Updated June 13, 2019
This past year we have been inducted into the Disney life and have never looked back. I remember going as a 12-year-old and having the time of my life, but I’ve always wondered when I’d ever be back. 2018 rolled around and we have been with our girls three times since then. The love for Disney is real in this house!
Now, I am no Disney expert by any means, but I am a mom who travels with her kids a lot. I’ve mentioned before that we have traveled with our kids since they were newborns. Travel and experiences are something we’ve always prioritized. Our travels are our favorite memories. We have experienced a lot together as a family, and Disney consistently ranks at the top of our list. Just when we thought we had the best Disney experience, somehow it gets topped. I think that’s what I love most about the Disney brand as a whole.
We visited Walt Disney World in February to celebrate a “family babymoon” and thought it’d be a little while before we returned with baby brother. Much to our excitement and surprise, we were given the amazing opportunity to visit again this May for a preschool/young kids focused trip! We experienced all of the top-notch things you can do with kids ages 3-5 (and beyond… and little kids at heart), and I’m so excited to share all of the high points of our trip with you. My favorite thing about Disney World is that you can have a totally different experience every single time you visit. There really is so much to do!
Instead of going chronologically through our trip, I’m going to highlight all of our favorite experiences for preschoolers and young kids.
Disney World for Kids – Travel Video
Be sure to hit play to see all of the best attractions, rides, and activities for preschoolers and beyond!
Now let’s get to all of the highlights of our trip! I could go on for days because…. HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH, y’all.
Minnie Van Service
This was our first time to ever use the Minnie Van service, and what a treat it was! Our Minnie Van driver met us in baggage claim at Orlando airport, and took us straight to our hotel. Our driver was super helpful, so personable (they are Disney cast members, after all!) and made our arrival experience even more magical. They had car seats for both of the girls (extra bonus – no need to lug a car seat to Orlando!), snacks, drinks, and even Disney movies on our ride over to the hotel. Kennedy said, “This is the best service I’ve ever received!” No joke.
We were also able to use the Minnie Van service from our resort back to the airport on the day we left. As you can see, there were much different faces going home. Haha! Hard to leave!
The Minnie Van service is available all around Walt Disney World Resort – not just for airport shuttling! All you need to do is download the Lyft app when you’re in Disney World, and you can request a Minnie Van anywhere on property. Bonus: they can accommodate up to 3 car seats! What an awesome family-friendly transportation option, especially if you do not want to wait for a bus or the monorail.
Best Disney World Hotel for Kids & Families – Art of Animation Resort
We have had about 4 different hotel experiences at Disney World, and I would most definitely say the Art of Animation Resort tops the list of the most kid-friendly. Don’t let the classification of “Value Resort” fool you – this is a wonderful resort. So much incredible theming, detail, and Disney magic throughout the property. If you have the opportunity to stay in one of the family suites, it’s a must.
Art of Animation Resort is divided up into different sections, all with their own specific themes – Cars, Finding Nemo, Little Mermaid, and Lion King. The attention to detail is top-notch. It really is like stepping straight into those movies!
Dining at Disney’s Art of Animation is very simple – they have a very large central food court called Landscape of Flavors and you can choose from 5 different quick service counters. It is easy to be able to grab and go items and will suit every taste bud in the family. It was really convenient for us, especially with long park days.
We stayed in a Cars family suite, which was adorable, clean, updated, and so much room to spread out. The family suites can sleep 6 people! There’s a queen bed in a master bedroom, a sofa bed, and a murphy bed that pulls down in the table area. There’s also a second full bathroom. We felt super comfortable during our entire stay. Check out my video above to see a full room tour. There are family suites available in the Cars, Nemo, and Lion King sections of the resort.
Best Disney World Experiences with Preschoolers (and up)
Now that we’ve been to Disney a few times within the last year and a half, we have a pretty good feel for the property as a whole. (Again, we are no experts, but do consider ourselves pretty well-traveled.) Disney days are a marathon. You’re walking 10,000 steps or more a day. You’ve got kids in tow. It’s hot. There’s so much to see and do! Luckily, it’s all magical and amazing and worth every single early morning, late evening, and step taken.
