When I get to go to Disney, I feel like I’m coming back home. If you are a die-hard Disney person like me, you know exactly what I’m talking about! This past September of 2021, my husband and I took our two toddlers to Disney for their first ever plane ride to go to our first big family vacation.
Not just any vacation-Disney World-during COVID. But you know what? We had an absolutely MAGICAL time! And so can you!
I’m going to share all my best tips to have a Disney vacation with toddlers so you can have a great trip.
Since our trip we have had so many friends of ours with little ones asking us for some tips and tricks that we learned along the way. Hopefully this can help you too whether you are on the fence of going or not, or you’re getting ready to head to Disney.
I will say this ahead of time, there are so many factors into planning a trip some tips may be more crucial than others. This past trip was in September (which is hurricane season and still very hot); we flew (so we could still use Magical Express); and we stayed on Disney property (we stayed at the Contemporary Resort).
However, I just got done helping out some friends of ours that are staying off property and driving there and the advice still rang true for them!
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links for which I may earn a commission if you were to buy a product but with no extra cost to you.
Use a travel agent when planning your Disney trip.
I don’t know about you, but I have to take care of so many things throughout the day, I just don’t have the time or the energy to be researching good deals for a vacation.
You can use a local travel agency or an online agency typically without any extra cost to you (the agent gets a commission from Disney when you book a trip through them). It was so nice to have someone else do all the research, keep up to date with changing COVID policies, and take care of any issues along the way.
Of course, you don’t have to use an agent, but if you have little ones, you need all the help you can get!
Lower your expectations for the vacation, by a lot!
There’s a reason why it’s called Disney WORLD-you can go there regularly and never be able to do and see everything.
So don’t try to push your stroller around the parks like a crazy person trying to get everything done. This is a vacation remember? Plus, your little ones aren’t going to be able to keep up that pace, and neither will you!
Take a cue from your kiddos; slow down, take time to sit and enjoy the atmosphere. Disney has mastered the art of atmosphere-from small details, to smells, music, take it in!
Take a break in the middle of the day.
Especially on park days, you need a break from the crowds and walking, and the heat (I’m pretty sure my eyelashes started to sweat because of the heat!). I thought for sure my kids would be like other tuckered out toddlers snoozing in the stroller, nope!
My kids needed a full out break and nap at the hotel. Even if you aren’t staying on property, you can always leave the park for a few hours and come back.
For example, if it’s a Magic Kingdom day for you and driving back to your hotel isn’t an option, you can always ride on the monorail (which is a ride in itself) and go have lunch at the Polynesian hotel and go back to Magic Kingdom. The much slower pace is needed for young kiddos to have energy to stay up for fireworks.
If you don’t already, have your 2-year-old start wearing a mask before Disney.
At the time that I write this post, 2 year olds need to wear a mask in any indoor place in Disney World, including transportation.
I have seen some 2 year olds do just fine with a mask, but others, not so much.
One of my children has sensory issues so we were able to get help/practice/tips from their occupational therapist. But if your child doesn’t receive services such as this, give them practice in the store, church, wherever. You will also want to buy toddler versus kid sized masks, those are too big.
I wasn’t able find the exact ones I used for my child online, but these are fairly close in style. If you are going during the warmer months, you will definitely want to bring change of masks for the day.
Just be prepared that your toddler may act like, well, a toddler. They may not want to wear a mask because they are tired/hungry/hot/etc. which may inhibit you from doing certain attractions.
For example, we were going to go play in the indoor playground at the Dumbo attraction. When we got to the entrance, the cast member would not let us in unless our child wore a mask.
Our kiddo wasn’t having it and so we weren’t allowed to go in. But instead we played outside by the splash pad nearby and had a GREAT time!
So please, please, please be nice to the cast members, even if they turn you away. They have a job to do, and we are all doing the best we can during these difficult times.
Grown-ups definitely bring a chain for your mask.
You will be hopping in out of buildings all the time; so it’s mask on, mask off, mask on, mask off (did anyone else think of The Karate Kid movies when I said that??). You need to be hands free as much as possible when you’ve got little ones in tow.
Light up your stroller for at night, especially at the parks.
Believe it or not, there are dark spots in the parks, that includes stroller parking. We put lit up bracelets on our stroller and it made it so easy to find our stroller after coming out of a ride. You can definitely use glow sticks too. Have fun with it!
Once again, I wasn’t able to find the exact product I used, but I got Mickey ones. You can always check the party favor section of big box stores too.
Take advantage of the parks during fireworks if your toddler doesn’t like the noise.
It is SO much to take in for us as adults, let alone little kids! Some children wore noise-cancelling headphones. But if your child is still overwhelmed from the fireworks, go on some rides!
The majority of guests are at the fireworks, leaving all these rides with little to no waiting time. Plus the parks usually are playing the show in the speakers throughout the park so you can still feel like you are part of the show.
If a park does fireworks (Animal Kingdom does not), typically you can catch some at different spots in the park.
Socially distanced character meals are still worth booking.
If anything, it probably works to your advantage if you have toddlers. Just because your kids may adore watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, they may not want ANYTHING to do with Mickey Mouse giving them a hug!
We went to Chef Mickey’s for breakfast and I was very happy that social distancing was in place for this instance. The characters still come to your table to interact with you and still pose for pictures just not within touching distance.
It was really nice to have that experience without having to tell Goofy to hit the road because of a toddler being scared.
Definitely give your toddlers time to let loose.
My suggestion is to go find the water or playground area in the park before you do any rides or wait in lines. Again, if Disney is a lot for us as adults, just think how it is for the kids!
Getting their wiggles out ahead of time may help them feel more oriented in this new space and be a little more cooperative for the rest of your day.
I think I can honestly go on and on about different tips. I cannot stress enough how amazing cast members are and how much Disney caters to families.
You need to decide what’s right for you and your family. Hopefully these tips will help you have a safe and healthy Disney COVID vacation-with toddlers!
Please consider subscribing to stay up to date for tips and tricks to have the best mom life possible. Thanks for stopping by!