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It is that vacation kids and parents both get excited for…Disney! But, what about Disney with toddlers? Ask in any parent or facebook group and you are sure to get a lot of people encouraging a trip with your kids, but surprisingly, you may get even more people telling you not to go to Disneywith toddlers. To be honest, this is one of the hottest topics on Disney pages and groups. So today we are going to break down 5 reasons not to go to Disney with toddlers, and see if they hold any water.
Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing tips to for taking toddlers to the Disney Parks.
5 Reasons Not To Go To Disney With Toddlers (Are They Really Valid?)
- They won’t remember the trip. This is probably the number one reason people argue you should not take a baby or toddler to Disneyland. And let’s be honest, they may have a point. Your 18 month old probably will not remember the trip when they are 18 years old. But you know what else my 18 month old won’t remember? Going to the zoo at this age. Or to the aquarium. They won’t remember playing at the park at this age either. But do we stop doing things with them? NOPE! In fact, taking your child to Disney gives them a new experience and lets them have fun. Not only that, but the Goof remembered a one day trip we took to Disneyland when he was 22 months old and talked about it for nearly a year. In fact, studies have found that children up to age 14 can recall memories from before they were in school. (PS- there are a lot of different studies on this in the journal Memory. It was hard to choose just one to reference.)
Even if they won’t remember it more than a week or two after the vacation, we as parents will. We will be able to remember their favorite shows and rides, their faces, and the events. We will have pictures to remember trips by. One of my favorite Disney memories is the Goof’s first visit at 10 months old. He kept trying to climb into the characters arms, especially Winnie the Pooh.
On top of that, if you have older kids why should they have to wait until the other kids are old enough to remember? That might put them at an age where the vacation will not be as magical. I suppose one option is to go with just the older children and leave the toddler with a family member. And that is great if that is what works for your family, but if you prefer to all go, do not let the worry of if they will remember the trip or not stop you from going. Bottom line- don’t let whether they will remember the trip stop you from going. Heck, I don’t remember much from the trip I took my senior year in high school to Disneyland, but I remember it was fun and I am glad I went.
My personal exception: If the trip is probably a once in a life time trip, I totally get wanting to wait. Walt Disney World for us will most likely be a once in a lifetime (maybe twice) trip, so we will be waiting until our kids are all older (and taller) to go.
- They can barely do anything. Since I mentioned we are waiting until my kids are taller to go to Walt Disney World (since it is a once or twice in a lifetime trip for us) I figured this would be the obvious next reason to tackle. One of the next biggest arguments I hear is that you should wait because your child can not do anything. This is a total myth brought about by those park goers who like to run from thrill ride to thrill ride. In reality, there are way more toddler friendly attractions than not. And even the thrill rides have lower height limits than many other amusement parks.
When we went to Disneyland in 2012 with our friends, their youngest was 46 inches and could ride every thrill ride except California Screamin’. We went over to Knott’s Berry Farm, and the same girl could not even ride their little roller coaster or do some of the swings. She was stuck on the little kiddie rides. Total bummer!
In reality, less than 1/3 of the rides at Disneyland Resort even have height requirements. Only 17 rides have height requirements. 3 of those, the height requirement is only 32″. My twins hit 32″ right when they turned two and guess what? They are SHORT! Only the 7% for height. Another ride is 35″ and another 36″. So, by 36″ your child is down to only a dozen rides they can not do….and there are 50+ rides at Disneyland Resort. (57 to be exact IF you include the Main Street Vehicles and Red Car Trolley)That means there are 40 rides they CAN go on, and only 17 they can not. (And that is only if they are under 32″)
And if you still want to ride those thrill rides your toddler can’t go on, Disney has the Rider Switch Pass. Basically, one parent (and any older/taller kids) ride an attraction. When you enter the attraction, show the cast member (CM) who you will have sitting out with the younger children. They will either give you a return pass, or tell you which CM ahead to ask for one. The pass allows the other adult who sat out, and up to two other people, to return through the fast pass line(without using a FP).
Read our trick about how to combine Rider Switch Pass (commonly called Parent Swap) with Fastpasses to maximize your time in the park by CLICKING HERE.
So even with all of this information (readily available on the Disney Parks websites) why do people insist that Disney with toddlers means skipping out on all the rides? Because these are people that mostly do the thrill rides. I know, I was one of them. Pre-kid, I probably would have agreed that they couldn’t do much. But you know what, once I had a kid, I went to Disney and I loved doing all the rides and watching his eyes light up.
- They can’t handle Disney and will have too many melt downs. This is another common reason I see in a lot of parenting and Disney groups to not go to Disney with toddlers. Joe Schmoe saw a 2 year old having an awful melt down and so he believes that you should never take kids until they are at least 5 years old. Guess what? There are kids 5 and older having melt downs too. In fact, I have always found that toddlers generally do better than older kids in the park.