Here are some of our favorite experiences around Walt Disney World. Some are new favorites as of this trip! The best thing about Disney is that you can always discover and experience something new every single time you visit.
Magic Kingdom will always have my heart. There really is so much to do here, I would spend multiple days at this park (if you can fit it into your trip)! There are endless amounts of fun for all ages, and this park has the most rides. (Side note: check out this blog post on Must Take Photos at Disney World for some tips on how to get a great photo in front of the castle without the crowd!)
For this trip, we had dinner at Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen in Adventureland, and it was really yummy! We had actually been there before and loved the experience, and I would recommend it again.
I know there are very popular dining options in Magic Kingdom, but don’t sleep on this place if you’re looking for somewhere to eat. Definitely don’t miss on Dole Whip at Aloha Isle! (Tip: Skip the long line by order your Dole Whip with mobile ordering. Use the My Disney Experience App on your phone!)
Best rides for kids in Magic Kingdom: This park is full of the most kid-friendly rides in Disney World. You really can’t go wrong! Our girls’ favorites are Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Dumbo, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion (may be scary for little ones – our girls thought it was scary last year and amazing this year), it’s a small world (classic!), Peter Pan’s Flight, the People Mover (it’s a great one to give your feet a rest), and Journey of the Little Mermaid.
One fun surprise this trip was Caroline now loves rollercoasters. She rode the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train a few times with her daddy and loved it!
You may not think of Epcot as a spot with lots of young kid-friendly attractions, but our family really loves the park!
There are a lot of fun things to do in Epcot with kids! Even though the World Showcase is geared a little bit more towards adults, it’s still fun to go through it with kiddos and it’s a totally family-friendly experience. Don’t skip out on the French Bakery (Les Halles) in France!
You can meet Anna and Elsa in the Norway Pavilion (and then go on the Frozen Ever After ride). There is also a princess character dining spot in Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, which is a lot of fun for young ones. Turtle Talk with Crush is a fun interactive show to catch that all the little ones will love, and right in the same area are some really impressive aquariums where you can check out sea turtles, reef fish, sharks, and rays.
Best rides for kids in Epcot: Spaceship Earth, Frozen Ever After, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and Soarin’ Around the World (some who are afraid of heights may want to skip but our whole family loves this ride).
This trip we discovered that there are lots of fun things for kids to do in Hollywood Studios! Many of which are shows and experiences. It’s a fun change of pace from all the rides (don’t get me wrong, there are still rides to be rode), and a nice break from the heat. Not to mention, we absolutely love the new Toy Story Land.
If you’ve got some Disney Junior lovers in your family, you must check out the Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine character breakfast at Hollywood & Vine.
Lots of fun characters to meet like Vampirina, Doc McStuffins, Fancy Nancy, and even Goofy! Breakfast is served buffet style with lots of options and will meet everyone’s tastes and palates.
The Lightning McQueen Racing Academy is a newer attraction that has been added to Hollywood Studios, and a super fun experience for little ones. Before the show the little ones can participate in dancing and games, and then the show is really fun and interactive. We’re talking Disney here – all of their shows are done really well! My girls enjoyed it!
Another new experience for us was the Disney Junior Dance Party. This is an absolute must-do with little kids! Super fun and interactive show with tons of your favorite characters that take the stage. Lots of dancing, singing, and even bubbles.
So fun! I definitely think all of the shows are worth checking out at Hollywood Studios. Along with these, there’s the classic Indiana Jones show (may be scary for little ones but my kids handled it fine when we saw it last year), the Star Wars Launch Bay, and the Frozen Sing Along.
We can’t forget about the rides, right?
Best rides for kids in Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Mania, Alien Swirling Saucers, and if your kids are feeling adventurous – Slinky Dog Dash! Caroline particularly loved this ride and rode it three times!
Animal Kingdom is always a breath of fresh air and so fun to check out. You immediately feel transported the second you walk in. There are lots of kid-friendly things to experience here.
The Festival of the Lion King show is our favorite show in Animal Kingdom. It’s got singing, dancing, acrobatics, puppetry, and animatronics. It’s got a wonderful mixture of the Broadway play vibes (think traditional African costumes with puppetry) and the animated characters. And, as expected, it is a quality production!
