Disney World: 13 Tips for Parents

Disney is the happiest place on earth, but going with a toddler can quickly lead to some unhappy experiences. Toddlers can be moody and unpredictable to say the least. With a few easy planning methods though you will be on your way to having a magical Disney experience.
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13 Disney tips that every parent needs to know. thecoffeemom.net

 

We have taken our daughter to Disney quite a few times. Each time it seems we learn a little more about what we should do to make the trip easier and more magical. Here is your chance to learn from our experiences and make your trip the best time possible.

13 Disney Tips

  1. Fast Passes:

Fast Passes are life savers in the Disney universe. First you need to create a DisneyWorldGo account. It is fast, easy and free. Just link your tickets and get started! You can search the days that you will be at the park and see what fast passes are available. They will have specific time slots for you to go to the attraction and use your pass. This does require a little bit of planning, but trust me you will want to have a fast pass to meet your little one’s favorite princess when the line is 90 minutes long! It is best to select your fast passes early as the good ones tend to get booked  fast. You are able to make your selections 30 days in advance, but if you have a reservation with one of the Disney Resorts you can select your fast passes up to 60 days in advance!

  1. Download the App

 

The My Disney Experience App is simply amazing. It allows you to do so many things that will save you time and headache when trying to enjoy the parks. You are able to make dining reservations, book fast passes, check wait times and so much more!  The app can also serve as your map of the park, allowing you to easily navigate the vast areas of the parks quickly. Need to find a bathroom fast? The App has you covered there as well! All bathrooms marked on your digital map, which makes for quick trips to the potty for your little one.  It is user friendly as well, which was great for me because I am terrible with technology! It has so much to offer to make your trip more enjoyable that it would be insane not to utilize it.

Disney App Wait Times

 

  1. Use the Disney Resorts

 

While they might be  more expensive than some of the surrounding area hotels, it is money well spent to stay on site. You will not have to worry about driving to the park, paying for parking, and walking to the entrance when you stay at a Disney Resort. Disney has their own transportation which you will have access to. Using the buses to get around was a life saver when we went with our daughter. She would get tired and we would just hop the bus from the park back to our room for a quick nap. When she was done we went right back without worrying about parking! The buses aren’t the only perk to staying at the Disney Resorts though. People who stay at one are able to access Magic Hours, either early morning or late night times when the park is open only to those staying at a resort. This can come in super handy with little ones, as you have the chance to get to the park before most everyone else and get in some of the more popular attractions!

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  1. Bring your own Stroller

 

There are options for renting strollers at the parks. I have found though that it is much easier to simply bring your own. We took our large Graco stroller and it was super easy to get in and out of the buses. It came in extremely handy when our daughter was tired and didn’t feel like walking anymore. It is also extremely useful for carrying all of the souvenirs you are guaranteed to buy for your little prince or princess. Bringing your own will save you money as well since you won’t have to fork over the extra $12 a day!

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Taking a Nap at Magic Kingdom

 

  1. Invest in a Backpack Harness

 

Some parents might disagree with me on this one, but I am a fan of the “toddler leash”. My daughter wanted to be independent and walk around the park, but she has a tendency to get distracted. We purchased a backpack harness so she could have the freedom of walking around on her own. We were able to maintain peace of mind that she could not run away from us. Then there is the added bonus of your child being able to hold some of their own items in their spiffy backpack!

the-leash

 

  1. Bring Water and Snacks

 

When we first went, I was unaware that you are allowed to bring outside food and drinks with you. This is a HUGE money saver, because the food and drinks inside the park are ridiculously overpriced. We all know that little people are constantly hungry, so having some snacks on hand will truly be a blessing to your wallet.

 

  1. Rider Swap

 

Disney is packed full of fun experiences and rides for little ones, but there are also quite a few rides that parents will enjoy too. Most of these rides can be to big for little riders. This is where the rider swap option comes in extremely handy. All you have to do is tell the cast member at the start of the attraction that you want to do the rider swap. They will give you a pass and when you get to the front of the line one parent can enjoy the adult ride while the other waits with the child. After one parent exits the other can immediately take their turn without having to wait in line once again.

 

  1. Timing is Everything

 

There will never be a time when Disney is not busy, but there are times when it is slightly less saturated. Having grown up near Orlando, I learned that the best time to visit is weekdays during the colder months.  A Tuesday in February is going to be much more enjoyable than a Saturday in July!

  1. Bring a Poncho

 

It is Florida, and it rains….often. Should you catch yourself in the middle of a downpour you are going to want a poncho to keep dry. They sell them at the parks, but they are extremely expensive in comparison to outside shops. Purchase one from a local store such as the Dollar Tree, and keep it in your bag. You never know when it will rain in Florida.

 

  1. Character Dining

 

It might be a little expensive, but character dining is a great experience that every child will enjoy. Each park has their own character dining experiences. I personally like the Disney Jr breakfast at Hollywood Studios. I would advise that you make your reservations early (using the app of course!) because seats tend to fill up fast!

character-dining

Handy Manny at Hollywood Studios

 

  1. Get Your Buttons

 

Let cast members know if it is your first time visiting, birthday, anniversary or any other number of other special occasions. Cast members will hand out free buttons for you to flaunt! We ended up with a whole host of them over time and my daughter loves them! It makes the experience even more magical.

