Spontaneous Trip Advice

So DW and I were frequent WDW visitors before kids, and took our kids (DS-7 and DS-10mos at the time) in April for their first trip. Had an amazing time, but didn’t think we’d be back for a couple of years. But that trip gave us the bug, and we were trying to figure out a way to get back and make it work. Earlier this week we got one of the Disney discount mailers, and decided to go for it. So we are going in late February for 5 nights!

I do think we may be a bit crazy to be going with a (then) 20 month old. Anyone travel with a child that age and have words of encouragement? We handled 10 mos just fine, but now that he’s moving and has a mind of his own, we are a little apprehensive. Any tips or advice would be appreciated.

So looking forward to this trip !

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We are taking our (then) 18 month grandson in December so I am wondering the same thing!

I haven’t gone to WDW with a 20 month old, but do remember the time that we took our DD when she was about to turn 3. One of the mistakes we made was not letting her run around more. We kept her in her stroller most of the time, and then when we went to restaurants, kept her in a high-chair. After a few days of that, she had had enough. The times we let her walk in AK on the trails and the time she played in the AK playground were great for her. Don’t do what we did. Let her run around and play as much as possible. No one wants to sit all the time.


Any recommendations at each park that has playgrounds or a place for them to do this? I know Boneyard at AK - is 20 months too young/small for this?

Oh my, I’m not sure about other play areas. That was in 2004, and she is about to turn 17 now. The Boneyard was the only one we tried, that and walking on the trails in AK. We didn’t go again until 2017.

In my experience, the Boneyard is perfect for toddlers. You may have to watch her closely so that she doesn’t put the “sand” in her mouth, but I’m sure you would do that anyway at that age.

I have taken two trips with 18-20 month olds. Those two are now 7 and 9, so we survived. It is a challenging age but I don’t remember it being a stressful trip. It is easier to stop and smell the roses with that age—sometimes they like the ducks in the pond more than the rides.
I echo what others have said about letting them out of a stroller. We let the littles run/walk everywhere unless we were heading from one land to another or a long distance. My youngest was a runner (he could walk well at 8 months!!!) so we used one of those backpack leash things. A lot of people don’t like them but it gave him much more freedom than being confined to a stroller or being carried. A baby carrier or backpack is great especially for the parade, fireworks, etc. Characters were hit or miss at that age but my kids are a bit shy/nervous. I highly recommend the Boneyard, the animal trails, Tom Sawyers Island, the water play area in MK, and the nooks and crannies in World Showcase back in the country pavilions as they are fun to explore. I’m pretty sure the highlight of DD’s trip at that age was the light up sidewalks in Epcot at night. :slight_smile:

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Best advice I can give is not to do more than 2 consecutive park days with a kiddo that little. On our trip in 2015, my then-18 mo. old had a Meltdown of Epic Proportions on day 3 in the parks. He cried and cried until he passed out on my back in the Ergo carrier. He survived, but it scarred me for life! I still remember exactly where I walked through the parks as I was trying to soothe him and at the same time trying to reach DH who was with DD3 as my phone battery died and I asked a CM at CHH to let me use her phone to text SOS to my DH. Later, when we reunited, DH asked, “What’s a sos?”. I can laugh about it now. :slight_smile:

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About 4 years ago, we took my daughter at 22 or 23 months. It was great because she was still free (flights and park tickets), but could still enjoy a lot of things about the parks. I agree with everyone that letting them run is important - we probably spent 3 hours at the Boneyard. The diversions in Epcot were also great… I think there’s some color thing now that they’d probably enjoy.

If you can swing it (and Feb should be a good time to do it), I’d wholly recommend a backpack style carrier. I used a fabric one and it was FANTASTIC. We didn’t bring a stroller at all, after the first day, because DD was so happy to be UP and able to see things besides everyone’s legs. No fighting to fold it on the busses, no strollers on the escalators. We could really move much quicker without having to deal with that thing. She’ll be 6 for our next trip and I almost wish I could still carry her that way. (Of course, she’s 50 lbs, so THAT’s not going to happen). I realize those carriers aren’t for everyone (my son would NEVER have dealt with it), but if you ever use one at home, or think your guy would live with it, there, use one!

