honored.

One way to guarantee that you receive a room that is closer in vicinity to the main building or that has a special view is to pay more for a preferred room.

Each family’s needs are different. However, the resorts that I most suggest paying more to have a preferred room are the value resorts (All-Star Sports, Movies, Music, and Pop Century). Many of the resorts have multiple bus stops that encircle the resort. When it comes to the values, they only have one bus stop at the front of the property, which requires a long walk if you are in one of the buildings situated at the back of the resort. This is especially a trek for a toddler.

While you have to pay a little extra for this option, you might want to consider it because at the end of a long day at the parks, you will be thankful you have fewer steps to make it back to your room.

Also, when you are doing your online check in, make sure to request a pack-and-play for your room if you want one. You will also want to mention it at the front desk upon your physical check in.

Continued in "Mousekatots"!

In the eyes of a toddler, a Mickey meet and greet can be the wellspring of nightmares for years to come. Here are some ways to handle the horror.

When you are planning your perfect Walt Disney World vacation, as a parent you can’t help but think about all of the wonderful pictures that your child is going to take with a favorite character. Your little Belle posing with the real Belle in Fantasyland or hamming it up with Donald Duck at the Mexico pavilion in EPCOT.

But, the truth is, your child might not be as excited.

If you look at things from a toddler’s perspective, you are asking your child to go up to a stranger, which is something you tell them not to do all the time, and get close and take a photo.

What also adds to the intensity is that favorite characters on TV who are only a few inches tall are now suddenly larger than life and most of the time their faces are frozen with one expression.

Despite the apprehension, you can do a few things to help make your parenting dream a reality.

Before you head to Walt Disney World, it is important to expose your toddler to costumed characters.

Find out when businesses are having a grand opening celebration or festival and plan to attend or go to a local sporting event. Often times there will be mascots or other characters at these celebrations and it is the perfect opportunity to gauge their reaction. If they have a meltdown, you can take them home right away.

Another way to make the transition a little easier is to introduce a “face character”, like the princesses or a character where you see the cast member’s actual face. By seeing the character’s faces and hearing that person talk, it might make it a little less intimidating.

When meeting characters, never force your toddler to participate in a character meet and greet. I understand how bad you want that picture and how important it is to make a memory. However, if your tot is upset, you don’t want a meltdown. You can walk away and do some other things and come back later if your toddler after your child has a chance to adjust.

Continued in "Mousekatots"!

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