I can’t speak for every immigrant, but whenever I contemplated even the faintest possibility of traveling to the US, I always dreamed I could go to Walt Disney World®. Growing up in extreme poverty, I didn’t even think I could ever set foot in such a magical place, and I feel so blessed that my daughters have all enjoyed so much pixie dust growing up.
Elisha was 3 and Elyssa was 2 the first time they experienced the magic. It was my first time, as well, and a dream come true. It was love at first sight, because the magic of Walt Disney World® Resort is so strong it can be felt through pictures and videos, but you cannot truly understand until you experience it firsthand.
Living in Florida made it easier for the girls and I to go to The Happiest Place on Earth often. Walt Disney World® Resort is made up of four theme parks: Epcot®, Magic Kingdom® Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, plus Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park, and we’ve made precious memories at all of them! I’ve also learned a thing or two (chuckle) about going to Walt Disney World® with little ones, which comes in handy now that I have another adorable preschooler in tow.
Preschool is the perfect time to travel with your children because everything is so magical to them, and at Walt Disney World® everything is already magical. Cast members (Walt Disney World® employees) call you by your first name, are trained to keep the little ones safe, and have the mission to create and spread magic, trust, and pixie dust so kids of all ages can have the most memorable experience possible.
As a positive mom, you know that each and every magical moment you share with your preschooler is precious – and worth it, but I know it can get hard to get out with the little ones, especially with long travel hours, trying to take advantage of every possible park and every possible ride. That’s why I’ve compiled my best tips to truly enjoy Walt Disney World® with your preschooler, you know, to experience all the wonder without stress before, during, or after your visit to the most magical place on the planet!
Plan to stay at a Walt Disney World® Resort hotel to take advantage of complimentary transportation from and to the airport with the Magical Express, as well as between all four Theme Parks and to and from your Walt Disney World® Resort. They also have Extra Magic Hours (extra hours for you to enjoy the parks), Disney Junior-themed activities and poolside movies that make all the difference. Elisha and Elyssa’s favorite memory was when they were 3 and 4 and we stayed at the Contemporary Resort because the monorail goes through it. We had breakfast with Chef Mickey and everything! We have been to many Walt Disney World® Resort hotels and each provides a unique experience that only the magic of Walt Disney World® can provide.
Watch these Planning Videos and download the My Disney Experience app on your mobile device so you can be in the know of everything that is scheduled to happen during your visit and plan accordingly. After we became vegan, it was so helpful to see all the restaurant menus and make reservations ahead of time, rather than waste precious time at the park finding out what is vegan friendly (or desperately seeking churros!). Everyone raves about the Dole Whip at Walt Disney World® , but Disney parks have healthy, balanced meals; just look for the “Mickey Check” on the menus and you’re good to go.
Do your research and check your little one’s height so he or she knows which rides they can go on. For some rides, the minimum height requirement is 44″ and if when a child’s mother is 4’8″, they don’t reach this height at the “average” age. I’m just saying!
I always say you gotta put on your Mickey Mouse ears before you arrive – literally and figuratively. Decide you’re going to be a kid with your kids and you’ll all have fun. With everything you’re juggling this may sound impossible, but if you do a countdown with the kids, watch Disney movies together (even on the plane ride), and shop for ears, matching shirts, and even Disneybound or Cosplay items, or listen to Disney soundtracks on car rides, you’re going to be more excited before, during, and even after your stay at Walt Disney World® (because you won’t regret that you weren’t present or didn’t relax or didn’t enjoy it!). And speaking of characters, plan on meeting as many of them as you can (and bring an autograph book!). We have so many autograph books from over the years and the characters’ signatures are identical!
Once you get FastPass+ you won’t go back! You will be able to bypass long lines. You can also use Rider Switch to swap places with another parent so you both enjoy the attraction without having to wait in the regular line again. MagicBands give you quick access to your FastPass+ reservations, to unlock your Walt Disney World® Resort hotel room door, and to even charge purchases to the room without going through your messy big purse! (I’m not judging – you should see mine! Ugh!)
Make sure everyone brings their comfiest shoes! I always rented a double stroller with Elisha and Elyssa and I rent a single stroller with Eliana because it’s so much easier to push than to carry. They are available near the main park entrance and they make the perfect spot to nap and avoid any crankiness. And if the sun is too bright or the feet hurt a lot, you can take them to indoor seated attractions. My favorite are Mickey’s PhilHarmagic and Muppet*Vision 3-D in Hollywood Studios and It’s Tough to Be a Bug at Animal Kingdom (and Elisha and Elyssa – at 15 and 14 – still love it – Win!)
Each theme park has a Baby Care Center where you can take your little one and rest, nurse, or have a snack. You can also get sunscreen or diapers, and other basics, if you run out. You can buy a reusable Disney-themed water bottle (we now bring some of our faves back), which will be good for the environment and gets you a free refill throughout the parks!
Besides personalized Mickey ears, pictures, and autographs, buy a little something to remind you of your experience. Disney pins are my favorite souvenirs and trading them has become an art in itself. Make sure to let a cast member know it’s your child’s first visit or birthday and they‘ll make sure to give you a special pin to wear on your special day – and ask for it “frosted!”
My family loves Memory Maker because it gives you instant access to all the Disney PhotoPass photos the cast members capture. I can document our favorite Walt Disney World® memories so much better, and that is what keeps the magic alive!
Practice self-care, pace yourself, be flexible when plans change, and stop to find the Hidden Mickeys! Remember that what your preschooler wants most in the world is to have a happy mommy to share this magic with and that hopefully you will be coming back for more! My daughters reminisce so much of the fun moments we’ve shared at Walt Disney World®, but I have my very own, of myself, having fun, with and without them. I love It’s A Small World, the Mad Tea Party, and the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel at Magic Kingdom, and I always have to pay a visit to Rafiki in Animal Kingdom, just for me!
Having a preschooler makes life extra fun: they dream, they pretend, and they have an active imagination. At Walt Disney World®, you can see their faces light up as you join their world of wonder and joy, and that makes it magical for the entire family!
Walt Disney World® and Scholastic have teamed up to create a program that can make traveling with your preschooler easier and more fun. Here’s an amazing article that teaches you to turn your visit into a learning experience. This was a great find for me as a homeschool mom.
For more fun, you can also check out the Preschoolers Magical Sweepstakes. A new question about Walt Disney World or Disney characters will be posted on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page each Thursday from 2/1/18 through 2/28/18. Ask your kiddo the question and leave a comment on the indicated post with your child’s response to be entered for a chance to win a vacation to Walt Disney World® Resort.
Learn more about the Sweepstakes and how to enter by visiting
*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 US & DC. 18+ with at least
one child who is currently 12 years of age or younger at the time of entry. Void where
prohibited. Ends 2/28/18. Limit 1 answer per day. Click here for Official Rules.
Do you dream of going to Walt Disney World®? I think I’m dreaming every time I go and I get a second chance at being a child. Share what you’d like to experience with your preschooler at Walt Disney World® this year with us!
Follow Walt Disney World® on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, and Like the Walt Disney World® page on Facebook. You can also check out the Disney Parks Moms Panel to get more tips, learn about fright factors, food allergies, and any other questions you may have!
© Elayna Fernández ~ The Positive MOM