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How to Survive Disney World With Toddlers

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

If you’ve been following me on Instagram for a while you’re probably aware that I am a #disneymom. Kamryn loved Mickey Mouse Clubhouse from an infant and her love for Disney has continued to grow over the years. We took our first trip to Disney when she was 2.5 years old and Kaliyah was JUST 8 weeks!

I still can’t believe I took a 8 week old to Disney, but I did. During that visit we stayed at Disney Port Orleans Resort French Quarter where we stayed in the Princess Tiana suite! Princess Tiana and the Prince actually met us at check in and the girls were ecstatic! From there we’ve stayed at just about every moderate resort hotel at the Walt Disney World Resort (that’s a separate blog for another day).

We are Disney Passholders and have held onto our passes throughout the pandemic. We’ve lived through the changes post pandemic and have continued to create memories despite those changes (I.e. park reservations, elimination of fast passes, Disney dining plans).

This weekend we took Princess Kaliyah to her castle at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. We stayed at the Pop Century Hotel since it was a last minute trip. Thank God they had rooms. We have stayed at all of the moderate resorts except for the Coronado Springs Resort, and this resort would make our second value resort. And if I am honest, I actually enjoyed the Pop Century Resort the most out of all of the resorts we have stayed at (that’s another blog for a different day).

We started this trip off at Magic Kingdom to tackle Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. These are the two sections of the park that my girls frequent. We did those first, visited Princess Tiana. and called it a day. The Parade was fantastic! The girls really enjoyed it. It was honestly the best parade we’ve seen in the last 4 years.

After an amazing 2.5 hour nap back at our room at Pop Century we then headed over to Chef Mickey’s for dinner, which is a tradition for my family with every Disney Trip. I am so ecstatic that we can now go back to touching and hugging the characters. During COVID this was prohibited for obvious reasons, but it put a hamper on what my littles ones expected from Chef Mickey. They were so excited to hug their favorite characters again.

On day two we hit up Epcot and had a ball. We rode the new Ratatouille and Guardians of the Galaxy rides [which was absolutely amazing – coming from someone who is terrified of roller-coasters!]. The girls finally got to ride the Frozen Ever After ride (story below of why we didn’t previously ride it, lol), and because we took advantage of the early hours (which is a perk of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel) we were done with all of our rides by noon. Again, we took another 2.5 hour nap, which was lovely and headed over to Disney Springs to eat at D-Lux burgers. I had the BBQ burger with the Red Velvet Milkshake which was AMAZING!

Kid picture of Disney T Rex Build-A-Bear

We then headed over to our next expensive tradition of going to the T-Rex restaurant and building a build-a-bear dinosaur. Kamryn loves dinosaurs and this is the only Build-A-Bear that sells only dinosaur stuffies. This occurs EVERY SINGLE DISNEY TRIP (thanks daddy, lol). So we did that, hopped back on a Disney bus, did some retail shopping at the Disney merchandise store at our resort, and called it a night!

On the Princess’s actual birthday she requested Magic Kingdom AGAIN, so you know what we did?!? Magic Kingdom AGAIN! We then made our way back to Disney Springs to our favorite restaurant Chef Art’s Homecoming Restaurant (which is by far the best southern food you will ever eat!). And this was the grand finale to our trip!

Disney Chef Art's Homecomin' Disney Springs

We have been doing quick 2-4 day Disney trips for the last 4 years so I am almost a Disney pro at this point. So how do I plan for Disney to ensure that we stay entertained, dry, cool, comfortable, and don’t go broke on sugary snacks? Well I’m glad you asked.

Here are my Top Tips for surviving Disney with toddlers!

Bring a nice size backpack

If you’re a mom with toddlers do not go to Disney without a backpack. Girl, don’t do it to yourself. Think of it as the good ole Barney Bag! You need to be sure it’s just the right size where it’s not too bulky and big that it weighs you down as you walk, yet big enough to fit everything you need in one place. When the girls were under 3 I used a backpack diaper bag, but as they’ve gotten bigger I now use my Tory Burch backpack. Surprisingly it fits EVERYTHING that I need in one place, except our water bottles. It’s small and compact, not too heavy, and keeps me looking like the stylish Mama that I am.

