Visiting Disney Parks with Babies

I don’t want to sugar coat it. There are definitely some logistics required to have a successful and fun day in the Disney Parks with babies.

But it’s totally doable. Totally.

In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that it can be easy. Here’s how.

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Making Your Park Plans

Infants don’t need park tickets or FastPasses, even if they’ll be riding some of the rides with you. They do, however, need to be included on any dining reservations you make, even if you won’t need a highchair or seat for them.

If you’re staying on property, they’ll get their own MagicBand. But don’t stress – they really don’t need it and aren’t expected to wear it. It can be a cute accessory for photo ops, but they won’t need to scan it for rides, tickets, or reservations. It’s just included in your room reservation!

It All Starts With the Diaper Bag

The success of your park day begins with a well stocked bag! No, this does not mean that you should pack up your baby’s entire nursery and carry it around Disney with you.

Rather, figure out exactly what you need, what bag will contain it, and bring only that. Don’t overcomplicate this part with gizmos and gadgets a’plenty. Leave your who’s-its and what’s-its galore in the room too.

Picking the Right Bag(s)

At home, I rotate between two fairly large, leather designer bags. Don’t do that at Disney. Find a reasonable diaper bag that you feel comfortable leaving behind in the stroller and bring that.

Think about something that will hold all of baby’s essentials, while not bogging you down and taking up a ton of space. I liked the cross-body strap for carrying it on and off buses too.

For my family, that’s the LeSportsac Ryan Diaper Bag in the Mickey Loves Minnie print (I seriously love this diaper bag for the parks).

And yes, I did say “leave behind in the stroller” up there. We leave our big diaper bag attached to our stroller while we’re in attractions and restaurants. I also carry a small backpack (the LeSportsac Small Edie in the same Mickey Loves Minnie print) for our phones, wallets, and other valuables. This small bag comes with us for attractions and restaurants instead!

Packing Your Diaper Bag

Like I said, figure out what your essentials are and bring only that. Think about how long you’ll be in the park, what the weather will be like, and what you plan to do.

I like to park the diaper bag the night before, so I’m not rushing or stressed while I’m doing it.

For a normal all-day park day, here’s what went in my diaper bag:

  • Six bottles, prefilled with water (Make sure you bring the lids. Security will do a thorough bag search. Their hands touch lots and lots of stuff every day and you don’t want them coming in contact with bottle nipples!)
  • Formula, in single serving packets when she was only taking 4 oz at a time, and then in the small cans when she was taking 6-8 oz at a time (You may have noticed that I didn’t use the formula dispensers. Here’s why: They take up more room and hold less than a small formula can. Formula powder isn’t heavy, obviously, so I’d rather use the same amount or less of space and have extra on hand!)
  • Two pacifiers, with leashes, if you use them
  • 6-8 diapers, with rash cream if necessary
  • Entire pack of baby wipes (We use these for more than wiping bottoms, so we always make sure to have plenty!)
  • An outfit change, including socks and shoes
  • Muslin blanket (This pulls triple duty for us, as a blanket if it gets cold, an extra sunshade over the stroller for naps, and a breastfeeding cover when she nursed!)
  • Stroller fan (This would obviously be attached to the stroller after getting off the bus!)
  • Sunscreen
  • Poncho (We use this as our stroller cover in case of rain. Yes, they make fancy rain covers for your stroller, but they’re much bulkier than a poncho and more expensive too. We like that we can ball it up in a ziplock to use again and throw it away at the end of the day.)
  • When she started eating solids, I also included a couple of wipe-down bibs, snack cup to prevent spills on the move, some easy snacks, and a sippy cup for water.

Here’s what went in my personal backpack:

  • Wallets (ID, insurance cards, one credit card, small bills)
  • Cell phones
  • Portable phone charger
  • Zip-up bag with personal items (pen, tampon/pad, chapstick, compact mirror, hand sanitizer, and ibuprofen)

That’s it. It’s tempting to also throw in some baby medicine, thermometer, nail clippers, and everything else under the sun, but read on! There’s a Baby Care Center for that!

Keeping It All Organized

I’m a ziplock bag junkie. Everything goes in ziplocks, from packing suitcases to keeping the diaper bag organized. I can’t do Disney without them. Things get sorted into individual ziplocks as follows:

  • diaper related items (so we can grab it and run, if needed)
  • bottles and pacifiers (formula can stays separate, just because it doesn’t fit well)
  • outfit change and blanket
  • feeding related items, when she started solids
  • And a spare, for soiled clothes or rain situations.
  • The poncho and sunscreen go in the side pocket of the diaper bag.

The ziplock strategy works well for two reasons. One, I can easily pull things out without having to unpack the whole bag in the middle of the park. And two, it really speeds up going through security, when they can also easily see what’s in your bag, without having to pull things out (and set them on the table that a million other hands and bags have touched) and repack them.

