LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – From first words to first steps to the first day of school, there are so many special “firsts” for families with little ones to experience.
Here are some Disney highlights for guests traveling with little ones that are sure to add to the many “firsts” in their preschoolers’ lives:
Staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel keeps guests in the middle of the magic. With themed pools, walking paths and complimentary activities such as Movies Under the Stars, Walt Disney World Resort hotels can provide a great retreat for a relaxing break or even a little one’s afternoon nap during a day of fun in the Disney theme parks.
With complimentary round-trip airport transportation—Disney’s Magical Express—guests and their belongings are whisked away from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World Resort. This special shuttle/baggage delivery service is available for guests booking vacations that include overnight stays at Disney hotels at Walt Disney World Resort, and includes an expedited airline check-in process so parents and little ones won’t have to wait as long at the airport.
And when parents need a night out, Children’s Activity Centers can be found at five convenient locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort and provide supervised child care for children ages 3-12 years. Centers include arts & crafts, video and board games, Disney movies, dinner and activities. Hours are 4:30 p.m.-midnight daily, with an hourly rate charged per child (ages 3-12, toilet trained). For reservations, call 407/WDW-DINE.
- Camp Dolphin, Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel (*Open 5:30 p.m.-midnight)
- Cub’s Den, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Sandcastle Club, Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Simba’s Cubhouse, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- The Never Land Club, Disney’s Polynesian Resort (*Open 4:00 p.m.-midnight)
And with in-room child care, Walt Disney World Resort hotels partner with independent childcare provider Kids Nite Out to provide guests with another option for a night out without the little ones.
For resort booking information, visit Disneyworld.com.
Each of the four Walt Disney World theme parks offers many experiences that are perfect for preschoolers, and children under 3 years of age get free entry into Disney theme parks.
Some of the highlights:
- Magic Kingdom— In New Fantasyland: Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, Princess Fairytale Hall, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, The Barnstormer, Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station. Other options at Magic Kingdom: Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Peter Pan’s Flight, Mad Tea Party, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, “it’s a small world”, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, Disney Character Greetings.
- Epcot—The Seas with Nemo and Friends; Turtle Talk with Crush; Journey Into Imagination with Figment; Kidcot Fun Stops; Gran Fiesta tour starring the Three Caballeros; The Circle of Life; Innoventions; Disney Character Greetings.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom—Finding Nemo-The Musical; Kilimanjaro Safaris; TriceraTop Spin; Pangani Forest Exploration Trail; Maharajah Jungle Trek; Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Affection Section; Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade; Disney Character Greetings.
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios—Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage; Disney Junior-Live on Stage!; Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show; Toy Story Midway Mania!; Voyage of the Little Mermaid; Muppet*Vision 3D; Disney Character Greetings.
Baby Care Centers, hosted by Nestle Good Start, are ideal for parents with infants and toddlers. Located at all four Walt Disney World theme parks, these complimentary facilities offer private nursing rooms with rocking chairs, feeding areas with highchairs, kitchens with a microwave, oven and sink, plus diaper-changing rooms. In addition to the Baby Care Centers, there are baby-changing stations in all bathrooms, including men’s and family restrooms.
Using the Rider Switch option – available at select Disney theme park attractions – guests are allowed to take turns waiting with youngsters too young or too small to ride a certain attraction, then “switch” with another adult guest from their party to experience the ride without standing in line twice.
Most Disney restaurants offer children’s menus, plus crayons and coloring books to keep kids entertained. Character dining—where a cast of characters visits guests’ tables while they eat—is a great way to introduce little ones to Disney Characters.
Character Dining in the Resort hotels:
- Beach Club Breakfast Buffet with Beach Club Goofy and friends daily at Cape May Café, Disney’s Beach Club Resort from 7:30-11:00 a.m.
- Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Buffet daily at Disney’s Contemporary Resort with Mickey and his gang, breakfast from 7:00-11:30 a.m., dinner from 5:00-9:30 p.m.
- Ohana’s Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo & Stitch at Disney’s Polynesian Resort daily from 7:30-11:00 a.m.
- Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
Character Dining in the Theme Parks:
- Fairytale Dining daily at Cinderella’s Royal Table in Cinderella Castle, with Cinderella and friends, includes a photo imaging package; breakfast: 8:05-10:40 a.m., lunch 11:45 a.m.-2:40 p.m., dinner 3:50-10:00 p.m.
- A Buffet with Character at The Crystal Palace, Winnie the Pooh and friends; breakfast 8:05-10:30 a.m., lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:45 p.m., dinner from 3:15 p.m. to closing.
- Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast at The Garden Grill Restaurant in The Land, with Chip ‘n Dale and other favorite Disney Characters; serving breakfast from 6:30-11:30 a.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m., dinner from 5:00-8:30 p.m.
- Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Banquet Hall in the Norway pavilion, with Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Mary Poppins, Princess Aurora and Snow White; includes a photo imaging package; breakfast from 8-11:10 a.m., lunch from 11:55 a.m.—3:30 p.m., dinner from 4:55-8:35 p.m. daily
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Donald’s Dining Safari at Breakfast and Lunch in Harambe, buffet with Donald Duck and friends, breakfast from 8-10:55 a.m., lunch from11:00 a.m.-2:45 p.m. daily
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine at Hollywood & Vine breakfast and lunch buffet with Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, Jake the Neverland Pirate and Handy Manny; breakfast from 8-10:20 a.m., lunch from 11:00 a.m.-2:25 p.m. daily
For more information or to make reservations, call 407/WDW-DINE.
Splash into water fun at two water theme parks—Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon—where children under 3 years of age get free entry. Tikes Peak is a kid-size version of Blizzard Beach and includes a snow-castle fountain play area. Ketchakiddie Creek at Typhoon Lagoon features scaled-down water attractions with slides, floating boats and waterfalls. Also, kiddie pools are available at most Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
Miniature golf is fun for the whole family at two locations at Walt Disney World Resort.
- Near the Epcot resort area, Fantasia Gardens is an 18-hole miniature golf course with a theme taken from Disney’s classic animated film “Fantasia,” and Fantasia Fairways is an 18-hole “challenge” course designed with strategically placed bunkers and hazards.
- Disney’s Winter Summerland, a 36-hole miniature golf course, is located near the entrance to Disney’ Blizzard Beach water park. There are two 18-hole experiences. One course carries the zany, snow-clad Florida look reminiscent of Blizzard Beach, while the other takes a more tropical, holiday theme, with ornaments hanging from palm trees.
- Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland are open 10 a.m.-11:00 p.m. daily. Call 407/WDW-PLAY for more information.
Saddle up! Children (ages 2-8, up to 80 lbs.) can enjoy pony rides at the Tri-Circle-D Farm at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. Call 407/824-2788 for more information.