12 tips for 12 hours at Disney with a toddler

Visiting Disney World with your toddler? You can do it in a day for less than $300*. Here's how. Please scroll down to check out the photo gallery below!

1) Reserve a character BREAKFAST. We ate a character breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast was best because:

  • You get the most bang for your buck.
  • You aren't required to get anywhere on time the rest of the day.
  • Everyone is fresh at breakfast: your kids, the characters, even you.

2) Download the Disney app. My husband did this at breakfast so that we could do #3.

3) Fast Pass three must-do's, and then go with the flow. Once you get the map (or beforehand, online), choose what you really want to do. Tiffany at Peanut Blossom even narrows it down to the "see one thing" rule.

4) Verify all attractions before making promises. Oh, "Lion King" show: you've played five times a day at Animal Kingdom for a decade+, and you choose this time of year to put your show on hiatus?! I wouldn't be so disappointed, had I not based my entire February and March curriculum on African animals, the score from the "Lion King," and even let my kid watch the movie in its entirety. *sniff, sniff*

5) Set expectations about timing, turn taking, and characters:

  • "Disney World is a really fun place, but there's a lot of waiting. We have to be patient."
  • "There will be many other people there, so we'll take turns riding rides and talking to characters."
  • "Daisy Duck is going to be even bigger than Mommy, but she won't talk. You can give her a big hug!"

6) Add flair to your stroller. Unless your stroller is fire engine red like ours, you may want to add a lil' something to make it easier to spot. Kim at Listing Toward 40 has several good stroller tips.

7) Skip the nap. Rarely do I advocate skipping sleep, but Disney is an exception.

8) Stick to Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom. This is where it's at for the most age appropriate attractions for a toddler.

9) PACK SNACKS! A lot. And ration them. Here's what we packed for three people for the day:

  • Froze sandwiches the night before so they'd thaw by lunch.
  • Packed bananas, grapes, apples, peanuts, pretzels, raisins.
  • Split a meal three ways for dinner, but should have just brought PB&J.

10) For a night show, see "Fantasmic." Buy popcorn. "Fantasmic" is the earliest (8:30 p.m.) and, by far, the best night show at Disney World. Be in your seat at Hollywood Studios no later than 7:30 p.m. (Hence the popcorn.)

11) Purchase a photo album instead of a toy. We paid for character meals and a photo album at Disney. Zero toys. Capture and archive the experience so that you can always enjoy it.

12) Have magical friends. I realize that most people don't have friends who work for Disney. But please realize that I must give a shout out to Emily and Andrew for getting us free tickets! *Note: the $300 budget applies to guests paying for two adults with a toddler. No admission charge under age 3.

For more Disney tips, visit Jodie at It's All Good in Mommyhood. 

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