Visiting Walt Disney World with Little Kids
Visiting Walt Disney World with Little Kids
Josh Crews
Buy on Leanpub

Purpose of this book

This book is written to help families with little kids (age 3 and below) plan a trip to Walt Disney World (WDW) in Orlando Florida.

When I was planning our first trip to Disney with little kids, I found it very difficult to research answers to a lot of my questions about these ages. I used lots of resources, many which are great, but the parts about kids usually addressed pre-schoolers and older.

This book should fill that gap for you, but should not be your only or your primary research book for visiting Walt Disney World.

What this book is not

It’s not a general guide to Walt Disney World. Lots of essential research material you’ll need won’t be found here.

It’s not a guidebook to be consulting while in the middle of the parks. This is more of a planning resource.

Can I go to Walt Disney World with little kids?


There are hundreds of people going to WDW today in each of these categories: pregnant, babies 0 - 3 months, older infants, 1 year olds, 2 year olds and everything else.

90%+ of Disney World works with for bringing your babies. There is only one Disney restaurant (Victoria and Alberts) that has an age restriction. Even rides with height restrictions can still be ridden using the Rider Switch service.


Let me handle some objections you might have to going

  1. The kids won’t remember any of it.
  2. We can’t ride any of the cool rides.
  3. I need to nurse.
  4. I’ll be too tired.
  5. We can’t afford it.

The kids won’t remember any of it.

Answer: that’s not the reason you are going anyway. You are going because you guys want to go, and you are hoping it’ll still work even though the kids are little right now.

Plus ‘not remembering any of it’ is not the same as ‘not making any impact on them’

We can’t ride any of the cool rides.

  1. You actually can ride them, just one adult in your party will have to watch the kids while the other adults ride. On many of those rides, Disney let’s you ‘rider switch’ which means everyone waits in line and then the cast members show you how to switch off watching kids without having to get in line again.
  2. There is still much more to do at Disney than you have time for even without those cool rides. You’ll discover new attractions with your little kids that you skipped over before and you’ll love it!

I need to nurse.

You can nurse at Disney. Have you ever nursed at a restaurant? At the zoo or something like the zoo? It’s like that. If you’ve never nursed in a semi-public setting, go try it first before deciding on Disney.

If you are very private about nursing, going to Disney World will be hard. Each park has private nursing rooms at a semi-centrally located Baby Care Center, but it will add a lot of walking to your visits.

I’ll be too tired

This is a true objection! Parenting at Disney is just as tiring as parenting anywhere else. If you imagine you’ll feel tired, I say don’t go, wait til they are older.

This is different than expecting to be tired, but your desire to take the trip makes the tiredness seem totally worth it.

We can’t afford it

This is a true objection! If the cost of the vacation stresses you out, don’t go right now. Wait for a better time when you feel you can comfortably afford it.

Should I go?

The main reasons not to go: crowds, price, and meeting all your little kids’ needs while touring theme parks.

If the reasons to go are greater than the reasons not to go, you should do it.

Profiles of people considering Disney that should not go while their kids are ages 0 - 3

  • You’ve never been to Disney World before.
  • You don’t love Disney already, but you think probably will.
  • You mainly want to go because your friends are talking about it.
  • You don’t want to research/plan in advance. (If you are reading this book, you probably aren’t this person)
  • It doesn’t sound fun if you have to leave the parks in the afternoon for kid naps.
  • You are stressed out about money right now.

A formula to tell if you should go

  1. Look up the cost of the Disney World package (hotel, tickets, meals) that fits your expected vacation. Leave off the cost of travel. You can price a package at To keep it simple for this exercise, just pick a Disney hotel.
  2. Write down that price here: ___________
  3. Now double that number and write it here: ___________
  4. Would you still want to go if it costs twice as much?

GO! You will have a great time! I don’t predict you will end up spending twice as much as you planned on. The point of the exercise is to see if you love the idea of going to Disney World enough to outlast the crowds, prices, stress, unexpected difficulties, kid’s crying, you crying and still have a worthwhile vacation.


You still might enjoy going. But you might get there, feel tired from walking everywhere, your kid’s are fussing and think, “Why’d we think this was a good idea?”

Think about waiting to go when your kids are older. Your kids will be more independent, you’ll qualify to ride more rides with height requirements, and they will probably have seen more Disney stuff that gets them excited about it.

Are you still reading this because you really, really hope it makes sense for you to go Disney World with little kids? Well you probably ought to go then. It’ll take a lot of research, preparation, energy and money but you can do it.

Why this formula?

If you love going to Disney World so much, you’d still go if it costs twice as much, you are going to be able to overcome the challenges, the stress, the tiredness, the foregone ‘big kid’ attractions and still have a great time.

Or if you have enough money that doubling the price doesn’t dissuade you, you are going to be able to pay for conveniences and upgrades that make going with little kids easier.

Footnote: What money can buy that makes it easier
  • A bigger room to compartmentalize your kids for their sleeping
  • A Disney hotel on the monorail, or walking distance to Epcot for easy retreats for breaks and naps
  • More meal and snack options in the parks that you don’t have to pack yourself and bring in
  • Babysitters
  • A Disney resort, which gives you the airport/luggage express service
  • A rental car
  • Photopass Plus service where Disney photographers take your photos for you leave your nice camera in the room
  • More days vacation so you can not jam-pack every day with activity
  • Room service

You don’t need any of these to have a good vacation with little kids, but money will help you.

When to go

Answer: the least crowded time that fits your schedule.

The busy times are mid-June to mid-July, Christmas break, and the bigger spring break weeks.

The least crowded month is September.

Everything gets better with fewer crowds

  1. Attraction wait times are shorter
  2. Walkways in the parks are less crowded
  3. Cast members have more time to help you
  4. Restaurants have more openings
  5. Prices are lower

You’ll love lower crowds even more with kids

As an adult the crowds might not be a big deal to you– you can arrive early, stay til close, and wait in any length line while eating a turkey leg for lunch.

