We went to Walt Disney World in November and had an absolutely fabulous time (how can you not have a fabulous time at the happiest place on earth?). We took our four kids (ages 8, 6, 4 & 2) and while the oldest two loved Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Animal Kingdom equally, my smallest ones of course only had eyes for Magic Kingdom.
With so much to see at Magic Kingdom alone, it can be overwhelming when you want to make sure you hit It’s a Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight and the Jungle Cruise. So in anticipation of our next Disney vacation I was excited to hear from Lisa Battista of Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers.
Lisa couldn’t be more knowledgeable about how to maximize your trip with preschoolers in tow. I asked about the ideal preschool itinerary, and she laid it all out for me, but first she provided me with the keys to a successful day at Magic Kingdom, and here they are.
Be Flexible. Preschoolers can be erratic, so when their mood shifts, you need to shift with them, even if that means going back to the hotel a few hours earlier than anticipated.
Tour at a Moderate Pace. Preschoolers have little legs, and even if they travel by stroller, the Florida heat can wear out these little guys quickly.
Take a Break After Lunch. This has been our key to success too. After lunch we’ve always headed back to our hotel or vacation rental for a nap and some pooltime. We let everyone recharge and then head back to the park, or not if the kids are too worn out (refer back to the first key to success).
Lisa also let me know that it’s best not to cram all the must-see attractions into one day. Do it in two days, and here’s the best way to spend your time on each day.
You’ll notice a huge difference in crowd levels between park opening and mid-day when many guests descend upon the parks. On Day One, get to the park early, taking advantage of the Extra Magic Hour (if staying on-property), and hit Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.
Fantasyland: Make Dumbo the Flying Elephant your very first stop because the lines only get longer as the morning goes on. Next, pick up a FastPass for Peter Pan’s Flight, a popular attraction with a slow-moving line. FastPasses in hand, head to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. As a bonus, there are plenty of hands-on activities to keep the kids entertained while they wait.
Next up, head to the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, then take a break and people watch. By this time, it may be time to return for Peter Pan’s Flight. Once you exit this ride, head to a few with short, fast-moving lines like Mickey’s PhilharMagic and It’s a Small World. By this point, you will have seen many preschool favorites without waiting and without (hopefully) meltdowns.
Tomorrowland: Now it’s time for Tomorrowland. If you get there early enough in the day, head to the Tomorrowland Speedway, which often has a long line if you arrive at the wrong time. Then, check out Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, which is a family must-do, and take a break with snacks and more people watching.
Preschoolers are too small for Space Mountain, of course, so head to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority or Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. Then head to Star Trader to build a light saber or visit the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor for a comedy show inside an air-conditioned theatre.
Phew, this has been a full day already, and it’s only lunchtime. So enjoy lunch and a break back at your room. If you return to Magic Kingdom later in the day, take it easy with an attraction or two and a relaxing family dinner.
Adventureland: There’s not too much to see and do in Adventureland, so head there first and start your day with The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, The Enchanted Tiki Room and the Jungle Cruise. You may also want to spend a few minutes walking through the Swiss Family Treehouse. Pirates of the Caribbean is probably a little too spooky for the preschool set, so save that one until they’re older.
Frontierland: Look out for the Toy Story greeting area with Woody and Jessie, then head to the Walt Disney World Railroad for a twenty-minute ride around the perimeter of the Magic Kingdom. It’s the perfect break at this point in the day. Disembark at the Main Street U.S.A. station and head to the Town Square Theater to meet Mickey Mouse.
As you near the end of the second day, re-visit favorites or try something new, like the Liberty Square Riverboat. This 17-minute trip around Tom Sawyer Island is a perfect break from a busy day of exploring. If the kids need to let off some steam, take a raft over to Tom Sawyer Island to let the kids play on a giant playground while you can sit and enjoy a cool drink.
For more great tips and advice on traveling to Walt Disney World with a preschooler, I absolutely encourage you to check out Lisa’s book, Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers.
Photo Credit: Loren Javier
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