Disney vacations are often magical endeavors that take months, and in some cases years, of planning. Walt Disney World can feel overwhelming, even to the most seasoned of visitors.
Families come in all shapes and sizes. Multi-generational visits are becoming more and more frequent, and parents and grandparents alike want the best Disney World tips for families that they can get. We’ve got all the answers you could need for how to manage a Disney vacation with your family.
Disney World Tips for Families
Disney World is a great vacation for couples, girlfriends, and even performing groups like school choirs or marching bands. However, families are at the center of most Disney World vacations, and for good reason. Walt Disney said he wanted a place where families could spend time together and have fun.
That was the entire purpose behind his creation of Disneyland (and all the subsequent theme parks around the world bearing the Disney name).
How do families enjoy their time together at Disney World? What are the best ways to ensure everyone of all ages has a good time? We aim to answer those questions with our best Disney World planning tips for tweens and toddlers.
Tips for Tweens at Disney World
“Tweens,” or those between the ages of 10-13, are a fairly new category (at least to me) when describing a child’s age. This group of kids waiver between wanting to grow up and be seen as “mature,” but also often hold on to their childhood likes and desires.
I have become quite fond of this age. My girls have become more confident in their desires, but they still know how to have fun and lean into the magic of a Disney vacation. Disney World planning tips for tweens and toddlers have some similarities, but also some important differences.
Tip for Tweens-Encouragement
First of all, one of the biggest tips I can give parents for this age group is to encourage them. Do they think they’re ready to conquer Space Mountain? Ensure them that they are! Are they excited to stop and wave to Mickey as he goes by during a character cavalcade? Wave right along with them!
Whether they voice it or not, tweens still look to parents for approval and encouragement. Soon, they’ll look to their peers instead of their parents, but I’m hanging onto to this time as long as I can!
Tips for Tweens at Disney World-Independence
My next tip is quite personal, so if you’re not ready for this step, that is ok. On our most recent trip, we allowed our girls some independence to ride different attractions without us. With their toddler brother along for the fun, we sometimes had no choice, especially if he was napping.
Walt Disney World rules state that children over the age of 7 can ride attractions by themselves, but those under 7 must be accompanied by another guest who is 14 or older. Allowing tweens some independence when riding rides gives them a sense of ownership of their choices while allowing parents to assist younger children who may not be riding for one reason or another.
Managing Multiple Ages on a Disney Vacation
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that we had our third child in the fall of 2019. Henry is now just over 1.5 years old, and he is tall enough to ride a few additional rides that he wasn’t able to on his first (second, and third) visits to Disney World in 2020.
However, he still has toddler needs such as napping and free play. We accomplish this by taking advantage of child swap at many attractions as well as bringing a comfortable stroller for napping on the go.
Unless your child really can’t nap in a stroller, I recommend not going back to your hotel for naps if you have some children who don’t nap. Napping on the go allows the older children more time in the parks and gives them the opportunity to practice that all important independence tweens so desperately want to have.
Tips for Toddlers at Disney World-Ride their Rides First
Inevitably, toddlers will get sleepy around the lunchtime hour. It will be important to allow them the chance to enjoy “their” attractions first.
Some of the best rides for toddlers at the Magic Kingdom are all located near one another, so this tip is easy to implement.
Tips for Toddlers-Allow Time for Free Play
Free play opportunities are not as plentiful right now due to Covid restrictions, but it is important to allow toddlers to “get their energy out.” One of my son’s favorite ways to do that is dancing. Thankfully, there is no shortage of music at Disney Parks, so he is almost always boppin’ around to some sort of tune.
Some of the best, least crowded “free play” areas are:
- Magic Kingdom-the area in front of the stage between Carousel of Progress and Space Mountain
- Magic Kingdom-Storybook circus open area by the train station
- Epcot-the inside of the World Showplace pavilion (which also has the bonus of being air conditioned!)
- Animal Kingdom-Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Dinoland USA
- Hollywood Studios-the open area in front of the Chinese Theater (the building that houses Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway)
Disney Family Vacation Tips
Above all, enjoy your Disney family vacation while leaving room for the unexpected. Meltdowns happen. Rides and attractions break down.
While children are young, it’s important to leave room for their needs, even if they can’t quite voice them yet. Sometimes a mid-trip Disney World pool or resort hopping day might be just the reset you need.