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PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO WALT DISNEY WORLD WITH PRESCHOOLERS HAS NEVER BEEN EASIER
Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers
has all the information parents need to plan an unforgettable Walt Disney World vacation with kids, ages 2-5. Written by a mom and Disney veteran who regularly visits Walt Disney World with her young family, this Walt Disney World travel guide is packed with child-focused information, tips, and insights from a parent’s perspective. Its focus on the unique needs of preschoolers and their parents sets Beyond the Attractions
apart from other guides.
Author Lisa M. Battista includes all the up-to-date details on toddler- and preschooler-friendly attractions, recreation, lodging, and dining in Beyond the Attractions
, but goes well beyond the shows, rides, resorts, and food to consider the logistical challenges that are part of traveling with small kids. Learn about family-friendly services at Walt Disney World such as stroller rentals, Baby Care Centers, and child-care options that will enhance your visit and the memories of your Walt Disney World vacation.
Find more preschooler-focused information in this guidebook including:
- Must-do attractions for toddlers and preschoolers
- Attraction elements that may scare small kids
- Best attractions for the little daredevils in your family
- Attractions the whole family can enjoy together
- Hidden activities when your kids need a break
- Ideas to keep the kids entertained while waiting in line
- Best restaurants for preschoolers
- Pros and cons of the Disney dining plans
- Descriptions of each Walt Disney World resort
- Safety tips for your vacation
- Preschooler packing list and vacation planning timeline
- Maps showing the locations of preschooler-friendly attractions in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Please enjoy a look at some of the information, tips, and insights you will find inside Beyond the Attractions.
Is Your Child Ready?
Not every preschooler is ready for a Walt Disney World vacation. Here are a few things to consider.
- Attention Span. Are your kids able to sit quietly and enjoy a 20-30 minute stage show?
- Waiting. “How much longer?” is the Disney World equivalent to “Are we there yet?” Will your kids wait patiently in line?
- Fear Factors. Many attractions are dark or loud, even if they are not scary. Is your child uncomfortable in the dark or with loud noises?
- Costumed Characters. Will you preschoolers be afraid of the costumed characters at the Character Greeting areas?
- Sleep Schedules. Do your kids nap or have an early bedtime? Will they be able to miss their nap or stay up late without a meltdown? Are you willing to plan your day around their schedule?
Packing for Preschoolers
It's easy to overpack when traveling with toddlers and preschoolers. Bring the essentials and items that are difficult or costly to purchase in pinch.
- Nightlight and blanket for Pack N Play. Disney doesn't provide blankets for Pack N Plays.
- Toddler utensils and sippy cups
- Child identification. Disney is exciting and can be crowded. It's best to be prepared just in case.
- Band-aids/moleskin. You will walk miles at Disney World.
- Thermometer and children's medications
- Ponchos. Ponchos are expensive in the theme parks.
- Childproofing supplies. Don't forget outlet covers and ways to keep medications out of your child's reach.
- Wet wipes. You can never have too many wet wipes.
Must-Do Attractions: Hollywood Studios
- “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Movie Set Adventure. This enchanting playground is nothing like you’d find in your local neighborhood park. Children climb on larger-than-life spider webs and slide down enormous leaves and blades of grass.
- Jedi Training Academy. Young Jedi Padawans are pre-selected to first train as a Jedi and then defeat Darth Vader.
- Disney Junior – Live on Stage! This children’s show features Mickey Mouse and other favorites from Disney Junior such as “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” “Handy Manny,” and “Little Einsteins.”
- Toy Story Mania! Riders don 3-D glasses and use “cannons” to aim at targets and score points while trying their hand at different classic carnival games.
Fun for the Whole Family: Magic Kingdom
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Board your space cruiser and try to outscore your opponent by hitting the brightly colored targets with your laser cannon.
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic. The whole family will enjoy this 3-D journey through popular Disney animated films. The special effects are a bonus.
- Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. Your favorite monsters need to power their world using laughter; be prepared to laugh out loud at the many corny jokes.
- Tom Sawyer Island. This large play area has many interesting activities for the pre-K crowd, from exploring caves and mines to walking over barrel bridges.
- Walt Disney World Railroad. This ride is a great way to sit back, relax, and people-watch during your busy day at the park.
Attraction Scare Factors: Magic Kingdom
- Astro Orbiter. Anyone with a fear of heights may think twice about this one. The total height from the ground when in motion is more than 50 feet.
- The Haunted Mansion. The Haunted Mansion may be home to 999 happy haunts but it is dark and has some spooky elements.
- Pirates of the Caribbean. This fan favorite attraction contains haunting, watery images in the mist and some skeletons.
- Stitch’s Great Escape! This out-of-this-world attraction takes place in the dark and has scary elements. A shoulder restraint ups the fear factor for small kids.
Hidden Activities: Animal Kingdom
- DiVine. You’ll have to look closely to spot this performance artist who morphs into a vine that tops nine feet.
- Monkeying Around. Spend some time enjoying the antics of the monkeys near the entrance to Kali River Rapids.
- Safari Journal. Available in gift shops, use the Safari Journal to document your family’s travels through Animal Kingdom.
- Dig Site. Older kids can dig for “dinosaur bones” while little ones will love scooping and dumping sand with the pails and shovels they are sure to find in the area.
Dining and Recreation
Where Can Your Kids Meet Mickey?
Character dining is a great way to guarantee your little ones have some one-on-one time with their favorite Disney characters. Be sure to make Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) well in advance.
- Garden Grill (Epcot). Enjoy dinner in this rotating restaurant.
- Donald’s Safari Breakfast (Animal Kingdom). Your kids will sing and dance at Animal Kingdom's only character dining experience.
- Chef Mickey (Contemporary Resort). The Fab Five, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto host this breakfast and dinner buffet.
- 'Ohana (Polynesian Resort). Enjoy an island-inspired breakfast at this family-style meal.
You'll find one-of-a-kind recreation at the Walt Disney World Resort. Consider some of these preschooler-friendly activities which are not included in theme park admission.
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Fairy Godmothers-in-training will treat your little ones to a princess-style makeover.
- Miniature Golf. Walt Disney World offers four miniature golf courses at two different locations: Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland.
- Pirate Adventure Cruises. After kids are welcomed aboard and don pirate costuming, the boat takes off in search of treasure and adventure.
- The Pirates League. The Pirates League is for both boys and girls who want to live the pirate life. Disney’s Pirate Masters will transform landlubbers into true swashbuckling buccaneers.
Did you Know?
- Kids Eat and Play Free. Children under the age of three do not require a theme park admission and eat free at buffets and family-style restaurants.
- Magical Express. Complimentary, round-trip bus transportation from the Orlando International Airport to the Walt Disney World Resort is offered to guests staying on-site. When using the Magical Express, bypass the luggage claim; your bags will be delivered to your hotel room within a few hours.
- Baby Care Centers. Each theme park has a Baby Care Center which is a great resource for young families. Most Baby Care Centers contain a nursing room; restrooms with child-sized toilets; changing tables; an area in which to feed children, complete with high-chairs; children's supplies for purchase; and more.
- Need More Space? Try one of the family suites at Disney's newest resort, Art of Animation, or a cabin at Fort Wilderness. Another option is to rent Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points.
- Playgrounds. Each theme park and all the Walt Disney World resorts have at least one play area for small children.