Walt Disney World (FL)

Touring with a Toddler (Magic Kingdom plan – part 2)

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So, back for more are you? This is part two of my epic Touring with a Toddler post that is on par lengthwise with James Joyce’s Ulysses (too highbrow? How about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix?). If you missed part one, you can find it here. Alternatively, you can read this one first, and then go backwards to the first part like Memento, the choice is yours.

So, when we last met, you were at your resort resting up for day 2 of your Magic Kingdom Two-Day Touring Plan for Parents with Small Children. Good morning! Now get your lazy backside out of bed and make your way back to the Magic Kingdom as early as you can, just like yesterday…and on we go:

I think this was our 6th time on the Carrousel

[Once again, I am paraphrasing and shortening many of the steps, refer to the original plan to be imparted with the full knowledge of the elders]

Step 1: Arrive at the Magic Kingdom.

Step 2: Tomorrowland Speedway – Personally, I would skip this ride under any circumstances. The height requirement to ride is 32”, which may disqualify some toddlers anyway, but to drive you need to be 54”. So if the kid can’t drive, what is the point of waiting in line to squeeze into those tiny cars? My advice is to keep pointing out interesting things on the other side of the path and hope they never notice this attraction. If your child really loves little stinky (literally) cars, ride it early and avoid it later.

Step 3: Astro Orbiter – Being kind of high off the ground may intimidate some youngsters, so plan accordingly. Spinning a bit faster than Dumbo may intimidate the stomachs of some adults, so plan accordingly.

Step 4: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – I don’t love this ride as much as most do (wow, I sound like a grouch today. Hold on while I go chase some kids off of my lawn), but I understand its appeal. A toddler will most likely not be able to shoot the laser and will almost certainly not be able to aim it. What they can do is sit next to you, look at the insanely bright colors (seriously, the colors and black lights look like that weird guy’s room in your dorm…you know the guy I mean), and play with the lever that spins the car. Please note that having a 2 year old directing your car will impact your score negatively and may result in increased time staring at the wall.

Step 5: Town Square Theater Mickey Mouse Meet and Greet – This is very child-specific. I am lucky that my daughter loves the characters, but many children range from “apprehension” to “aaaaaaahhhhh” when they see them. If your child likes them some Mickey, this is the easiest non-character meal audience.

Step 6: Pirates of the Caribbean – If your little one did fine with Peter Pan’s Flight yesterday, go ahead and try Pirates. There are definitely some spooky parts, but they probably won’t get it anyway. There are also an above average amount of animal animatronics (alliteration!) in this ride that are fun to point out.

Step 7: Jungle Cruise – Definitely yes. Animals, boats, splashing, bad jokes, back side of water!

Step 8: The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – Another definite winner for a toddler. A Dumbo-style ride with a fraction of Dumbo’s wait.

Step 9: Lunch

Step 10: Break time

Step 11: Swiss Family Treehouse – I don’t know about this one because I’ve never done it with my little girl. She would never understand what all the equipment is, so it would just be stair climbing. I would personally do the Jungle Cruise or even the Magic Carpets again, but there is a very good chance that you are not me.

Step 12: The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New New Management?) – This is tricky because I still don’t know what it will be like when it comes back (in mid-August maybe?). There is a possibility that the angry Tiki god and storm effects (that would scare small ones) will be gone. It is definite that the angry parrot that liked to yell in a grating voice (that would scare all Disney fans) will be gone. Watch this space.

Step 13: Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover – Need a break? A snack? A nap? Great place for all three, although I don’t recommend snacking in your sleep; that sounds dangerous.

Well that’s the whole plan. Over the two days, you will probably end up skipping some or many of the steps, so you will have some extra time. With that extra time you could call me and we’ll chat for a bit. What do you mean you don’t want to? Fine, then we’ll come up with something else. As I see it, you have four options: 1) Ride some attractions that were not listed above, 2) re ride attractions, 3) relax and enjoy some of the details of the Magic Kingdom, or 4) make numbered lists with options of things you can do.

To help you decide, here are my opinions about those first two points. Number three is great, but if the little one isn’t asleep it’ll be pretty hard to take your time. Number four is a joke, although not a very good one.

Attractions not on the plan:

Even the fog is trying to hide these two attractions

Stitch’s Great Escape – the minimum height is 40”, so most toddlers will not be able to experience this attraction. If they are over 40” and really, really love Stitch I suggest buying them a plush doll and skipping this anyway. It’s unnecessarily scary and gross and will almost certainly upset a child under 3 (or over 3…or anyone).

Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor – The little ones will not get the mediocre jokes (and I know something about mediocre jokes), so it’s not worth it unless they really love the secondary and tertiary characters from Monster’s Inc.

