One of the questions I answered most often when I was on the planDisney Panel was what are the best rides and parks at Disney World with toddlers? Is it worth it? Will toddlers like Disney World and what are the best tips for Walt Disney World with toddlers? This ultimate guide to Disney World with toddlers will answer your questions about what rides are best for little ones.
I have traveled to Disney World with toddlers, preschoolers, elementary aged kids, and teens. Although I have 5 kids, they did not love the same things. Here are the best parks at Disney World with toddlers.
Ultimate Guide to Disney World with Toddlers 2024
What can toddlers do at Disney World? Walt Disney World has four theme parks, and the best park for toddlers is Magic Kingdom park, no contest. However, there’s still plenty for little ones to enjoy at the other theme parks.
Many of my friends ask me when is the right age to take your children to Walt Disney World. I think every age is the right age. It all depends what you want from your Disney World vacation.
Is it worth taking a toddler to Disney World? I say yes! I love the toddler stage. Sure, it’s hard work, because toddlers can be demanding tiny humans. But toddler faces are the best when they’re experiencing Disney magic first-hand.
One of the best things about 2024 is that Disney World no longer requires park reservations if you buy regular theme park tickets. If you are an Annual Passholder. Sorry, you’re still making reservations. And park hopping is available all day, huzzah!
Best Time to Visit Disney World with Toddlers
If you only have toddlers, I recommend visiting Disney World when school is in session. Avoid all holiday weekends as crowds tend to be heaviest. The best times I’ve found are visiting after a Hollywood weekend. Weekdays are usually best. However, visiting around holiday times are fun, because of extra decor.
Try visiting in the beginning of September so you get to see the Halloween decor and want to visit during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. If you want cooler weather and Christmas decor, then I’d recommend mid-November before Thanksgiving, early December, or right before winter vacation for schools, so around mid-December. January generally tend to be lower crowds, but weather is very fickle.
It’s rare to find a completely slow time at Walt Disney World anymore, so as long as you have a plan, you should be able to manage the crowds.
Magic Kingdom for Toddlers
Like Donald Duck, Magic Kingdom Park is #1 for toddlers! If choosing one park to visit at Walt Disney World, choose Magic Kingdom Park with little ones. Planning for Disney World with toddlers is a breeze at this park, because there is so much for them to do.
You can also get baby or toddler’s first haircut on Main Street, USA!
The attractions and characters available for the little ones far outweigh the other parks. In fact, I often recommend visiting Magic Kingdom at least two days 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. Okay, it’s my dream land, too.
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. Once your child feels the excitement, then work them up to The Barnstormer. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is cute, too, but there is a little scene with Heffalumps that can be a little scary. If they want something even more exciting, try Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
I remember when Snow White’s Scary Adventures was still around and friends would start their toddler there, because it was usually a shorter line. Then their kids were too scared to try other things. I know you’re excited, parents, and they’re excited, too, but start them off slow.
As far as scary rides go, I would watch out for Pirates of the Caribbean (some kids don’t like the loud sounds like cannons shooting or the darkness), and Haunted Mansion (my kids are mixed, some love it, some don’t). While Haunted Mansion isn’t terribly scary, there are ghosts and murderous brides.
Also the cannons in the water have gotten extra big on Pirates, so there’s a good chance you’ll be surprised with getting wet on the sides. Astro Orbiter makes me motion sick, but my more adventurous children love it.
I recommend purchasing Genie+ for Magic Kingdom with toddlers. With as many rides as they have for little ones, the more you can reduce wait times, the better – even with the additional cost.
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Character Meet and Greets for Toddlers in Magic Kingdom
Thankfully more meet and greets have opened back up in Magic Kingdom. You can meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater and the princesses in Princess Fairytale Hall. Also, no more masks required, so your photos don’t look like the one below.
Now you can even see Mirabel from Encanto during the Adventure Friends Cavalcade! My kids were so excited to see her and Miguel from Coco!
Air-conditioned character meet and greets at Magic Kingdom include Mickey Mouse (Town Square Theater), Princess Fairytale Hall (with several Disney princesses), and Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Daisy Duck and Donald Duck at Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Storybook Circus. Meeting Ariel at her Grotto is semi-inside.
Pete’s Silly Sideshow is a circus-themed character-greeting area in the Storybook Circus part of Fantasyland. You can get some fun photos of characters in unique outfits!
When my kids are toddlers I’m willing to wait for pictures, because they are so excited to meet them. It melts my heart. Not all toddlers are the same though.
Start with someone they recognize (like Mickey Mouse) and see how they react. Some of my girls loved fur characters more than face characters and vice versa.
