Disney for Little Tykes

I haven’t been to WDW enough to recall what rides might appeal to a toddler? The tamest ride may be the tea cups or Dumbo’s flying elephants. Beyond that, is it just the magical experience? (We have a 8 year old, too…and we all don’t care for the wildest of the rides, anyway.) I guess I shouldn’t forget Zoo Disney(?) which was just being built on my one and only trip to WDW. So, at each WDW park, what might appeal to a toddler?

Bonus Q: I hear Disney has a “family-split” policy where one adult can ride with a child while the other adult waits with the little one. Then, the two adults switch positions without waiting in line again. But! Does the eligible child get to go again? Otherwise, the 2nd adult would be riding alone. :frowning:

While we read-up on Disney unofficial guide books, thanks in advance for the tips on the SD! - Jinx

It depends on the child, but there are a lot of rides and shows that you can bring a toddler on. It’s a Small World is a perenial favorite among small children, as is most of the rest of Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom (it contains stuff like Peter Pan, Snow White, Dumbo, etc). Depending on your child’s tolerance of darkness, you might be able to handle Pirates of the Caribbean or the Haunted Mansion. Those rides completely freak out some kids but don’t bother others at all.

In the other parks, you can do the Mexico ride (Gran Fiesta), Spaceship Earth (though this one might get a little long for a little one), and the Safari in Animal Kingdom. In addition to these, there are plenty of shows, parades, and the like to keep a child interested.

I’ll take this opportunity to shill once again for “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World”, by Bob Sehlinger, along with their Web site, www.touringplans.com. Len Testa, once of the mathematical geniuses that helped create the software for their touring plans, sometimes posts on the SDMB, so maybe he’ll be along, too. Those two information sources are absolutely invaluable for anyone planning a trip to WDW, in my opinion.

I don’t have the information in front of me for toddler-friendly stuff at each park, so the following will be from memory. I’m listing stuff that’s not scary for toddlers, for the most part; some of this stuff might not necessarily INTEREST a toddler. In general, though, I’d say WDW is one of the best places you could possibly take a toddler – IF you stick to a plan that includes going back to your hotel/condo/house for a late morning or early afternoon nap. There is a TON of stuff to interest kids of all ages at WDW.

At the Magic Kingdom:

[ul]Almost every ride in FantasyLand and Mickey’s Toontown Fair
WDW Railroad
The Throw-Up Cups (aka Mad Hatter’s Tea Party)
Tomorrowland Transit Authority
Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Carousel of Progress
Magic Carpets of Aladdin
The Enchanted Tiki Room
Jungle Cruise
Tom Sawyer’s Island
Liberty Belle Riverboat
Hall of Presidents
The Haunted Mansion (not really scary, if you can talk the toddler into it)

At Epcot:

[ul]Spaceship Earth
Universe of Energy (IF your toddler isn’t afraid of dinosaurs)
The Living Seas with Nemo & Friends
Livin’ with the Land
Journey through Imagination with Figment (and be sure to visit the Jumping Water fountain outside)
Illuminations (fireworks show at the end of the day)[/ul]

At Disney-MGM:

[ul]Backstage Tour/Catastrophe Canyon
Star Tours (maybe)
The Great Movie Ride (maybe)
Muppetvision 3-D
Fantasmic! (fireworks show at the end of the day)[/ul]

At Animal Kingdom:

[ul]Kilimanjaro Safari
The Boneyard
Pangani Forest Trail
Maharajah Jungle Trek
It’s Tough to Be a Bug! (maybe)
Finding Nemo (the musical)
The Lion King (the musical)
Flights of Wonder[/ul]

Not to mention the host of parades, shows, street entertainers and other small fun lagniappe Disney throws at you just by being in the parks.

Many Disney rides offer the “switching off” procedure you described, but I don’t know how they handle the older child in the scenario.

Somebody beat me to the Unofficial Guide, but I wanted to point out that another reason it’s an awesome guide for trip planning with children is that it tells you everything about the ride - for instance, that some rides have scary waiting areas but the ride isn’t that scary, or whatever. Or if there’s music that might freak your kid out. It really gives you enough information to go in armed.

Thanks Sauron. Thanks Zsofia.

Hey Jinx,

Yes, Disney has a “rider swap” policy, including for FASTPASS attractions, that allow one parent to wait in line with a child, while the other adult rides. Simply walk up to the Castmember (i.e., the Disney employee) staffing the line at the ride and tell them what you want to do; they’ll provide instructions on how to proceed. My guess is that the 8-year old will be allowed to go with both adults (I can have someone from the Orlando team test this if needed).

