Bringing kids to Disney World is awesome and magical and fun and sweet. It’s also super HARD.
If you’ve ever traveled to The Most Magical Place on Earth with a little one (or a few) in tow, you know how difficult it can be to keep everyone happy and accomplish everything on your to-do list. Long hours in a busy theme park are tough on the littles, no matter how magical that theme park is. Here are 9 fool-proof hacks to make it much EASIER to travel with kids to Disney World!
We reached out to our readers on Facebook to ask for your best tips and what you’ve learned from bringing your own kids to the park. Here’s what you said!
If at all possible, bring some extra adults to help out with the littles! Randi said, “Bringing extra big people is the most underrated hack. Grandparents, cousins, friends, aunts, uncles, etc. It makes a humongous difference.”
Having some extra hands to keep track of the kids can make the trip less stressful for everyone, and if you have enough people then you can even switch off watching the kids and taking breaks. Just make sure you all coordinate so that everyone knows when they’re supposed to be watching the kids (to avoid any “I thought YOU were watching them” situations).
A couple of spare bigs can also help with rider swap. If some kids don’t want to go on a certain Disney World ride, someone can stay behind to wait with them while the rest of the group waits in line and rides. Then, the group can come back and take over watching the kids while the person who waited behind (and a buddy) get to skip the line and ride.
Discover the BEST age to take kids to Disney World.
We’ll be the first to tell you that we are NOT above bribery here. If we can pay our way out of a meltdown on Main Street with candy and toys, there’s a good chance we’ll try it. Several readers agreed, like Amy, who said you would always bring “lollipops! Always have them in your park bag. We have averted a meltdown (by child or adult) while waiting in line by handing the person a lollipop. A little kick of sugar can make everything better.”
Another reader said, “When my kids were little we dreaded the road trip. I went to dollar tree and bought little $1 gifts and wrapped them up. Every hour that they were good they got one! (10 hr trip) […] Worked really well!”
Whatever little prizes and bribes will work for your littles (or other adults in the group — no judgement), be sure to have them on hand just in case you need a last-minute fix.
Check out the best snacks to carry in your Disney World park bag (and what to avoid).
Buy Souvenirs Ahead of Time
Souvenirs in the Disney World parks are NOT cheap, and you won’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on things that your kids will only use for a little while. Some people recommended giving your kids a souvenir budget ahead of time, so the kids can choose when to spend their allotted amount and what to spend it on, but once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Others recommended buying souvenirs before your trip and packing them in your suitcase to reveal at the right time. Tori said, “Buy souvenirs beforehand someplace cheaper.” Amelia agreed: “Shop ahead of time for souvenirs and put them in with the clothes for that day. Every day they get to have clothes and a great item. I know they can be expensive but this way maybe you hear fewer ‘I want’s.”
You can find lots of Disney toys at local stores like Walmart, Target, and TJ Maxx. When your kid begs for the $30 bubble wand at Disney World, whip out the $15 one you bought at Amazon before the vacation. Other popular souvenirs like Princess costumes, giant lollipops, toy cars, and more are available for much cheaper at other stores.
Learn why you should STOP buying Disney souvenirs.
Prep for Long Lines
Long lines are pretty much unavoidable at Disney World, so it’s best to come prepared. Warn your kids ahead of time so that they’re not surprised by the waiting. Vicki suggested, “Have a family toilet break before any hour-long lines. Bring age-appropriate Mad Libs and/or charades cards.”
You can pack a few small games in your park bag to use in long lines, or download a couple of group games on your phone and bring a portable charger along just in case you run out of battery.
And speaking of family toilet breaks, make sure you pack Post-it notes or painter’s tape to block the sensor on the automatic toilets if that could be a problem for the little ones.
Check out the Disney World rides you can typically get on WITHOUT a wait.
One of the most important tips is to be flexible. If you created a minute-by-minute itinerary with constant activities and no time for rest, go ahead and crumple that up and throw it in the trash. You and your kids will be MUCH happier if you plan just a little and go with the flow.
Amanda said, “After my daughter’s first trip (4 years old) I quickly realized strict plans made me even more crazy. She tells me her number 1 thing for each park then we just go with the flow and see what else happens. I love not having to stick to a schedule and be rushed to get to the next thing.”
Ana agreed: “Listen to their needs. They’re going to be tired and overstimulated, don’t push it. Let them have a nap or rest in a nice quiet area if they won’t nap.” Pushing kids to go, go, go will only make them and you more stressed and cranky. Prioritize your must-dos and then just enjoy being in the theme park with your family.
