Tuesday, 25 April 2023

Tips For Visiting Walt Disney World With Kids

Visiting Walt Disney World With Kids

So you’re visiting Walt Disney World with kids! One of the most exciting and highly anticipated holidays you’re ever likely to take – but boy oh boy, can it be tricky with kids! The overwhelming heat and humidity, the long distances to walk, the sensory overload, the long queues…it’s a lot! But don’t worry – I’ve got you. There ARE ways to make things run more smoothly so that you can all get the best out of your time at Walt Disney World.

I visited Walt Disney World in September 2022 with my 3 children who were aged 9, 7 and 6 at the time. As a huge Disney fan myself it was a trip I had been desperate to take since childhood, but it took me 40 years to save for – so I was determined to get the most out of it.

I spent years doing as much research as possible, but I still made some rookie mistakes and there are things I would do differently next time – but the good thing about that is that now I can impart all of the tips and tricks I learned along the way on to you!

So without further ado, here we go!

 Tips for Visiting Disney World with kids

       Hire A Stroller

I was in two minds about doing this as my children are older and haven’t used a stroller at home for over 5 years, but I had heard a lot about how draining the heat and humidity combined with long park days and lots of walking can be for children – so I decided to hire one. I didn’t want to pay the $50 per day charge to hire a double stroller from Disney themselves, so I hired from Strollerfy online – I paid around $100 in total for a double stroller for the entirety of our 2 week trip and it was well worth it. My children used it most days to take naps in and rest in while we were queuing, as the heat really did wipe them out! I don't think we would have managed to fit as much in without.

Plan Around The Weather

This can be easier said than done if you have to stick to visiting during school holidays, but it’s definitely worth considering the impact of the weather on your trip. The intense heat and humidity during September proved to be a lot for my children to handle, and they also really struggled with the daily storms due to hurricane season too – they’re scared of thunder and lightning so this was not good planning on my part as it happened numerous times every single day. Next time I would plan our visit in January as it tends to be less stormy and much cooler, which I know will work better for my children.

      Have Plenty Of Cooling Supplies

Although I didn’t personally find any of the cooling items that were recommended to me to be particularly useful, my kids did!  I think it helped them to feel that they had some level of control over the heat, so they enjoyed using handheld fans and cooling towels throughout the day...and it meant that whenever they complained about the heat, I could hand them something to help - I think a lot of it was all about the placebo effect (and of course we took lots of regular rest breaks too!), but having things on hand is definitely handy.

      Schedule Regular Breaks

Even if it seems like everyone is powering through just fine, you need to make sure that you’re not forgetting to keep everyone fed and watered at regular intervals. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience on this one – Walt Disney World with kids is total sensory overload and there was one day in particular that my daughter was extremely grumpy and I just couldn’t figure out why her mood wouldn’t lift. Until I realised that it was 6pm….and she hadn’t eaten since breakfast! 

The day had just slipped away from me and I had genuinely not realised the time – the rest of us had chosen some snacks while she'd been napping, and I just didn't realise that she'd gone all day without anything... no wonder she was grumpy! Its so easy to think “Oh we’ll stop for a drink after the next ride…” but before you know it, another hour has passed and you’re dehydrated! Schedule regular breaks and make sure to eat and drink during them. Don’t make my mistakes!

       Leave The Parks Around Midday

       Especially if you're visiting Walt Disney World with kids during the hotter months - the middle of the day is like being in Satans armpit! The feels so thick and sticky that its like inhaling soup, it feels like there is no air and you can feel your skin tingling with the sun beating down on you - even when you're slathered in sun cream! There is honestly just no fun in trying to stick it out and battle on around the parks in heat like that with children in tow, the best thing you can do is head back to your resort or villa and chill out in the air con or at the pool for a while. Come back to the parks later when the heat has eased a little.