What You Can and Can’t Bring

Familiarize yourself with the Park Rules and Regulations here. Most of these things are pretty common sense, but there’s a few rules to keep in mind, specifically for parents.

You’ll read more about this in my stroller post, but your stroller cannot exceed 36″ by 52″. Most strollers, even most multiples strollers, don’t exceed those dimensions. Wagons and pulled bags/coolers are restricted too – you should be pushing your stroller and carrying/stowing your bags. Your bags (including coolers) can’t exceed 24″ x 15″ x 18″. Again, that’s a pretty big bag and you’ll likely not exceed those dimensions, but keep it in mind!

 

Strollers Are Your Friend

I have a whole post about the ins and outs of strollers at Disney World here.

In summary, you’ll want a stroller in almost every instance. You can rent one, bring one, buy one there. It doesn’t matter. But bring a stroller.

 

All About Baby Care Centers

Each park has a Baby Care Center that’s free to use whenever you need it!

About the Facilities

These centers are Disney-staffed, air-conditioned spaces designed to accommodate families with small children. There are nursing rooms (with outlets for breast pumps to be plugged in), changing tables, restrooms, kitchens (with sinks, highchairs, microwaves, and ice), and TV areas.

Supplies Available

Remember when I told you to streamline your diaper bag? And you possibly rolled your eyes at the idea? This is why I feel totally comfortable packing only what I need for the parks.

The Baby Care Centers have well-stocked shops, with everything you could possibly need available for purchases. Clothes, bibs, bottles, formula, baby food, diapers, wipes, OTC medicine, and so on!

Locations

img_7692

Each of the four main parks have a Baby Care Center, located adjacent to their First Aid Center. The only exceptions are the water parks, but you’ll still find changing tables inside the restrooms there (as with all restrooms at Disney).

  • Magic Kingdom’s center is located by the Crystal Palace and Casey’s Corner, just off Main Street to the left.
  • Epcot’s center is located in the back, left side of Future World, in the Odyssey building, just before you’d enter Mexico and the World Showcase.
  • Hollywood Studios’ center is located in the very front of the park to the left, in the same building as Guest Services.
  • Animal Kingdom’s center is located on the left side of Discovery Island, by Pizzafari and Creature Comforts, just before the bridge to Africa.

 

Attractions & Entertainment for Baby

Disney does a great job of making the park fun for all ages. My youngest daughter has been riding rides with us at Disney since she was 8 weeks old! Baby can join you on most attractions without a height requirement. For those with a height requirement, don’t forget about Rider Switch, which allows your party to take turns riding attractions not suitable for little ones!

Although they can come along for most rides and shows, here’s my list of our favorite things to do with baby!

Magic Kingdom

  • img_9669Casey Jr. Splash ‘N Soak Station – This splash pad is great for cooling off. Just be aware that you’ll all be wet by the time you’re finished!
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant – It’s a Disney classic! It makes a great first ride experience and has a fun play area while you “wait” in line.
  • It’s a Small World – Another classic ride that you can’t miss!
  • Jungle Cruise – This classic, adventurous boat tour is fun for everyone. It’s a great chance to get off your feet and even nurse while you ride!
  • Mad Tea Party – If you don’t spin your teacup yourself, the spinning action isn’t too much for a little one to enjoy.
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – Much like Dumbo, this flying attraction is a lot of fun!
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – I think this is one of the most underrated rides at Disney World. Our girls love this one!
  • Peter Pan’s Flight – Hold on tight and enjoy this flying ride through Peter Pan!
  • Prince Charming Regal Carousel – The carousel features benches that you can sit with your little one, if you’re not comfortable putting them on a horse!
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover – This slow ride has a few spots where the ride vehicle jerks around, but it’s a great ride to take a break. It’s also another spot where I nurse.
  • Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid – The neon lights and familiar characters make this a can’t-miss-ride for little ones!
  • Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room – Music, birds, flowers, and colors will excite little ones!

Epcot

  • Frozen Ever After – This ride is a lot of fun, but be aware of the small drop. It caught us off guard and may startle your little one, if they’re not daredevils like mine.
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros – We love this ride, especially because Donald Duck isn’t heavily featured in many attractions!
  • Living With the Land – This long boat tour is a great chance for the whole family to cool off. It’s also one of my favorite attractions to hop on when the baby needs to nap or nurse!
  • O Canada! – This 360 CircleVision movie experience will amaze little minds as you travel through Canada!
  • Reflections of China – Another 360 CircleVision movie experience through China!
  • Sea Life in Future World – There are so many amazing sea creatures to see!
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends – Familiar characters and lots to look at makes this a great choice for little ones!
  • Spaceship Earth – I love riding this with my girls, because it’s a giant dose of nostalgia for me, even though they’ve updated it since I was a kid!

