Disney with toddlers -the good bad and ugly

Discussion in 'Disney for Families' started by Blurrysmom, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. Blurrysmom

    Blurrysmom Mouseketeer

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    We just returned from our first trip to Disney with our 20-month-old son. I read these boards a lot prior to coming, and I saw a lot of posts from people who, like me, were anxious about traveling with a young toddler. Therefore, I'm offering my experience with candor. Of course, each child is different, so please don't flame me if your experience was not the same. This is just one perspective. I know it sounds discouraging, but we really did have fun and are planning to return with him in a year or so. But the first 3-4 days were fraught with tears (his and mine), and I think he was generally overwhelmed by all of it and not really feeling the magic. If I had accepted a few truths beforehand, I think we could have made it a little easier on ourselves. So hopefully these points will help someone else:

    1. Your child will behave at Disney like he does at home, so be prepared. Logically I knew this was true, but I was so excited for the Disney experience that I pretended he would be docile and just overwhelmed with joy to be doing whatever we wanted to do. Instead, I was upset and angry and embarassed when he consistently refused to get in his stroller at the parks without an epic struggle involving copious amounts of screeching and bucking like a bronco. He wanted to walk, but he can't endure all that yet, and besides, his version of "walking" was darting in and around the crowds at warp speed and trying to climb trash cans. This resulted in a lot of us carrying our 35-pound baby, which in turn exhausted us. This was stressful.

    2. If your child doesn't nap during the day, you will have problems. we observed the mid-day retreat to the hotel for his regular nap, but the room just wasn't dark enough and he fought it and wouldn't go down. He did sleep briefly in the car coming and going. But he was not pleasant in the afternoon. Unfortunately, it was 35 degrees while we were there, so we couldn't have a relaxing pool afternoon.

    3. Seriously consider a 1BR if you can afford it. We did this and it was money well spent with a very active boy who runs around every waking minute. The garden grocer delivery was also a good call. And the rental crib.

    4. Some of the kids' rides are plain weird. Peter Pan incorporated dead pirates laying across the ship deck and even Winnie the Pooh has a strange psychadelic dream sequence that looks like Pooh ate some bad mushrooms. I don't understand this.

    5. Some toddlers, like mine, cannot tolerate wait in line for more than 10 minutes. This means that even with expert fast pass usage, you might not get on more than 3 rides all day (and that's in low season).

    6. Always carry a sippy cup. Some places, like the Hoop-de-doo Review (which he loved, by the way), don't even have lids. They served his milk in a giant glass bell jar. Not good.

    7. Good stuff: he loved the actual rides when he was riding them. The carousel, Dumbo, Aladdin's carpets, Small World, Winnie the Pooh, it was all great. And he loved the character breakfast (or at least he didn't cry). He also loved the Hoop de Doo Review, I think because we were so close to the stage. We had some nice moments, but it wasn't easy.

    OK, that's all I've got. Good luck to all you toddler travelers - have fun!
     
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  3. Spoonful of Sugar

    Spoonful of Sugar Mouseketeer

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    Couldn't agree more about that strange Pooh ride!
     
  4. champagnegirl26

    champagnegirl26 Kettering Uk

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    Thank you for your honest opinion. We are taking our son who will be 2 1/2 yrs in May for his first trip. I think we are perhaps thinking of the trip with rose tinted glasses right now but we are going to try our best to go at his pace which wont always be easy. I guess if he's happy we are happy and its not like its our first visit so if we dont do certain attractions it wont be a big deal. I just hope he takes his naps! He likes his sleep so if he doesnt get it there will be fireworks before wishes!!!
     
  5. champagnegirl26

    champagnegirl26 Kettering Uk

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    Does disney have toddler cutlery available? I guess its another thing to pop in my bag if not!
     
  6. dizneechic

    dizneechic DIS Veteran

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    We leave in 3+ weeks for our kids "1st" trip. I say 1st however our previous one I have blocked from my memory. :lmao: We used to be a couple who went every year if not multiple times each year, got married there etc. We took our oldest ds when he was 14 months and had 10 days at WL with us getting woken up several times each night by hall doors slamming, him not sleeping at ALL, crying anytime anything even resembling a character came within 50 feet, and the impatience in line and wanting to take off like a bat outta he!! anytime he wasn't being held. Should I add that I was pregnant with #2 during all of this? Anyhow we vowed to not go back until our youngest was at least 5, and this meant giving up one of my favorite things for FAR too long. We're trying this again, this time with 3 in tow, and the youngest turns 5 on the trip, hopefully these memories will be much better!
     
