Mickey and Mommy

Reviews & tips for traveling to Walt Disney World with young kids

Category: Top Tips (page 2 of 2)

Walt Disney World “Firsts”

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A first visit to Walt Disney World is special enough, but there are also a number of other “firsts” your child (or even you!) can experience to make even more magical memories.

(Tip: On a first visit, be sure to get a free “1st Visit!” Disney pin to wear.  You can pick one up from Guest Services, the front desk of Disney hotels, and often from the check-out counters of Disney stores in the parks or Disney Springs.)

Uniquely Disney “Firsts”:

  • Disney Park – Tater’s first park (and the first park that many visit) was the Magic Kingdom.  Nothing says “Welcome to Disney” like walking down Main Street and getting your first glimpse of the Cinderella Castle.

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  • Disney Ride – We chose Dumbo as Tater’s first ride, as it was one of my favorites as a child.  Sure enough, he’s been on it half a dozen times now, and it remains a must-do any time we visit the Magic Kingdom.

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Visiting the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival with Young Kids

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Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, running now through May 30, is one of our favorite times of the year to visit this Walt Disney World theme park.  In addition to the normal Epcot attractions, there are stunning Disney character topiaries throughout the park, special garden displays, yummy Outdoor Kitchens (food booths), and the Garden Rocks Concert Series on the weekends.

While many of these elements sound more catered to adults, Disney definitely didn’t forget the kids!  Here are our favorite toddler-tested and -approved parts of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

Play Areas

The Flower and Garden Festival features two play areas (recommended for ages 2 – 12) that were specially installed for this event: the Music Garden Melodies and the Cactus Road Rally.

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The Music Garden Melodies play area was the highlight of Tater’s day.  This play area is located behind Journey into Imagination on a path on the way to the World Showcase and features traditional playground equipment like slides and climbing areas, as well as larger instruments for the kids to play and some recognizable Disney friends in topiary form.  Additionally, this play area is illuminated after dark, and the ground is child-friendly synthetic turf.

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Disney Dining: ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations) Explained

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ADR stands for “Advanced Dining Reservation,” and here is everything you need to know about them.

Walt Disney World offers two main types of restaurants: Quick service and table service. Quick service is either counter service or cafeteria style. You do not need ADRs for quick service restaurants. At table service restaurants, your food is either brought to your table by wait staff or served buffet style.

Although Disney states that “Advanced reservations are highly recommended” for table service restaurants, you REALLY do need an ADR.

Although walk ups are occasionally seated, your chances are slim. Many table service restaurants flat out won’t be able to take walk ups, or you may end up having to wait a while. With an infant or toddler, why chance it? Do you really want to spend your vacation trekking back and forth across a theme park trying to find some place for your hungry child to eat? Make your ADRs ahead of time.

Here is some important information about ADRs:

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Important things to know when visiting Walt Disney World with an infant or toddler

If you are visiting Walt Disney World for the first time with an infant or toddler, here are some of the most important things you need to know.

Kids under 3 get into the parks for FREE.

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Yes, you read that right! If your child is under three years old, you do not have to pay theme park admission for them.

Tip: Kids don’t age at Disney. If they celebrate their third birthday during your trip – but you start your Disney vacation when they are still two – they remain two in the eyes of Disney throughout the duration of the trip (so you won’t have to start paying for their tickets halfway through). If you are going on a third birthday trip, just make sure you start it before their actual birthday.

Kids under 3 eat free at Walt Disney World buffets and all-you-care-to-enjoy restaurants.

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Technically, they are free to “eat off your (adult) plate,” but they can still have their own individual plate and enjoy the meal at no additional cost to you. If drinks are included, they will also usually bring a drink for your under 3 child as well, and Tater has even gotten his own special dessert at no extra charge.

Tip: The majority of Disney character meals are buffets or all-you-care-to-enjoy, so you may want to take advantage of that while they are still young/free. Also, even though they will not be charged for the meal, you still need to include an infant/toddler in your total party number when making an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation).

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Where to find Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World

We’ve all seen the commercials – the cute little kid spots Mickey Mouse and runs into his arms for a truly magical moment.

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Those magical moments do certainly happen, but what a first-time visitor may not know is that Mickey Mouse does not randomly roam the parks.  However, with a little planning, you too can have picture perfect Mickey moments.  And let’s face it, a trip to Walt Disney World isn’t complete without seeing the Big Cheese himself.

Here is where to meet Mickey at Walt Disney World.

The Magic Kingdom

Character Meet:

Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater (located on Main Street immediately to your right after entering the park)

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If you only plan to meet Mickey once on your trip, go here!  Through the magic of Disney, Mickey actually speaks and interacts with guests. Only a few groups at a time are admitted into Mickey’s meet and greet dressing room (so your child doesn’t have to wait long once Mickey is visible), and PhotoPass photographers are present. Mickey will also sign autographs here. This meet and greet is open continuously during park hours, and FastPass+ is available.

Tip: If meeting talking Mickey is high on your list and your little one is low on patience in line, get a FastPass+.  Fourth FastPasses are also frequently available, though they are usually for later in the evening/night.

Shows/Parades:

Magic Kingdom Welcome Show – Every morning, 20 minutes before the official opening time, a Main Street official comes out on the train platform in front of the park to welcome guests for the day.  He/she is then joined by other Main Street citizens/dancers, and after a couple of songs, Mickey himself makes a grand entrance via train with a variety of other Disney characters to officially open the park for the day. He is also joined by the Family of the Day, who get to be up on the platform with him. There are no posed photograph or autograph opportunities during the show. If you can make it to the Magic Kingdom that early with your little ones, though, it really is a magical way to start off your day. (Note: there are different versions of the Welcome Show, for example, if the train isn’t running, but the show always goes on.)

Dream Along with Mickey – A 20-minute show with Mickey and friends that takes place on the stage in front of the Cinderella Castle.  This show is offered several times throughout the day, so check the Times Guide (pick up a copy near the park maps at the front of the park on your way in), official Disney website or the MyDisneyExperience app. Mickey does not directly interact with guests, and there are no posed photograph or autograph opportunities.

This show will be replaced with Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire this summer, which will still feature Mickey, but with additional characters from The Princess and the Frog, Tangled and Frozen.

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