Little kids need rests, breaks, can’t wait in line as long, can’t wait to eat. crowd calendar’s runs a crowd calendar predicting crowds each park based on attraction wait times.

Use it to select which week to go, and then to select when park to go on which day.

The summer is hot in Orlando

And has the most rain.1

Even if there weren’t high crowds in the summer, the heat is another reason to not go then with little kids. Heat is more than uncomfortable, it taps your bodies energy supply, making you tired and irritable.

Monthly average high temperature (F) and average temperature (in) for Orlando
Month Avg Hi Avg Rain (in)
January 72 2.43
February 74 2.35
March 79 3.54
April 83 2.42
May 88 3.74
June 91 7.35
July 92 7.15
August 92 6.25
September 90 5.76
October 85 2.73
November 79 2.32
December 73 2.31

Source: Kingdom Magic Travel

What to do other than big rides

If many of the adult attractions won’t work (height requirement, too scary, too long wait), what are good ideas for families with little kids to do at Disney?


If you plan sit-down meals, they can take up a lot of your park touring time, entertain your kids and you.

If you choose a buffet-style sit-down restaurant, kids under 3 eat free.

A possible itinerary for a park might be going 2:30pm - 7pm after naps with a 4:45pm dinner reservation that breaks up the touring into two 2-hour managable segments.

Character Dining

Character dining is great for kids because you get a meal with table-service and you’re guaranteed to meet the characters.


You can spend a whole half-day just meeting characters at the Magic Kingdom or Epcot.

What if my kids are too young to care about characters?

Well, do you like characters? Great! Because it’s much less awkward for adults to meet characters when they bring their baby than by themselves.


The Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom always have a parade each day, sometimes more than one. The other parks might have a parade too, you’ll have to check when you go.

Excellent thing to do with little kids.

Parades on the Disney site

Visit resorts as attractions

Some Disney resorts create immersive worlds to explore (for free!) with Disney transportation to and from

Parking at resorts

If you self drive to a Disney resort, research the parking before hand. Many Disney resorts you need a dining reservation to use their parking lot if you aren’t a guest.

Disney’s Boardwalk

Disney’s Boardwalk is a fun place spend a few hours with the kids. It’s got a lake, boardwalk, paths, street entertainers at night, Friendship boats to ride, fun bikes and Surrey bikes, connects to The Beach Club and the Yacht Club resorts, restaurants and shops.

Downtown Disney

A shops/enterainment district run by Disney on their property.

Ride stuff (trains, monorails, boats)

Think of these things as an ‘end’ for your little kids, not just a ‘means.’

Your hotel’s pool

Some pre-school age children cite ‘the pool’ as the favorite part of their family vacation to Disney World.

Managing Stress

Visiting Disney World is can be pretty stressful for these reasons:

  1. A lot of money is being spent
  2. High expectations for making great memories
  3. Crowds
  4. Waits
  5. Conflicting agendas within your party
  6. Hot/humid weather
  7. Long days of lots of walking

Going with little kids will add more reasons for stress because the little kids take a lot of personal attention and work.

Strategies for managing stress

Increase your budget now

A big stress creator is exceeding your costs from unplanned expenses. Go back to your budget and add $300/day for ‘other expenses’.

Reduce your expectations now

Dreaming about how much Disney will be is great. Keep on doing it.

Also think about that it might not be the most amazing experience of your life. You might get sick, your kids might get sick, you might get overheated, some people might cut in line in front of you, your favorite ride might be closed.

Focus on the basics that will be true: you’ll be together with your family, you don’t have to work, there will be cool stuff to see and do together.

Reduce your park ambition now

You will not do everything there is to do at Disney on this trip. You will not even do everything you want to do at Disney on this trip.

When you arrive at the Magic Kingdom, you do not have to do everything before you leave.

If you are brining your kids to Disney World when they are this young, you’ll probably be back.

Talk about priorities with your spouse / other adults in party

Ask everyone what are the two things they definitely must do, and two things they are hoping to avoid on this trip.

Take care of your health

Get good sleep, eat healthy foods.

Research and plan in advance

For example the Magic Kingdom: if you show up without having a plan you’ll end up stuck in crowds and feel like you didn’t get to see very much. You’ll also feel stupid for not bringing the things into the parks that you’ll need or bringing stuff into the parks that you don’t need.

Avoid the heat

Orlando summer is hot and humid. Spring and Fall might be hot and humid. Heat will drain you and will really drain your kids.

Make plans to be out of the heat in the middle of the day.

Consider staying at a Disney resort

One way to simplify your Disney trip is to stay at their hotels because they take care transportation to and from the parks.


Here’s some of my strategies for doing the parks with little kids.

Reduce your expectations.

High expectations can stress everyone out and ruin a day. Expectations can be

  • We’ll do X favorite attraction
  • We’ll get to X by a certain time
  • The kids will love it
  • My spouse will love it

Let kids play with whatever

Your kids might like a water fountain more than the big attractions. I say just let’em like whatever they like.

Stay at a Disney Resort

For the purpose of fast transportation back to the room. Highly consider this, as it could be the success factor in your vacation with little kids. Fast transportation to the hotel

Some hotels are super-conveneient to parks, although they are the priciest.

  • Monorail to Magic Kingdom: The Contemporary, Grand Floridian, and the Polynesian. These monorail hotels are also conventient to Epcot by monorail, you just have to change trains at the Transportation and Ticketing Center.
  • Boatride to the Magic Kingdom: The Wilderness Lodge
  • Walking or boat to Epcot and Disney Hollywood Studios: The Boardwalk, the Beach Club, the Yacht Club

All the other Disney hotels are still convenient to the parks because of the quality Disney

Minimize wait times

Learn about Fastpass

Using a Fastpass is a great way to get your kids into a popular attraction without waiting a long time.