Tips for Walt Disney World with Toddlers: Try a character breakfast first, like the Topolino’s Terrace Character Breakfast.
Magic Kingdom Park really is a 2-day park, and it’s my favorite, but I’m a kid at heart.
You can also wave to all your favorite characters during Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade. The costumes, music, dancing, and characters are mesmerizing even for little ones. The picture of my daughter below is one of my all-time favorites when she’s watching the parade.
TIP: Also use the My Disney Experience app to see where your favorite Disney characters are meeting.
Best Rides at Animal Kingdom for Toddlers
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park was 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 kids can run around in a playground setting designed to look like a fossil dig site, and it’s open again! There are ropes, bridges, tiny slides, and more. There’s a dig site in the back where they can dig, dig, dig, dig, dig dig…the whole day through.
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, I recommend Kilimanjaro Safaris (a safari jeep ride where you can see tons of animals) and Triceratop Spin (a Dumbo-like ride) for toddlers.
Watch out for It’s Tough to Be a Bug. It’s a 3-D movie, and I find it hilarious. Little children often do not. There are some creepy crawlies on the seats (not real ones), and a giant animatronic bug (Hopper) that pops out.
Also, Pandora – The World of Avatar in Animal Kingdom makes it even better for toddlers. The Na’vi River Journey is a slow-paced boat ride with beautiful scenery and music. Animal Kingdom is definitely a great addition for Disney World with toddlers.
Best Shows at Animal Kingdom For Toddlers
Will your toddlers like the shows offered at Animal Kingdom? 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.
We enjoy the music, costuming, and huge floats of favorite characters from The Lion King. Now they still invite a few lucky participants from the audience to take part in the festivities.
Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond! opened and it replaced Finding Nemo the Musical. I think the reimagined show is fantastic! With all the bright colors, costumes, and music, I think little ones will love it. And if they get wiggly, you can exit early.
Character Meet and Greets at Animal Kingdom
You can meet your favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost at Animal Kingdom including Mickey and Minnie Mouse in safari outfits. And now you can meet MOANA at Animal Kingdom on Discovery Island. Again, look at the My Disney Experience app for meet times, because Moana does have specific showtimes.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios for Toddlers
So I was hoping with the opening of Toy Story Land, Disney’s Hollywood Studios would be bumped up to number 2. However, I’m leaving it at #3 or it can be tied with #2, especially if your toddlers are Star Wars fans.
Don’t get me wrong, Toy Story Land is fantastic! However, there’s really only one additional attraction created for toddlers -Alien Swirling Saucers – but the whole land will be a visual feast for Toy Story fans.
There aren’t a ton of rides for toddlers at Hollywood Studios, but Mickey’s Runaway Railway is one of my favorites and perfect for little ones! It replaced the Great Movie Ride.
Disney Characters at Hollywood Studios
The Disney Junior characters are back to meet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios like Vampirina, Doc McStuffins and Fancy Nancy in the Animation Courtyard!
You can also see Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and meet Pixar Pals like The Incredibles and Edna Mode at Pixar Place. Also there’s an outdoor line for meet and greets with Woody, Jessie, and Buzz Lightyear around Toy Story Mania!
If you have a tall toddler, they may be able to ride Star Tours. And if you have Star Wars fans, then they’ll love Star Wars Launch Bay. You can meet Chewbacca!
The Disney Junior – Live on Stage show has been replaced with Disney Junior Dance Party!
Disney Junior Dance Party for Toddlers
I was excited that the Disney Junior – Live on Stage show was getting a makeover. The puppets were a little outdated. And when I heard the new name – Disney Junior Dance Party! – I thought it would be just that, a dance party!
The Disney Junior Dance Party! is not exactly a dance party where the characters are on the dance floor with the kids like other dance parties in the parks. It’s still a cute show that little ones will definitely enjoy!
There are set showtimes throughout the day, so be sure to check the Times Guide or your My Disney Experience app. The show lasts about 25 minutes. Kids come in and sit on the floor while the show begins! A DJ comes out and gets the show started with music, lights, and fun!
Preschoolers and toddlers will get to see their favorite Disney characters on stage like Doc McStuffins, Vampirina, Timon, and Mickey Mouse. When Vampirina came on the stage, the crowd erupted in screams. I thought Beyoncé had come in.
Kids who are big fans of Disney Jr and shows like Doc McStuffins, The Lion Guard, Mickey and the Roadster Racers, and Vampirina will have a blast! The kids do get a chance to stand up and dance while learning some dance moves, so it’s a good time to get those wiggles out.
There is also great audience participation and some kids are called on to help push a button and others can see themselves on the big screen! And just wait until the bubbles and snow come out. Disney Junior Dance Party! is a fun addition for toddlers at Disney World!
