Disney World with a 1 & (Almost) 3 YO

Updated on January 30, 2013
M.S. asks from Kansas City, MO
8 answers

Hi ladies (and gentlemen too),

I need help in planning our family's trip to Disney World!! The Disney website is proving difficult to navigate for me. It was sort of a last minute decision and we will arrive in 3 weeks... yikes!

Let me preface the first day by saying, I wish our kids could get a nap in this day, but I don't think it is going to happen until later in the day, if at all. So, I know we won't be able to do EVERYTHING that we want.

Day 1: The first day we are going to go to the Magic Kingdom park. We figure we won't be able to get on our hotel's shuttle until 10 AM (due to the fact we will be leaving from Miami early that morning). Do hotels (not on Disney property) drop off in the parking lot?? If so, what time do you think we would actually get in the park. Any suggestions of where to go/what to do once in the park are welcome. Do we need to check in anywhere? I figure we have about 3-4 hours until our kids will be DONE:) Our son is very into Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, little einsteins, and doc mcstuffins. But, he wouldn't really know the Disney movie characters yet. I would like to get the characters' autographs for him, go to a show/parade, & go on a few rides (that at least our 3 year old will be able to ride).

Day 2: The next day we will be doing the Animal Kingdom, and we hope to take the 8:30 AM shuttle this day. I know they have a petting zoo there (that we will definitely want to go to), but I am not really sure what else. My son LOVES animals and I know my daughter would have fun seeing them too. Does the Animal Kingdom offer lunch with the characters? Suggestions for this day will help as well:)

Thanks for your help in planning!!

Thanks for all for the great responses so far!! Keep 'em coming! One more question... I am seeing that a few of you have commented that Disney World is expensive. What do they charge for once inside the park? Do they charge for the shows? We plan on allowing our son to pick out one $20 item (easier said than done, I'm sure) and most likely we will pack our own lunch. Should we still expect to spend a lot of money??

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answers from New York on

Have you looked at allears.net - I LOVE this site for everything Disney. We were just there last week! My daughter is 9 so she got on everything she could. We stay on property all the time so we cant answer the whole shuttle thing, I know there is an area where the shuttles drop people off which is different for every park. At the kingdom its right at the gate. Taxis can drive up to the gate too, unless you want to ride the monorail or the boat to the kingdom you can ask them to take you to the transfer station. Everything is based on height so depends on how tall you child is. One year I had a shrinking child, first park she was tall enough, next day she wasnt. It was a crazy week.

Many people I know with younger kids go to the park for a few hours, return to the hotels for naps and snack and return later in the evening to see the parades at night. You ticket will allow you re entry for the day. If you have a hopper then you can do anything.

There is still a lot of construction going on in the Kingdom cause they are building a new fantasy land. On one side of fantasy land they used to have Mickey and Minnies 'home' but we didnt look this time around so I cant say if its still there. The little Einstein's are found in Hollywood studios. They have this building with shows all day long which have the characters for the younger kids. Doc Mc Stuffins? Well cant say I heard of him lol.

Check out allears.net you may find it easier to navigate.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I think it's best for ages 3 and up, but our kids never napped past 24 months. I would not bring a child under 2 if I could help it! Whew!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

Try disboards.com and mousesavers.com. Tons of info. There is also a "moms panel" section on the official Disney site that answers all types of questions.
From the parking lot into the actual Magic Kingdom park, plan on at least 30 minutes. You have to get from the ticket center(take the ferry, shorter wait and easier to lug stroller than going on monorail) to the park on the other side of the lake and then walk to wait in line at bag check and then wait in line to go thru the turnstiles and then you are in the park and can breathe. Take the train to the back of the park and start there in the new Fantasyland.
I agree that the Hollywood Studios has the Disney Junior characters in it and they used to have a lunch and dinner buffet to meet characters from Disney Junior that wasn't too costly and food was good for a buffet. Don't know if they still do this. We have done character breakfasts at Chef Mickeys in Contemporary hotel and the one at Cape May's at Disneys Yacht/Beach club resorts. These two do not involve going into the park and are good experiences. Animal Kingdom is a massive park and I agree that the petting zoo is not that great. Safari ride is good. You can also eat at Animal Kingdom Lodge and walk around and see the giraffes and zebras that live outside the hotel. Doesn't cost to do this except for your meal. See if you can get reservations for wherever you decide to eat on Disney property. That may dictate where/when you will go to what park.
I think with your childrens ages, I would vote for the Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, just my opinion. And then try to get to a character breakfast at one of the resorts, maybe on the day you leave.
Good luck and have fun!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

The hotel shuttles take right to the front gate of the park. Best way to go by far.

