Single parent with boys aged 3 and 5

JR_2

Earning My Ears
Joined
Dec 29, 2017
Has anyone taken 2 boys aged 3 and 5 by themselves? If so, how was it? Lessons learned?
 

terri33inne

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 16, 2013
Sorry I haven't taken 2 boys that age range, but have taken my daughter on my own since she was 5. I think it is very doable with some planning.

Do you plan on getting a stroller? I would with 2 that age, just for the crowds alone. My daughter when she was younger would get nervous just holding my hand when crowds started to push in on her. This mostly happened after fireworks, so having her in a stroller she felt more secure. I could see buffet's being a challenge but still manageable.

At that age I very much let my daughter set the pace of our trips... if we were at the parks, and had only been there a couple hours, and she said she wanted to go back to swim, that is what we would do (unless we had a dining reservation or something). I would also plan mid-day breaks back at the resort... get some down-time for both you & them.

Where are you planning on staying? If you do decide to get a stroller you may want to consider renting a car... the buses are a pain with a stroller.
 

JR_2

Earning My Ears
Joined
Dec 29, 2017
Thanks for the reply! After I wrote my topic, I realized my kids will be closer to 4 and 6 when we go next.

I'm likely going to purchase an umbrella double stroller. In the past, my mom came along, and we brought two single umbrella strollers, which worked out well for their age difference then. I definitely agree that a stroller is necessary for both even now (and probably for a few more years). At home, we don't use strollers for my 5 yo and rarely for my 3 yo, but at Disney, it not only gives them a break, keeps them contained at certain points, and allows me to zip across the park to another FP+ if I need to. I would prefer a reclinable stroller like the GT City's for rent, but for the price/ease of use as a single chaperone, I feel like the umbrella double is edging out. I also plan to head back for a midday nap most days so a nappable stroller isn't high on my priority list.

Which brings me to my next concern...my 3 yo still naps, but my almost 6 yo does not. Older son may start taking naps by Day 3, but I'm wondering what to do with him while little brother naps. On Day 1, I'm wondering if I should just go nearly all day (i.e. prior to opening until 3p) before heading to Disney Springs for an early dinner and photopass studio session. This will enable them to have an earlier bedtime and subsequent rise the next morning. For Day 2, I guess this would be the only day where 1 is napping but the other isn't. Maybe a movie? I know he would ideally want to go to the pool, but I can't leave my napping 4 yo. Is this a good strategy? (Sorry if I'm overthinking it or if it seems too scheduled. I'm just trying to consider as many scenarios as possible since I anticipate it being challenging by myself.)

I've also noticed the pain between buses and strollers! That's why I was hoping to stay at a resort where I could either walk or take the monorail/boat (since they didn't require I fold up my stroller in previous visits). Ideally, BLT/Contemporary/Poly (for MK) and Boardwalk area (for Epcot/HS) (sadly, there doesn't appear to be a walkable resort to AK, my favorite.) However, I also wanted to give them some little kid theming, which the aforementioned places seem to lack. For now, I'm anticipating a split stay at AKL (busing to AK and MK on those days) and then transferring to Boardwalk (for Epcot/HS days). I don't think I can get out of using bus transportation for now. Maybe once they are in the 6 and 8 range, I can stay at AoA or Pop since they should have more stamina for travel at that age but still be young enough to appreciate the fun theming.

The buffet thing has crossed my mind so I planned a mix of QS and TS instead. I was surprised by the kids' menu cost at some TS places - it was a lot more affordable than I anticipated. For example, at Tusker our buffet used to cost ~$50/adult and $30/child before tax/tip, but at Contemporary Grill, the child entree is $10 and if I just get sushi or an appetizer, it's only $24 or so, which makes it more convenient and affordable overall. If anyone has any other child/budget friendly options, pls let me know!

I think my biggest reminder is as you advised - to consistently go at their pace. Although planning helps tremendously, some of our best Disney moments were unplanned, which made it even more magical. I read on this forum about how parents would talk to their kids about being a team. I also plan to have this discussion with my boys next time so that they understand there will be some compromise and turn taking when it comes to rides/experiences since we have to stick together.
 
  • Arielfan98

    All Star Resorts Fan
    Joined
    Jun 26, 2017
    I can't speak in too much detail about this considering I am not a parent at all. In regards to the budget dining, I highly recommend you try Garden Grill for breakfast. It is a character dining experience and well worth its price. The character interaction was great. I met Chip and Dale twice and they really take time to interact with the guests. I also felt the food was delicious and I enjoyed being on the rotating platform. I was so full for the rest of the day that I only needed a light bite late at night. In addition, I know most parents favor GG because it's served family style, so you won't have to worry about taking your little ones to the buffet line. Just ask your server for whatever you'd like and they can bring as much as you care to eat. Good luck!

    I believe I paid $80 with tax and tip for 2 adults. But because the breakfast was so filling, meals were not needed for the rest of the day, making it a good value for character all-you-care-to-eat dining. You can also strategically reserve a table for a late breakfast, turning it into a "brunch."
     

