Surviving WDW (alone) with 3 Kids

Am I crazy to consider bringing my DS2 and two nieces (9 and 5) to Disney World basically by myself? My parents, brother, his GF, and their daughter (1) will be down at the same time, but I would be driving down myself (NJ-FL) because their trip is shifted by one day later than ours. Plus, I’m not in agreement with their plan, and our trip might overlap way less than I originally planned. My nieces are also not always the most well behaved, but they might do better without their parents there. I have never made it to RD, but really wanted to a couple days this trip. But can I really handle RD with 3 kids? Going back to the resort at the end of the day with 3 tired cranky kids?

Are there any crazy people out there who have done WDW (or another similar vacation) with three kids under 10 without another adult? Is 3 really much different than 2? Any advice would be appreciated if you have it!

I’m a little perplexed with the situation. Are you only going for a single day? Is there a reason you can’t go the same day they are? While you might have fun watching your nieces, you probably won’t be able to do a whole lot with the two-year-old (some, yes, but not a lot).

What do you mean you aren’t in agreement with their plan? Can you MAKE your plans agree? I imagine it will be quite challenging (but possible) to try to go it alone.

I arrive a day before them and leave a day earlier because of the dates of free dining. They can’t go earlier because of work conflicts (they are not staying in rooms eligible for free dining so don’t need the earlier date). So I arrive on a Sat and leave on Fri. They are going Sun to Sat. So the driving will be 100% just me and the kids.

As for disagreeing with plans. They are typically non-planners and absolutely do not want anything planned (aside from booking ADRs and FPPs, but those aren’t strategic either). They also go to the same ADRs every time and I’d like to try a few different places. I think when I tried to put together a tentative plan based on the ADRs I have and the parks I’d prefer to go to based on the crowd calendar, maybe half the trip would have us at the same parks on the same days.

My younger niece (5) can take or leave the big rides. My older niece (9) does like them. I figured while my son is napping, they can do some of the rides he can’t do (though I don’t know the logistics of this… Can I stand in line with them and not go on?) And for some of the rides, we would plan them for days when we can meet up with my parents.

Also, it wasn’t intended to just be me and the kids. Originally my sister was going with me. She has decided not to go now, so I am stuck with the decision about whether to take neither of her daughters, just one, or both.

She has to ride with someone 14 years or older. That will make things even more challenging.

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Okay, that’s good to know, thanks. I thought she could go on anything as long as she met the height requirement.

So, really, you’re talking about only a single day. The rest of the time you could hook up with the rest of the group.

I mean, in all frankness, in your situation, I would forego the planning and different dining experiences to keep the peace and enjoy the time together with family. If you go it alone, it will be a huge burden and inhibit your ability to fully enjoy things.

Now, I can’t obviously know the family dynamics, so perhaps it isn’t that simple. But I’m reminded of a trip I took to Cedar Point with 3 other friends back in high school. I was the Cedar Point expert. Two of them just weren’t into rides, two of us were. We spent the entire time there miserable because we argued about what to do next. In hindsight, I would have had a much better time if I had just sucked it up and realized that this was an opportunity to experience Cedar Point in a way I hadn’t before. Instead, I kept pushing to get my way (a habit I still tend to do!) and as a result, didn’t enjoy much of anything.

So, I’m just saying I’d find ways to connect up with the others AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, even at the expense of other things you might do. IMO.


I think that this would be extremely challenging - I know that I couldn’t do it, especially with the age gaps between the kids.
I wouldn’t count on being able to get 3 kids ready and out the door for RD.
What time of year are you planning to go? I can’t imagine with kids that age you would be able to go all day without taking a break.

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I couldn’t handle the drive alone–not that far with three kids.
I’ve taken my own 3 kids alone many times, but they were older than 3 you would be going with. I too think it would be extremely challenging.

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Okay, well on to a new plan… Pressuring my sister into changing her mind back to going!

If anyone has done it and doesn’t think I’d be crazy, I’m still all ears :slight_smile:

I get this. At the same time, I feel like the last few trips, I have given in and done things their way (because the opposite will NOT happen) to hold onto family time, and we ride the same rides, see the same shows, and eat at the same places EVERY trip. I’d like to see and do something new this trip, enough so that I’d likely choose going with just my son, and unfortunately my nieces would just not be able to go this trip, over feeling obliged to stick with my parent’s “plan.” I’m okay with meeting up for part of it, but I have different goals for this trip than them, and I’ve been putting off those goals each trip. We would also be staying at different resorts, again because they stay at the same resort every trip and I wanted to stay somewhere different.

