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Old 09-26-2009, 02:25 PM   #1
Rjsoto24601
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First Disney Trip with Toddler

We are heading down to Disney the week of Feb 13th for 8 days with our 2 year old son (who will be 3 in April). Both my husband and I as well as my parents , who are going with us, have been to Disney various times, but this will be our first visit with a young child. My son is not afraid of characters and loves bright lights, music, animals and just about anything that's not "scary," lol! Please share your tips for visiting Disney with a toddler, from dining options, park hopping, not to be missed attractions, don't leave home without items, etc. All your tips, suggestions and ideas are very much appreciated!! Thank you in advance!
Jenn
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Old 09-26-2009, 07:21 PM   #2
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Just got back from 7 days with my 2.5 year old son and we had a blast.

Staying on my DS's schedule was really important and made all of us happier. It did mean missing the fireworks and I think he would have loved them but it was just too late at night for him. Our days went much better with him going to bed at his usual time.

Dining, he adored character meals, no surprise. The Crystal Palace was a big hit because it combined characters with another favorite, buffets. As much as I'd rather have a sit down meal, quick moving buffets were a much better option. After a few days in the park, DS knew what was outside that door and wanted to get right back into it.

Touring, we did it all. All the parks. All the rides without a height restriction. We started with the ones that we knew he'd love and then the ones that were questionable. He adored Pooh and Peter Pan, and that taught him that dark rides were fun. After that, even Pirates and Haunted Mansion were fun.
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Old 09-26-2009, 09:26 PM   #3
ktlm
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We took DD for her 1st trip last December at 2 yrs 10 months and it was amazing! I can't even tell you how many times I had tears in my eyes watching the absolute joy on her face. My best advice is to go at your son's pace. Give him time to explore. If he wants to stand there and bang the drums at the outpost in Epcot or at AK for 20 minutes, let him. Also, don't listen to others about breaks etc., wait until you get there, see how he does, and trust your instincts. I was convinced from the Dis that we needed to leave the parks for an afternoon break and nap. That was the only time DD had an absolute meltdown- we got back to the resort with an angry child that absolutely refused to sleep until we gave up and went back to MK a couple of hours later, where she promptly crawled in her stroller and took a nap- it was stroller naps in the park the rest of the trip for us (a great time for grownups to trade off riding the big rides). We did 1 TS a day. For us, the lunches worked the best. It gave her a rest, and often she would settle down and crawl in her stroller after she ate and take a nap. If you have a time difference, take that into account. We quickly realized that there was no way to get DD to a pre-park opening breakfast- food brought up to the room from resort CS was best for us. The Tusker House breakfast is a fun one for AK day. DD loved most everything- the rides, shows, food etc. Fantasmic was scary for her- if you go, I would suggest sitting in the back where it is not as intense. Also, anything you think might be questionable you can usually find a video on youtube. You can watch it yourself to decide, or even show it to him and see what he thinks.
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Old 09-26-2009, 11:27 PM   #4
Rjsoto24601
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Thank you so much for all of your thoughts. My son can actually go a whole day without a nap and still be happy and friendly, curious to see if he'll even go for a nap with all of the excitement. We've dfeinitely decided to not do Fantasmic, as the last time dh and I went it was sort of scary for us. LOL!

What if anythign did you do about a stroller? Did you bring your own or rent one there?

THANKS again!
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Old 09-27-2009, 08:22 AM   #5
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My best piece of advice is to just take it slowly - enjoy it and take in all in. If your DS wants to go on IASW ten times in a row, just do it. We found this to be our guiding principle when doing Disney with our young children, and it made it so enjoyable. No running around from ADR to ADR - we searched out great counter service options for lunches so we could go at our own time. We did do a couple of character meals, which were great, but we didn't overdo it. We definitely utilized fast passes - long lines and our toddlers never mixed very well. :-)

With regards to napping: You may find that your non-napper needs a little rest at Disney. It's so overwhelming - lots of stimulation. Something that worked great for us was this: When we noticed our DD (then 17 months) needed a nap, my DH pushed her stroller right onto the TTC monorail. It only made two stops, had lots of white noise, and the motion knocked her right out. He'd make some work (or play) calls, or play on his blackberry, while the rest of us enjoyed the park child free for a bit. After a little shut-eye (sometimes on both their parts!) they just got off and met back up with us. Obviously this only works in the MK - but we spent a lot of time there that year. :-)

As far as a stroller is concerned - you'll get a variety of advice on that one. What works for one doesn't work for another. What worked for us was to bring our own umbrella stroller (Maclaren Volo) from home. It was easy to fold and bring on the buses (and in our case the plane.) It was much smaller than the Disney strollers and hence easier to maneuver through the parks and tight spaces - like when you're waiting for a parade or fireworks. It was also easier to locate if we had it parked in a stroller parking area. And at the end of a long day - it's nice to roll your child right up to the bus (or to your car) rather than having to carry them if they're exhausted. And of course it saves you some time in the morning because you don't have to go and get your stroller when you enter the parks.

