Last year we went to Disney with a toddler and had so much fun we did it again this year.
In last year’s post, Disney World with a Toddler, I mentioned that I’ve never been a Disney fanatic. I went once or twice as a child and never considered going back. That is, until I had a Disney and princess-obsessed toddler. Suddenly, the idea of going to Disney seemed a lot more appealing.
Planning a vacation with a toddler? Read my Tips for Traveling with a Toddler
Did I ever think we’d make it an annual trip? Not one bit. Yet, here we are after our second year in a row and looking forward to next year’s trip. Truly experiencing Disney through the eyes of your children makes it more magical.
For a lot of people, Disney seems overwhelming. I totally get that. Many people wonder if Disney with a toddler is too young to go. I had that reservation too.
My advice is to put those limiting beliefs aside and just make the trip. It doesn’t have to be the perfect trip. Also, no matter what your child’s age, there’s something for them to enjoy. Moreover, you’ll make lifelong memories as parents – and a family – too.
This year, we did a few things differently and a few things the same.
Here’s what this year’s trip was like. One caveat is that having done this twice, I don’t think you can truly re-create someone else’s trip. Not only do interests vary, but so do lines and wait times based on the day. Furthermore, what works for one family won’t work for another. However, I hope this will inspire you to take your own Disney trip!
DISNEY TRAVEL ADVISOR
I used the same Disney Travel Advisor we used last year. After shopping around for others, I realized that she was the most thorough and organized. She presented us with a variety of rates and room options whereas others didn’t offer comparisons. She also helped us get a room upgrade.
It was great working with her a second time because she knows our preferences. Also, since I wasn’t a newbie this time, I knew a little more about Disney and what questions to ask.
We stayed off site at the same resort, this one. Despite saying that we would make it a longer trip this time, we ended up doing three park days. It felt like the perfect amount this time around.
DISNEY WORLD ITINERARY
Here’s roughly what our trip looked like. We did three park days – Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Magic Kingdom again. Last year we did two days at Magic Kingdom and one day at Hollywood Studios. We absolutely loved Epcot and would spend more time there next time.
We made a couple of our park days half days. This works well for us so we can also enjoy the resort pool in the afternoons. It has a splash pad, slides and a lazy river.
My biggest tip for planning an itinerary is to know that you can’t and won’t do everything in one trip. Focus on what feels manageable for your family and spend time on what interest your kids.
ARRIVAL DAY: DISNEY SPRINGS
Like last year, we arrived on Friday afternoon. We checked into our hotel and then headed to Disney Springs for dinner and shopping. For us, this sets the tone for the trip. It also allows our daughter to pick out the bulk of her souvenirs. Although she still asked for more at the parks! This year, we ate dinner at Paddlefish which was really good.
After dinner, we headed straight to the Disney Store and let Valentina choose her souvenirs. This year, I made sure to buy an Autograph Book for Valentina which was perfect. Most kids had them and since we had so many meet and greets, it allowed her to capture everyone’s signature. I’ll print photos and add them in too so she has a keepsake of our trip.
There was also live music that night. We spent some time dancing and then headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.
DAY ONE: MAGIC KINGDOM
We were already familiar with the park and the genie+ app, so we jumped right in on the first day. We headed to the park after the Goofy and Friends Character Breakfast at the Four Seasons. Note that this breakfast only takes place on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Pro Tip: Book a Minnie Van using the Lyft app. It gets you straight to the entrance of Magic Kingdom. A shuttle or Uber will only get you to the Metro Liner. From there, you’ll still need to trek a little farther to the main entrance.
Once we got to the park, we headed straight to our first reservation – meeting Cinderella (Valentina’s current favorite princess). Overall, this trip was much more focused on character meet and greets more-so than rides. After we met those princesses, we moved on to meeting Tiana and Rapunzel. Next, we rode the Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid and Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel. Both by special request from Valentina. After that, Mickey’s Philharmagic and then a surprise visit to Bippity Boppity Boutique for a Princess transformation.
Pro Tip: I brought a sandwich, fruit and snacks for Valentina anticipating a long day and a later lunch reservation.
This was by far our longest day ever at a Disney park because of the timing of the BBB reservation. I also got a reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table for after our BBB transformation because the timing worked out perfectly. However, Valentina ended up falling asleep for the late lunch reservation and she slept right through.
