What to Do at Disney World with Young Children

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Having a kid born and raised in Orlando means we started going to Disney World when she was very young. We also fortunate enough to go ALL the time. I’m so often asked for what rides or attractions are a “Can’t Miss” and which are a “skip for now” for taking younger kids (I consider this age 4 and younger) to Disney. Of course, these are just my personal favorites. Generally, I’ve found that older kids last a bit longer and thus you can add more to your “Can’t Miss” list. All of the suggested rides here (except the ones noted otherwise) can be ridden by all (no minimum height requirement). So even if you are toting an infant, strap them in the baby bjorn and go!

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Disney with young kids- it CAN be done and it CAN be fun!

Epcot

Epcot is great for meeting princesses and enjoying scenery through different countries. With a young child/toddler with us, we tend to skip the museums and short films around the countries (unless it’s nap time). We will save these, along with trying different cuisine when we go to the Food and Wine festival in the Fall without the little ones. Here is what I recommend at Epcot with young kids:

Can’t Miss:

  • Space Ship Earth (slow ride)
  • Frozen Ever After (get a fast pass for this)- boat ride
  • The Seas with Nemo and
    DSC_0298
    Epcot during the Flower and Garden festival- priceless!

    Friends (slow ride)

  • Living with the Land (boat ride- good for a break)
  • Soarin (IF your kids are 40 inches or higher, typically age 4+)
  • Innoventions
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
  • Journey into Imagination with Figment (slow ride)
  • Meeting Princesses: Belle and Aurora (France), Snow White (Germany), Mulan (China), Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins (England)
  • During Food and Wine and Flower and Garden Festivals, there tend to be awesome (and shaded) kids play areas!
  • Meeting Characters: Daisy (to the right of Space Ship Earth), Donald (Mexico), and the Character spot (Mickey, Minnie, Pluto) *

*if You are a Chase Disney Visa holder, there is a special meet and greet spot that is hardly ever any wait. We always go and have a surprise Disney character encounter (the characters always change, but is usually Mickey/Minnie, Minnie/Pluto, Mickey/Goofy, etc.).

You can Skip (for now):

  • Turtle Talk with Crush (We just don’t get into this. If your kid loves “Crush” from Finding Nemo, however, you may want to go!)
  • Disney & Pixar short film (We never handle 3D glasses well)
  • Test Track (40 inches or taller- too fast for us!)disneyworld12
  • Mission Space
  • Advanced Training Lab
  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure
  • Impressions de France
  • Gallery of Arts and History
  • The American Adventure and American Heritage Gallery
  • House of the Whispering Willows
  • Stave Church Gallery
  • Reflections of China
  • Mexico Folk Art Gallery

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom is truly magical. It is the most visited of the Disney Parks and has the most to offer for young kids in terms of rides, meet and greets, and play areas. Your little ones can meet a variety of characters and ride a ton of rides!

Can’t Miss:

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Just splurge on the balloon. It’s so worth it.
  • Meet Mickey Mouse (and get one of those precious and overpriced Mickey Mouse balloons)
  • RailRoad (Need a nap? Hop on the train and ride!)
  • Prince Charming Carousel- a classic!
  • It’s a Small World
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Meet Cinderella/Elena and Rapunzel/Tiana
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle (this is a fantastic and under-rated encounter for little ones)
  • Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid (then go meet Ariel!)
  • Meeting Disney Pals at the Circus-Daisy, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy
  • Barnstormer (Perfect “first” roller coaster for young ones. Must be 35 inches or taller)
  • Carnival water area (run through sprinklers!)
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant

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    Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Mad Tea Party
  • People Mover (Need to get off your feet? Hop on and enjoy the breeze!)
  • Tomorrowland Speedway (hop in the car with your little one. They love it! Must be 32 inches or taller)
  • Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin (then go meet Buzz right at the exit)
  • Stay for the Firework Show

 