“Legacy” Fastpasses

This the way Fastpass has worked for years, but is being phased out. It may already be gone by the time you read this. You take your park ticket up to a ticket machine, insert it, and out comes a return time window that if you come back to the attraction at that time you go in the shorter Fastpass line.

Fastpass Plus

This is the new Fastpass system based on reserving a return time window for a reservation just like you would reserve a restaurant at Disney.

Disney is phasing in Fastpass Plus as the only way to do Fastpasses so information about this is always changing.

How it works now

Disney resort guests can make online reservations for Fastpass Plus attractions online, over the phone, or at a concierge desk.

Anyone can make reservations for Fastpass Plus inside the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom at parks inside the park at Fastpass Plus kiosks.

I expect Fastpass Plus will eventually be rolled out to everyone and the “legacy” Fastpass will be phased out.

This article is good source for updated information on how Fastpass Plus is working and who can use it.

Arrive early

The parks really don’t fill up until after 10:30am. Touring a park from opening to 12pm might be a better day with little kids than showing up at 10am and staying until bedtime.

If you want to show up for opening at the Magic Kingdom, plan to get to the gate 20 minutes before the park opens. They open the turnstiles to the Magic Kingdom 15 minutes before opening and then have a countdown show before the park opens.

Use an app to track wait times

Unofficial: Lines app is a Disney World live wait times plus other info. It works as smartphone app OR just a website to use on your phone.

Official: My Disney Experience

Make a ‘touring plan’

A touring plan is a plan of what to do, and the order to do it again that seeks to maximize fun stuff, and minimize wait times.

There is a whole website that can help you with this,

Some of their content is free, other requires a cheap subscription (~$15/year). They have touring plans, projected crowd levels and attraction wait times for each hour of the day for all Disney parks.

They have a tool for building touring plans where you enter the attractions you want to do, the day you are visiting that park, your planned arrival and leave times, your walking speed, and whether you want to minimize walking or wait times and they’ll assemble a plan for you.

Even easier is to use a prebuilt touring plan. You can find them in Disney World guidebooks, or you can use prebuilt plans

Practice ahead of time

How will your kids do in the parks? How will you do? Are you packing what you’ll need?

Find out in advance by ‘practicing’ going to Disney World by taking a trips to nearby theme parks, zoos, botanical gardens– anything with attractions and walking that will take up at least half a day.

Pack all the stuff into the park that you would pack into a Disney park

Plan to nap

You’ll be tempted to just ‘push through’ kids nap times and I think you’ll regret it.

Best option: return to your room Next best: nap in stroller or baby carrier Next best: a boring place like a monorail, resort lobby, or long, seated attraction.

Hire a babysitter to come with you into the parks

I have not personally tried this, but this is a real service. Here is a provider’s website: Sunshine Babysitting

Bring a family member, friend, nanny

Invite your parents, siblings, single friends, someone who can come and take on the childcare workload. Even planning a trip with another family with little kids can make the load lighter.

Prepare your 3-year olds

We showed our 3-year old guidebooks of attractions, and then watched videos of the rides she liked on Youtube ahead of time. This got her ready for attractions in advance that might have been frightening without any preparation.

Strollers and Baby Carriers

If you use a stroller at home, you definitely need a stroller at Walt Disney World. You will walk a tremendous amount at WDW– miles and miles a day.

You may need strollers for kids that don’t use one at home, but can’t walk all those miles like 4 - 7 year olds.

Choosing a stroller

Great features in a stroller for Walt Disney World
  • You can store stuff in it
  • Can cover lots of miles over smooth surfaces
  • Collapse and carryable. Required for boarding Disney buses.
Nice features
  • Kids can take naps in it
  • Wheels lock
Not needed features
  • Off-road ready
  • Good on hills

Any stroller can work

Every type of stroller ever made is being used in Disney parks. These features are just things to consider if you are choosing between strollers.


  • Bring your stroller
  • Rent one from a private company in Orlando
  • Rent a stroller in the parks

Bring your stroller

I don’t recommend this if you are flying.

Rent one from a private company in Orlando

Very expensive strollers can be rented at reasonable rates from Orlando stroller rental companies. They can deliver and pickup from your hotel and be booked online. One example is Orlando Stroller Rentals

Rent a stroller in the parks

Each Disney park rents single and double strollers

Will my stroller get stolen?

Almost certainly not, at least not maliciously. I don’t have data for stroller thefts, but I don’t believe it’s a problem and it just doesn’t make sense to pay the expensive park ticket fee to steal a stroller.

It’s possible someone might take your stroller because it looked just like theirs. If that happens to you get a cast member (Disney employee) to help you.

If you rented a stroller from Disney at the park entrance that gets stolen, they are likely to just hand you a new one.

If you rent from a private company, they may offer rental insurance. A premium double stroller from Orlando Stroller Rentals insures for $20.

If you still worry about stroller theft, some stroller have removable wheels that you can pop out when going into an attraction.

So I don’t think stroller theft is a big risk, but the valuables in your stroller are worth guarding.

Don’t leave valuables in stroller when parking it

Remember to take your purse, camera, phone with you.

I can’t find my stroller where I parked it

At busy locations cast members re-park strollers so look around.

Tip Add something very unique and obvious to your stroller (think a balloon) to make it easy to find, and hard for others to confuse it for their own.

Where can I take it?

You can take it on to monorails. You can take it on to buses if you fold it down first. You can take into hotels and your hotel room. You can take it onto the big ferry boat to the Magic Kingdom. You can take it on the friendship boats at Epcot.

You cannot take it into restaurants or attractions. You cannot take it onto the small resort boats that travel from the Magic Kingdom and resorts.

When you can’t take it into restaurants and attractions, you’ll probably see an area where a bunch of strollers are parked.

Recommend a stroller

Heavy duty

We used and loved the Baby Jogger City Mini GT double stroller. Very smooth push, reclinable seats, and collapses quite thin for a double stroller.

Orlando Stroller Rentals rents this model.