Hollywood Studios

  • img_8163Beauty and the Beast Live Stage Show – This show is so gorgeous. My girls are delighted to see these characters come to life!
  • Disney Junior Live on Stage! – This puppet show will make your little one go wild, with lots of singing, dancing, and excitment.
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration – If your little one has caught the Frozen bug, you can’t miss this show. It’s jam packed with humor for the grown ups and lots of Frozen fun for the little ones!
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid – This stage show is a mixture of live acting, puppets, and videos. It even rains on the front of the stage!

Animal Kingdom

  • img_7016Animals – Your little one will enjoy checking out all of the animals throughout the park.
  • The Boneyard – This gigantic play area is a great pit stop for little ones. It’ll give them time out of the stroller to crawl or toddle around and explore!
  • Discovery Island Carnivale – My little one loves all the loud music and dancing that happens during this street show!
  • Festival of the Lion King – This show will blow your mind – and your little ones’ too!
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris – This ride is a little bumpy, but still suitable for babies. Our daughters especially love the Safari rides!
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch and the Wildlife Express Train – After riding the train to Rafiki’s, there’s tons to explore, including a petting zoo and lots of educational opportunities for the rest of the party.
  • Rivers of Light – This nighttime spectacular is really moving to watch, if your little one can hang that late!
  • Triceratops Spin – We love this ride. It’s very similar to Dumbo, but with a fun dino twist.

 

Other general advice for visiting the disney parks with babies

Disney is a magical place, but it doesn’t transform babies into something they aren’t. If they’re not early risers, don’t try to force them into it for breakfast reservations at 8am. Likewise, if they’re early to bed, don’t try to force them to stay up for fireworks. Plan for their schedules, making time for feeding and diaper changes.

You may not cover as much ground as you would without a baby, but that’s part of the fun of it. Having a baby along forces you to slow down and enjoy the things you might otherwise miss out on. Assume you’re going to miss some FastPasses or might not make it to the fireworks at the end of the night.

 

Any other advice you’d give families heading to disney parks with babies? leave us a comment and share your wisdom!

 

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Rider Switch at Disney World

If your Disney travel party has a wide range of heights and ages, there’s a good chance you won’t all be riding the same rides! If you’re a thrill seeker with a small child, Disney has got you covered with their Rider Switch program.

What is Rider Switch?

Rider Switch (sometimes called “Rider Swap”) is a service that allows guests to take turns riding rides that other travel party members can’t or don’t want to ride.

Where is Rider Switch available?

Rider Switch is available at most rides with a height requirement, whether you’re using a FastPass or the standby entrance! Some rides without height requirements or that aren’t listed below will also allow you to use Rider Switch at their discretion, so just ask the cast member at the ride entrance. (We learned this trick at Toy Story Mania, when Lucy was sleeping during our FastPass time. A quick search told me that they didn’t offer it, but we asked anyway and were pleasantly surprised – especially Ruby- when the cast member said we could!)

Magic kingdom Rider Switch Locations

  • The Barnstormer
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Stitch’s Great Escape
  • Tomorrowland Speedway

Epcot Rider Switch Locations

  • Frozen Ever After
  • Mission: Space
  • Soarin’
  • Test Track

Hollywood Studios Rider Switch Locations

  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Star Tours
  • Tower of Terror

Animal Kingdom Rider Switch Locations

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Dinosaur
  • Expedition Everest
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Primeval Whirl

How does Rider Switch work?

Personally, I think Disney has figured out the best “ride swap” program, out of all the theme parks. The non-riders don’t have to wait in line and wait while the riders ride, which is great when you’re talking about antsy and excited toddlers!

When you approach the attraction entrance (with your party), tell the Cast Member that you’d like to do a Rider Switch. (Please Note: Disney’s policy is that the Cast Member must physically see the non-rider(s). Many Cast Members will be lenient about this requirement, but don’t assume they will be and send your family off to another attraction. Make their jobs easy and go up to the entrance, like you’re supposed to!) They will hand the First Rider a lanyard and admit them into the line (FastPass entrance if you have a FastPass, standby entrance if you don’t). The rest of the party is now free to go enjoy the park. The First Rider will swap the lanyard for a paper Rider Switch ticket before boarding the attraction. This paper ticket is the golden ticket that will allow the Second Rider to ride, so don’t lose it! When the First Rider is finished riding the attraction, they hand off that ticket to the Second Rider, who will then be admitted into the FastPass entrance of the attraction to go ride!

Do I have to use the Rider Switch right away?

No! Rider Switch tickets are usually good for 24+ hours after the First Rider has done the attraction (your window will be listed on your ticket). That means that you don’t have to wait outside the ride or rush back right away to use it. (See why I think Disney has this figured out so well?)

Does each member of our party need a Rider Switch ticket?

Each Rider Switch ticket will admit 2-3 guests as the “Second Rider”. So, if you have 3-4 adults in your party, 1-2 guests can ride first and the remaining guests can ride next. Disney’s website says that each ticket is good for 2 guests, but in our experience, they admitted 3. Plan for 2 and be pleasantly surprised by 3!

