Living near Disney World has a TON of perks. We have the opportunity to go to the Disney parks literally ALL the time. Having a lot of free time and a husband that works, means that I often find myself taking our young daughter alone. While intimidating at first, I have it down to a SCIENCE. Because I’m so often asked how it’s possible to take a young child to Disney World and keep your sanity, I’ve put together some helpful tips for traveling to Disney with Kids by yourself. Here goes:
- Know your child/children
You know your child best. Period. If you know they need a morning nap, go to Disney after the nap! If you know they need down time in mid afternoon, find the baby center and sit in the A/C and watch a TV show for an hour (yes they have these!). Do not push your child beyond their limits if you want to enjoy your day. Schedule breaks, stay hydrated, and use timing of the shows/slow rides to your advantage to break up walking and heat.
- Know the parks and plan ahead
If you haven’t been to Disney World in a while (or Ever), take a look at the park maps. Download the My Disney Experience App. Familiarize yourself with the entrance and different areas of the park you are going to and map out what you definitely want to do and what you may need to skip. Map out your trip so that you are not walking from one side of the park to the other all day. Plan your trip in a well thought out circle of the park, including rest stops. See What to DO (and skip) at Disney World with Young Kids. Know where the baby center is (there is one at each park!) and where you may eat. To save money, we will pack a lunch box with snacks, lunch, etc. and park it on a picnic table when we are ready for a break. To read more about saving money at Disney, see How to Save Money at Disney World.
- Do Fast Passes
This seems like a no brainer, but I’m always appalled at how many people do not know about or reserve fast passes. If you don’t know, each person
visiting Disney can use 3 FREE fast passes a day, which helps you skip long lines. This service is INVALUABLE when you’re by yourself with kids. Fast passes can be booked ahead of your trip on the My Disney Experience app on your phone for you and your child. Use fast passes wisely. Once you’ve mapped out
where you will go in the park and your travel route, think about times and rides/experiences you want that have the longest lines. For instance, at Epcot we LOVE the Frozen Ever After ride and it usually has the longest wait time. So, we always try to get a fast pass for this ride. At Animal Kingdom, we love the Safari so we always get a fast pass for the Safari ride, which can have lengthy wait times as well.
If it comes down to making your fast pass or your child having a temper tantrum right there in Princess Fairytale Hall, just miss your fast pass. You can most likely reschedule or hit the experience on your next trip. After all, who is going to enjoy meeting Cinderella if you’re carrying a screaming 3-year-old.
Here’s a tip: After you have used all 3 of your fast passes for the day, visit a Fast Pass kiosk at the park and you can get another one. Do know that the fast passes you may really want tend to be unavailable/sold out on the day of. But, you may be able to get a less popular fast pass (like meeting a princess or riding It’s a small world) if you try!
- Pack strategically
Bring a large crossover bag or small back pack (Having your hands free is a must with kids!). Include the following in your bag: water bottle (that you can refill), sunscreen, snacks, juice/bottles, swimsuit (if you’re ok with them running through sprinklers at Magic Kingdom), a change of clothes, and a sweet surprise. I don’t consider myself a briber (usually), but that midafternoon temper tantrum can sometimes be shaken with a Minnie mouse lollipop or little bag of Disney gummies.
- Don’t try to do it ALL in a day
If you want the most out of your Disney day, do not try to do it ALL with kids by yourself. Each of the Disney world parks are HUGE and are packed with fun activities. If you are Disney passholders, try going to Disney in the afternoon or in manageable hours for you. We often go from 10am-4pm to miss all that I-4 traffic.
- Use the Disney Photographers
Hey, we want proof we did it all by ourselves- right? But don’t try and pack your Nikon bag when you’re doing Disney alone with kids. And character encounters are more fun when you’re not trying to snap a billion cell phone pics while holding all your kids’ stuff. Use that Disney photographer every chance you can. As a Disney Passholder, this is absolutely a perk (all your pictures can be downloaded free). Even if you’re not a passholder, you can view your pictures for free and purchase the Must Haves.
- Remember that your kids aren’t perfect
Dreaming of taking your precious angels to Disney might not turn out exactly how you thought it would, especially when you’re by yourself without backup. Expect your children to get hot, tired, hungry, and grumpy, and expect that to happen right when you don’t want it to. Be prepared to step out of line to meet a princess after you’ve waited an hour because your kid falls asleep, or to walk away from a photographer in front of the perfect backdrop because someone had a diaper explosion. Hey, we’ve all been there. And I’ve caught a couple of these moments on film. 😂
8. Keep it FUN
It’s easy to forget you’re at the most magical place on earth when it’s 100 degrees, your kid is screaming, and you get caught in one of Florida’s infamous afternoon thunderstorms. Remember that Disney is a MAGICAL place filled with excitement and wonder. Try to stay in the moment throughout your day. Act excited to see princesses or overjoyed to ride the Carousel (even if you’ve done it 500 times). Tell yourself it’s okay to look a hot mess when you get rained on. Dance with the dancing cast members in the parade and be overjoyed to see fireworks over the castle. Children play off you, so if you are excited and feeling the magic, chances are they will be too!