Theme Park touring for a 2 year old

Cathivee

Member
I'm getting WAY ahead of myself, but since I'm sitting here on maternity leave and unable to leave the house, I figured I'd start planning my baby's first Disney trip! I'm thinking we can take him for his 2nd birthday. Any advice on which parks to plan for that a 2 year old would be able to enjoy? Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom for sure I would think. Any other activities or things you'd suggest to put on the itinerary?
 

beachta1

Well-known member
Is this your first or will you also be traveling with an older kiddo?

We've taken my daughter 3 times before she turned 3! Every trip was definitely different. There are attractions and shows at each park that a 2 year old would enjoy, and at that age, you can also drag them around to things that maybe aren't kid centered (aka drinks at Epcot while they are asleep in the stroller).

The Baby Care Centers at each park are AWESOME for kids. Changing tables, clean bathrooms, a small play area aka the best. We took advantage of these for sure.
 

Cathivee

Member
Is this your first or will you also be traveling with an older kiddo?

We've taken my daughter 3 times before she turned 3! Every trip was definitely different. There are attractions and shows at each park that a 2 year old would enjoy, and at that age, you can also drag them around to things that maybe aren't kid centered (aka drinks at Epcot while they are asleep in the stroller).

The Baby Care Centers at each park are AWESOME for kids. Changing tables, clean bathrooms, a small play area aka the best. We took advantage of these for sure.
This is our first! I've mainly done mother/daughter or me/husband/friends trips in the past, so now it's going to be a VERY different touring strategy with our first baby :) I assume the park days would have to be much shorter to accommodate for naps?
 

hizouse

Member
Congratulations on the new baby!

Sleeping in a stroller is HUGE, but all kids are different and some don't do well. If you don't have a good jogging stroller that can recline with good shade, plan on renting one. I would still plan to go back to the resort for naps every day, but you may find your kid falls asleep in the stroller first, which allows you to stay in the parks longer.

There's a playground a bit out of the way in Epcot, close to Cool Wash and Taste Track, that is fun for toddlers, but who knows if that will be open in a year or 2. Same with fountains or proposed Moana water area there. You may spend more time at the Seas pavilion than you would expect, also. You should plan more time than you would think for Casey Jr Splash and Soak in MK. Bring an extra change of clothes (in addition to what you would usually bring) and a towel, especially if your stroller has a good storage area underneath.

Kids generally love boats.

As far as specific touring plans, plan on using rider swap for the rides with height limits, but don't feel like you have to plan a specific activity for the toddler and non-riding parent every time. E.g., Dad goes on Splash, Mom and baby do Country Bears; then Mom does Splash and Dad and baby get a snack -- that's not even a good example since Splash has a little play area where toddlers can play while waiting. The whole experience can be overwhelming and sensory overload for a toddler, so it's fine to have some periods where he's just resting a bit in the stroller.

As with many things and especially vacations, discussing expectations in advance with your husband and 2-year-old both is really important, especially for things like snacks and souvenirs: "During the trip you can choose one stuffie or toy, but it can't be a balloon because those are hard to take home" or "I will have plenty food for you, and you will get to choose one treat per day, but it may not be exactly when you want it." (important for both spouses and kids....)
 

beachta1

Well-known member
Second the stroller naps!! Our first trip was warmer weather, so we did leave the parks in the later afternoons for swim, early dinner and earlier bedtime. The last two trips were in December and it wasn't really swimming weather. She mostly passed out in the stroller at some point and we'd park hop or just walk around and enjoy the parks while she was napping.

We realized our DD doesn't love to sit a long time for meals, so we typically keep it to one table service meal per trip. Maybe when she is older we can change it up.
 

bnoble

he's right
Any advice on which parks to plan for that a 2 year old would be able to enjoy? Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom for sure I would think. Any other activities or things you'd suggest to put on the itinerary?
The best advice I can give you: plan much much less than you think you should, and be ready to leave a Park at the drop of a hat. With kids about that age, we were never in a theme/amusement park for more than a couple of hours at a time, took frequent breaks, and didn't worry too much about what we'd "do."
 

Art Vandelay

that's a shame
The best advice I can give you: plan much much less than you think you should, and be ready to leave a Park at the drop of a hat. With kids about that age, we were never in a theme/amusement park for more than a couple of hours at a time, took frequent breaks, and didn't worry too much about what we'd "do."
Ditto. And I'l add--keep the kid(s) as close to their home schedule as possible. Wake up time, eating time, nap time, bedtime. We were not fans of "nap in the stroller and stay in the park."
 

lmr1999

Member
I agree with above! Our first time in parks as parents DD was 4 and DS was 2. We tried to stay flexible but always planned to get to parks early (rope drop where possible) and leave after lunch/parade for quiet time at hotel, then back to park for dinner or a few rides in the evening. I remember one evening all they wanted was to swim in the pool, order a pizza, and watch Disney cartoons in the room. Depending on your little one's interests at the time, you might consider HS for Toy Story/Disney Jr. stuff.
 

hinkey

Member
One thing to be aware of is a stroller has to be folded up on the buses. I believe they can just roll onto the skyliner, for buses they have to be put away.
 

bnoble

he's right
I remember one evening all they wanted was to swim in the pool, order a pizza, and watch Disney cartoons in the room
There is a great line in the Unofficial Guide that is something like: "The most memorable part of a Disney vacation for most kids is the hotel pool." Some families think that means that they have to stay at BC/YC for Stormalong Bay, but that's not it at all. For most kids, the requirements of the pool is that it exist, it is filled with water, and that the water is wet. If those three things are there, the vacation is a success.

And, truth be told, some of the best times in our own vacations have been hanging out around the resort--pool, or otherwise.
 

Suzy021372

New member
My kids loved anything with music. You will find a new love for Tiki birds when your child starts dancing.
Stroller naps are a great time for mom and dad to use baby swap to go on the big kid rides. You will still want to get Fastpasses. FastPass + babyswap = awesome
 
Our first trip to the parks was with our 2 1/2 year old. It was a great trip, we did a lot of fp but didn’t worry about riding any of the big rides. That trip was just for him. He loved meeting a lot of characters (the a/c lines at several was nice), and rides like dumbo (also the people mover). He also enjoyed the seas pavilion at Epcot, but not the Nemo ride, so we just entered the pavilion when we went back to see the dolphins again. We got to the parks early and then left mid-afternoon to go hang out at our resort. As someone else mentioned, since you have to fold strollers on the buses, we choose to drive to the parks so we could load him in the stroller and go.
 
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