  7. vettechick99

    vettechick99 <font color=purple>Why do I open these threads?<br

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    Love your number 1, so true!! Not only that, but their quirks are compounded exponentially! You have a tantrum thrower at home, he'll be a holy terror at WDW. But I really wanted to comment on #2.

    We've known since DD was 5w old that she needs complete darkness and quiet to sleep. And if she gets that, she'll sleep for 4 hours. If conditions aren't right, she won't sleep and we have a majorly cranky child.

    So when we went on our first trip with her we stayed at CSR so we could put her crib in the closet. Then we pulled the curtains to keep out light and distractions. It worked great, but we had nowhere to go for 4 hours. So we hung outside on the walkway and got drunk. :rotfl:

    Our 2nd and 3rd trip (and 4th coming up) we have rented a 2-bed at Bonnet Creek (next to the Four Seasons on(off) property). She gets her own dark room, and we have the rest of the suite to chill out and do whatever (get drunk usually :rotfl:).

    Thanks for the review!
     
  8. jkcyoung

    jkcyoung Mouseketeer

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    We went on our first family trip 4 years ago with DS2 and DS3, we are leaving in just over 2 weeks for our 4th family trip with now DS6, DS4.5, and DS 20 months. I think the best thing we did on our first trip was not set any expectations. Don't set yourself up for disappointment. We went with the feeling that we will do and see what we can, and there will always be a next time if we can't do and see it all. Well the kids were amazing! We had such a great time(I guess that's why we are hooked now). Yes, there were moments that weren't "Disney perfect" but we took it in stride and really enjoyed ourselves.
     
  9. kwitcherkicken99

    kwitcherkicken99 <font color=deeppink>Sleep keeps me pretty. CAFFEI

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    We couldn't find ANY onsite when we were there last spring. I would highly recommend picking up some take and toss utensils and sippy cups. It's just less fuss. We also took disposable bibs and changing pads too. Best thing we ever did.
     
  10. champagnegirl26

    champagnegirl26 Kettering Uk

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    Thanks for your help...will take your advice and take them with us.
     
  11. indimom

    indimom Are We There Yet?

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    Thank you for a very honest and unbiased review of taking toddlers to Disney World. I do think folks on here tend to err on the side of 'The Magic' when answering questions posted by parents of young children. Glad you had a good time anyway, and I bet next year will be even better. There is a huge change between 2 and 3, you can actually reason with a 3yo (most of the time)!
    I really loved your comment about the lighting for naps. I don't think I've ever read that on here, but it is good advice, since most kids do nap in a darkened room at home. Something to add to the list of items to bring on vacation with little ones - a room darkening sheet to cover windows! :thumbsup2
    Hope you have a magical trip next year!!!
     
  12. MrsGoofyMitchell

    MrsGoofyMitchell Mouseketeer

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    Thank you for the review! We leave in 3 weeks with our 2 year old!
     
  13. pasta

    pasta Earning My Ears

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    Blurrysmom- Again, on the money with the Pooh ride. I was wondering if anyone else felt the same way.
     
  14. sweetsusannah

    sweetsusannah Mouseketeer

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    We are coming up on our third trip with our daughter who is 2 ½ (we own DVC). Her first trip she was almost 2 and the next trip is for her 3rd birthday. I agree with the OP’s points, your child will not morph into a wonderfully well behaved tantrum free child just because they are at Disney, probably the contrary. Ours is a strong willed child and not laid back at all but Disney is always fun with her because we make it about her. We found several things that make our trips easier for our family.
    First, we try to eat at several character buffets during the week. Sure, we’d rather eat Le Cellier but we also want a happy kid. They entertain and delight most kids and you get a meal that brings happy memories and photos. The mid day nap is essential for Disney success if your child naps at home. It’s tiring for adults much less toddlers. We find it works out great anyway because the rides are slowest at rope drop and the park gets packed around lunchtime. On the days we don’t want to go back to the resort for nap time we use the baby care center for nap time. They have very dark rooms for nursing moms and the attendants are always wonderful about letting us rock our daughter to sleep in the rockers. They even let my husband in to do it, with the restriction that we have to give up the room if they run out of other rooms and a nursing mom needs it (never happened). He listens to his ipod and holds her while she sleeps while I go ride the rides and yes I know how lucky I am to be married to him. We also always give playground time each day. It is our daughter’s favorite part of the trip. While the Pooh ride at MK is odd the Pooh’s spot playground is one of the best in all the parks. We don’t do fireworks often because the noise scares her and we try to stay with a couple hours of her bedtime to prevent exhaustion for her. Last, something not everyone can do but oh so worth it if you can…we bring a grandparent(s). We pay for their accommodations (again, we stay at DVC villas) and they provide babysitting occasionally throughout the trip. My husband and I get to go back out to enjoy night time magic hours once or twice after we tuck her in.
    The bottom line is Disney can be wonderful with a toddler but you have to have the right expectations and accommodate the little one just as you would at home. Our daughter loves her Disney trips and talks about them all the time.
     
