One long day with toddlers (Our experience and tips)

We just got back at midnight last Sunday from our trip and I wanted to share with you, our success story.
Family: 3.5 y/o, 1.5 y/o and mom and dad mid-30s.

Wednesday: Wake up at 4:15 (MST) 1hr flight, 4.5hr flight.Arrive in Orlando at 4 pm. Arrive at Disney Springs at 5:30 pm to convert paper tickets to RFID cards. Arrive at my brother’s house in Windermere at 7 pm.

Thursday: Lvl 4/10 busy day. We missed rope drop by just a little, but not bad considering we were transitioning from the 2hr difference of MST. So it was basically like waking the kids up at 4:30 AM two mornings in a row. This morning the monorail line was a bit long and in retrospect, we should have taken the boat. This day was 95F with a feels like of 97F. When booking the trip we were hoping for low 80s, so this was unfortunate, but the kiddos adapted well.

9:23 AM Main Gate (We Arrive)
10:00 AM Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride (Rider Swap - older child)
10:15 AM The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Youngest child)
10:18 AM Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride (Rider Swap - older child)
10:42 AM Meet Rapunzel and Tiana (Fast Pass)
11:00 AM The Barnstormer
11:32 AM Meet Ariel at her Grotto (Fast Pass)
11:53 AM Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid
12:20 PM Meet Cinderella and Elena (Fast Pass)
12:35 PM Pinocchio Village Hause (Lunch)
1:46 PM It’s a Small World
2:22 PM Dumbo the Flying Elephant (Fast Pass)
2:24 PM Mad Tea Party (Teacups)
2:40 PM Wait for Parade (20min was enough time to have front row viewing in front of Liberty Tree Travern)
3:00 PM Festival of Fantasy Parade
3:45 PM Dole Whips (Break)
4:22 PM The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
4:40 PM Pirates of the Caribbean (Fast Pass)
5:00 PM Enchanted Tiki Room
5:33 PM Swiss Family Treehouse
5:50 PM Liberty Tree Tavern
7:30 PM Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party
7:55 PM Enchanted Tales with Belle
8:29 PM It’s a Small World
8:40 AM Jungle Cruise (Fast Pass)
9:00 PM Wishes Nighttime Spectacular (Fireworks)
9:05-9:30 Monorail/Trolley to Car
10:09 PM Back at Lodging

Friday: Arrived at Blizzard Beach at 11am. The whole family loved it so much that we regretted not getting there at the 10 am open and we stayed till close. Our fearless 3.5-year-old girl couldn’t get enough of Toboggan Racers and Snow Stormers. Our 1.5-year-old girl would clap and say “again” after each time we rode Teamboat Springs. Bringing in a stroller was crucial for the 1.5-year-old to catch an afternoon nap.

Thanks everyone for your tips in the forum before our trip.


Thanks @granitepeaker. Looks like you got a lot done in one at the MK. Did your children nap at all on you MK day?

Our 3.5-year-old started phasing out her nap a few months ago and didn’t need one. She got a little exhausted the half hour before lunch, but after being able to eat lunch in air conditioning she was fully recharged for the rest of the day. We only brought one stroller for our youngest so I did occasionally carry the 3.5-year-old between attractions, but never in line. Our youngest fell asleep in the stroller as we waited in line for the parade and napped close to two hours and then was good for the rest of the day.

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I love you post. Thank you for the detailed day. We are going this summer late July/Aug and have a 4 y/o and 12 y/o. I am clueless as to how to plan the day. Did you do a touringplan, and if would you be willing to share it? Also, did each member of your family have to get a fast pass for meeting the characters? Not sure how that works, I assume you all have to get a fast pass for rides like dumbo the flying elephant etc. Hoping you could explain it all to me.

My experience with toddlers

9:00 - 9:15 - Stare at the duckies
9:16 - 9:30 - look at the water
9:30 - 9:45 - play chicken with characters - I want to see them, but they scare me, but I want to see them, but its Pooh and I love Pooh, but he’s big, but this is my chance, I’ll go if you go, but I want the picture just with him. Wait he is shaking my hand - I love you Pooh - you rock you rock
9:45 - 11:45 - Ride Pooh over and over and over again
12:00 - Give no warning that I instantly got hungry and I am going to FREAK out just to show mom and dad who is really in charge
12:15 - !2:40 - refuse to eat the things that I live on at home now that my parents have paid $45 for my lunch
12:40 - 1:00 - look for duckies again
1:00 - 1:30 - See its a small world and then think about how bizarre that ride was
1:30 - I think a diaper blowout would be appropriate about now
1:30 - 1:45 - Radioactive diaper clean up
1:45 - 2:00 - See dad complain about ROI on our tickets and that fact that we haven’t gotten over to space mountain again. I think a inconsolable fit will put him in his place
2:00 - 2:10 - Inconsolable fit
2:10 - 2:30 - Back to resort so dad can find the bar
2:30 - 4:00 - Unconsciousness. Dad seems happier though
4:00 - 4:30 - back to the park

Just kidding. and i have to say we were very fortunate that our kids were really great and fun to take to WDW. The key we found was flexibility and tolerance. Keep them feed, well refreshed and let them enjoy what they want to enjoy. We are there to have fun WITH THEM - not to ride as many rides as we can. I remember one time my daughter and I got up early (mom and brother slept in). She was in a princess dress and we rode Winnie the Pooh 6 times in a row. I was done at 2 - but SHE wanted to ride it and I just wanted to have fun with her. So we rode Pooh 6 times. I don’t remember what else happened that trip - but I do remember having some solid daddy daughter time. And that is what the trips are all about


Your timeline made me crack up a little. We can agree that it’s about the kids and what they want to do even if that means we don’t get to ride space mountain, splash mountain, big thunder railroad, or haunted mansion … not even once. Everyone’s kids are going to react differently to environments they are not used to. We were blessed to get a great ROI on how many rides my kids wanted to do and were able to squeeze in. They weren’t pushed to keep going or do any rides they didn’t want to do. They saw all the youtube videos for all the rides and knew which ones they wanted to go on prior to arrival. Our 3.5-year-old went through the terrible twos and rarely throughs fits anymore, let alone inconsolable fits. Thankfully the year of fits for our oldest is behind us (hopefully). I agree on keeping them well fed and hydrated while at the park. We all had personal electronic fans to keep us cool as well.

