Is it possible to have a magical time with toddlers in tow while traveling to Walt Disney World? YES! It is the Most Magical Place on Earth after all. Our Latina TravelingMom rates her favorite theme parks for toddlers and tells you which attractions have passed the test of her fickle toddlers. There are shows, rides, character, meet and greets, snacks, and more! Hold on, pixie dust awaits!
Best Parks at Walt Disney World for Toddlers
Walt Disney World has four theme parks, and I have traveled to each of them with all five of my hijas while they’ve been babies, toddlers, preschoolers, tweens, etc. Many of my friends ask me: When is the right age to take your children to Walt Disney World? Honestly, I love the toddler stage. Sure, sometimes it’s hard work, but man, toddler faces are the best when they’re experiencing magic first-hand.
Here are my recommendations for the best parks at Disney World for toddlers, in order of my favorites, and the best attractions for them.
Magic Kingdom With Toddlers
Like Donald Duck, this park is #1 for toddlers! The attractions and characters available for the little ones far outweigh the others. In fact, I often recommend visiting this park at least twice during your vacation.
Anything without a height requirement is fantastic for toddlers in Disney’s Magic Kingdom park. Fantasyland was designed for the littles, and there’s so much for them to experience. From character meet and greets everywhere, rides galore, an air-conditioned play area inside the waiting area for Dumbo the Flying Elephant, to a water play area in Storybook Circus, and the most amazing snacks, Magic Kingdom is a toddler’s dream land.
If you’re unsure what your toddler will like, start off with something tame, like “it’s a small world” or Dumbo the Flying Elephant. My all-time favorite ride is Peter Pan’s Flight which allows you to feel like you’re flying with pixie dust. Once your child feels the excitement, work them up to The Barnstormer. If they want something even more exciting, try Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Then you can try all the Mountains (Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad) if they really love thrill rides and meet the height requirement!
Parades and Shows for Toddlers in Magic Kingdom
Who doesn’t love a parade? My favorite parade – Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade – is in the Magic Kingdom Park. This is a great way for your little ones to see all their favorite characters at once. The music, the costumes…everything is a visual feast! We try to stake out a spot in the shade and eat our favorite snacks (who can resist Main Street, U.S.A.’s popcorn?) while we wait for the parade to start.
The Happily Ever After Fireworks Show is incredible! If your toddlers are not a fan of fireworks, I suggest sitting further away from Cinderella Castle as they can be loud – or just be prepared to cover their ears. The projections on Cinderella Castle tell a story you don’t want to miss.
Magic Kingdom is definitely my favorite park. I still squee when I see Cinderella Castle walking down Main Street. Every. Single. Time. Me muero.
Animal Kingdom with Toddlers
This is my #2 park for toddlers, mostly based on the presence of animals and The Boneyard in DinoLand, U.S.A. The Boneyard is an open air play space where niños can run around in a playground designed to look like a fossil dig site. There are ropes, bridges, tiny slides, and more. It’s a great place for toddlers to burn off some energy. All of my girls have loved exploring here, and it’s always the first thing they want to do. Slow your roll, kids, we have attractions to ride first.
Speaking of attractions, Pandora – the World of Avatar is open! This also bumps up Animal Kingdom’s rating. Na’vi River Journey is a family ride where you climb aboard a reed boat and drift downstream. The scenery is beautiful and there are no wild bumps or drops.
I recommend Kilimanjaro Safaris (a safari jeep ride where you can see tons of animals) and Triceratop Spin (a Dumbo-like ride). Also take the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. My kids love train rides. They can meet Rafiki, head to the petting zoo at the Affection Station, learn about animals and take a walk on the outdoor discovery trail to see tamarind monkeys. This is a slower-paced activity.
Shows at Animal Kingdom
Will your toddlers like the shows offered? That depends on the attention span of your toddler, but it’s worth a try. Festival of the Lion King is our family’s favorite. It has the music, costuming, and huge floats of favorite characters from The Lion King. My girls love the jumping Tumble Monkeys and are amazed by the fire dancer.
