We’ve been to Disney World with toddlers four times now, and these are our 10 best Disney World tips 2018 for parents.
We wish we knew these Disney World tips the first time around.
Honestly, we’re still figuring out how everything works.
But these are the Disney World tips you need to know to have the perfect day with your kids.
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10 Disney World Tips For The Perfect Day With Kids
If you’re bringing older kids to Disney World, you have much more flexibility.
These Disney World tips are meant for parents bringing toddlers and little ones.
Disney World really is the happiest place on Earth if you know these simple, insider tips!
1. Arrive Early
I don’t mean 9:00am or 10:00am early – I mean a few minutes BEFORE the park opens.
We only just figured out how important this is.
Not that our kids are a little older (ages 3 & 7) it’s finally easier to get up & out the door early.
In the past, we arrived around 10:00am or 11:00am, and here is what you can expect if you arrive at that time.
This makes a massive difference in your entire day – especially when going to Disney’s Magic Kingdom which takes extra effort to from the parking lot.
We breezed through security and straight onto the monorail – zero lines!
We arrived at Magic Kingdom & the park was nearly empty – zero lines!
While everyone else is stuck queueing up for the monorail, you have 1-2 hours of prime Disney World time.
2. Pre-Book Early Fast Passes
As soon as you buy your tickets, you’ll want to create & link your tickets on the Disney World website.
Then select 3 FastPasses, meaning you can skip the long line & get in the fast lane.
BUT, the real tip here is to select 3 MORNING FastPass tickets.
You want to use up your FastPasses as early in the day as possible.
Once you finish your 3 pre-booked FastPasses, you can keep rebooking FastPasses one at a time.
All. Day. Long.
You first have to finish your 3 initial FastPasses before you can start rebooking.
Make sure you don’t have a FastPass scheduled for later in the day or that’s it – you’ll be waiting in line all day for everything else.
Worst of all, don’t wait until the last minute to make your FastPass reservations.
Otherwise, there will be nothing left.
3. Keep Booking FastPass Tickets
This is the SECRET SAUCE to your magical day & a trick so many Disney World visitors don’t seem to know about yet.
Once you use up your 3 pre-booked FastPasses you can keep rebooking your FastPass one at a time.
Until recently, you had to walk around the park & then queue up for a FastPass Kiosk to rebook.
While these kiosks are still around, you can now book fast passes directly from your smart phone!
Literally, as soon as we enter a FastPass line, one of us is on the phone booking the next FastPass ride.
If the next ride is farther away or we have time to spare in between rides, we will line up to do something with a shorter wait time in between.
So, how do you book these FastPasses & check the most up-to-date wait times?
See #4 below – download the app!
4. Download the App
It’s 100% worth taking a minute to download the Disney app on your phone before going to Disney World.
Not only can you keep track of the FastPass tickets that you pre-booked (#2 above), you can book your next FastPass tickets directly from your phone too (#3 above).
You’ll get interactive park maps, and up-t0-date wait times on all the rides & attractions.
We still love using the Disney World paper maps, but the app is the perfect way to plan your day.
5. What To Do When You Need Break
You can & should be having breaks throughout the day – it will save your sanity.
There are plenty of easy ways to work this into your schedule… go to the shows!
Orlando is hot – shows offer air conditioning.
You’ll be on your feet most of the day – shows offer comfy seats.
If you time it right, you can eat & watch the parades go by.
There are SO MANY SHOWS.
6. Rider Swap
With a toddler and an older child, there will be rides your toddler won’t be tall enough to ride.
The first few times we went to Disney World, we thought one adult would have to sit out on every ride so the other adult could take the older child.
Yes & no.
Disney World makes it easy for adults to take turns riding while someone stays to watch the younger kid.
Here’s how you do it.
When the first adult goes to ride with the older child, have them tell the ride worker that you would like a Rider Swap.
This frees up the second adult to take the younger kid on a smaller ride.
Once the adult & older kid return, just take the Rider Swap pass back to the entrance.
The other adult can go right in again… and the older kid can ride again!
The Rider Swap option is a fantastic option for parents.
You can learn more about Rider Swap here.
7. Take Your Own Photos
If you’re on a “no expenses spared” trip to Disney World, I totally get that.
But you don’t have to spend $199 on the Disney Photo Pass if you don’t want to.
Whenever your kids are taking pictures with characters in the park, Disney World very kindly allows you to take your own photos too.
They will step aside give you a chance to quickly take a few of your own pictures.
It’s a great way to capture the moment without spending a fortune.
And they’re really nice about it, so you don’t feel like a cheapskate.
8. Dining In the Park – Pros & Cons
Here are my best Disney World tips about dining inside the park so far.
Believe it or not, there is definitely a learning curve when it comes to dining in Disney World.
Some restaurants are first-come, first-serve while others require reservations and get fully booked in advance.
We’ve eaten in Liberty Tree Tavern & Mama Melrose’s with a reservation and Harbour House without reservations.
This past visit we booked a table at the Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace to have the character dining experience.
There was plenty of choice in the Crystal Palace buffet, and the kids loved having Winnie The Pooh and friends visit our table during the meal.
We’ve found only two possible problems with dining in Disney World:
- The price – make sure you review the menu before you book, so you realize what you will be spending.
- The commitment – you can cancel up until 24 hours ahead of time without a penalty, but if you cancel on the day they will charge you per person.
We ended up leaving the park one day & returning a few hours later for our dinner reservations because the weather was bad & the kids were tired.
Upside: you won’t need to pay for parking again & the park at night is a totally different place!
9. Bringing Your Stroller – Pros & Cons
If you have kids under 7 years old, a stroller in Disney World is a must-have.
You have a few options here.
1. Bring your current stroller. This is ONLY an option if you have a stroller that is BOTH very compact and easy to quickly collapse! There are a few times during the day that you will have to quickly break that stroller down in order to keep moving.
2. Rent a stroller in Disney World. This is a nice option if you want to rent a double stroller or avoid the hassle of dragging a stroller on & off the tram just to get into the park. The downside of course is the price – you will have to rent for each day you are in the park.
3. Bring an umbrella stroller. These are designed to break down fast & have a low profile.
For the price of just one day stroller rental in Disney World you can buy an umbrella stroller to use for your entire visit & then bring home!
10. Bring Your Own Water & Snacks
After a long day at Disney World we returned to our hotel & another dad asked me in the elevator how our day was because he was bringing his kids the next day for their first visit.
I told him to bring lots of water & he was shocked that we could bring our own into the park!
YES, Disney World allows you to bring your own water & snacks with you.
We always bring 2 bags – one packed with water & snacks that we can leave tied to the stroller using this clip (it doesn’t lock, but the clip just adds a little security – although the park always feels VERY safe).
The second bag is small like this one & contains just a few valuables for the day – cash, phone, camera, etc.
We didn’t worry about the price of eating nice dinners in Disney World, because we bought a grand total of ZERO water bottles during the day.
We splurged on a few Mickey Mouse ice cream treats, but how can you not!
More Disney World Tips
Get more Disney World tips from Traveling Dads here:
- Best time to visit Disney World (including when NOT to visit)
- Should you stay at a Disney World resort?
- Getting the most from character meet & greets
- When does Disney World have the lowest crowds?
- Best places for dad to have a break at Disney World
- Nighttime shows at Disney World ranked in order
- Best Disney World POOLS