Space Mountain – With a minimum height of 44” it would take a very large toddler to be able to ride. Even if they can (and if they can, I can be a basketball manager too…have your people call my people), they probably shouldn’t since it is dark and fast. Adults can switch off if they would like to ride.

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress – There is not a small child in the world that would understand this attraction. That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t enjoy a quick nap while you get “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” stuck in your head for the foreseeable future.

– The Great Goofini –Okay, so this doesn’t technically exist if you want to get all specific about it. It used to be called Goofy’s Barnstormer and was in the area formerly known as Mickey’s Toontown. The reason I list it is because, at some point, it will be re-themed as The Great Goofini when the construction is done in the former Toontown area. Barnstormer had a 35” height minimum, but was fun and a good introductory coaster for those tall enough.

Snow White’s Scary Adventures – Okay, here’s the thing about fear; sometimes you aren’t afraid of things because you don’t know you’re supposed to be. Snow White has some very dark sections and quite a bit of the Evil Witch, but many 1 and 2 year olds won’t really understand that she’s bad and will just like to look at Snow White and the Dwarves. If your child was fine on Peter Pan and Pirates, I say try it.

The Haunted Mansion – See Snow White above. If they don’t know that ghosts are supposed to be scary, they will probably not be scared.

[Note: The author is not responsible if your toddler freaks out on either Snow White or Haunted Mansion, although he is completely responsible if they love either or both]

That house looks haunted!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Another 40” height minimum. If your child is big enough and you think they can handle it, go ahead and give it a shot. It’s rougher than a kiddie coaster, but it’s no Rock n Roller Coaster either. They will probably either love it or hate it. Wow, that was unhelpful.

Attractions that you can experience multiple times (until they drive you crazy): These are the ones that you can be pretty safe with experiencing multiple times without an excessive wait (except on very busy days). I am, in no way, suggesting that the adults will want to ride these many times, but part of being a parent is getting driven insane by repetition.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover , Mad Tea Party, Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Mickey’s Philharmagic, it’s a small world, The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Swiss Family Treehouse.

Some of the attractions that are not on that list such as The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan’s Flight, and The Jungle Cruise are Fastpass attractions so can still be ridden anytime with a little planning. The problem for most parents of toddlers is the other rides, specifically Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

The Great Dumbo Conundrum

The great Dumbo conundrum is this; it has a low capacity and high visibility. Dumbo will be moving into the former Toontown eventually and it will be doubling capacity, but until then it is right in the middle of one of the busiest walkways in the Magic Kingdom. If you can manage to walk by this ride without your little one asking about it then you have a fantastic child (or are an accomplished Jedi…that is not the ride you’re looking for).

So what to do? I am very lucky that I can explain things like this to my daughter. When we ride Dumbo in the morning, I can tell her that we will not be able to ride later. I am also lucky that she seems to like other rides better anyway. If your child is a Dumbo lover, try explaining it to them, you may be surprised. If that doesn’t work try limiting choices by saying “we can’t go on Dumbo, so would you like to go on Winnie the Pooh or the Carrousel?” If neither works, look over towards the Friar’s Nook and say “who wants ice cream?”

I’ve always found that following the plan above gets my little girl on all the rides she wants with plenty of time left over to ride them again (and again). Hopefully this is as helpful for you as it was fun for me to write. I really appreciate you making it all the way through (unless you skipped ahead, then shame on you…cheater).


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Brian McNichols

In addition to blogging, I also do some analyzin' here at Touring Plans. I am a travel nut, planning nut, Disney nut, wall nut. Husband of 1, father of 2. Hilariously funny in my own mind. Find me on Twitter @YesThatBrian if you like really dumb jokes.

12 thoughts on “Touring with a Toddler (Magic Kingdom plan – part 2)

  • Hi Brian! I am a new member to TouringPlans so I haven’t read any of your posts before. I don’t have any little ones, so I originally skipped over this post. This morning I was just browsing through your site & I came across this one and having nothing better to do I read it. THANK YOU so much, you are a very funny man!! I literally laughed out loud! I will be making a point from now on to read your posts no matter how irrelevant!

  • For the dark rides when my youndest was 2.5 we told him it was just “Mickey Magic” and that helped him understand that it was not real and he was able to enjoy the Haunted Mansion and Pirates.

  • For the dark rides (Pirates, Haunted Mansion, even Peter Pan), we always use some small light-up item, that provides “safety”. Most recently, we’ve used a light-up Cinderella necklace. But small keychain flashlights or other light-up things work just as well. In the dark, it provides just enough light to dispel some fears. Another tip for Haunted Mansion lovers…try talking about how the ghosts not only aren’t real, but they are “funny”! The gargoyles in the stretching room are “kitties”…worked like a charm. Just don’t let them look up at the hanging man, that’s hard to explain away.

