8 Tips for Taking your Toddler to Disney World

8 Tips for Taking your Toddler to Disney World

Seeing Mickey Mouse when you’re three years old – is there anything better? Taking our toddlers to Disney was a huge blessing and treat for our family. While it is a magical experience, it is also a LOT of work for parents. To help, I put together a list of 8 tips for taking your toddler to Disney World.

pindisney.jpg1. Snacks on snacks – Need I say more? If your kids are anything like mine, snacks are a part of their love language. Pack as much as you can fit, and remember not to bring any glass containers (RIP peanut butter). There are a lot of options for food at the parks, but if you’re doing this on a budget – bring snacks!

2. Bring a stroller! – We brought our double stroller with us to every park. You can also rent strollers at the parks if that is more convenient, but it’s definitely not the most budget friendly. We packed a lunch box and diaper bag and put them under the stroller so no one had to carry anything. Oh and the kids, we packed the kids too.  Keep in mind that there are stroller parking areas and you can’t bring the stroller in the lines with you. We would just grab our phones and wallets and leave everything else in the stroller. We have never had an issue, and most parking areas have an attendant helping you find a spot for your stroller.

3. Locate baby care centers – Let me just say, Disney knows what they’re doing. These baby care centers are located at every park and are every mom’s dream. They have a private nursing area with rocking chairs, a bathroom, feeding area with high chairs, a kitchen, a main room with a tv, chairs and sofa, and an on-site shop for all things baby! This came in handy when we ran out of diapers. Happens to the best of us, right?

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4. Be flexible – It is ok if the plans need to change. I love to plan. Especially adventures. But when it comes to toddlers, it doesn’t matter how much you plan, they are unpredictable at times. Try to go with the flow. If you have to miss a fast pass ride because a child is having a hard time, miss the ride. It will not be worth it to push your child past their limit. Grab a snack or a nap or whatever is needed. It is a magical place, but your kids are still kids. Give your children time to take a deep breath, take a break and regroup when they are ready.

5. Get fast passes! – You MUST get fast passes. Book these as soon as your account lets you! We leave a little time between each fast pass so we aren’t stressing trying to get across the park. It also gives time for a snack or potty break. Fast passes will be your best friend!

6. Download the “My Disney Experience” app – This is a very handy tool to utilize throughout your visit. It has a GPS enabled map so you can find your way through the park. You can see wait times for rides and shows and where the characters are! It also has a list of restaurants and menus. Hop on the app to check and modify your fast passes, and so much more! Definitely a must for your trip.

7. Visit the characters – You can get fast passes for these as well. Obviously seeing Mickey is going to be a bit of a wait, so definitely get a fast pass for him. But others you may be able to see in between rides or shows. This was definitely my girl’s favorite part of Disney. I’ll never forget the pure joy on their faces when they got to hug Minnie & Mickey.

8. Splurge on a Character meal – This is one thing we made sure to budget in. The frugal side of me would never do this, but I knew it would be a one time thing so we made it happen! My girls absolutely love the characters, it is by far their favorite part of Disney.  Doing a character meal was a guaranteed way to make sure we saw the characters and ate a good meal. The look on their faces when Minnie walked up to our table was totally worth it. It was a win win! Make sure to book a reservation ahead of time! These fill up really fast.

And lastly, here is a list of our most favorite rides and shows:

Magic Kingdom

  • Meet Mickey at Town Square Theater
  • People Mover (great for nap time)
  • Dumbo the flying elephant
  • The parades! #magical

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Animal Kingdom

  • Kilamanjaro Safaris
  • Minnie and Mickey at Adventures Outpost
  • Finding Nemo: The Musical
  • Rivers of Light

Hollywood Studios

  • For the First Time in Forever: a Frozen Sing Along Celebration
  • Disney Junior – Live
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Epcot

  • Frozen Ever After
  • Living with the Land
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Going through all the countries!

That’s it! I could go on and on about why we love Disney so much, but I wanted to share some of our best tips! I hope this helps you and encourages you to know that it is possible to enjoy Disney, even when they’re toddlers! Hope you have a magical experience.

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Love + Donuts,

jenny

Polk County Activities Your Kids Will Love!