Finding Nemo – The Musical is also a fantastic show! However, it’s longer and did not always hold the attention of my little ones. With the release of Finding Dory, this may be of higher interest to toddlers now. I say give it a try, and if you notice your child getting antsy, there’s always an exit available.
Hollywood Studios with Toddlers
Currently, there’s a lot of construction going on here. However, once Pixar Land is complete, I would say this park would be bumped up to the #2 spot. There are not a lot of rides here for toddlers. Toy Story Mania! and The Great Movie Ride are about all you’re going to find without a height requirement.
I’m a little hesitant to recommend The Great Movie Ride, though. There are loud shooting scenes and one scene where an alien comes out of the ceiling. If you’re in the back, it’s not so bad. If you’re right under the alien, well…good luck.
There are a lot of Disney Jr. characters to meet and the Disney Jr. Live on Stage show is always fun! The show includes puppets of Mickey Mouse and his friends, Sofia the First, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and Doc McStuffins. Your kids will sing, dance, and be surprised.
TravelingMom Tip: The seats in the front aren’t always the best. Everyone sits on the floor and little children may not be able to see the puppets towards the front of the stage. We usually prefer sitting by the aisle in the back center.
More Toddler Fun
You can also meet Sofia, Jake, and Doc outside of the theater during the day. Want more characters? Across from Toy Story Mania! you can meet Toy Story friends like Buzz Lightyear and Woody in an air-conditioned building! Woohoo!
Tall toddlers may be able to ride Star Tours. And if you have Star Wars fans, head to Star Wars Launch Bay. Chewbacca is quite the hit with the 4 and under crowd. Kylo Ren? Not so much. My daughter brought her Chewbacca plush, and Chewie gave her the biggest hug. Kylo Ren sent my toddler hiding behind her daddy.
There are also shows like Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. If you have little fans of Ariel, Belle, or Gaston, check them out. There is one scary scene in Beauty and the Beast, but it’s not too bad. My girls had mixed reactions. For some, it didn’t bother them at all as they were so engrossed with the action and music. A couple of my daughters plugged their ears or buried their heads in my lap.
If you have Frozen fans, then For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration is a can’t-miss show! They get to sing along to their hearts’ content with Frozen’s most popular songs. Where else can they have that experience? And right next to the theater is where they can meet Olaf, the world’s happiest snowman. Free hugs!
Epcot with Toddlers
I’m torn over which park is better for toddlers – Epcot or Hollywood Studios. With all the construction at Hollywood Studios, I may have to give it to Epcot, especially with the addition of Frozen Ever After. As far as rides go, you can add Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros in the Mexico Pavilion, Living with the Land (I love it, but it’s a tad boring for some), Spaceship Earth and The Seas With Nemo & Friends.
If your toddler is tall enough, she can ride Soarin’. I would check somewhere else first, though. I remember one incident where daughter #2 was a toddler, and she barely missed the height requirement, so she couldn’t ride. Daughter was extremely peeved and proceeded to voice her displeasure to everyone around her. She threw herself on the ground and had a massive tantrum. Not even the candy I had in my bag could stop it. Eventually the calming waters of Living with the Land stopped it, but there were many looks of concern from guests wondering whether they should call child protective services on me.
There is plenty to explore and see in Epcot, and the opportunity to meet different Disney characters, including several Disney princesses in their countries. Many are not inside, however, so the waits can get hot. The Character Spot is air-conditioned and your child can meet Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy. Across the way right now is Baymax and Joy and Sadness from Inside Out. You can also meet Anna and Elsa from Frozen in their new home in the Norway Pavilion.
Toddlers at Disney World
There is plenty for toddlers to experience at Walt Disney World. It continues to be our family’s number one choice for a vacation. Some may say that toddlers won’t remember their vacations. This may be true, but I’ll sure remember that joy in my toddler’s eyes when she sees Mickey Mouse!
Although we have been many, many times, I still feel like we’re experiencing family firsts all the time. As long as my kids still want to go, we’ll still keep making magical memories.
Headed to the happiest place on earth? Traveling Mom recommends Undercover Tourist for discounted tickets.