    JR_2

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2017
    I can't speak in too much detail about this considering I am not a parent at all. In regards to the budget dining, I highly recommend you try Garden Grill for breakfast. It is a character dining experience and well worth its price. The character interaction was great. I met Chip and Dale twice and they really take time to interact with the guests. I also felt the food was delicious and I enjoyed being on the rotating platform. I was so full for the rest of the day that I only needed a light bite late at night. In addition, I know most parents favor GG because it's served family style, so you won't have to worry about taking your little ones to the buffet line. Just ask your server for whatever you'd like and they can bring as much as you care to eat. Good luck!

    I believe I paid $80 with tax and tip for 2 adults. But because the breakfast was so filling, meals were not needed for the rest of the day, making it a good value for character all-you-care-to-eat dining. You can also strategically reserve a table for a late breakfast, turning it into a "brunch."

    Thanks! We've yet to meet those 2 characters, and I bet the boys would love them! I think they'd find the rotating aspect really novel and fun too.
     

    Arielfan98

    All Star Resorts Fan
    Joined
    Jun 26, 2017
    Thanks! We've yet to meet those 2 characters, and I bet the boys would love them! I think they'd find the rotating aspect really novel and fun too.
    Yes! It's a unique experience and you also meet Pluto and Mickey!
     

    JK World

    Just me and my lil' man loving life!
    Joined
    Apr 4, 2017
    I took my just-turned-3 year old in November, and while my parents were there to help we did 2 parks on our own (AK and MK).
    -Having a stroller that is easy to transport on buses is definitely more important at this age than having a stroller that reclines for naps.
    -Don't stay out too late, it will be nearly impossible to handle a stroller, a sleeping kid and a 2nd kid all at once. But if it does happen, most people are helpful and will help you get the stroller on the bus while you handle the 2 kids.
    -The bus ride from AKL to MK is the longest possible ride. I'd recommend staying at Poly instead, which will get you easy transport to MK and Epcot, then moving to Boardwalk for your HS/AK days. Poly has a great pool, fun activities and you can watch the fireworks from the beach in case the little ones are too tired to venture to the parks. You can also watch the Electric Water Parade from Poly.
    -Even QS meals will be a challenge if you have to balance 3 meals and drinks on a tray while escorting both kids. Scout out your dining options in advance and look for places that will work best for your situation (check online for photos of the seating/service area). You may find it easiest to do all TS meals at the parks, just avoid the buffets unless your 6yo is able to help carry his own tray.
    -Most rides will let you sit 3 across, so that shouldn't be a big issue. Research which ones won't so you know what to avoid, they won't let your kids ride together without you.

    Have a blast! Taking my then 4yo back at the end of this year on my own, maybe we'll see you there!
     
  • JR_2

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2017
    Ah! We were just there end of Nov as well, and I have a Nov birthday too. My parents think I'm obsessed planning the next trip already but good to know I'm not alone. I'm thinking of early/mid Dec or first week of Jan for better resort deals. Speaking of which, I would love to stay at Poly but don't think I can swing that in my budget. I'm also taking 1 day visit Legoland.

    I agree about the convenience of TS and not having to balance trays, but I'm concerned about the inflexibility of the reservation system now. Last year I remember being able to switch dining reservations on the app even an hour before the reservation time, but this year, it had a 24 hr cancellation/change policy. Without that flexibility to make in-flight changes, I feel like I'm stuck doing QS at the parks. I noticed some people use Prime Now for groceries, but they don't seem to do food deliveries in that area yet. Maybe that'll change in a year's time!
     

    Betty Rohrer

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 19, 2010
    Thanks for the reply! After I wrote my topic, I realized my kids will be closer to 4 and 6 when we go next.

    I'm likely going to purchase an umbrella double stroller. In the past, my mom came along, and we brought two single umbrella strollers, which worked out well for their age difference then. I definitely agree that a stroller is necessary for both even now (and probably for a few more years). At home, we don't use strollers for my 5 yo and rarely for my 3 yo, but at Disney, it not only gives them a break, keeps them contained at certain points, and allows me to zip across the park to another FP+ if I need to. I would prefer a reclinable stroller like the GT City's for rent, but for the price/ease of use as a single chaperone, I feel like the umbrella double is edging out. I also plan to head back for a midday nap most days so a nappable stroller isn't high on my priority list.

    Which brings me to my next concern...my 3 yo still naps, but my almost 6 yo does not. Older son may start taking naps by Day 3, but I'm wondering what to do with him while little brother naps. On Day 1, I'm wondering if I should just go nearly all day (i.e. prior to opening until 3p) before heading to Disney Springs for an early dinner and photopass studio session. This will enable them to have an earlier bedtime and subsequent rise the next morning. For Day 2, I guess this would be the only day where 1 is napping but the other isn't. Maybe a movie? I know he would ideally want to go to the pool, but I can't leave my napping 4 yo. Is this a good strategy? (Sorry if I'm overthinking it or if it seems too scheduled. I'm just trying to consider as many scenarios as possible since I anticipate it being challenging by myself.)

