Taking a young toddler to Disney (no, you are not crazy)

**Since this post was first written, we have had another child and taken him to WDW as an infant AND as a toddler. Both experiences were fantastic!**

Many, many people thought we were a little crazy for taking our son to Disney World for his 2nd birthday.

If we’re completely honest with ourselves we’ll admit that it was more for us than for him; after all, we hadn’t visited WDW since I was pregnant. Going 2+ years sans WDW trip is a really long time for us. And we probably would have gone sooner if not for all the people telling us not to.

Then we realized that it’s our family and our money and our vacation and we can go where-ever we like. Which is, of course, Disney World. So we booked a vacation for early September 2008, just before our boy turned two years old.
We did have a few qualms about this; we didn’t know how he’d react to the characters, if he’d have regular meltdowns from the constant over-stimulation, how he’d manage eating in nice restaurants at least once a day, if he’d refuse to ride a ride we’d just waited in line an hour for, etc.

As it turned out, we shouldn’t have worried about any of that. We had one of the best vacations ever, and the boy was under 2 when we went.

There are benefits to taking a baby/toddler to WDW. First of all, you don’t have to pay for park tickets for kids under 3, or for plane tickets for kids under 2. As a matter of fact, we booked our Disney trip before Mouseketeer’s actual birthday, just for that reason. It was our last trip without having to pay for him. 

Oh and as a side note I feel I should add that the boy was already a seasoned air-traveler by this point (simply out of necessity; we live on an island) so flying with him never factored into our decision. Others who have never taken a very young child on a plane might find the idea terrifying.

We also found that because the Mouseketeer had not yet reached a cognitive level of fear, we could take him on any ride without worrying it would scare him. The Haunted Mansion might be scary to a 4 or 5 year old, but probably not for most young toddlers who don't really "get it." Also because he was still so young, he did not yet have opinions on what he wanted or didn’t want to do; we were able to do whatever WE thought he’d enjoy. Preschoolers and older tend to have a lot more opinions about things!

Because it’s Disney World, nothing surprises or shocks the cast members. Yes, it's really embarrassing if your child loses it in a restaurant or throws a fit in line, but few people are going to give you a dirty look because they’re at WDW with their own kids and everybody has at least one meltdown. Instead of making you feel bad for your child’s dramatic, exhaustion-induced tantrum, the Disney workers go out of their way to make them happy. It’s really very sweet and refreshing.

One thing I will say, however, is that naps are necessary for little ones. It was our first time at Disney where we did not stay out from morning until after the fireworks every day. Instead, we got up with he, did the parks early, and went back to our resort after lunch so that he could nap. This was ESSENTIAL. Without a nap, the boy would have been cranky and exhausted the rest of the day (and probably the rest of the trip). By going back every day for an afternoon nap, we were all refreshed and able to go back into the parks in the evening for a nice dinner and more rides. This is why we think staying on Disney property is so great – it’s much easier getting back to the resort for naptime.

And as for the characters – well, every child is different. Some love the characters from the start while others are terrified. Some kids start off liking them, then develop a fear of them as they get older. You just never know. We were so, so, SO relieved that our son loved the characters right from the start. Go HERE to see his very first encounter with the characters Chip and Dale the first day we took him to WDW just before his 2nd birthday.

The boy's first visit to Animal Kingdom

He loved the characters immediately

He was in awe over everything. Here he is reacting to seeing the Epcot ball up close.

No comments:

Post a Comment