If you’ve only got one day to spend at Disney World with young children, Magic Kingdom is the obvious choice. It’s got the most rides without height restrictions of all 4 parks, and in general it just has that classic magical feeling that Disney is known for.
Is Disney World worth it to visit with a toddler? They’re notorious for meltdowns and they probably won’t appreciate or remember all the money and effort that went into making this one day (or couples days or week) magical.
I truly think that despite the challenges of visiting a Disney park with young children, it’s also the most magical age to go. They are sincerely in awe over meeting characters, watching shows, and going on rides. Seeing Magic Kingdom through their eyes will give you a new appreciation for the level of detail that goes into the parks.
My only caveat is that you MUST be prepared before you go to avoid making what could be a magical day into a disaster. Make sure you have a general plan for the day, and that you bring along the items necessary to keep everyone comfortable and happy. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you wasted hundreds or thousands of dollars on a trip to Disney because everyone is so whiny.
After visiting Disney multiple times with my 1, 3, and 5-year-old during their different ages and stages, here are my best tips for visiting the most popular park at Disney World with toddlers: Magic Kingdom.
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TIPS FOR DOING MAGIC KINGDOM WITH TODDLERS
GENERAL TODDLER TIPS FOR MAGIC KINGDOM
I think it goes without saying that Central Florida gets HOT during the day for most of the year. I think some people underestimate just how hot it gets, though. If you live farther north, you might not think much of a 75º day. But in Central Florida that 75º day can feel scorching hot. And don’t forget about the humidity!. It can be very draining and sap your energy very quickly.
Make sure you pack sunscreen and apply it liberally every few hours. It wouldn’t hurt to set an alarm on your phone to remind you. Time passes very quickly when you’re hustling from ride to ride, and before you know it you’re suffering the effects of sunburn.
Pack hats to protect your kids’ heads.
You might even consider having them wear rash guards with SPF if you’re particularly concerned about reapplying sunscreen to a wiggly toddler.
Finally, we bring along a healthy electrolyte drink which we like to mix up in the early afternoon (during a parade or when we’re taking a break for lunch) to make sure everyone is staying hydrated!
Will a toddler be able to walk throughout your entire day at Magic Kingdom? Well, it depends on the age of your toddler and how much you’re willing to carry them and if they’re the type of toddler that runs away at any chance they get.
For example, my youngest is almost two, and has all the energy in the world to walk all day, but loves to run away and thinks it’s a big joke. Not fun in gigantic crowds.
If you have multiple young children, I would highly recommend using a stroller. Your back and your sanity will thank you. If you don’t want to bring your own stroller from home, you can easily rent one at the parks.
I will say that my 3-year-old made it through most of the day without using the stroller, and my 5-year-old walked the entire time, and they were just fine. However, we were sure glad to have the double sit-and-stand stroller by the end of the night when exiting the parks!
POTTY TRAINED TODDLERS AT DISNEY WORLD
What if your toddler is in the middle of potty training or recently potty trained? Will you have frequent access to restrooms?
The answer is yes. Magic Kingdom has bathrooms EVERYWHERE. My best tip is to download the My Disney Experience mobile app to locate a restroom quickly. There’s also a baby care center in every single park with toddler-friendly restrooms, but that’s not always necessarily the closest or most convenient option.
We just took my newly potty trained 3-year-old and he did so well! I definitely brought along pull-ups and extra shorts as a back-up option in case he had a regression (he gets very overwhelmed by crowds and noise so I wondered if that would affect potty training) but he was absolutely fine!
PACKING SNACKS FOR TODDLERS AT DISNEY
You’re allowed to bring a soft-sided cooler into the parks with your own food, so take advantage of that and so some grocery shopping before you go. Stock up on snacks and foods that are easy to eat in line or on-the-go, like fruit pouches, granola bars, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, apple slices, baggies of crackers, and lollipops (I love these organic ones).
