Seeing Cinderella’s Castle in the distance from the start of Main Street, USA is just as magical a view from a stroller as it is from an infant carrier or your own two (little) feet. But there’s a lot riding on a visit to Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. And, if you’ve got a baby or toddler in tow, you’ve got more on your mind than just coping with crowds or wait times for rides.
Luckily, Disney is very intuitive when it comes to parents’ needs. You will still need to plan your day and be flexible enough to deal with the unexpected. But, stroller accessibility, high chairs in restaurants, and change tables in restrooms are things you can cross off the worry list.
Magic Kingdom with Babies & Toddlers Basics:
At approximately 133 acres, Magic Kingdom really expanded in size with the recent-ish addition of New Fantasyland. Magic Kingdom is comprised of six areas: Main Street U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland.
Opening hours for Magic Kingdom vary, but if you stay at a Disney Resort you are entitled to “Extra Magic Hours” where the park opens early or stays open late specifically for resort guests. Extra Magic Hours are great for those with early risers or night owls. You can pick up the pamphlet with the week’s opening hours as well as showtimes and character greetings pretty much everywhere in the park, or download the My Disney Experience app.
And if you’re not from the US, don’t worry about data roaming. The smart folks at Walt Disney World have free WiFi at all resorts and parks.
Stroller Rentals at Magic Kingdom:
When you first pass through the gates, restrooms, lockers, and wheelchair rentals are on the right. Stroller rentals are located under the right hand side of the bridge that the Walt Disney World Railroad goes over. Daily rentals for strollers (they are the molded plastic kind that are good for toddlers and preschoolers but not suitable for infants or even older babies) are $15.00 USD per day for a single-passenger stroller and $31.00 USD per day for a double-passenger stroller.
In case you misplace your stroller, replacements (hang on to your receipt!) can be found at Frontierland at the Frontier Trading Post, Fantasyland at Tinker Bell’s Treasures, and Tomorrowland at Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
If you need to rent a stroller for multiple days, Disney offers a length of stay rental ticket (at a reduced rate) for a one-time payment for as many days of rental you will need. When you enter a Disney park, show your receipt at the stroller rental location. You will be zipped to the front of the line. The multiple day stroller rental fee is $13.00 USD per day for a single stroller, and $27.00 USD per day for a double stroller. The daily rate is $15 per day for a single stroller or $31 for a double stroller.
Getting Around Magic Kingdom with Babies & Toddlers:
Disney World Parks are probably the most accessible theme parks I have ever visited. They are a breeze to navigate with strollers. There are stroller parking lots where you need to leave your ride before checking out some of the rides and attractions. Be aware that the Disney Cast Members frequently move the strollers around to keep the areas neat and tidy. Don’t panic if your stroller is not where you left it. Some attach a balloon so they can see it from a distance.
Nobody seems terribly concerned about theft. You will see everything from Bugaboos to cheapie umbrella strollers (and you can buy a Kolkraft umbrella stroller at most Disney gift shops for less than $60). While I don’t leave our camera or my wallet in the stroller when we park it, nothing has ever gone missing. If you’re concerned, a good idea might be to invest in one of those cute stroller locks that you can put through the wheel. I would hesitate to actually lock it to Disney property in case a cast member needed to move it.
Starting Your Day at Magic Kingdom…
Now of course, depending on when you go and what time you arrive, Magic Kingdom might be very busy. Your best bet is to plan out which rides and attractions are must-dos. Aim to do those first. Convention dictates that when most enter a theme park they tend to go right. When we visit Magic Kingdom, we head left to Adventureland. Our first ride of the day is almost always Pirates of the Caribbean. But, sometimes we don’t make it past The Magic Carpets of Alladin without going on that one first.
Don’t forget to book your FastPass+ rides in advance. You will be given a time to return to the ride where your wait will be minimal to none. Dumbo is a good ride to do FastPass+. Even with the new Double Dumbo there is almost consistently a 60-minute wait to ride. You can pre-book up to three rides per park per day, and once your time has passed you can book another on-site, either by using a kiosk or the My Disney Experience app.
Magic Kingdom Rides for Babies & Toddlers:
I’ve already mentioned Pirates of the Caribbean and Dumbo. They are classic Disney rides. And the beauty of Magic Kingdom is that there are SO MANY rides you can all go on as a family, even with a baby in your lap. But just because you can go on a ride with a little one, doesn’t always mean you should.
The Disney rides are experiential, and magnificently so. But some are dark inside. The music and sound effects can seem loud. And some of the imagery can be quite scary for toddlers. Of course, you know your child best and what they can handle. However, I will warn you… It is no fun sitting through a ride listening to your toddler cry the whole time. A quick tip is that a zip through It’s a Small World cures all. The line for that may seem long but it always moves quickly.
Some of the best Disney World rides for babies and toddlers are at Magic Kingdom. Our favourites are the aforementioned Pirates of the Caribbean, The Magic Carpets of Alladin, It’s a Small World, and Dumbo. Also, Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel, the Tommorrowland Speedway, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid.
Rides with height restrictions are Splash Mountain (40″), Big Thunder Railroad (40″), Goofy’s Barnstormer (35″ – and always a super-long line for this and it’s a really short ride. Best to FastPass), Tomorrowland Speedway (32″ to ride, 54″ to ride alone), Space Mountain (44″), and Stitch’s Great Escape (40″). Rides that do not have height restrictions but little ones might find scary due to darkness/loudness/imagery are Peter Pan’s Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Using Child Swap to Go on Grown-Up Rides…
If you’d like to go on a “big person” ride, ask the cast member at the start of the line up for a Child Swap pass. This will allow one of you to ride while the other stays back with your child. You can then switch off so the other can ride. Combine this with a FastPass and you should be sailing through your grown-up rides.