One kid sleeping, one not in double stroller

One kid sleeping, one not in double stroller

Light weight

A different strategy would be to get a light, collapsable umbrella stroller. Easy to carry, easy to replace. This option might work if you have a 3+ year old that doesn’t nap.

Baby Carriers

If you use a baby carrier (Ergo, Baby Bjorn, Moby Wrap etc.) for your infant at home, you should bring your baby carrier.

We bring two baby carriers into the parks and will use them with the toddler if needed.

As opposed to a stroller, you can bring a baby carrier anywhere.

Baby on back in Ergo at Epcot

Baby on back in Ergo at Epcot

Baby carrier or stroller?

Lean towards stroller because the walking is tremendous at Disney World.


With little kids

Kids under age 3 are free. Your child’s age is a self-reported thing, there’s no age verification. The ticket salesperson might ask your child directly, ‘How old are you?’

I’ve read (but have not verified from a first hand Disney source) that if your child starts a family Disney vacation before their 3rd birthday, you don’t need to buy tickets for them on that vacation.

Kids under 3 are also free at buffets and can have their plate, but any menu items ordered for them have to be paid for.

Where kids under 3 still ‘count’

When making room and dining reservations, you still count all children outside the womb in your party size.

Overview of ticket options

Magic Your Way tickets.

This is the normal ticket option. You buy X-number of days for tickets valid at any of the big 4 Disney parks that must all be used with 14-days of entering the first park.

You may only go to one park per day using these tickets. To enter a second park in the same day on these tickets you would need a Park Hopper or pay full price for a single day ticket at the second park. You cannot use a “second day” to get into the second park that day.

Basic pricing overview

Disney’s pricing strategy (as of 2014) is to basically charge full price for ticket packages up to 4 days, and then $10/day for each extra day for days 5 - 10.

Park Hopper

A park hopper is an add-on to a Magic Your Way tickets that lets you visit unlimited number of parks (the big 4) for $59 per ticket in 2014. That price is the same whether you buy a 1-day ticket or 10-day ticket.

Water Park Fund & More add-on

You can add access to Disney’s water parks, ESPN sports complex, and some golf courses to your tickets for a flat fee ($59 in 2014)

Should you add the Park Hopper?

The longer your trip, the value of the Park Hopper goes up. Averaged per day, the cost gets less over longer stays. Over longer stays, your desire to do two(+) small visits to parks in the same day goes up too.

Tickets as a part of a Disney vacation package

You can get tickets as part of a Disney vacation package. The price may be a good deal, but you may be sacrificing flexibility by getting a package. A Disney vacation must be canceled 45 days in advance, whereas a Disney resort room reservation can be canceled 5 days in advance.

Tickets from other vendors

Undercover Tourist is a legit seller of Disney tickets.

There may be others, but approach other non-Disney sellers of Disney park tickets with caution because of scams in this space.

DO NOT buy second hand Disney tickets. If you do be prepared that it might not work when you get to the gate.

Annual pass

An annual pass is an unlimited entrance ticket to the big 4 parks for 365 days from the first day you use it. A premium annual pass adds the water parks, ESPN sport complex and some golf courses.

Annual passholders also get free parking at the parks ($15/day value).

Annual passholders might also get special promotions just for AP holders sent to them for Disney resort discounts.

Costs $609 in 2014.

Florida residents

Are you Florida residents? Disney offers special pricing for you, go to their website.

Parking at the parks

$15/day in 2014.

Disney resort guests and annual passholders get free parking.

Should I stay at a Disney hotel (onsite) or outside Disney World (offsite)?

Why stay offsite

  • Cheaper
  • More space
  • Want a break from Disney after the parks
  • Might be more convenient if also visiting Sea World or Universal Studios.

Why stay onsite

  • Disney transportation
  • Disney’s airport-to-hotel luggage transfer service
  • Shorter drive distance to parks
  • Save the $15/day park parking fee
  • Keep “the magic” going
  • Have souveneir shopping sent to your room
  • Extra magic hours

Offsite in depth:

Staying offsite costs less, probably about half as much for equivalent hotels. That’s the big advantage of staying offsite.

For the same money as a small Disney value resort, you might be able to find a 2 bedroom unit offsite!

Hotel shuttles to Disney World

Many offsite hotels run a shuttle to the Disney Parks, but I WOULD NOT RELY ON THEM WITH LITTLE KIDS. Frequently the shuttle is going to stop at all 4 Disney parks and average travel times will be over an hour PLUS the wait time for the shuttle to appear. You will burn up a lot of your kids’ awake time getting between hotel and parks relying on shuttles.

Using the hotel shuttle eliminates the option of returning to the hotel for an afternoon nap (which you’ll need.)

It also reduces the odds of your kids falling asleep on the ride home after the parks (which for us is what we want to happen.)

If you stay offsite and flew to Orlando, rent a car.

Booking a offsite hotel

If a normal hotel room (as is not like a condo/apartment style) works, book a hotel the same way you’d book a hotel in any other city (like,,, etc.)

But it you are looking for a condo-style (multiple bedrooms and/or a kitchen), you might need to use websites you’ve never used before. Here’s some websites for searching for condo-style places to stay:

  • people listing everything from their spare bedroom to entire houses and condo’s for rent from 1-day to a whole month.
  • Vacation Rental By Owner– owner listed condos and houses, usually with a 3-night minimum or more
  • All start vacation homes Company renting houses in the Disney area

Onsite in depth:

Disney transportation

Disney’s bus system is excellent. All Disney hotels are connected to all Disney parks by frequent buses. The only except to bus connection between a hotel and a park is in some circumstances when there is a much more direct connection (like walking from The Boardwalk Inn to Epcot). The buses also run between the parks.

Some Disney hotels are on the monorail, an elevated train that connects those hotels with the Magic Kingdom. You can also ride the monorail to Epcot by changing monorail trains at the Transportation and Ticketing Center (TTC).