How do you make the best use of Rider Swap?

Maximize your park time for the kids! If it’s an attraction that only we adults can ride, we will take the kids to other attractions. So, if we are riding Space Mountain, I’ll take the kids to Buzz Lightyear or the PeopleMover while my husband rides, and then he’ll take them to another attraction while I ride. Or, one of us will take them to an attraction while the First Rider rides and then return for the other adult to ride when they crash for naps.

Let big kids ride twice! Since Rider Switch can be used for more than one guest, we often let Ruby ride with both of us. She loves being able to ride all of the thrill attractions twice, with both mom and dad! When we do this, we often use the ride time for Lucy (our baby) to get some time out of the stroller and let her wander around and explore. I also like to use that time to go shopping while dad’s not around to see the damage!

Use your kids’ nap times! Especially at parks with tiered attractions, we often find ourselves picking FastPasses for the kids over ourselves. We make it up to ourselves by using their nap times to hit those thrill rides that we passed on FastPasses for. We grab snacks and drinks, find a shady spot close to the attraction, and let them sleep while we take turns riding.

You can try the doubling FastPass trick (emphasis on try). Some people figured out a way to cheat the three FastPasses per guest system, by making different FastPasses for each adult and using the Rider Switch program (So, for instance, one guest would book FPs for Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, and Dinosaur, while the other would book Kali River Rapids and Primeval Whirl). Disney has supposedly grown wise to this trick and now requires that you verify both riders’ FastPasses, so don’t count on this trick working. You’re free to try it, of course, but it leaves your whole party open to some pretty serious disappointment!

Have you used Rider Switch in the parks? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

 

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Disney World Ride Height Requirements

 

There’s nothing worse than getting your child excited about an attraction, only to find out they aren’t tall enough to ride! After dealing with some little rider disappointment on one of our trips, I decided to simplify the search by creating an easy reference that won’t drain your phone battery!

Below, you’ll find attractions sorted two ways. First, by height and then, by park. You can also download our free printable (Disney World Attractions Height Requirements) to keep with you in the parks!

Almost all of these attractions have Rider Switch available. Don’t forget to take advantage of that! Read more about Rider Switch and making the most of it here.

We do our best to keep this list updated, but please always double check your My Disney Experience app when planning your vacation!

attractions by height requirement

32 inches rider height

  • Tomorrowland Speedway (MK)

35 inches rider height

  • The Barnstormer (MK)

38 inches rider height

  • Kali River Rapids (AK)
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (MK)

40 inches rider height

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (MK)
  • Dinosaur (AK)
  • Mission: Space (Epcot)
  • Soarin’ (Epcot)
  • Splash Mountain (MK)
  • Star Tours (HS)
  • Stitch’s Great Escape (MK)
  • Test Track (Epcot)
  • Tower of Terror (HS)

44 inches rider height

  • Avatar Flight of Passage (AK)
  • Expedition Everest (AK)
  • Space Mountain (MK)

48 inches rider height

  • Primeval Whirl (AK)
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (HS)

 

Attractions by Park

Magic Kingdom attractions by height

32 inches rider height

  • Tomorrowland Speedway

35 inches rider height

  • The Barnstormer

38 inches rider height

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

40 inches rider height

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Splash Mountain
  • Stitch’s Great Escape

44 inches rider height

  • Space Mountain

Epcot Attractions by Height

40 inches rider height

  • MIssion: Space
  • Soarin’
  • Test Track

Hollywood Studios attractions by height

40 inches rider height

  • Star Tours
  • Tower of Terror

48 inches rider height

  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

Animal Kingdom Attractions by Height

38 inches rider height

  • Kali River Rapids

40 inches rider height

  • Dinosaur

44 inches rider height

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Expedition Everest

48 inches rider height

  • Primeval Whirl

What’s your favorite ride on this list? What are your kids waiting to grow enough to ride?

 

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Cinderella’s Royal Table

about cinderella’s royal table

Cost: $35 – 59.99 for breakfast, $60 and up for lunch and dinner

Characters: Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, Belle. Aurora, Jasmine

Reservations: There are highly coveted dining reservations and notoriously hard to score! Plan to book this meal as soon as your 180 day ADR window opens. Log in to the Disney website, your My Disney Experience app, or call (407) 939-3463.

Food: Breakfast starts with a delicious pastry plate for the table to share. Entrees include traditional breakfast fare, as well as a healthy choice meal and some more decadent options like beef tenderloin with a frittata.

Rating: 2 out of 5 frying pans

Things to Know: You can’t check in before your reservation time, so don’t waste time standing in line early. Be prepared to meet Cinderella as soon as you enter the castle. Have your autograph books and cameras ready! Also, the bathrooms are downstairs from the main dining room, so plan to stop on your way in, if possible, so you don’t miss any princesses.

