Tips and Tricks for Navigating Walt Disney World with Small Children

Planning on taking a trip to Walt Disney World with small children can be a daunting task. We have put together the best tips and tricks to help you keep your sanity when you take a trip to Walt Disney World with small children. We’ve got you covered on the best hotels for small children, transportation within the resort area, strollers, the Baby Care Centers, dining, rides and attractions, having a plan for getting separated, plans for long days, and some helpful items to pack. You will feel prepared for your trip to Walt Disney World with small children after reading our full guide!

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Best Hotels for Small ChildrenDisney Ink & Paint Club

Planning your hotel choice is the first step to visiting Walt Disney World with small children. Disney World offers more than 25 resort hotels to fit different needs and budgets. Disney has resort hotels by Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and Disney Springs.  Disney has both bed rails and Pack ‘n’ Plays available to borrow. Our guide to hotels at Walt Disney World covers everything you need to know to pick the best hotel for your group.

The resorts categories include deluxe villas, deluxe resort hotels, moderate resort hotels, value resort hotels, other select deluxe hotels. Below are some hotels in each category in that work great for families that are visiting Walt Disney World with small children.

Deluxe Villas and Deluxe Resort HotelsDeluxe Hotel at Walt Disney World

Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort work great for families with small children. The villas are great for convenient families as they sleep up to five adults and include a refrigerator and small kitchen. This tropical-themed resort offers complimentary screenings of favorite Disney films and multiple swimming pools. Little ones will enjoy the Electrical Water Pageant, a spectacular nighttime water parade.  This resort is close to Epcot, has its own Monorail stop, and has a great view of the fireworks.

Disney’s Contemporary Resort is another great option. This resort is within walking distance to the Magic Kingdom.  This resort hosts Chef Mickey’s restaurant, and a pool with a water slide, and the Pixar Play Zone for kids ages 4 to 12.

Moderate Resort OptionsThe lobby of the Port Orleans WDW resort

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter are considered moderate resort hotels. These resorts also offers a Mardi Gras-themed pool area with King Neptune and a waterslide.  Kids of all ages will enjoy the horse-drawn carriages, surrey bike rentals, and Cajun Campfire Activities.  The resort also features a playground and an arcade.

Value Resort OptionFinding Nemo decor at one of the WDW Value Resorts

The value resort hotels will be the most economical rooms. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort offers family suites that can sleep up to six guests. The family suites include themes such as The Little Mermaid, Cars, The Lion King, and Finding Nemo, and include a kitchenette and two bathrooms. This resort also offers three themed pools and casual dining option.

The themes of these value hotels are appealing to kids making them a good choice for families visiting Walt Disney World with small children.

Transportation within the Disney World ResortMonorail glides past Epcot with a blue sky in the background

The Walt Disney World Monorail System is a convenient and free way to navigate around the parks.  The Resort Monorail operates from 30 minutes prior to earliest park opening until one hour after latest park closing and has 3 separate lines that travel throughout Walt Disney World Resort.  The Resort Monorail makes the following stops:

  • Magic Kingdom park
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • Transportation and Ticket Center

The Resort Monorail stops at the following resort hotels: Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa or Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Guests should note that certain destinations are not direct, and they might be required to take a connecting mode of transportation to reach their destination.

Minnie Vans Walt Disney World Transportation

Disney World now offers Minnie Van™ Service, which is a new, whimsical personal ride service. The Minnien™ Service transports guests within the Walt Disney World Resort and the Orlando International Airport. Guests can use their smartphone to schedule a ride, can see the total cost and pay for the service conveniently through the Lyft app. The Minnie Van vehicles are roomy, comfortable and come equipped with convertible car/booster seats.

Guests can also use the resort’s complimentary bus transportation to and from all four theme parks, the two water parks, Disney Resort hotels and the Disney Springs Area. Additionally, the Walt Disney World® Water Transportation allows guests to enjoy a leisurely cruise on a water launch or ferryboat. Water taxis and ferries sail to and from Magic Kingdom park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs. Most routes run on 15- to 30-minute intervals. Guests should keep in mind that certain destinations are not direct, and they may be required to take a connecting mode of transportation to reach their destination.

Click HERE to learn more about resort transportation to help you plan your trip to Walt Disney World with small children.

Strollers at Walt Disney WorldTwo moms pushing strollers in Walt Disney World

Having a stroller can be a life saver while at the parks for guests visiting Walt Disney World with small children. We often log in several miles a day, and little legs can get tired.  The bonus part of having a stroller is it also carries backpacks, water, lunches etc. Guests can bring their own stroller or rent one from the parks. Strollers can be rented at the following locations:

  • Magic Kingdom
  • Epcot’s Main Entrance and International Gateway
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
  • Disney Springs

The current prices for renting strollers in Disneyland are $15 per day for a single-stroller or $31 per day for a double-stroller. There are also multi-day packages where guests pre-pay the number of days that they will require a stroller and save money. Multi-day prices are currently $13 per day for a single-stroller or $27 per day for a double-stroller. Parents can purchase a Length of Stay rental ticket and when visiting a theme park, simply show the receipt at the rental location to receive the stroller for the day.

