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Should You Visit Walt Disney World with a Toddler? | The Pros and Cons of an Early Visit

Should You Visit Walt Disney World with a Toddler? | The Pros and Cons of an Early Visit

After nearly four weeks, I'm finally getting ready to blog about our Walt Disney World trip. I blame all of those December holidays that happened right after we got back. (Ha!)

In a way, I'm glad I've had a chance to step back and think about our trip. I had a lot of fun, but it was just so much different than every other Disney trip I've had.

Should You Visit Walt Disney World with a Toddler? | The Pros and Cons of an Early Visit

Not better. Not worse. Just different.

Should You Visit Walt Disney World with a Toddler? | The Pros and Cons of an Early Visit

The trip was the first one for our then 18-month-old daughter. I am a huge Disney parks fan, so I'd been planning Britton's first visit since the moment that I found out that I was pregnant. (Yes, I'm a total overachiever.) My husband also had some firsts on the trip, as he'd only ever been to Magic Kingdom.

Should You Visit Walt Disney World with a Toddler? | The Pros and Cons of an Early Visit
That face is worth all of the stress that goes into planning a big family trip!

If you're thinking about taking your toddler to Disney World, I'd recommend pondering the topics below before you commit.

PROS

  • There is something incredible about a small child's face when they have that first magical moment. Britton was stunned by the fact that Mickey was ACTUALLY there when we visited him in the Magic Kingdom's Town Hall. Then, the joy that she got from waving to the characters during the Magic Kingdom parade is something that I'll never forget. 
  • They're free. Kids under 3 don't need a separate ticket. With a one day single park pass for kids hover around $90, that's a significant savings if you choose to take your 2 year old instead of waiting until he's 3 or 4. 
  • They can use the Baby Centers. When Britton needed a nap during the day, we would take her to the baby center in whichever park we were visiting. Run by a Disney parks attendant, the baby centers have big, clean changing tables, nursing rooms, high chairs, and toys. The centers also have formula, clothes, toys, pacifiers, and more for sale. 
  • Cast members go out of their way to interact with the little ones. While cast members are nice to (mostly) everyone, it seemed like they would pay special attention to Britton and the other toddlers--giving them high fives, calling them "prince" or "princess," and asking them about their day. 
  • There are A LOT of rides toddlers can enjoy! The only things that you can't take your toddler on are Expedition Everest, Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Rollercoaster, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Kali River Rapids, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Indy Speedway. Other than that, you're good to go! Word of warning, though: just because you can take your toddler doesn't mean that you should. We had a freak out during It's Tough to Be a Bug when Britton got scared. You'll have to make judgment calls based on your own child's personality and fear levels. 
Should You Visit Walt Disney World with a Toddler? | The Pros and Cons of an Early Visit
And then, there are the meltdowns.

CONS

  • Forget about the nighttime entertainment. The parades and evening shows are some of my favorite things to do at Disney World. But when you've got a toddler who get very, very cranky when she stays up past 7:30 p.m., those later programs have to go on without you. Of all of the things we missed, this seemed to have the most impact. Missing Holiday Wishes, Fantasmic, and Illuminations left a big hole in this trip for me. 
  • You'll have to skip the big rides. I, for one, am a theme park thrill ride junkie, and going to Expedition Everest, Rock 'n' Rollercoaster, and Tower of Terror are non-negotiable to me. Thankfully, my mom (who hates thrill rides) was along for the trip, so she watched Britton while we went on the big kid rides. There's always Rider Swap if you're there with your significant other, but I don't care for waiting in line and riding by myself. 
  • You will come to hate your stroller. You open it up when you leave your room. You close it up when you get on the bus. You open it up when you get off of the bus. You have to find stroller parking. You have to go back and find your stroller in stroller parking. I know little ones can't walk all of the time, and I know that strollers are a necessity, but I was so glad to pack that thing up at the end of the trip!
  • Your child won't remember it. When I was talking about our trip, this was the one thing that kept coming up. "But she won't remember going!" people told us. If you're only going to Disney World once, and you want your child to have memories of the experience, I'd hold off until he or she's 7 or 8. My toddler had a blast, and we took lots of pictures, but I know she won't remember this specific trip as she gets older. 
Of course, it all comes down to your personal preference and your family's expectations of the trip. If you want to spend 15 hours a day in the park, catch all of the shows and the fireworks, and eat at Victoria and Albert's every night, I'd recommend waiting until the kids are older. But if you're willing to go at a much slower pace, visit lots and lots of characters, and ride Dumbo for 15 times in a row, then I'd say go full steam ahead with your trip! If you do decide to take your baby or toddler, check out my Disney for toddlers tips!

When do you think is the best age to take kids to Disney? How old were you on your first trip? Did you wait until a certain age for your kids?

P.S. If you want to read more about our visits to Walt Disney World, reviews of on-property hotels, and more, head over here!

Should You Visit Walt Disney World with a Toddler? | The Pros and Cons of an Early Visit