STROLLERS AT MAGIC KINGDOM
A lot of people wonder if it would be too much of a hassle to bring a stroller to Disney World. I’ll admit, it can be tough to maneuver through crowds with a heavy double stroller, and yes, it does take a little extra time to find stroller parking, then backtrack for your stroller after exiting a ride.
But I will still use a stroller at Disney until my kids are about 10 years old.
SHOULD YOU TAKE A STROLLER?
Of course, this is an individual preference. Some families love having the stroller, some would rather go without it.
I will always choose the stroller, because it ends up holding our jackets and sweaters (Orlando can be 50 degrees in the morning and almost 80 by the afternoon), our water bottles, our snacks, cameras, souvenirs, popcorn bucket, and diaper bag. It’s also nice to have a spot where your toddler can nap.
Believe me, I have the world’s most active 1-year-old who I didn’t think would take any stroller naps, and he definitely ended up conking out at Disney World.
As I mentioned above, if you don’t want to bring your stroller through the airport, you can always rent one inside the parks.
WHAT TO DO WITH STROLLERS WHILE YOU’RE ON RIDES
Disney has stroller parking outside of each attraction with cast members attending the strollers. We have even had cast members offer to park our stroller for us, then let us know exactly where we could find it afterward.
I always make sure to take any valuables with me onto the ride. Even though there are cast members watching the strollers, they can’t catch everything, and there’s always the chance someone could mistakenly grab the wrong stroller.
I use this tiny cross-body purse for my cash, cards, and phone, then I either wear my DSLR camera cross-body or put it in a small purse or backpack. Everything else (food, drinks, diapers, wipes, etc) stays on the stroller.
STROLLER ACCESSORIES FOR DISNEY WORLD
Many families like to bring large colorful laminated signs for their strollers or deck them out with flags or neon ribbons so they know which stroller is theirs at a glance.
You’ll also want to consider the weather when planning to use your stroller at Disney. As I mentioned above, it gets very warm, so consider buying a fan that clips onto your stroller.
Especially if you’re going during rainy season in Florida (June-September) you might want to buy a rain cover for your stroller to protect your possessions and keep your kids dry. Short rainstorms are common throughout the spring and summer in Orlando, so come prepared! There’s nothing worse that wet clothes and electronics!
Lastly, you won’t regret buying a stroller caddy if you' don’t already have one. When you’re pushing a stroller through a crowded theme park it’s nice to have a cupholder and a place to put your phone and camera so you can grab them at a moment’s notice. It’s also a good idea to buy several extra cupholders to clip onto the stroller.
This is not something I ever would have thought about if I didn’t have a sensitive child myself, but there are so many children who get overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, and smells of Disney. My 3-year-old actually ends up spending a lot of the day at Disney covering his ears and being scared to go on rides (which he usually ends up loving afterward).
A genius friend of mine who also has a child who gets overstimulated at Disney suggested we bring noise canceling headphones to minimize the noise impact. I’m definitely investing in a pair before our next trip to Disney this spring, and they’re surprisingly inexpensive!
My other tip for parents of sensitive children is to encourage them to try new things, but not to push them if they’re clearly terrified by something. I always repeat to my son that he doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do, but I’m right there and will hold his hand and keep him safe if he wants to try it.
BEST RIDES FOR TODDLERS AT MAGIC KINGDOM
Magic Kingdom is the park where you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you’re visiting the parks with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, because so many of the rides are safe for all ages.
Best Rides for Toddlers;
Peter Pan’s Flight
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Mad Tea Party
Prince Charming Regal Carousel
Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
It’s a Small World
Under the Sea
Belle’s Magical Tales (more interactive…the kids put on a play for Belle and get chosen for parts. Great for kids who love to meet characters and get involved. Skip if your kids get nervous about things like that).
These rides are toddler-friendly, but can be dark and scary for sensitive kids:
Pirates of the Caribbean (it’s very dark and can be a little scary)
Haunted Mansion (can be a little scary for some kids)
If your kids want to try these rides but get scared while still waiting in line, you can ask a cast member to help you exit before getting on the ride!