Bring your own water

We purchase our own insulated water jugs from Amazon. But when it comes to water I stock up at my local Target before my trip to be sure that we stay well hydrated.

Let’s do some basic math. My daughters drink about 2-3 12 oz. bottles of water each. We probably drink about 4-6 bottles each ourselves. One bottle of water at Disney is $5.50. That would mean we could easily spend $99 on water at Disney PER DAY! Or end up doing like most people do and become extremely dehydrated by only buying 1-2 bottles of water in the Florida heat! Not I!

Let’s switch to a little science. Your brain reads hunger and thirst relatively the same, so most people begin to feel hungry when indeed they are thirsty. So if you’re at Disney and you’re losing water through sweat and “quenching” your thirst with sugary drinks instead of water. Your thirst is never quenched, you’ll likely continue to read thirst as hunger, and not only become dehydrated but will continue to snack and eat which can in turn lead to purposeless eating. So sis, hydrate yourself with water.

What I do is stop by Target or Publix and pick up 2- 2 L bottles of water per day (for a family of 4). For ONE day that’s only $2.50 versus spending $100, which is a no brainer.

So do yourself a favor and rehydrate with water, you’ll not only keep your body happy, but will save yourself money and some extra pounds to work off after your Disney vacation.

Don’t forget your stroller

I currently own 5 strollers and Disney is one of the reasons why. All strollers are not created equally, I repeat! ALL STROLLERS ARE NOT CREATED EQUALLY. Remember that first trip to Disney I was telling you about, you know the one when Kaliyah was 8 weeks and Kamryn was 2.5 years. Well my lovely in-laws brought us the Joovy Qool Stroller (which is almost the price of a Bentley with all of the attachments) and we brought it on our first trip! Now don’t get me wrong, the stroller is very functional for two children under 2, but most children over 2 years old will likely not fit that well in the seat and therefore you will have to order the sit-ride attachment. So we brought the Bentley to Disney and were excited to finally use it for this purpose!

Honey! It was the WORST decision we made!

The stroller doesn’t fold easily because all of the parts are detachable. I want you to stop and close your eyes and imagine trying to take this apart and reconfigure every time we got on a Disney bus or a section of Disney that requires you to fold up your stroller.

And did I mention that this was done with an 8 week old and 2.5 year old?!?!

Neva *claps hands* again!

Double Stroller for Disney Toddlers

Bring a stroller that is compact and easy to fold. Disney has strollers but Walt needs to do a better job, I’ll just say that! They are so cheap and flimsy. And the double stroller is not really a double for toddlers above 2 years old. So bring your own or rent one. There are a ton of stroller rental companies in Orlando that will deliver a stroller right to your hotel.

Also, for smaller children that may require more items while at the park bring a diaper bag that could easily attach to the stroller. You can purchase a stroller accessory or hooks to help attach your diaper bag.

And one last thing, be sure that your stroller has a cup holder to help you easily place bottles or your drink.

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Bring a fan that attaches to the stroller

This is FLORIDA. Even though this is our home, it gets super hot and humid! When Kaliyah was only 8 weeks old this saved us. As they’ve grown we continue to use these to get us through hot days at Disney.

Bring a Raincoat or Poncho

Rain coats at Disney are going to cost you $10 for a child and $15 for an adult. If you purchase a family pack of 10 at Amazon it’s only going to cost you about $15. These are super sleek, sturdy, and easy to fit into your bag. When the girls were less than 3 years of age I had to purchase separate toddler rain coats for them. These easily fold and fit well in the stroller or backpack. As they got older they were able to fit into the kid size ponchos.

But take my advice, don’t leave home without it. We have weathered the rain and it is not for the faint of heart. I couldn’t imagine doing it without a poncho or raincoat. I have also seen families purchase rain jackets which will be our next investment since we have braved 2 trips in the pouring rain 😦

Bring your own snacks

If your kids are picky like my girls, you want to bring your own snacks. It’s nothing worse than a picky toddler taking a bit of a $1,000 snack and tossing it to the side as if it was $1! Choose snacks that are non-perishable and that won’t melt. I usually pack 2 snacks for every 2 hours that I plan to be away from the hotel. And let’s not talk about how fast the expenses of snacks can add up. So pack snacks for yourself and kids to save a couple of bucks.