While You’re There: Look at the beautiful mosaic work along the castle corridor! It’s truly spectacular work. Also, Cinderella’s Royal Table is directly across from Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, so you might consider making your appointment and reservation close together.

 

About Our Experience(s)

I’ll get straight to the point. “Underwhelmed” best sums up our feelings on our breakfast. I’m not sure if it’s because there’s so much hype around Cinderella’s Royal Table (the cost, the location, the impossible-to-get reservations), but this dining experience didn’t come close to meeting our expectations.

We were excited to do such a big princess meal for Ruby’s actual third birthday morning, following a makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique! What could be better than breakfast in Cinderella’s Castle, right?

Maybe a lot of things, it turns out.

Our underwhelmed feeling started at checkin, where the cast member was clearly stressed and super short with guests. It instantly killed our magic buzz. I try to keep in mind that cast members are just people too, so we put it behind us.

As we made our way in, we were struck by how gorgeous everything was. It really felt like entering a castle. Meeting Cinderella, decked out in her BBB Cinderella makeover, was probably the highlight of Ruby’s three years on earth at that point. We started to buy in to the hype.

But then, we were seated and began to feel like cogs in a machine. All of the waitstaff also seemed stressed and rushed. The wand and Wishing Star were dropped off in a hurry and our waitress seemed impatient as we ordered our food. We both remarked later that we felt like we couldn’t even ask any questions about the menu.

We had the same feeling as the princesses visited – they just posed for the picture and rushed off. We got some beautiful photographs, but no small talk or “special moments”. Maybe the extraordinary experiences at 1900 Park Fare have ruined us for other character meals, but we expected more interaction. There was no small talk and some didn’t even sign her book that was open on the table. What surprised us most was that not a single princess wished Ruby a happy birthday! Ruby had to use the restroom (we were in the throes of potty training), which is downstairs, so we rushed there and back. She’d missed a princess while we were gone and we had to really advocate to get her to come back.

We found the food okay. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t delicious and certainly not worth the two dining credits, in our opinions. We were all hungry shortly after we left, which never happens with standard Disney portions! The pastry assortment was delicious though – that was the food highlight, for sure.

Overall, we felt like we’d paid a lot to feel rushed through our meal and like an inconvenience to every cast member we encountered. Like I said, maybe our expectations were too high, after reading so much hype in groups and blogs. But we expected an expensive meal in a magical place to feel, well, magical.

From talking to other Disney lovers, I’ve found that many share our same breakfast experience, but that lunch and dinner are better. We might consider trying lunch or dinner in the future, but we definitely won’t be back for breakfast. I’ll take Akershus or 1900 Park Fare over this experience any day!

 

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Snack Credit Kids’ Meals

On our first two Disney trips, both girls were under 3, which meant no Disney Dining Plan for them. There are tons of upsides to kids under 3 (free admission to the parks, free dining at buffets and family style meals namely), but you do have to plan to pay out of pocket for their other meals and snacks… or get creative!

Packing Snacks

We like to bring a gallon ziplock full of snacks each day. It’s a little gutting to spend $4 on apple slices in the park and watch them eat 2 bites. We pack things like Goldfish crackers, Snapeas, fruit snacks, freeze dried fruit, applesauce pouches, apples, and bananas, along with their water bottles and a couple of juices.

These serve as snacks in the park, but can also help us stretch our meals with them, let them split a meal, or, my favorite, use a snack credit for their “quick service meal”.

Snack Credits that Stretch

Each park has at least a few snack credit options that can double as a kid’s meal. Heck, some of them can double as an adult meal! This is a trick best performed for breakfast, but there are plenty of lunch and dinner options too. Remember that they [usually] don’t include a drink, so you may want to bring juices or take advantage of the free ice water. Here are some of our favorites, broken down by park!

Magic Kingdom

  • Be Our Guest (lunch) – french onion soup
  • Casey’s Corner – macaroni & cheese or chili cheese fries
  • Cheshire Cafe – Cheshire Cat tail (large chocolate croissant drizzled with icing)
  • Columbia Harbour House – clam chowder or chili
  • Eggroll Wagon – cheeseburger egg rolls
  • Gaston’s Tavern – giant cinnamon roll
  • Liberty Square Market – baked potato (you can use two snacks and hop down to Casey’s or Columbia to top it with chili!)
  • Lunching Pad – pepper jack warm stuffed pretzel
  • Sleepy Hollow – strawberry waffle (not the Nutella one, it’s not a snack credit) or baked potato

Epcot

  • Kabuki Cafe – sushi rolls or edamame
  • Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe – school bread or troll horn
  • Les Halle’s Boulangerie Patisserie – there are a ton of snack options here, but my kids loved the croissant jambon fromage and the roule lard and fromage (bacon and cheese roll)
  • Liberty Inn – clam chowder or macaroni & cheese
  • Refreshment Port – croissant donut (this thing is so good, get two, so you don’t eat the kids’ whole cronut!)

