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Heading out to Walt Disney World soon with the kids? I am sharing with you today some of my Walt Disney World park tips for parents. I have literally walked through Disney’s Hollywood Studios with a wailing toddler behind me.
It was my son. It was hot, we’re from Washington, and he was not a happy camper. I’ve been there parents. From how to avoid the epic meltdown I had all the way to reserving dining for your family. Friends, let me help you plan that family vacation.
Walt Disney World Tips for Parents
- Stay on Disney property! I hit you very quickly with an excited Walt Disney World park tips for parents but the perks cannot be beaten. Magical Express, Extra Magic Hours, etc.
- Magical Express alone is a life saver. When you travel as far as we do from one side of the country to the other, it is so nice to have someone else worrying about the driving and not having to lug around car seats for the kids on a plane.
- Extra Magic Hours mean less stress too. If you’re early risers, I recommend going to the morning Extra Magic Hours and get through the parks to nap later back at the resort hotel. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is perfect for this.
- While I love the Rivers of Light show, sometimes an early evening back at the resort hotel is needed. You can get to Disney’s Animal Kingdom early and be back for a relaxing evening.
- Children under the age of three do not require a theme park admission and eat free at buffets and family-style restaurants. This includes Character Dining.
- Keep an eye out for free dining during August and September (dates may vary). We have used this feature for our trips over the past several years. It saves so much money, you guys.
- Baby Care Centers are located in each park. Normally toward the front near Guest Services. Most contain a nursing area, children supplies for purchase, child-sized toilets, high chairs, first aid, etc. A great place to cool off and is quiet for resting time.
- If you’re short on handling cameras and kids, try using PhotoPass. Cast Members will take the photo for you with their cameras and you can purchase the photos at the photo centers. Most PhotoPass Cast Members will also take a photo of you with your camera. Especially if you smile sweetly while you ask.
- I also recommend checking out the Memory Maker options at Walt Disney World. This is a fantastic option to have someone else take the photos and not having to worry about bringing the camera to the parks.
- Start your day early. Have someone grab some “on-the-go” breakfast snacks the night prior at the resort food court and store in your fridge for the morning. Get ahead of the crowd to the larger attractions first.
- There is nothing wrong with taking a break in the middle of the day for pool time or a nap back at your resort hotel. I encourage this, even if you’re traveling with just adults. I know it has helped me from being Grumpy Pants later.
- Plan your Advanced Dining Reservations EARLY! Reservations can be made as early as 180 days from your arrival to Disney. It is smart to plan ahead and make reservations so you don’t have to wait very long to be seated at your selected Disney Dining.
- If you’re looking to book dining packages, be sure to check online via a desktop or laptop computer. I have struggled to try and book on the apps or via mobile. It is much easier through the Walt Disney World website.
- If you cannot get into dinner (the highest volume of the day) at restaurants, consider lunch. They are usually the same or similar menus and are a lot easier to get in to dine. Plus, the meals are usually less expensive during lunch due to smaller portions. Bonus!
- While waiting in line, try playing games with your kids. The popular “Heads Up!” game app that a lot of people play while in line is a lot of fun.
- Many Disney Resorts offer activities for families and kids at the resort. Things like outdoor movie nights or crafts that kids can make. Check with the front desk to see if they have a handout with all of the listed activities for the resort.
- All theme parks and Disney areas offer a small area for the younger kiddos. Safe little playground areas with water features or other climbing toys to play on. Check out 10 Things to Enjoy at Walt Disney World Resort Hotels.
- Ask a Cast Member (even if it’s a different park question regarding times, etc.) for any questions you have. Each is usually equipped with a weekly info packet that they can easily take out and look up park times, parade routes, firework schedules, etc. at ANY park.
- Staying on Disney property? When shopping at select Disney Stores, be sure to ask the retail Cast Member if you can have your items delivered to your hotel.
- Rent a stroller from an awesome local company. I personally recommend Main Street Strollers who offer great double and single strollers that are Walt Disney World approved. They even deliver to your resort hotel!
- They will have you fill out a sheet with your room number, resort hotel, etc. and have it delivered to package pickup Guest Services at your resort hotel (normally by next day). This way, more hands to handle the kiddos and not worry about bags in strollers while you are enjoying rides and attractions.
- Need a night out? It’s a bit pricey but Disney does work with child care services for in-room babysitting and offers supervised activity centers for kids ages 3-12 years old (must be potty trained). A big Walt Disney World Park tips for parents.
- In-room babysitting is for ages 6 months – 12 years. Prices by hour vary for in-room babysitting and the activity centers do offer dinner and a snack for the kids. Keep in mind, this must be reserved in advance. You can even hire a babysitter to go to the parks with you for an extra hand. Check out the following Disney Parks website to book your child care services: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/child-care-services/
Nothing Has to Be Perfect on a Disney Vacation
And just in case you need a reminder that it is okay to have fun and not worry about “the perfect vacation”, take it from my photo below. I had envisioned this perfect photo in front of Cinderella Castle. This was the result:
My daughter wondering away, my son yelling for her, my husband trying to help me reign the kids together, and I just lost it laughing. You know what though? This is one of my favorite photos from our trip.
Take everything in stride. Some of the best moments are the imperfect ones. These Walt Disney World park tips for parents will hopefully make your magical vacation a little less stressful.
More Walt Disney World Vacation Tips:
- Ultimate Guide to a Disney Solo Trip
- Why the Best Time to Visit Walt Disney World is in the Fall
- Yacht vs Beach Club at Walt Disney World
- Dealing with Fibromyalgia at Walt Disney World
- How to Plan a Walt Disney World Birthday for Kids
- How to Plan a Disney World Vacation