      Don’t Make Promises

       This is one I need to take my own advice on! I have a tendency to get over-excited and carried away by things, so when I find out about something that I know my kids will love - I tell them all about it! Which of course gets them excited to do certain things, and gets their hopes up...but the problem with a holiday like this is that you just never know what might happen. For example, I told my daughter all about how her favourite Star Wars character Rei wanders around Galaxys Edge meeting guests - my daughter was so excited to meet her, and wore her Rei costume in anticipation of this! But could we find Rei anywhere?! Nope! We tried on multiple days and never once managed to find Rei. My daughter still talks about how sad she was not to get to meet her. Lesson learned - keep it to yourself and if it does happen? Then its a great surprise!

      Budget Their Spending Money

       One of the down sides of visiting Walt Disney World with kids is that you have to exit almost every ride and even restaurant...through the gift shop! When you're travelling with kids, this can be every parents nightmare. I found that the best way to deal with this was instead of buying things for my kids at random, I gave them each their own spending money which needed to last them for the entirety of our trip. I kept each childs money in separate purses and helped them to keep a tally of how much they had left each time they chose to buy something. This helped to avoid meltdowns, as they knew they could buy things if they chose to - but it also helped them to plan their spending more sensibly as they knew they wanted to keep some money back incase they saw something better further into the trip.

      Make Use Of Refillable Popcorn

       Snacks can be expensive at Disney World, so one of my favourite things was the refillable popcorn. You buy a bucket from one of the many Popcorn vendors around the park, and as long as you have that bucket with you - you can have it refilled for around $3, as many times as you want! The best thing to do is buy a bucket at the start of your trip and be sure to bring it with you to the parks each day. Having a constant supply of popcorn to snack on was a lifesaver for my kids!

     Water Parks & Pools Are Your Friend When You're At Walt Disney World With Kids!

       We also skipped the water parks as I'm usually not a fan of them, but Disney's water parks are out of this world! Our day at Typhoon Lagoon ended up being one of my favourite days of the whole trip - its such a welcome break from busy parks and hectic running around! It also gives the chance to relax and have some fun in the water as the parks can be sensory overload for them too. The same applies to having some chill out time at the pools - my kids loved doing this as they usually made friends there, and they really enjoyed the down time.

     Don’t Forget To Apply For DAS If Your Child Has Certain Needs

       The Disability Access Service can be applied for online before your visit or at Guest Services in any of the 4 Disney parks. Guests with physical disabilities are not usually given the DAS pass as all queues are accessible to mobility aids, but those with mental or sensory needs can make use of the DAS pass which allows you to queue virtually for rides instead of physically standing in the queue. This can be a real game changer with neurodivergent children who struggle with queuing.

       Respect Their Boundaries

      Again this is a mistake I personally made. My youngest two children are not fans of rides, but I had all these ideas in my head of how much fun it would be to go on certain rides as a family - and I just wasn't ready to let go of that vision so I encouraged my kids onto rides that they didn't want to go on. But it rarely went well! Kids have their boundaries in place for a reason, and trying to force them to do things they don't want to do is unlikely to result in a positive experience - just make use of Disney's rider swap service instead!

       Don’t Forget To Make Time For Play!

       It's so tempting as an adult at Disney World to want to cram as much into your time there as possible, and I found that I was often trying to rush us around the parks so that we could get a good spot for the fireworks or make it to a ride before the queue got bigger - but a lot of the time, my kids just desperately wanted to stop and play!

       Disney has a lot of fun play areas and interactive elements around the parks such as drums to play in Animal Kingdom or a soft play area in the queue for the Dumbo ride - they loved these things, and in hindsight I wish I'd allowed them more chance to just play at those instead of always rushing us on to the next thing!


I hope these tips are useful for your trip. Remember  that as much fun as a visit to Walt Disney World, it can be overwhelming even for adults – so remember that you may need to make allowances for children, and don’t expect them to be in the Best Mood Ever! 100% of the time – it just isn’t realistic! They WILL get tired and grumpy, even in the Happiest Place On Earth!

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