When it comes time to take your littlest travelers on vacation, no travel destination hits the top of the list faster than Disneyland in Anaheim, California or Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. But going to Disney with toddlers can be daunting, especially for parents who may not be all that enthralled with the magic themselves.
After all, even though they are the happiest and most magical places on Earth, the Disney parks also pose some challenges for little kids: overstimulating sensory landscapes, numerous unknowns, and sugar…lots and lots of sugar. (More than just a spoonful, if we’re being honest.)
This can make a Disney vacation with toddlers feel like a gamble for a parent – a burden to be undertaken to give your kids access to Mickey Mouse rather than an adventure to be enjoyed.
And that’s where the team at Ear To There Travel comes in.
As an EarMarked Disney Travel Agency – that’s Mickey-speak for being an official Authorized Disney Vacation Planner – and lifelong Disney fans, we know a thing or two about navigating the parks with our families.
We have lots of ideas that will help make your next trip to Disney with a toddler as smooth-running, magic-filled, and memorable as possible for everyone in the family, not just the littles.
So read on to get our very best strategies to ensure an amazing Disney vacation when tiny ones are in tow.
And, if you’d like our help planning your trip you can request a free, no-obligation quote request for our free-to-you Disney travel planning services. (We’re paid to take care of you by the Mouse himself!)
Let’s face it: with kiddos at home, you’ve got enough on your plate. Just hit the easy button below and we can help you plan the most magical vacation of your dreams at no cost to you!
Planning A Disney Vacation With Toddlers
Ready to begin planning your Disney vacation? Fantastic, because planning is the most important part!
For better or worse, these days you can’t simply waltz into a Disney park and expect to see and do everything your heart desires.
Before you do anything else, take a moment to make a family must do list.
- Is there a particular character your kiddo simply must meet?
- Is there a specific attraction you love and don’t want to miss?
- Are you keen to eat a sit-down meal at least once a day?
- Do the adults want to get a massage or play a round of golf?
- Is there a particular event, like the Food & Wine Festival or a trip to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, that you want to prioritize?
The Disney properties have so much to offer. There is truly something for everyone, but many of these wonderful experiences require advanced reservations.
Make sure everyone’s voice is heard before you decide when to travel, how long to stay, which hotel to choose, and when and where to book dining reservations.
And, if you’re not sure what is available, by all means reach out to us! We can show you the world of possibilities, help you come up with a plan that’s perfect for you, and make all of those reservations for you.
Best Disney Resorts for Toddlers
In alignment with Walt Disney’s original vision of Disney properties being a place for families to enjoy together, all Disney resorts offer something for kids of all ages and the adults who join them.
That said, we highly recommend a few Disney hotels above others for those traveling with young children. These are chosen with location in mind for easily accessible naps, enjoyable pool outings, and relaxing out-of-park adventures.
At Disneyland, the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is the ideal choice as it is the closest Disneyland resort to the parks. In fact, you can walk through a hidden gate directly into Disney’s California Adventure from the resort itself.
At Disney World, the Disney hotels closest to Magic Kingdom top the list for their proximity to Magic Kingdom by Monorail, boat, and walking path. The Polynesian Village Resort is the Ear To There Travel favorite among these selections.
If you’d like a slightly different vibe, you could also choose to book a Disney hotel close to Epcot. In this grouping, the Beach Club & Yacht Club Resorts top the list primarily due to the amazing Stormalong Bay pool that is attached to both resorts.
An added bonus, these Epcot-adjacent resorts are also very close to Hollywood Studios, home of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which can be accessed by boat, Skyliner, or walking path.
Tips for Preparing Your Toddlers for Disney
In addition to packing all the essentials, you’ll want to help your child get excited about the adventure your family is about to embark on.
Share what a Disney experience is like beforehand.
- Show them pictures of your hotel.
- Play music from the attractions like It’s A Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Peter Pan.
- Let them get a taste of what the parks look like by watching YouTube videos recorded in the parks and on the various modes of Disney transportation like the Monorail.
Talk through the logistics of how you’ll get there as well. Travel can be overwhelming for little ones so make sure they know what’s coming logistically and, if you like, a few special treats they can look forward to during travel.
Waiting is hard, but it’s easier when you know you’re going to a very special place. The more you can share your excitement about what’s to come, the more your toddler will believe that it will be worth the effort to get there.
Pro Tips for Planning a Disney Vacation with Toddlers
To make sure we left no stone unturned, we asked our amazing travel agents who also happen to be Disney experts to share their top tips for toddler travel with you!
“Lists are your friends! Think through every step of your trip and write down a list of items you CANNOT forget like that special blanket or your kiddo’s favorite plushie. Do NOT check the item off the list until it is physically packed and ready to go. “ – Amy Bolt
“Buy souvenirs before the trip. It saves time, money, and sanity.” – Jennifer Hudson Allen
“Buy as many little Disney toys and coloring books as possible before you leave. You can use them while traveling, waiting in line, for parades, at meals, anytime and if you buy them at home they are less expensive than what is sold in the parks.” – Katie Neu
“If you’re traveling to Disney World, make sure to pack ponchos or rain jackets. The weather is ever changing and a pop shower may happen. You can throw on your poncho or rain jacket and keep on going!” – Kristin Perry
Tips For Traveling With Toddlers
From packing up to wheels down, the journey to and from your Disney destination is an adventure unto itself.
Here are some pro travel tips from our amazing Vacationeers (that’s what we call our Disney travel agents) to help ensure that you and your family have the smoothest possible journey.