We did use touringplan to create a customizable touring plan that included our 3 chosen fast passes and meal times. The printed off plan I had was for a 9am start and we arrived about 30min later than planned. So if you don’t arrive at your start time you need to use the app at the park and adjust or print off multiple customized itins in about 15min intervals for the time that you will actually get to the park. Some things are hard to predict like how long it takes to get from the parking lot to the main gain. I found it to be too stressful to keep messing with the touringplan app all the while holding or entertaining the children. So basically I went off my base knowledge of which rides we needed to knock off before noon to avoid afternoon crowds. So there was an element of winging it and using the official disney app to check wait times. Yes, all the family members will need a fastpass for meeting the princesses or dumbo. There are other characters that make appearances in the park that you can’t get a FastPass for. The lines were generally long so we didn’t bother. Make sure to book your 3 FastPass plus choices 30 or 60 days out and right on time, I think it’s like 7am EST. Since you can’t get a 4th fastpass until your first 3 our used, try to pick all 3 in the morning or no later then say 1pm. For rides with rider swap there is a trick on getting fastpasses that we did no use. Since you have a 12 y/o you might want to look into it. A scenario would be to get 2 fast pass tickets for space mountain for adult and 12/yo for 9am and also get 2 fast pass tickets for the Barnstormer for 9am. With rider swap you get tickets to return to the fast pass lane later, any time of the day. I’m doing a poor job of explaining it, but there are videos on youtube that explain it better. Unless you’re staying at a Disney resort, … it’s hard to get a FP for 7 dwarfs mine ride. Since I couldn’t get our FP+ choices until 30 days out the first time to choose was 5:30pm. That would mean that we couldn’t get our 4th FP until that time too, so I decided we would just wait out the line as soon as we got to the park and choose earlier FP+ choices. Try tinkering with the customize plans to see which have the longest lines to get an idea of which attractions to get FP+ tickets for. Best, Jason

We have a four year old and a two year old. We use the touring plan to plot out what land we’d like to be in during a general time. I have laid out certain ride orders that might be most efficient, but I’m not married to them.

Then, when the plan hits the fan due to an unexpected potty break / dole whip, I use rides like IASW and People Mover to check up on line times for the area I am in.

*I know I’m a funsucker for not sitting back and enjoying People Mover or Small World.

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My wife is EXCELLENT at ensuring the kids have a good time. Every time we go to WDW she sits me down and says “we are going to make this enjoyable - not a death march to ride every ride”. We also do a plan but we keep it loose. If someone is hungry at 11 instead of 12 we get lunch. If someone really wants to ride space mountain twice we do that.

We were so lucky that our kids were so pliable to what was going on. They were so much fun to take. But my wife was also good at knowing exactly what the melt down signs were (even for me). It has really made them easy travelers.

We have learned that the most fun we have (for any vacation) is the non planned “meandering”. When in Italy we had a daily “lets find the coolest Gelato stand” and for London my son wants to just “chill and have tea” every afternoon (He is already a tea fanatic - so London in nirvana for him). The spontaneous things have always been the most fun for us.

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Hi! Thanks for sharing your day, @granitepeaker! And @Tigger613, I cracked up at yours too! I am the primary planner for an extended family trip in late Nov-early Dec that will include 5 children, aged 6, 6, 4.5, 4 and 20 months, so this was great for me to read how things went with younger children. The 5 adults in my trip have all been to Disney before but it is the first trip for all the kids. I’m optimistic on how they will handle the long days based on prior amusement park trips with my 2 kiddos, but it will be very new to do a park multiple days in a row, so we’ll see how that goes.

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You’re welcome and good luck. At least you have the advantage of multiple days at the park. We were limited to just one day so our busier itinerary worked well for us. There are two types of people, those that like to have it all planned out (for these people the pre-planning is half the fun of the trip) and those that prefer to wing it, … both people seem to very much stick to their method and prefer it and won’t sway. So you’ll have to decide what camp you’re in or try to take common ground nuggets of truth like keeping the kids well fed and nourished. Best wishes for your planning. - Jason

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I agree with @granitepeaker and we all know that one group is right and the people that don’t plan are wrong - HA

I know when we have gone with larger groups we do NOT travel in a group. Hey we have dinner reservations at X - see you then. And then everyone went the way they wanted to go and we met up at dinner. Everyone was happy and if groups wanted to hang out together - they did and if they didn’t - no hard feelings.

So cool that all the kids are the same age. I wouldn’t worry about going to the same park for a few days - fun is fun so not an issue. Just keep in mind small ones walk slow, get distracted, need to go potty a lot and you really need to take your queue from them as far as when to take breaks etc. I would image there could be a chain reaction meltdown if not properly monitored.

Oh one last thing - my WIFE (she’s so good) ALWAYS would make sure everyone was included in something. So if she had snacks - she had enough snacks for everyone. If she had those break and shake light up necklaces - she had enough for everyone. She quickly became known as the COOL mom. So that may make everyone’s time just a bit easier - nothing expensive just special for everyone. Also if 3 want to see character A and the others don’t just split off and met up again. No need to have everyone in a huddle especially if they all don’t want to wait.