It’s not a bad idea to lower everyone’s expectations before you head out the door. Explain that they won’t get to see or do everything, but you’ll do your best to get to the most important things. And then it’s more likely that your group will be happy and energized as you’re not rushing between rides and pushing everyone to move faster.
As one reader said, kids have “little bodies with big excitement in a very busy place.” They’re not used to the pace of Disney World, so take it easy and just let them soak it all in.
Find the best places to RELAX in the Disney World parks here.
Practice and Prepare
Disney World can be very tiring and overstimulating, but you can do a little bit to prepare your kids before the trip. Kyle said, “Have them do a lot of walking months ahead of time — helps so so much.” Another reader said their family does a “Disney World training program,” where they all go walking together to practice building up endurance.
Do some research ahead of time to find out how much walking your group wants to do in the parks. On an average day, it’s not hard to rack up eight to ten miles in a single park. If that won’t be possible for your littles, bring a stroller!
Also research Baby Care Centers in each park. These centers provide a private nursing room with rocking chairs, a changing room with tables, restrooms, feeding areas, a kitchen with a microwave and sink, and a main room with a television, table, and seating. There’s even an on-site shop with formula, baby food, juice, diapers, over-the-counter medicine, and more. These spots can be a life-saver in a pinch!
You can locate the Baby Care Centers on the My Disney Experience app — just hit the magnifying glass at the bottom of the screen and search “Baby Care Center.” You can see the locations and even get walking directions to the nearest one.
Take a look inside a Disney World Baby Care Center here.
Even if nap time isn’t mandatory at home, you might want to consider it at Disney World. And it’s even more important if your kids are used to the downtime in the middle of the day!
Kristen recommended, “Always go [to the parks] first thing in the morning and then go back to your hotel for nap time and or pool time and then go back in later in the day.” Missing out on a few hours of park time might be totally worth it if it means everyone is happy and well-rested during the time you’re in the parks.
Some readers even prioritize this time as adults without kids, saying that it makes their visit less stressful and more enjoyable. If you’ll be at Disney World for several days, you could consider a full rest day when you don’t have any park reservations and instead spend the day at the pool and exploring the hotels or Disney Springs.
Check out the best Disney World hotels for toddlers.
Order Groceries to Your Hotel Room
Disney World snacks and treats are super fun, but it’s a good idea to bring a few of your own snacks as well. Sometimes kids will want a familiar treat, and you’ll save money if you don’t have to pay for theme park food every time someone gets hungry.
Gina recommended ordering groceries to your Disney World hotel room “because eating out with kids 3 meals a day is brutal.” Lauren agreed, saying it’s essential to “get a grocery delivery that includes water, snacks, etc.”
But there’s an exception to this tip: you should bring any “must-have” essentials with you. If there’s a specific snack or brand of diapers or breakfast granola bar flavor that your kid HAS to have, it’s much safer to just pack those instead of hoping that the grocery store will be able to deliver them. Accidents could happen, your delivery could be late, or the store could be out of the item you need — don’t take chances if these items are irreplaceable!
Here’s EVERYTHING you need to know about getting groceries delivered to your Disney hotel room.
Leave Them at Home
OK, so this tip isn’t super serious, but it might be something to consider! Several readers noted that it’s a good idea to wait until your kids are a little bit older before you bring them to Disney World. It’s an expensive vacation, and if they’re too young to enjoy it, they might be happier at home with a sitter.
Tori said, “There are no hacks. This is your life now. Godspeed.” While there are lots of ways you can prepare and adjust your trip to make it easier on the youngin’s, it’s definitely harder to travel with kids than without them. No shame at all if you wait a little longer before you bring your kids along.
But that moment when they see Mickey for the first time? Or they dance to the parade as it comes down Main Street? Or they ride Dumbo and get to actually fly with an elephant? The experience can be so worth it if you plan right and come prepared.
We hope these hacks help you and your littles out as you get ready for your next Disney adventure! Stay tuned to DFB for more tips and tricks along with all the latest updates from the parks.
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What are your best tips for bringing kids to Disney World? Share them in the comments!
What is your advice on rope drop at magic kingdom and Hollywood studios disney world? Go to seven dwarfs and then Peter Pan? For Hollywood studios go right to Mickey and Minnie run away railroad? Just looking for advice.