We did it! We made it through the Magic Kingdom at Disney World with our three year old toddler in tow and survived with our sanity (somewhat) intact. Thanks to all the fabulous readers who submitted their Disney tips. It really helped me feel less anxious about the big journey. While I have no profound tips or advice to share with you all on conquering Disney World, I do want to share some little things I learned on my trip:
Holy moly it is hot in Florida in the summer! I know, this is not a newsflash, but I was unprepared for the strong sun and high humidity. I went to Disney when I was 9 and 19 years old and I swear I don’t remember it being so scorching. Maybe that’s because I’m OLD and now it really hit me. As soon as we got to the park, I purchased a sun hat and while I immediately felt better, it dawned on me that I have now become my mother who always warned me to wear a hat! We chose this time of year because my husband had a work conference, but if we had to do over again, we would probably go in the late fall/early winter.
Since we weren’t feeling very bold on this trip, we purchased a two day park pass. We only lasted three hours on day one before both the toddler and adults needed a nap. Wimps, I know. The next day we decided to hang out at the hotel pool and then journey back to the Magic Kingdom later in the evening so we could catch the Electrical Parade at 9:00 pm. This worked well for us because the temperature had dropped a great deal and the lines were much shorter for the rides. The parade followed by fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle were amazing! My daughter got to see all her favorite characters in the parade. She was SO excited and screamed and waved at all the characters. It was like she was at a rock concert! We also got a “Bonus” pass to a non-major park with our Magic Kingdom pass and spent our last day at the Typhoon Lagoon water park to beat the heat.
The stroller is your best friend. I am so glad we brought ours because it was very handy to have it in the airport and around the park. When things got tough I didn’t hesitate to threaten, “If you don’t sit in this stroller right now you won’t get to see Tinker Bell!!!!”. Not my best parenting tactic, and it only worked about 50% of the time. But when my daughter was not in the stroller, it worked great for carrying all our bags of souvenirs and our carry-on luggage at the airport. Once we got to the park I took the advice of a very wise reader and bought a balloon and tied it to the stroller so we knew which one was ours when we left it to go on a ride. Only problem was I tied the balloon a little low and it kept bonking me and strangers in the head. Oh well! She also warned me ahead of time that park staff frequently move strollers around to keep them orderly, yet I still accosted one of the employees when he moved ours (I think the heat got to my head!)
ALWAYS keep your eyes on your child. Another no-brainer, I know, but my kid pulled a fast one on us on “It’s a Small World.” My daughter was sitting in between BOTH her parents on that little boat and still managed to throw an empty, plastic water bottle somewhere in South America. We had both spaced out for a second (Again, I think it was the heat stroke) and couldn’t stop the inevitable. So yep, we caused the ride to become “It’s a Small Polluted World”!
Go at your own pace. Walt Disney World is over 30,000 acres, with 24 themed resorts, four theme parks, two water parks, and countless entertainment and recreational venues. We had three days and one three-year-old in tow, so we did not plan on visiting every major park. We took our time and did our best to visit the spots our toddler would appreciate. When we were tired, we napped. When we were hungry, we ate. Most of all, we just wanted to appreciate the time we got to spend with each other because it is so rare. We will definitely go back in a few years when our daughter is older, but for now, we are happy with the trip we took as a family.