TODDLER-FRIENDLY SHOWS AT MAGIC KINGDOM
Beware: these shows are incredibly dull for adults but kids usually love them. It’s also a great way to get out of the heat and relax for a little bit.
The Enchanted Tiki Room
Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor
Country Bear Jamboree
Mickey’s PhilharMagic (3D glasses involved: my sensitive son hates these)
Toddlers can go to these shows, but they’re more geared toward older kids and adults, so your toddler may lose interest quickly. Good for trying to get them to nap, though?
Hall of Presidents
Carousel of Progress
PARADES WITH TODDLERS AT MAGIC KINGDOM
Parade times and shows vary depending on the time of year, so make sure to check ahead of time to see what time the parade is. I would recommend reserving a spot on the curb along the parade route about 45 minutes ahead of time. This is a great time to snack, reapply sunscreen, rehydrate, and take turns getting a bathroom break.
Toddlers LOVE watching the parades and go crazy seeing their favorite characters in person (but still at a distance). Even my most sensitive child had a blast watching the singing and dancing, and he even waves to the characters. Don’t forget your noise-canceling headphones if needed!
We like to sit on Main Street, which is near the end of the parade route, but some like to sit in Frontierland where the parade begins so they can quickly get on a ride while everyone else is still watching the parade. Just beware of where you choose to sit: you can easily be “trapped” by the parade route and stuck on an inside sidewalk until the parade is over.
FAST PASSES FOR TODDLERS AT MAGIC KINGDOM
If your child is under the age of three, you won’t have to worry about getting a FastPass+ for them. Since entrance to the parks is free for those ages, they can walk right on the rides that you’ve reserved Fast Passes for without their own.
So which rides should you reserve FP+ for? I would recommend Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Peter Pan’s Flight, Belle’s Enchanted Tales, Under the Sea or The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. There are usually long lines for those.
There are sometimes long lines for Dumbo the Flying Elephant, but don’t reserve FP+ for it! There’s a toddler-friendly waiting room with playgrounds and play areas where you get a buzzer that vibrates when it’s your turn to get on the ride!
Rides you can almost always get on within 20 minutes between Fast Passes or longer wait rides are Prince Charming’s Carousel, Mad Tea Party (spinning teacups)
WHERE TO EAT WITH TODDLERS AT MAGIC KINGDOM
When we’re at Disney with toddlers, we actually don’t ever really do a sit-down meal. That’s a personal preference, since our youngest (he’s almost 2) isn’t great about sitting still. We do some of the quick service options at Magic Kingdom like:
Be Our Guest Restaurant
Columbia Harbour House
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
The Friar’s Nook
The Launching Pad
If you are planning far enough in advance, you might be able to secure a character meal with your kids. Cinderella’s Royal Table is a very princess-centric character meal open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Magic Kingdom. Fans of the characters from Winnie the Pooh can enjoy a meet-and-greet while they dine at Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom.
At the end of the day, you need to remember to go with the flow. You might have the best and most efficient plans for Magic Kingdom, but if your toddler is having a meltdown or can’t take another step, it’s time to rethink things.
You also might run into more crowds and longer lines than you anticipated, a ride might be under repair or you might face weather you weren’t prepared for.
If you can smile and roll with the punches, you’ll set the tone for your whole family, your toddler included. If they want to keep riding Dumbo or the Flying Carpets, why not? If they want to meet a character that you didn’t plan for and it will throw your whole day off, who cares? That’s the point, right? To make the day fun and magical for them!
My final words of wisdom: take it slow. Don’t try to fit EVERYTHING in during a 1-day trip to Magic Kingdom. It’s not possible and you’ll all end up exhausted and miserable. Have fun and appreciate the small moments and the tiniest of details. Take lots of pictures and videos so your toddler can rewatch them later. Follow your plan, but leave room for flexibility.
And I hope you have the most magical day at Magic Kingdom with your toddler!