Before going to Walt Disney World, some warned us that it would be a nightmare traveling with our 18-month old toddler. He’ll be tired, they warned us. He can’t go on the rides, they said.
Luckily for us, we decided to bite the bullet and booked our dream Disney vacation.
My middle son was 39″ and didn’t meet the 40″ minimum height requirement for many of the thrill rides. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was one of the exceptions. On this medium thrill ride, riders only need to be 38″. Thanks to the Disney Photopass Photographers (which took all the photos here unless otherwise noted) you can see my pint-sized preschooler is enjoying the ride and waving at the camera – both boys are in tie dye (while my 6 yo and I cling on for dear life):
The baby was big enough to go on most of the rides with us and he LOVED them all. His favorites were Nemo (in Epcot), The Little Mermaid (in Magic Kingdom), The Haunted Mansion (Magic Kingdom), and Buzz Lightyear (Magic Kingdom), pictured below.
The kids loved meeting the characters, and even my 6 year old (who we have nicknamed “Grump” at his request) greeted the characters with a hug.
My 4 year old has been the biggest Toy Story fan his whole life, so when we stumbled upon Woody and Jessie at the base of Splash Mountain, he couldn’t have been happier. He hugged Woody, telling him “I have loved you my whole life.”
That moment in itself made the whole trip worth it.
Before leaving for the trip, I made the kids a personalized Photo Mat using my Silhouette Cameo. The kids loved collected autographs from the characters, and the mat gave my older son a “purpose” when first meeting the characters. Since he can be shy, having a task helped him know what to do with himself.
We got to meet Jango Fett, and the boys were so excited to meet the real deal…well except the baby. Note that as much as you might want to get memorable character photos with your toddler, don’t get your hopes up too high. My toddler who is comfortable with most people was terrified of many of the characters. So I got a few pictures like this:
And lots more pictures with only two of the “brothers”.
As a tip, some of the best (free) character interactions were with the Jedi Training Academy. See my full post on the topic!
Thanks to the Photopass Photographers, my oldest even “met” Tinkerbell. He is convinced that the photographer saw her flying around and had him put out his hands to “catch” her. Since he didn’t see her until he got the photos, he thought it was all the more magical.
Our Top Tips for Traveling to Disney World with a Toddler
- Bring or rent a stroller (obviously) – one that is comfortable enough for your toddler to nap in. Keep to his or her normal nap schedule and go on the “big” rides while you let your toddler rest.
- Don’t overschedule. Make sure you are schooled in all things Disney before going (a successful trip does require some base knowledge of the ins and outs), but leave the schedule open enough to follow your kids’ leads.
- Use Fast Passes on the rides that will have the longest waits throughout the day. Since our toddler was not great in an hour long line, my husband had to skip out on Toy Story Mania.
- Use Rider Swap if you have other kids. My boys got to ride rides like Mine Train, Kali Rapids, and Splash Mountain twice because one of us had to wait with our toddler.
- Bring lots of snacks and a cooler for milk/snacks. We fed our son in line and that helped him to bide the time.
At the end of the trip, the boys had this great memento. We can’t wait to choose which photo from our trip to frame!