You can Skip (for now):Carousel

  • Tinkerbell (Unless your child is really into it. The line can be long!)
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic (3d glasses don’t work well for us)
  • Peter Pan’s Flight (While I LOVE this ride, it’s difficult for young children to see everything and quite often a LONG wait. Save this till they’re older)
  • Haunted Mansion (Another favorite, but some young kids will get scared. Our daughter loves this ride, but not all do!)
  • Liberty Square Riverboat (This is fun- but HOT with limited seating. This is one to skip for now).
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Can be Jerky… You must be 40 inches or taller)
  • Splash Mountain (we do love this ride, but you must be 40 inches or taller. Many young ones don’t like to be wet for the day)
  • Monsters Inc. Laughing Floor
  • Stitch’s Great Escape
  • Astro Orbitor (scary for young ones- heck, I’m scared!)
  • Space Mountain (Must be 44 inches)

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is an absolute blast. With the new Pandora area on top of all of the animal interactions and safari, this park can be a TON of fun for little ones.

Can’t Miss:

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Boneyard Play area at Animal Kingdom
  • The Boneyard Play area (Phenomenal outdoor play area)
  • TriceraTop Spin
  • Kilmanjaro Safari
  • Visit Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and see ALL the animals
  • Walk the Maharajah Jungle Trek
  • Finding Nemo Show (Really this is phenomenal)
  • Meet Pocohantas (the only place to meet her at Disney World)
  • Meet Mickey and Minnie at Adventure’s Outpost (One of the only places to meet them together)
  • Festival of the Lion King Show (probably one of the top shows at Disney)
  • Na’vi River Journey (slow boat ride in the new Pandora area)
  • Take the Wildlife Express train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch and enjoy the petting zoo
  • Meet Doc McStuffins and Rafiki
  • Dino Land Dance Party
  • Stay for the new Rivers of Light Evening show

You can Skip (for now):

  • Dinosaur Ride (Can be jerky for little ones, must be 40 inches to ride)
  • Avatar Flight of Passage (Must be 44 inches to ride)
  • Primeval Whirl (Must be 48 inches to ride)
  • Expedition Everest (Must be 44 inches to ride)
  • Kali River Rapids (Must be 38 inches… If you’re okay being wet, go for it!)

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is great for  sing-along shows and performances, all perfect for little ones. If you have a Star Wars loving prince, Holloywood Studios will likely be his favorite park. Disney has also somehow found a way to make the Frozen Sing-Along show enjoyable even for parents who have seen Frozen 10000 times. Literally. I can’t wait to see the Toy Story Land and Star Wars extension coming in 2018. For now, here we go:

Can’t Miss:

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Waiting for Daddy outside Tower of Terror
  • Beauty and the Beast Live (so good- Broadway style)
  • The Great Movie Ride (so good- but leaving soon to prepare for 2018 changes)
  • Toy Story mania
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid Show
  • Go See Disney Junior Live on Stage (Super fun for little ones, but be prepared to sit on the floor!)
  • Meet Disney Junior characters- Jake, Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins and Pluto
  • Meet Star Wars Characters- BB-8, Chewbacca, Kylo Ren
  • Meet Woody and Buzz
  • For the First Time in Forever- Frozen Sing along Show
  • Meet Olaf
  • Meet Cruz Ramirez (from Cars)
  • The Music of Pixar Life
  • Star Wars: Path of the Jedi
  • Star Wars Launch Bay theater
  • Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (honestly this is just a nice time to sit in the shade and relax for 20 minutes. The show is pretty good too.)
  • Stay for the phenomenal Fantasmic show at night!

You can Skip (for now):

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Sweet cousins loving Disney!
  • Twilight Tower of Terror (Scary, must be 40 inches to ride)
  • Rock n’ Roller Coaster (fast, must be 48 inches to ride)
  • Star Tours- The Adventure Continues (must be 40 inches, simulated ride)
  • Muppet Vision 3d (again, 3d shows don’t work well for us)

For tips on taking kids to Disney solo, check out Taking Kids to Disney by yourself.

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1 comments on “What to Do at Disney World with Young Children”

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