We have "done Disney" with toddlers more than once - feel free to PM me if you have any other questions. I'd be happy to share not only what worked for us, but what we know works for others and why. You're going to have an amazing trip - I wish I could do those first trips all over again! :-)

Oh! One more little tidbit: The best thing to stash in your park bag for the day: a Ringpop or two. :-) When things got a little dicey - waiting for a parade or fireworks or on the busride back to the hotel - we unwrapped one of those babies and enjoyed pure silence! I like Ringpops as opposed to regular lollipops because they are bigger (and hence last MUCH longer) and they have a plastic ring, rather than the sticks that our children tended to bite through. :-) They are a bit messy - so bring those WetWipes! - but I'll take a quiet, happy messy child over an overstimulated antsy loud one any day. :-) Oh, and I would only bring the red ones - the blue and green ones are messy to the 10th degree! :-)
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Last edited by wrighter; 09-27-2009 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 09-27-2009, 08:35 AM   #6
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agree with all above!! took my son on his first trip when he was 5 and think the best piece of "advice" i got was to enjoy it all as much as you can b/c he will never know what you didnt do but will have an absolute blast at what you DO do!!! also, stroller a MUST!!!
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Old 09-27-2009, 09:46 AM   #7
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Take your own stroller if possible. It can be a hassel on the bus, but is a real life saver when moving through your resort and leaving the parks at night. And it's a good place to store your stuff!

Leave yourself a day to just hang out at your resort and play in the pool, then visit the Lego store at DTD. This was our toddler's favorite day!

Relax when you can. Stop often for snacks and drinks. Take advantage of the great play areas in the parks -- Pooh's Thotful Spot and Donald's Boat @ MK, Honey I Shrunk the Kids @ DHS, the fountains at Epcot, etc. And leave lots of time for characters!

Don't underestimate the toll the parks make take on your little guy. Given heat and humidity, crowds, lines and over-excitement, even the most even tempered kids can melt down if they are pushed. Like the PP said, do it at his pace and he will have a great time.

If you only see half of what is there, you can just look forward to the next trip.
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Old 09-27-2009, 10:24 AM   #8
ktlm
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The WDW strollers don't look very comfortable so we took our own (a Macclaren). We tied obnoxious bows on each side (Dis lime green) so we could find it. No matter how unusual your stroller pattern is, you will see some just like it at WDW, so you want to to something to spot yours easily. Normally DD won't even ride in the stroller, but at WDW rode in it quite a bit. We also found that little boxes of raisins were a good distraction for long lines. They would keep DD occupied for a few minutes.
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Old 09-27-2009, 10:38 AM   #9
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We went last year and we thought our DS4 would make it without a stroller...yes for the first 2 days, after that not so much. We were going to rent one and then realized that you could buy one at disney for the same price as renting one. Sure its an umbrella, but it was nicer than our umbrella back home(very old) and smaller than our joggin stroller we would never travel with. So it was a win win. We will definitely take it back with us we may not use it every day into the parks, but you can bet when we go back at night we will!Our DS9 even jumped in for a small ride now and then.

Our first trip with our now DS9 (he was 3 then) , we tried to do Disney like we had done wihout kids....Boy did we learn our lesson... Give your kids time to explore...Time to rest....and everyone will have a good day. But also remember...if your child is having a meltdown...90% of the park has been through it too..maybe not this trip, but any family with small children has been there one time or another.If they haven't I need to sign up for that parenting class!

Its their vacation too....
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Old 09-27-2009, 12:19 PM   #10
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I'm loving this thread for ideas for our trip in 3 weeks! Thanks everyone and OP!
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Old 09-27-2009, 01:19 PM   #11
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These are all great tips. Thank you so much for sharing!