We took our kids to Disney (driving up from Hollywood) when they were 3 and an infant, and then again when they were 6 and 3. Naps were our #1 priority. We knew the day would be shot without them. Our strategy was to get to the park as soon as it opened. Around 1 we'd take the shuttle back to the hotel and nap through the hottest part of the day. Around 3-4 we'd swim a little, then take the shuttle back to the park. We'd walk a while, have some dinner, and then enjoy the park in the dark. Parades, fireworks, some rides, etc. We'd take the shuttle back as the park was closing.

We'd stay about 3 days with each trip (checking in to a hotel the night before the first day made a huge difference. allowed us to get a good nights sleep, get back for nap that first day, and catch a character breakfast one morning.) I think we also requested a late check out the final day so we could catch an early afternoon nap. I want to say they let us stay until 3 which was plenty.

Oh, one final thing. We didn't care much for Animal Kingdom. We went once, then spent the rest of our time at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. We didn't plan to spend but a morning at the studios but ended up the whole day there. There was a lot more than I expected and it wasn't as crowded.



answers from Los Angeles on

It has been sooooo long since we went to Disney World that I can't remember all of the specifics.

But, I will say that I remember we absolutely loved the Animal Kingdom and spent 1.5 days there and would gladly have spent more. And Tusker House Restaurant does offer character dining.

For the Magic Kingdom, with your kids ages, you'll probably need to stick to FantasyLand. There you will find the most age appropriate activities.

I find the website to be quite useful. You can search by park, look for age appropriate activities, and view attraction vs dining options. Maybe you just need to get to the right section: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/magic-kingd...

My biggest tip: take drinks and snacks with you; maybe even pack one meal to take in. You'll need lots of money - it's expensive.

Good luck! and Have a Blast!



answers from Miami on

Most rides in Disney (all parks) are fine for babies in arms so long as there's no height requirement. I would recommend a sling/carrier of somekind just to keep baby close to you though.

I also recommend buying your tickets online ahead of time. If you have to buy them once there it will greatly prolong your getting into the park.

We've only done Animal Kingdom once with our kids and were a bit disappointed. There weren't many rides they could do and while we enjoyed the petting zoo, it was a pain to get to. We only ended up spending the morning there when we usually do basically a full day (usually 9/10am-3/4 pm) at Magic Kingdom or Epcot.

Beware the character dining is super expensive (eating there is expensive no matter what you do) and if you really want to do it i recommend making reservations as the better places are often booked up and won't take walk-ins. At Magic Kingdom you can usually get fast passes to see Mickey and the princess right by the front but there are also characters throughout the park.


answers from Tampa on

hollywood studios would be better to see the playhouse disney stuff. they do a live mickey mouse clubhouse puppet show. animal kingdom has good charactor spots. like jake is in the dinosaur area and pluto and goofy. as for rides theres a dino carnival that has some rides he could do. enjoy



answers from Detroit on

some hotels drop off on property..find one that does. at magic kingdowm..once you arrive in the parking lot.. then you ride the monorail into the park.. and can walk from there.. or take the train to the back of the park. there are rides for the one year old in your arms.. check the height requirements.. but most rides are Ok for babes in arms. small world, pooh bear, dumbo, flying carpets, the carosel should all be ok.. even the buzz lightyear ride is pretty mild. there is a parade most days.. I think about 3 oclock. I would not wait in line for mickey autographs... there is a line usually 30-45 minutes for a character autograph. not worth it to me.. we looked at the characters from afar.the mickey philharmagic show is good. the monster inc show is not for little ones.

animal kingdom.. pettting zoo was not worth the time. it is way way back in the park. you take a train and then walk for a long time to get there. the safari ride was good. bugs life is cool but will scare little ones. we packed a light lunch.. (juice box, fruit and 1/2 sandwich) ate that at abotu 11..then stopped for a bigger lunch at abotu 130 we were at the park from 10-5 ... it is fun but tiring.

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