As a dad who's navigated Walt Disney World with a four-year-old in tow, I've picked up a few key tips that make the experience much easier.
Traveling to the Magic Kingdom as a family can be a wonderful experience, but also a stressful time that can manifest into any number of challenging situations. For parents, there is a never-ending struggle to do everything every member of the family wants to do, all while navigating issues that might pop up and trying and have a little fun along the way!
Luckily there are eight free tools and secrets around the Magic Kingdom that will make your life a little easier as a parent.
1. Baby Care Center
For anyone with young children, knowing that there is a free place to rest, privately nurse or change your children, and pick up some much needed baby supplies (i.e. diapers, formula, etc., all at a cost of course) is a must. All the parks have a Baby Care Center with Magic Kingdom’s centrally located just off Main Street U.S.A. next to Crystal Palace off Main Street U.S.A. It is truly an oasis for parents with babies and/or toddlers when you need it the most.
2. First Aid Station
You don't expect something to go wrong at “The Most Magical Place on Earth”, but it happens. You may feel a little extra exhausted from the sun or your little one scrapes their knee running after Winne the Pooh who is suddenly going on their third break in twenty minutes. Luckily the Magic Kingdom has a stocked First Aid Station, complete with a registered nurse. And, did I mention freebies? Enjoy complimentary doses of Tylenol, band aids, water, and ice when you need them the most. Additional supplies can be purchased there, such as sunscreen. The First Aid Station is located next to Crystal Palace and in the same area as the Baby Care Center.
3. Wish Book and Ride Viewing at Pinocchio Village Haus
Pinocchio Village Haus in Fantasyland is a quick service restaurant that is fairly popular for families as it is indoors, centrally located, air conditioned, sports a kid-friendly menu, and has lots of seating. It also holds a couple useful features to keep your kids busy while dining. As the restaurant building connects to It's a Small World, your kids can people watch through a series of windows and see all the eager riders board one of the park's most iconic rides.
You can also write down a wish for the Blue Fairy in a Wish Book along one of the walls near the stairs to the top floor seating. You won’t miss the bright, blue faux stained glass picture of the illustrious Blue Fairy. It’s a nice, free addition to meal time and something to distract everyone for a few minutes.
4. Mobile Ordering Quick Service Locations
Mobile ordering is a busy family’s best friend, especially for single or solo traveling parents who are managing multiple children. Just pop open the My Disney Experience app and place your order anywhere in the park and pick up your food at the Mobile Ordering counter at your desired quick service dining location.
This little feature is a lifesaver at Magic Kingdom when you are pressed for time and you are desperate to avoid more lines, or if you find a free table the moment you walk into a dining location and don’t want to give it up in order to, you know, actually order your food.
Magic Kingdom locations who offer Mobile Ordering:
- Aloha Isle
- Pinocchio Village Haus
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
- Columbia Harbor House
- Casey’s Corner
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
- The Launching Pad
- Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant.
5. Rider Switch Service
For parents of young children who don’t want to miss out on their favorite thrill rides the Rider Switch Service is a must. I’ll admit that I didn’t know this service existed for YEARS and it has haunted me. Say you and your spouse, or adult travel companion, can’t possibly miss Space Mountain, but your three-year-old isn’t big enough for the ride, this service is for you.
Simply walk up to the greeting Cast Member at a participating ride with your whole party, tell them you’d like to take advantage of the Rider Switch Service and they will issue a Ride Switch entitlement to the second person who wants to ride. The first person rides the ride while the second stays with the youngster. Once the first person is done the second person presents their entitlement to the Cast Member and that second person jumps through the FastPass+ line.
Seven rides that offer the rider switch service:
- The Barnstormer
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Stitch’s Great Escape
- Tomorrowland Indy Speedway.
6. Using the Walt Disney Railroad to Exit Park
It’s 3:00 PM, you’re kids are tired, you have a 5:00 PM advanced dinner reservation, and you need to get from Fantasyland to the park gates ASAP. How do you get there as fast as humanly possible? The Walt Disney Railroad of course! Instead of trying to get through the congestion of thousands of people clogging up Main Street U.S.A. due to the daily Festival of Fantasy Parade, hop on the train from the Fantasyland station that’s next to The Barnstormer.
I highly recommend taking the train from the Frontierland station to exit the park as well. It is a lovely and leisurely way to leave the Magic Kingdom with tired kids after a long day at the park. Walking can seem like an impossible task in the late afternoon. Take the train instead!
7. Kids Under 3 Eat Free (from a Parent’s Plate)
Eating at the Magic Kingdom is a fun way to get into the park mood. Sit down, table service restaurants can also be quite expensive for the whole family. It is important to know that kids under 3-years-old can eat free at table service restaurants by sharing from a parent’s plate. You may need to bring in a secondary plate to put food on, but you will not be charged. This is perfect for family meals with a big price tag like a character meal at Crystal Palace or Cinderella's Royal Table.
Bonus: It is perfectly okay to bring your own snacks into the park. The Magic Kingdom is not a movie theater. If you want to save a little money and ensure your picky eater(s) will have a snack throughout the day, don’t hesitate to bring it with you. Plus, there’s complimentary water stations at every Quick Service dining location.
8. Free Samples at the Main Street Confectionery
Do you have picky and indecisive kids? I know I do, and it is helpful to know that the Main Street Confectionery offers free samples of their candy, cotton candy, and cookies. It takes the guesswork out of treat selections by having your little one sample a few types of treats and get them to pick the one they will really like. It is a nice, semi-free (it’s still expected that you buy something, of course) way to cap off a day at the park or escape the heat for a little treat.
© 2019 David Tubbs
David Tubbs (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 09, 2019:
Thanks Liz! I can say that my wife and I didn't know about rider swap for YEARS, so it's a higher percentage I think.
Liz Westwood from UK on August 09, 2019:
There are some great tips in this article. The ride switching one is especially useful to know about. I wonder how many people just get in the queue again, oblivious to this.