Hollywood Studios

In our experience, this park has the least snack turned kid’s meal options. Many of their QS spots offer the kid’s meal Power Pack though, which is great for little appetites who like to snack vs eat a whole meal. They are $5.99 and come with a whole variety of healthy snack foods (yogurt, carrots and ranch, apple slices, Goldfish, and juice). We would get one for the girls to split and supplement them sharing our meals.

  • Herbie’s Drive-In – chili cheese nachos
  • Sunshine Day Cafe – German pretzel
  • Sweet Spells – lots of bakery treats that can double as breakfast, our favorite of which is the carrot cake cookie

Animal Kingdom

  • Eight Spoon Cafe – macaroni & cheese with either pulled pork or shrimp & sweet chili sauce
  • Flame Tree Barbecue – french fries with pulled pork and cheese
  • Mr. Kamal’s – falafel with tzatziki
  • Pizzafari – tomato basil soup
  • Smiling Crocodile – a variety of BLT sandwiches (pimento cheese, salmon, or turkey)
  • Trilo-Bites – buffalo chicken chips
  • Yak & Yeti – chicken fried rice or egg rolls

Across Parks

  • Joffrey’s – gigantic donuts
  • Starbucks – most of their breakfast foods are snack credits (and their coffees, so this is a win-win stop!)
  • Various spots – Mickey Pretzel with cheese dip or churro with chocolate sauce

Have you tried any of these? Did we miss any snacks that stretch? Let us know in the comments!

Be Our Guest Quick Service

about be our guest Quick Service

Be Our Guest entrance

Location: Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom

Cost: $15 – 34.99 for breakfast, $14.99 and under for lunch (according to Disney’s site, but the menu has items as high as $16.99), Disney Dining Plan accepted

Characters: None! Make sure you’re not booking this dining experience with the hopes of seeing Belle or the Beast. You can usually meet the Beast at Be Our Guest for dinner though!

Reservations: Highly suggested! This is the only quick service restaurant that takes reservations and with good reason. There’s a good chance you won’t get in without them! Log in to the Disney website, your My Disney Experience app, or call (407) 939-3463.

Theme: Beast’s Castle, French cuisine

Food: The French inspired menu has some really delicious options that can be a welcome respite from chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers. Picky eaters may be limited in their options though.

Rating: 3 out of 5 frying pans

Things to Know: Consider ordering your meal through the MDE app, so you can skip the long line to order! Also, there are not characters at Be Our Guest during breakfast and lunch. You’ll usually find Beast at dinner though! If you really want to meet Belle, head next door to the Enchanted Tales with Belle attraction after you eat!

While You’re There: Explore all of the dining rooms inside the castle! There are so many beautiful details that you’ll miss, if you stay put in one room! Also, stop by the stained glass window on your way out for a great photo op!

Ruby posing in front of the stained glass window at Be Our Guest

About Our Experience(s)

The atmosphere of the castle is really exciting for Beauty and the Beast fans. The quick service environment is definitely a little different though. When you enter the castle doors, you’ll go to the right and wait in line to place your orders on touch screens. Then, you’ll head into the dining rooms to look for an available table.

When we arrived, we were surprised to find such a long line to order! I now totally understand why people encourage you to order online ahead of time. I was very glad we had a dining reservation, as I doubt we would have been able to dine without one.

For this particular dining experience, we had our extended family with us – 14 people in total. We were disappointed that even with our reservation, we wouldn’t be able to sit together. While I understand that it’s self-seated quick service, I wish they’d noted somewhere that most tables only seat 4 guests (with some 8 tops) and that large parties will likely not be able to sit together. I was also disappointed by the lack of assistance from the cast members to help us find seating. This was our only meal all together and we would have definitely made reservations elsewhere, if we’d known that there’d be no chance of sitting together. It defeated the point! Still, we rallied. The environment of the castle is so gorgeous and it’s impossible to stay upset in such a beautiful space.

I could eat the french onion soup for every meal forever – it is so delicious. I was underwhelmed with my croque monsieur though. It was just okay. My cousin shared my same feelings. Todd is a somewhat picky eater and settled on the french dip sandwich, which he enjoyed, but wasn’t so outstanding that he’d want to eat it again. Ruby enjoyed her grilled cheese and turkey noodle soup, the same meal she’d eaten when we had dinner at BOG. We also split a few desserts and it was universally decided that the grey stuff (Master’s Cupcake) is indeed delicious. Don’t believe us? Ask the dishes (or toddler)!

Overall, we were left with an “ehh” feeling. The castle is beautiful and the food was good enough, but we don’t understand the craze and probably won’t eat lunch there again. Maybe stop in for a french onion soup and Master’s Cupcake snack though!

