We officially have our first family vacation in the books, y’all! We went to Orlando, Florida and had the greatest time.
Orlando & I are no strangers to Orlando (LOLLL!) We’ve gone a few times for my birthday, just to visit Disney World so taking Leana there was a no-brainer. We usually visit 2 parks, our favorite is Animal Kingdom so this year we chose to go there + Magic Kingdom. Both parks are very toddler-friendly, with there being many attractions & rides that Leana could enjoy with us.
Animal Kingdom is literally one of my favorite places on earth. There’s sooo many animals & lots of fun things to do & see. Some of our attractions are the Kilimanjaro safari ride, Kali River Rapids, Affection Section & the Festival of the Lion King show. We made sure 3 of those 4 were apart of this year’s trip! We couldn’t ride the Kali River Rapids ride because Leana is still too small but she enjoyed the safari ride! She was sleep for part of it but when she woke up, she was glad to see the animals! It also rained while we were on the safari ride so many of the animals were hiding out but we still got to see a bunch. The Lion King show is always super nice. Leana has never been to a live show like that so she was apprehensive during most of it. She warmed up though & got super into it – she even wanted to hop on the stage! Affection Section is a petting zoo & I think that was Leana’s favorite part! She loved petting the goats & just being up close & personal with the animals.
We’ve only been to Magic Kingdom once before but it was nice to take Leana. It’s definitely a mecca for Disney movie fans & it’s one of the more kid-friendly parks. Little ones can ride just about everything We rode a couple of the classic rides, like the Magic Carpets of Aladdin & It’s a Small World. Unfortunately though, with this being our 3rd day there, Leana was just about over all of the excitement. It was also blazing hot so she ended up developing a slight fever so we didn’t stay at the park long at all. We were able to catch one of the parades so we saw Mickey + Friends, and it was just nice seeing so many attractions that are based on classic Disney movies.
So let me share some key points to help with planning a summer trip to Disney World + navigating the parks with a small child.
BUY YOUR TICKETS & RESERVE PARK DATES, WELL IN ADVANCE! This is the most important tip I can give, with the way COVID has affected Disney’s ticket-buying process. Typically, we would buy our tickets in advance but could pick which park we wanted to visit, anytime up to the date of attendance. At this time though, you must make a reservation to your desired park, immediately after purchasing your tickets or you run the risk of not being able to use your tickets during your stay. On Disney World’s website, they allow you to check for park availability during your preferred visit dates but essentially your trip would need to be planned around that.
- Research the rides & attractions at the parks, before booking your tickets. All of the parks provide some form of entertainment for all ages but some are more toddler-friendly than others. So be sure to read over the descriptions beforehand, that way you can plan for which ones you want to experience. You can also view the park maps before going, which will save time during your visit.
- Make reservations for Disney dining spots, as early as possible too. This was one we missed the mark on. We usually just eat at the small eateries around the park but this year we wanted to take Leana to a few of the themed restaurants that have character showings & whatnot. We waited too long to make reservations so we weren’t able to go to any.
Visit the parks later in the day, if possible. It is HOT as hell in Florida… that’s just the best way I can put it. Especially in the middle of summer. The heat is unreal. & we underestimated the impact the weather would have on Leana. As I said above, Orlando & I are used to visiting during this time but it was a bit much for Leana. Ordinarily we prefer to visit the parks when they open but we’ve also gone once the sun starts going down, while still having plenty of time to experience the parks & all they have to offer. It’s not uncommon for babies & toddlers to experience heat exhaustion, sometimes even developing a fever because of it. This happened to Leana during our visit to Magic Kingdom so we didn’t stay nearly as long as we planned. We wanted to go back later in the day, especially to catch the fireworks show but Leana was way too tired. So I recommend planning to visit the parks late-afternoon.
If you plan on visiting this summer, bring a poncho or umbrella! It’s destined to rain just about every day there during summer but it usually doesn’t last for longer than an hour. It rained while we were at Animal Kingdom but only for about 30 mins so it didn’t affect our visit in the least.
Allow for plenty of time to rest between visits, especially if visiting with babies & toddlers. Walking around the parks & just experiencing so much stimulation from them is exhausting for kids & parents. If you plan to go for multiple days, give yourselves time to rest between visits. Especially if you plan on doing anything outside of going to Disney World. All of us slept so good on the trip because of how tired we were after visiting the parks. However, napping so much kept us from going to dinner, shopping at the outlets, etc. because we just didn’t have the energy to do much else.
Take a stroller or rent one! We utilized both of these options, but Leana was so not interested in riding for most of the trip. I do know how much of a pro it is to have one though! The Disney World parks are massive so younger kids will probably get tired of walking. Also, strollers can hold the bags & all of the souvenirs you end up buying. If you decide against bringing your own, Disney World has strollers you can rent for less than $20!
Be prepared to spend a pretty penny. Disney World doesn’t take the “magical experience” lightly. There is something grabbing everyone’s attention, at every corner of the park. From popcorn & cotton candy, to bubble wands & balloons… it’s impossible to avoid buying SOMETHING. So set a budget if you need to or just plan on making many purchases. You can save money by bringing your own water & food, purchasing Disney souvenirs at one of the many shops (not on Disney property) in the area,
Book a hotel nearby Disney World. Disney has several of their own hotels & resorts but there are also a handful of major hotel companies that have properties on Disney grounds. Being close to the action is great! There’s plenty of food, shopping & fun near Disney so you won’t have to drive far for anything. Many of the hotels also offer shuttle service to the parks so that can save you on parking costs.
Research the COVID restrictions & safety measures beforehand. When I first booked our tickets, Disney World had just lifted its outdoor mask mandate, but masks were still required to be worn within indoor spaces, where social distancing wasn’t as easy. When we actually visited the parks though, the mask mandate seemed nonexistent. Hardly anyone was wearing masks inside of restaurants or shops. There were sanitation stations located all around the park but it’s definitely important to bring your own sanitizing supplies. I know how hard it is to keep a toddler’s hands clean too but we did our best with keeping Leana’s hands wiped + wiping down any surfaces we sat at.
Download the My Disney Experience app. You can link your tickets to the app, view maps for each park, check on attraction wait times, explore contactless dining options & so much more. We use it every time we go & love it.
Alright y’all, I think that’s all I have! If you have any questions, pop them in the comments below. & head to my. instagram for a video recap of our Disney World visits.