  15. rookie78

    rookie78 Mouseketeer

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    That is so true about number 1. I had two toddlers on my first trip to WDW, expect I had all these high expectations. I was so disappointed, b/c the kids were awful when they got too hot, tired, or hungry. But the good news is I learned a lot for my next trip, so it will be enjoyable.
     
  16. pcrmommy

    pcrmommy Earning My Ears

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    Taking our then 26 month old in August, and I'm already prepping the older kids for the fact that you need to be patient with your sister while we are on vacation. She'll be off schedule, not napping in her crib, hot, and most horribly, confined to her stroller which she despises! At least they won't be shocked when pixie dust doesn't magically turn her into a super happy toddler at WDW.
     
  17. lecach

    lecach <font color=darkorchid>Will not get out of bed unl

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    I have a whole box of Disney disposable kids cutlery (forks, spoons,knives) that I never opened. I got them from the dollar store - they are a name brand....maybe Diamond? Anyway, if you want them I can send them to you if you'll pay the postage.
     
  18. MommaMouse411

    MommaMouse411 Always dreaming of Disney

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    lol I'm sorry but the winnie the pooh ride thing was funny...when we did the ride the first time I was like WHOA...this is weird..but goes with the movie...

    I've posted this before..but my son has been going since 8months. and the last trip we took his father went with us for the whole trip since I'm preggers now and it was going to be a hassle..it was nice to have him there...however...my son was a brat...he wanted to run around and it wasn't feasible...he did throw some tantrums but he loves the characters and the rides so it wasn't that bad..hes 21months now...and we went for christmas..but when he threw his tantrum I was like man did I create a monster?????????? he is Disney spoiled already...lol...I managed..but it was frustrating at times...and he tends to be brattier when his father and I are together..

    But what I learned is just to take it easy...and for us at least I've been so many times I don't have to see or do everything...so if he wants to run around...I take him to a play area and let him have at it..he is a good boy and for the majority of the disney trip he's good..he just has his moments...I let him sleep when he feels like it..I don't try and stick to a schedule.

    also...he did throw a tantrum at the Backyard BBQ..he wanted to dance and be at the front of the stage the whole time...it wasn't funny but it was...Cyclone Sally had to take him by the arm because he was screaming and throwing himself back in his father's arms...and she grabbed him and as she was MCing , my son was smiling and waving at everybody..

    DISNEY SPOILED!!!
     
  19. chrisw127

    chrisw127 <a href="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/" targ

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    Thank you for your funny and very real post on toddlers at Disney World. We had the same experience when our twins were 20 months old. It was a disaster. In fact, we spent the entire time muttering "We're never coming back here again!" and calculating how much we were paying per hour. Fortunately, we changed our minds about not going back and took them last month at 32 months. The experience was completely different, so there is hope!

    Good luck.
     
  20. pixarmom

    pixarmom DIS Veteran

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    Same here, and I agree with so many of these points! Character meals and playgrounds, especially! Our older boys have always been great at Disney, but our youngest is very strong willed and we expected Disney to be extremely tough when he went around his 2nd birthday. We showed him lots of youtube videos of the parades, rides, etc., planned lots of playground time for him (yay for Pooh playground, the one at the Splash Mountain exit, and the one in ToonTown), and made ADRs for dinner every night at family style restaurants (Garden Grill, Ohana, Liberty Tree) where the food comes fast - and the characters at GG help, too!

    Now, I definitely won't let that inflate my expectations for this year or any other year, because I think OPs and all the previous posts regarding expectations are exactly right.
     
  21. champagnegirl26

    champagnegirl26 Kettering Uk

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    Oh what a kind offer! I actually live in the UK though and so its probably easier I bring my own but thank you for being so thoughtful!:lovestruc
     

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