It is true, Disney is a prime place for melt downs. Why? Kids and parents are both over tired and off their schedule. Kids are over stimulated, there is a lot of noise every where you go (except a few out of the way places), you have been sleeping in a different place, eating different foods, and routine has gone out the window. There will be melt downs.
But, you can do a lot to stop the melt downs before they start. Try to keep your child’s sleep schedule pretty similar. This could mean you head back to the hotel for a mid-day nap. Or maybe you have your child nap in a stroller. This may mean that parents rotate someone leaving the park early with the toddlers while others stay with older children. It all depends on what works for you and your family.
Our most recent trip in March 2017, we tried the mid-day return to the hotel and nap thing. While the twins did nap, and they did well that day, it just didn’t work for us. Day 2 we decided to have them nap in a stroller, and just leave before dinner and get them to bed at their regular time. It worked so much better for us. So the rest of the trip that is what we did. We chose one night where we didn’t go to the park until almost dinner time (we did the beach in the morning) and then had them sleep in their stroller at night, so we could do some of the night time entertainment. That is what worked well for us this trip.
With the Goof, we always had him nap in the stroller and then sleep in the stroller at night. (We always went with older nieces and nephews or other adults when he was little.)
The key is finding what works for your family.
Also, be sure to have plenty of snacks and water on hand. Keeping your kids hydrated and fed can go a long way to curb melt downs.
Finally, know where to go to either burn off some energy, or find a quite spot. At Disneyland Resort- ToonTown and Bugs Land are both great places to go burn off energy for little ones. My favorite quite spots are under the swings in Paradise Pier in Disney California Adventure and Behind Donald’s Boat in ToonTown. Both are always shaded too, which is nice during hot summer days.
- They won’t enjoy it. You have probably seen pictures of toddlers totally scared of the characters or crying on a ride. While they are kind of funny to look at, nobody wants to take their kid to Disney just to have them not like it. Right?
This all comes down to knowing your child, and also being easy going. Most kids will enjoy something at Disney. Maybe your child doesn’t like rides or characters (one of our twins really didn’t care for either of those things) but maybe they like people watching, or playing in the splash pads, or parades. Our one LOVED the Disney Junior Live On Stage show. His eyes just lit up when his favorite characters were right there on the stage in front of him.
The Goof was quite content to meet his favorite characters and then people watch when he was younger. If you also gave him a Mickey Balloon, he was all set.
Most kids will like something, but it comes down to knowing your kids. If your child has sensory issues (like our one twin), or other cognitive disorders, then you might want to prepare for that. (This is a good time to utilize Disney’s Disability Access Service. You can read about my experience using it HERE.)
No matter what, I have yet to meet a child that “hated” Disney. Not to say one doesn’t exist, but I have never met one.
I also like to look at it this way- If your 2 year old does not enjoy Disney that much, at least they were free. If your 5 year old does not enjoy it, well, then you wasted a couple hundred dollars on their ticket.
- Even if the kids have fun, the parents won’t. Kind of going along with all of the previous reasons people give, I see a lot of people that comment that parents won’t get to have fun at Disney with toddlers because you spend the entire time doing what the kids want.
Let’s be honest. As parents we will always put our kids first and so yeah, I can totally see where people think this is what will happen. But you know what? There is something super magical about seeing Disney through your toddler’s eyes. They believe in all of the magic and absolutely show it on their face. There is something about the 2-3 year old age that makes the trip so magical. Don’t get me wrong, we still love the park with the Goof, but you know…he understands what goes into making the magic. My toddlers, they don’t realize the behind the scenes. They just see Mickey Mouse and The Incredibles. They see Lightning McQueen and Sofia the First. They get star struck and their eyes light up. There really is no way to describe it in words, except…Magical! And because I see them enjoying, I enjoy it even more.
Don’t get me wrong, the mornings to get everything and everyone ready and out the door of the hotel were a bit… stressful. But once we walked through that turnstile, it was like we entered a magical world where fairies do exist, dreams really do come true, and magical memories are made that will last a lifetime.
No matter what others say, you can never know if you agree with the idea of doing Disney with toddlers until you try it. If you are ready to book your vacation to Disneyland, check out our friends at Get Away Today. They have great packages available and they have tons of fun extras you can add on to make the trip with your toddler extra special. You can check them out by CLICKING HERE. You can even book on a layaway plan for as little as $175 down!
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Traveling to Disney with Toddlers Loop:
- 1st Stop – Love Our Crazy Life | 5 Reasons Not To Go To Disney With Toddlers
- 2nd Stop – Trips with Tykes | Tips for Disney Cruise Line with Toddlers & Preschoolers
- 3rd Stop – Saving Up for Disney | Walt Disney World Guide for Toddlers at Magic Kingdom
- 4th Stop – Distalgic | Our Kids’ First Trip: Arriving on Property
- 5th Stop – Disney Mamas | 3 Tips for Handling Your Toddlers Schedule Disruptions at Disney Parks