As for attractions geared to toddlers, Sauron’s got a great list started. Although it’s a decidedly low-tech attraction, Tom Sawyer Island and Fort Sam Clemens in the Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland are the perfect place for small kids (and adults) to blow off some steam, and they’re much more interactive than most Disney rides. Grab some snacks before you take the short raft ride over, and plan on spending 30 to 45 minutes there. It’s a godsend.

I’d be happy to provide more detailed advice. Let us know for how long you’ll be in WDW, and how old that toddler is, if you can, and if you’re staying at a Disney resort.



We figure 6 nights/7 days on Disney during the 1st week in June. We honeymooned there for 3 nights/4 days (via a Carnival package) at the (former) Dixie Landings, and the overall DWD crowds were not bad 12 years ago. We’d probably stay in the Pop Century resort, this time. While the All Star hotels sound like a cool idea, online reviews paint images of kids running up and down the halls at all hours…whereas Pop Century may be a bit more tame. (I bet All Star Sports is the wildest as far as kid control and crowded facilities. Sheesh, we had a kid turning highchairs into basketball hoops last night at your average, kid-friendly restaurant last night! Parents just have no sense anymore!) Unless, you have experience to the contrary?

Grateful for whatever info you may have to share… FYI: Toddler will be a 2.5 yr old boy, also have a 9 year old daughter - by June 1st.

YMMV, but my 5 year old loved the ‘Soarin’ ride. Of course, he also laughed when his older brother got scared in front of ‘Test Track’ (and continued to laugh straight through the entire ride. “Michael, Mommy drives faster than This…!”). He did like the Peter Pan ride and singing the ‘Its A Small World’ song, but I think the later was more to annoy his brother as well.

Of course, that’s the same wild child who wanted an axe and a Viking hat at the Norway pavillion in EPCOT. From the gleem in the salesgirl’s eyes, I could tell she was thinking “It’s you, kid”. :smiley:

Since others have chimed in with helpful advice, I’ll go ahead and throw my two cent semi-hijack into the pot.

I’ve been to WDW exactly once in my life. I was three years old at the time. Beyond the fact that I went and how cool I thought the monorail was, I remember absolutely nothing about it. My parents, who were old enough to consciously process the experience, got more than their fill of “Disney Magic” during that trip, and as a result, I never got to go back while I was old enough to appreciate it (at the ripe old age of 24, I’m now far too cynical to have anything to do with the place ;)). The first trip to Disney World, supposedly one of a kid’s Treasured Moments™, and I lost it because my parents decided three was a good age to get it out of the way. I’ve always been a touch annoyed about that.

I see that you have an 8-year-old – which from my understanding is near the perfect age for WDW – and I neither know you nor your plans for potential future trips. I ask only that, if you don’t have specific plans to return at some point, consider waiting until both your children are old enough to get something out of it.

(To summarize: won’t someone please think of the children?!?!)

Yeah, I was the youngest who went everywhere, retained nothing, and was expected to remember it all. “Sure, we went there and there and there…don’t you remember?” :rolleyes: So, I can sympathize. As for WDW, sure we’ll be going again, but not immediately.

We’ve had our kids down at 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 and and 8 and 9. So they are vets. They remember trips from trip to trip - i.e. they no longer remember the trip when they were 2 and 3, but they remembered it when they were 4 and 5 - and enough that each trip has built memories - if you understand what I mean (think back on early Christmases - you don’t remember each individual Christmas, but there is some impression of the excitement of early Christmases that remains). But you are going for yourself when they are that age, because the photos are most precious when its a toddler with her arms around Tigger, or a four year old solemnly shaking Hook’s hook.

With a todder and an eight year old, I’d plan on splitting the family over naptime. One of you find a spot in the park to sit (or go back to the room) while the other fits in bigger kid stuff.

Don’t ride Snow White’s Scary Adventure first, some kids will never go on another ride the whole trip because they remember that on. Do a character meal, but schedule it for after you’ve had SOME character exposure. It isn’t pleasant to have a breakfast where your toddler hides under the table or screams because he doesn’t like the characters.

Unless of course your child decides that the dolls are evil immediately upon entering the ride and proceeds to scream bloody murder for the entire ride. Apparently you never realize quite how long the ride is until you have a kid crying, “make them stop!” and attempting to climb out of the boat. I wouldn’t know though, I was a bit too preoccupied to notice :o