Sanitation Products are so important!

I always grab a pack of Purell or wet ones wipes for each day at Disney. Now Disney has done a great job with putting hand sanitizer stations around the park. But, I also bring my own hand sanitizer with a hook for my backpack for quick use.

Also, don’t forget to pack Clorox wipes. I pack one pack for every other day of vacation. I use them to wipe down hard surfaces etc. Now I’m a germaphobe, so I also bring a pack to wipe down all handles and hard surfaces at the hotel. And I must give Disney their props! I have never wiped a surface at any of the 4 Disney Resort hotels that left the wipe dirty! So good job Disney! Now I won’t call any names, but I have wiped some surfaces that lead me to the front desk and down the street to another hotel for another big chain hotel in Orlando. Which is one of the major reasons I choose to stay at a Disney Resort Hotel, especially while the girls are small and in the wake of COVID, because they are very clean!

Diapers, Bottles, and Baby Gear

When Kaliyah was 8 weeks old I brought at least 2 diapers per hour I planned to spend at Disney. I also brought plenty of butt paste to keep their bottoms dry since it is so humid and a changing table that was comfortable. The Disney changing table is a cold hard surface, so I wanted my babies to be comfortable. As they got bigger I brought huge bathroom seat covers to cover the entire seat. But I must commend Disney yet again. Their bathrooms are exceptionally clean. They have workers in the bathrooms ACTIVELY cleaning the bathrooms. I have YET to find an unkept bathroom at Disney or let alone find litter flying around the park. Disney is VERY clean, they even have workers who wipe down handles and surfaces!

Now let’s talk about breast milk. Both of my girls were breastfed, I didn’t know at the time that Disney had Baby Care Stations. These are stations that are designed to allow moms to nurse and change their little ones in comfort. You can use the Disney map to find them.

They are open during regular park hours and is complimentary to use. It includes:

  1. Private nursing room with rocking chairs

  2. Changing room with tables

  3. Restroom facilities

  4. Feeding area with highchairs

  5. Kitchen with microwave and sink

  6. Main room with television, table and seating

  7. On-site shop offering formula, baby food, juice, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, over-the-counter medications and clothing for purchase

Now again, I knew nothing about them so I nursed Little Kaliyah wherever I was. I did bring a nursing cover for Kaliyah, but there were times where she found it too hot, so I had to nurse her without it. If nursing, definitely add an additional 1-2 bottles of water to be sure that you are well hydrated. If you plan to bring breast milk be sure to buy an insulated small cooler to store milk and store under the stroller or in your backpack to prevent sun/heat exposure.

Now, because I live 45 miles away from Disney I actually bought 5-6 bottles of fresh breast milk (pumped within the last 24 hours) for a 4 day trip. I did this for instances where it was not feasible to easily breastfeed Kaliyah. If this is something that you plan to do I recommend that you get your milk to a fridge IMMEDIATELY upon arrival. I went straight to my room before heading to the park to keep my milk fresh and cooled. While at the park, I brought one bottle per 4-6 hours that I planned to be out of the room. Again, I used the bottle instead of nursing for times when it wasn’t optimal or feasible to breastfeed with a hungry, crying baby (i.e. while you’re physically tired from standing in a long line with no where sit to nurse comfortably, when trying to walk through the park to make your next ride or reservation in time). I used an insulated ice pack to keep the milk cool. And since Florida is so hot, it will only take ~ 30-45 minutes for your milk to reach room temperature during spring and summer months and maybe an 1-1.5 hours in fall-winter months.

Please don’t forget bibs, teething toys, sippy cups, baby snacks, wipes, and pacifiers to keep your little one engaged, comfortable, and entertained. Remember infants are not as excited to be in the Florida heat as you and your older children are so they can get very cranky.

