I’ve heard a lot of people say that they will travel to Disney when “the children are older”. This makes sense for a number of reasons, you want your child to remember the vacation, and it helps not having to worry about a fussy toddler. Let’s face it, a trip to the grocery store with a Toddler can be difficult, never mind a trip to Disney! Fill their backpack with small toys, colouring/sticker books, and snacks to make the time in the car/plane bearable. I also like to travel with a portable pharmacy, in case of illness! I’m a walking drugstore on vacation. Paranoid or prepared? That’s a matter of opinion ;o)
While I agree travelling with a 2.5 year old to Disney has its challenges, and we experienced a number of them, it was also well worth it! As far as cost saving tips, if your child is under 2, air travel is free. If your child is 3 years and under they stay at Disney World as “A Guest of Mickey”. This means that they are free for your hotel stay and park admissions. If you are on the Disney Dining Plan (more on the Dining Plan later), they can share food off of an adult’s place. This works out better at buffet restaurants. The cost of taking a toddler to Disney is quite economical, so you don’t have to stress that they won’t remember all the fun they’re having!
We asked for bed rails from Mousekeeping, when we stayed at the Disney resort. This helped ensure our toddler would not fall out of the bed at night.
As you can imagine, Disney is very child friendly and they’ve truly thought of everything to help parents travelling with small children. The Child Care Centres at the parks are clean, air conditioned and the perfect place to rest when you need a break. They have a changing section, feeding area, microwave, private nursing area, and supplies to purchase if you forgot anything.
We also found the First Aid Centre very useful after a bad fall, where my toddler hit her head hard after tripping at Animal Kingdom. My daughter was seen by a wonderful Registered Nurse, that checked her eyes and cleaned up her scrapes. She also gave me advice and a handout to watch for signs of a concussion, an ice pack and some polysporin to take with us.
As long as you pace yourself and take lots of breaks, travelling with a toddler can be really fun and enjoyable. There is so much for them to do and see. Toddlers can go on a number of rides at Disney World, from Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, to the iconic Dumbo and It’s a Small World rides.
It’s also nice that kids of different ages can ride the same rides together. Here we are at Animal Kingdom:
Another fantastic feature that Disney offers is the “Baby Swap”. Essentially if your older child wants to go on a ride that the younger one can not go on, then they can go on with one parent, and then swap parents and get to go on again with the other parent! So your child can ride twice, once with each parent! We took advantage of this with popular rides like Soarin’ at Epcot.
Go back to the hotel during the hot afternoons to cool off in the pool or take a nap. You can always return to the park refreshed and recharged later in the afternoon.
While you may think that no Disney vacation is complete without a picture of your child and Mickey Mouse or their favourite character…think again! Avoid the characters if your toddler finds them frightening… unless you’re like me, then keep trying for that perfect picture! Poor Piglet!
Bottom line: Disney is really magical for a toddler!
Jessica is the author of this article and is writing as part of The Disney Moms writers contest. She describes herself as: I’m a mom to two girls (7 & 3) and we absolutely love anything and everything Disney! Last year we travelled to Disney World for 10 Days followed by a 4-Night Cruise on the Disney Dream. We had a fantastic adventure together and will carry the memories we made always. I love reading and researching all about Disney. I’m currently in the planning stages of our next Disney trip in August 2013. This last year I’ve started working on my own blogs as a hobby. I am also a Secondary School teacher, and I recently organized a school trip to L.A./Grand Canyon, which I blogged about: http://lagrandcanyon2012.blogspot.ca/ I also have started a Disney Blog to help parents prepare for their trip to WDW: http://www.disneyplanningmom.blogspot.ca/