The Happiest Place on Earth…with a Toddler?

We live somewhat close to Disneyworld.  Not close enough to go there every week, but we’re within 3 hours of it.  We’ve been debating about what the best age would be to take our little one for the first time.  At first we thought we wouldn’t take her until she could remember it later on, and for that, we thought 3 would be a good age.  But then we realized we really *missed* going ourselves and Disney starts charging a separate ticket price once they turn 3.  So here we are, at around 23 months old, getting ready to go.

Before we started researching the vacation, we settled on a few ground rules:

  1. Daddy gets to take her on it’s a small world for the first time.  He’s done that with each of his other kids and loves their reaction.  Mama and the rest of the party can sit in another boat, but this is daddy’s ride.
  2. We need to stay in a hotel on Disney property, because if little one has a meltdown right around naptime, one of us can make a quick exit and get to a nice dark cool hotel room relatively quickly, get a 2-hour nap in, and then meet the rest of the party later on.
  3. Little one likes to run, so she’s going to be on a leash.  That’s all there is to it. She likes wearing this one:


Once I committed the time to research and plan the trip (let’s face it; I’m the planner in this relationship), I got more excited.  I booked us at one of the pricier resort hotels because I wanted to enjoy my stay.  And it has a character breakfast on property.  I’m also hoping maybe we can see the fireworks from there.  It’s just a monorail ride to Magic Kingdom!

We got our custom-color magic bands in the mail last week and I just finished booking the FastPasses for each day of our 4-day trip.  We’ll do one park each day, and I lucked out and was able to FastPass some of our favorite rides as well as a few new ones we haven’t tried yet.  A FastPass is a timed ticket (electronically linked to your wristband) that lets you skip the line and show up at the FastPass entrance at the time window you are assigned.  You are only allowed to have 3 per day open at a time, and it is free (unlike Universal Studios).  Once you use one, you can immediately go online or to a kiosk and book another one, though. Also, they can’t overlap in time windows.  If you book a Disney resort hotel, you can schedule your FastPasses online as early as 60 days before your trip.  Otherwise, you can book as early as 30 days prior.

I am a real baby when it comes to rides.  I don’t do rollercoasters — even little kid ones.  I found out that no matter how new a ride is, somebody is sure to have videoed their “POV” of it and posted it on YouTube.  I watched the new Avatar one to see if it is one I could stomach, and it looks like I’ll like it. I might have to close my eyes in a few places, but I can do that.

Here are some of the rides and attractions we’re excited to ride again (or try for the first time):

Magic Kingdom

  • Jungle Cruise
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Splash Mountain (not me)
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (not me)
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Carrousel
  • Mickey’s Philharmagic
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • it’s a small world
  • Under the Sea – Little Mermaid
  • Dumbo
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (not me)
  • Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Space Mountain (not me)
  • Buzz Lightyear


  • Soarin’
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Mission Space (not me)
  • Test Track (not me)
  • The Seas with Nemo
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • Living with the Land
  • Journey into Imagination with Figment
  • Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival in 4D (this is new)
  • Visiting the different countries — we like the Mexico boat ride and the “Frozen” Viking ride in Norway
  • I also like trying out the food from different countries.  Epcot has an annual food and wine festival where they set up carts outside each country and sell smaller size samplers.  I think that’s usually in September and October of each year.

Animal Kingdom

  • Avatar Flight of Passage (new)
  • Na’vi River Journey (also new – in the new Pandora section modeled after the Avatar movie)
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug
  • the Lion King show
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Wildlife Express Train – goes to a petting zoo
  • Up! A Bird Adventure show (new)
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Everest (not me)
  • River of Light nighttime water show (I think this is new)
  • Finding Nemo musical
  • Dinosaur

Hollywood Studios

  • Slinky Dog Dash (new)
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Star Tours
  •  Muppets in 3D
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid live show
  • Beauty and the Beast live show
  • Rock’n Roller Coaster with Aerosmith (not me)
  • Tower of Terror (not me)
  • Indiana Jones Stunt Show
  • Disney Junior on stage (never watched before)
  • Fantasmic fireworks



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