Entertaining Two Toddlers in MK and HS

Dear Touring Plans (TP) Gods & Goddesses

I hope you are all doing well. I wonder if you might share some of your collective wisdom with me, a newbie.

Situation: My Dear Wife (DW) and I are bringing our 4 adult children plus spouses and the 4 grandchildren to WDW on 4/18 – 4/20. We are 9 adults + 4 kids under age 7. We live all over the country and don’t get to see each other much. We actually like each other. None of us has been to Florida before. DW and I took our children to DLR when they were young and enjoyed our three trips spread out over 10 years. Last trip to DLR was 11 years ago. From our past trips, we acknowledge that Disney Magic is real, but we don’t need to sip frequently from that cup.

In planning this WDW trip for April, I have become nervous about the trip. I have read lots of blogs and watched lots of YouTube videos, and all the negative comments make me regret that we picked Orlando at this time for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. I had even lain awake a few nights until I decided to knock. it. off. My only happy place in all the current Disney backlash is Touring Plans because I love data, love analysis, love efficiency, and love zigging when everyone else is zagging.

As the designated Project Manager of the trip, I asked my children to tell me the rides they want to do each day so I could make preliminary touring plans for discussion. They picked 4/18 and 4/19 in MK with TP Crowd Level 6 (it’s the grandkids’ first Disney experience) and 4/20 in HS with TP Crowd Level 5. I have read much online advice to never do WDW in a big group if you intend to remain on speaking terms, so I asked my children if they want to stay together inside the parks. At this moment, they want our group of 13 to stay together.

I was surprised that my adult children picked a lot of “intense” rides (anything with a height requirement) on their wish lists. I asked them what the plan is for the grandchildren when adults are on these rides. They want to just do Rider Switch so no adult is left out. I pointed out that Rider Switch could significantly slow us down and prevent getting through each day’s TP.

Question 1: I understand how Rider Switch works in principle, but does the second rider simply use the Lightning Lane, so there is still potential for the swapper to wait 15 to 30 minutes if LL is busy? Or does the swapper magically go to the front of all lines?

My DW and I had a discussion where we agreed we don’t care about riding the intense rides. We just want everyone to have a fun trip. We are happy to tend the grandkids in the parks when an intense ride is next on the agenda. We can pass on the Rider Switch if it slows down the group.

Supporting Cast Members: the four grandkids are DGS6, DGS4, DGD1, and DGS1.

I have read that taking toddlers to WDW is a terrible idea that will require therapy afterward. Oh well, we are already committed. I think I’m pretty tough, and a fun grandpa, so I proposed to DW that she could do a fun ride with DGS6 and DGS4 when their parents do intense rides. For example, the parents do Space Mountain while DW takes the 2 grandboys to nearby Buzz Lightyear. Finding an alternate activity for ages 6 and 4 seems easy enough. But in this scenario, I have 2 one-year-olds to entertain in MK while the others are on rides. This is where I need the most guidance from y’all; I have done my research, yet I’m “experience poor” because I have never been to WDW.

Magic Kingdom questions

Question 2: What do you recommend I do with DGD1 and DGS1 when the adults are on the following MK intense rides? (Ideally, my alternate rides / activities would be in the same land as the intense rides, or at least not require a cross-park trek.)
Big TM Railroad
Seven Dwarfs MT
Space Mountain

Question 3: Do you have any glaring concerns taking toddlers on the following MK rides? Their parents would be on these rides with us, not just me. We experienced their DLR equivalents 11 years ago.
Astro Orbiter
Haunted Mansion
Jungle Cruise
Mad Tea Party
Magic Carpets
Peter Pan
Pirates of Caribbean

Question 4: Is MK perpetually noisy with loud music, etc.? If yes, where do you go in MK for less noise?

Question 5: At some point during the day, both toddlers will need a nap. We are staying in park from 9 AM to 5 PM (or until we give up) because our lodging is offsite. Where is best place in MK for a toddler to nap in stroller? I’m prepared to take one for the team by visiting Hall of Presidents.

Hollywood Studios questions

Question 6: What do you recommend I do with 2 toddlers when the adults attempt the following HS intense rides? HS seems like a tough park for toddlers. (Ideally, my alternate activities would be in the same land as the intense rides, or at least not require a cross-park trek.)
MF SmugRun
Slinky Dog Dash
Tower of Terror
Rock n Roller Coaster

Question 7: Do you have any glaring concerns taking toddlers on the following HS rides / shows? Their parents would be on these rides with us, not just me.
Frozen Singalong
Lightning McQueen
MM Runaway R
Toy Story Mania

Question 8: Is HS perpetually noisy with loud music, etc.? If yes, where do you go in HS for less noise?

Question 9: At some point during the day, both toddlers will need a nap. We are staying in park from 9 AM to 5 PM (or until we give up) because our lodging is offsite. Where is best place in HS for a toddler to nap in stroller?

Question 10: I’ve read that HS park lacks shade. I don’t want my grandbabies to get fried. Any advice on managing the sun in HS?