Guests should note that strollers cannot be removed from the parks.  If guests are visiting more than one park in a single day, they will simply present their rental receipt at another park to obtain another stroller. Click HERE for more information on stroller rentals.

For families riding on the Resort Monorail, strollers can stay open and a child can stay in them. For resort launches and Friendship boats, strollers can be left open if space allows, but the child cannot be in it. For buses and trams, the strollers must be folded up.

Baby Care CentersBaby Care Centers in Walt Disney World

There are Baby Care Centers in all four parks- these areas are a must know for guests visiting Walt Disney World with small children. These full-service facilities offer many complimentary services to guests, including nursing rooms, changing rooms with tables, and feeding areas with highchairs. They also offer vending machines that sell formula, baby food, juice, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, pacifiers and over-the-counter medication. I used the Baby Care Center when my youngest daughter was a baby for a quiet place to nurse. These care centers also have toddler-sized potties!

Here are the Baby Care Center Locations:

  • Magic Kingdom’ Baby Care Center is located off Main Street behind Casey’s Corner Pianist.
  • Epcot’s Baby Care Center is in the Odyssey Center.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a Baby Care Center off Hollywood Boulevard by the park’s entrance.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park’s center is on Discovery Island behind Creature Comforts.

It is important to know that a child who becomes separated from his or her parents while in the park will be escorted by a Cast Member to the Baby Care Center. Click HERE for more information on the Baby Care Centers.

Dining at Walt Disney WorldBelle holding hands with a small girl at a character dining experience

Every park and resort offer multiples dining experiences, including quick service restaurants, lounges, table service and character dining. Quick service restaurants are great options for families with small children, and include counter service, fast casual, and food trucks. Quick service prices are typically less than $14.99 per meal and kid’s meals cost even less.

Most dining options offer kid’s meals. These meals range from $9 to $13. Some of these meals include an appetizer, entrée, side, dessert and drink. These meals are recommended for kids 9 and under, but my teen aged daughters still order them sometimes! Another option is to have children share a meal as portions can be generous as some restaurants.

Inside of the Cinderella Castle dining experience

Character dining experiences are a fun splurge with small children. Magic Kingdom hosts two Character Dining experiences, Cinderella’s Royal Table and the Crystal Palace, which features Winnie the Pooh and a few of his Pals.

Epcot includes four Character Dining experiences: the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall with Disney Princesses, and Garden Grill Restaurant hosted by Chip ‘n’ Dale and their Disney pals.

Hollywood & Vine is in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and features Minnie Mouse and Disney Junior Characters. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park includes the Tusker House Restaurant that features Safari Donald Duck and friends.

Most Character Dining experiences start at $35 per person and advanced reservations are highly recommended.

The best part about enjoying a character dining experience during your visit to Walt Disney World with small children? You can meet plenty of characters without the line!

Chip and Dale sit with a small girl at a character dining experience

Guests can also purchase dining plans and enjoy pre-paid meals. Dining plan options include the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan, Disney Dining Plan, and the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan. For example, the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan offers guests two Quick-Service Meals and two Snacks and allows guests to choose from meals at Quick-Service locations.

Be sure to check out our comprehensive guide to dining at Walt Disney World which includes everything you need to know from dining guides of the theme parks to dining packages for entertainment to allergy friendly options.

For reservations, guests can book online HERE, visit Guest Relations, or call (407) WDW-DINE. Guests under 18 years of age must have parent or guardian permission to call.

Rides and Attractions for Small Children

Guests can use the My Disney App or website to sort rides and attractions by thrill level, age interest, and height requirements.  There are several rides in each park that do not have height requirements.

Dumbo ride at Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom is Walt Disney World’s flagship park. This park has the following rides and attractions with no height requirements:

As you can see, Magic Kingdom has the largest variety of rides with no height requirements for small children to enjoy making it a great stop for families visiting Walt Disney World with small children.

Small children also can enjoy plenty of entertainment options at Magic Kingdom including:

These entertainment options are for all ages and are a great way to spend the afternoon.

Disney World’s Epcot

Anna, Elsa, and Olaf at Epcot

Disney World’s Epcot is over 300 acres and referred to a permanent world’s fair. There are two main areas to Epcot: Future World and World Showcase which consist of multiple pavilions.

Epcot’s rides without height restrictions include:

Small children will love the rides at Epcot with Frozen Ever After and The Seas with Nemo and Friends being some of the most popular! Definitely add Epcot to your list when you visit Walt Disney World with small children.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Kids play Toy Story Midway Mania

Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s Toy Story Mania! ride has no height requirement and is a favorite of kids and adults alike.

Shows and attractions in Disney’s Hollywood Studios  that small children may enjoy include Muppet*Vision 3D, Star Wars Launch Bay, Star Wars Launch Bay Theater, and Walt Disney Presents.

Check our our article: Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios Attractions Guide for more information on things to see and do!

As you can see, there is not quite as many options for small children in this theme park so that is something to consider when planning your trip to Walt Disney World with small children.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park

Two children walk over a bridge in Pandora

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is dedicated and themed entirely around the natural environment and animal conservation.

