Disney World Musts - See/Do/Eat/Ride

Updated on November 17, 2010
C.P. asks from Arlington Heights, IL
14 answers

Hello Moms -
We will be taking our 2 and 5 year olds to Disney World soon, and while we have booked our lodging and plan to pretty much stick to the Magic Kingdom (we're only staying for 3 days), I would love to hear about things that made your trip extra special. Any restaurants that we shouldn't miss (I have already made reservations for a character dinner at Chef Mickeys)? Anything we should get in advance (i.e. like autograph books for the characters to sign)? Any rides that we just have to go on, particularly for smaller kids? Any other ideas to make this trip extra special for our kids? I've thought about arranging to havie some cupcakes or cookies delivered to our hotel room upon our arrival with a note from Mickey, welcoming our kids. Anything else? Many thanks in advance for your great ideas and tips!

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answers from Atlanta on

Unless you're only going a short time, there's really no reason to stick to magic kingdom. My second favorite must do is hollywood studios. They have the mickey mouse clubhouse show, beauty and the beast, the little mermaid, a car stunt and action show that my boys have loved since they were about 2, the honey I shrunk the kids playground, and fantasmic (my 5 year old's favorite night show).

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answers from San Francisco on

I don't think you should stick to just the Magic Kingdom. Epcot and Animal Kingdom have so much to offer young children. In Animal Kingdom, there is a dinosaur ride that is just like Dumbo. Plus, all children like to see animals.

In Epcot, they 'tailor' a child's experience by having them collect stamps on a Disney passport and there are usually art projects for kids to do in each country.

Disney does a great job making sure that their parks reach out to all age groups. Don't limit your experience to just Magic Kingdom. It gets the fan fair but the whole 'world' is great.

Depending on how many days you are staying, you may want to take a break and stay at the resort, swim and relax. We always stay around ten days so we have a day in the middle that we don't go into the parks.

Have fun! Remember this is your vacation too and it does not need to be completely focused just on what the kids 'must' do. They will have fun no matter what...it's Disney!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Hi, I haven't looked at any of the responses, but Chef Mickey was AWESOME, they will both love it... And my kids loved having a meal in the castle - that was very special too. We did buy alot of Mickey shirts, etc. beforehand and wore those clothes the day we were going to see those characters! And every morning when they woke up, there was a gift waiting for them with a note from whoever we saw (just a little thing or two), and they just loved that! Also, for the 5-year old, we had a "wake up" call at a time we knew we would be up, and my daughter got to answer it, and it was from either Mickey or a Princess - that was really neat. We had an autograph book and marker (in a ziplock bag for protection) - because it cost a fortune there! Anything that you could buy before that you want, especially shirts, etc., go to the Disney Store (or wherever)! Have fun - they will love it!!! Bring a spray waterbottle and a washcloth in a ziplock for when it is hot! And I had in a ziplock an extra pair of clothes...just in case. Last thing, I would soooooo get a double stroller for your kids - that was the best investment ever - and my daughter was 6 - it was a lifesaver (and when they are not riding in it, you can put your stuff in it too)!

Have an awesome time!!!!! I want to go!!!!



answers from New York on

In addition to the Magic Kingdom, I would also recommend Animal Kingdom. Of course things change, but when we're there 2 years ago there were 2 excellent shows - Lion King and Nemo. I also think its one of the best places to see the characters.

Make sure you bring along some rain ponchos. I'd also purchase them each a sweatshirt in advance and surprise them with it when you get there.



answers from Chicago on

breakfast in the castle... we have done dinner and we have done breakfast, the breakfast was our first and seemed more magical, but maybe that was just because it was our first time in there, and the dinner time my younger daughter had a fever (came on during the wait)


answers from Dallas on

We always loved the luau at the Polynesian. We only stayed at the Polynesian all 8 times we went as daughter was growing up.

Chef Mickey is great.
O'Hana breakfast at Polynesian
Luau at Polynesian (not the Mickey Mouse one....the real one)
Safari ride at Animal Kingdom

WOW, so many great memories. PM me if you want some detail.

Have fun



answers from Chicago on

You received a lot of good suggestions. However, instead of having "Mickey" deliver something to your room from Disney (with their outrageous prices), make up your own package and send it from home. Our girls were 6 and 4 at the time, I bought autograph books, the fun pens, water spray bottles, Disney PJ's and an outfit all from the Disney outlet online and had it shipped to my house before we left. I also bought the Minnie Mouse bags from the Disney Store and filled them up with all the stuff I bought and had it shipped to our hotel. We picked it up when we got there, and just gave the girls their bags, with all the goodies in it. We had a note attached that it was from "Mickey and Minnie." They loved it and didn't know anything different. And I was able to buy all that for them, for the same price as a small "something" from Disney.
Have fun! They will love it!



answers from Washington DC on

We stayed at the Polynesian. The Kona cafe is really good. Ohana's is amazing. You should do at least one meal there.

Yes get the autograph books when you first get there.

I personally was not impressed with Downtown Disney. For 2-5y do Fantasy Land, Mickey's Toontown first. You don't say if you are taking boys/girls, but if anyone is into the Princesses they are setup in a shop next too Mickey's house in Toontown.

