Orlando Bound? How to Do Disney World with a Toddler or Big Kid

Preschoolers (3 to 6)

• Keep in Mind: Preschoolers love repetition and will ask to go on their favorite rides again and again. This is fine if the lines aren't long. During crowded times, however, move on to the next attraction. Children may beg for wilder rides, such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain, but must be at least 40 inches tall to board them.

• Parks to See: The Magic Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Epcot is enormous, but if you've got Finding Nemo fans in the family, you’ll want to head there for The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion.

Touring Strategies: Spread the sights out over the course of your vacation. Plan to see Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland, New Fantasyland and the Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin ride in Tomorrowland one day; Frontierland and Adventureland another. Set aside another day each for Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios. A half-day is enough for Epcot. Occupy evenings with sit-down events like the Magic Kingdom's Main Street Electrical Parade, the Fantasmic show at Disney's Hollywood Studios or the Electrical Water Pageant (which can be seen from all of the Disney monorail hotels). Set aside your last day for revisiting the kids' favorites.

• Don't Miss:
In the Magic Kingdom: Peter Pan's Flight; Prince Charming Regal Carrousel; “it's a small world”; The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh; Mickey’s PhilharMagic; Mad Tea Party; Enchanted Tales with Belle; Under the Sea~Journey of the Little Mermaid; Dumbo, The Flying Elephant; The Barnstormer Featuring the Great Goofini coaster (for kids 35" or taller) Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin; The Magic Carpets of Aladdin; Jungle Cruise; the nightly Celebrate the Magic! Castle Projection show.

In Disney's Hollywood Studios: Voyage of The Little Mermaid; Toy Story Mania!; Muppet*Vision 3-D; Beauty and the Beast -- Live on Stage; Disney Junior -- Live on Stage!; Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun parade.

In the Animal Kingdom: Kilimanjaro Safaris; TriceraTop Spin in Dinoland U.S.A.; Festival of the Lion King show; Finding Nemo -- The Musical; Rafiki's Planet Watch, where you can meet animal experts and ride a train to a petting zoo.

In Epcot: The Seas with Nemo & Friends ride, and Turtle Talk with Crush.

At Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain (kids must be a least 40" to ride, and are seated individually, so you won't be able to sit next to them); Tomorrowland Speedway (kids can't drive their own cars unless they're 52" tall).

At Disney's Hollywood Studios: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (has a dark, foreboding pre-show and frightening 13-story free-fall); Rock 'n' Roller Coaster (kids must be at least 44" to ride); Walt Disney: One Man's Dream (young kids will find it boring).

• Kids May Be Scared By:
In the Magic Kingdom: Snow White's Adventures (the witch pops out); The Haunted Mansion (dark, scary pre-show and ghosts galore); Pirates of the Caribbean (gunfire and menacing pirates).

At Disney's Hollywood Studios: Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (contains fire and many explosions); The Great Movie Ride (some kids think the gunfight is real); Fantasmic (loud noises and lots of mean-looking villains); Studio Backlot Tour (which contains fire, a flood and explosions).

At Animal Kingdom: It's Tough to Be a Bug (though comical, the 3-D bees and spiders can be frightening); DINOSAUR (a T-Rex lunges unexpectedly from the darkness).

• Meal Plans: For lunch: Duck into counter-service restaurants by 11am, before they get busy. Don't miss the brand new Be Our Guest restaurant (for quick-service lunch or sit-down dinner). More dinner ideas: Try out sit-down restaurants that have kids activities and entertainment. Two kid-pleasing favorites: Whispering Canyon Cafe in the Wilderness Lodge hotel, where children can compete in hobby-horse races; and 'Ohana at the Polynesian Resort, where kids participate in Hawaiian-style sing-alongs and coconut-rolling races.

Best Bets for Character Dining: Magic Kingdom's The Crystal Palace, for buffet breakfast, lunch or dinner with Pooh and the gang; Cinderella's Royal Table at Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom or the Princess Storybook meals at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot’s Norway Pavillion. Preschoolers also enjoy Chef Mickey's buffet breakfasts and dinners at the Contemporary Resort.

More Great Spots to Greet Characters: In Magic Kingdom: Town Square Theater on Main Street (where you can get a FastPass to meet Mickey and Princesses), City Hall area; Ariel's Grotto and Pete's Silly Side Show in New Fantasyland; near Country Bear Jamboree in Frontierland; and in Adventureland Congoasis. In Hollywood Studios: Pixar Place and in front of the Sorcerer's Hat. In the Animal Kingdom: Camp Minnie-Mickey.

• Places to Chill Out: Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station in New Fantasyland; Hollywood Studios's Miss Piggy Fountain, in front of Muppet*Vision 3-D (kids love splashing their hands in it); Animal Kingdom's Boneyard (a gigantic sandbox and interactive playground with caves, slides and climbing nets).

Hot Tips:
• Bring (or rent) a stroller -- the kids will need it.

• Buy the children a small trinket on the first day to keep them from hounding you constantly. Then tell them you'll buy them one special souvenir at the end of the trip.

Read more about: Gradeschoolers (7 to 10)

Read more about: New Fantasyland and More! See What's New at Disney

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