As a stay at home mom, I’m not very good at staying home. I like to leave the house at least once a day, and it’s generally for an outing in the morning – so we can wear them out for nap time (you know you do it too!). We generally stick to the same places. They are all in Polk County and my kids (three years old and almost two) LOVE them. Here’s some of our favorite Polk Country activities!

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1. Bok Tower’s Children’s Garden (Lake Wales, FL)

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Bok Tower is our absolute favorite right now! We have been members for almost a year and it has been worth every penny. I cannot say enough about this place. Please go and you will see the amazingness that is Bok Tower! I have an almost two year old and three year old and it is perfect for them. I love that it is an open door to explore. There are so many things for the kids to do, but it all includes playing, exploring and using their imagination! There is also one way in and one way out – which makes it much less stressful for moms!

  • Price: Kids under 5 are free, kids 5-12 are $5, adults are $14. They also offer annual passes which I think are totally worth it!
  • Hours: 365 days/year; 8:00am – 5:00pm

Check out Bok Tower’s website to see more details.

2. Explorations V Children’s Museum (Lakeland, FL)

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Our favorite spot in Lakeland! It is perfect for a rainy day or even those really hot ones that hit us so often in Florida. I’ve really enjoyed this place, I mean my kids have really enjoyed it. It’s enjoyable all around! We invested in passes last year and will be renewing soon. It’s another one that is worth it to us. They have three floors and each one will keep your littles busy and happy for a while. They also offer classes while you are there. We have been there for art class and music class and have loved them both! There’s so much to do here, you really can’t go wrong! Oh, and there’s a gated tot area – we all need one of those!

  • Price: Children under 2 are free, children and adults are $9.
  • Hours: Monday – Saturday 9:00am – 5:30pm

3. Toddler Time – Lakeland Public Library

We’ve gone to a few different libraries, and this is our favorite! Toddler time is geared towards children two to three years old. They do songs and stories, and usually integrate activities based on the theme. My girls both LOVE this and really look forward to it. It lasts about 25 minutes, then we head over to the play area that has legos, puzzles, coloring and of course books. We generally spend another 20 minutes there. What I love most about this is the time it starts. They begin at 10:00am. For the little ones that like to nap around 11:00, this is perfect! We highly recommend it! They also have a preschool class and baby class on other days!

  • Price: FREE
  • When: Every Wednesday at 10:00am

4. Open Gym at Gymnastics Etc.  (Lakeland, FL)

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Open Tot Gym is another favorite of ours! Gymnastics, etc. opens up a huge area of their gym for kids aged 1-5 years old. They have two long trampolines, large areas just to run around, an inflatable bounce area, and a ton of things to climb on and play with! My girls love it.

  • Price: $5/first child, $4 each additional
  • Hours: Wednesday (during the school year only) and Thursday 11:00am – 12:00pm

5. Common Ground Park (Lakeland, FL)

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Parks made me pretty nervous when I had my second child. Especially once she started moving and I started chasing two around! Common Ground has been a great park for us. We try to go during the week when it’s not too crowded and I dress my girls in bright colors to keep track of them! There’s a large sand pit, and a play area for older kids as well as younger kids. It’s our favorite park in Polk County!

6. Chick-fil-A (Winter Haven, FL)

Let’s be honest. Every mom loves Chick-fil-A. You really can’t go wrong with the most amazing food and a play place. If we want to get out the house with minimal effort, Chick-fil-A if our destination of choice. We prefer the one in Winter Haven. It’s always SO clean and it has a great play place. And of course, the staff is incredible. Also, if you’re not doing mobile orders yet – it’s time to start. We order it when we leave our house, and it’s ready when we get there. No waiting in line – yes, please!

 

Thanks so much for being here! Drop a comment below and let me know what you and your children love to do in Polk County. We are always looking for new things to do!

10 Tips for Traveling with Kids (By car)

When I started asking around about how to travel with kids, I would often get the response: “Don’t do it.” With my family living out of state, that wasn’t really an option. So we decided to figure out how we could do this without losing our minds.

We are not perfect at this, but we have traveled in our van for 10+ hour drives multiple times and have learned a lot. There are things that worked for our family that may not work for yours. But here is a list of what has worked best for us!

