Take a Trip to Disney World Alone with Your Toddler Without Losing Your Mind
Disney World is such a magical place, especially for toddlers. A trip to Disney World can be exciting, exhausting, and overwhelming as a family with a toddler. But, can you imagine taking a trip alone with your toddler?
The first time I tried, I was nearly in tears! I was trying to make the best use of our annual passes at the time, so I decided to take a trip to Disney World with my toddler when my husband was gone for a few days. The difference was that I was rolling all of the emotions, expectations, and responsibilities onto myself. No one would be there to rescue me when I was too tired to move or if my toddler decided to have a meltdown.
ALONE at Disney World with your toddler can be overwhelming. I know because my first time was a mess. So, I wanted to share what I learned from that trip. I went on to take trips alone with my daughter almost every month thereafter until our annual passes expired.
How to Take a Trip to Disney World Alone with Your Toddler Without Losing Your Mind
Change Your Expectations
Whatever you can do as a family, expect to do less. There is no divide and conquer, like you can do as a family. There’s only YOU. Your motto might as well be, “I will survive.” Go into the process expecting to do fewer rides and giving yourself more time. Plan to slow down and don’t expect to see and do it all!
Decide Where to Stay
Is this an overnight trip or a day trip? If you’re staying a night or two, choosing between on-site and off-site hotels varies depending on your circumstances.
As an annual passholder, I didn’t need free transportation to the park to save on parking. My parking was free as a passholder. Plus, I didn’t enjoy waiting for a bus when I could just as easily hop in a car whenever I was ready. I didn’t see the value in staying on-site at the time. (Plus, at the value resorts, there was no free in-room coffee, which is a huge downer.)
If you don’t have an annual pass, or don’t want to drive, staying on-site may have its benefits. Loading a stroller onto Disney transportation is easy and you can skip the tram ride to the main entrance, which can be a headache of its own if you’re not prepared for it. I discuss that in the next point.
Parking and Transportation at the Park
If you decide to drive yourself and park in the parking lot, you need to consider the following:
Remember Your Parking Lot Row
There are two parking lot themes, Heroes and Villains, and various parking subsections within those themes. So, if you’re in Heroes, sections will be named things like Simba and Aladdin. Then, you will have a row number. Remember all of these once you’re parked.
My top suggestion is to take a photo of the row with the painted name and number on the pavement. You may be too tired to consult your memory at the end of the day.
Bring a SMALL Stroller
This one is HUGE. The first time I went to Disney alone, I brought our large jogging stroller. It held the most stuff and I loaded up on snacks and drinks to save money (which I discuss next in more detail). Unfortunately, fitting the large stroller onto the tram was no easy feat. After getting the toddler on board I realized that holding the door open on the tram and shoving this stroller in was nearly impossible. I was also not strong enough to lift the stroller over the door. To my surprise, people were reluctant to help until they realized I was holding us up from heading to the park. How embarrassing! (Coming and going that day resulted in me almost being in tears over this.)
So, bring a small, lightweight stroller. If you can swing it, an umbrella stroller is excellent, but any super lightweight and ultra-portable stroller will do.
Food and Water
If you or your child have food allergies, you will find no shortage of available options in the park. In fact, I love traveling to Disney World because I never have to worry about whether or not I can eat while at the park or in Disney Springs.
However, toddlers love to snack, and it can obviously get expensive. You can bring food and water in to Disney World to save money.
Don’t forget that you can ask for a cup of water around the park at no charge.
Pack for Weather
Florida is unforgivably hot. Wear something lightweight and breathable, but you may also consider packing an extra outfit for yourself and your toddler in case you both need freshening up. There’s also a little splash area for kids in the back. It’s not a splash park, but there is a single squirting spot near Goofy’s Barnstormer and your tot may find some relief from the heat in the water. An extra outfit may be required.
Additionally, pack a rain jacket, umbrella, and a stroller cover. Especially in the summer, you can almost always expect at least an afternoon shower. Be prepared and purchase and pack these things in advance. I was unable to find stroller covers in the park, and ponchos aren’t cheap there.
I highly recommend a backpack for carrying your essentials. You can easily throw the backpack on your shoulders and carry it onto a ride with your toddler in tow without the worry of throwing you off balance, leaving a wallet behind, or getting in the way.
Buy Souvenirs at the End of the Day
Help set your toddler’s expectations at the beginning of the day that you’re at the park to have fun, NOT to buy stuff. If you’re into buying souvenirs, save purchases for the end of the day so that you’re not toting it around all day. This will also help you keep track of spending if you’re on a budget.
Other options are to have merchandise saved for pick up at the front of the park, or, if you’re staying in a Disney resort, have your purchases sent to your room!
Of course, if you don’t mind the expense, have your merchandise sent home via FedEx or UPS.
If you wish to save money, don’t purchase Disney merchandise at a Disney operated store. There are tons of off-site merchants around Orlando that offer Disney merchandise for less.
No matter what happens, don’t forget to take a few moments for pictures! Visit a couple characters, sit on an available bench, or stop to watch an activity and snap your selfies! (Speaking of which, don’t bring a selfie stick, because they’re banned at Disney World.)
Document this special day because, you will survive and you’re going to want to remember this later!