Disney in September is officially the best! I have been to Disney in September in the past, but I honestly forgot how absolutely amazing it is to go right when Florida schools get in. We decided to go Labor Day weekend because there would be no schools in on Monday. We also decided to go that weekend because his 18th birthday was the following weekend and we wanted some time to celebrate it properly.
If you’ve never celebrated a birthday at Disney, you absolutely must! They really go all out to make it A LOT of fun! You’re given a complimentary button so everywhere you go in the parks, cast members will recognize your birthday. If you ask for it at the front desk of your resort, they will give you one. Also, if you’re buying tickets at the park, ask the cashier or if you’re at the Magic Kingdom, right in front of City Hall (by the main street railroad station) there is a little cart where you can pick up a button. If you make dining reservations and let them know you’re celebrating a birthday (especially at a character meal), they will give you a card signed by all the characters. If you’re into collecting autographs, this is a great way to collect a bunch in no time!
So we were originally going to get up insanely early Friday morning to make the drive to Orlando (which is about 3 and half hours away for us) but decided at the last minute to make the drive the evening before. We called the resort to get the reservation extended and drove on up.
Since we had breakfast reservations the following morning, we were up bright and early and at the Magic Kingdom by 8 am.
Our breakfast reservation was at 8:25 am and the park didn’t open until 9 am that morning, so we were able to get pictures in front of Cinderella’s castle with hardly anyone in the background.
Another nice thing I found was that the park was already decorated for Halloween.
So I actually wanted to offer a few tips on traveling to Disney with a toddler, because that can be a very tricky thing to deal with. If you follow me on Periscope and watched any of my scopes while I was at the parks (if you haven’t, you can catch the replays here), I may have already offered some of these tips as part of the September Scopers challenge broadcasts. Either way, enjoy the tips and I hope you find them useful.
Plan to go during off seasons. September to early November is a great time, as well as January. You want to look at when the kids go back to school and those are the times you want to go because crowds are going to be at a minimum.
Character Meet & Greets can be tricky. We found with my son that he liked the main characters the most, and even then he liked them more at Meet & Greet spots where he could go up to them instead of at Character Meals where they came up to him. Every child is different so you will have to find what works best for your child. I just found that this was the magic equation for mine.
Both Magic Kingdom and Epcot have splash pads. Magic Kingdom has Casey Jr. Splash and Soak area in Fantasyland. At Epcot, you as you’re going to the World Pavilion there is a nice splash pad and right in front of Test Track, there is what looks like a car wash but is also a “splash” zone. It’s really more of a mister and I prefer the other splash pad to this one.
At Epcot, if you go to the China Pavilion, they have a museum of sorts where they have a replica of the tomb warriors and it is nice and quiet there as well. If it’s not too hot out, in France right by the river there is a little courtyard that is shady and quiet at well. The only issue with this one is there is a door for cast members towards the back, and since the floor is cobblestones, if they are moving trash bins, it makes a lot of noise but it’s only for a moment and it didn’t seem to be an issue for my son.
At the Animal Kingdom, I found the benches by the train to get to the Conservation Station to be nice. There can be some noise when people leave the train, but it’s not too bad. I have never actually gone to the Conservation Station, but I think that might be nice as well.
At Hollywood Studios, we stopped on Sunset Boulevard at Anaheim Produce, which is a little open air, quick service spot and that was a nice spot for him.
[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@sillybabyblog” hidden_hashtags=”#WDW”]”Traveling to #Disney with a toddler…can be very tricky” Here are some tips![/tweetthis]
Take Your Stroller. The parks have stroller rentals for an exorbitant amount of money and they’re just not comfortable. They are these all plastic, none adjustable things that probably work better for older kids than the younger ones, so you definitely want to take a stroller. If you’re flying in, there are places where you can rent strollers. Kingdom Strollers is one I’ve heard a lot about. I drive in so I’ve never had to use a service like this, therefore I can’t speak from experience, but I’ve seen strollers from this company all over the parks and glancing over Disney fan forums, they are the most highly recommended company.