1. Bring a potty chair

After stopping at many public restrooms that either grossed me out or scared my child with the automatic flush, we decided to start brining a potty chair with us. It’s been the best travel move yet. When we make our stops, we just let my oldest (three years old) use the potty chair in the car. It is SO much easier. It saves a ton of time as well. We also change diapers in the car.

2. SNACKS, SNACKS, SNACKS!

I’m just going to put it out there – snacks are from the Lord. What would we do without snacks? It takes some time – but I try to prep as much as possible so we don’t have to stop or worry about those things while driving. I’ll chop veggies and fruit and make Ziploc baggies that make it easy to disperse. I would also recommend getting a kid’s travel tray. They are perfect for snack time and coloring.

3. Stop for gas, food and potty all in one stop

This is a big one. After making a stop to potty, a stop for food and then getting back on the road to see that we only had 1/4 tank of gas – we learned quickly to make an all-in-one stop if possible. You will most likely be stopping a lot anyway, but it’s best to stop for gas, get some grub and potty all at once. Then, if your kids happen to be doing awesome, you won’t have to stop and interrupt the awesomeness that is going on.

4. Bring new books/toys

If you’ve got a book lover, now is the time to pick up a few new ones (or even bring their favorite ones). Interactive books are great. Not the kind that make you wish the batteries would die, but the ones that will keep your littles busy for a while. We love Usborne’s Slide & See books. Lift-the-flap books are also a winner in our house. If you just google “busy books” you’ll see a lot of options there. This busy book is perfect for road trips.

5. Make the most of nap time

For reals. Treat nap time like a really good donut. You want to savor it, and minimize the interruptions. This means try your best not to stop! Depending on the age of your kids (mine are 1 and 3), if you stop while they are sleeping, someone will most likely wake up. If you see one of your kids getting sleepy, stop before they fall asleep! We have gotten 2-3 hour stretches in without a stop because nap time is also from the Lord. Have a mini-date with your significant other and enjoy the quiet.

6. Chick-fil-A and Cracker Barrel will be your best friend

Mostly Chick-fil-A. Man, do we love us some Christian chicken. It’s the best two-for-one. Kids get to play, and we get to eat manna from Heaven. What more could we ask for? When you’re traveling, look for Chick-fil-A’s along your route. When you’re getting ready for a stop, follow the signs that point you to it. If the weather is not cooperating, make sure that Chick-fil-A has an indoor play place. Last trip we stopped at one when it was sleeting and the play place was outdoors. We were bummed to say the least.

Cracker Barrel is a winner as well. Play with toys and eat breakfast? Yes, please.

7. Stop often

Remember that kids are not used to traveling in a car all day. Give them grace and stop often. We take things slow and try our best not to get frustrated if one or both of the kids starts losing it. This is when Chick-fil-A comes in handy. They need to run around and play and be kids. If they are awake, we generally stop every 2-3 hours. Even if you just stop at a rest area and find an area to let them play – it can go a long way.

8. Leave before the sun comes up

This will definitely be different for every family. For us, driving through the night was a bad idea. We had one child at the time, and she did not sleep well at all. Then there was never a time for us to catch up on sleep either. So we don’t go that route anymore. But I know of many families who love doing that and their kids sleep great.

We love leaving before the sun comes up. Even if the kids wake up when we leave, they will nap more on the drive. The drive just goes better when we leave 1-2 hours before sunrise. It also helps with taking our time, we aren’t so rushed because we left so early.

9. Think of it as a trip, not a vacation

We have to remind ourselves that because we have kids, this isn’t a vacation. We’re never really on vacation because of all the responsibilities that come along with having toddlers. Yes it will be fun and you’ll get to enjoy time away with your family. But if you think of it as a vacation you may be disappointed.

10. Make the little things exciting for them

“Woah! Is that a cow?” Anyone have a three year old? Cows can be really exciting for them. Include them in things. Try not to think of them as a bother. They are part of this experience just as much as we are! Point out things you see and ask them to spot a certain item, color or letter as you travel.

 

Thanks for reading! If you have any tips, please comment below! I would love to hear. And if you would like to be notified when new blogs are posted, subscribe below!