Some Disney hotels are connected to a park by boat:

Wilderness Lodge -> Magic Kingdom

Boardwalk Inn, Beach Club, Yacht Club -> Epcot and Hollywood Studios

Disney’s airport-to-hotel luggage transfer service

It’s called Disney’s Magical Express. You book it when you book your vacation. When you arrive at the Orlando airport you skip baggage claim, and check-in to ride Disney’s bus to your resort. You bags are supposed to arrive within 3 hours of checkin at the resort.


Shorter drive distance to parks

Typically onsite hotels are a closer drive to the parks than offsite. That ‘commute’ time adds up if you count returning to your hotel for an afternoon nap.

Save the $15/day park parking fee

Disney charges $15 / day to park at the theme parks.

Keep “the magic” going

If you just wish you could stay inside the Disney bubble all week, stay at a Disney resort.

Have souveneir shopping sent to your room

Buy stuff at a store in a park and the store can send it to your resort room.

Extra magic hours

Disney opens at least one park early or keeps it open late for just Disney resort guests.

Disney Vacation Club Villas

Most Disney hotels are standard rooms with two beds and a bathroom.

But when Disney saw the super success of timeshare condos in Orlando plus the desire of families to stay in multi-room suites, it started building it’s own suites (“villas”) onsite.

These may be a great option for you if you need separate rooms for you kids to go to sleep in, but don’t want to go offsite.

DVC Prices

These rooms are really expensive. Disney mainly sells these rooms as part of their timeshare-like Disney Vacation Club (DVC). Disney then holds ownership of 10% of each resort to sell as hotel rooms.

To get a good deal you can wait for Disney to run a special that deeply discount these rooms or you can rent DVC points to book a room.

Renting DVC points

You can rent DVC points to book a Disney Vacation Club villa as way of getting these rooms for much less (like 50% less).

There are two ways:

  1. Connect directly to a DVC owner
  2. Go through a broker
Connect directly with DVC owner

If DVC owner’s aren’t going to use their points for a given calendar year, they may sell them to you by booking a hotel stay for you and listing you as the guest.

So what is happening is the DVC owner is booking you a villa stay for a specific hotel for specific dates and listing you as the person staying. You pay the owner directly whatever amount you agree upon.

You can connect directly with owners at the mouseowners message board.

You can see the point costs for each villas on this site

Go through a broker

A DVC broker is someone with lots of owner contacts that you pay directly at some fixed cost-per-DVC-point price with your vacation request, and they see if any of their contacts can fill it. An advantage to a DVC broker is they may be able to guarantee you a backup reservation incase something goes wrong with your reservation

Broker sites:,

Downsides to renting DVC points
  1. There is not usually any cancellations or refunds or date changes
  2. By staying in a DVC stay, there’s no daily housekeeping
  3. There’s a risk that the owner will cancel the reservation, at which point you are out of luck. This risk is the attractive part of using a broker if the broker can guarantee you a substitution if this happens.


Disney World is also an awesome place to go without your kids!

Disney resort child care

Some Disney resorts run a ‘day care’ like babysitting room.


For kids age 3 - 12

# Must be potty-trained # Opens at 4:30pm # Costs money


  1. Animal Kingdom Lodge
  2. Polynesian
  3. Wilderness Lodge
  4. Beach Club

Disney approved babysitters

Kid’s Nite Out is a Disney approved babysitting service that can come to your hotel room and babysit. They advertise they start at 6-weeks olds!

More details for both services on the Disney site.

What if my kids get lost?

Immediately find a cast member (Disney employee) and tell them.

This happens all the time in Disney parks, so Disney is ready. Disney has central clearing house for lost children they will contact with the child’s details.

Cast members are trained to spot lost children wandering alone as well and help them find their parents. If the parents aren’t found, the child will be brought to the Baby Care Center in the park until y’all are reunited.

Eating at Disney with Little Kids

Disney World restaurants all accommodate little kids except for Victoria and Albert’s.

At buffet restaurants, kids under 3 eat free and children 3+ have a child price.

At menu restaurants, your little kids can share off your plate for free. Anything you order for them will cost money.

Allergies and special diets

I have not personally experienced Disney’s eagerness to accommodate special diets and allergies, but they seem to be quite eager to.

Get in touch with them as early as possible about special diets.

Dining reservations

Most restaurants at Disney that accept reservations (most of the table service restaurants) need reservations to get a table without waiting an hour.

You can make reservations up to 180 days in advance. Go to the Disney World website or call (407) WDW-DINE which is (407) 939-3463.

Remember to count everyone (even newborns) in your party size.

Some special dining reservations (like popular character dining experiences) require a credit card on file, but most reservations do not.

If you are at Disney and need a reservation somewhere immediately, you can call that same number (407) WDW-DINE, and they’ll search for an opening for you.

Baby food

In the parks, the Baby Care Centers sell formula and baby food.

Packing for Trip

Some ideas of things to add to a normal Disney packing list2

  1. Noise makers (white noise for sleeping)
  2. Night lights
  3. Crib/Pack-n-play. (Disney hotels can provide these on request)
  4. Water bottles & sippy cups
  5. Swim diaper
  6. Baby monitor
  7. Long distance travel entertainment
  8. Kid ID bracelets (your name / phone on it)

What to bring into parks

The best way to find out what you need is to take a half-day trip to a local zoo, park, botanical gardens bringing everything you think you’ll need at Disney. What’s missing will become obvious, and what’s not needed will feel like dead weight.

  1. Water bottles for kids filled up, I recommend Camelbak water bottles
  2. Ear muffs or plugs (for kids that don’t like loud show, parades, fireworks)
  3. Autograph book and pen
  4. Diapers/wipes
  5. Nursing cover
  6. Snacks/bars
  7. Ponchos (Disney sells them if you forget)
  8. Warm layers for kids (indoors at Disney can be heavily air-conditioned)
  9. Change of clothes for kids
  10. Stroller
  11. Baby carrier
  12. Smartphone with outlet charging cable
  13. Battery pack life extender for phone
  14. My Disney Experience smartphone app
  15. Ziploc bags (wet clothes, togo-ing food)
  16. Camera
  17. Tickets
  18. IDs
  19. Money
  20. Formula/baby food
  21. Any meals or food you want that doesn’t require cooking (Disney permits you to bring your own food into parks)

Scary rides

I think about half of Disney attractions have some scary element.