We tried Yak & Yeti for the first time in Animal Kingdom and I have to say it was our favorite meal the entire trip! This pan-Asian restaurant served up some delicious flavors and was great for the whole family. If you’ve never tried this restaurant before, put it on your list!
If your kids are feeling adventurous (and they meet the height requirement), you all must do Avatar Flight of Passage! It is one of the most popular rides in all of Disney and is a really incredible ride. Our girls enjoyed the ride but had to be reminded to look to the side if they ever got nervous (that seemed to help them).
There’s a lot of fun opportunities to see all sorts of animals and there are a few other shows here – tons of fun to be had!
We always make a visit out to Disney Springs each time we visit. We typically do it our first or last day, but it’s also a great idea to schedule your visit in the middle of your vacation for a little bit of a slower pace and to break up your park days. You can spend hours and hours in Disney Springs, but you can certainly take it easy and keep a slower pace.
Disney Springs is a wonderful area of shopping, dining, and entertainment – no park admission required! We had a wonderful breakfast at T-REX Restaurant (the girls absolutely loved it). And you can’t miss the world’s largest Disney store – World of Disney!
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Disney Springs
The highlight of our time at Disney Springs was a visit to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. The girls had experienced this before on our Disney Cruise last year, and the Disney Springs location was another amazing experience! Something about little girls getting fun hair and makeup just makes my heart so happy. If you’re unable to secure a reservation in Magic Kingdom, definitely go in Disney Springs. It’s just as magical and was a total pampering experience for the girls.
They also have packages for boys where they turn them into little knights! It was so cute to see all of the boys getting “knighted” in the boutique.
Tip: If you don’t want to buy a princess dress at the boutique (although it can be a fun splurge if you plan for it!), dress your kids in fun breezy dresses that are princess-inspired! I grabbed these two dresses at Target, as they reminded me of Cinderella and Belle!
A pool day at your resort is a must with young kids. I would totally recommend adding a resort pool day into your trip without any park visits. I am really glad that we used the last part of our trip to do this. It gives you a chance to relax and recharge without sacrificing any Disney magic! If you stay at the Art of Animation resort, you have to visit the pools! The Big Blue Pool (the main Nemo pool) is the biggest resort pool on Disney property, and really is so awesome.
Final Tips to Surviving and Thriving at Disney with Little Ones
This could be a few blog posts itself, but these are my new favorite tips as of this last trip.
Rent a stroller. Yes, we rent a double stroller with a 4 and 7 year old. We walk on average 10-15K steps a day. This is hard on anyone, but is particularly grueling for little ones. They are much happier when they have an option to get off their feet. We rent from Kingdom Strollers when we visit. They drop off and pick up your stroller from your resort, so it is very easy! It is way cheaper than renting a stroller in the parks.
Utilize the Baby Care Centers and First Aid Stations. Did you know that there is a Baby Care Center in each of the four Disney parks? They are stocked full of diapers, formula, medication, breastfeeding rooms (air conditioned and quiet!), changing tables, and more. I had no idea that these even existed, and you bet we will be utilizing them when we go back with baby brother! There are also First Aid stations that are typically next to the Baby Care Centers. I had to visit one because I started getting a headache and didn’t have my medication on me. They were so nice and gave me some Tylenol without any issues. This pregnant mama had to take care of herself!
Bring in your own water and snacks. It gets really hot, really fast. Always have water on hand. You can bring in your own water bottles and fill them up at any quick service counter.
I’ve also got more tips here: Disney World Tips for First Timers
What. A. Magical. Vacation! Every single time, Disney blows me away. I am so, so thankful for these memories. We are constantly talking about our favorite Disney experiences. Thank you again, Walt Disney World, for this unforgettable experience!
Did you like this Disney guide? Check out my other Disney blog posts:
Must Take Photos at Disney World – 70 Instagram-Worthy Photo Ideas
Our Family Babymoon to Disney World
Disney World Tips for First Timers
What to Wear in Disney World + Packing Tips
Disney Cruise Line – There’s Something for Everyone! Our 7-Night Sailing on the Disney Fantasy
What to Expect on Your First Disney Cruise
… or all of my travel content HERE!