Magic Kingdom Dining with Babies & Toddlers:
One of the great things about Disney World Parks is they don’t blink twice about you bringing in your own food and drinks. Which is great with a baby and younger toddlers, obviously, but also for you and your wallet and waistline. That said, however, eating at Magic Kingdom is as junk-y or as healthy as you want to make it.
Lots of people scoff at the giant turkey legs. But you could probably feed your whole family from one. Add some veggie sticks or fruit and you’ve got decent food at a decent price.
There are lots of Quick Service options – from hot dogs and french fries on Main Street, U.S.A., to the Mediterranean Salad at Pinocchio Village Haus (Fantasyland) that I actually really enjoy. Character dining is great fun but usually always must be booked in advance (sometimes MONTHS in advance), so have a look at The Crystal Palace and Cinderella’s Royal Table when you first book. Same goes for dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant.
Take Your Time to Sit and Eat…
One of the best things we did on a hot July day was make dinner reservations for dinner at Tony’s Town Square. A quiet, air-conditioned dinner gave us all a break and energized us for the evening fun ahead.
Disney is great with crowd control, so if the quick service restaurants seem busy, fear not. On crowded days you may not save a table in the restaurant if you haven’t already purchased food. Even though the restaurants were super-busy, we got a table no problem. The cast members will direct you. There are plenty of high chairs (the larger, open, wood kind), and strollers are not allowed inside most restaurants.
The kids’ meals automatically come with carrots or grapes and milk. If you would prefer a different side or drink you must specifically request that substitution. The restaurants do not have the means to heat bottles, but that brings us to the Baby Care Center…
Magic Kingdom Baby Care Center:
TIP: **Just outside the Baby Care Centre is a great photo op spot with lovely, unobstructed view of the castle. Even if you don’t have a baby you should swing by here to snag that great shot!**
The Baby Care Centre at Magic Kingdom is probably the largest one of the four theme parks, and inside there’s a nursing room, a large changing room, a washroom with small toilets for potty trainers, a feeding room with a microwave and highchairs, as well as a small selection of baby care items available for purchase. (Although the vending machines in the park’s restrooms sell a reasonably priced “diaper emergency kit” for sale.) The washrooms throughout Magic Kingdom are clean with change tables inside, but a visit to the Baby Care Centre allows you all a bit of cool and quiet from the busy park. Plus, TINY TOILETS!
Fastpass+ Is Your Friend:
For a single theme park per day, you can make up to three FastPass+ selections in advance either online or using the My Disney Experience app, and you may change or cancel your selections any time. You can also get assistance from the Lobby Concierge at your Walt Disney World Resort hotel or at a FastPass+ kiosk in any of the parks.
Note that kiosks allow FastPass+ selections only for the park where the kiosk is located. However, you can view and cancel any of your FastPass+ selections, regardless of location.
Once you redeem your initial set of FastPass+ selections (or the last arrival window has passed), you can make another FastPass+ selection for the same day. After you redeem additional FastPass+ picks, you can make more selections (one at a time), subject to availability.
If your ticket includes a Park Hopper Option, after you use your initial FastPass+ selections at the first park, you’ll be able to make additional FastPass+ selections (one at a time) at the second park you visit that day.
More Tips for Magic Kingdom with a Baby or Toddler:
Plan your day ahead of time and plot out a few can’t-miss attractions and do those first. See Fastpass+ tips above. Don’t expect to cram everything into one day. You will feel cranky and rushed and will likely be disappointed. Walt Disney World will always be there. Missed rides or attractions are a good excuse to return 😉
If you’ll be visiting more than two days and staying at one of Disney’s properties, and get a Park Hopper. The convenience of Disney’s transportation system, combined with the freedom to pop into a different park for the afternoon, for dinner, or just for the fireworks or a show can make the extra cost worthwhile. It usually ends up saving you money.
Take a picture of your kids in the morning of your visit. Make it clear to them (if they are old enough to understand) exactly what they are to do should they become separated from you. You can establish a meeting spot with older kids. For little ones, finding a Cast Member who works at one of the shops or rides is the best course of action. The Cast Member will first contact Lost Children and register any information that they have, including the child’s name, age, location and a parent’s name. Then they will try to retrace the child’s steps and see if a meeting spot was established. Next the lost child will be taken to the Lost Children Center, which in Magic Kingdom is located next to the Baby Care Center. Attach a tag or sticker your child’s clothing with your name and cel phone number on it.
Know when it’s time to take a break. Take off back to your hotel for a nap or just go for a ride on the monorail and back. The most resilient and laid-back kids can become overstimulated and overwhelmed. Taking a break to recharge and reset will mean a better day for all of you.
Character meet and greet times are available on the handouts, via Guest Services, and also on the My Disney Experience app. Before waiting in line, make sure your baby or toddler will actually be excited to meet the character. They might be freaked out. Kids react differently and at different times. My son was delighted to meet Chip and Dale and the princesses when he was only 20mos. But, at two-and-a-half, he was completely freaked out. He wouldn’t not go near any of them. Shortly before his third birthday he loved the characters again. But, I’m glad I didn’t wait an hour in line for him to drop motionless on the floor to find out!
You’ll see lots of kids with autograph books for the characters. Mine were too little to care about that, and drew in the books instead. The many parades offer a great chance to see everyone without line-ups or hassles.
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