How do you know if you should ride it?

It’s hard. You can’t be certain that an attraction will definitely not intensely scare your child. It’s even possible that your child rode a ride at one age and wasn’t scared, and then at an older age they are scared!

You might not be concerned about scariness

If your kids are too young to be scared, you may not want to screen rides for scariness and that’s fine.

Strategies for screening scary rides

Follow your instinct

If you are getting bad vibes, just pass on it. One too scary experience can end the whole day. There really is plenty to do that’s not scary to risk it.

If you enter a ride and your child is scared by the line, leave.

Watch a movie of the whole ride on Youtube

Every ride I’ve ever searched for has a full-length movie of it on Youtube. Watch it with your child and see if they like it.

The park guides in this book

Our park guides don’t cover much, but they do cover each potentially scary ride that your kids might meet the height requirement for.

The Magic Kingdom

Purpose of our park coverage

This book’s coverage of the Magic Kingdom should be treated like a “with little kids” supplement to a guide book covering the park. There is so much you need to know about the Magic Kingdom that this book doesn’t cover.

But other guides neglect many of the questions parents with little kids have and this chapter zooms in on those questions.

Our park coverage is also not designed to get you excited about the park. The attractions we cover are very exciting! But the point of these chapters is to point out all the info related to going with little kids.

I recommend you read up on the parks from other books and websites first, then come back to this book to help plan which attractions can work for you after learning about them elsewhere first.

Short Overview

The Magic Kingdom is the most famous Disney World park with Cinderella’s castle right in the center. There’s a lot to do here with little kids and you may want to spend more than one day here.


The major attractions are broken up into 3 sections:

  1. No worries for little kids
  2. Borderline for little kids
  3. Bad for little kids

Within each category, the attractions are sorted from ‘of least concern’ to ‘of most concern’. So the last attraction in ‘Borderline for little kids’ is almost in ‘Bad for little kids’

No worries for Little Kids

Liberty Square Riverboat

Steam boat ride, no concerns.

Walt Disney World Railroad

Train that circles the park with 3 stops. You can ride indefinitely. No concerns.

Princess Fairytale Hall

No concerns.

The Hall of Presidents

Animatronic US Presidents talk for 20 minutes. No scary concerns, but may bore kids.

Seated show of animatronic families in their living rooms. Not scary, but may bore kids.

it’s a small world

Slow boat ride with singing / dancing dolls, no concerns.

Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

Traditional carrousel, no concerns.

Enchanted Tales with Belle

Crowd-interactive play with Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Not scary.

Swiss Family Treehouse

Not scary. Lots of steps. You may not be able to exit quickly because it’s a slow moving walking line exploring the treehouse.

Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

Seated elevated ride, not scary.

Evening fireworks

It might take an hour to exit with the crowds.

Are fireworks shows scary? Maybe should should watch this from outside the park, like at the Transportation and Ticketing Center.

The time of the fireworks show will be listed on the Times Guide leaflet available all over the park.

Frontier Shooting Arcade

Shooting gallery. Not scary. Parents who don’t want their kids playing with guns might want to avoid it.

Borderline for little kids

Tom Sawyer Island

Explorable outdoor play area, no scary concerns. Not ideal for exploring with a stroller because it’s unpaved.

The Barnstormer

Height requirement: 35 inches (2’ 11”)

Roller coaster for pre-schoolers, lasts 57 seconds. Probably not scary, it’s not designed to be scary. If you child meets the height requirement, this could be an excellent introduction to ‘fast’ rides for them.


Spinning/flying ride. Probably fine for your kids. If it would be scary I expect your child will no advance from just looking at spinning.

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

Dumbo-like ride, probably not scary.

Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

Seated, interactive comedy show.

Probably not scary if your kids are not already scared of the Monsters, Inc. characters. If you aren’t familiar with Monsters, Inc. they are “monsters” who are much more cute, and aren’t scary.

Tomorrowland Indy Speedway

32 inch height requirement to ride in car. 54 inch height requirement to drive car.

You drive a car (slowly) on a track, no scary concerns.

Adults can rider switch3

Country Bear Jamboree

Animatronic bears (plus a mounted head Bison and Moose) talk and sing a country music show. Probably not scary for little kids, but might be. Might be boring for little kids.

Peter Pan’s Flight

Dark ride where you pass Captain Hook. Probably you’ll have no scare issues, but you might. This is a great ride to test the waters with your little kid over if they can handle dark rides.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Dark ride where you enter a psychadelic-colored Pooh dream scene about heffalumps and woozles. Probably you’ll have no scare issues, but you might.

Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid

Dark ride. Ursula and eels are scary-ish.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Slow 2-person ride, mostly in the dark, intense colors, you shoot lasers at targets along the way. Could scare little kids, but probably won’t.

Enchanted Tiki Room

Seated show of talking birds and angry gods. Could be frigtening when the gods get angry with darkness and thunder. 10-minute show.

Mad Tea Party

Spinning cups you sit in together. Kids will likely love it, but could be scary. The cups can spin pretty fast, and if your kid hates it you just have to wait out the ride.

Mickey’s Philharmagic

3-D movie with some intense in-your-face effects. I don’t expect it would scare a little kid, but it could.

Astro Orbiter

Dumbo-like ride but higher up and faster. It has made some parents stomach-sick. Ride Dumbo (or Aladdin) first before attempting this one.

Jungle Cruise

Slow guided boat ride through various jungle scenes. Some scenes are light-heartedly frightening. Scary elements: animatronic hippopotamus, angry jungle natives appear, some large snakes. The scary parts are not dark or enveloping. I don’t expect little kids to be terrified, but it could happen.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Dark boat ride with some scary and intense scenes. Could easily scare kids.