Rides with no height requirement include the TriceraTop Spin aerial carousel ride, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and the Wildlife Express Train. Children that love animals will feel at home here!

Shows and attractions that little ones will like include Discovery Island Trails, Fossil Fun Games, It’s Tough to Be a Bug!, the Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo – The Musical, Maharajah Jungle Trek, and The Rivers of Light show.

This beautiful park has as hundreds of species of live animals on exhibit that kids of ages will enjoy! So while the list may not look long, keep in mind that the Kilimanjaro Safaris are a great experience that kids will love making it a great choice for guests visiting Walt Disney World with small children.

Rider Switch

Parents should certainly take advantage of Rider Switch, which allows adult guests to take turns with little ones that do not meet the height requirement or do not want to ride. With Rider Switch, one adult can wait with the non-rider (or riders) while the rest of the party enjoys the attraction. Rider Switch is available at select attractions at all four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks.

Guests should check with a cast member on the ride to see if Rider Switch is offered at the attraction in question. Please note that only 3 Guests are allowed per Rider Switch Pass. Click HERE to learn more about Rider Switch and a list of attractions where it is offered.

All guests visiting Walt Disney World with small children should know how to use Rider Switch- adults deserve to have fun too!

Have a Plan for Getting SeparatedChild talking to Disney World cast member.

Just in case a little one wanders off, it is helpful to have them wear identification. There are some clever ways to do this. Some parents put a sticker on their child’s clothes with the parent’s name and phone number. I have also seen parents use a marker to write info on their child’s hand or arm and then cover it with clear tape or a clear or liquid Band-Aid, so it doesn’t smear or wear off.  Another option is pinning a piece of paper to their clothes with information.

As our daughters got older we agreed on a meeting place in case we got separated. An easy place would be the entrance of each theme park. The plan was if we were separated for more than a few minutes, we would head to the statue in that park. However, for smaller children, it might be better to instruct them to stay put until the family finds them.

It is also helpful to teach kids to identify cast members in case they get separated. The cast members wear different uniforms throughout the park but can be identified by their name tags. If a child gets lost or separate from their family, they can be instructed to find a Cast Member to help them.

We taught our daughters at a pretty young age to memorize one of our phone numbers. My number was the easiest to learn, and we would ask them to recite it for practice. This can be handy if a child becomes lost. They can give a Cast Member their parent’s number to help reunite sooner. If parents get separated from their child, they should head to the nearest Baby Care Center. Cast Members are instructed to escort lost children to these centers.

Having a plan for getting separated is essential for any family visiting Walt Disney World with small children. Always be sure to plan ahead and prepare your children.

Plan for Long DaysHotel room beds at a Walt Disney World hotel

Visiting Disney World can result in some long days for kids of all ages. Getting to the parks early is recommended as they get more crowded as the day goes on. Families with small children often take a break in the afternoon to go back to the hotel and nap or rest for a while. If a child is used to napping in the afternoon, try to keep that routine.

The parks are even more magical at night and have a well-rested little one (and parent!) makes it even more fun.  Also, during warm weather, it is nice to take a break during the hottest part of the day and return when it is cooler.  Even now that our daughters are older, we still take a mid-afternoon break to rest then come back and close the park.

If it isn’t feasible to return to the hotel, strollers work for naps in the park. There are shady places in each park where a parent can hang with a napping toddler.

Be prepared that visiting Walt Disney World with small children can be exhausting- for both you and the kids. If you come prepared to expect this reality- it can make it easier to allow time to rest or to nap. Keep your expectations realistic.

Helpful Items to PackItems to Pack for the Park lunchbox tin

Packing a small first aid kit can be helpful. Some basic items to include would be Band-Aids, Neosporin, children’s Motrin or Aspirin, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, lip balm, sunscreen, and any other medications they might need.  Guests can purchase most of these items at hotel gift shops or nearby stores but having them on hand convenient and cheaper.

Disney World does tend to get its fair share of rain. Parents may want to pack umbrellas, extra kid’s clothes and shoes, rain ponchos, and even rain covers for their strollers. Disney fans can rent lockers at both park entrances to keep dry clothes and swap out  wet clothes later. The park also sells umbrellas and rain ponchos.

Another helpful tip is to always have snacks and water handy. Parents will want to make sure their little ones stay hydrated and drink plenty of water, especially when the weather is warm. Disney World offers plenty of fun treats like ice cream, Churros, popcorn, candy etc., so parents might want to pack some healthy snacks to mix in! Some ideas for healthy snacks include trail mix, granola bars, crackers, fruit and nuts.

Plan Your Walt Disney World Vacation!

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About Monique Smalling

Monique and her husband, Ted, live in Sacramento, California with their two daughters, Sydney (14) and Reagan (13). Sydney's first trip to Disneyland was at one year old, and the family has been hooked ever since. The family has been annual pass holders for several years and visit the Happiest Place on Earth every couple of months. Each visit includes 3 to 4 days in the parks before heading to the beach. Monique and her daughters consider themselves huge Disney fans, and love sharing their knowledge and tips on the parks.

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