Tips for Airplane Rides with Toddlers
“Make sure you bring lots of snacks, toys, and download movies onto a device.” – Kimberley Calabrese
“At the risk of showing my true germaphobic colors, bring all the sanitizing wipes you can! We use them to wipe down our seats on the plane! Any time you touch something that you don’t know where it’s been, sanitize! Nothing’s worse than not keeping up with this and getting sick on your trip. Don’t forget: cell phones are some of the germiest items! Be sure to give them a good wipe down every chance you get!” – Amy Bolt
“If you have a child on the spectrum, several airports nationwide participate in programs to help families with a simulated air travel experience. You experience check-in, TSA security, airport waiting area, boarding, and the plane will taxi for about 30 minutes. Check with your local airport to help make flying more fun!” – Jennifer Hudson Allen
Tips for Taking Road Trips with Toddlers
“Put together a playlist of Disney tunes on your favorite music app to listen to on your road trip. And, if possible, download them to your phone beforehand so you don’t use up data.” – Kristin Perry
“If you have a kiddo new to potty training, put a simple, easy-to-clean training potty like this one in the back of your car for emergency stops just in case. It’s a lot easier than finding a restroom on a lonely stretch of road.” – Phil Gramlich
“I highly recommend stopping to stretch every 2 hours or so when you’re on the road.” – Crystal Caluori
Tips For Taking Your Toddler To Disney
Once you’re on property at Disney, the fun can begin in earnest! Lather on the sunscreen, lace up those walking shoes, and get ready for all the pixie dust you can handle.
Best Disney Park for Toddlers
Just as every Disney resort has something for kids of all ages, the same is true for the parks.
That said, the quintessential Disney parks – complete with castles, carousels, Mickey Mouse, and all things magic – are Disneyland Park and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park.
If you’re trying to decide which coast to visit, however, check out our post that compares Disneyland vs Disney World. It will help you decide whether California or Florida will suit your family’s needs better.
Tips for Memorable Disney Days with Toddlers
This can be the trickiest bit of travel with toddlers: making sure that days in Disney parks stay as fun as possible. Our Vacationeers are back to share their best tips for happy days with you!
“It’s all about the little things. Try and imagine Disney through their eyes. They want to see the small things. Slow down and let them guide you to the magic.” – Crystal Caluori
“There are preschool sized potties at the Baby Care Centers at every Disney Park. Perfect for little ones afraid of the big potties or who are potty training.” – Rebecca Johnson
“It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, but don’t forget to drink water and reapply sunscreen. Sunburned, dehydrated people are unhappy people.” – Phil Gramlich
“Bring resealable baggies for snacks or meals that go unfinished. You paid good money for this food and it shouldn’t have to go to waste because your little one wasn’t able to finish.” – Katie Neu
“Check out some of the playgrounds at your hotel or at the parks. There are 2 playgrounds at Epcot, a play area in the Dumbo queue and the Casey Jr Soak Station at Magic Kingdom where they can splash in the water.” – Kristin Perry
“At home I don’t allow my young one to have a ton of screen time but it saved our Disney days! There will be times where they are just exhausted or bored while waiting in line. Giving them a phone so they could watch their favorite show helped them calm down.” – Kimberley Calabrese
“Bring resealable plastic bags for wet clothing. Toss some in the bag you carry to the parks.” – Jennifer Hudson Allen
“Bring snacks that your kids are familiar with. This can make it easier for them to wait in line and it’s something they recognize from home. Disney can be a very loud and overstimulating place so having something they are familiar with can help keep them happy.” – Katie Neu
“You cannot do everything! Trying to squeeze everything in, will only achieve one thing. FRUSTRATION! You are there to make memories. Be in the moment and enjoy yourself. You can always come back.” – Amy Bolt
Tips for Happily Ever After Your Disney Vacation
The last day of an amazing vacation is challenging for everyone, but leaving Disney is particularly hard on the younger set.
One family tradition that you could incorporate is to buy a picture frame on the last day to put a photo from your trip into when you get home.
You can use the plane or car ride home to scroll through your phone and pick your favorite family photo from the vacation. Order it on Amazon Photos while you’re en route and this lovely token from the magic will be on your doorstep within a few days.
Here are some other thoughts our Vacationeers have to help you take the magic with you…
“Plan to hide an extra little something in your kid’s bag before you go or to give them when you get home. A small plush works great. Let them be surprised by it and have it be a final moment of magic to cap off your trip.” – Phil Gramlich
“Plan for a day for those kiddos a day to recover, just like you need.” – Rebecca Johnson
“Make a photobook! Save all of your captured memories in a physical way that your family can enjoy for years to come!” – Katie Neu
“Plan another trip so that you have something to look forward to. Lol. JK…but not really! ;)” – Amy Bolt
While these tips are sure to help you as you plan your Disney vacation, if you’d prefer to focus on the fun and let someone else do the work, the specialized Disney Travel Agents here at Ear To There Travel can help you do just that – for free.
We are here to help you:
- book your hotel,
- buy your park tickets,
- get Disney dining reservations in advance,
- schedule a little pampering at the spa during nap time,
- and so much more…
With some specialized Disney knowhow, helpful tips for before, during, and after traveling with toddlers, and a few treats for the adults on vacation too, we can ensure you have the vacation of your dreams.
Best of all, our planning services are entirely free to you. Let us take care of the details while you enjoy the fun.
Click below to request your free, no obligation quote and we’ll be in touch!