Finally… and you probably already know this… take midday breaks. Even with a short trip, find somewhere for the kids to nap and get away from all the stimulation. I think DD had tired/crying moments every day we were there from overstimulation. Nothing as traumatizing as @staceyrose55, but the bird show at AK will probably never let us in again.


I would practice as much as you can before then. Go to the zoo, the aquarium, kids museums, restaurants, anything where you can practice walking, waiting, taking turns, etc. And talk about how it’s practice for Disney!

We have gone with DS’s aged 13 months (early walker, so he was moving!), 29 months, and 35 months. (Not all at the same time, we have 3 sons!) 13 months was the biggest challenge bc he wanted to walk and did not understand waiting in line. My 29 mo knew how lines worked. Not sure how a 20 mo will do, but practice will help!

Also, the 13 mo was a challenge bc at that point we also had a DS7 and DD9 who had a very different agenda. That will be an issue for you as well, but you’ve already experienced that, plus the zoo etc experiences will help with that as well.

Have a great trip!

There is also a small play area under the train station bridge near Splash Mountain. It’s nice and shady on a hot day.

Around that age Epcot was actually my boys favorite park. The jumping water fountains outside the land pavilion and the water spouts on the main walk back. The play area with the light up floor at the end of figment ride, and the area at the end of test track. Also, we found hand drums on the walk around the World showcase. Of course the tanks in the living seas. It was mostly about finding all the fun things beyond just the typical rides, although there were a number of rides they enjoyed too. I liked it too because it made us slow down a bit and appreciate those things. In MK they loved the people mover, the splash pad, the play area inside of Dumbo, the play area underneath Splash mountain, also just running around out on Sawyer Island. AK looking at the animals was a favorite, and the boneyard of course. IF they reopen the conservation station that was way less crowded and a great place to run and explore at that age. HS might be tricky now with their play area closed. The good news there is outside of the headliners, which he wont be able to do anyways, most of the shows don’t really have long lines or waits. I always brought some toys, activities, and SNACKS for the lines and generally we tried to have as short of waits as possible. If it was over 30 minutes it was not going to be for us and we would just move on. As long as you can be flexible it will be fun. You may only get to half the things on your list for the day, if you fall behind schedule don’t stress just roll with it. We also looked for less crowded areas to just let them explore and chill. The meet and greets at that age were some of our favorites ever. There is something special when they actually recognize a character and get excited, 10 months was probably too young for that but at 20 months I bet he will. The stroller was a life saver for us as both my boys would climb in and catch a nap when needed; but that will really depend heavily on your child. We also enjoyed the break of having some character meals because food was key to keeping crankiness at bay, characters are always a hit, and air conditioning with less simulation helped to get them ready to take a nap in the stroller with full bellies afterwards. That gave us adults a much needed break too, without having to leave the parks. Have fun!

How fun!! We went in January of this year with my then 20 month old and she did simply fantastic. Grabbed us a double stroller and were super lenient on our paci limits (i.e., she basically had it whenever she asked.). She also lived on her brother and sister’s leftover mac and cheese and the bread offerings basically the whole time. We requested a pack and play for her at our hotel and that worked out fine. We set it up in the bathroom and brought her white noise machine. She slept well the whole time. She took a nap in the stroller everyday. She was napping when our other kids were playing at The Boneyard but that may have made me nervous. There’s only one way in or out but we lost our 3 year old at one point in the play structure and it made me uneasy not being able to see her. She loved the playground near Splash and LOVED all the bubbles everywhere. On our MK day, we were exhausted and just let the kids get a bubble blower and run around on the green space in front of the castle. That 30 minutes is my favorite memory of our trip. Her running around yelling “bubble!!” So much joy.

This is all awesome stuff everyone. Thanks for the great advice! We are really looking forward to it. Haven’t told the boys yet, we are going to surprise them on Christmas morning. Can’t wait!

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Adding one more piece of advice as we traveled with my daughter around the same age (she was 22 months at the time of our December 2016 trip).

We chose to rent both a stroller and a full size crib from Kingdom Strollers. Because of the full size crib my daughter slept well for the entire trip. She did naps in the stroller regularly, but slept like the dead most nights in that trip. We’d had less than great success with her sleeping in a pack and play, so for us it was well worth the expense. Plus, because we rented, it was super easy.

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