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So Many Buttons!

 

  1. Baby Station

 

It is perfectly acceptable to nurse anywhere within the parks. Disney does offer baby stations for mothers with young children if the mom would feel more comfortable in private. They are equipped with changing tables, high chairs, a microwave, nursing rooms and even a small shopping area for baby needs.

 

  1. Free Kids Ticket

 

That’s right, Disney might be expensive but kids under three get in for free!

Disney withTink

 

Now I want to hear, what are some of your tips and tricks for surviving Disney with young children?

13 Disney hacks that parents need to know. thecoffeemom.net

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58 comments

  1. sticksandgiggles says:

    I love these tips! We are planning on going to Disney in about 5-7 years. How old do you think a kid should be to not need a stroller?

    • thecoffeemom0617 says:

      Honestly, I wish I had an adult stroller for me sometimes. Lol it’s a lot of walking. I’d say kids older than 5 or 6 should be fine walking on their own. The stroller is also handy for carrying bags though.

  2. Paige Rodriguez says:

    I’ve never been to Disney World yet but can’t wait to take my son! I had no idea kids under 3 were free! Maybe we’ll go this year before he turns 🙂 Also, about the backpack harness– those things are awesome! My pre-mom days said I’d never use one…until I had to travel in an airport with my almost 2 year old alone… totally get it now! Haha but that’s only one of a million things I said I’d never do but did after becoming a mommy 😉 Great list, I’ll come back to this one day!

  3. Savannah (@HowHesRaised) says:

    These are some great tips!! I’ve never been to Disney before, but I know how overwhelming it can be taking your toddler to a really crowded place. How neat that Disney has an app!! Sooo much easier than carrying around a map all day – and backpack harnesses are seriously life! Thanks so much for sharing <3

  4. marilynsocialpr says:

    Wow, I really did not know that rider swap existed or that being in the resort offered before and after hours time. I also didn’t know they had nursing/baby stations. I am mind-blown at things that with all my research lately that these things just never came up. Now I am even more excited to go.

  5. LKD says:

    Trying to convince Neil that we need to take Isla to Disney World, and that she isn’t too young yet. My mother wants us to pair it with a trip to see her, which may be what is putting him off, ha.

    Might need to send him a link to this post.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Carson Durand says:

    All of these are great tips! Bring your own stroller is one of our best tips for Disney with toddlers.

    One tip I would add is: don’t overdo it! Take the afternoon off with toddlers. Less is more. Fight the urge to do EVERYTHING, at least until kids are older.

    Carson
    Disney by Age

  7. thefashionableaccountant says:

    This is all some really great information. I didn’t even know there was an app! We haven’t been to Disney in forever though lol.

  8. theclutterboxblog says:

    I don’t have kids, but the leash idea is an interesting one. When I was nannying it was a great help for when we went to theme parks but not something for everyday use

  9. Cara (@StylishGeek) says:

    I remember when a friend of mine went with us to Disneyland I asked her to bring her umbrella stroller. She said her kid is already big enough to walk, but I told her to trust me and bring it. She did and boy did that save her! Whenever he kid was tired he can sit in the stroller and whenever our stuff got heavy, the stroller served as a cart!

  10. Marcie says:

    I’m so happy you posted this! We went to Disneyland for the first time last year with our toddler and I was pregnant. We had so much fun that we’re thinking of going to Disney World next year when oldest is 4 and youngest is 1. These tips are great! We loved the character dining!

    • Jessi says:

      I’ve never been to Disneyland. I would love to go! We live super close to Orlando so Disney World is somewhere we go often

  11. valerie jane says:

    I don’t have any kids, but these are definitely some great tips! I’ve been to Disneyland Paris for a day, lost all my friends and ended up looking for the the whole day! Have to go back soon…

  12. Marisa says:

    These are great tips. We went for the first time this dachshund & we didn’t stay on a Disney resort…I’ll never do that again!

  13. reesann723 says:

    This is so helpful! Our first trip to Disney was 8 years ago and was so rushed and unorganized! If I had to do it again, I would use your tips!

  14. Angela Ricardo says:

    As a military wife who could barely handle her busy schedule I am truly glad I came across your post. These are definitely helpful to enjoy it and also save some money while in Disney World. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and tips! Will try the fast passes next time!

  15. jlawsonn says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. My husband and I haven’t had a honeymoon yet (2.5 years later) but we really want to do ours at Disney. I was there once when I was 13 but he has never even been in the US. I’m hoping we’ll get there in the next year or so. Definitely bookmarking this post so that I have these tips when we go.

    • Jessi says:

      We plan on taking my daughter for,her 5th birthday next year. Our son will be one so I’m glad he will get in,free 🙂 we are planning a week stay

  16. Kiwi says:

    i am trying to go to Disney soon for a press trip but I think these are some great hacks. The character dining is so cute and I didnt know about the rider swap!

  17. Kristen Osborne says:

    My SO actually worked at Disney twice (once as an intern and then again as security at the house of blues) So we are extra excited to take our daughter to Disney for the first time and then many more after that 🙂

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