Unless you are driving, you'll want to make some type of arrangements for all dinners. The restaurants fill up fast and making last minute plans is not very easy.



answers from Chicago on


I bet you cannot wait to go! Autograph books for sure and you can get them on eBay sometimes cheaper than at the park. I have made little backpacks for the kids with the autograph books, a pen, a lanyard with a few pins (also off eBay), things to do on plane and/or car like coloring books (all Disney based), crayons, some snacks like small bags of gram crackers, fruit roll-ups, etc. We also try to stop at the Disney Outlet near the park, which has park merchandise cheaper than at the parks along with pins, water bottles, etc.

I also have a spreadsheet I did for my boss when she took her then 4 year old telling her which attractions where the best for her and what would be good to do at the parks. I would be happy to send it to you if you would like it. We have also used the Disney Florist to send “gift/surprises” to the room and the kids (and adults) have always gotten a kick out of them and the surprise of them being there when you get to your room or when you return to your room the first night! Right now I am planning something for our youngest son who is getting engaged at Walt Disney World in a few weeks and I called the florist the other day to see what I could send to the room Winnie the Pooh related as she loves Pooh! Also this is her very first visit to Disney so I have made her a backpack, lanyard, and an autograph book too! We cannot wait to see her expressions when we first take her through the Magic Kingdom, it is always fun to watch, whether they are 2 or 28. You can also send your own package, if you are going next month, as we are, we are sending a pre-decorated Christmas tree for our room with a label to return it back home when we check out, so you can send anything to yourself at the hotel.

As for dinning, we love the Liberty Tree in the Magic Kingdom, they serve family style and have turkey, ham, mac & cheese and potatoes. We have never had a bad meal there and it is break from moving around the park. I do agree with some of the other moms who mention that you might want to go to one of the other parks as the do offer things for children of all ages!



answers from New York on

Medieval Times (if it's still around) was a blast! Your 5 yr old will love it! The actors do a whole jousting thing with princesses and everyone eats with their hands. It's a blast and the food's pretty good too!

Don't waste your $$ on the cupcakes or cookies, but do make a reservation to have a meal with the characters. Be aware that your 2 yr old won't remember much of this, so focus on things that will be extra fun for the 5 yr old.

Keep in mind this one thing... Disney is expensive no matter what. Don't have any "cost saving" things stuck in your head b/c once you get there you get sucked in!

Definitely check-out Disney Village- lots of cool things to see and do there too!



answers from Chicago on

The disney pin trading - you can buy 'starter' sets for $30 or so (and get 7 pins) and then your daughter can trade them with employees and characters. If they are wearing green lanyards, they can only trade with kids under 12 (but it seems like they give the green lanyards to crochety grumpy old people!). Some of the pins have 'hidden mickey' on them and they can't be purchased. Our 6 year old learned to look for those.

When I got home, I looked on ebay and you can get the pins much cheaper if you get them on ebay. Some places sell lanyards (pins go on the lanyards....), too. They will only trade disney pins so be careful that they are all official disney pins.



answers from Chicago on

Be sure to have a meal in the castle, especially if you have little girls. In Epcot, you can get a passport and collect stamps and make crafts in each country. Have fun!



answers from Chicago on

We went in July w/our 2 & 5 year old girls. Our hands-down favorite restaurant is the Biergarten in Germany in Epcot, we look forward to that EVERY time we go. It's a buffet, with a German band & dancing...we all love it. At Magic Kingdom we also like Pooh's Crystal Palace? It's right off of main street in front of the Castle. There's always a long line at Dumbo but Aladdin is essentially the same ride with a smaller line. You can get the autograph books at the park, I get ones w/photo sleeves and put in a photo as well. For quick food we liked the place between Small World & the Carousel.

Absolutely take advantage of early entry if you're staying at a Disney Resort - the lines will be much better then.

Personally, I think the best thing to have is a good mindset. If you go with a packed schedule you might be disappointed if lines and crowds trip you up. I literally walk in thinking we'll do a couple of rides, and the rest is gravy...and then I walk out satisfied. :) Have FUN!



answers from Minneapolis on

For a 2 and 5 year old in the Magic Kingdom, I would make sure to see Dumbo, Mad Hatter Tea Party, Cinderella's Carosel, Mickey's Philharmagic, It's a Small World, Alladin, and the Jungle Cruise. I would also try the little Goofy Barnstormer rollercoaster and other attractions in Toontown. There is a also a cute little Pooh playground spot in Fantasyland, and a cute little play area tucked under near Splash Mountain. They would probably like the little train ride that circles the park, too. My 6 year old loved all the big rides (Space Mtn, Splash Mtn, etc.) but my 4 year old was leery of any of the dark indoor rides. The fear factor varies A LOT by kid, I would try Peter Pan or the Tomorrowland Transit Authority first to gage how your kids do with the dark factor. It is very fun to get to the gate early enough before they open in the morning to see the little opening of the park song and dance and confetti streamers.

If you do Epcot, Soarin is THE best, although I don't recall if there is a height requirement, our 4 and 6 year olds LOVED it. Also don't miss "Voyage of the Little Mermaid" And the little ride in the Mexican restaurant is pretty tame and cute for little ones.

Animal Kingdom can be fun too. Don't miss the Safari ride or Festival of the Lion King show. It is beautiful, but different experience, but with not as many little kid rides.

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