    I've also noticed the pain between buses and strollers! That's why I was hoping to stay at a resort where I could either walk or take the monorail/boat (since they didn't require I fold up my stroller in previous visits). Ideally, BLT/Contemporary/Poly (for MK) and Boardwalk area (for Epcot/HS) (sadly, there doesn't appear to be a walkable resort to AK, my favorite.) However, I also wanted to give them some little kid theming, which the aforementioned places seem to lack. For now, I'm anticipating a split stay at AKL (busing to AK and MK on those days) and then transferring to Boardwalk (for Epcot/HS days). I don't think I can get out of using bus transportation for now. Maybe once they are in the 6 and 8 range, I can stay at AoA or Pop since they should have more stamina for travel at that age but still be young enough to appreciate the fun theming.

    The buffet thing has crossed my mind so I planned a mix of QS and TS instead. I was surprised by the kids' menu cost at some TS places - it was a lot more affordable than I anticipated. For example, at Tusker our buffet used to cost ~$50/adult and $30/child before tax/tip, but at Contemporary Grill, the child entree is $10 and if I just get sushi or an appetizer, it's only $24 or so, which makes it more convenient and affordable overall. If anyone has any other child/budget friendly options, pls let me know!

    I think my biggest reminder is as you advised - to consistently go at their pace. Although planning helps tremendously, some of our best Disney moments were unplanned, which made it even more magical. I read on this forum about how parents would talk to their kids about being a team. I also plan to have this discussion with my boys next time so that they understand there will be some compromise and turn taking when it comes to rides/experiences since we have to stick together.
    if you plan on resort/room naps make sure neither child falls asleep on bus ride as getting one off bus and to room without waking is impossible and getting the child back to sleep is most likely not happening. at least that is a problem we have had. reclining stroller rental was best investment we made on our last trip. even 4.5 year old napped in it
     

    JR_2

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2017
    I've noticed that too just in general! I'm just worried that a reclining stroller will be too heavy to push/lug around by myself over 5 days. Combining their body weight and that of the stroller alone, I'll be pushing the equivalent my own body weight around 40+ miles by the end. Now that I think about it, it's kind of like those hardcore runners who run races with strollers, except instead of a 5k, it's an ultra.

    If I could reliably time our exit back early each time, that could work. I feel like the biggest risk of falling asleep is on the bus ride from MK to AKL. I've see big kids asleep by 10/11a on those buses.

    Ah! I feel like the best laid plans could be easily thwarted at Disney World. I bet by Day 3, they'll be so exhausted they'll just fall asleep anywhere and my arms will fall off.
     

    SmallMama

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 5, 2017
    Hi,

    I came across this thread and thought i asked where do you rent strollers from. I am taking my soon to be 5 years old just one day to MK (that's all we can swing this visit) and he normally does not take naps yet I am worry he might decide to especially with the heat. Of course, carrying him is a no go for he is half my height. Plus this is pur first time visiting WDW so we want to spend as much time there.
     
  • JR_2

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2017
    I wonder if you'd be better off bringing a stroller to save time since you're only going to be there 1 day. If not, the rental companies typically charge the most for the first day, and you have to factor in the time to have the stroller delivered/dropped off. If you google 'disney world strollers', you'll get one of the many blogs that recommend different stroller companies. I think Magic Strollers does the GT Citi line which is more comfortable for older children and can recline well. Enjoy your time!
     

    SmallMama

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 5, 2017
    I wonder if you'd be better off bringing a stroller to save time since you're only going to be there 1 day. If not, the rental companies typically charge the most for the first day, and you have to factor in the time to have the stroller delivered/dropped off. If you google 'disney world strollers', you'll get one of the many blogs that recommend different stroller companies. I think Magic Strollers does the GT Citi line which is more comfortable for older children and can recline well. Enjoy your time!
    If the stroller was not so big then i would of bought my own stroller. Of course he does not like the stroller often yet i feel he might want a break at walking. It would make sense to rent at MK so i can get it first thing in the morning. Do i have to reserve the strollers prior to my visited or first come first serve?
     

    JR_2

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2017
    If the stroller was not so big then i would of bought my own stroller. Of course he does not like the stroller often yet i feel he might want a break at walking. It would make sense to rent at MK so i can get it first thing in the morning. Do i have to reserve the strollers prior to my visited or first come first serve?
    You can rent it there by the entrance. There’s usually plenty from what I can tell. FYI they are made of hard plastic and dont recline, but that might not matter if your son doesn’t need to nap.
     

    SmallMama

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 5, 2017
    Okay that will work. He does not nap, but if he does go to sleep, well he is a kid that can sleep anywhere and at any position. Thanks for your help!
     


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