7 Sanity-Saving Secrets to Doing Disney World With Preschoolers

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In my reader survey quite a few of you mentioned you wanted more Disney posts because you love it and/or are planning your trips. A few others said you’d prefer to see a little less Disney posts. Between my love for Disney travel and the animated movies, I’m taking this all to heart and going to try to keep a balance. That means one Disney post every week or two. So those who love it like I do get their fix, and I won’t be overdoing it for those who could do with a little less Mickey (it’s hard to believe these people exist!). But for you Disney lovers like me, today’s post is all about doing Disney World with preschoolers.

Lately I’ve been feeling like baby fever was replaced by the travel bug. What started as a bucket-list goal to take my kids to Disney World before I turned 30 has turned into a dream to visit all of the worldwide Disney parks, and save for an annual family trip.

I have a growing list of other places I want to take my kids, but we’ll get more into that in another post.

5 secrets for doing disney world with preschoolers

I’ve had several people ask me what the best age to visit Disney World is. And if it’s worth taking young kids. “They won’t even remember it!” or “They can’t really enjoy it” are phrases I sometimes hear, but I beg to differ.

We took big T to Disney World last year when he was almost 2 and while he doesn’t remember that trip, he did have a blast. Most of the rides at the Disney Parks are for all heights and ages. And since he was 1 we didn’t have to pay for his flight or his park tickets (kids tickets are free up to 3). Now at almost 3, I kid you not, he talks about Disney World every day. He talks about “spin fast at Disney World” (the tea cups) Goofy’s airplane (the Barnstormer), Mickey Mouse choo choo (WDW Railroad), and more! He loves flipping through my phone looking at photos and videos (I’m still working on editing a video) and talking about our trips. Going to Disney World with preschoolers can be a lot of fun.

I’ve learned a lot over this last year and I’ve shared what I’ve learned and some of my Disney tips. Things like rider swap, stroller rentals and healthy kids meals with Mickey Checks–but this time, on our 4th Disney trip, I learned even more tips for doing Disney World with preschoolers. Things I didn’t know before. Hopefully you’ll find this helpful as you plan your trips with little ones, and I’d love it if the more experienced Disney travelers shared their tips in the comments as well!

1. There are fun playground areas in each of the parks

Each Disney World Park has playgrounds that are the perfect for taking a break with preschoolers.

If you get tired of lines or the kids just need a break, I love heading out to the different play areas at each park. In Magic Kingdom we love to take a raft ride over to Tom Sawyer Island. Where there’s plenty of bridges to cross, stairs to climb and fun to be had. But this is just the beginning there are fun play areas and attractions at each park for preschoolers.

In Epcot we love the ImageWorks play area after the Journey into Imagination with Figment ride. It’s a fun and colorful interactive play area.

In Animal Kingdom there’s the boneyard that’s a huge playground the kids.

Honey I Shrunk The Kids playground at Disney Hollywood Studios.

And in Hollywood studios we LOVED playing at the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground during both of our visits, but sadly it will be closing April 1st 2016. Don’t worry though, with Toy Story Land coming soon, I’m sure it will be replaced with something even cooler, and much more relevant for this generation.

2. Disney World Has Childcare

Disney World has child care centers around the property. Disney Childcare center at the Polynesian Resorts.

You may have heard of Disney’s in-room childcare services, but you might not have known they have other childcare centers around the property. Centers like Lilo’s Playhouse at the Polynesian Resorts where kids can bake, do science, play games and interact with characters. Right now they’re open to local residents/visitors as well as Disney guests. And for $55 you can escape to the parks for some adult fun while your kids are having fun in safe hands.

3. Baby Care Centers

Disney World Baby Care Centers

Each Disney Park is equipped with a baby care center where you can find everything from a dimmed room to nurse to feeding areas with high chairs, comfortable changing stations, to extra diapers, wipes, and baby food. I wish I knew about this on our trip last year. There’s even a room older siblings can sit and play while they wait.

4. Strollers can roll on the monorail

Disney World Secrets for Preschoolers: Monorail

Disney World Secrets for Preschoolers: Monorail

Last time when we stayed off site we needed to fold the stroller, take the car, pay to park, unpack the stroller, and head into the parks. If you stay on site at a property that’s on the monorail system you can strap the kids in the stroller right in your room and ride all the way there without needing to collapse the thing and squish your lunch (yes, you can bring your own food!).

5. Disney Jr. Pool Parties

The Disney Jr. pool parties are definitely a highlight for doing Disney with preschoolers.

And other fun when you stay on property at a Disney Resort hotel. The pool party at the Nemo pool (at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort) was a highlight for my kids who love the water. Lil’ J danced and placed the trivia games. It was pretty cute and something I didn’t realize existed.

6. Magic Bands can be kid-sized

Magic Band Sizing for your preschoolers.

I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t know this before. So just in case I’m not the only one who didn’t know I’m sharing this tip! It wasn’t until the last day that I realized the Magic Bands had an outer layer that could be pulled off to fit the younger kids better (a nice cast member told us right before we left!). Big T didn’t want to wear his and Lil’ J found hers uncomfortable because we had double-backed the wristband. Once we took it off it fit much better. You’re welcome!

7. Disney Springs is Another Adventure

Disney Springs Car Boat Ride was a favorite for us and our preschoolers.

If you arrive in Orlando the day before your park experience begins, you can still start enjoying Disney World at Disney Springs. What was formerly known as Downtown Disney has been transformed into a full-fledged attraction of its own. We ate at the Boathouse one night and my son pointed out the window and said “Car on the water!” I brushed him off but when I turned around I saw exactly that. Then we went for a ride on one of the Amphicars and it was one of our favorite parts of the entire trip.

In the coming weeks I’ll also be sharing: Top Disney World rides for scaredy cat preschoolers (Lil’ J’s review), what I learned staying on property vs off property, and Disney World photography tips. If there’s another topic you’re interested in let me know!

Secrets to doing walt disney world with preschoolers

Have you been to Disney with a preschooler? What other tips do you have or would you like to know?

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  1. Jenn! I didn’t know Disney had childcare! My daughter and I just spent a week there, and while it was another fantastic experience, I would have loved the opportunity to ride some of the rides that I enjoy (Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Railroad, Seven Dwarfs) but she fears. Thanks for the tip! We are going back in a few weeks. The joys of annual passes!!

    1. Oh man! I’m jelly of your annual passes! That’s so awesome! Yes, check out the childcare! I’m actually going again in a couple months and planning to try it out with my sister, though she’s 10 and big enough for the rides, it’l be handy while I’m working. SO excited to try the faster “scarier” rides for once. If you can believe it I’ve never even rode Space Mountain!

  2. Great info. Although, it was an exhausting trip last year with out little 2yr old, we don’t regret taking him to DW. I noticed your son in his swim vest. Did you have any problems keeping him in it? We’ve opted for Ft. Walton Beach, FL this May and bought him a puddle jumper verses the swim vest. I have a feeling he will resist it. I am excited to get him back to DW next spring and plan to stay on the property and use that daycare service????

    1. He really liked the swim vest. I guess he thought it was a fashion statement. haha. He wears puddle jumpers too but we didn’t pack them for this trip. Yes!! Let me know how you like the service! I’ll definitely be giving that a try on my next trip with them!

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