Master's Cupcake at Be Our Guest

 

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Casey’s Corner

 

about Casey’s corner quick service

Location: Corner of Main Street USA, Magic Kingdom

Cost: $14.99 and under

Theme: Classic American baseball

Food: Hot dogs, corn dogs, chili, and cheese fries are among the iconic meals and snacks. I can’t say enough about the soul satisfying indulgence of a macaroni and cheese topped hot dog at the end of a long day at Magic Kingdom. I mean, really. You can also use snack credits for things like chili cheese fries or an order of macaroni and cheese, which can make great full meals for smaller appetites and toddlers without their own dining plan!

Rating: 5 out of 5 frying pans

Things to Know: Casey’s is open later than other quick service restaurants in Magic Kingdom. This makes it the ideal late night snack, but be warned. Others have the same idea too!

While You’re There: Plan to stop and enjoy Jim’s ragtime piano playing outside. It’s part of the experience, but easy to overlook! Don’t!

About Our Experiences

Casey’s Corner holds iconic real estate, right on the corner of Main Street USA overlooking the main hub and castle. This central location makes it the perfect place to stop on your way in, out, or around Magic Kingdom! We’ve stopped into Casey’s twice recently and been totally satisfied both times.

Our first stop was just after the fireworks, late one evening. We realized that we’d been going so hard all day that we’d forgotten about dinner! I love that Casey’s stays open late (usually until park closing), so it’s a reliable stop on nights like this one. The only downside can be that it’ll be crowded after the other restaurants close, but it’s still so worth it! The girls and I waited outside and watched the Once Upon a Time projection show on Cinderella’s Castle, while Todd picked up our food inside. Casey’s food is super portable, which is another great perk at the end of the night. We ate our hot dogs and fries on our way back to the boat!

Our second stop was on a different trip, mid-day for lunch. Since we were going to sit and enjoy Jim’s piano playing, I decided to indulge in the macaroni & cheese topped hot dog. It did not disappoint! I enjoyed every decadent, messy bite! The outdoor seating can be limited, so expect to possibly not find a place to sit right outside. It’s such a great location to rest, that many others have the same idea! Still, it’s worth it to stand at one of the bar height tables along the outside of the restaurant and enjoy the music.

 

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About the crystal palace

Cost: $15 – 34.99 for breakfast, $35 – $59.99 for lunch and dinner

Characters: Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet

Reservations: Recommended! Log in to the Disney website, your My Disney Experience app, or call (407) 939-3463.

Food: The Crystal Palace buffet is pretty much your standard Disney buffet fare. At breakfast, you’ll find a variety of breakfast meats, potatoes, scrambled eggs, pancakes, waffles, fruit, and pastries. At lunch and dinner, you’ll find a variety of salads, soups, meats, seafood, vegetables, and kids’ items like chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. This means you won’t leave hungry, but you’ll likely encounter other similar foods at other buffets on property!

Rating: 3 out of 5 frying pans

Things to Know: Our travel agent timed this meal just right for us. We enjoyed the Move It Shake It Parade at the hub and then were just steps away for our lunch reservation. It’s definitely worth trying to time, if you plan to have both experiences!

While You’re There: Make sure to admire the Winnie the Pooh themed topiaries just inside the main doors. You’re also very close to First Aid and the Baby Care Center. If you could use either service, make sure to take advantage of the convenience before heading deeper into the park.

 

About Our Experience(s)

We were one of the first lunch reservations on Thanksgiving day. The dining room was mostly empty when we arrived, which was a welcome quiet from being out in Magic Kingdom! It’s neat to see all of the glasswork and framing in this building, but otherwise the environment isn’t particularly special. As the meal progressed, we ended up with pretty bad glare though (the downside of a crystal palace!). It kind of put a damper on a lot of our character photos, so keep that in mind, if you have an option to sit out of the sun’s rays!

This was our girls’ first up-close-and-personal character experience, so I was anxious about how they’d react. The characters were fantastic. They seemed to really take their time and posed for funny pictures with our group. Piglet photo-bombed one shot and cooed over the baby. Tigger spied on my cousin’s phone over her shoulder. It was a lot of fun to interact with them, even as adults.

Overall, while we enjoyed it, the Crystal Palace wasn’t a super memorable experience. The food is good enough, the characters are pleasant, and the environment is okay. If you have a big Winnie the Pooh fan, it’s definitely worth dining. Otherwise, there are a lot of other great dining experiences to consider too!

 

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Plus Sized in the Parks

I often see people asking about being a larger person and fitting on rides. No one wants to be embarrassed in front of friends at the most magical place on earth, right?

I am plus sized and also have a very large chest. On our first two family trips, I was also nursing and worried about harnesses squeezing me too tight and causing me to spring a leak!

I was pleasantly surprised to find that most rides were a comfortable fit. Below, I’ve listed my exceptions with some details, so you can decide for yourself if you want to ride!