We wil be heading down to Disney in April with our 3 year old DD and are so looking forward to seeing Disney through her eyes. We took her when she was a baby (9 mos old) so this is technically her 2nd time there, but we're really looking forward to this trip. She loves rides, characters, parades, etc. She's even talking about Princesses and Mickey Mouse already and we haven't really told her much yet about this trip. I think she'll have a blast!

I agree with the posters about bringing your own stroller. They are a great place to stash your stuff and for us adults to lean on when WE ge tired and hot and they really don't take up that much space on the buses or monorail. Just make sure you take your son out of the stroller prior to getting on the bus, cause those people behind you will push you forward and if you're not ready, it could get pretty ugly. Ask me how I know.....

I am allowing time to head back to our resort and relax if need be, but our DD does pretty good with power napping. Just 20 mins to a half an hour will give her the energy she needs to make it through a long day. I'd rather have her nap here and there while in the parks than to force her to go back to the room for a nap she will never take. By the end of the day, she'll be ready to head back for a long, peaceful night's sleep (also something that can be a bit difficult to get when you're sharing a room with a toddler, whether she's in your bed or the one next to you.)
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Old 09-27-2009, 02:44 PM   #12
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We are another family who tries to keep to the kids normal schedule, this keeps everyone happy. If kids are cranky and I am tired I don't cope and then we become one of "THOSE" families...... she is yelling at her kids at Disney of all places.

We would go to the parks for opening and stay until mid to late afternoon depending on how kids were doing and then head back for a swim, dinner somewhere and bed.

We were lucky that the condo we were staying in had a small umbrella stroller that we hooked into the back of my other sons stroller, so when he didn't want to use it we could just hook it back in. But he definately needed it... We would have hired him one otherwise.

There is a link in my signature to my trip report and how the wee man did. We had a fantastic time as will you.

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Old 09-27-2009, 11:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rjsoto24601 View Post
Thank you so much for all of your thoughts. My son can actually go a whole day without a nap and still be happy and friendly, curious to see if he'll even go for a nap with all of the excitement. We've dfeinitely decided to not do Fantasmic, as the last time dh and I went it was sort of scary for us. LOL!

What if anythign did you do about a stroller? Did you bring your own or rent one there?

THANKS again!
I've taken my DD every year since she was 7 months and she was/is just a happy go lucky kid so she had no trouble going on any of the rides, seeing any of the characters or being up late at night. She was just happy to be out and able to look around and see what was going on. I brought my own stroller with me as it was something she was used to and comfortable in and she had no trouble napping in it. It was a bit on the heavy side being a jogger (and it was just me and her on the trips) but someone was always jumping in to help me get it on the bus even though I had mastered getting it, myself and my DD on by myself.
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Old 09-28-2009, 12:18 AM   #14
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Great tips from everyone so far. Nothing wrong with bringing your own stroller. Be careful not to rush when you need to fold it up...there's nothing like getting your finger caught in it right when a large crowd of people is watching, say, from the AK train that goes out to the Conservation Station, as you're the last one to get aboard. Not that I would know anything about that...
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Old 09-28-2009, 06:39 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rjsoto24601 View Post
We are heading down to Disney the week of Feb 13th for 8 days with our 2 year old son (who will be 3 in April). Both my husband and I as well as my parents , who are going with us, have been to Disney various times, but this will be our first visit with a young child. My son is not afraid of characters and loves bright lights, music, animals and just about anything that's not "scary," lol! Please share your tips for visiting Disney with a toddler, from dining options, park hopping, not to be missed attractions, don't leave home without items, etc. All your tips, suggestions and ideas are very much appreciated!! Thank you in advance!
Jenn

First and foremost, YAY! What a great trip you are about to have!

I would first vote to take as many disposable items as possible. (Changing pads, sippy cups, take 'n toss utensils, pull-ups - even if you are potty trained, in case of accidents) Find some light, easy travel clothes you can pack as a back up for the parks.

We took our own glow sticks (dollar store) instead of paying out the nose in the parks. I also invested in a Mickey flashlight-spinning thing to keep on hand if DS got scared on the dark rides or just walking around.

TAKE YOUR OWN STROLLER!! The cost to rent one in the parks is high and adds up!

DS LOVED Goofy's barnstormer (min. height 35"), Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, race cars, POTC, walking around AK and EP. He didn't really care for anything at DHS except seeing Lightning McQueen and Mater.

We did a lot of character greets which were a huge hit (mainly EP and AK). We did one character meal at Ohana and it was wonderful!

Best of luck in your planning!
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