Bad for Little Kids

The Haunted Mansion

Not that scary for adults, but could easily freak out little kids. Other riders screams during the ride might also terrify your kids.

Seated 2-person ride in dark with holographic ghosts and scary noises.

Splash Mountain

40 inch height requirement.

Boat ride with some dark scenes, a couple small drops, and one large drop. You can see riders coming down the large drop from in front of the attraction and your child should watch the large drop with you before getting in the line.

We prepped our 3-year-old for this ride by letting her watch the Youtube movie of it, and she wanted to try it and made it without getting _too scared.

Adults can rider switch[^rider_switch]

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

40 inch height requirement.

Roller coaster, kinda jerky, nothing that fancy but could be intense enough to scare your little kids.

Not themed to be scary.

Adults can rider switch[^rider_switch]

Space Mountain

44 inch height requirement.

Dark and fast roller coaster, probably not for your little kids even if they are tall enough.

Adults can rider switch[^rider_switch]

Stitch’s Great Escape!

40 inch height requirement.

A very scary attraction. Avoid, avoid, avoid (with little kids).

Adults can rider switch[^rider_switch]

Other attractions

There is a lot more to do than these attractions like meeting characters, shows, parades, play areas, dining, shops and street entertainment. It’s all great, but I’m not covering it because none of it excludes little kids, or would might scare them, or if it did scare them you could just walk away.


Epcot Ball

Epcot Ball

This book’s coverage of Epcot should be treated like a “with little kids” supplement to a guide book covering the park. There is so much you need to know about Epcot that this book doesn’t cover.

But other guides neglect many of the questions parents with little kids have and this chapter zooms in on those questions.

Short Overview

Epcot is half Future World (the front) and half World Showcase (the back).

World Showcase

The World Showcase is my personal favorite place to be in Disney World.

Everything in the World Showcase is little kid friendly with one exception: The Maelstrom ride in Norway. It’s a dark boat ride with somewhat frightening scenes (a large troll, a polar bear, boat goes backwards for a bit and a surprise small boat drop while going backwards during the ride).

You can get a lot of mileage out of the World Showcase

Think of the World Showcase as eleven parks called “pavilions”. You could spend 1-2 hours at each one letting the kids explore. There’s fountains, gardens, stores, restaurants, galleries, street performers, alleys and characters throughout each one.

KidCot fun stops

These are craft stops for little kids in each country. The kids get handheld sign to color and get stamped in each country.

These stops are also excellent opportunities for your child to interact with a cast member from that country. (As in all the cast members in Japan are actually from Japan working at Epcot for one year)

This page at lists where to find all the stops.

Lots of characters

The World Showcase has a lot of characters– Pooh and friends, Mary Poppins, Alice, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Mulan, Snow White, Elsa and Anna, Aladdin and Jasmine, Donald Duck.

You wait to meet them, they have a short chat with your child and pose for pictures.

Future World

I’ve split Future World into 3 categories

  1. No worries for little kids
  2. Borderline for little kids
  3. Bad for little kids

Within each category, the attractions are sorted from ‘of least concern’ to ‘of most concern’. So the last attraction in ‘Borderline for little kids’ is almost in ‘Bad for little kids’

No worries for little kids

Epcot Character Spot

Wait in line and meet Mickey, Goofy and Minnie (characters may be different.)

The Seas

Aquariums in the same building as the Nemo ride. No concerns.

The Circle of Life

Environmental conservation movie.

Might be boring for kids.


Interactive activities to explore.


Interactive activities to explore.

Turtle Talk with Crush

Seated theater with interactive talking turtle. I would say this whole thing is non-scary. One part might be minimally, minimally scary: a whale sneaks up on Crush while he’s talking and he gets squished against the glass until the whale leaves.

One mom said online that if want to leave in the middle of the show you can’t, and her 2.5 year old hated it and cried the whole time.

Ellen’s energy adventure

Slow ride / movie. I do not expect little kids to be scared, but does have dinosaurs and thunder.

Might be boring for kids.

Young Earth creationist parents may not like the content.

Borderline for little kids

Journey into Imagination with Figment

Probably not scary, but does have some dark flashing parts.

Living with the Land

Slow boat ride about growing food.

Possibly scary: it starts with a dark thunderstorm part.

Might be boring for little kids.

If you don’t like GMO or genetically engineered food, you might want to skip.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends

Mostly tame ride about Finding Nemo, possibly scary part is the shark from the movie appears.

Spaceship Earth

A slow dark ride through a Disney history of human technology from cave men to the space age.

My kids are easily frightened but were not scared by this, but it’s possible a child could become afraid during the ride.


40 inch height requirement.

Ride simulates a hang glide flight through California.

Probably not too scary for kids, but if it is, the child is stuck in their own seat with a harness until the end of the ride.

Adults can rider switch[^rider_switch]

Bad for little kids

Captain EO

There’s no height requirement but this is quite scary for little kids.

Test Track

40 inch height requirement.

Really fast and jerky track-based car ride.

Adults can rider switch[^rider_switch]

Mission: Space

44 inch height requirement.

Intense spaceship simulation. There are two sides, Green and Orange. Avoid Orange with little kids. The Orange and Green sides present the same video content, but the Orange side shakes and jerks a lot.

Adults can rider switch[^rider_switch]

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Purpose of our park coverage

This book’s coverage of the Disney’s Hollywood Studios should be treated like a “with little kids” supplement to a guide book covering the park. There is so much you need to know about the Hollywood Studios that this book doesn’t cover.

But other guides neglect many of the questions parents with little kids have and this chapter zooms in on those questions.

Short Overview

The Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a movie studio attractions park with old Hollywood theming.

This park is the bottom of my list for having lots to do with little kids because so many attractions have a frightening element.