 

Magic Kingdom

The Barnstormer – This is a kid coaster, so the cars are smaller than your average ride. I was able to fit totally comfortably with Ruby, but it was a tight squeeze with my cousin. Two plus sized people definitely wouldn’t fit comfortably in a single car together. Ask for your own!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – This one isn’t about comfort at all, but more of a warning. If you’re riding with a small child, hold on to them tightly! When the lap bar was secured across my lap, it left a lot of wiggle room for Ruby. You kind of come out of your seat on that ride already, so hold on to your child, so they don’t panic!

Mad Tea Party – I fit comfortably in my tea cup with no problems, but if you carry a lot of weight in your tummy, this ride might be a tight squeeze. If you’re extra tall or have mobility issues, I would skip it!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – The ride seat is fine, but the individual lap bars are snug across thick thighs. I opted to kind of cross my legs and it was a more comfortable fit, but it wasn’t great. The ride was completely worth the squeeze for me, but if you have extremely thick thighs and don’t want to have bars digging into them, this might be one to skip.

Space Mountain – The actual seat is perfectly fine, but some people report it being hard to get in and out of seats, depending on your mobility. I didn’t have a problem with this, but wanted to include it!

 

Epcot

I had no problems here. I’ve heard others say that their thighs touched the rider(s) next to them on Mission Space and Soarin’, so if you’re self conscious, that’s something to consider. Some people also reported having a hard time with the seat belts in Test Track. I can see this, since the seats are somewhat molded. If you’re riding with friends or family, you can always ask them to help or quietly flag down a cast member. I’d also suggest that you try to take an outside seat on Test Track, so you feel more stable through the tests!

 

Hollywood Studios

Again, I had no problems. Even on Rock’n Rollercoaster with my large chest full of milk. If you have mobility issues, ask for the first seat (which may mean you have to wait a little extra, since it’s a highly desired seat!).

Across parks, the theater seats are tight, so that’s something to consider if you’re bashful about your size and find regular movie theater seats tight (I think the theater seats at Disney are a little smaller). Personally, I put my daughters on either side of me, so I didn’t have to think twice about it. You could also request an end seat from a cast member and they’ll do their best to accommodate you.

 

Animal Kingdom

Dinosaur – My advice here is much in the spirit of 7DMT. You get tossed around a good bit and some plus sized people report even getting bruised on this ride, but I didn’t have that experience. I definitely was jostled around a fair amount, but it wouldn’t keep me from riding it again.

Flight of Passage – This ride really comes down to your unique body type. I’ve heard from size 18 women who said they couldn’t fit, but then size 26 women who said they could. It’s all about where you carry your weight and your height. They have a seat outside that you can try and, even though some people are embarrassed by it, I highly suggest you try for yourself. Don’t let your fear of some strangers judging you keep you from the best ride at Disney! (That pep talk is as much for me, as for you!)

Kali River Rapids – I have read that these seat belts can be a tight fit for “Baloo sized” guests, but I haven’t ridden it to give my input!

 

If you have any other rides that you’ve found uncomfortable, didn’t fit in, or have suggestions for, leave us a comment or send a message! I’d love to update my list with more information from other plus sized riders!

 

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First Haircut at Harmony Barber Shop

One of the best values at Disney World is the first haircut experience at Harmony Barber Shop. Located on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, this small, old-timey barber shop is the perfect pixie dust add-on for little (and big) Mouseketeers!

Our daughter, Ruby, got her first haircut here on Thanksgiving Day 2016. We wanted to do something special for her first trip, but she was just a little too young for the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience. Our travel agent, Jessica, suggested that we book a haircut instead – and we are so glad she did!

For an extremely reasonable price, Ruby got not only her first haircut, but also embroidered “First Haircut” mouse ears, a certificate, and the clippings from her cut. Her state-licensed cosmetologist really took her time and made her feel comfortable before starting the cut. I love that they have spinning light up toys available to keep little hands busy while they work!

You can also schedule a regular haircut there for children and adults!

 

The Details:

  • The barber shop is located to the left of Main Street, kind of tucked back by the Fire Station. Keep an eye out for the traditional barber pole!
  • First Haircuts are $25. Children’s haircuts are $18 and adults are $19.
  • They don’t shampoo the hair, but may wet it. They will also add a fabulous touch of pixie dust at the end! Our cast member also styled my daughter’s hair into two cute pigtails for her!
  • To schedule an appointment, call (407) WDW-PLAY. I highly suggest making an appointment, although they can sometimes accommodate walk-ins! You can schedule your appointment as early as 180 days out!
  • There is a $10 cancellation fee, so make sure you plan to keep your appointment before scheduling!
  • If you’re not due for a cut, but want the pixie dust, just stop in! When a cast member is available, they’ll sprinkle your hair with pixie dust as a courtesy.
  • If you have an early morning reservation, make sure to allow yourself plenty of time to get through the morning “rush” at the gates. We cut it pretty close (pun not intended, but it’s staying!) and it made for a stressful entrance into the parks!

 

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