Be prepared for any weather. It rains in Florida all the time. It may be the “sunshine state” but that sunshine is fleeting at times. Be prepared for rain. Get some cheap rain ponchos at the dollar store for the family and definitely take a rain cover for the stroller. On that note, when you put the rain cover on the stroller, make sure you strap it down because it can get very windy very quick. Ask me how I know.
If it does rain, there are a few places in the parks where you can hide, let your toddler run around and stay dry.
At the Magic Kingdom, the Dumbo ride has an indoor, air-conditioned playground that is really nice. You can sit down and rest while your child runs around. There is really only one way in or out (there are 2 sets of emergency doors though) and you can sit at optimal areas around the playground to make sure you always have your eye on your child and the exits, but really that’s not an issue because once your child is there, he/she is not going to want to leave.
At Epcot, the interactive area of Mission Space also has a playground. This one is truly only one way in or out because it was built in its own dedicated room and seating is at the entrance, so as long as you’re sitting in the designated areas, you can see if your child is attempting to escape. Again though, once they’re there, they’re not going to want to leave. This playground is actually really awesome because it is a 4 story playground with tunnels that wrap around the room and is all space themed. We actually had to send my stepson up into the playground to get my 2-year-old out because he didn’t want to leave ever. Any of the interactive areas in Future World are awesome (my favorite though is the aquariums at the Living Seas), but I’m a fan of the playgrounds because it’s when you can rest a bit while you let your child blow off some energy.
At Hollywood Studios, inside Honey I Shrunk the Kids, there is a playground. I actually haven’t taken my son to this one because we prefer Magic Kingdom and Epcot to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, so we don’t really spend a whole lot of time at the smaller parks. These parks are also about to undergo huge remodel in a lot of the areas, so the times we have gone, the majority of the areas have been closed due to remodeling.
To save money, take your own snacks/meals. You can either take the whole family’s food or just enough for the baby. I opted to just take my son’s snacks and food because we had purchased the Disney Dining Plan (which is amazing), so our meals were taken care of, but the Dining Plan does not extend to children under 3 so you will either have to share your meals with your child (which we also did) or buy their meals. I opted just to take his food with us. The parks do allow you to take food in; you’ll just have to go through bag check, but if you’re a mom with a toddler chances are you’re carrying a bag anyway, so it’s just one extra zipper to open. I usually take the following items to Disney and will vary on what I take into the parks:
- A bottle of apple juice
- a bottle of water
- Cheerios in a snack bag
- Cereal bars
- Smuckers Uncrustables sandwich (you can get a box of these for like $9 at BJ’s, and one will cost about the same at the park)
- Kraft Easy Mac & Cheese microwaveable cups (you can heat this up at the Baby Care Centers)
- Cut up strawberries, grapes, bananas
I actually overkill on the food, but I feel it’s better to carry too much than not have enough.
Disney provides “cribs” or bed rails upon request. This may be common knowledge, but I honestly did not know this was a thing prior to traveling with a child. I actually found out when a friend of mine posted pictures of her boys sleeping at a Disney resort, and the bed had rails on it. So I asked her about it and she informed me of this. If I didn’t know this was a thing, I’m sure I’m not alone.
Disney cribs vary. At their value to moderate resorts, they will most likely be a pack-n-play. The deluxe resorts will have a crib available. If you’re staying at a moderate to value resort, or even offsite, Kingdom Strollers also rents cribs! I actually just found out about this one recently so I have not used their service, but from looking over their website it looks like a great deal and a comfortable place for your child to sleep. According to their website, the mattresses are full sized mattresses, so it should be comfortable for your child. I can tell you, my son does not like the pack n play, and in just feeling it, it is very hard. The pack-n-play may be better for a young infant, but definitely not a 1 to 2-year old.
I actually have a lot of Disney tips that I am going to work on creating a downloadable PDF from all the little tips and tricks I’ve learned. I will be offering this in the near future to my subscribers, so make sure you subscribe to my newsletter above to be sure you are notified when that is published. It will be all firsthand knowledge of how I’ve maneuvered my way around Walt Disney World in order to ensure the most enjoyable vacation for every member of our family, so sign up and stay tuned!
If you like this article, please click below on the "Like My Blog" banner. This will rate my blog at TopMommyBlogs.com. All you have to do is click the link and then click the orange speech bubble and you're done! Thank you.