Again, this was all originally planned with the assumption my sister was going, so things like leaving a day earlier or staying at a different resort weren’t that big a deal.

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This has basically been my experience. Good advice, should I choose to bring the three and go along with my parents’ plans instead of what I envision.

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You could do it, but would it be fun for you or them? The bigger rides would be a no go unless the oldest wanted to wait in line alone, which seems a little iffy to me for a 9-year-old (I have one myself). But all the rides the youngest could go on would be good for all of you as long as in the same car, as the 5 yo can’t ride in a car with the 9 year old alone. A few years ago, we even had issues on Tomorrowland Speedway and Buzz with kids of similar ages–10 yo had to ride alone and I rode with younger 2. Had my older 3 alone at MK one day while DH had baby at resort.
If there is no possibility of family compromise, could you leave the kids with the rest of the family on one or two days so you could do what you wanted and then enjoy the old standbys for the other days?


I live in NJ and drive to and from FL, but no way would I drive it alone with 3 kids. I am worried for you to drive this. It’s a very long trip and problems happen with little ones all the time. One person needs to drive and one needs to babysit.


I am picturing things like bathroom breaks. You would have to take all three children into the restroom every time anyone needed one. That goes for the travel and the parks and the restaurants etc. You have to keep an eye on all three at all times! This would never be my idea of fun.
The difference between taking two children and taking three is that you only have two hands!

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Sounds like the last few trips have been family compromise, and this was supposed to be the opportunity to go experience things in a way that better suited the OP, because, they’ve always given in to family compromise. Which is not a good way to maintain family relations. If it’s possible to pass some of the kids off on some of the days so you can tour your way, that might be the best bet. Not knowing the rest of your family, I have no idea how they would feel about that, but… if you’re always the one compromising, that’s a recipe for long term resentment to build.

I don’t know that there’s a perfect answer. I strongly suspect that giving in to your family’s style isn’t it, but maybe that’s just me.

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I’m not sure of the family dynamics as others have said, but it sounds like all of the kids will have their grandparents there. What an opportunity for grandparents to get to enjoy seeing Disney through the eyes of their grandkids and giving you some time to explore on your own. You may choose to take your oldest niece to go on bigger rides. Sounds like she is at the perfect age to do what you are looking to do in the parks. Any one on one time for kids with a family member is so precious. So maybe take advantage of all the different kid swapping scenarios and everyone wins?

As far as the drive, I would only consider it if DN9 was up for the challenge of being a helper. Maybe she could even be “hired” (Disney gift card) to be in charge of snacks, entertaining, being a hand holder on bathroom breaks. When given clear, defined responsibilities I often find that kids rise to the challenge.

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This maybe true but then next time don’t plan a trip with the rest of the family and go to WDW with the purpose to do all that you want your way. But this trip is already planned as a joint family trip. To not give any concessions would likely lead to a lot of conflict. I wonder if a better approach is telling parents/sister how she has been feeling (using “I “ statements like “I have been feeling frustrated with…” and not a bunch of “you do this…and it makes me mad”. Then maybe things she would like to accomplish this trip may result in the family trying to support her to help her reach those goals.
Actually, have everyone have a chance to talk constructively about what they would like out of the trip and see if everyone can work together to make it happen.

The OP indicated that the trip was planned to have two groups with several touch points, that has now become basically unworkable due to the departure of one adult from the planned trip. It has become, very possibly, as single family trip because something outside the OP’s control has removed their ability to make their side of the trip possible. Getting worked up at the OP for trying to salvage part of the independence they had planned on is not useful.

This may be the best plan… and it may not. Given how much the OP has indicated the family’s reticence to even consider the type of touring and experiences they’re interested in, it could just as easily create deeper hard feelings. It’s a risk either way.

I would love to be able to suggest a way that everyone wins on this. I’m not optimistic that there’s a 100% win/win solution out there.

I’m glad that you guys had mentioned the age thing, because I hadn’t realized the 5 year old couldn’t go on rides with her big sister. That would have been the plan (me to ride with my son, and the girls together) on two person rides.