Don’t leave without Medicine for you and your Toddlers

Honey, let me tell you! Kaliyah had fevers up to 103 F one time at Disney after a cold rainy day and I had no medicine on hand! Never *claps hands* again.

I always pack Tylenol or Ibuprofen for pain and fever reduction, Zyrtec or Claritin for allergies, multivitamins, Band-Aids, and a first aid kit JUST IN CASE! Don’t be like me and be unprepared!

And don’t forget to pack the same meds for you and your adult family members too. For adults, you can also pack medicines for an upset stomach as well and

Epsom salt for sore feet. Call me crazy, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.

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Magic Bands

Don’t forget your magic bands. If you haven’t ordered them you may want to make the purchase so you can pack light for the park. You can literally attach your room key to any Disney resort room, credit card, and ticket to your Magic band. This helps you do less fumbling around in your backpack to find your wallet. Also it makes getting into the park that much easier for you and the kids.

Sun Protection

Don’t forget your sunscreen, Chapstick, hats, visors, and sunglasses to beat the Florida heat. My girls still use the stroller which has a huge covering, but when they get older I will start using hats or visors to keep them protected. I always use black-girl friendly sunscreen for myself and the girls, just beware that you will likely sweat more with the sunscreen on.

I always have on a pair of shades and the girls wear their shades too. I’d recommend getting neck lanyards for kid glasses so that it’s easier for kids to keep track of them. Just remove them before they get on any crazy rollercoasters.

Also, keep your kids and your lips protected from the Florida heat by putting on some Chapstick. Don’t forget to get the little ones to drink water as well to prevent excessive chapped and dry lips/mouths.

Map out your day based on their naps

Eww child! We will never ever not do this again!

When Kaliyah was 2 we tried to park hop for the FIRST time. We had been up since 6 am, finished Magic Kingdom and were heading over to Epcot so that the girls could ride Frozen Ever After. Honey, this park hop was slap dab in the middle of nap time. Kamryn was okay, but Kaliyah made it so bad we had to leave Epcot after only being there an hour. Please do yourself a favor and plan your trip around naps. Get up early and get the little ones to the park early. If you are staying at a Disney Resort, take advantage of early admission and get on your favorite rides and be done with it. We usually start in Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Aladdin Carpet, and then Princesses. Usually we are done with everything by 11-12 pm TOPS!. This allows for lunch and a ride over to the hotel room for nap time!


Sleepy Toddlers at Disney

I can’t tell you the amount of kids who look exhausted because their parents are dragging them along all day. Let the babies rest. You can always head back out to the park to finish up. Trust me, a happy baby makes a happy mommy.

When planning out your day you can also use the Disney App to look for peak times for rides and consider the Disney Genie Plus for rides with longer wait times. This is an additional fee of $15 and may be an additional fee of $17 for popular attractions. In most cases it can be worth it if you are using it for popular attractions such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, but the key is you MUST book early at 7 am to get reservation times that are before noon. Reserve those first and then ride the other rides, starting with the ones that have the longest wait time and working your way down. Because usually if the ride has a longer wait time when the park is first open, it will continue to worsen as the day progresses.

Don’t force characters on the little ones

Kaliyah was not having it! She literally screamed to the top of her lungs with every single character. As she got older she began to warm up to them, but this took about 2 years. Some children do well with the characters while others do not. Let them ease into characters and don’t push them on the characters. I truly believe that since I allowed Kaliyah to warm up to them over the years she is now okay with the characters and engaging with them.


Don’t forget your Mickey gear

Don’t forget your ears! Very rarely do you find people with non-Mickey mouse gear on. So grab your shirts, hats, and ears and take part in the festivities. And if it’s your birthday or if you’re celebrating something special be sure to stop by guest relations or the front desk of your hotel to let them know. They will give you a special badge and everyone (including) guests will stop and tell you Happy Birthday and Congratulations, and you may even get some free things here and there.

I know my list is pretty lengthy but I can promise you this is my exact check list before I leave home for Disney. And it hasn’t failed me.

What do you love to pack for Disney or what will you now pack after reading this blog? Comment below.

Don’t forget to share this blog with another family who may be traveling to the Walt Disney World Resort!


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