Disney World: Toddler Style

to anyone that knows me, it is not secret that I am high-key Disney World obsessed. Disney is a special place to me because it is a spot that holds a lot of my earliest childhood memories, some firsts, lots of adventure, and lots of amazing memories. Disney is the one place I was most excited to take Noah too.

Disney is also the place I was the most nervous to take Noah to. However, he has now been over 8 times and we L O V E every moment of every trip!

Disney with a Toddler 101:

What to Bring//The Essentials: 

Stroller. 100000% NON NEGOTIABLE! You have the option to bring your own or to rent one from the park. Either is do-able however I prefer to bring my own because I know it's clean, it reclines for a mid day nap (we will revisit this later ) unlike the park ones, and I can load it up with all my needs from the car right when we get there vs. hand carrying all the extras until we get to the rental booth.

Stroller Fan. If you are visiting Disney World between December 20-21, this may not be necessary but all other 355 days of the year, you'll need it! Okay, okay, I may be being a little dramatic but for real, this Florida heat doesn't play so, if you are headed to see the mouse, make sure to check the forecast. If it is showing 80 degrees or higher, I would make SURE to have one!

Cooling Towels. See above. these things are LIFE SAVERS. they don't take up any room so there is no reason to not have them. Basically, you get them wet, ring them out and then place them on your neck and it is an instant cool down. For N, I fold one up into thirds and place it behind his neck and then fold another one in half and place it under his legs as he is usually in shorts.

Snacks. All the snacks. Don't let your little get hangry. Though there are plenty of places to stop and grab a bite in the park, they are pricey and we all know our littles eat like birds. Also, if you have quick snacks on hand, you can easily and quickly prevent a toddler meltdown in line.

Soft Sided Cooler Bag. Holy grail! Ours is an 8-can sized cooler bag that I fill with 2 heavy duty ice packs, his water, my water and usually a milk for him.

How to Make it Through the Day//The Game Plan:

There are several different approaches you can take to "do Disney". Honestly I think it just depends on you, your family and especially your little.

1. The Plan Plan Planner. With the newer Disney World App, you can pick 3 fast passes a day. Fast passes mean you basically jump the regular line and get on the three rides of your choosing within 5 minutes of getting in line. Once you have used your three advanced ones, you can pick one after the other after the other while in the parks. This is great because if you want a set in stone plan for the day this is the way to do it. You can reserve dining times, fast pass times, check wait times for other rides, etc.

2. The Spontaneous Planner (me). I personally go into the park with my three fast passes and then wing it based on how N is doing and what he seems to be into that day. He LOVES the parades and dance party in Magic Kingdom so I make sure to always place ourselves in a time-position to be able to make those. Other than that, if he is more into the rides one day then we try to go for all the rides. If he is more into the characters then we try for the characters. My personal "rule" when Disney-ing with him is that we do not wait in lines over 15 minutes. Which may sound crazy but it is so do-able.

3. The Wild Card. This type of Disney-go-er goes into the parks with no plans at all and wings it totally. This isn't necessarily bad but it does open a lot of room for a grouchy toddler. Paying attention to wait times is crucial as is  making sure you have a variety of indoor/outdoor options to beat the heat and also at certain times of the year, the inevitable rain.

Once you have decided how you want to to Disney, you should also factor in these quick tips:

Nap Time.  we all know toddlers don't play when it comes to naps. They NEED them. Luckily, Noah is super easy going and will nap in his stroller when he gets tired. I usually try to find a quieter spot for the first 15-20 minutes of his nap and then stealthly slip on some earmuffs to help block out the noise to keep him sleeping for his usual hour and a half. While he naps, I usually browse the gift shops, take a monorail ride and resort hop or, just find some ac and relax. The other option is always to leave the parks prior to nap time, nap at the hotel and then come back when they are up again!

Special Events.  Disney World holds a lot of special events that are not necessarily included with your ticket for example the Not so Scary Halloween Party and Very Merry Christmas Party. These are held from 6pm-Midnight on select nights throughout September-January. Check their calendars prior to your trip to help plan your day around these.

The Inevitable Toddler Meltdown. We have all been there mama, so don't fret. Just be prepared. When we are in the park, I try to keep Noah in his stroller as long as possible partly because it is hot AF and carrying him is like being in a sauna and partly because with all of the people there, to me it is the safest spot for him in certain areas like right on Main Street USA. All of the rides require strollers to be left in specified areas. So when we get ready for a ride, I take him out and let him walk while holding my hand. He usually walks right up to the ride and then gets in, we ride the ride, he walks back and then into the stroller. There are several less crowded spaces around the parks where I will let him roam more as well as opportunities for them to get out and dance and such but it just makes me very nervous to have him still a little unsteady on his feet in large crowds-and I am NOT a leash momma.

Remember to Just Have Fun. It is funny because everytime I go to Disney I see several parents or families that just look miserable. They are over tired, too hot, hangry, etc. You are literally signing yourself up to be hotter than hell in a park where it is also humid AF and has at LEAST 60,000 other people per day.  It is very easy to get annoyed at something throughout the day but you just have to be prepared. Mix indoor and outdoor activities, remember snacks and waters, and just enjoy the parks with your littles!

What are your essential Disney tips?