I have already committed that I won’t push my family to get through the TPs each day. I will be mellow and flexible for whatever the babies and crowds throw at us. We also have non-Disney days in our Orlando trip to lower the pressure on everyone.

Many thanks for sharing your wisdom! :smiley:

First I would like to say…dont feel discouraged about bringing toddlers to disney!
This is where Disney shines in my opinion. The last toddler I brought was DS and he just turned 2 at the time. In MK he rode almost every ride that his height allowed and enjoyed them all. To this day, he is 7 now, and his favorite ride is still people mover. We bought him a disney tractor trailer and some cars and he was content playing with his new toys on a wall somewhere while the big kids rode the big kid rides. He didnt really need a ride to be entertained.

What I love about disney is there was always something not too far for a toddler to do. Something to see or entertain them. And snacks! Lots of snacks and treats. Also, I may be the minority here but when a toddler has had enough…bubble wands and light up toys will amuse them for hours.

Yes the second person will just go in the lighning lane.

My toddler did not ride haunted mansion or Pirates. A little dark and scary

The loudness of the park was never an issue for us and my toddler loved the shows.

My toddler had no issue napping in the stroller but is its hot have some stroller fans…they can super sweaty.

Yes…alll are good…but cant really speak to MMRR cause DS was 6 when he first rode.

Last bit of advice…if you are willing to remove the toddlers from the situation when the start looking like the had enough that is key. Take a walk, see a show, a parade or a cavalcade, get a snack or whatever then you will be fine. Its when you try to force the littles to tough it out for the sake of the group is when you will run into problems.

We went that year with 10 people, stayed together almost the whole time even though we didnt think that would happen. The kids were often better when they were all together amd we would swap kods as needed to group ages together so they had a buddy. We had a blast…and the toddler remembers! To this day. Have a plan but be flexible. Have all the fun! You are a great grandad :blush:


I’ll try to answer a few of your questions:

The way I’ve understood is that the secondary riders get to enter through LL. So yes, you will encounter some waiting.

Astro Orbiter goes pretty high and is like a fast carousel, depends very much on the child and how sensitive they are.

HM is dark and there are “scary” sounds and music. I’d skip with the small ones. Pirates could be scary for them, some loud noises and it’s in the dark.

Tea Party - if you don’t spin the cup I think it would be ok.

Jungle Cruise, Magic Carpets, Peter Pan are all fine for any age imo.

I would add People Mover to the list!

In the outside areas, not terribly noisy. There is music but it’s not over the top loud outside rides. My kids are pretty sensitive to noise and they have issues on some rides, but not in the general areas. During parades and shows it does get more loud though.

First idea would be in Tomorrow Land behind the Carousel of Progress, near the restroom building - quite a bit of space there and no through-traffic.

Also, the Storybook Circus area has plenty of space, especially if the train is not running and there is no through traffic.

I never really found any of the parks especially noisy, but my three year old also slept through fireworks on multiple occasions.

Agreed that I have concerns about taking the kids on Haunted Mansion specifically, actually less the toddlers than the 4 and maybe 6 year old, depending on their temperaments - it was too scary for my kids at that age. If they’re pretty brave you can skip the Stretching Room if you ask when you go in, that’s the scariest part.

Taking toddlers is amazing! Everything blows their little minds and they’re happy with bubbles or just toddling around. Note that the Dumbo ride has a good play area in the line, might be a good alternative when the big kids are on Mine Train. Or the carousel? Tom Sawyer Island might be a good place for a nap or, depending on how long you have and how quiet you want it (if they’re picky nappers) you could walk over to the Contemporary.

Re: shade, won’t their stroller have sun shades? They’ll probably be the best off! But HS isn’t too bad. Batuu especially is pretty shady.

Also I think it’s so sweet how worried you are. You’ll have fun. Especially, it sounds, with your expectations of just wanting your family to be happy and getting to spend time with them.


Hi, you sound like the most awesome Grandpa ever! In terms of the MK list I would remove Astro Orbiter and replace it with Dumbo or Magic Carpets and also think about People Mover. Astro Orbiter is one slow loader plus the ride is faster than Dumbo. Someone else mentioned this too but Haunted Mansion and Pirates might be a little scary for toddlers. My 7 year old is still a bit weary about Haunted Mansion.


This! The dumbo play area is awesome! Air conditiomed and enclosed! Even the bigger kids enjoyed this

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Also, the laughing place play area next to splash is a great little spot for tots to run around while the big kids are on splash or big thunder.


I’ll second what most have said above. When we started going, my kiddos were 18 months and 4 1/2. We rode the people mover multiple times…they loved riding and looking down and seeing what was going on below. And there’s a nice breeze! Also the Dumbo indoor play area is fantastic! It’s nice and cool, lots to do and see and there’s bleacher type seating for caregivers. I also wanted to mention the Baby Care centers in each park. It’s exactly that- you can go in and there’s multiple diaper changing areas, it’s air conditioned and (if I remember correctly) there are little tables near a TV playing Disney cartoons. They also have baby specific things if you’ve forgotten anything or run out- wipes, diapers, etc. Above all, enjoy the time with your family! It sounds like you are one amazing Grandpa! My favorite memories of WDW is seeing the smiles on my kids faces, their giggles and seeing their eyes light up. Have a great trip!