On the bright side, David and I really enjoyed our kid-free meal at CRT. I’d definitely recommend booking this experience. I wish Valentina had been able to experience it but she needed that sleep after a full morning and afternoon!
Day 1 Rides: Princess meet and greets, Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid, Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel, Mickey’s Philharmonic, Bippity Boppity Boutique
Day 1 Dining: Goofy and Friends Character Breakfast at the Four Seasons, Cinderella’s Royal Table
DAY TWO: EPCOT
This day happened to be Mother’s Day and really one of our best days at Disney.
After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we took our hotel shuttle to Epcot.
Epcot was so much more laid back and we loved the around-the-world theme and exploring each country. Our first reservation was in Norway with the Frozen Ever After ride after which we met Anna and Elsa.
From Norway, we enjoyed walking in a circle through each country. We grabbed a beer and a pretzel to share in Germany. We kept waling and ran into an opportunity to meet Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck!
After that, Valentina asked to meet Alice in Wonderland in the UK. We had a short wait so we shared some fish and chips while we waited.
After, we headed back to the hotel pool. We had Mother’s Day dinner at Cappa at The Four Seasons.
My favorite Mother’s Day yet!
Day 2 Rides: Frozen Ever After, Elsa and Anna meet and greet, Minnie Mouse meet and greet, Daisy Duck meet and greet, Alice in Wonderland Meet and Greet.
Day 2 Dining: Beer and a pretzel in Germany, Fish and Chips in the UK, Cappa at the Four Seasons Hotel
DAY THREE: MAGIC KINGDOM
We finished our trip with another half day at Magic Kingdom. We started with more Princess Meet and Greets – Ariel in her Grotto. Next, we rode The Barnstormer which was Valentina’s first roller coaster ride! She absolutely loved it! After that, Valentina wanted to ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant. By midday it was getting increasingly hot. We had a brunch reservation at Chef Mickey’s so it was time to call it a day. After brunch, we headed back to the hotel pool.
That evening, we went back to Disney Springs for dinner at Jaleo by Jose Andres. After dinner we had ice cream at Salt & Straw and explored more of Disney Springs.
Pro Tip: 100% skip Chef Mickey’s. The food is sub-par and if you’re going to Epcot, you don’t need more character meet and greets. We especially didn’t because we did the character breakfast on our first day. I wasn’t aware that Epcot had so many characters but there are plenty!
Day 3 Rides: Princess Meet & Greet – Ariel in her Grotto, The Barnstormer, Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Day 3 Dining: Chef Mickey’s, Jaleo by Jose Andres, Salt & Straw
Mouse Ears + Stroller Rental
We used the same Minnie Ears from last year. I also bought a new pair for Valentina but they didn’t stay on so I can’t recommend them. However, I also bought this Minnie Mouse hat which was super cute and kept the sun off my face.
For stroller rental, we used Scooter Bug again. I love them because they make stroller rental at Disney easy and affordable. Rental cost us $65 for three days for a Bob jogging stroller. They have a variety of strollers to choose from and they drop off and pick up right at the hotel.
Of course, you can bring your own travel stroller but I wanted something more sturdy. I chose one that was easy to push and that Valentina could nap in comfortably. I also wanted a large sun shade and plenty of storage space underneath. It worked out perfectly and Valentina spent time riding in the stroller and also walking.
GENIE+ AND MEMORY MAKER AT DISNEY
We decided to purchase Memory Maker this year. Memory Maker is a flat fee you pay to have photos taken by photographers who are placed around the park. The photos are uploaded to your app and you can download them within 30 days. After the first few photos we took turned out terrible, I thought it was a waste of money. Then, one kind photographer spent extra time with us and took some sweet shots of Valentina. We also got some really good shots in front of the caste which made me change my mind. In the end, I was glad we added it on. But, the quality of photos can depend on the photographers you find.
Genie+ is the way to avoid long wait times and join Lightning Lanes. I highly recommend it when you do Disney with a toddler. It cuts down on wait times and makes the day flow more smoothly. For the one ride we didn’t use it, waiting in line was miserable.
Should you go to Disney with a toddler? All I can say is that for the second year in a row we had an incredible and memorable trip.
We learn something new every time to make the next trip even better. Most importantly, Valentina had the time of her life and will remember these trips forever and so will we!
Some of our other recent travel with a toddler: