Non-Expert Advice for Taking Toddlers to Disney World

It’s 2022 and people are ready to get back to making childhood milestones happen, like the family trip to Disney World. We JUST got back (like much of Louisiana), and I thought I would share the hits and misses of our Disney trip.

Disney trip with toddlersDisney is a trip that is heavy on logistics. Having the right gear helps a lot … and is more economical if purchased prior to arriving at Disney. Here was my shopping list, based on the many mom blogs written before my time, and the actual result of having said items in Disney.

Gear that was suggested:

  • Magic band reinforcers (Lost by “helpers” before it got packed; probably would have been great considering the magic bands are flimsy and my husband totally lost his in Fantasyland.)
  • Ponchos for adults (Only helpful if worn when raining, not left in the hotel room.)
  • Ponchos for kids (Same.)
  • Rain stroller cover (Same.)
  • Stroller bag (I think it was helpful for airport usage … my husband disagrees.)
  • Mask lanyards (Since Disney mask mandates changed before we got there – they were not used.)
  • Cooling towels (Unopened, but I could see the appeal in full blown summer.)
  • Blister cream (Unopened, but I was good with having it if needed. It’s small.)
  • Icy hot roller (Used, because why not; probably not an essential.)
  • Stroller hooks (NEEDED. Even if you do not rely on them in real life, hooks are very helpful to avoid digging out bags in sweat fueled heat.)
  • Portable Cell phone charger (Needed. Disney basically runs off an app these days.)
  • Zoe trio stroller (Game changer. My brother gets full credit for laying the Zoe stroller sales pitch on thick. I am sure there are cheaper options, but moral of the story – you need a stroller seat for each child.)
  • Sippy cup leashes (Lovely idea, were mostly abandoned by the end of the trip.)
  • Stroller caddy (Always helpful)
  • Magic bands (I am a fan. They did make life more convenient.)
  • Bubble Wands (Total hit, but avoid the meltdown – put the batteries in at home, as a screwdriver may be needed.)
  • Tennis dress (Great for walking miles in Disney gross heat. This tennis dress was the most postpartum friendly one I could find on Amazon).

Recommendations:

  • Use an independent agent who specializes in Disney destinations! For no charge to you (they earn a commission based on the price of your trip), you can gift someone else the chores of booking a hotel, park tickets, dinner reservations, and whatever other experiences you can Google. We used my helpful cousin, Jerry Falgoust with Crescent Lake Club, a true-blue Disney fan who secured every reservation we wanted and answered any questions we had. Having a go-to is such a comfort when planning a Disney vacay. Thanks again for everything, Jerry!
  • We’re extra, so we watched YouTube videos of the rides leading up to trip. It got my girls excited and set some expectations, to evade feeling overwhelmed with overstimulation. I do not think the Haunted Mansion would have gone over as well without our prep work.
  • Invite the grandparents! If you have accommodating, able-bodied grandparents who are willing to make magical memories while providing extra sets of hands to ensure the safety of your children (and your sanity) – do it. I am normally very grateful for my wonderful parents and the role they play in our lives, but omg – in Disney?! Next level. Pap Pap manhandled the triple stroller while Amie gushed about Ariel and Belle to the girls (while Mommy inhaled whatever snack was easiest to grab.) Yay for a village in Disney!
  • Order groceries to the room. If you order alcohol from Walmart, plan on being there to sign for the groceries. Otherwise, the order gets cancelled. Having a snack bag and plenty of sunscreen is needed in Disney. Not to mention MILK for the littles!
  • If you are flying, milk is a non-negotiable. Supply your diaper bag with an empty bottle or sippy cup – whatever their fave is. Buy the overpriced milk in the airport convenience stores to fill the bottle. Short flight? Do not get cocky and underestimate toddlers. Get. The. Milk.
  • Matching outfits? Always, in my humble opinion. In a very crowded Disney World, (a probable post 2020-2021 trend) matching your kids makes it easier to keep track of your krewe.
  • Designate the most willing / tech savvy person to navigate Genie Tip Board / Genie Plus. Someone needs to helm the ship and buy that someone a well-deserved Mickey Mouse ice cream and/or beer as a token of your appreciation.
  • Get the popcorn bucket in the parks for the kids ($2 refills). It lived up to the hype.
  • Sneak a treat. If you find yourself in Epcot, head to France and find Les Vins de France, and order a champagne flight – one of these champagnes taste like candy. I want to drink this champagne for every special occasion until the end of time. Do not pollute this champagne with orange juice for the sake of a mimosa. The champagne is THAT good. This magical moment was made possible by grandparent babysitting. A champagne flight while wrangling toddlers would probably result in an increase of anxiety and bitterness.
  • CRT (Cinderella’s Round Table) – exceeded expectations. It was a well-earned break toward the end of a long park day. The food was actually delicious, which was a significant upgrade to most Disney food. Stow a Cinderella dress in the stroller, Change right before the reservation, and Voila, another magical memory for my four year old daughter. We decided to relieve the babies and guys from this reservation and send them back to the hotel room. All were happier with this option and I did not feel guilty ordering that second glass of wine. A toast was made to the money we saved by feeding less people and sparing ourselves from trapping two toddlers at a sit-down dinner, which they would have screamed through. We will make it up to the babies when they are older.

  • Tusker House Restaurant breakfast – worth it! There were rounds of yummy food, the kids danced with Mickey, Goofy, Donald and Daisy while the grownups got to sit down, take a break, and recharge for the day ahead. To quote my four-year-old daughter, “This feels like Thanksgiving!” Pricey, but probably the only meal that worked with the whole family, including Pandemic babies who are not seasoned restaurant connoisseurs. Otherwise, this was a very snack heavy trip for us.
  • Ask for help. In Animal Kingdom, we found ourselves in Asia, sitting on rocks in the shade, dumbfounded by Genie Plus. I ate my last bite of my Mickey Mouse ice cream and thought, “Enough. They are people who are paid to understand this nonsense.” I asked, and she helped. She personally walked us over to Kilimanjaro Safaris because she was generous and so horrified that we had only ridden one ride (TriceraTop Spin, no less) by 1:00 PM.
  • Should you have someone in your party who qualifies for Disability Access Service (DAS), do it. No idea how you sign up, yet another example of how helpful it is to use an independent agent who specializes in Disney destinations. The DAS was a user-friendly life saver (not that we figured out how to use it until the last day).
  • Genie plus- confusing, but needed, especially at Magic Kingdom. It gave us some structure but was frustrating when the allotted times shifted to hours later. It was the only reasonable way to ride to cool kids rides. Personally, I am never waiting for over two hours with three children under four for anything that is not medically necessary.
  • Have realistic expectations. This is a haven for families, including the cute, crazy, cranky kids. The fish tacos at the resort may just be status quo. Folding up the stroller for the bus ride to Magic Kingdom may be aggravating. The kids may hit a wall. And to the woman whom my four-year-old licked while waiting for Mickey’s PhilharMagic show (a great nap opportunity for tired babies), apologies. Many, many “serious talks” followed that stunt.
  • Regardless of how Disney tired you are or how many kids are screaming – do count your suitcases to ensure you have brought all of your luggage to the airport. However, should you leave your bag in the Disney World resort room, they will ship what you left behind. Thanks, Disney!!

Enjoy! This will not be your most relaxing trip, but your littles will experience moments of incandescent happiness. If lucky, you will capture a handful of these and proudly share on social media, when you get around to it.

Good job, Moms! You’ve earned that boost of pride if you have successfully taken toddlers to their happiest place on earth.

Melissa Fleming lives in Prairieville, Louisiana with her husband, Blake, and their three beautiful daughters: Evelyn (4), Clara (2), and Chloe (1). She graduated from LA Tech with a B.A. in journalism and then earned her M.Ed. and Ph.D. in counselor education from UNO. She is the owner of MWF Counseling, LLC. In between seeing clients, chasing toddlers, and holding babies, she enjoys watching Real Housewives and drinking as much caffeinated tea as possible.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here