Some thoughts:

1 yos may just want/need to toddle around a bit - so find a bench out of the main thoroughfares and just let them. My son was 14 months when we first brought him and he would play with the mulch in the flower beds while his big sister rode something he didn’t want to.

+1 for people mover in Tomorrowland for all parties.

One space that I’d recommend (not necessarily for naps but more just for a respite) is the second floor of Columbia Harbor House. It’s air conditioned, less crowded, and you have space for kiddos to sprawl and recharge while eating a decent lunch (get the lobster roll). Note that you can’t bring strollers in, though.

In Hollywood Studios, go to Pixar Place - at the end of the street there, there are usually far fewer crowds. Also, while grownups ride intense rides in Batuu, there are usually stormtroopers or Chewbacca milling about so it’s a fun place for kiddos to just “be” if that makes sense.

Most of all, just pay attention to what the littles need and don’t let it make you feel like you’re missing out. Just being there in the magic is enough.

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If the RR is back running, this would be great. Or a snack of their choice.

Fine for 6 yr old, 4 yr may be a bit scared, olay by ear…

Been researching this. Frontier land is less loud if that makes sense. Also have Tom Sawyer Island. There is a spot next to PoC (left), spot behind Christmas store, top end by restrooms near Mermaid, left of Space has a little court yard, theres also a little side street by the jewelers on main street and by the courtyard/ fire station by mainstreet entrance.
P.S. Hall of Presidents is great like CoP but see above for naps too.

I would do some attractions near grand street and echo lake while biggies are in GE. In TSL, take them shopping for a toy and snack, RRC, visit Lightening Mc Queen and get ice cream at Hollywood Scoops

By Fantasmic is quiet

Hats and childrens zinc sunscreen. Dont use a spray. Hydrate! Children can get overheated easily bc they do not know the signs
Add a 20 min break every hour and a half to your TP and you should be fine

Don’t be too anxious about it. Disney World is great for families and you will have a good time. You are preparing, planning, and anticipating what to do, and that’s the best thing you can do, but when the time comes, just have fun and go with the flow.

I’ve done trips with nephews and nieces, but more recently 3 with my own children.

  1. When DD was 12 months
  2. When DD was 18 months, with extended family and lots of kids.
  3. When DD was 3 years, DS was 12 months.

Before touching on some of your questions, my personal experience was that 12 months old was much easier than 18 months old. At 18 months, my DD just wanted to run around and was much harder in lines. However, every child is different.

Rider Switch is a great way to go, yes, it may take some time for the 2nd group to go, even if there is no line, it still will take 5 minutes to walk to the front and 5 minutes to ride. Instead of trying to do another ride while part of your group rides, you may find that time to grab a snack, go to the bathroom, look around a store, and by that time the groups would be ready to switch.

We have never had any issue with our kids going on any ride that they were able to. Every parent and child can do what they feel comfortable with, so totally fair any option you go with, but we would have our kids go on anything they are tall enough for. The only ride one of my kids was scared of was my DD when she didn’t want to go on Barnstormer, however, after we did it, she wanted to do it again. I think as parents you can get a sense of when to push them over the fears or when pushing them will do more harm than good.

MK is pretty noisy, but there are definitely spots throughout the park that are in the shade and away from crowds that will be quieter. Again, every parent and child has different comfort levels, but with our kids we never tried to plan out naps. We let them go crazy until they crashed in the stoller and then we adjusted our plans based on that. At that point, we would either find a nice shaded spot or go for a walk, whichever helped them stay asleep. Often this was a time we would do adult rides that the kids couldn’t go on anyways and switch off someone walking with the stroller. A few specific options we have used are outside the bathrooms by Space Mountain and outside the bathrooms behind Splash Mountain.

As I mentioned before, as 12 month olds, our kids were much easier going with the flow, but at 18 months, they required time to run around. Find some spots away from crowds where the kids can’t get into too much trouble and let them go free.

Also, we typically go in May when its 100 degrees, so a must have is a shade over the stroller and rechargeable fans to clip onto the stroller. This helped keep the kids from overheating in the sun.

Hollywood studios follows a lot of the same advice. MK is the best for little kids as most of its rides are any height, while HS has less options for 1 year olds. If the kids need to cool off, I’d still advice to walk around some stores, find an indoor restaurant, or there are plenty of shows to go sit down and relax. Outside Lightning McQueen was one spot our kids napped in the stroller.

@vblank Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Much appreciated!

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@erinkippen Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Much appreciated!

@Mike_vndt Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Much appreciated!

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@MidwestMel Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Much appreciated!

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@dboothsummers Thank you!

@SewSharp Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Much appreciated!

@eeeevah Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Much appreciated!

@drvillarejos Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Much appreciated!

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@EricLR Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Much appreciated!