Part 3: In Park Tips & Tricks
So, you’ve made it! You got all the planning done, you survived the car or airplane ride and you’re here…you’re really here.
Now, where in the world do you start?
In part 3 of this 3 part series I’m going to answer just that. What do you need to know once you are actually in the parks? What rides can a kid under 5 ride? What things are geared just for them?
General Tips and Tricks
I recommend working in some sort of down time during your stay. With a base theme park ticket you can enter the same park as many times as you wish in the same day. This helps for runs back to the resort for a nap!
At Disney World-Value resorts are only accessible by Disney buses. Some Moderate and Deluxe resorts will have ferry and monorail service to and from the parks. These extra options can help lessen the wait time for getting back to the resort. HERE is a great guide for getting around Disney.
It is a good idea to buy Disney souvenirs before you leave home! Things can cost more in the parks vs back home. Check Walmart, Target, Party City, and even Dollar Tree for Disney goodies. Dollar Tree also sells glow sticks and other glow toys that can come in handy for night time shows and parades!
Schedule character dinings before you travel. Kids can get cranky, hot, and tired waiting in lines to meet those famous faces. At a character dining you can sit, eat, and relax while your Disney friends come to you!
Character dinings at Walt Disney World are: Chef Mickeys, Cape May Cafe, Tusker House, Garden Grill, Garden Grove, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ (classic characters), Akershus, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Princess Tea Party (for princesses), Crystal Palace (for Winnie the Pooh and Friends), Hollywood & Vine (for Disney Jr.), 1900 Park Fare, Wonderland Tea Party (Mary Poppins, Alice & Wonderland, Cinderella and Friends), Ohana’s (Lilo & Stitch),
Character dinings at Disneyland: Ariel’s Grotto (for princesses), PCH Grill, Goofy’s Kitchen, Plaza Inn, Storyteller’s Cafe (for classic characters),
Rider switch…use it! If mom and dad both want to ride something but little Susie is too small, no worries! Tell the cast member at the entrance you want to use a rider swap. What this means is that one adult will go in to the ride while the other hangs back with little Susie. When that parent finishes the ride, little Susie is handed over, and the other parent gets to go in to the ride (usually through the FastPass line).This way mom and dad can both experience their favorites without both standing in the long lines!
All Walt Disney resorts offer in-room childcare through Kids Nite Out for a fee.
Some WDW resort off Children’s Activity Centers for guests aged 3-12 for a fee. Reservation are recommended. These are:
- Simba’s Cubhouse at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Lilo’s Playhouse at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Cub’s Den at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Sandcastle Club at Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Camp Dolphin at Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
In Disneyland Park childcare is available for a fee at Pinocchio’s Workshop inside the Grand Floridian Resort. Reservations are recommended.
Don’t forget the Baby Care Centers. You can read about them in THIS post.
If you plan to bring a stroller (which I highly recommend) some type of sun cover and clip on fan will work wonders!
Speaking of strollers…bring a trash bag or poncho in case it rains! Disney has stroller park (picture a sea of perfectly lined strollers) for you to leave your stroller while you are on a ride. If it rains you want to be prepared! Another tip is to have something clipped or tied to your stroller for easy identification! You’d never know how many families have one that looks JUST like your’s.
Get Mickey ears! You can’t go to Disney and not get these. They are like a right of passage.
Fantasyland will be your best friend! This is where most of the little kid friendly rides are. If you’re at Disneyland Park be sure to check out Toon Town.
Kingdom Strollers in Orlando has strollers and cribs for rent during your vacation stay. This can be a super helpful service if you’re flying.
So What Can They Actually Ride at Disney World?
Be sure to get to the park at least 30 minutes before it opens for a special opening show!
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (38″ height requirement)
Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
It’s a Small World
Pirates of the Caribbean
Peter Pan (FastPass+ is recommended)
Enchanted Tales with Belle (FastPass+ is recommended)
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (FastPass+ is recommended)
Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
Carousel of Progress (this one is great to sit back, relax, and let the kids unwind)
Mad Tea Party
Tomorrowland Transit Authority (this one is great to sit back, relax, and let the kids unwind)
There is a great play area at the exit of Splash Mountain while you’re waiting for someone on the ride.
Visit Character Spot if interested in characters
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Explore The Seas pavilion
Turtle Talk With Crush (FastPass+ can be used)
Living with the Land
Journey Into Imagination with Figment
Taste sodas from around the world at Club Cool
Explore Innoventions East and West
Gran Fiesta Tour
Spaceship Earth (FastPass+ can be used)
Ellen’s Universe of Energy (takes 45 minutes-this one is great to sit back, relax, and let the kids unwind)
Explore the World Showcase
Illuminations (night show)
Ride Triceratop Spin (multiple times, if you like)
Visit the Boneyard (check daily park schedule for opening times)
Kali River Rapids (38 in. height requirement and FastPass+ can be used)
Kilimanjaro Safaris (FastPass+ can be used..this one is great to sit back, relax, and let the kids unwind)
Take Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch for the petting zoo and animal exhibits
Festival of the Lion King (FastPass+ can be used)
Finding Nemo – The Musical (this one is great to sit back, relax, and let the kids unwind)
Flights of Wonder
Maharajah Jungle Trek
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
Toy Story Mania (FastPass+ can be used, or arrive to the park early and hit it first with no FP)
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Disney Junior – Live on Stage
The Great Movie Ride (has an element where a bandit boards your car and hijacks it..may scare some children)
Star Tours (40 inch height requirement..FastPass+ can be used)
Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage (this one is great to sit back, relax, and let the kids unwind)
Lights, Motors, Action (this one is great to sit back, relax, and let the kids unwind)
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (this one is great to sit back, relax, and let the kids unwind)
So What Can They Ride At Disneyland?