  • Yep still funny, especially after you Mr. Nebbercracker routine, get those yungins off the lawn!! I would love a take on the other parks and even the hotels/pools with a little one.
    1. I’m planning on going in December, and in the picture of the carousel, she’s dressed warmly, what time of year was it?
    2. Do you have a favorite spot to sit for Parades or Fireworks?
    Thanks for the info, really enjoyed reading!

    • Thanks Gillian!

      1. The picture was taken in February which, like December, is tempermental. The week we were there highs ranged from 58 to 83, prepare for everything.

      2. Parade/Fireworks spots are not really my priority. I like not sitting and waiting for an hour, so I tend to take what I can get about 10 minutes prior to start. I usually find Frontierland a good option for the evening parade and I like down in front of Crystal Palace for the fireworks. Those are some of the last places to get full.

      • If you like the “perfect photo of fireworks behind the castle”, then you want to be in the circular area near the statue of Walt for Wishes fireworks. If there is a nighttime parade, you’ll want to get to this spot immediately after the parade. If not…stake out your spot about 30-45 min. before the start.

        Our favorite parade spot (which hopefully will now still be not terribly full of people!) gives a great view of the parade…and also a great shot of the castle in each picture you take! Facing the castle, cross the bridge into Liberty Square. Immediately after you cross the bridge, turn to your left. There’s a little brick wall there…stand in front of it. We get fabulous parade pictures there, and the kids get a great view at the rope.

  • Thanks for the tips. We’re traveling with an almost 10 y/o daredevil, a 7 y/o wannabe fairy and a 2 y/o. I have a sneaking suspicion that I will end up shepherding with 2 y/o while my husband does the thrill rides. I plan to blindfold the little one while we walk, resolutely past Dumbo. Or maybe I can employ your ice cream tip. I happen to love Pan and Pooh and even Small World, but the only elephants I want to see are on the Jungle Cruise.

  • Great writeup, and good to look at the touring plan from the very young child’s viewpoint. But I disagree with the Carousel of Progress- my son (now 5) LOVES that ride. We first took him on it at 3, and every time we go, he insists on going on it. He loves the song (you have no idea how many time I’ve heard “it’s a great big beautiful tommorrow”) The fact that it’s a family that changes time periods actually was a huge plus for him- the same family over and over again made it easy to understand and appealed to his sense of non-adventure(!) He loved the different appliances- honestly, even a little kid can figure out that the stove looks different! So I say, give it a try- you never know. As rides go, it’s a nice, quiet, air-conditioned (or heated, last Dec when it was 34 degrees outside…) ride that you might actually find it a lot more appealing than you might think-
    And he hates Pirates. Loves Peter Pan- that’s cute. Pirates is “yucky and scary and dark.” We wouldn’t touch Snow White with a 10-foot pole. Although, being a boy, he loves the roller coasters!

  • Thanks Brian! I really enjoyed this as well as your first post. I did not know that you could ride Dumbo twice in a row (with two parents). Just a couple of thoughts from touring with my two year old daughter. She loves Astro Orbiter. We actually had to go to Magic Kingdom early our last trip so that we were able to ride it. So don’t necessarily count it out. I’d also say that once a child understands scary that I might not take them on Snow White. We were fine until maybe 2 years old and after that, it was just a scary ride. She loves Peter Pan and even Pirates. Snow White is just scary. She also likes Swiss Family for the same reasons you noted your daughter might not like it – too much equipment. We actually take it really slow because we explain everything to her. She loves it.

    Thanks again for your post – we’re going again in September and will use your plan.

  • Thanks, Brian! This was great. 2 comments- one, my two year old boy is obsessed with anything cars right now so the speedway was great for him. He did the steering while my husband pushed the pedals and he cried when he got off because he loved it so much and wanted to go again. They also give the kids a “driver’s license” that my son kept and cherished. Two, the Tomorrowland Peoplemover seemed like a nice quiet ride that my son asked to go on and then he ended up really scared because quite a bit of that ride is pitch black darkness. He did great on Pirates and Peter Pan, but the peoplemover is VERY dark- so I would suggest avoiding for parents with kids not a fan of the dark. We are headed back in August- so I will try to implement this plan!

  • Another great post, Brian! A quick note about Tomorrowland Speedway: kids that meet the minimum height requirement to ride Tomorrowland Speedway are allowed to drive the car as long as an adult (or someone over the age of 14) is in the car with them – they just can’t drive in a car by themselves. Our son, who’s about 36 inches tall, was able to steer while I pushed the gas peddle. Also, if you have more than one small child in the car with you, notify the cast member and they will tie a rag around the car and you can go around the track twice so that both kids get a turn to drive.

    Also, good advice on the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor – I actually think you are giving it too much credit with “mediocre” jokes… We did this with our son and it was a total waste of our time.

    • Thanks Ben. I was pretty sure the kids could steer, but I wasn’t positive. I didn’t know about the 2 kid thing though, that almost makes the wait worth it.


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