The major attractions are broken up into 3 sections:

  1. No worries for little kids
  2. Borderline for little kids
  3. Bad for little kids

No worries for Little Kids

Disney Junior - Live on Stage!

Stage show for young kids, no concerns.

The Magic of Disney Animation

9-minute movie on animation, then interactive activities. No scary concerns.

Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream

Walk through exhibit and movie about Walt Disney. No scary concerns.

Jedi Training Academy

Watch from the crowd as older kids (age 4-12) are taught Jedi skills from Star Wars.

Possibly scary when Darth Vader and two stormtroopers appear. The trainee kids on stage sword fight Darth Vader. You can just walk away if your kid gets scared.

Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage

Seated musical stage show. I don’t really think there’s any expectation for a child to get scared, but if they do you can just get up a leave.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure

Kid’s playground, but from perspective of an ant so everything is huge. No scary concerns.

Borderline for Little Kids

The American Idol Experience

It’s like being in the audience of American Idol the TV show.

No height requirement, and shouldn’t be scary, but little kids might not want to sit through the whole thing.

Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show

Outside seated driving stunt show. Some explosions and fire. Probably not too scary for kids.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!

Stage show. Possible scary parts include explosions, intense music, big rolling boulder, whip and sword fight, simulated violence, people falling from heights, machine gunfire, woman gets kidnapped on stage, big propeller plane with actors nearly getting caught in propellers spinning.

Show last a long time (40 mins)

If there’s a kid problem, you can always leave.

Toy Story Mania

Ride with lots of games on the ride. This ride might have the longest wait/lines in all of Disney World.

The ride has some fast jerks/spins of the car you ride. You have to wear 3-D glasses. Some air blasts and water squirts at you.

Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Seated musical performance. Has possibly scary Ursula appearance, but you can exit if it’s a problem.

Jim Henson’s Muppet-Vision 3-D

This is a 3-D movie with loud noises and a couple of in your face moments. Your kids might like it, or it might freak them out.


Seated nighttime performance in ampitheater. Kinda scary parts with villians, 40-foot-tall dragon that breathes fire.

This show usually closes the park, so you’ll also have to deal with big crowds exitting while trying to get your kids home.

Studio Backlot Tour

Show then tram ride of intense movie effects. Catastrophe Canyon could easily frighten kids. They demo a flood, fire and earthquake on a movie set.

The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow

Scary pirate stuff, gunfire, cannon fire, animated skulls and skeletons.

Bad for Little Kids

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

40 inch height requirement.

Space ride, bumpy, loud. It’s possible if you kid is tall enough they might like this ride, but there’s lots of opportunities for them to get scared and then you’re stuck inside the spacecraft until it’s over.

Adults can rider switch[^rider_switch]

The Great Movie Ride

No height requirement, but will probably scare kids under 4 who are old enough to know what’s going on. It’s a slow boat ride through a variety of movie scenes. You’ll end up in the middle of multiple gun fights. The Alien movie part is pretty scary. The Indiana Jones part has snakes. There’s creepy mummies. The Wicked Witch of the West appears. And the environment surrounds your boat which magnifies the frightfulness.

Other parents disagree with my assessment, take their little kids on the ride, and the kids do fine. If you might be in this camp, I recommend you test your kids out by watching the Youtube movie of the ride first and also testing kids on other dark boat rides that have scary elements like Pirates of the Caribbean at Magic Kingdom.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

40 inch height requirement. Ride designed to definitely be frightening. Do not ride with little kids.

Adults can rider switch[^rider_switch]

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

48 inch height requirement

Adults can rider switch[^rider_switch]

Animal Kingdom

Purpose of our park coverage

This book’s coverage of the Animal Kingdom should be treated like a “with little kids” supplement to a guide book covering the park. There is so much you need to know about the Animal Kingdom that this book doesn’t cover.

But other guides neglect many of the questions parents with little kids have and this chapter zooms in on those questions.

Short Overview

The Animal Kingdom is like a Disney zoo plus rides. The center is giant man-made tree


The major attractions are broken up into 3 sections:

  1. Good for little kids
  2. Borderline for little kids
  3. Bad for little kids

Good for Little Kids

Kilimanjaro Safari

Truck tour of African animals. A little bumpy. The wait without a Fastpass might be long.

Triceratop Spin

Dumbo-like ride. If it would be scary for your child, they’ll probably know by just looking at it.

Flights of Wonder

Bird show, no worries.

Pangini Forest Exploration Trail

Self guided zoo trail, no worries.

Maharajah Jungle Trek

Self guided zoo trail, no worries.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Train ride to Conservation Station to learn about caring for the animals. Also a petting zoo.

Only concern might be that this area is isolated and you have to ride a train to get back to the rest of the park.

The Boneyard

Kid’s playground, no worries.

Finding Nemo: The Musical

Seated performance, no worries.

Festival of the Lion King

Seated performance. Audience members asked for volunteers.

Borderline for Little Kids

Kali River Rapids

38 inch height requirement.

Circular raft ride in a river. Expect to get totally soaked.

Adults can rider switch[^rider_switch]

Bad for Little Kids

A Bug’s life

Theater show with intense effects of bugs crawling on/around. This could easily terrify little kids, and it can be difficult to leave because of the crowded seating.


40 inch height requirement.

Dark ride with very scary for little kids dinosaur effects. It’s also a jerky ride.

You can wait in line with your kids then do rider switch on this ride.

Adults can rider switch[^rider_switch]

Expedition Everest

44 inch height requirement.

Roller coaster with a scary Yeti theme. If somehow your kid is tall enough, it’s still too scary for them.

Adults can rider switch[^rider_switch]

Primeval Whirl

48 inch height requirement.

  1. The rain in Orlando is usually short showers that blow over quickly. I don’t think you should re-arrange your schedule once in Orlando because rain is forecast.
  2. Lists:,,
  3. Rider switch allows parents to wait in line with their kids and swap which parent watches the kid while the other parent rides the ride.