Disneyland Park (Detailed information from HERE):
- Astro Orbitor: It’s a little like a space-age version of Dumbo, only bigger
- Casey Jr. Circus Train: A tiny circus train.
- Columbia Sailing Ship: This masted ship follows the same route as the steamboat, but it’s a lot more fun for kids to pretend they’re pirates than riverboat captains.
- Disneyland Railroad: An old-fashioned steam train runs all the way around the park, with a short stretch that passes dioramas showing the Grand Canyon today and back when it was filled with prehistoric dinosaurs.
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant: Dumbo flies slowly, but in a circle. It might be a problem for a particularly dizziness-prone little one, but most are OK
- it’s a small world : Small but a little noisy and chaotic. Some adults refuse to ride because they can’t get the song out of their heads afterward
- Jungle Cruise: It’s a rare child who’s actually scared by the animatronic hippos and crocodiles – and they might not think the skipper’s jokes are as corny as adults do.
- King Arthur Carrousel.
These attractions stand still and you and the kids either walk through or sit and watch. If your little ones need to work off some energy, Toontown is an especially good place for that, with most of the walk-through houses and lots of fun things outside on the streets.
These rides allow children, but for various reasons may not be right for your little one. For each one, we tell you why.
- Alice in Wonderland: It’s indoors in the dark most of the time, but gentle and subdued. One adult and 2 kids can manage this ride if they don’t mind sitting in two rows (in the same vehicle)
- Autopia: You have to be 52 inches or taller to drive, but children more than one year old can ride
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters: This ride is like being inside a big video game. One adult and 2 kids can fit in the same vehicle, but only 2 can shoot
- Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes: Everyone is supposed to paddle on this little trip around the island.
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage: Not for the claustrophobic, but great fun to watch Nemo and his pals through the windows.
- Gadget’s Go Coaster: This small roller coaster is so gentle it’s unlikely to scare anyone or make them nauseous, but it does have a 35-inch height limit – and sometimes a long queue
- Haunted Mansion: It moves gently enough, but there’s a lot of noise and thunder and evil laughs at the beginning – and ghosts inside.
- Mad Tea Party: Most people just call this the spinning tea cups, which says it all – not a good choice for anyone prone to motion sickness.
- Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: You’d think Winnie would be gentle enough and he is, but his ride is indoors in the dark. One adult and 2 kids can manage this ride if they don’t mind sitting in two rows (in the same vehicle)
- Matterhorn Bobsleds: An indoor roller coaster that spends a lot of time in the dark. Kids more than 35 inches tall and 3 years old can ride, but only with an adult and some children find the Abominable Snowman’s glowing red eyes more than a little frightening
- Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride: Mr Toad’s driving is so bad that you’ll be hit by a train and sentenced to Hell – it’s all a bit much for some kids. One adult and 2 kids can manage this ride if they don’t mind sitting in two rows (in the same vehicle)
- Peter Pan’s Flight: A gentle flight over the city of London at night that’s among everyone’s favorites
- Pinocchio’s Daring Journey: Like Snow White, it’s true to the story, but that tale does have some frightening moments
- Pirates of the Caribbean: A water ride with a couple of small drops, it passes through a simulated cannon battle and a town on fire.
- Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin: A busy, crazy ride in a runaway taxi that’s a lot of fun, but it does have some loud noises
- Snow White’s Scary Adventures: The word “scary” in this ride’s name is important. It sticks to the story line, but that witch can be just plain old terrifying
Visit Cars Land as soon as the park opens! Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
Visit Bug Land: Flik’s Flyers, Francis’ Ladybug Boogie, Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train, It’s Tough to be a Bug!, Princess Dot Puddle ParkTuck and Roll’s Drive’Em Buggies
Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular
Watch the Pixar Play Parade
Catch Disney Jr. Live on Stage
The Little Mermaid-Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
Monsters, Inc.—Mike & Sully to the Rescue
Toy Story Midway Mania!
Red Car Trolley
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail and Wilderness Explorer Camp
King Triton’s Carousel of the Sea
Silly Symphony Swings (40 inch height requirement)
Toy Story Midway Mania!
Color of Wonder Nighttime Show
…and there you have it! The top things you need to know while in the parks with kids under 5. See! There is plenty they can do so don’t be intimated and think you won’t have fun. Disney is magical at any age and at every stage in life.
Do you have any other tips, tricks, or secrets I missed? We’d all love to read them! Tell us your experience in the comments.
Did you miss Part 1 on preplanning tips for kids under 5? Click HERE to check it out!
Or, Part 2 on packing and travel tips for kids under 5? Click HERE to check it out!
Are you a beginner to Disney World? Be sure to check out THIS post on the top things to know when planning a Disney World vacation.