Rides for Toddlers at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is the best ride for toddlers at Hollywood Studios! It’s fun and colorful and it doesn’t have any drops. In Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, get transported to another planet and galaxy as you land on Batuu. You can go for a ride on the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run if you are least 38 inches tall. For Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance you must be at least 40 inches tall.
There are 3 rides in Toy Story Land – Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers, and Toy Story Mania! They moved the entrance to Toy Story Mania! inside Toy Story Land and Mr. Potato Head is back, which is always fun for toddlers.
Alien Swirling Saucers has a minimum height requirement of 32 inches. It’s a super cute ride if your toddler is tall enough! You spin (but not crazy spin like the Tea Cups) and can smush up against your neighbor. The music is upbeat and fun!
Slinky Dog Dash has a minimum height requirement of 38 inches. It’s a fun family coaster that appears bigger than it is. Check out this Ride POV of my daughters riding Slinky Dog Dash.
Disney With Toddlers Tip: If you have a nervous rider, have them sit on the right side of the ride and near the front.
Best Hollywood Studios Shows for Toddlers
For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration is so, so fun!
The Frozen Sing-Along Celebration is a good chance for kids to see Anna and Elsa on stage. They don’t appear too long though, and you won’t get any pictures with characters. It’s a funny show with current pop culture jokes and a chance for the audience to sing the songs from Frozen together.
Also Beauty & the Beast Live on Stage is back and has all the songs your kids love.
Don’t forget about Muppet*Vision 3D, especially if you need a break in the air condition.
I wouldn’t completely recommend Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular for toddlers unless they really love Indiana Jones. It gets really hot in the amphitheater and the show is slow-paced, especially if you’re in the back.
Best Rides at EPCOT for Toddlers
EPCOT is probably my last choice for parks at Disney World for toddlers, but they have been adding more activities for them. There are a few rides and some games they can play, but it’s hot, and may not keep their attention.
I was heartbroken when Maelstrom left, but I have to admit, I love Frozen Ever After. Your little Frozen fans will adore this ride. Plus Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is a fun addition for toddlers in Epcot!
As far as rides for toddlers 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’. Just make sure they’re tall enough before the measuremement check if they have their hearts set on it. One time a daughter did not make the cut and had a massive tantrum.
Also, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is not the most kid-friendly option for a really tall toddler/preschooler, but it is very fun for thrill seekers!
Also, they have now opened Journey of Water – Inspired by Moana, which is a beautiful walk-through space and also has water features for kids to play with and explore.
One of my favorite character meals is in Epcot, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. I prefer it over Cinderella’s Royal Table for princess interaction.
Also, there are always festivals going on at Epcot, and they usually have a game or scavenger hunt to find Figment that some kids love! For example in the spring there’s the Spike the Bee Scavenger Hunt for Flower & Garden Festival and in the winter, they have Epcot International Festival of the Arts and the Figment’s Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt. You can also hunt for Remy in Remy’s Scavenger Hunt during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival during the fall.
There are also KidCot stations in each country pavilion in World Showcase where toddlers can do a craft or color.
Fireworks for Toddlers at Disney
If your toddler or preschooler doesn’t like fireworks perhaps it’s better to watch Happily Ever After from Disney’s Contemporary Resort or the beach at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. I think they’d love the projections on Cinderella Castle and the music since it’s from a lot of Disney films, however, the fireworks are loud.
If they do love fireworks, then the hub in the center of Magic Kingdom is the best place. Just a heads up: it’s crowded in the hub and people start waiting at least an hour or more before fireworks begin.
Is Walt Disney World Worth it for Toddlers?
In my opinion, there is plenty to do at Disney World with toddlers! That’s why we continue to spend our vacation dollars here, because I can be part of the action with kids of all ages. There are rides and attractions for my entire family to enjoy – together!
Disney World does require some more planning now with the need for park reservations. You can’t just wake up and decide where you want to go that morning. And with more specified pricing, it’s getting a little crazy. But if you’re willing to put it in the work (or better yet, use a Disney travel agent), then it’s worth it.
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 meets Mickey Mouse or when she shot an arrow waiting for Merida. It’s the extra touches that makes planning for toddlers at Disney World fun! Check out my 7 must haves packing list for Disney World and toddlers.
Although we have been many times, we experience family firsts EVERY time. As Disney’s Imagineers keep imagining, we’ll continue making magical memories. Don’t hesitate to go to Disney World with toddlers and remember to travel at their pace. And if you need inexpensive souvenirs, try the Character Warehouse Outlets by Disney World.