By Dopey Diva
4 Parks, 1 World…that is the theme of Disney World, and what a big world it is! I know many people have questions about what age is the “right age” to take their child to Disney World for the first time. Honestly there is no specific age that is the perfect age. I believe it all depends on the parents and when they feel comfortable taking a child from park to park, ride to ride, character to character and how much they can handle without turning it into a bad experience. As for myself, I took my youngest son for the first time when he was 17 months old. It was great and it was hard. I do not regret it at all though! He also went when he was 2, 2 1/2, and 3 1/2 and I do know each trip got better and better as he got older and I look forward to taking him many more times. So you may wonder what are the best things for toddlers to do in all 4 parks and I am happy to share my experiences with you in hopes of helping you have a magical vacation with your toddlers.
I will start with the easiest park. The Magic Kingdom is perfect for kids of all ages. Almost all rides in the Magic Kingdom are suitable for toddlers. Fantasyland happens to be my sons personal favorite. He could ride Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, It’s a Small World, the Carousel, Dumbo, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid over and over all day. There are parades to watch and there are also great character meet and greets in the Magic Kingdom, assuming your child is not afraid of characters. There is so much to look at and explore in the Magic Kingdom I don’t think you will have any problems keeping your toddler occupied and happy.
Hollywood Studios is a great park and a lot of fun, but for a toddler there isn’t a whole lot for them to do. The only ride most are tall enough for is Toy Story Mania and hopefully you got your Fast Pass for that or you may be waiting a long time. There are character meet and greets and shows to see, but if your child is like mine, the shows only hold their interest for a short time. The one show my son did enjoy was Disney Jr. Live on Stage. It is a bit more interactive with the audience than the other shows at Hollywood Studios and a great place for toddlers to get inside and cool off on a hot day. The other area my son loves is The Animation Building, which is next to Disney Jr. Live on Stage. There are characters to meet in the building, but also several hands on activities for toddlers to enjoy. Once I get my son in that building I have trouble getting him to leave. I think he would spend the whole day in there.
The Animal Kingdom can be quite fun for toddlers. There are character meet and greets and two great shows: Nemo and The Lion King (which is currently closed but scheduled to reopen in a few months). We normally start with the Kilimanjaro Safari ride, especially since you might get to see more animals early in the morning. There are also different trails to walk where you are able to see animals such as gorillas and tigers and exotic birds. There is a dinosaur area that features a Dino Dig…this is a great place for toddlers to play and run around. Another great toddler area is the Conservation Station. There are hands on activities, character meet and greets, and a petting zoo where your children are able to brush goats. Keep in mind the Animal Kingdom closes earlier than all other parks so you need to get there early to enjoy a full day.
Last, but not least, is Epcot. I hear so many people say they don’t want to take their young children to Epcot because there is nothing for them to do there. I personally do not agree with that at all. After the Magic Kingdom that is my toddler’s next favorite park. He loves “the big ball”, Spaceship Earth, and truly enjoys being at Epcot. I will warn you, there is a LOT of walking at Epcot and if you don’t have a stroller, you will need one or you may be carrying your child. Other than that it’s a perfect park for children. There are character meet and greets throughout the park and there are several rides toddlers are able to enjoy. The World Showcase has areas called Kidcot Fun Stop in each of the countries. Here your child can get a stick puppet (normally Duffy Bear or Perry the Platypus) and they are able to sit and color these as long as they want. If you happen to have a change of clothes and don’t mind your child getting wet there are water fountains where children can play and get wet which is great on a hot day. One of my sons personal favorite spots is the aquarium at the end of the Nemo ride. He loves to run around and look at the fish and sharks and dolphins. There is also Turtle Talk with Crush in that building which is a great interactive show that kids love. If you feel Epcot is not child friendly I encourage you to try it at least once, I am pretty sure you and your children will enjoy being there. I know we do!