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10 Ways to Enjoy Disney World with Kids

disney world with kids

Living in Florida definitely has its perks— and Disney World is high on the list. With the generosity of family and friends, we were able to spend two days at Magic Kingdom and one day at Animal Kingdom.  It was the first vacation we took as a family where we actually felt like we were on vacation.

I wanted to share some things that I learned along the way and hope will help you out if you get the opportunity to take your family to Disney World or Disneyland.

1. BYOF: For some reason, there are rumors going around that you can’t bring food or drinks into the park. Totally wrong! You can bring all the food and drinks you want! We packed two large water bottles and lots of healthy snacks to help sustain us all through the day and in-between meals (almonds, apples, whole-wheat pretzels were big hits).

2. Arrive early. Plan to be at the park at 8:15am, which realistically means more like 8:45 to any family with young kids. The gates open at 9am and you can be one of the very first families in the park. There are no lines for characters, rides and no crowds to maneuver your stroller around. If you wait until 9:30 to walk through the gates, it’s rush-hour down Main Street.

disney world with kids

3. Tattoo your phone number on the kids. With the insane amount of people at theme parks, I get a little nervous about losing a kid. You can buy bracelets with your contact information on them for the kids to wear, or you can just take a sharpie and write your phone number around their wrist and save a few bucks.

disney world with kids

4. Snag a shaded spot along Main Street for the afternoon parade. Get there at least 15 minutes before if you want to sit curbside and cool off. Ryan stayed with the kids and I ran to the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor and got us all children’s cones with chocolate mouse ears ($2.75 each, which is a steal in Disney World). The portions were HUGE and it was the perfect treat to enjoy while watching the parade.

5. Fast Pass, all the way. For the rides you really want to go on (Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Peter Pan, etc) just get a Fast Pass and save yourself some time and frustration. Fast Pass is free and let’s you shave off 75% of the line wait. When you have little kids, waiting in line is a very stressful job, so save it for the rides that don’t have Fast Passes.

6. Pay attention to days of the week at each theme park. Hit Magic Kingdom on a Sunday, Wednesday or Thursday. Animal Kingdom on a Sunday, Friday or Saturday. Those are the lightest days and will make your trip much more enjoyable. Check out this site for more info on days of the week traffic.

7. Plan your days strategically. Day one is exciting and the kids are full of energy. So take lots of pictures on Day one! Day two will be rough. They will be exhausted, sleep deprived and occasionally collapse in lines. Smiling for pictures is absolutely out of the question. And day three is even worse. If we could go back, we would do Day one at Magic Kingdom. Day two at the hotel pool. Day three at Magic Kingdom, Day four at the pool. And then Day five at Animal Kingdom. (We had a 3-day Florida Resident Park Pass).

disney world with kids
8. Autograph book with picture space. Spend the $18 for the autograph/photo book combo and the $6 for the Mickey/princess pen. It’s worth it. Your kids will have fun adding signatures to the book and meeting all the Disney characters. Make sure to take pics at each character signing, because when you get home you can print out the pics and add them to the book. (And if your pen breaks or you lose it while at the park, just head to any store that sells them and show them your receipt. They will gladly replace it.)

disney world with kids

9. Entertainment bags for the kids. Make waiting in line a lot easier with travel size tubs of play dough (Clementine Art modeling dough is our fav), coloring books, stickers and when all else fails, the iPhone.

10. Do the Baby Swap. It’s not really advertised, but this is perfect for families with kids that are too young or don’t want to go on a certain ride, yet others want to. For example, some rides our daughter was too short for, while our son was fine. What we would do is my husband and son would tell the Cast Member at the entrance that we wanted a Switch Rider Pass and take it with them on the ride, while I hung out with Clare. Once the ride was over, they would come out and get me. Then Ryan would stay with Clare, and I could ride with Jackson. By getting a “Rider switch pass,” we wouldn’t have to wait in line again.


Disney World with Kids: Our Experience

Here are some pics from our two days at Magic Kingdom. It was a lot of fun and the kids cannot stop talking about it.
disney world with kids
disney world with kids
disney world with kids
disney world with kids
disney world with kids
disney world with kids

disney world with kids
disney world with kids
disney world with kids
disney world with kids
disney world with kids
disney world with kids

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15 Responses to 10 Ways to Enjoy Disney World with Kids

  1. Jasmine May 15, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    Awesome tips! I’ve never heard of the rider switch pass, that’s great!

    • Family Sponge May 15, 2012 at 11:09 am #

      Rider Switch Pass is awesome. We also did the single rider line for the roller coaster at Animal Kingdom. Jadah taught me about that one and it’s great if there is a ride that is only for adults and you don’t mind sitting next to a stranger. 🙂

      • Janet June 8, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

        Is the footsie picture at Disneyland, ca? If so where at the park?

  2. Jenni May 15, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    Jen, this post is AWESOME!! I’ve never done Disney with the kiddos, but I will most certainly be referring to this post again when we finally get up the guts to do it! Your pictures are gorgeous, too. 🙂

    • Family Sponge May 15, 2012 at 11:08 am #

      Awwww, thanks Jenni. Glad you like. And maybe in a year or so you can make it there. When Clare was Collin’s age we did Disneyland, but it is much better now that she is 2 1/2. I would recommend waiting a year or two.

  3. Malia {Playdough to Plato} May 15, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    I love this post!! My husband and I haven’t taken our boys to the Happiest Place on Earth yet but I will definitely be using these fabulous tips when we do. Thanks for sharing your ideas and photos.

    • Family Sponge May 15, 2012 at 11:06 am #

      We had a great time! Hope you get to take your boys soon- it’s so magical when they are little.

  4. Charissa June 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    Enjoyed your post A LOT! I haven’t been to Disney World, but have been to Disneyland my fair share of times, and think it’s a magical place. Our favorite family vacations ever.

    • Family Sponge June 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

      Disneyland is great (and VERY similar to Magic Kingdom in Disney World). I agree about it being a great family vacation— I actually felt spoiled and relaxed the whole time. Usually we do road trips and it’s not so relaxing, but more adventurous. Sometimes I just need to go to my “happy place.”

  5. Jennifer I. July 17, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    I know this post is a few months old. I see from your pictures that you took your Bob stroller. We are trying to figure out if we want to bring our’s with us or a cheap one. I love our Bob. Were you ever afraid of it getting stolen while you were there?

    • Family Sponge July 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

      Hi Jennifer. I was really nervous about bringing the BOB (heard about them being stolen too). So we bought a bike lock and chain. Whenever we went on a ride, we parked the stroller in the stroller parking lot and locked up a wheel to the frame. We did this 3 days at Disney World and 2 days at Disneyland and still have our beloved BOB! Have a great trip! And please check back in and let me know how it went.

  6. Leelee June 7, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    Why don’t you just make your own bracelets instead of writing on them with Sharpie? Plus, then you can use them every time you’re in a heavily crowded place where they might easily enough be separated from you.

  7. Anonymous September 23, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    Fascinating blog! Is your theme custom made or did you
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  8. Amy September 6, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

    Can you tell me where on main st is the manhole pictured?

  9. Erin Korstad July 3, 2016 at 7:46 am #

    Where is the plaque on the ground that says “Main Street USA”? We went last year and want to do this pic. We couldn’t find it. We asked 2 cast members and they had no idea. 🙁 I thought at the time maybe it was Disneyland that you took it, but I see here it is Disney World. We are going next week and would love to do this picture! Thanks!

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