Mickey and Mommy

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

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Attraction Reaction: Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

With the Cinderella Castle in the background and organ music playing well-known Disney songs, a ride on the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is truly a magical experience.  Located in Fantasyland, the 1917 carrousel is a nostalgic ride that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

The carrousel features 90 wood-carved horses, and there are several options for riding with small kids.

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Strollers at Walt Disney World

 

Here are some important things to know about taking a stroller to Walt Disney World.

In the Parks

  • Strollers are not allowed in any of the attraction lines (or inside the Land pavilion at Epcot).  Instead, you must park your stroller in a designated “Stroller Parking” area.  These are conveniently located throughout the parks and easy to find (just look for the sea of strollers), but if you can’t find one, a cast member will be happy to point you in the right direction.
  • Your stroller will probably be moved – but it’s okay! Cast members are constantly moving strollers around within the same stroller parking area to keep everything in order.
    • Tip: Tie something bright on your stroller to make it easier to find (a ribbon, sign, etc.).

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Ice Cream at Walt Disney World

Any vacation – and especially a Walt Disney World vacation – isn’t complete without some delicious ice cream! Here are just a few of our family’s favorite frozen treats, as well as our top spots to get them:

Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar

A trip to Walt Disney World is not complete without a Mickey bar, which you can find at any of the ice cream kiosks throughout the parks.  These are vanilla ice cream with a chocolate shell on a popsicle stick.

Tip: If you are in the Magic Kingdom, grab a Mickey bar right before finding a spot for the 3 p.m. Festival of Fantasy Parade.  It gives kids (and you) something to do to help pass the time while waiting.

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Walt Disney World Rider Swap Explained

Walt Disney World offers an incredible number of rides and attractions for kids of any height (including infants), but there are still a handful of rides in each of the four theme parks with height restrictions.

If you are traveling with small children, you might automatically rule those rides out – but you don’t need to because Walt Disney World offers a great solution called rider swap or child swap.

So what is rider swap, and how does it work?

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Beat the Heat at Walt Disney World

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With summer officially upon us, the next few months are the hottest time of the year to visit Walt Disney World.  With schools out for the summer, it’s also one of the busiest times – but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have an incredible trip with some simple planning.

Here are a few tips to keep cool at Walt Disney World and not “sweat” the high temperatures.

Stay hydrated.  This may be a given, but did you know:

  • Counter Service restaurants offer FREE ICE WATER.  Yep!  All you have to do is go up to the counter and ask, and they will give you a small free cup of ice water.  It’s tap water, but my family thinks their tap water tastes better than the bottled Dasani water (which costs $3 a bottle).
    • Tip: If you are ordering a meal at a counter service restaurant, order ice waters for everyone in your party, even if you are getting other drinks.  Everyone gets to hydrate, and it’s much easier carrying them on a tray with everything else.
  • You can bring your own water into the parks.  Whether it’s your own bottled water or a filled water bottle, you are allowed to bring it into all Disney parks.  Actually, you can bring in any drinks (except alcohol) and food, but you can’t have glass containers, coolers larger than 24″ x 15″ x 18″, or, only in Animal Kingdom, plastic straws (so don’t bring juice boxes on your Animal Kingdom day!).
    • Tip:  If you are bringing a stroller into the park, put your water bottles into any stroller pockets or at the bottom of your stroller to lighten your load.
  • Epcot has FREE soda.  Club Cool, located in Future World to the right of the main fountain, features eight Coca-Cola beverages from around the world.  There are several beverage dispensers (all the same) and small sample-size paper cups to try as many – and as much – as you want.
    • Tip: While my toddler isn’t allowed to drink soda at home, we do let him have a tiny bit of VegitaBeta, which is described as a “non-carbonated beverage with apricot and passion fruit flavors and is rich in beta-carotene.”  It’s probably the “healthiest” and least sugar coma-inducing option there, with the exception of the Beverly (if an adult in your group has been getting on your nerves, encourage them to try the Beverly…).

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Attraction Reaction: Gran Fiesta Tour

Gran Fiesta Use

If someone told you that there is nothing for younger kids to do in Epcot’s World Showcase, then they probably haven’t been on the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros (Donald Duck, Jose Carioca and Panchito).

Based on the animated 1944 Disney film The Three Caballeros, this slow-moving boat ride is located in the back corner of Epcot’s Mexico pavilion (open during regular World Showcase hours).  The Three Caballeros have a musical performance scheduled, but Donald Duck is missing.  Throughout the boat ride, you see Donald Duck enjoying some of Mexico’s most famous sites, with Jose Carioca and Panchito searching for him a few steps behind.

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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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Food Review: Outdoor Kitchens at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

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If you are visiting Epcot during the annual International Flower and Garden Festival (now – May 30), make sure you spend a meal sampling from the Outdoor Kitchens (food booths) that are spread out around the World Showcase.

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Each of the 13 themed booths features farm- and garden-inspired food and beverages and are open every day during World Showcase hours (11 a.m. – park closing).  The food items are a tasting size portion, so you probably need to make a few stops to fill up for a meal, and they are priced from $3-7.  Each booth also offers a variety of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, priced from $2.50-12.50, with the wines and beer flights being at the higher end.  Also, tax is included in all the prices.

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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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